NEWSLETTER #130
Ethnic & World Music

Ray Barretto -> Yat-Kha

THE BRONX HORNS
LOS CAMPESINOS DE MICHOACAN
DESMOND DEKKER
OUM KALTHOUM
THE MAHOTELLA QUEENS
ORCHESTRE BAOBAB
THE SAVOY FAMILY BAND
MIGUELITO VALDES
VARIOUS ARTISTS
YAT-KHA

 

CUBA THE BRONX HORNS Timeless 445 Silver In The Bronx ● CD $16.98
10 tracks, 57 minutes, recommended. The Bronx Horns are, as their name suggests, a contemporary New York latin jazz group. This means that, despite their brassy moniker, they have as many percussionists as they do horn players (three of each). In this CD, recorded in 1997, they pay tribute to one of their main jazz influences, noted modern jazz pianist/ composer/ arranger Horace Silver, by giving a latin jazz treatment to ten of their favorite Silver compositions. (JV)

 
MEXICO LOS CAMPESINOS DE MICHOACAN Arhoolie 9035 Los Camepsinos De Michoacan ● CD $9.98
California group playing traditional music of the state of Michoacan in Mexico featuring the distinctive sound of the harp and two fiddles plus guitar and vihuela. These recordings were made in 1985 and '87 by Chris Strachwitz.

 
JAMAICA DESMOND DEKKER Trojan 80415 Rudy Got Soul ● CD $18.98
2 CDs, 46 track, 120 mins, highly recommended. Wonderful collection of early sides by this great Jamaican artist who was the first reggae artist to have a worldwide hit with his recording of Israelites in 1969. The recordings here predate that smash featuring recordings made for legendary producer Leslie Kong's Beverly label between 1963 and 1968. Many of these were hits in Jamaica and some were hits in England including his wonderful evocation of the "rude boy" life in 007 (Shanty Town) - a song best known from its appearance in the wonderful 1973 Jamaican movie "The Harder They Come". There are lots of other ska and rocksteady gems here from Desmond, usually accompanied by his group The Aces including Honor Your Mother And Father/ Dracula/ King Of Ska/ This Woman/ Rude Boy Train/ Keep A Cool Head/ Sweet Music/ Sabotage/ Young Generation and others. An invaluable collection. (FS)

 
EGYPT OUM KALTHOUM Dejavue Retro 4241 Diva Of Arabic Music ● CD $12.98
2 CDs, 5 tracks, 149 mins., good. For nearly half a century Oum Kalthoum was a larger-than-life musical force of nature in Egypt, much like Edith Piaf in France. Her rich contralto voice contained all the pain and longing of her audience and since her death in 1975 she is mourned like no one besides, perhaps, Elvis. This double CD set presents five very long songs, backed with full Arabic orchestra and recorded sometime in the late 40s to late 50s. But infuriatingly, even with a 20-page booklet, there is next to zero information about the recordings or the artist for anyone not already familiar with her work. The performances are soulful and beautiful, though the transfer from old formats to CD was not that great. The sound is brittle and edgy in places, though once the listener is caught up in the story-telling mode of the songs, perhaps it doesn't matter. (DC)

 
AFRICA-SOUTH AFRICA THE MAHOTELLA QUEENS Wrass 098 Township Idols - Best Of The Mahotella Queens ● CD $17.98
A 20 tracks collection of tracks by this wonderful South African vocals group. There is not a lot of useful information but the recordings here appear to range from the 70s through the 90s including both classic mbaqanga sides as well as more pop oriented material.

 
AFRICA-SENEGAL ORCHESTRE BAOBAB Melodie 79559 On Verra Ca ● CD $13.98
10 tracks, 57 mins, highly recommended Fabulous release of 1978 recordings by the superb band from Senegal originally formed in 1970. With fine vocals by Balla Sidibe, Medoune Diallo and Radolphe Gomis, delicate, lyrical and inventive guitar from Barthelemy Attisso, and great hornwork and drumming, Baobab combined the drive and intensity of the Cuban music that they emulated with the delicate soulfulness of Senegalese music. Cuban numbers like El Son De La LLama & El Fuego are given a unique West African stamp, while slow, sumptuous tunes like Tante Marie & Sibam almost taste of the dust, steam and heat of the Senegalese countryside. A winner! (JM/ FS)

 
CAJUN THE SAVOY FAMILY BAND Arhoolie 508 Cajun Album ● CD $12.98
The latest album from Cajun accordion legend Marc Savoy is a family affair which in addition to Marc on accordion and fiddle features his wife Ann (vocal & guitar), son Joel (fiddle), son Wilson (vocals, keyboards and accordion) and daughter Sarah (vocals & guitar). A collection of mostly Cajun favorites along with some originals.

