Category Archives: CD Reviews

Syriana’s Ipiros Remixes for a Great Cause

Syriana – Ipiros Remixes (Realworld Records, 2017)

This 5-track digital-only EP features several variations of Ipiros. This song was originally made for Syriana’s Road To Damascus album that came out in 2007. However, it never made it to the album and was only previously released as a remix on the vinyl A Life in Film.

All the profits from sales from The Ipiros Remixes will be donated to International Rescue: Greece, a charity that provides aid to Syrian refigees who arrived in Greece. All the musicians are giving their work free of charge.

The musicians behind the Syriana project are British musician Nick ‘Dubulah’ Page (Transglobal Underground and Temple of Sound) and Irish bassist Bernard O’Neill.

The cinematic Kithara Remix features Arabic violin, mesmerizing ambient sounds, Middle Eastern percussion and great guitar work.

Somo Arco Iris Remix highlights the Middle Eastern nay and has vocals in Portuguese by the talented Maria Joao Branco.

The Jazz Remix showcases a saxophone performance.

Liverpool live Remix brings together Middle Eastern and Greek influences, featuring superb Greek vocalist and nay player Kalia Lyraki.

On the S40 Remix the qanun gets the attention it deserves.

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Fiery Salsa from Tampa

Orchestra Fuego – Salsa Brava (Orchestra Fuego Productions, 2016)

Orchestra Fuego is a great classic salsa band from the Tampa Bay area in Florida. The high energy twelve-piece band composes its own material and their old school style incorporates Cuban and Nuyorican elements. In addition to salsa, the band also performs other Latin American music genres such as merengue, bolero, bachata and cha cha chá.

The band is led by two musicians from New York City’s salsa scene, pianist and musical director Marcus Hernandez and lead vocalist Luis “Torpedo” Aponte, who reunited in Florida several years after moving from New York.

Orchestra Fuego plays irresistible hip-shaking salsa and deserves more attention outside of its region.

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Music to Realize Peace

Rahim Alhaj – Letters from Iraq: Oud and String Quintet (Smithsonian Folkways Recordings SFW40577, 2017)

Two ancient traditions meet on Letters from Iraq: Oud and String Quintet, western classical music and Arabic music. Oud (Arabic lute also known as ud) maestro Rahim Alhaj has been living in the United States for over a decade and return to Iraq in 2014 to learn about the current situation there.

Letters from Iraq is Alhaj’s expression of the emotions related with war-ravaged Iraq, stories of love, sadness and suffering. It’s a beautiful bittersweet album where the oud provides exquisite interaction with western classical music string instruments.

The lineup includes Rahim Alhaj on oud, David Felberg on violin; Ruxandra Marquardt on violin; Shanti Randall on viola; James Holland on cello; Jean-Luc Matton on bass viol; and Issa Maluff on percussion.

The CD physical version includes a 40-page booklet with photos, illustrations, and liner notes in English and Arabic.

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Super Ape Indeed Returns to Conquer

Lee “Scratch” Perry & Subatomic Sound System – Super Ape Returns to Conquer (Subatomic Sound SS 033CD, 2017)

The wizard of dub music, Lee “Scratch” Perry will release Super Ape Returns to Conquer on September 22, 2017. The new album is an explosive mix of percussive roots reggae, masterful dub electronic effects, Ethio brass and the booming bass that is so popular now.

The lineup includesd Lee “Scratch” Perry on vocals, rock stone, thunder claps and ganja pipe; Larry McDonald on percussion and vocals; Troy Shaka Simms on saxophone; Emch on live dub mixing, melodica, guitar, keyboards, samplers, reverbs, vocals and computers; Screechy Dan on vocals; Omar Little on trumpet and cornet; Jahdan Blakkamore on vocals and Ari Up of the Slits on vocals.

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Enthralling Songs of the Mountains

Balsam Range – Mountain Voodoo (Mountain Home, 2016)

Mountain Voodoo was released on November of 2016 and it’s a superb contemporary bluegrass album by western North Carolina band Balsam Range. This talented group of musicians is one of the rising stars in the bluegrass scene with its captivating mix of harmony vocals and masterful instrumental virtuosity.

Mountain Voodoo features dazzling instrumentals and deep-rooted ballads where contemporary bluegrass, classic country and blues are skillfully intertwined.

The lineup includes Buddy Melton on fiddle, lead and tenor vocals; Darren Nicholson on mandolin, octave mandolin, lead vocals, baritone and low tenor vocals; Dr. Marc Pruett on banjo; Tim Surrett on bass, dobro, baritone and lead vocals; and Caleb Smith on guitar, lead and baritone vocals.

