Putumayo Travels to the French Caribbean

Putumayo Presents... French Caribbean
Putumayo Presents… French Caribbean
New York, USA – Putumayo takes listeners on a musical cruise of the French Caribbean with a selection of zouk, compas, twoubadou, biguine and more. With French Caribbean, released on May 20, 2003, Putumayo revisits the French Creole islands of Haiti, Guadeloupe and Martinique, which have been experiencing a roots revival in recent years.

The French Caribbean is a place where music is imbedded in the landscape: whether it is compas or zouk blaring out of storefront speakers or the variety of sounds that enliven carnival celebrations and street festivals.

Acoustic traditional styles like Haitian twoubadou and Martiniquean biguine have recently earned a place on trendy dance floors alongside flashier zouk and compas.


CD Review: The Rough Guide to Ska

Various Artists

The Rough Guide to Ska (World Music Network. RGNET 1083, 2003)

There have been many introductions to this energetic music and there are some overlaps. A few of the artists present here show up on other compilations, for example, the 3cd Trojan Ska Box Set. The material though is not duplicated. This set comes solely from work produced by Vincent ‘Randy’ Chin between 1960 – 64 and includes the usual suspects ; The Skatalites, The Maytals, Roland Alphonso, Don Drummond and Rico Rodriguez, among others.

It is always a real pleasure to hear Rico’s warm, melodic trombone and there are three samples from 1961, including Rico’s Farewell, recorded before he left for the UK. It features some fine ensemble playing as well as each soloist offering a personal goodbye. But there is also some fine inspired playing from the man himself on the shuffle, Rico Special, especially when he begins his solo and the drummer’s brushwork springs into life to crisply underline his fluent blowing. There is a lot of magic crammed into 3 minutes worth of playing.

The Skatalites produced their own kind of magic too and it isn’t surprising when you consider that the line-up included players like Tommy McCook amd Roland Alphonso on saxes, Drummond on trombone and Jackie Mittoo on piano. Their fondness for re-working tunes from different genres is evident here on Ska-Racha, adapted from the Mexican song, La Cucharacha, and Baby Elephant Walk, based on the theme from the movie, Hatari. They produced some of the most driven ska from fairly unlikely sources.

There are plenty of vocal tracks too though I’m not sure that Alton & Ellis is really ska, it’s more like doo-wop. Lord Creator’s vocal style was cool and mellow and Don’t Stay Out Late is a suave, urbane piece of advice to his underage date. A little tingue in cheek too ! Bunny & Skitter only produced a couple of tracks for Chin but their steady shuffling A Little Mashin’ is worth hearing as is the lesser known Basil Gabbidon’s Iveree. Both show the influence of blues and r’n’b.

The quality of a few tracks suffers from deteriorating master tapes but overall the selection sounds great, a reminder of the energy and freshness of this music.

Buy The Rough Guide to Ska.


CD Review: Idrissa Diop – Yakar

Idrissa Diop - Yakar
Idrissa Diop – Yakar
Idrissa Diop

Yakar (Tinder Records, 2003)

Senegalese band leader Idrissa Diop offers us his dance to you drop release, Yakar which marks another
sizzling recording coming out of the African continent and African music releases tend to be endless these days, cranking out one gifted artist after another, almost to the point where these musicians get lost in a sea of names. I know I have trouble remembering names, but like many other world music enthusiasts, I am delighted to keep unveiling these musical treasures. Similar to other contemporary African musicians, Diop records and performs with a large band that includes 5 percussionists, 6 horn players, guitar, bass, keyboards, violin and backup vocals.

The soundscape created is immense with power beats, blaring horns and impassioned vocals that never relent. As you can imagine with this arrangement, Diop explores various musical territories from Cuban salsa sung in the Wolof language (one of the Senegalese languages), jazz that recalls John Coltrane, funk, rock and disco. Diop’s writing and arranging proves strong here and his love for music comes through in his tribute to music, Guenth (Dreams) which appears twice on the CD, once as an instrumental. Most of the tracks feature high octane music including the funky rock titular Yakar, the groovy Life, Cuban Sopante and Diolof Man which recalls the 70’s super funk group, Earth Wind and Fire.

However, Diop knows that a dancing body needs rest now and again, so he tosses in a few ballads that allow listeners to wipe the sweat from their brows and to breathe. Tire Ailleurs slows things down a bit with its Arabic violin and percussion. The love song, Nop features Coltranesque sax laid over jazzy piano and a trap kit. And Africains et Antillais recalls a Caribbean ballad. Diop whose vocals often times recall fellow countryman and superstar Youssou N’Dour comes off as an instinctive and passionate performer. He carefully crafts the type of songs that please audiences live and on recordings. And similar to the too numerous to name talent coming out of Africa, there’s no stopping this musical force and who would want to anyway?
(Compliments of Cranky Crow World Music).

