A Package of New Reviews

Dateline: May 12, 2000

There are even more reviews to be found in New Sounds and The Hot List.

Yiddish-language folk songs is an important part of Jewish music. Fran Kleiner has been keeping the tradition alive. A Fire Grows is her latest release that features twenty songs performed live at the Mermaid Inn, one of her various public performances - she has quite a reputation in the Philadelphia area for performing at weddings, book stores, festivals and Jewish community centres on a regular basis. Full of energy and accompanies only by her acoustic guitar, Kleiner's voice reveals little of the fact that she is in her seventies! The album's liner notes include English explanations of all of the songs, in addition to her reparté between songs to her audience.

Shafqat Ali Khan is heir to a musical dynasty stretching back to the sixteenth century. His self-titled album on the World Class Music label demonstrates his abilities as a classical vocalist in the Indian and Pakistani traditions - with a contemporary flair. His voice contains all of the elements of a classical Hindi singer: a large range, tonality and stamina. He began training for his khyal singing career since the age of four, under the instruction of his father. Thanks to Dad, who gave him permission to explore newer musical forms such as ghazal (poetic Punjabi love songs originating in the nineteenth century), Shafqat chose a repertoire for this album of a wide selection of ghazals set to an electric-acoustic mix of synths, guitar, and percussion.

Rasa is a word in Sanskrit that refers to the essence of "Divine Love" - emotional fulfillment of the soul. Rasa is also the duo of vocalist Kim Waters and instrumentalist Hans Christian who found common ground in the sacred Hindi music of India. Waters has had an interest in Indian devotional songs for many years, singing the songs of the Vaisnava saints and, in her other artistic life, creating illustrations of sacred Indian imagery. Christian is a classically trained cellist born in Germany who has mastered Indian instruments such as the sarangi. Devotion (Hearts of Space) is an album which celebrates their musical and personal union and features their interpretations of sacred Sanskrit chants and Bengali devotional songs.

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