Category Archives: CD Reviews

Emerging Korean Composer Presents Her First Album

Lee Go Woon – Leegowoon’s First Piece (Joeun Music, 2017)

Leegowoon’s First Piece is the debut album by Korean composer Lee Go Woon (이고운). The beautifully-crafted recording features contemporary music based on “gugak,” a form of Korean traditional instrumental and vocal music.

Lee Go Woon is a graduate of the Korea National University of Arts. On “Leegowoon’s First Piece,” she includes two dramatic scenes for Korean voices performed with a traditional Korean orchestra, two compositions with folk texts and one ensemble piece.

The album opens with “Jeokbyeokga for Pansori and Korean traditional orchestra.” The original Pansori epic monodramas featured one performer accompanied by a drummer. Lee Go Woon modernizes the genre by featuring pansori female singer Lee JinSeol (이진솔) and a full orchestra that deliver a masterful cinematic performance.

The second composition is the delightful “Mongyudowondo,” which was inspired by a well-known painting titled “Sleepwalking Around the Peach Garden” by Ahn Kyeon, also known as “Daewon”, one of the cherished works of Korean art. Here, the singer featured is male minyo (folk song) vocalist Cho Jungonkyu (조정규) along with the orchestra that takes the listener through various moods.

The third track is “Love? What Is It?” is the most accessible, featuring singer Kim Bora (김보라 accompanied by waltz-like music with a Korean twist.

 

 

Track 4, “Jeju-Notae for Haegeum orchestra” is a charming instrumental piece for haegeum (two string fiddle) and piri (bamboo oboe) based on melodies from Jeju Island.

 

 

Lee JinSeol returns on the last track, “Gangwon-Notae” with a medley of humorous songs that were passed from generation to generation through oral tradition.

The nice packaged physical CD booklet includes notes in Korean and English.

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Forest of the Saints

Goa Gil – Forest of the Saints

Goa Gil – Forest of the Saints (EMI)

Goa Gil is a San Francisco musician, DJ and party organiser now based in Goa. He is one of the founders of the Goa trance and psytrance movement in electronic dance music. His influences include the hippie movement, acid rock and early electronic music such as Kraftwerk.

His staple mix of outdoor electronic dance parties with Eastern mystical and spiritual overtones have become legend in the trance circles. Gil’s music attempts to “redefine the ancient tribal ritual for the 21st century”.

The 11 tracks of this album span over 70 minutes, and will put you right in the heart of the throbbing pulse of electronic trance.

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Going Deeper into the Banjo

Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn – Echo in the Valley (Rounder, 2017)

Echo in the Valley is the second album by husband and wife duo Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn. Both musicians are banjo innovators and Echo in the Valley is a real treat for banjo music fans.

Most of the material on Echo in the Valley is new, innovative material composed by the duo along with a handful of arrangements of traditional songs and material from other composers.

This is definitely not traditional bluegrass, but instead exquisitely-designed new acoustic music, rooted in American traditions, from bluegrass to folk and jazz.

Throughout Echo in the Valley, Fleck and Washburn use a wide-range of banjos (seven in total) that are plucked and bowed, along with Abigail’s mesmerizing and expressive vocals, and percussive dance on one song.

The physical CD version is beautifully packaged with a cut out shape of the two musicians and includes lyrics and credits.

 

 

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Harini Raghavan, Chennai Talent on the Rise

Rini – Maya (December 8, 2017)

New York-based Indian vocalist, violinist and composer Harini “Rini” Raghavan delivers an exquisite combination of Indian music with electronica, funk, rock and jazz.

The highlights of the album are Rini’s superb vocals, violin and electronic effects, along with the fabulous note-bending Southeast Asian guitar of Aleif Hamdan. On the down side, the smooth jazz saxophone seems out place within the band’s innovative sound.

The lineup on Maya includes Rina on violin and vocals; Aleif Hamdan on guitar; Achal Murthy on bass; Yogev Gabay on drums; and Iñigo Galdeano Lasheras.

 

 

Maya is a masterfully-crafted Indian-rooted world fusion album by a talented young Indian musician with a great potential.

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Desert Visions

Prem Joshua – Desert Visions

Prem Joshua – Desert Visions (New Earth Records/Music Today, 1995)

This CD showcases New Age guru Prem Joshua’s versatile multi-instrumental skills. The lineup also includes Manish Vyas (vocals), Jo Shiro Shunyam (guitar), Rishi Viote (percussion) and Chintan Relenberg (bass).

A fine mid-tempo blend of Indian ragas and smooth jazz, the 10 tracks make for a nice mellow and positive mood. The tracks are largely instrumental, and we would recommend the opening track Raja’s Ride and the percussion piece Jungle.

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Syrian Kanun Dreams

Maya Youssef ‎- Syrian Dreams (Harmonia Mundi, 2017)

Syrian Dreams brings together Arabic and western classical music traditions as well as other influences like jazz and flamenco. Maya Youssef is a London-based Syrian musician and composer specialized in the kanun, the ancient plucked zither used in Arabic music.

On Syrian Dreams, Maya’s virtuosic kanun is joined by Barney Morse-Brown’s cello, Attab Haddad’s ud and Sebastian Flaig’s percussion. Flaig uses a wide range of percussion instruments from the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa.

The album includes solo recitals by Maya Youssef as well as duets and ensemble pieces. While Maya Youssef and Attab Haddad contribute performances based on maqam and modern influences, Barney Morse-Brown adds the western chamber music tradition. Meanwhile, Sebastian Flaig’s percussion cuts across traditions, bridging various genres.

The CD booklet includes liner notes in English, French and Arabic.

Personnel: Maya Youssef on kanun; Barney Morse-Brown on cello; Attab Haddad on ‘ud; and Sebastian Flaig on dobolla, bells, riq, frame drums, tasmburiq, cymbal and pitched udu.

