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Bulletin - October 2008
Ethnic & World Music
Michael Doucet ->
Various Artists + DVD




CUBA LOS ZAFIROS Shout Factory 31858 Music F r om The Edge Of Time $19.98
DVD, 80 min., very highly recommended
In Cuba of the 1960s, no one was more popular than Los Zafiros. Their blend of '50s-style doo wop and traditional Cuban music resulted in such dedicated and loyal fans that even Beatles' audiences could have learned a thing or two. This compelling documentary follows the group from the pre-fame days, through several personal tragedies among the group, to right now, as it follows the two surviving members throughout the film. The historical footage is a treat, but the recent session at the Egrem Records recording studios in Havana offers more emotional punch. Even the bonus material, including a rare look at some Cuban television commercials from the '50s and '60s, fascinates. (JC)




CAJUN MICHAEL DOUCET Smithsonian 40177 From Now On $14.98
19 tracks, 69 min., highly recommended
As the leader of the legendary ensemble BeauSoleil, few people have influenced the course of Cajun music as greatly as Michael Doucet. This remarkable release allows listeners to find out what it must be like to be a fly on the wall while Doucet plays just for himself. These songs, recorded live "with no rehearsals, overdubs, or song lists," the 28-page booklet notes explain, are drawn from three sessions. One is just Doucet and his fiddle playing whatever comes to mind. One session adds fiddler Mitchell Reed. The last features electric guitar wiz Todd Duke playing his acoustic. The results are uniformly endearing and harken back to the days before electric amplification changed the way musicians wrote and played songs. Tracks include Doucet originals (or reworkings, at any rate) such as Madame Boudreaux, Brasse Le Gombo Vite (Stir The Gumbo Fast), Le Two-Step De Basile, L'Amour Ou La Folie, as well as songs by Hogey Charmichael (New Orleans), Fred McDowell (You Gotta Move), Amedee Ardoin (Amedee's Accordion), Allen Toussaint (Everything I Do Gonna Be Funky), Canray Fontenot (Bee De La Manche), and others. A Cajun fiddle tour de force from a great master. (JC)

AFRICA-NIGER GROUP INERANE Sublime Frequencies 034 Guitars From Agadez $16.98
10 tracks, 39 mins, highly recommended
On the northern fringes of the Sahara Desert in the 1980s-90s, the Tuareg tribe rebelled against the governments of Mali and Niger, and the music of the rebellion came to be known as the Tuareg Guitar Revolution. This guitar music was used as a political weapon to relay messages on cassettes throughout Tuareg society; needless to say, such political commentary was officially banned by the Niger government in the early 90's. But following a peace accord between the rebels and the respective governments, the music and songs came to become more popularized with the people. Group Inerane, led by guitarist Bibi Ahmed, seeks to carry on the tradition of this new-ish style of music. This is guitar music that doesn't really have many antecedents in Western music: some distorted and dissonant sounds, and bits of picking are the only similarities I can hear. And yet the music is extremely listenable with its whooping vocals, off-beat percussion, and some puzzling (but funky) fretwork. I'm not really doing this music justice in describing it; this stuff needs to be heard to be believed, and once again Sublime Frequencies is doing an excellent job of bringing little heard so-called "world music" to the ears of Western listeners. (GMC)

AFRICA-GHANA THE LA DRIVERS UNION POR POR GROUP Smithsonian Folkways 40541 Por Por - Honk Horn Music Of Ghana $14.98
11 tracks, 72 min., good
Por Por (pronounced paaw paaw) is the name given to the music of the LA Drivers Union of Accra, Ghana, which primarily involves singing, percussion and, most importantly, the squeezing of bulb horns. This remarkable album, released in 2007 to mark the 50th anniversary of Ghana's independence, sounds like nothing else. Usually reserved for the funerals of fellow drivers, por por often has an undeniably and fittingly chaotic element. Sometimes, the music sounds as one imagines a gaggle of drunken, angry geese would sound if they were waiting in long line at the department of motor vehicles on an oppressively hot day. Or like a soccer riot if the fans were armed only with 1920s bicycle horns. And while unquestionably interesting, this music may not delight everyone, may not demand repeated spins. The booklet, as is often the case with Smithsonian releases, is first rate. (JC)

