Category Archives: CD Reviews

Thrilling Oumou Sangaré with a Modern Twist

Oumou Sangaré – Mogoya (No Format!, 2017)

After nearly 10 years since she recorded her last album, the great world music star Oumou Sangaré has a new album titled Mogoya. Oumou is Mali’s finest female and a leading figure in African and world music. She’s also a songwriter who writes most of her material.

Mogoya is a fabulous recording that combines Malian tradition with western trip hop modernity along with some good humor.

Oumou invited trailblazing Nigerian drummer Tony Allen, one of the pioneers of Afrobeat, who adds his memorable signature drum style on “Yere Faga,” a song that provides support to individuals suffering from depression.

 

 

The lineup includes Oumou Sangaré on vocals; Toni Allen on drums; Kandy Guira on backing vocals; Guimba Kouyaté on guitar; Benogo Diakité on kamele ngoni; and French production collective A.L.B.E.R.T. (Vincent Taurelle, Ludovic Bruni and Vincent Taeger), who added cutting edge electronic keyboards and other instruments tastefully.

 

 

Mogoya is an excellent, beautifully-crafted album by Oumou Sangaré, one of the greatest vocalists in Africa. It was well worth the wait.

Buy Mogoya

Buy Mogoya in Europe

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Spellbinding Indian Trance Sounds from Moscow

Zaindiveli – Sagar (SKMR-134, 2016)

Zaindiveli is a remarkable project from Russia. The ensemble combines mesmerizing ambient electronics and trip hop with electric and acoustic musical instruments. The musicians are deeply influenced by Indian music and jazz as well.

Highlights include the opening track, “Sagar” that features rich electronic textures. Track 3, “Wheel Prayer (Prayer Wheels Remake”) features Indian tabla, bansuri and Indian-style violin accompanied by electronic textures and beats. The violin performance is spectacular and leaves you wanting more.

Other goodies include the rhythmic “Ouimix” featuring a combination of electronic and acoustic rhythms.

The Indian influences return on “Haldi” with more masterful violin work.

The final track is also a high point. It’s a meditative piece with electroacoustic ambience and Indian-style vocals.

Zaindiveli was developed by two Moscow-based multi-instrumentalists, Gennady Lavrentiev and Kirill Parenchuk in the 1990s. Additional musicians were later added, including Oleg Mariakhin on saxophones, Sergey “Grebstel” Kalachov on bass, Andrey Demidenko on dhrupad vocals and bansuri, Dmitry Losev on keyboardss and electroacoustics and Vladislava Yakupova on bila (Russian flat bells).

Despite the smooth jazz saxophone on a couple of tracks, the overall result is very satisfactory. The electronics and Indian music influences are beautifully composed and masterfully performed.

Buy the digital download version of or the CD from sketismusic.bandcamp.com

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Cuba! Cuba! Discoveries

Various Artists – Cuba! Cuba! (Putumayo World Music, 2017)

World music compilation label Putumayo revisits the music of Cuba on Cuba! Cuba!, an album that features a mix of Cuba-based artists and other acts based in the United States.

The collection features a handful of well-known artists along with musicians that are less familiar. The songs selection leans towards the traditional side of Cuban music, including son cubano and guajira music.

Highlights include “Oriente” by Asere, “Caballo Viejo” by La Familia Valera Miranda, “Guajira” by Al Valdés y su conjunto, “El Carretero” by Roberto Torres, “Me Dieron La Clave” by legendary Septeto Nacional Ignacio Piñeiro, the now classic “Chan Chan” by Armando Garzón, and “Puente a Mi Gente” by José Conde y Ola Fresca.

The release of this album, and another one titled Cuban Playground, coincide with the announcement of a partnership with an American company called insightCuba that specializes in Cuban tours for Americans. The first Putumayo Cuba! Cuba! Tour is scheduled for November 6th-11th in Havana, and is expected to feature intimate and exclusive performances with internationally recognized Cuban artists along with other cultural activities.

For more information about the Putumayo Cuba! Cuba! Tour and other insightCuba tours, visit www.insightcuba.com or call 800-450-CUBA.

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Flamencos from Hamburg

Selva Negra – Mar lleno

Selva Negra – Mar lleno (Trekel Records/ Selva Negra Music SNM003, 2016)

German duo Selva Negra (black forest in Spanish) draws its inspiration from Spanish flamenco, Latin American music and jazz. Selva Negra’s sound revolves around Björn Vollmer’s guitar and electric bass and Steffen Hanschmann’s percussion.

There’s a nice balance between lively pieces and laid back material. Björn Vollmer’s guitar style is inspired by current Spanish guitarists and does a very good job at staying true to flamenco. Meanwhile, Steffen Hanschmann uses percussion that is typically found in modern flamenco: cajón and palmas.

Guests include Omar Calvo on double bass and Illian Garnet on violin.

Mar lleno showcases the talent of two young German musicians from northern Germany heavily inspired by flamenco.

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MarchFourth’s New Orleans Adventure

MarchFourth – Magic Number (MarchFourth, 2016)

Despite being based in the West Coast, the music of brass band MarchFourth has deep roots in the sound of New Orleans. MarchFourth is a very large ensemble featuring a considerable brass and percussion section plus electric guitars and bass. Additionally, MarchFourth includes gymnasts, costumes, dancers and entertainers on stilts in its live shows.

The band’s latest album Magic Number was recorded in New Orleans and features an irresistible mix of jazz and funk along with some rock numbers, fiery blues harmonica and some Latin American influences. All the music is original, composed by band members.

