Category Archives: CD Reviews

The Green’s Marching Orders

The Green – Marching Orders (Easy Star Records, 2017)
The Green, one of the most popular crossover reggae bands in the USA, has released Marching Orders. The Green delivers a captivating mix reggae, dancehall, R&B and pop with beautifully-crafted vocal harmonies.

 

 

Highlights include the roots reggae songs “Feel So Cool” and “Mama Roots”, along with the delightful, laid back, timeless bluesy reggae song “The Garden.”

 

 

The lineup on Marching Orders includes Caleb Keolanui on lead and backing vocals; Zion Thompson on guitar and lead and backing vocals; JP Kennedy on guitar, lead and backing vocals; Ikaika Antone on keyboards, lead and backing vocals; Brad Watanabe on bass, keyboards, guitar, drums and backing vocals; and Jordan Espinoza on drums.

Special guests: Busy Signal, Eric Rachmany, J Boog, The Mana’o Company, and Fiji.

Additional guests: Leslie Ludiazo on drums, percussion and keyboards; Squidly Cole on drums; Eric Hirshhorn on saxophone; Max O’Leary on trumpet; Josh Molle on trombone; Jorell Nacapuy on keyboards; Riya Davis on backing vocals; Daniel Spencer-Kennedy Sr. on lead vocals, acoustic guitar, and keyboards; Daniel “Dan Boy” Spencer-Kennedy Jr. on electric guitar; and Damon Williams on backing vocals.

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Flow’s Timeless Comforting Music

Flow – Flow

Flow – Flow (LMB Music, 2017)

Flow is a supergroup of musicians who have been involved with New Age music for many years. The term New Age is used to describe a wide range of genres, from easy listening acoustic music to electronic meditation music. In this case, Flow performs peaceful and ethereal instrumental music with smooth jazz, folk, gliding ambient sounds and classical music elements.

The four musicians that form the Flow ensemble include guitarist and producer Will Ackerman, pianist Fiona Joy, guitarist Lawrence Blatt and trumpeter Jeff Oster. The group recorded the album in Ackerman’s Imaginary Road Studios in Vermont.

 

Flow

 

The Flow album also features high profile guests, including Tony Levin on bass, Eugene Friesen on cello, Marc Shulman on guitar, Jeff Haynes on percussion, Sam Bevan on bass and Tom Eaton on guitar and bass.

 

 

 

There is remarkable chemistry in this recording. The sum of four talents has produced an exquisite instrumental album that lets the listener relax and dream on. Fans of the Windham Hill Records and Narada Records sound will love Flow.

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The Fascinating History of the Ilú Keké Drums

Ilú Keké. Transmisión en la Eritá Meta

Ilú Keké. Transmisión en la Eritá Meta (Sendero Music/Music Works NYC, 2016)

Ilú Keké is an album dedicated to the batá drums, a set of three barrel drums (itótele, iyá and okónkolo) used in sacred Afro-Cuban rituals as well as secular Cuban music. The album presents traditional batá drumming performed by elders and younger instrumentalists, spoken word and sacred Afro-Cuban chants as well.

The album tells the story of a set of religious drums known as ilú keké that were discovered in a small Cuban village and brought back. Ilú Keké. Transmisión en la Eritá Meta is collaborative work between British ethnomusicologist Amanda Villepastour and Cuban producer Luis J. Bran Acevedo.

The musicians featured in the album include the elders Justiliano Pelladito Urrutia on itótele; Pedro Pablo Tápanes González “Pello” on iyá; Pedro Aballi Torriente “Regalado” on okónkolo; the Ilú Keké drummers: Idalberto Berriel Pérez on itótele and acheré; Orlando Alvarez González on iyá; Eusebio Hernández Rodríguez “Nandito” on okónkolo; and José Luis García Fernández “Pepito” on okónkolo.

The vocalists are: Yaima de los Milagros Pelladito Portillo (female lead and chorus); René Sergrañe Menocal (male lead and chorus); Regla Pérez Herrera (chorus), Odalis Fuentes Pérez (chorus); and Yaimel García Poertillo (chorus).

The nicely-packaged album includes details about the history of the Ilú Keké, color photographs, track descriptions and credits.

 

 

Ilú Keké. Transmisión en la Eritá Meta is a great introduction to the fascinating world of the batá drum, recorded live in Cuba.

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The Vintage Sound of The Peruvian Andes

Various Artists – Andina: The Sound of The Peruvian Andes 1968-1978

Various Artists – Andina: The Sound of The Peruvian Andes 1968-1978 (Tiger’s Milk/Strut, 2017)

Andina: The Sound of The Peruvian Andes 1968-1978 is a compilation of Peruvian bands from the late 1960s and 1970s that played tropical dance music. While Americans and Europeans at the time were exposed to Andean flute music ensembles, a very different sound was coming out of Peru.

