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Bulletin - May/ June 2009
Ethnic & World Music
Happy Fats ->
Various Artists





CAJUN HAPPY FATS B.A.C.M. 265 And His Rayne-Bo Ramblers $14.98
25 tracks, 74 mins, recommended
Fine collection of sides recorded between 1938 and 1949 by this South Louisiana group whose music straddled country swing and Cajun music - sometimes blending both. The band is best known for having launched the career of the great Harry Choates who performed with the group on a 1940 session (not here but included on Bear Family 16355 Harry Choates - "Devil In The Bayou" - 2 CD set - $41.98). Happy Fats (Leroy Leblanc) was a fairly mediocre singer but his group included some fine musicians like fiddlers "Doc" Guidry and Andrus Thibodeaux and steel guitarists Roy Romero and Julius "Papa Cairo" Lamperez that help liven up the proceedings. Sound quality is fine and there are the usual high quality notes by Kevin Coffey. (FS)
HAPPY FATS & HIS RAYNE-BO RAMBLERS: Alon's Rendezvous/ Aux Bal Se Te Maurice/ Cajun Boogie/ Cajun Jitterbug/ Chan Se Tige/ Coosh Mal/ Est Ce que Tu M'Aimes/ Happy Birthday/ I Loved You Once Before/ I'm Not Sorry Now/ If I Ever Leave The South/ In The House At The End Of The Road/ Jolie Schvr Rouge (Pretty Red Hair)/ La Vieux Two-Step Francais/ Le Nuevo Te Maurice/ Le Valse De Bosco/ Les Veuve A Kit La Coulee/ Ma Belle Mellina/ Memoire De Mom/ Se Mallereaux/ Su Parti A La Maison/ Sweet Southern Azalea/ Te Kaplan/ The Widow's Lament/ When The Weeping Willow Smiles

JEWISH/YIDDISH/KLEZMER ALBERTO HEMSI Buda 860109 Coplas Sefardies $15.98
16 Judeo-Spanish songs performed by Pedro Aledo with piano accompaniment. The songs were collected by Turkish born composer and folklorist Alberto Hemsi, who died in 1975, and represent a wide variety of styles and comes with a 36 page booklet with detailed notes in English, French & Spanish.

CAJUN AUSTIN PITRE & THE EVANGELINE PLAYBOY Swallow 6211 The Essential Early Cajun Recordings $15.98
24 tracks, 65 mins, essential
Superb collection of sides recorded by one of the giants of post war Cajun music - singer, fiddler and accordion player Austin Pitre accompanied by his great band band The Evangeline Playboys. Austin was superb singer with an aching vocal style complemented by his powerful accordion work with outstanding fiddle Harry LaFleur), steel guitar (Audrey "Cabri" Menier), guitar (Dickey Gill) and drums (Eston Bellew). Apparently Pitre was also quite the showman as a live muscician including playing the accordion behind his back or between his knees. The collection includes his first and most famous song Les Flammes D'Enfer (Flames Of Hell) as well as other gems like Opelousas Waltz/ Two Step De Bayou Teche/ Grand Mamou Blues/Evangeline Playboys Special and more including six previously unissued sides which are every bit as good and , in some cases, better than the issued sides. Like many vintage Cajun recordings the sides from the late 50s and early 60s define low-fi but that only adds to the excitement of the music. An indispensible collection for lovers of real Cajun music. (FS)

CUBA TITO PUENTE Fania 130 389 The Complete 78s, Vol. 1 $19.98
2 CDs, 40 tracks, 118 mins, very highly recommended
This marvelous first volume (of four) begins the document El Rey's 156 78 RPM singles for the Tico label from 1949-1955, many of which have never been released on CD. Puente spent his life at the vanguard of Latin music beginning in the mid 1940's and staying there until his death in 2000. He more than earned the title "The King of Latin Music"; recording, arranging and composing hundreds of songs, winning countless awards and working as a tireless ambassador of Latin (and jazz) music - bringing it to popular and artistic acclaim. These early tracks feature much "mambo" (all the rage at the time), with various other Latin elements (boleros, Afro/Cubano, etc.) and are the predecessors for the various Latin musical styles to float from the Caribbean through the melting pot of Nuevo York (where Puente was born in Spanish Harlem) and eventually come to be known as "Salsa". Puente was a brilliant and visionary musician, always using top players and man of incredible energy. That is more than apparent on these early tracks that present passionate, often driving, (and sometimes somewhat corny) but always honest, dancing music. This is an INCREDIBLE series that Fania has released, wonderfully compiled and produced by Joe Conzo and as important a document of American Music as exists: a true treasure of three minute gems. Note - Volume 2 was reviewed a while back and is also highly recommended. (RB)

CUBA TITO PUENTE Fania 130 416 The Complete 78s, Vol. 2 $19.98
2 CDs, 40 tracks, highly recommended
Tito Puente was one of the Kings of Latin Jazz and this compilation is the second in a series that collects the recordings he cut, as a first time band leader, from 1949 to 1955 for the Tico label and were released as 78's. Apparently, Puente was also cutting tracks for RCA at the same time, but there appears to be few parallel between the material from each label. While the RCA sides were more mainstream commercial, these tracks are geared more toward his hardcore audience: hard mambos, boleros, and the occasional ballad. The musicians featured on these recordings include, Mongo Santamaria, Charlie Palmieri, and Willie Bobo, so you know that the playing will be Grade A classic. These recordings are a must for Puente fans. (GMC)

