New Reviews: May 17, 2001

Viva Mindelo
Lusafrica/Harmonia Mundi USA

Hailing from the expatriate Cape Verdean Fantcha, is Viva Mindelo, a fabulously upbeat yet sensual offering of Afro-Portuguese vocal World Music. A tribute to the city and carnival life into which she was born, Viva Mindelo is Fantcha’s second Lusafrica release. Featured are African-, Cuban- and Brazilian-influenced torch songs and dance numbers arranged with full band, most notably including the Portuguese stringed caraquinho. This CD is a fitting tribute also to Fantcha’s mentor Cesaria Evora and the passionate culture from which they sing.

Post Scriptum
Cristina Branco
Harmonia Mundi USA

A totally mesmerizing, passionately mysterious and original release, Post Scriptum holds an enormous weight of sadness so deep and wide, it is unfathomable. In her re-invention of the Portuguese Fado lamenting tradition, Branco has chosen many new texts, for which guitar accompanist Custodio Castelo composed new music, woven with delicate threads of blues and jazz. In this, her impressive debut US recording, young Branco has already emerged as a true Fado interpreter, even as an ambassador of the human spirit. Beyond words!

Mulemba Xangola
Lusafrica/Harmonia Mundi

Mulemba Zangola is a spectacular CD from former Angolan freedom activist Bonga, the most well known performer in the Angolan semba musical tradition. Bonga’s raspy, gruff voice is compelling in the slow serious songs as well as those upbeat Afropop songs. Although even the liner notes are entirely in Portuguese, a roots album like this one with sprightly percussion, guitars and vocals goes down in the histories of the character of a people. Essential early Friday evening repertoire.

Reviews by Jenece C. Gerber.