New World Music Reviews

Welcome to my "New World Music" page, which highlights new(ish) African, Asian, Latin American and Celtic records, and "miscellaneous" records that I had the good fortune to check out in Winter, 2010-2011. This page is added to as new records come in... If you want more to read more reviews, many others are archived nearby, and there are separate sections for various kinds of world music that you might like exploring as well.

Recommended Records: Winter, 2010-2011 | Review Archives

Arnaldo Antunes "Ao Vivo La Em Casa" (DVD) (Microservice, 2010)
Brazilian avant-popster Arnaldo Antunes has a new one... Could be fun!

Peter Bellamy "The Fox Jumps Over The Parson's Gate" (Topic, 1969)
In celebration of its 70th anniversary (in 2009) the Topic label has made an astonishing amount of its fabled catalogue available in download form. Here's a fine album from English trad purist Peter Bellamy -- long out of print, this is a real treat for fans of British folk music... Highly recommended!

Luka Bloom "Dreams In America" (Compass/Big Sky, 2010)
A solid set from Irish singer-songwriter Luka Bloom, who was once known -- many, many years ago -- as Barry Moore, brother of trad-folk icon Christy Moore. The opening tracks were the most compelling, particularly the penetrating "Bridge Of Sorrow" and "Love Is A Place I Dream Of"; Bloom has long since moved away from the confines of traditional folk, but he does tuck in a couple of nice ballads here, "Lord Franklin" and "Black Is The Color," amid the introspective, rueful contemporary material. I'm not a big new-folk fan, but I imagine Bloom's fans will be happy with this set, which has a steely intensity throughout. For example, the same folks who applaud him on the trio of live tracks that close this album out... I'm sure those enthusiastic Dublin fans have compatriots on this side of the ocean as well!

Vinicius Cantuaria "Samba Carioca" (Naive, 2010)
New jazz-tinged music from Brazilian MPB multi-instrumentalist Vinicius Cantuaria... Haven't heard it yet, but I imagine it's kinda groovy...

Amaro Da Souza/Haraldo De Oliveira "Saudades Do Brasil" (Arion, 1975)
A fabulous album, recently reissued in MP3 format... Half scholarly, ethno-musicological exposition, half butt-shakin' block party, this is a fab collection of instrumental tracks that run the gamut Brazilian dance styles, from thumping bass-heavy batucadas and slinky capoeira to sambas and proto-sambas like the maxixe, baiao and choro. Although true to the rhythms, Da Sousa's ensemble leans heavily towards the melody, which is just fine by me... The CD reissue features a half dozen or so extra tracks, separate from the original recordings with Da Souza's ensemble... they're a little less engaging, but certainly don't detract from the charm and vitality of the album. I love this disc!

Jovino Santos Neto/Various Artists "Veja O Som/See The Sound" (Adventure Music, 2010)
(Produced by Jovino Santos Neto & Richard Zirinsky, Jr.)

A 2-CD set, with one disc recorded in the United States and the other in Brazil. Jazz pianist Jovino Santos Neto jams with Brazilian greats such as Joao Donato, Monica Salmaso, Joyce Moreno and Paula Morelenbaum, as well as American players and Brazilian expats such as Paquito D'Rivera, Bill Frisell, Mike Marshall and Airto Moreira. These duets show Santos Neto's musicianship and affinity for his fellow musicians at its most stripped-down and basic; as someone who's not so keen on modern smooth jazz, per se, this less-conservative, back-to-basics approach is very much appreciated, bringing things back to composition and virtuosity rather than tonality and style. Worth checking out!

Maddy Prior "Hooked On Glory" (Park, 2010)
A 2-CD set that reissues a pair of early-'80s solo records from English folkie Maddy Prior (best known for her work in the Steeleye Span band). This includes the albums Hooked On Winning, from 1982, and 1983's Going For Glory, which have been out of print for ages.

Kate Rusby "Make The Light" (Pure, 2010)

Bridget St. John "A Pocketful Of Starlight: The Best Of Bridget St. John" (Cherry Red, 2010)

Bridget St. John "BBC Radio: 1968-1976" (Hux, 2010)
A 2-CD set...

Semara Budava/Various Artists "Bali: Les Gamelans Disparus/Devils And Wonders In Bali" (Fremeaux, 1974/2010)
(Recorded by Francois Jouffa)

A striking, and challenging, live performance recorded at a Balinese music festival in 1974... The main performance is of the Ramayana song-cycle, played by the Semara Budava gong ensemble with great fervor, power, and speed. This is a striking change of pace from most gamelan music I've heard, which tends to be relaxed and contemplative: here it's all flash and fire, with an almost punk-like intensity and drive. It is not, perhaps, music to have on in the background, but if you want to hear some Balinese gongs and percussion played with real speed-demon virtuosity, there are plenty of passages that may make your jaw drop, not just from the speed but also from the precision. A little on the piercing side, but definitely recommended.

Septeto Tipico De Sones "Oye Mi Voz..." (Ahi Nama, 2010)
(Produced by Adolfo Costales)

Sweet, lively acoustic tipico music from Cuba, with lots of tres guitar playing and old-school, raspy vocals and a vibrant rhythm section that gives these recordings a little extra punch. Nice trumpet work as well... All in all, a class act that harkens back to the good old days... Nice batch of original material as well: lead singer Ernesto Oliva wrote almost all the songs on this generously programmed album. If you like the style, this is a mighty fine record... Recommended!

