New Reviews: January/February 2006

Reviews by Matthew Forss

Los Camperos de Valles Trio
El Ave de mi Sonar (The Bird Of My Dreams)
Smithsonian Folkways
The son huasteco, a northeastern Mexico guitar style, is featured on The Bird Of My Dreams. The trio performs traditional tunes on guitar and violin. Vocals are diverse and passionate. A 32-page booklet with English and Spanish translations is included for this very special contribution to Mexican music culture. The original poetry of Artemio Posadas is the backbone of The Bird Of My Dreams. Don’t miss this one!

Nati Canos Mariachi Los Camperos
Llegaron Los Camperos
Smithsonian Folkways
Los Camperos perform traditional Mariachi music. The groups’ 44-year history confirms the groups’ influence and staying power. All tracks contain violin, trumpet, harp, vihuela, guitar and guitarron. A detailed, 38-page booklet with English and Spanish translations is included. Llegaron Los Camperos is a perfect album to explore traditional Mariachi music from all over Mexico. Superb!

Soneros All Stars
Dime Nague
Cuban Soneros All Stars provide us with lively vocals and instrumentation. The rich instrumentation is breathtaking. You will hear trumpets, tres, piano, bass, guiro, congas, timbales, trombone and maracas. English and Spanish translations are included in a 20-page booklet. The Soneros All Stars are perfect for Cuban band aficionados.

Hold On Strong
Zion Way 
Vocalists T. Sorensen and J. Goodman, bring us reggae rhythms with catchy beats. Backup vocals, guitars, bass, percussion and keyboards augment the lead vocals. Great music for the Rastafarian or reggae fan, in general. You better ‘hold on strong’ when you put this one in your CD player!

Ray Of The Wine
Stonemountain Entertainment
Reza is an innovator, artist, vocalist and instrumentalist, originally from Iran. The tar, hand drum, B3 organ, bass guitar, piano, dumbek, sitar, ney flute, djembe and other instruments are utilized on Ray Of The Wine. The tracks are jazzy, contemplative, ambient and traditional. Reza’s Western sensibilities stem from his residence in New York City. Those interested in progressive instrumental music from Iran will relish this release. Also, Ray Of The Wine is great for the Middle East music fan looking for something a little more exotic.

Various Artists
Latin Music For Children
World Music Network 
Latin Music For Children was developed in the same manner as the African Music For Children release on the same label. A variety of Latin styles and specialties are represented on the release. Salsa, tango, merengue, samba, jazz and other styles are included. Some artists include Africando, Anastacia Azevedo, Plena Libre and Sierra Maestro. Some countries include Senegal, UK, Argentina, Colombia, Cuba, Bolivia, Venezuela, Puerto Rico and Brazil. This is an hour of delectable, dance rhythms for children and adults everywhere!   

La Cedille
Vu Du Large
Chocolate Fireguard  
English trip-hop, downbeat rhythms and suave, French lyrics are characteristic of La Cedille. Vu Du Large is a combination of downbeat jazz and clever, rap prose. Lively vocals make Vu Du Large a compelling and refreshing release. Great for French rap fans and downbeat music lovers everywhere!

Various Artists
Celtic Woman
Manhattan Records
David Downes is responsible for the musical direction and compositions on Celtic Woman. Some familiar songs include Ave Maria, Danny Boy and Orinoco Flow. Crystalline vocals, ambient orchestration, folk fiddling and spacious melodies leave the listener in musical delight!

The Bluefoot Project
Chocolate Fireguard
Soulful, yet supple vocals by Rachel is a trademark quality of the English trip-hop group, The Bluefoot Project. Downbeat, trip-hop, dance, acid jazz and experimental elements are incorporated on Brave. Brave is an adventurous mix of trip-hop beats and superb vocals with electronic infusions that are cleverly arranged. Fans of Massive Attack, Zero 7 and Lamb should be ‘brave’ and check out Brave. You will not be disappointed!

Pedro Luis Ferrer
Cuban singer and musician, Pedro Luis Ferrer, brings us the traditionally inspired album, Rustico. The Peruvian cajon, marimbula, African clave, bongos, tres and cowbell accompany Pedro’s vocals. Pedro’s daughter can also be heard on a couple of songs. Rustico is an essential release for Cuban music fans.

The Seven Valleys  
World Class    
Chief vocalist, Sonja Drakulich, presents us with a diverse repertoire and innovative rhythms. Regional musical influences from North Africa, Western Europe and Central Asia permeate throughout the songs. Specifically, Turkish, Bulgarian, Hungarian and Brittany-inspired musical elements are most evident. Various instruments including the dulcimer, frame drum, oud, violin, sarod, tambura, darbuka, saz, baglama, riqq, and many more confirm the musical diversity.