 

 

Syrian Dreams is a set of mesmerizing and beautifully-crafted interpretations by one of the finest kanun players in the current contemporary Arabic music scene.

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Rozina Pátkai’s Paradise

Rozina Pátkai ‎- Paraíso Na Terra

Rozina Pátkai ‎- Paraíso Na Terra (Tom-Tom Records, 2016)

Paraíso Na Terra is the second album by Rozina Pátkai, a Hungarian vocalist and graphic artist deeply influenced by Brazilian music. She sings in Portuguese, Spanish, English and French.

The songs on Paraíso Na Terra are poems and lyrics by Brazilian, Hungarian, Spanish and other writers. The musical arrangements combine soft, warm vocals with exquisite jazz, Brazilian, Hungarian and Spanish influences along with catchy pop and smooth jazz saxophone. The use of cimbalom adds a fascinating edge to Rozina Pátkai’s sound.

The artwork in the CD booklet was designed by Rozina and includes the lyrics presented in various creative ways.

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The Forward-Thinking Latvian Roots Music of Iļģi

Iļģi – Tur Kur Mīti (Ilgi, 2017)

Iļģi, Latvia’s finest contemporary folk music ensemble has released Tur Kur Mīti (Where Myths Dwell), its 15th album. The band describes its sound as post folk and on Kur Mīti they present a set of traditional and original compositions inspired in Latvian folk music and other musical traditions.

One of the myths featured is Jumis, a spirit of the farming fields that represents fertility and a good harvest. With this inspiration, Iļģi delivers a multi-faceted musical voyage where you’ll find engaging vocals in various tones and fascinating instrumental performances and arrangements.

Fiddler Ilga Reizniece draws her influences from Latvian folk music and Celtic music as well. The Latvian kokle (zither) is well represented throughout the album in the hands of multi-instrumentalist Māris Muktupāvels and Laima Jansone.

All through Tur Kur Mīti, Iļģi takes the listener on a wild ride, ranging from lively folk-rock songs and bluesy guitars to tranquil material where the kokle plays a leading role.

One of the highlights of the album is “Jumis,” where the band goes into trance mode, developing spellbinding sounds with the kokle, guitar, e;ectric bass, vocals, effects and soft percussion. Equally charming is “Pele,” where the vocals and kokle reel you in. And then there is the opening track, “Laima,” where the interaction between the interaction between the vocals, blues guitar and kokle is truly delightful.

The lineup on Tur Kur Mīti includes Ilga Reizniece on vocals and violin; Māris Muktupāvels on vocals, kokle and accordion; Gatis Gaujenieks on acoustic and electric bass, giga (bowed zither) and jaw harp; Egons Kronbergs on guitar; and Mārtiņš Linde on drums and percussion.

Guests: Laima Jansone on kokle and Uģis Prauliņš on vocals.

The CD booklet includes lyrics in Latvian and English-language translations.

Tur Kur Mīti is a skillfully crafted traditional music-inspired album that showcases the talent of one of the brightest musical acts from Latvia.

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Cross Cultural Respect and Masterfully Crafted Symphonic and World Music on Awakening Beyond

Tina Turner, Dima Orsho, Ani Choying, Regula Curti, Sawani Shende Sathaye and Mor Karbasi – Awakening Beyond (Beyond Singing, 2017)

Awakening Beyond is a stunning g production by the Beyond Foundation that features six iconic female voices: Regula Curti (Zurich, Switzerland); Ani Choying (Kathmandu, Nepal); Dima Orsho (Damascus, Syria/USA); Sawani Shende Sathaye (Pune, India); and Mor Karbasi, (Jerusalem, Israel/based in Seville, Spain) and Tina Turner (USA, based in Switzerland).

(left to right) Dima Orsho, Ani Choying, Regula Curti, Sawani Shende Sathaye and Mor Karbasi

 

The intent of the album is to heal the world through prayer and bring love and acceptance. Awakening Beyond contains beautiful renditions of prayers and lullabies from the Buddhist, Catholic (Christian), Sephardic Jewish, Arabic and Hindu traditions.

The vocalists sing in various languages and weave prayers from different traditions together in a delightful way. Musically, Awakening Beyond combines world music through the use of masterful instrumentalists from Indian, Arabic and western classical traditions; along with lush symphonic music composed by Syrian-American composer Kareem Roustom. The orchestra featured is Philharmonia London Orchestra conducted by Roustom as well.

 

(left to right) Sawani Shende Sathaye, Ani Choying, Regula Curti, Mor Karbasi and Dima Orsho

 

Awakening Beyond contains a mix of exquisite meditative pieces along with vibrant symphonic arrangements. It’s a masterfully crafted album that combines transglobal musical and interfaith traditions in an elegant and respectful manner.

 

 

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Rising Cajun Accordionist Kyle Huval

Kyle Huval and the Dixie Club Ramblers – Straight Allons (Valcour Records, 2017)

Award-winning accordionist Kyle Huval presents a lively set of dance-oriented Cajun songs. On Straight Allons you’ll hear Cajun French language songs featuring passionate accordion, great fiddling and pedal steel guitar, which gives it an old time country music flavor at times.

Kyle Huval is deeply influenced by the Cajun dancehall music of the 1960s and 1970s.

The song selection includes Cajun classics as well as new songs written by Kyle Huval and Cody Lafleur.

Personnel: Kyle Huval on accordion, pedal steel guitar and vocals; Mitch Schexnyder on fiddle; Jo Vidrine on guitar; Joel Savoy on fiddle and guitar; and Cody Lafleur on drums and vocals.

Straight Allons is a refreshing albums with catchy dance rhythms and notable instrumental performances.

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