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 Fall, 2012. 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: Fall, 2012 | Review Archives | World Music Index

Luka Bloom "This New Morning" (Compass, 2012)
(Produced by Luka Bloom & Brian Masterson)

New stuff from Irish folkie Luka Bloom, with backing from Glen Hansard, Donal Lunny, and others... This has a more acoustic, less pop feel than some of his other recent work, gentle and pastoral, but still very much in the introspective/contemporary folk mode. Not quite my cup of tea, but fans will be pleased.

Les Chaussettes Noires "L'Integrale" (Polydor-France, 2011)
Possibly the all-around best French rock band of the 1960s, Les Chaussettes Noires featured singer Eddie Mitchell backed by the wickedly talented guitar duo of William Bennaim (lead) and Tony D'Arpa (rhythm), whose sleek, surf-based style matched or even excelled the best rockers in the British and American scenes. While many French rockers were pale shadows of their non-Gallic inspirations, Les Chaussettes were a remarkably solid, soulful band, with a confident, well-rounded sound much like the poppier post-garage American bands inspired by the Beatles. The original quintet was formed in 1959 and lasted until 1964; Mitchell was drafted by the French army in '62 and then went on to a successful solo career, leading Les Chaussettes to disband in '64. This 6-CD box set includes straight reissues (with bonus tracks) of five of their albums: 100% Rock and Rock'n'Twist, both from 1961; Le 2,000,000e Disque Des Chaussettes Noires (1962); the soundtrack Comment Reussir En Amour, 1963's Chaussettes Noires Party and an additional disc of rarities and demos. This updates and supersedes the Long Box collection of a few years ago... If you want to hear some fun, swinging '60s French rock -- some of the best -- this is a pretty groovy set!

Weber Iago "Piano Masters, Volume Three" (Adventure Music, 2012)
(Produced by Weber Iago & Jim Luce)

A set of exploratory, intimate solos from Brazilian pianist Weber Iago, performing on a Fazioli grand piano, which has a very bright tone. It's a very "jazzy" set, and includes several fully-improvised compositions in addition to other Weber originals. Not as "Brazilian" as I'd like, but fans of challenging, classical-tinged jazz piano might want to check this out.

Keith Kendrick & Sylvia Needham "Well Dressed" (Wild Goose Studios, 2012)

Carlos Nunez "Discover Carlos Nunez" (Sony-RCA Victor, 2012)
A far-reaching and imaginative career overview of Spanish bagpipe virtuoso Carlos Nunez, who has worked with the Irish supergroup the Chieftains, and with countless others over the years. Along with groups such as Milladoiro, Nunez represents the little-known Celtic-influenced culture of Galicia, where pipes known as gaitas take Celtic musical themes into fascinating new directions. As heard here, he loves undertaking cross-cultural collaborations with artists in classical, traditional and popular music, and thus we hear him with musicians as diverse as the Chieftains, Los Lobos, Sinead O'Connor, Brazilians Carlinhos Brown and Lenine, avant-pop's Laurie Anderson, roots-music legend Ry Cooder, various members of Cuba's Buena Vista Social Club collective, and even a few surprise voices from yesteryear such as Mike Scott of the Waterboys. This compilation has a little something for everyone, as well as a few tunes that may not work as well for various listeners. (I myself don't really care for the sugary soundtrack material, but was moved by many of the more distinctly Celtic songs, and intrigued by some of the collaborations outside of Nunez's own background -- into samba or fado, etc. Definitely worth checking out.

Ricardo Silveira "Storyteller" (Adventure Music, 2012)
(Produced by Ricardo Silveira & Marcel East)

A reissue of a 1995 album by Brazilian jazz guitarist Ricardo Silveira... Plain old fusion-jazz-muzak, as far as I can tell. The supporting musicians mainly seem to be non-Brazilians, though I'm not familiar with most of their names. Anyway, it's not as "Brazilian" (ie: samba-influenced) as I prefer... Pretty much a straight-up soft jazz set.

Saor Patrol "Duncarron: Scottish Pipes And Drums Untamed" (ARC Music, 2012)
(Produced by Paul Kane)

Celtic batucada? Well, maybe: a battery of large drums thunder behind the supple, shrill Scottish bagpipes of Charlie "Chick" Allen, who is one of the deftest pipers you're ever likely to hear. The rhythms and arrangements are innovative and fresh, with a playful, elastic rock'n'roll undercurrent but not quite a "crossover" feel. The basic drums'n'pipes doesn't very much over the course of the album, but the musicianship is impressive -- one thing's for sure, seeing these guys live must be pretty amazing. However, if you're listening at home, and yo have a cat in the house, you might have a little explaining to do. Unless, of course, you've got one of those rare felines that like the sound of bagpipes, in which case you'll be treated like a god.