Various Artists
Madagascar: Valiha & Marovany
World Music Network 
The diverse musical influences in Madagascar are captured beautifully on Madagascar: Valiha & Marovany. Traditional Malagasy music styles include salegy, kalon ny fahiny, dombolo, tsapiky and others. Madagascar’s island rhythms incorporate band repertoires, bamboo-stringed instruments and unforgettable vocalizations. Those familiar with Rajery, Tarika and Jaojoby will find Madagascar: Valiha & Marovany to be an effervescent delight. Overall, several instruments and a dozen or more artists definitely convey the Malagasy spirit. A very fine recording with an informative booklet.

Yuiko Goto & Alejandra Ortiz
Kokoronoiro Records
Japanese pianist, Yuiko Goto, composes several songs featuring vocalist, Alejandra Ortiz. The simplicity of instrumentation and song content is brought to life through Alejandra’s uplifting, yet brief, vocalizations. Yuiko’s piano compositions flow from one idea, to one notion, to one feeling and beyond. Overall, Yuiko and Alejandra have come up with a creative, yet supple album of relaxing music in the realm of contemporary piano music. In other words, I would have to give Two, five out of five stars!

Energetic vocals and upbeat instrumentation is what Romashka is all about! Romashka plays gypsy, brass, Klezmer and hora inspired music. The violin, trumpet, sax, accordion, guitar, tuba, percussion and clarinet can be heard. Brass band fans will love the danceable rhythms and beats of Romashka. Don’t forget to bring your dancing shoes when you listen to this one!

Various Artists
Africa Music For Children: Congo to Zimbabwe
World Music Network
The Music For Change charity sampled 1,000 children that selected their favorite African music tracks. The result is African Music For Children: Congo to Zimbabwe. You will hear music from Mali, Congo, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Kenya, Guinea, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Mozambique. Musicians include Mory Kante, Issa Bagayogo, Mahotella Queens, Mabulu and others. Superb percussion, strings, balafons and vocalizations make this a necessary album for fans of African music of all ages.

Daby Balde
Introducing Daby Balde
World Music Network
Lead guitarist and vocalist, Daby Balde, hails from Senegal. Daby sings in several languages, including Fula, Wolof, Mandinka and French. Daby is accompanied by bass, violin, accordion, sax, kora, background vocals and assorted percussion. The music is representative of the Cassamance region of southern Senegal. Overall, Daby introduces us to Fouladou culture through music exploring spirituality, women, freedom and friendship. Introducing… is not a simple pop release; but rather a collection of carefully crafted set of songs stemming from Daby’s unique folk traditions. Perfect for Senegalese fans of contemporary folk music!

Papua New Guinea Stringbands w/Bob Brozman
Songs Of The Volcano
World Music Network     
World-renowned ethnomusicologist, Bob Brozman, teams up with the stringbands of Raboul, Papua New Guinea. Bob Brozman, a well-known guitarist, embarked on a project to save the fragile music of Rabul. The town is nestled between several volcanoes, which also threaten the ethnomusicological significance and preservation of Papua New Guinea music. Bob Brozman plays guitars in the style of the native stringbands for this release. Island percussion, choral vocals and ethnic instrumentation make Songs Of The Volcano a must-have album. Additionally, a DVD (NTSC & PAL formats) is included, which showcases Bob’s trials and tribulations of recording in the field and the making of the musical album in Rabaul. A booklet is also included with music history, filming information, track info, band info and more! 

Robin Olson
Performance Records
After initially requesting to play the drums during Robin’s childhood days, Robin was told by his mother to master the violin before moving on to the drums. The violin became an unexpected musical ‘passion’. Passion contains several years of work on violin, led by Robin Olson, and accompaniment is provided on bass, drums, guitars, piano and orchestral arrangements. Robin’s eclectic violin playing is progressive and inventive in nature. Traditional purists may be disappointed, however, Passion should be ‘passionately’ accepted by contemporary violin fans everywhere!

Matthew J. Forss graduated from Lakeland College-Sheboygan, Wisconsin in 2005 with a B.A. in Biology. He is currently enrolled as a full-time, graduate student at Northern Michigan University-Marquette, Michigan. He is pursuing a Master of Science degree in Exercise Physiology. Since 1998, he has collected numerous musical instruments and CDs from around the world. In 2000, he wrote a paper on Mongolian ethnomusicology, entitled: How Does Music Play An Important Role In The Life And Culture Of Mongolia? Currently, he has collected over 300 CDs that represent over 150 different countries. His general interests include ethnomusicology journalism and researching the traditional/contemporary ethnic music of various cultures from around the world. His specific, geographic areas of study include the traditional and popular music from Central Eurasia (especially Mongolia, Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan), North Africa (especially Mali, Mauritania, Western Sahara, Libya and Morocco), Scandinavia and Pacific Islands (especially New Zealand, Solomon Islands and New Caledonia). He also enjoys studying Uzbek, Tamasheq, Swedish and German linguistics. In November of 2000, he accepted the position of writing World Music CD reviews for this site.