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The Best of Lau 2007-2017

Lau – Decade – The Best of Lau 2007-2017 (Reveal Records, 2017)

The Best of Lau 2007-2017 is a great opportunity to discover the music of Lau, one of the finest British folk groups of the past decade. The trio’s inspiration draws from Scottish and English folk music as well as contemporary bluegrass and acoustic jams.

The album features a well-balanced mix of instrumentals and songs, with masterful accordion, fiddle and guitar work along with memorable songs.

The lineup includes Kris Drever on guitar and vocals; Martin Green on accordion, piano, electronics; and Aidan O’Rourke on fiddle.

The song selection was chosen by fans and band members so sit back and enjoy this outstanding band.

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Jocelyn Medina’s Global Diversity

Jocelyn Medina – Common Ground (Running Tree Records, 2007)

Common Ground is Jocelyn Medina’s third album. She’s a talented jazz singer and composer who incorporates world music elements to her music, inspired by her travels to India, Brazil and Ghana. On Common Ground you’ll find a great set of original songs by Medina that mix contemporary jazz harmonies, Indian melodies and Ghanaian rhythms.

Medina is joined by a superb multinational cast of instrumentalists who have plenty of opportunities to showcase their talent. In addition to Jocelyn’s vocals, highlights include Steve Gorn’s bansuri work throughout the album, Samir Chatterjee’s dazzling tabla, the guitar lines delivered by Pete McCann and the delightful female/male vocal interplay between Jocelyn and Achyut Joshi on the opening track “Two But Not Two.”

The lineup on Common Ground includes Jocelyn Medina on vocals; Steve Gorn on bansuri (Indian flute); Hadar Noiberg on flute; Pete McCann on electric and acoustic guitar; Art Hirahara on piano and Rhodes; Evan Gregor on bass; Mark Ferber on drums; Samir Chatterjee on tabla; Robert Levin on percussion; and Achyut Joshi on vocals.

The physical CD version is available at www.jocelynmedina.com The digital format is available at https://www.amazon.com

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Nua Teorainn

Various Artists – Nua Teorainn – New Celtic Music from Green Linnet

Various Artists – Nua Teorainn – New Celtic Music from Green Linnet (Green Linnet, 2000)

The “new” in the title of this fine compilation is not necessarily in reference to these being up-to-the-minute selections, but more so the spirit of innovation that many of them represent. When Celtic music crosses boundaries without going too far afield of the traditional elements that make it so distinctive (and in recent years, so popular), the results can be thrilling. This disc gives us Celtic sounds with pan-African overtones (Kila, Old Blind Dogs), rock and roll leanings (Wolfstone), bluegrass-meets-zydeco energy (Reeltime) and much more, along with tracks that stick closer to familiar ground. There’s tons of Celtic music available out there; this collection is a solid overview of some at it’s most vital.

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Bokanté’s Stimulating Global Exchange

Bokanté – Strange Circles (Ground Up Music, 2017)

Strange Circles is the superb debut album of Bokanté, a new supergroup that features a multinational and cast of musicians, including members of the cutting edge jazz fusion band Snarky Puppy, percussion masters Jamey Haddad and Keita Ogawa (Banda Magda, Yo-Yo Ma), Väsen’s André Ferrari, steel guitar master Roosevelt Collier, and talented Montreal-based Guadeloupian vocalist Malika Tirolien.

Strange Circles crosses genres with total ease, incorporating Caribbean and other global beats, fabulous guitar work, blues, progressive jazz, rock and more. This is world fusion at its best.
Bokanté is the project of Snarky Puppy bassist and founder Michael League, who plays baritone guitar in this ensemble.

The lineup includes Malika Tirolien on vocals; Jamey Haddad on percussion; André Ferrari on percussion; Keita Ogawa on percussion; Chris McQueen on guitars; Bob Lanzetti on guitars; Roosevelt Collier lap and pedal steel guitars; and Michael League on guitars and bass.

Strange Circles is world music cool with some stellar individual playing.

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Dazzling Fiddlin’

Frigg – Frost on Fiddles (Frigg, 2017)

The Finnish fiddle wizards are back with another remarkable album. Frost on Fiddles takes you into a wild sled ride inspired by the folk music of Finland and Norway, modern bluegrass, Celtic music and fabulous Transylvanian-style rapid fire fiddling.

The four fiddlers and string musicians display their talent with flavorful intertwined layers of fiddles, guitar, mandolin and bass.

The line on Frost on Fiddles includes Tommi Asplund on fiddle; Tero Hyväluoma on fiddle; Alina Järvelä on fiddle; Esko Järvelä on fiddle; Juho Kivivuori on bass; Tuomas Logrén on guitar; and Petri Prauda on cittern and mandolin.

Frost on Fiddles is yet another exceptionally good contemporary folk music album with an array of top Finnish talent.

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