Ravi Shankar & George Harrison "Collaborations" (Rhino/Dark Horse, 2010)
Indian sitar virtuoso famously introduced '60s pop-rock mega-ultra-superstar guitarist George Harrison to the delights of Indian classical music, bits of which found their way onto various Beatles album during the psychedelic years, as well as into Harrison's solo work. Their friendship and artistic collaborations continued over the years, as this generously-programmed box set shows. Included are three albums they worked on together: 1974's Krishna-delic Shankar Family & Friends was their first full-length collaboration, a record that featured contributions from Shankar's extended family as well as Harrison's rock'n'roll crew -- Billy Preston, Klaus Voormann, Ringo Starr, etc. -- jamming on several Shankar compositions, though sticking to a deep Indian groove. Also collected is 1976's Music Festival From India (a straight Indian classical concert bankrolled by Harrison) and the haunting, multi-textured Chants Of India, from 1997, which explores and builds on a historical trove of ancient Sanskrit chants. Finally there is a video disc of a 1974 Ravi Shankar concert held at the Royal Albert Hall in London, with Harrison appearing briefly to introduce the show. A very cool, compelling document of a richly productive and intensely spiritual friendship.

Heidi Talbot "The Last Star" (Compass, 2010)
(Produced by John McCusker)

I had just finished listening to a couple of different versions of the old Child Ballad, "Willie Taylor" -- one of great those girl-dresses-like-a-man sailor ballads that we just can't get enough of -- when this record crossed my desk, and opened with yet another fine version of that odd old song. The rest of the record follows suit, as Ms. Talbot (of Cherish The Ladies fame) delves into the sweeter side of traditional song. With fiddler John McCusker at the helm as producer, comparisons to Kate Rusby are perhaps not out of order -- Talbot's voice doesn't have the same heft as Rusby's, but she projects a similar warmth and cheerfulness, even when singing a sad song. An impressive cast of musicians and guest performers chime in, including fine harmonies from Kris Drever, Karine Polwart and Eddi Reader... All in all a lovely album!

Richard Thompson "Dream Attic" (Shout Factory, 2010)
Live recordings from a 2010 tour of the West Coast of America... Any Richard Thompson fans out there? Oh, right: you already have this, don't you? Of course you do.

Marcos Valle "Estatica" (Far Out, 2010)
New stuff from Brazilian cult fave Marcos Valle...

Various Artists "THE LOST CUBAN TRIOS OF CASA MARINA" (Ahi Nama, 2010)
A rich, beautiful set of Batista-era recordings, made in 1958 by two Polish Jews, brothers Harry and Morris Schrage, who fled to Cuba as young boys, refugees who emigrated during World War Two and fell in love with the island's vibrant musical culture. The groups they captured were Trio Melodicos and Trio Zamora, who sang in the sweet, antique style of the tipica tradition -- romantic, sentimental, serene, corny yet emotionally resonant and quite sweet melodically. The all-acoustic repertoire mixes Cuban and non-Latin American standards (such as "Mona Lisa") and even old chestnuts like "Besame Mucho." I found this album totally satisfying, the kind of record I can have on in the background for days on end, drinking in the rich textures of tradition and time. Highly recommended!

Various Artists "SALSA WORLD SERIES, v.1: VENEZUELA" (Walboomers, 2010)

Various Artists "SALSA WORLD SERIES, v.2" (Walboomers, 2010)

New To Me...

The McPeake Family "Wild Mountain Thyme" (Topic, 2009)
(Produced by Bill Leader)

A wild and unruly set of traditional (and traditional-sounding) folk songs from this venerable Belfast family band. This album is a reissue of their 1963 album for the Topic label, along with a four-song EP that introduced the world to the song "Will Ye Go Lassie Go," which is often thought of as a traditional ballad, but was actually written by the family patriarch Francis McPeake, a uileann pipe player who was well into his seventies when these recordings were made. In the 1950s, the McPeakes played to great acclaim in several folk concerts and large festivals; on this record they presented a wide range of styles and sounds, including lyrical ballads, rough-hewn folk tunes and several songs with rather unusual arrangements. It's a fascinating, invaluable snapshot of the early years of the Irish folk revival, from one of the nation's most influential groups. Recommended!

Romane "Impair & Valse" (Fremeaux & Associes, 1999)
A solid set of Django Reinhardt-style gypsy jazz from guitarist Romane Leguidcoq... The repertoire leans towards waltzes, but with a special lilt to it that these French pickers get. Nice stuff from one of the notable players of modern times.

Scan Tester "I Never Played To Many Posh Dances" (Topic, 2009)
You have to have a pretty high tolerance for the squeeky charms of the English concertina, but this set of archival recordings by legendary player Lewis "Scan" Tester is a treasure trove for fans of the instrument. This 2-CD set gathers over fifty tunes, many of which were adopted by younger musicians in folk revival groups such as the Old Swan Band. True, blue, old-time country dance music which will make any hardcore trad-folk purist swoon.

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