The bands featured in this compilation are characterized by vibrant, seductive percussion. The band formats range from groups with surf-like electric guitars and vintage organs to more traditional lineups with brass and accordion. The cumbia rhythm is present in many of the songs. Although this dance came from Colombia, it was transformed in other parts of South America.

The artists featured include Los Demonios Del Mantaro, Los Compadres Del Ande, Los Walker’s de Huánuco, La Peruanita, Los Bárbaros Del Centro, Los Compadres Del Ande, Los Bilbao, Manolo Avalos, Lucho Neves y su Orquesta, Los Jelwees, Los Sabios Del Ritmo, Alicia Maguiña con Mario Cavagnaro y su Sonora Sensación, Conjunto Los Luceritos De Casacancha, Huiro y su Conjunto, Los Turistas Del Mantaro, Los Bárbaros Del Centro, and Conjunto Kori Cinta de Huancavelica.

Andina: The Sound of The Peruvian Andes 1968-1978 is an album for fans of chicha and vintage Peruvian music.

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Mames Babegenush Adds Strings

Mames Babegenush – With Strings

Mames Babegenush – With Strings (Galileo Records, 2017)

Mames Babegenush is an award-winning klezmer music band from Denmark. On their new album With Strings, Mames Babegenush goes beyond klezmer, exploring the traditional musics of northern and eastern Europe.

As the album title indicates, the brass and woodwind-fueled Mames Babegenush collaborates with a string ensemble featuring violins and cellos.

The lineup include Emil Goldschmidt on clarinet; Lukas Bjørn Rande on saxophone; Bo Rande on flügelhorn; Nicolai Kornerup on accordeon; Andreas Møllerhøj on bass; and Morten Ærø on drums. The Livestrings ensemble includes Andrea Gyarfas Brahe on violin; Lisa Marie Vogel on violin; Sidsel Most on bratsch; Samira Dayyani on cello; and Live Johansson on cello.

With Strings is a vibrant album that takes the listener on a wild ride throughout klerzmer music and beyond.

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Buy With Strings in the rest of the world

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The Sky & Prairie, a Spectacular Production

The Grasslands Ensemble & Daniel Ho – The Sky & Prairie (Wind Music, 2017)

The Sky & Prairie is a remarkable production that brings together the talents of Inner Mongolian act The Grasslands Ensemble (天草之間遊牧樂團)and Hawaiian ukulele virtuoso, producer and composer Daniel Ho. The project was envisioned by Taiwanese record company Wind Music. The label’s Judy Wu produced the album.

The album features new versions of traditional Mongolian, Buryat, Barga, Manchurian, Evenk and Daur folk songs performed by musicians based in Hulunbuir, in Inner Mongolia’s prairie region. The artists represent a wide range of ethnicities, including Mongolian, Manchurian, Evenk, Daur, Russian and Han Chinese.

Daniel Ho composed the opening song and participates throughout the album playing ukulele and piano.

On The Sky & Prairie you’ll listen to various traditional instruments such as the iconic morin khuur (horse-head fiddle), Central Asian lutes and jaw harps along with conventional singing and throat singing.

The Hulunbuir-based ensemble includes Borjigin Hasibatu on vocals; Qiqigema on vocals; Bayinhehe on vocals; Han Mou Ren on the rare chaoer (Mongolian bowed instrument) and morin khuur; Tamir Hargana on tsuur and throat singing; and the Hasar Band: Yimin on morin khuur and backing vocals; Cai Yi-Fei on morin khuur, tsuur flute, backing vocals; Bao Wuyunbilige on lead vocals and tovshuur (thorat singing); Wang Jian on doshpuluur (a long-necked lute) and backing vocals; Aqitu on lead vocals, percussion and amen khuur (jaw harp); and Bao Yue-Yong on morin khuur.

The packaging is stunning. The CD is included in a hardcover book with a beautifully designed book that contains biographies, photos and credits in English and Chinese.

 

 

The Sky & Prairie is a splendid recording featuring exquisite versions of timeless folk songs from Central Asian regions.

 

 

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Sarod Titans Meet the Western Violin

Amjad Ali Khan, Amaan Ali Bangash, Ayaan Ali Bangash and Elmira Darvarova – Peace Worshipers

 

Amjad Ali Khan, Amaan Ali Bangash, Ayaan Ali Bangash and Elmira Darvarova – Peace Worshipers (Affetto Records AF1706, 2017)

Two of the world’s great musical traditions, Indian classical and western classical music come together in Peace Worshipers. The album features a family trio of sarod players led by one of the great masters of our time, Amjad Ali Khan and his equally talented sons, Amaan Ali Bangash and Ayaan Ali Bangash. The three artists representing the Indian classical music tradition collaborate with superb American violinist Elmira Darvarova.

Interestingly, the three sarod players appear on separate tracks. That is, each track features only one sarod player so there are no sarod trio performances.

Most of the material is composed by Amjad Ali Khan, based on Indian ragas. Elmira Darvarova contributes one solo violin piece based on a Bulgarian folk song.

