New Reviews: October 5, 1998

Red Sky Beat is the new offering from Blue Chip Orchestra, a pop, electronic, New Age band from Austria on the Hearts of Space label. On this album the group combines an amazing array of musical elements, from skin drums, soulful chanting, hypnotic Native percussion, and much more. I would call this kind of music ambient and New Age because it surpasses so many categories. The Native American influence, however, dominates, as the songs use themes based on Dakota Indian creation myths.

Jaacov Shapiro is one of this century's best interpreters of Yiddish folk songs. His Arc Music release entitled Best of Yiddish Folk Songs contains sisteen traditional Yiddish folk songs presented with Shapiro's deep, warm voice. Yiddish culture is something which is all too fast disappearing, and artists like Shapiro are striving to keep this language alive. The brilliant liner notes and lyrics with guitar chords invite a very personal response from the listener.

Odù (Graviton/Atlantic) is the newest from the legendary King Sunny Ade and his African Beats. Ade has been stunning audiences for more than three decades with his unique brand of African music. The Nigerian singer, guitarist, and bandleader is best-known for 'juju,' which is a cross-cultural African style that combines Western pop and traditional African music. Electric guitars and synthesizers meet talking drums and other indigenous instruments. Odù is a very comprehensive work, combining themes of morality, honor, and spirituality. In fact, the album's title translated means enjoyment, good luck, and happiness.

Misia is a female vocalist born in Oporto, Portugal who relocated to Catalonia, Spain as a young woman. Born into the Iberian culture, on her new album Garras Dos Sentidos (Erato) she performs the Fado as seen through other musical cultures. The Fado is a kind of musical poem that Misia sets out to present as an urban song with great universal emotion, much of which can be heard in her voice, definitely the centerpiece of the album.