New Reviews: August 1, 2001


Varttina is a six-piece ensemble from Finland that performs traditional folk songs with contemporary Nordic arrangements. In the Finish creation myth, Ilmatar is the Goddess of Air. Beautiful harmonic pieces sung by female vocalists create a wide range of sounds and moods, from eerie and haunting to joyous and melodic. Some of the instruments used include, the kaval, soprano saxophone, bouzouki, Galician bass, cumbus tanbur, klong yaw, tama, surdo, shekere, accordion, guitar and a few unusual musical instruments including a bucket and broom. Overall, the instruments and voices blend wonderfully. Fans of similar Nordic groups, such as Garmarna (Sweden), Sorten Muld (Denmark) and Gjallahorn (Sweden) will certainly enjoy Ilmatar.

Midaq Alley
Psychic Enemies Network

David Chapman, Jeff Kreis and John Thorne return with yet another album that delves into the musical unknown. Midaq Alley contains experimental, but organized musical rhythms. The electronic ambiance found on their Valis album are not nearly as noticeable on Midaq Alley. Midaq Alley features a blend of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean jazz elements. The trumpet, balalaika, dumbek, African kettle drum, bells, djemba and tongue drums are audibly more defined. Midaq Alley contains mostly instrumental pieces, but sporadic spoken words can be heard throughout the album. Fans of the above mentioned instruments used in an experimental/ambient setting will enjoy Midaq Alley.

The Other Side
Chris Washburne and the Syotos Band

Trombonist Chris Washburne and his Syotos Band play mainly Latin salsa/mambo jazz music from the USA. A few days before the recording sessions of The Other Side, Tito Puente passed away. Tito Puente was suppossed to record a few songs on the album as a featured guest. Having been inspired immensely by Tito's music, Chris decided to arrange several songs composed by Tito Puente on this album. Chris Washburne and the Syotos Band's Latin jazz rhythms and instruments will satisfy any true fan of instrumental Latin jazz music.

Reviews by Matthew J. Forss.