NORTENO LYDIA MENDOZA Arhoolie 536 The Best Of Lydia Mendoza - La Alondra de la Frontera $12.98
17 track, career spanning retrospective of one of the greatest of all Tejano singer ranging from her first solo recording of Mal Hombre to a live concert recording of Pero Ay Que Triste in 1982. Includes 40 page booklet with extensive notes, rare photos and transcriptions of all the lyrics in Spanish and English.

MISCELLANEOUS LES PRIMITIFS DU FUTUR Sunnyside 3078 Tribal Musette $15.98
16 tracks, 53 mins, highly recommended
Founded in 1986 by underground cartoonist Robert Crumb and guitarist Dominique Cravic, Les Primitifs du Futur is an multi-instrumental ensemble with a core of musicians and many flouting guests. Not just an artsy-fartsy side project, but a unique and compelling work of art, presenting real Parisian musette in its most primitive form. So basically this is French Roots music of the highest caliber. The music is a mix of Swing Jazz, Gypsy and Polka with a focus of making people dance. Musette first came to prominence in the early 1930's and was widely popular throughout the '30s and '40s. My impression is that it became rather corny over the years and Les Primitifs are working to restore the integrity of the music. Crumb doesn't appear to be a full time member, but does make appearances on this recording as well as providing artwork for the CD and all of the groups efforts. There are no notes accompanying this CD, but the group does have a Myspace page with more info and many great live performances to check out. (JM)

AFRICA-NIGERIA SIR VICTOR UWAIFO Soundway 012 Guitar Boy Superstar, 1970-76 $18.98
19 tracks, high l y recommended
Collection of sides recorded between 1970 and 1976 by one of the leading performers of Nigerian music in the past 40 years. Uwaifo was a singer, songwriter, guitarist, poet, philospher, sculptor and recently Commissioner For Culture. These recordings feature his "Ekassa" style based upon ancient dances performed for coronations of Kings and caused some controversy when first performed by him as people thought it should be strictly reserved for coronations. To these dance rhythms Uwaifo added modern highlife instrumentation and wrote new songs based upon traditional Benin fables and folklore. Topping all this was Uwaifo's distinctive electric guitar stylings which drew upon elements of psychedelic rock and soul to create a unique musical style. Most of these recordings have never been issued on CD before and have been beautifully remastered and the set comes with a 20 page booklet with extensive notes on Victor and his music as well as commentary on all the song by Victor himself plus rare photos and label and album shots. (FS)

