New Reviews: June 2006

Reviews by Matthew Forss

Gold & Wax
Palm Pictures 

Gigi is an Ethiopian songstress that mixes African, Indian and Western melodies 
and instrumentation on Gold & Wax. Produced by Bill Laswell, Gold & Wax features 
the talents of Ustad Sultan Khan on sarangi, Karsh Kale on tabla and others on 
keyboard and avant-garde instrumentation. The entire album contains an electronic 
backbone with Gigi’s supple, yet clear vocals with engaging instrumentation and 
melodies. The vocalizations and electronic instrumentation of UK’s Beth Orton 
and Italy’s Nuklearte come to mind. Gold & Wax is an excellent contemporary 
release out of Ethiopia. The jazzy, electronic downbeat rhythms and somewhat 
meditative and mildly energetic vocals are very easy to listen to. Gold & Wax 
is definitely gold to my ears! 

Maurice el Medioni & Roberto Rodriguez
Descarga Oriental: New York Sessions

Algeria’s Maurice el Medioni and Cuba’s Roberto Rodriguez, showcase the jazzy elegance 
of a trendy lounge club. New York Sessions incorporates Latin Jazz with North African 
rhythms with some American instrumentation. The piano, darbuka, organ, bass, trumpet 
and other percussion instruments are utilized. Some vocals are also present. New York 
Sessions is a magnificent recording for dance and relaxation.  

Mande Wazy

A number of Afro-Pop string bands, including Tarika, Rajery and others, have come out 
of Madagascar in recent times. Now, you can add Wa-Zimba to the list of popular bands. 
Mande Wazy includes guitar rhythms with Malagasy flute and string percussion and  
unmistakable vocals. Each track is richly textured with instrumentation and traditional 
Malagasy rhythms. Mande Wazy should not be passed up. This is essential for African music 
fans and Madagascar music fans in particular.     

Various Artists
World Music Network 

The Latin sounds of the Dominican Republic are numerous, but the latest 
Rough Guide release focuses on the merengue style of music. The merengue 
style of music rose to prominence in the Dominican Republic in the 1930’s. 
The music went through some instrumental changes, including an almost complete 
removal of the accordion in the 1960’s. Today, meringue music is mixed with hip hop, 
rock and jazz elements. Merengue showcases several notable groups that convey the 
meringue spirit. Each track has lively vocals and instrumentation. The beats will 
give your feet and ears a workout!

Asphalt Tango Records

Kal hails from Belgrade, Serbia. Kal can be translated to mean ‘black’. Kal is a 
Gypsy band that incorporates blues, jazz, tangos, horas, waltzes and urban compositions. 
The music utilizes a big band sound and evocative vocals. Fans of Balkan jazz, Klezmer 
and Gypsy music should pick up Kal without hesitation! This is Balkan music at its best! 

Boban Markovic Orkestar feat. Marko Markovic 
The Promise

Serbia’s Boban and Marko Markovic, have transcended the musical attributes of ages 
past to bring us an incredible selection of brass band compositions from the Balkans. 
The tracks are almost entirely instrumental, except for one track sung in Macedonian. 
Great Brass band sounds, Klezmer-like melodies, Gypsy rhythms and European hora arrangements 
lay the foundation for The Promise. You will not be disappointed with any recording by 
the Markovic family! 

Romica Puceanu & The Gore Brothers
Sounds From A Bygone Age: Vol. 2
Asphalt Tango Records

The Lautari music of Romania was an old-time music that included the violin, double bass, 
cymbalom, accordion, cobza and vocals. Romica Puceanu & The Gore Brothers were pioneers 
in Lautari music. Sounds From A Bygone Age: Vol. 2 was recorded in the 1960’s. However, 
all the tracks are clear and in excellent condition. Romica’s vocals are heartfelt and 
expressive. Fans of Balkan brass, jazz, classical, Klezmer, hora and other similar 
genres should acquire the music of a bygone age. Superb!  

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.