AUSTRIA VARIOUS ARTISTS Arhoolie 454/5 Folk Music Of Austria $23.98
2 CDs, 90 tracks, 2 hours 14 min., recommended
Recorded in Austria by Arhoolie's Chris Strachwitz and Johnny Parth of Document Records fame during a song collecting trip in 1967 (although Strachwitz returned to collect songs for this set as recently as 1998) and made available here on CD for the first time. These songs were, in part, released on Arhoolie LPs (LP 3001 in 1967 and LP 3003 in 1974), although this 2-CD set includes a wealth of previously unavailable recordings. Although Parth was (according to Strachwitz's notes) interested only in documenting songs played by amateurs and wanted to avoid people who learned their music from records, the Arhoolie boss said he "didn't care how people learned their music as long as it was sung or played with joy, energy, obvious love and dedication, and was not overly artsy, studied or contrived." Judging from these songs, Strachwitz got what he wanted. The names of the musicians will be unfamiliar to most, as few if any appear on other commercially available recordings, but the music is no less for it. Just about every Austrian state is represented here and lyrics are included (with the help of a computer) in the original Austrian dialect, high German, and English. In what will come as no surprise to anyone who is even remotely familiar with collecting folk tales, many of the songs here boast sexual (often amusing) lyrics of a kind that would make sailors blush and leave hardcore rappers feeling unoriginal and tame. In fact, this may become the only Austrian folk music album in your collection bearing a "Parental Advisory-Explicit Content" sticker--thank you Tipper Gore! (One song explores the time honored subject of erectile disfunction in a pre-Viagra world.) The expected clarinets, flutes, accordions, fiddles, and guitars are here aplenty, but many of the artists play slightly more unusual instruments , including the cembalo, the tarogato, and, in the case of one performer, a brick xylophone and a glockenspiel made of WWI grenades. Enjoyable and informative. (JC)

AFRICA-SOUTH AFRICA VARIOUS ARTISTS Gallo 08326 African Jazz 'n' Jive $11.98
24 tracks, 62 mins, very highly recommended
Available again with a new number and at a lower price. Wonderful collection of South African township music from the 50s and 60s. A varied selection featuring Marabi, African jazz, pennywhistle Jive/ Kwela and vocal groups. It also includes Solomn Linda's Original Evening Bird with their classic Mbube from the 30s - it's been reissued dozens of times already but it's always great to hear and if it encourages more people to pick up this collection I won't complain. Among the many fine artists here are the N.D. Hotshots, The Skylarks (a vocal group featuring a young Miriam Makeba), Elite SWingsters, King Jury & His Band, Kippi Moeketsi & The Marabi Kings, The Solven Whistlers, Father Huddleston Band (with Hugh Masekela), The Royal Players, Manhattan Brothers, Reggie Msomi's Hollywood Jazz Band, Lemmy "Special" Mabaso, Havana SWingsters, King Kong Cast and more. There are very brief notes and personnel when known but no recording dates. (FS)

AFRICA-GHANA VARIOUS ARTISTS Soundway 001 Ghana Soundz: Afro-Beat, Funk And Fusion In 70's Ghana $16.98
14 tracks, 72 mins, essential
Originally released in 2003 on Skitteesh and later on Soundway in 2004 and now reprinted, this is one of the first viable collections of 70's Ghana Afro-Beat groups that recorded in the wake of Fela Kuti's success in Nigeria. Much of this material was rare and unreleased when it was compiled here, and some exceptional talent is spotlighted including The 3rd Generation Band, Oscar Sulley & the Uhuru Dance Band, Marijata, The Ogyatanaa Show Band, K. Frimpong & His Cubano Fiestas, and Honny & the Bees Band. The influence of Western funk and fusion music has been adopted and absorbed by the musicians to create something truly great of their very own. This CD is a worthy companion to the Nigeria 70 (Strut 044) compilation of West African music. (GMC)

AFRICA-NIGERIA VARIOUS ARTISTS Soundway 002 Afro Baby - The Evolution Of The Afro-Sound In Nigeria $16.98
12 tracks, 68 mins, essential
Another of Soundway's exceptional Afro-Beat compilations (originally released in 2004 and now reprinted), this CD further explores the wealth of funky grooves that were to be found in 70's West Africa; as the liner notes point out, Nigeria's recording industry was one of the biggest in the world during the Me Decade, and the fusion of African rhythms with jazz, funk, soul, and rock was a potent and prolific phenomenon that, back in the day, was a well-kept secret from all but the hippest DJs and musical gold diggers of the time. Well, here's another chance to get hip to the timeless sounds of The Sahara All Stars, The Mebusas, The Don Isaac Ezekiel Combination, Fred Fisher (with his James Brown-influenced Asa-sa), and the legend himself, Fela Kuti (with an early track, 1972's Fogo Fogo). More unjustly ignored music just ripe for rediscovery. (GMC)

AFRICA-NIGERIA VARIOUS ARTISTS Strut 044 Nigeria 70 - The Definitive Story of 1970s Funky Lagos $15.98
2 CD, 22 tracks, 141 mins, essential
In the 70's it seemed that Lagos was the place to be; ex-Cream drummer Ginger Baker had a recording studio there, and Paul McCartney used it to make his legendary 1973 album Band on the Run. Baker even went so far as to record with the local musicians, and he was definitely on to something, as this collection demonstrates. Tracing the origins of Juju and Afro-Beat, the booklet tells the story, but the music speaks for itself, from the world famous Fela Anikulapo Kuti and Sunny Ade & His African Beats to Tony Allen & His African Messengers. Like much African music made during the Me Decade, this music rocks and funks it up like there's no tomorrow. If funky grooves are your thing, then the cab stops here. (GMC)


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