Holiday greetings! As the year 2000 is winding down, I am taking the time to contemplate the year in World Music. To be honest, the only downside of running and maintaining World Music at About is the total overload of great music that comes my way -- I simply can't review it all, much as I try.That said, I want to present as my final article of 2000, a collection of some of the best CDs I have gotten a hold of over the past year, which I have not yet had the chance to review. So fasten your seatbelts -- this is going to be a whirlwind ride! Charles Aznavour, one of the few French language performers to gain popularity outside of France has an excellent double album entitled Aznavour Live: Palais des Congrès 97/98 (EMI Music France). As the title implies, this is a collection of his greatest hits sung live during a two year concert series, and includes a "virtual" duet with Edith Piaf, the late singer who gave Aznavour his break in show business. Putumayo World Music is, as always, in fine form with a variety of music samplers, such as Music from the Tea Lands (Asian), Italian Musical Odyssey (from southern Sicily to northern Venice) and A Jewish Odyssey (an excellent compilation of klezmer, Sephardic and contempoary Jewish sounds). A Putumayo World Christmas made its way to me just in time to include it here -- and how appropriate, with the season being right upon us. The album features Christmas songs from around the World including artists from Brazil, Norway and the USA. The Rough Guides, from World Music Network, present a survey of music from a specific culture and are meant to complement the print versions of the same titles. The latest selections include Cuban Son, Hawaii, Cumbia (Columbian dance), Salsa (a release with proceeds going to Oxfam), and Bhangra. Several of these titles are enhanced CDs. If it is Scandinavian and Balkan music you are craving, sister labels NorthSide and Omnium have two selections of note: Byss-Calle from Nyckelharpa Orchestra, who present a collection of compositions from Byss-Calle, a master of the keyed, stringed instrument; and Ciganine from band Sviraj, purveyors of tamburitza, an instrumental and vocal tradition of the Balkans. Sjofn from Gjallahorn is another release to check out, fusing traditional Finnish and Swedish music. This is Samba, volumes one and two, are an excellent introduction to the Brazilian beat. On Rounder, both CDs contain a variety of performers and is touted as being "real, authentic and fundamental". Speaking of Brazilian music, Homeless (M.E.L.T. 2000) from percussionist Airto Moreiro is his first solo album in seven years, and features mixes jazz and global dance rhythms. Heading over to Cuba, we have Soneros de Cuba (Cuban Son) from El Septeto Nacional Ignacio Pineiro, a band formed in 1927 and has had a variety of artists of all ages come through its ranks over the last 70 years. The album is on Real Rhythm Records, a new Swiss-based label. That does it for now -- have happy and safe holidays and look for more artist profiles and reviews in 2001!