MISCELLANEOUS VARIOUS ARTISTS Dust-To-Digital 11 Victrola Favorites - Artifacts From Bygone Days $46.98
Two CDs, 48 track, highly recommended
It's a book, it's a two CD set - it's the latest imaginative release from the good folks at Dust-To-Digital. Bound into the covers of this 144 page clothbound book with its attractive red cover are two CDs featuring a vast range of vintage music from all over the world. In addition to American old timey, blues and jazz we have music from the Republic Of Congo, Greece, India, Mexico, Korea, Portugal, Burma, Thailand, Germany and a whole lot more. The book is crammed full of rare record labels, record covers, old ads and other fascinating memorabilia. The set was compiled by Tob Millis and Jeffery Taylor of the band Climax Golden Twins. Sound quality is exceptional and my only real criticism is the lack of documentation - apart from brief introductory notes there is no discographical information or information on the individual performances. Still, apart from that this is a wonderful set. (FS)
THE BARTON BROTHERS: Cockeyed Jenny (USA)/ DR. EDMUNDO BETTENCOURT: Balada Do Encantamento (Ballad of Enchantment) (Portugal)/ HAFFOUZ JACHAR BEY: Mahour Gazel-Adjir idin beni (Ghazel in Mahour Dastag) (Persia)/ HAROLD BOYCE AND THE HARLEM INDIANS: Willie Willie Don't Go from Me (USA)/ SHELTON BROOKS AND CO.: Darktown Court Room (USA)/ MOZMAR CAIRE ORCHESTRA: Raks Baladi Hag Ibrahim (Egypt)/ CHINESE BUDDHIST NUNS: Chanting the Ten Vows (Hong Kong)/ COOK AND FLEMMING: Two Liquorice Drops in Jail (USA)/ ZEKI DUYGULU: Karciar Taksim (Turkey)/ FRANK FERERA: The Farmer's Dream (USA)/ BLIND BOY FULLER: Step It Up and Go (USA)/ GOLDEN AND MARLOWE: The Insect Powder Agent (USA)/ GROUPO DE TOTOKO FRANCOIS: Bololo O Kolilo (Republic of Congo)/ GUANGZHOU CANTONESE OPERA TROUPE: The Crow Flies Back to the Forest (China)/ THE HALL BROTHERS: Little Mo-hee (USA)/ KELLY HARRELL: O! Molly Dear Go Ask Your Mother (USA)/ STELLA HASKIL: Mes Tis Polis Ta Stena (Alleyways of Istanbul) (Greece)/ JOHN HENRY AND BLOSSOM: My Wireless Set (England)/ JESSIE MAY HILL: The Crucifixion of Christ (USA)/ KANE'S HAWAIIANS: Mokihana (USA)/ BISMILLAH KHAN AND PARTY: Shenai (India)/ YUKIE KUBO: Shin Shin Tankoubushi (Coalminer's Tale) (Japan)/ SLIM LAMAR'S ORCHESTRA: Memphis Kick Up (USA)/ SRI MA KEOW & CHAI WAT: Courting the Woman From Chiang Mai (Thailand)/ MAMEYIGUDI AND HIS DANCERS: Hamba Na Lo Isoko La Yo (Zulu)/ BADIA MASSABNI AND HER ORCHESTRA: Badia's Dance (Egypt)/ ST. GUN KHIN MAY: Shan Village (part one) (Burma)/ KACHIKURI MIMASUYA: Shiokumi Kasatsukashi (Collecting Water) (Japan)/ SA MA NANG NOI & UT SA WIN: Story of Tang On (part two) (Thailand)/ KOMACHIYO OKADA: Yasukibushi (Tale of Yasuki) (Japan)/ YIORGOS PAPASIDERIS & YIORGOS ANESTOPOULOS: Tora To Vrady Vrady (Now That Evening Has Come) (Greece)/ CARLOS RAMOS: Torre de Belem (The Tower of Belem) (Portugal)/ DON REDMAN AND HIS ORCHESTRA: Watching the Knife and Fork Spoon (USA)/ GOEBEL REEVES: The Cowboy's Dizzy Sweetheart (USA)/ STANLEY ROPER: Impressions of London (England)/ PO SEIN & MAUNG SEIN MAITA: Mahawin Maita Zad (Royal Love) (Burma)/ KIM SEONG-JIN: Daegeum Solo (Peaceful Times) (Korea)/ THE SEVEN GALLON JUG BAND: Wipe Em Off (USA)/ VISHNUDASS SHIRALI: Tabla-Taranga (Raga Adana) (India)/ NOBLE SISSLE AND HIS ORCHESTRA: The Basement Blues (USA)/ ROY SMECK: Laughing Rag (USA)/ MARIA SMYRNEA: The Grass Widow (Greece)/ THE TENNESSEE RAMBLERS: The Preacher Got Drunk and Laid Down His Bible (USA)/ JED TOMPKINS (ERNEST THOMPSON): Yield Not to Temptation (USA)/ UNKNOWN ARTIST: Persian Popular Song (Germany)/ JOHNNIE LEE WILLS AND HIS BOYS: The Thingamajig (USA)/ ZAPOTEC-TEOTITLAN INDIANS: Fireworks Music (Mexico)/ HE ZEMIN & HUANG PEIYING: Big Idiot Buys a Pig (Hong Kong)

