New Reviews: June 12, 2001

Da Lata
Sounds from the Tin
Palm Pictures

This remarkable ghost-like album winds together a complex variety of threads into a veritable sonic cloth. Smooth vocals and melodious strings are supported by ubiquitous percussion in multilayered strands, ranging from Yoruban to easy-listening and back to pop. The skillful Da Lata musicians are masters in the genre of fusion, to which this album is a grand tribute.

Various Artists
Tombstone Feast: Funerary Music of Carriacou
Rounder Records

From the Caribbean Voyage series of the Alan Lomax collection hails the "Big Drum" songs recorded in 1962 on Carriacou, one of many islands called the Grenadines. Funerary music for the final resting and honoring of the dead, which may take place ten years after death, the "Big Drum: songs originate, like most of Carriacou's people, from numerous African traditions. With extensive liner notes and lyrics, this CD is of archival quality.

Various Artists
Martinique: Cane Fields and City Streets
Rounder Records

Another in the Caribbean Voyage series of Alan Lomax recordings, this CD of drum songs of Martinique is an excellent introduction to the varied music of this complex Caribbean culture with which many Creole and African-American traditions are linked. The detailed liner notes comprise the equivalent of a small book, with much scholarly music of the common folk. Lyrics are included, in original form and in translation. Although several decades old, this CD is of fine quality both in content and clarity. Highly recommended.

Reviews by Jenece C. Gerber.