New Reviews: April 2, 2003

My Ireland
Ian Gallagher
Rego Records

Hailing from Roscommon County, Ireland, Ian Gallagher has been performing traditional Irish songs and American pop tunes for the past thirty-five years. My Ireland showcases Irish songs and instrumentals, as well as 1950's American pop standards. Various percussion, accordion, sax, clarinet, trumpet, piano, trombone, guitar, bass and vocal harmonies accompany the tunes. A strong sense of lounge jazz, bop, and even swing, is evident in some of the American song remakes. Fans of the New York Irish music scene should surely acquire My Ireland.

Review by Matt Forss

Dream Scapes
Steve Reid
Eagle Music Group

Dream Scapes is the latest effort of world, smooth and experimental jazz, by jazz maestro Steve Reid. Each track possesses solid jazz rhythms backed with soulful vocals, ethnic percussion and tribal grooves. Beautiful and rich melodies showcase Steve's musical abilities as a producer, engineer and percussionist. Various world percussion, guitars, bass, sax, flute, electronic wind instrument (EWI) and keyboards complete the sound of Dream Scapes. Fans of smooth, world, vocal, lounge and experimental jazz should acquire Dream Scapes.

Review by Matt Forss

Idrissa Diop
Tinder Records

Senegalese-native, Idrissa Diop, brings us amazing Afro-Pop jazz from the heart of West Africa. Incredible female and male backup vocals accentuate the contemporary melodies. Each track contains traditional African elements mixed with contemporary instrumentation and arrangements. Instruments used include electric/acoustic bass, keyboards, guitar, drums, saxophones, trombone, trumpet, violin and ethnic percussion. The songs are sung in Wolof and French. Generally, Idrissa and his band perform a wide range of melodic expression. Overall, fans of West African popular music should check out Yakar.

Review by Matt Forss

Various Artists
(PUT 205-2, 2002)

Calypso, that combination of Caribbean rhythm, lyrical sleight-of-hand, colonialist social commentary and fun-in-the-sun vibes, was some of the first "world" music to achieve notable popularity beyond its point of origin. Despite the predominance of modern incarnations of calypso (soca, rapso, chutney, etc), a healthy number of listeners retain a passion (or a flat-out preference) for vintage recordings of the music. Several labels have churned out various or single artist collections of the old stuff, and this Putumayo disc is a very satisfying compilation of what the back cover calls "calypso and calypso-influenced music." In other words, not every track is strictly calypso. There's mento (precursor to Jamaican reggae), folk and jazz done Caribbean style and African-influenced junkanoo to be heard here, but despite the rather disingenuous title, the musical offerings are bountifully enjoyable. While some of the tracks, such as George Symonette's "Touch Me Tomato" and Frankie Anderson's familiar "Limbo Song" reinforce the sort of stereotyping often associated with calypso, there's no denying their infectious charm. Besides, there's a fair number of more substantial tunes, like the Percentie Brothers' "Goombay Drum" and the rather tragic "Linstead Market" by Lord Composer, to balance things out. In the CD's liner notes the compilers lament what couldn't be included, but what they have on hand is quite fine.

Review by Tom Orr

Matthew J. Forss is currently a full-time student at Lakeland College-Sheboygan, Wisconsin. He is majoring in Biology and German Language/Culture. Since 1998, he has collected numerous musical instruments and CDs from around the world. Also in 1998, he wrote a paper on Mongolian Ethnomusicology, titled: How Does Music Play An Important Role In The Life And Culture Of Mongolia? Currently, he has collected over 100 CDs that represent dozens of 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, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan.) In November of 2000, he accepted the position of writing world music CD reviews for this site.

Tom Orr is a Southern California-based freelance writer, actor, percussionist, 9 to 5-er, husband, daddy, and aspiring deep thinker. He acquires more music than he has time to listen to, and feels the only solution is to acquire even more.