IRAQ VARIOUS ARTISTS Honest Jon's 35 Give Me Love: Songs Of The Brokenhearted, Baghdad,1925 - 29 $18.98
22 tracks, 78 mins, highly recommended
Honest Jons is quickly becoming the leader in presenting vintage exotic music from obscure sources; following hot on the heels of "Living is Hard: West African Music in Britain (Honest Jons 33), comes this collection of songs from Iraqi singers and musicians. The material on this CD was drawn from around 900 sides cut by the Gramophone Company over four sessions in Baghdad, during 1925-6 and 1928-9. Originally intended for sale in Iraq, these hypnotic tunes are comprised of Kurdish improvisations, Hebrew hymns (there was a rather large Jewish population in those days, and in fact the instrumentalists were mostly Jews), and both folk and modern Iraqi songs with different traditions from Bahrain and Kuwait mixed in as well. Names like Siddiqa El Mullaya, Sultana Youssef, and Hdhairy Abou Aziz probably mean nothing to westerners, these people were huge stars in their time and remain so in Iraq to this day. The music is played on oud, violin, qanun and percussion, and is strangely mesmerizing, while the vocals certainly live up to the title, at least in tone. The liner notes are informative, if somewhat confusing, and the package attractive; in short, another winner from Honest Jons. (GMC)

ITALY VARIOUS ARTISTS Rounder 1871 Italian Treasury - Lombardia $15.98
16 tracks, mins, recommended
Though certainly best known for his incomparable recordings of American Roots music, Alan Lomax did travel the world and capture many indigenous musics for posterity. In 1954 Lomax traveled through the Lombardy region of Italy, with its capitol of Milan, and in several towns and villages he recorded the fantastic batch of music herein. On this we have solo and group vocal music that is pretty, and most often joyous Mixed with interesting instrumental music that sounds like it originated in a carnival setting. All in all this is an intriguing collection, especially for those among us with the heart of an archeologist. (JM)

REGGAE VARIOUS ARTISTS Soul Jazz 56 Studio One - Roots $21.98
16 tracks, 54 min., very highly recommended
Famed Jamaican record producer Coxsone Dodd had more than a passing interest in Rastafari philosophy, and that interest had a dramatic impact on his label's output. By the 1970s Dodd's Studio One Label (which began in 1963) was home to a host of recordings that married Rasta sensibilities with jazz structures, and many of the best of those are featured on this compilation where the spiritual and the political share equal footing. Tracks include The Gaylad's Africa, Freddie McGregor's Africa Here I Come, Willie Williams (with The All Stars) Addis A Baba, Lennie Hibbert's More Creation, Devon 'Soul' Russell's Drum Song, The Cyclones' Meditation, and several more. No weak tracks here, just great music and informative booklet notes. (JC)

AFRICA-MALI VARIOUS ARTISTS Stern's Africa 1102 Midnight In Mali $21.98
10 tracks, 74 min., highly recommended
Recorded live at Bamako's French Cultural Centre, 23 December 2004, this disc bottles the fire of that concert that brought together some of Mali's finest musicians. Musical director Habib Koite and his band hold the diverse collection of stars in orbit while allowing each his or her own artistic space for improvisation. Artists include Djelimady Tounkara (Super Rail Band), Keletigui Diabate, the legendary Zoumana Tereta, relative newcomer Vieux Kante, vocalist extraordinaire Dieneba Seck, and others. Interestingly, the blues bleed through a few tracks, including Forobana. Count the gorgeous Farafina (Africa) and the delicately beautiful Maky among the highlights on this luminous album. A must have for fans of African music, and Malian music in particular. Excellent sound. (JC)


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