MarchFourth’s sound has evolved and features more guitar and vocals than previous albums. The band’s name has also changed from MarchFourth! Marching Band to simply MarchFourth.

The lineup includes Katie Presley and Paul Chandler on trumpets; Daniel Lamb and Anthony Meade on trombones; Michelle Christiansen on alto saxophone; Cameron DePalma and Andy Shapiro on tenor saxophone; Jon Vancura on baritone and bass saxophone; Jenny DiDonato on drums and percussion; Cheo Larcombe on bass drum and percussion; Will McKinney on toms and percussion; Dan Stauffer on cymbals; and Jake Wood on snare drums and percussion; John Averill on electric bass; Jon Vancura on guitar; and Taylor Aglipay on guitars and baritone saxophone.

 

 

Magic Number features the following guests: Trombone Shorty on trombone; Stanton Moore on drums; Matt Perrine on tuba; and Ben Ellman on harmonica.

 

 

MarchFourth’s Magic Number is a delightful and highly entertaining explosion of brass, drums and much more.

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Santur Soul

Renzo Ruggiero – Alma (Phenix 001, 2017)

Alma is the new album by Italian santur virtuoso Renzo Ruggiero. Alma is a beautifully-crafted work featuring spirited world music instrumental pieces rooted in Mediterranean, Spanish and Middle Eastern melodies along with dreamy slow tempo, trance-like pieces. All the compositions are originals by Ruggiero except for a 12th century song and a Gurdieff-De Hartmann piece.

Ruggiero currently lives in Toledo, the ancient city in central Spain, not far from Madrid, that has become a home to many artists. An international cast of talented instrumentalists join Ruggiero on the album.

The lineup on Alma includes Renzo Ruggiero on santur, acoustic bass guitar, vocals, nyckelharpa, steel tongue drums, percussion, sound design; Javier Paxariño (Spain) on saxello and bansuri; Hames Bitar (Syria) on oud; Susana Shiava (Spain) on Tibetan singing bowls; and Anna Sato (Japan); Amable Rodríguez (Spain) on guitar; and Michele Carreca (Italy) on guitar and theorbo.

 

 

Alma is a mesmerizing work that showcases the talent and versatility of Renzo Ruggiero and his multi-faceted santur.

Buy the digital download version of Alma or get the CD from https://beloud.co/shop/en/renzoruggiero.

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Ojibway Flute Meditations

Various Artists – Native American Flute – Wolf Tracks, The Hoopdancer, Grey Owl Walking

Various Artists – Native American Flute – Wolf Tracks, The Hoopdancer, Grey Owl Walking (ARC Music EUCD2660, 2016)

Native American Flute – Wolf Tracks, The Hoopdancer, Grey Owl Walking is an album of traditional melodies performed by members of the Ojibway people (also known as Ojibwe or Chippewa). The album consists of beautiful flute melodies with or without accompaniment.

On some of the pieces the flute is accompanied by gentle drums, rattles, guitars, soundscape electronics, and sounds of nature such as the wind, rain, thunderstorms, howling wolves, crickets and more.

Wolf Tracks, The Hoopdancer, Grey Owl Walking is ideal for relaxing, while the flute lets your mind wander.

Buy Native American Flute – Wolf Tracks, The Hoopdancer, Grey Owl Walking

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Mandinka Trailblazer

Ba Cissoko – Djeli (Cristal Records, 2016)

Djeli is the title of the latest album by Guinean multi-instrumentalist and composer Ba Cissoko. He’s a jeli (griot) who has mastered various string instruments, including the kora, ngoni, and guitar.

Djeli features a mix of original Afro-rooted material, including vibrant electric Mandinka music, Afropop, reggae and some traditional-style Mandinka pieces.

The lineup includes Ba Cissoko on kora, ngoni, guitar and vocals; his cousin Kourou Kouyaté on bass; Alhassane Camara (aka Dartagnan) on drums and percussion; Abdoulaye Kouyaté on guitar; and Karamoko Bangoura on kora.

 

 

Djeli features memorable performances by some of the finest musicians in the current Guinean scene.

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Remarkable Solo Celtic Guitar

Soïg Sibéril – Habask (Coop Breizh, 2017)

Virtuoso guitarist Soïg Sibéril has become of the finest performers in the Celtic guitar field. He’s been involved in countless musical projects with leading Breton and Celtic music artists.

Although he’s recorded solo albums before, Habask is truly a solo album, with no guests. It’s just Soïg and his guitar, playing acoustic music inspired by the traditional music of various Celtic cultures.

Habask features mesmerizing originals by Soïg Sibéril along with adaptations of traditional songs from Brittany and other parts of the Celtic music world.

Habask delivers exceptionally expressive acoustic guitar performances rooted in Celtic music.

Buy the digital download version of Habask. Or buy the CD from www.coop-breizh.fr

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Danny Barnes Celebrates Acoustic Bluegrass Banjo

Danny Barnes – Stove Up (Wendell Records, 2016)

Stove Up is the first acoustic bluegrass recording focused on the banjo released by multi-faceted musician Danny Barnes. The acclaimed banjo virtuoso invited seasoned bluegrass musicians to collaborate on Stove Up.

The repertoire includes original material as well as recreations of traditional songs. Throughout the album, Danny Barnes and his colleague deliver dazzling performances deeply inspired by traditional bluegrass music, acoustic jams and blues.

The lineup includes Danny Barnes on banjo, vocals and 12-string acoustic guitar; Nick Forster on guitar and mandolin; Chris Henry on mandolin; Jason Carter on fiddle; and Mike Bub on bass.

Stove Up features impeccable examples of bluegrass craftsmanship.

Buy Stove Up

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