The quartet is joined by tabla maestro Anubrata Chatterjee.

The CD booklet contains reflections on the recording along with biographies of the musicians, photos and credits.

 

 

Peace Worshipers features masterfully-crafted virtuoso performances that showcase the beauty of Indian and western classical traditions as well as folk traditions.

 

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The Serene Gift of the Flute

Tony Duncan – Purify

Tony Duncan – Purify (Canyon Records CR-7209, 2017)

Purify is the new album by American Indian musician Tony Duncan. He plays peaceful, meditative music on cedar and cane flutes. The Apache River cane flute comes from his father’s side of the family, the San Carlos Apache in Arizona. The cedar flute tradition was transmitted through Tony’s mother. She’s from North Dakota, part of the Mandan Hidatsa Arikara tribes.

Although Purify features exclusively solo flute, Tony Duncan adds exquisite overdubs, adding mesmerizing echoing flutes, as a form of distant call and response.

The titles of the musical pieces give you an accurate sense of the album’s atmosphere: Purify, Meditation, Restoring Balance, Emergence, Healing Prayer, Reflection, Restore, Buffalo Sage, Medicine Dream, Creation, Our Hidden Journey, and Luminaria.

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Chandrika Tandon’s Inspiring Journey

Chandrika Tandon – Shivoham – The Quest (Soul Chants Music, 2017)

Shivoham – The Quest is an impressive production by vocalist, composer and businesswoman Chandrika Tandon. The album is beautifully packaged and designed in a hard cover box that contains three discs and a booklet with song descriptions, photos and credits. Shivoham – The Quest is divided into three movements: Yearning, Searching and Connecting that reflects Chandrika Tandon’s musical and life journey.

 

 

Chandrika Tandon brings together two of the greatest musical traditions in the world: Indian classical music (Hindustani and Carnatic) and western classical music. The Indian influences dominate in some of the tracks, with Indian musical forms, Hindi lead vocals, percussion, bansuri flute, string instruments, mantras and other elements. Western classical appears in the form of classical and early music choirs and orchestras and lead vocals in English.

 

 

There is fusion as well, where Indian and western traditions are elegantly intertwined. Additionally, Chandrika Tandon incorporates other world traditions such as the Soweto Gospel Choir, flamenco and global percussion.

 

 

The list of musicians is extraordinary. In addition to Chandrika Tandon’s impeccable and mesmerizing vocals, Shivoham – The Quest includes the London Voices choir directed by Terry Edwards; Soul Chants Ensemble of New York; Soweto Gospel Choir; The King’s Singers; and soloists from Ajoy Chakrabarty School of Music of Kolkata.

Also featured is the London Metropolitan Orchestra, directed by Andy Brown and percussion ensembles from Kolkata and Mumbai in India.

The lists of solo instrumentalists includes a striking international cast of acclaimed musicians: Kenny Werner on piano; Martin Bejarano on piano; Sally Heath on piano; Romero Lubambo on guitar; Peter Calo on guitar; Pedro da Silva on Portuguese guitar; Jamey Haddad on percussion; Cyro Baptista on percussion; Thomas Kemp on violin; Gil Goldstein on accordion; Anthony Pike on clarinet; Pandit Ronu Majumdar on flute; Sandeep Mishra on sarangi; Pratik Shrivastava on sarod; Shubhayu Sen Majumdar on esraj.

Shivoham – The Quest is a masterfully-crafted production that seamlessly crosses various secular and sacred music traditions.

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Alluring Songs of Cossacks and Old Believers

Chitinskaya Sloboda – Songs of Russian People. Cossacks’ songs / Song of old-believers and Transbaikalien Cossacks (Sketis Music SKMR-129, 2016)

Songs of Russian people. Cossacks’ songs / Song of old-believers and Transbaikalien Cossacks is a two-CD set by Russian folk music ensemble Chitinskaya Sloboda. The group is part of a movement in Russian folk music that is researching and recovering ancient musical traditions.

Disc 1 focuses on Cossack songs. It features a mix of polyphonic choral a cappella pieces along with songs featuring accordion and percussion accompaniment. The ensemble provides fascinating vocal interplay with a wide-range of vocal ranges featuring female and male singers.

Disc 2 includes songs a cappella old believers songs (an ancient Russian orthodox sect) and traditional cossack songs from the Transbaikal mountainous territory east of Lake Baikal in Russia.

Chitinskaya Sloboda includes Alexander Avdeyev, Vyacheslav Egorov, Vladimir Kravtsov, Arina Nekrasova, Larisa Pakhomova, Alexei Ryumkin, Natalia Ryumkina, Leonid Subotni, and Lyubov Tkachenko.

The CD booklet includes liner notes in Russian and English and song lyrics in Russian.

Buy the digital download version of Songs of Russian People. Cossacks’ songs / Song of old-believers and Transbaikalien Cossacks. The CD is available from shop.sketismusic.ru

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