Saor Patrol "Two Headed Dog: Duncarron Electric" (ARC Music, 2012)
(Produced by Paul Kane)

This electrified album features the same songs as Saor Patrol's acoustic Duncarron album, with a crannngggy rock guitar on top and the same songs arranged in a slightly different order. I think it's the same bagpipe-and-drum performances, just with the guitar added on top. I'm sure that live the sharp power chords add a lot of drama, but I found that on record it distracted from the drums and competed too much with the pipes, filling too much of the same aural space. Still, this sure ain't your grandpa's Scottish music: if I ever get a chance to see these guys live, I'll be sure to pound a few back first and whoop as loud as I can when the guitar kicks in.

Walter Wanderley "Festas Dancantes Vol. 1" (Discobertas, 2012)
This much-welcomed box set gathers four of Brazilian organist Walter Wanderley's earliest albums, all long out of print for several decades. Included are: Eu, Voce E Walter Wanderley (1959), Feito sob medida from 1959, Sucessos Dancantes from 1960, and O Sucesso E Samba, also from 1960. Hardcore fans will want to snap this puppy up!

Walter Wanderley "Festas Dancantes Vol. 2" (Discobertas, 2012)
The second box-set in this series collects four more albums: O Samba E Samba Com Walter Wanderley (1961), Samba E Mais Samba com Walter Wanderley (1961), O Bolero E Walter Wanderley (1962), and Samba No Esquema De Walter Wanderley (1963) many of which are reviewed below. Rare material from his Odeon years.

New To Me...

Bruno Coquatrix/Various Artists "Ses Premieres Succes, Ses Premieres Interpretes" (Marianne Melodie, 2010)
A grand 3-CD songbook set exploring the work of popular French composer Bruno Coquatrix, who owned the fabled Paris Olympia music hall, and composed hundreds of songs for the operettas and popular chanson. His work, interpreted here by the top artists of three decades, tends to be mid-tempo or contemplative, but never slow or morose. Indeed, this is an extraordinarily lovely collection, immensely pleasant and rich, featiring classic recordings by Jospehine Baker, Lucienne Boyer, Jean Sablon, Henri Salvador, Sacha Distel, and many, many others, including a number of stage performers who are quite obscure now. The third disc features a number of live performances at the fabled Olympia theatre. Very enjoyable, and highly recommended.

Fernandel "Le Flamboyant" (EMI, 2008)
A superb 2-CD, multi-label retrospective of the horse-faced French comedic actor Fernand Joseph Desire Contandin -- best known by his stage-name, Fernandel. When I first listened to this collection, I assumed the opening tracks were later material, recorded in the 1950s or '60s, since the sound quality was so good... But no, this is just well-produced material from the golden age of French music and film, recorded mainly in the 1930s, with a few tunes in the '40s. Almost all the songs feature the orchestra of bandleader Pierre Chagnon, with a few by George Dervaux and one with Raymond Legrand -- the jaunty, good-humored music is inventive and clever, blending big-band and orchestral themes while perfectly punctuating Fernandel's own expert performances. This is largely comedic material, but it's delivered with great skill and subtle shadings and precise phrasing and, for listeners who are studying French, Fernandel's diction is quite clear. Most of all, it's fun, surprisingly engaging for comedic material, and only occasionally getting stuck on gimmicks or schtick. Highly recommended!

Archie Fisher "The Man With A Rhyme" (Folk Legacy, 1976)
(Produced by Sandy Paton)

A lovely set of pastoral trad-folk from Scottish singer-songwriter Archie Fisher... This was his first album recorded in the United States, with gentle, sympathetic accompaniment by a few acoustic musicians -- a bit of fiddle, dulcimer, cello and flute -- though mainly it's Fisher's voice and guitar that fill the frame. This album, which originally came out in the 1970s, is of a piece with his highly-lauded (and equally beautiful) Will Ye Gang, Love, a rich and rewarding Celtic folk set which features a nice mix of traditional ballads and original compositions. Highlights include the original version of Fisher's "Witch Of The West-Mer-Lands" (later recorded by several artists) and a CD bonus track, a haunting version of "Helen Of Kirkconnell," from the canon of Scottish slain-lover ballads. Marvellous.

Oswaldo Nunes "Aquele Abraco: O Melhor De Osvaldo Nunes" (Novo Esquema)
A really fun collection of stuff by Brazilian samba-rock pioneer Oswaldo Nunes, an obscure but irresistible singer of the late 1960s/early '70s era. The sound quality on this Mexican pressing (and perhaps on the original recordings) has its roughnesses, but the music is a blast. If you can track this down, it'll fit in nicely with all kind of classic Brazilian pop. Nice, swinging version of the Gilberto Gil-penned title track, too!

Atahualpa Yupanqui "Solo Lo Mejor De..." (Music Brokers-Argentina, 2003)
I love Argentine troubadour Atahualpa Yupanqui's work, and I've had this best-of collection on my radar for a few years now, and finally decided to pick it up. Yay. Glad I did. Like all Yupanqui's work, this is solemn, powerful, richly rewarding music, with dazzling yet understated guitar work and his deep, mysterious vocals. With only fourteen tracks, this scratches the surface of his vast repertoire, but will be profoundly satisfying to newcomers and devoted fans alike... Certainly an excellent introduction to his work.

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