Buy Yakar


Russian Folklore Expedition

Moscow, Russia – The scholars from the Institute of World Literature (Russian Academy of Sciences) Yelena and Sergey Minyonok have developed the research project www.russianexpedition.net.

One of the aims of this project is to record and to investigate the authentic folklore musical traditions of Southwestern rural Russia.The itineraries will include the picturesque villages, in which the inhabitants
mostly preserve the traditional way of life. The field research is devoted to the complex process of preservation of the rich musical inheritance rooted in pagan times.

Russian folklore music differs by its unique harmonies. Our team members will work with the best folklore singers and choirs enjoying not only their music but also friendly and fruitful interaction.

This project has a large educational and cultural potential. It offers the chance for curious lay people who are interested in folklore music to participate as well as specialists and students of ethnomusicology, anthropology, art, history, sociology and Russian studies.

The Russian Folklore Expedition has a regular free Newsletter, where we publish: the scientific results of our regular expeditions, stories from the field, opinions and impressions of our team members and authentic folklore songs and other texts in English so everyone can experience its unique poetry.

Contact information:
Telephone (095) 952-6583

Fax (095) 200-3216
Postal address: Povarskaya st. 25A, Moscow, 121069, Russia


Maraca, Czech World Music

Maraca - Longe
Maraca – Longe
Prague, Czech Republic – Maraca (not to be confused with the Cuban band with the same name) is a group from the town of Zlín. It navigates the waters of jazz/world music. The group has composed music to go along with poems by the most famous modern Portuguese author, Fernando Pessoa.

On the band’s third album, Longe (Indies Records MAM206, 2003), one can listen to a wide variety of instruments such as the Arabic lute (ud), the Australian didjeridu, guitar, bass, percussion and violin. The members of the band and the guests have created a world of their own where even samples have their place.


CD Review: Filippo Gambetta’s Pria Goaea

Filippo Gambetta

Pria Goaea (Dunya Records. FY8052). Distributed by Felmay.

Sometimes you put on a CD by someone you’ve never heard and forty-odd minutes later you find yourself replaying it. It’s that good.This is one of those occurrences.
Gambetta is a young melodeon virtuoso from Genoa who has written most of the material here but manages to make it sound as though it has been around for ages. With his trio and a superb bunch of guests he draws on diverse European music to create a varied selection of moods and atmospheres. The effect is a little like a journey in the hands of a well-informed guide, beginning and ending in Maria’s Genoa trattoria.

Although strongly rooted in his native city I can hear traces of other places too, such as France, Spain, parts of Eastern Europe and Ireland.

His playing is ever inventive, resourceful and melodic and he is ably supported by some fine musicians. For example, Apparenze begins with his own meditative playing which is inspiring and beautiful in itself. Then Alessio Pisani’s bassoon joins and lifts the track to another level. This combination of instruments is perhaps unexpected and that makes it all the more exciting and arresting.

Similarly, Oliver Schroer’s electric violin brings a mixture of Eastern European and North African echoes to Slatner. But it’s Piero Ponzo’s clarinet that consistently proves itself the perfect companion for Gambetta’s rich explorations, especially on the sprightly Corbu which draws its inspiration from a nightclub of the same name.

The final track has its roots in the Ligurian tradition. La Tabachera/Quattro Danse/Incantatrice is from an anonymous 18th century manuscript and moves easily from the solemn and stately opening to a spirited and uplifting climax. I’d swear there was a violin in there too though none is credited.

So having reached the end I find myself going back to the beginning.This is an album that is a joy to hear and one that I can’t recommend highly enough.


Contest: The Putumayo Global Soul Special

Putumayo_LogoNew York, NY – Happy Sunday everyone. Want the easiest way to win CDs from the great world music label, Putumayo? Make sure you watch BET TV today, Sunday, May 25th @ 1pm for “The Putumayo Global Soul Special.

Hosted by Speech from Arrested Development – Global Soul explores the new
trends in R&B, hip-hop and world music that are spanning the globe.

Click here for
a preview of the world-premiere special.

Win 25 CDs from Putumayo!!!,
To celebrate both Global Soul and Putumayo World Music’s 10-year anniversary, Putumayo is giving away a grand prize of 25 of their best CDs, and many runner-up prizes of 10 CDs from the fantastic catalog of world music. To Win: watch the special at the above times and answer the following trivia
question about the show:

During “The Global Soul Special” artist Angelique Kidjo performs a cover
song by a famous soul artist. What is the name of the song, and what is the name
of the artist that originally made the song famous? E-mail your answer to
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CD Review: Robert Mirabal’s Indians Indians

Robert Mirabal – Indians Indians
Robert Mirabal

Indians Indians (Silver Wave Records, 2003)

The poignant storytelling and thorny lyrics of Indians Indians, Robert Mirabal’s latest offering on Silver Wave Records, will capture and ensnare the listener before he even realizes it. Mr. Mirabal doesn’t ply the listener with overused, romantic visions of life as a Native American in his home of the Taos Pueblo in New Mexico. Instead Mr. Mirabal coaxes the listener to a new understanding with humor and graceful imagery. Mr. Mirabal’s credits include Mirabal, Taos Tales and the multi-media project Music from a Painted Cave. He was also the 1998 and 2000 Songwriter of Year for the Native American Music Awards, so it’s no wonder Indians Indians is utterly captivating. Those familiar with Robert Mirabal know that he isn’t a slave to any category and this CD is no exception with songs ranging from rock to dreamy ballads.

The title track “Indians Indians” is a gem with witty lyrics, funky guitar licks and Mr. Mirabal’s electric delivery. The silky voice of Laura Satterfield joins Mr. Mirabal in duets “Dream of You” and “Ruler of My Heart,” while Mirabal’s long-time fans will recognize Mirabal’s flute work as it weaves its magic spell. Cellist Michael Kott is the perfect partner to Mirabal’s vocals in “Black Jack Daisy.” But it is Mr. Mirabal’s storytelling that shimmers with tracks like “Theo’s Dream,” “Days Before Christmas” and “Grandpa,” while the tribal vocals of Reynaldo Lujan and Evan Trujillo lace the story of “Blue Lake.” Listeners are sure to be delighted with guitarist Estevan Castillo’s, drummer Joel Fadness’s and bassist Robin Abeles’s performances on the track “Morrison.”

While Indians Indians possesses traditional Native American musical elements of flute, drum and tribal chant, it refuses quaint stereotypes and instead embraces both soulful passion and painful truths of Robert Mirabal and his people.

Buy Indians Indians


Cuban Label EGREM Introduces New Web Site

(Prensa Latina – Cumbancha) Havana, Cuba – The Cuban Recording Company (EGREM) announced its new Web site address, from which it promotes the work of Cuban musical creators from different trends, besides being a powerful tool for research. The website www.egrem.com.cu shows the company’s catalog, sales statistics, information on the last productions, presentations of new titles and a database allowing people to learn other details. The website will have a daily update, and people will be able to see information on the history of EGREM, and how to contact distributors for information on the services offered by the recording company.


Taj Mahal Signs with Tone Cool, Revisits Hawaiian Music

Taj Mahal - Hanapepe Dream
Taj Mahal – Hanapepe Dream
Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts, USA – Based in Hawaii from 1981 until 1996, Taj Mahal returns to the island sounds of Kaua`i for the American release of Hanapepe Dream, his second CD with the Hula Blues. Hanapepe Dream, the Grammy® Award-winning artist’s debut joint venture between Tone-Cool Records and his own Kan-Du Records, will be released on June 10, 2003.

The follow up to 1998’s acclaimed Sacred Island, Hanapepe Dream’s 11 tracks feature Taj’s all-acoustic string band sound along with his signature slack-key blend of the blues and Pacific-Caribbean-island music.

Album highlights include an extended Hula Blues version of “Blackjack Davey,” a song from Taj’s 1974 reggae-infused Mo Roots album, and the signature Taj Mahal sound of “Stagger Lee,” “All Along the Watchtower,” and Mississippi John Hurt’s “My Creole Belle.”

The American release of Hanapepe Dream will offer bonus video footage including live performances of “The Calypsonians” and “The New Hula Blues.” Following Dream’s release, the very first Taj Mahal and the Hula Blues U.S. tour will follow with three weeks of shows during summer, kicking off June 20 in Chicago.

Commenting on his custom blend of styles, Taj has said, “My perspective is cultural and world-based. It’s always been a global perspective. Even in the early days when nobody knew me, they’d go, ‘Well, that album is perfect, but what was that calypso song doing on there? What does that got to do with it?’ I think that the way music is played [in America], it’s terribly narrow cast. I relate to these various traditions that I feel are connected through family, extended family, and influenced by influence.”

As part of “The Year of the Blues,” Taj Mahal will be seen in Martin Scorsese’s film From Mali to Mississippi, which will launch the seven-film series entitled The Blues. This project carries the viewer to the root of the blues in African music, and its journey across the Atlantic to the Mississippi Delta. Performers will include African greats Ali Farka Toure and Salif Keita, and American legends Taj Mahal and Othar Turner.


Your Connection to traditional and contemporary World Music including folk, roots and various types of global fusion