 
CUBA MIGUELITO VALDES Tumbao 025 Mr. Babalu ● CD $13.98
16 tracks, 45 minutes, highly recommended. Havana-born Miguelito Valdes was perhaps the most exciting of the Cuban vocalists who brought Afro-Cuban music to the United States in the rhumba craze of the 1940's and the mambo madness of the 1950's (sort of a more authentic Desi Arnaz). After paying his dues with several legendary groups in Cuba in the 1930's, he came to New York to sing with the best-known latin bands of the day (such as those led by Xavier Cugat and Machito). This fine CD consists of mainly dance numbers cut in 1949 and 1951 with Noro Morales' fine orchestra. (JV)

 
CUBA VARIOUS ARTISTS Concord Picante 5300 The Colors Of Latin Jazz - A Latin Vibe! ● CD $8.98
12 tracks, 58 minutes, recommended. Over the past twenty years Concord Records, long a leader in the jazz field, has used its Concord Picante imprint to also establish itself as a leader in latin jazz. The Colors of Latin Jazz series of anthologies provides an excellent introduction to the wealth of fine latin jazz they have produced. This CD, the first in the series, offers selections from latin jazz giants ranging from Tito Puente and Poncho Sanchez to Cal Tjader and Gary Burton. (JV)

 
CUBA VARIOUS ARTISTS Concord Picante 5307 The Colors Of Latin Jazz - Mambo Mania! ● CD $8.98
11 tracks, 66 minutes, recommended. This number in Concord's the Colors of Latin Jazz series takes a dance direction by focusing on some of the many fine mambos done by its artists (the recordings date mainly from the eighties and nineties). Highlights include Tito Puente's classic Ran Kan Kan, Ray Barretto's Ancestral Messages, and Arturo Sandoval and Claudio Roditi leading the Latin Jazz All-Star Band in A Night in Tunisia. (JV)

 
ITALY VARIOUS ARTISTS Dejavu Retro 4409 Sardegna - Antologia Della Musica Sarda ● CD $12.98
Two CDs, 39 tracks, 150 mins, highly recommended. A collection of music from the Italian island of Sardinia - Disc One being traditional music and Disc Two being contemporary. The first disc is a joy with almost half the tracks featuring the uniquely Sardinian sound of "cantu a tenores" - unaccompanied singing by four male singers who weave complex and beautiful polyphonic harmonies. There are a number of different groups featured - all of them great but I particularly like the beautiful sounds of Cuntrattu 'E Seneghe. There is other harmony singing here too in a more straightforward choral style but also very beautiful. There are also solo singers accompanied by guitar or organ and a few instrumental tracks including one by Luigi Lai - an expert on the launeddas - a set of three pipes unique to Sardinia which is made to sound like several instruments by the use of circular breathing. This disc is a real joy. The second disc is a mixed bag of contemporary music - some of it rooted in traditional Sardinian music but quite a bit of it is mainstream pop and rock. Still, even if you never play the second disc this is a great deal for some fine music. A booklet is enclosed with brief notes - in Italian. (FS)

 
EASTERN EUROPE VARIOUS ARTISTS Ellipsis Arts 3570 Music Of Eastern Europe ● CD $34.98
Available again at a new lower price. 3 CD set with 72 page booklet. Stunning collection of music from the former Soviet bloc ranging from religious chorales to earthy peasant dances to fusions of folk, rock and jazz. With fiddles, accordion, brass bands, bagpipes, hurdy-gurdies, etc. Very highly recommended.

 
AFRICA-WEST AFRICA VARIOUS ARTISTS Heritage HT CD 33 Early Guitar Music From West Africa, 1927-1929 ● CD $16.98
Charming collection featuring some of the earliest recordings of West African music made by the Zonophone Company in London, England between 1927 and 1929 featuring West African musicians living in England at the time. It's mostly vocal music with guitar accompaniment - vocals are solos, duets or trios and in addition to guitar often features other instruments like kazoo, castanets, concertina or drums. Sound quality from these 75 year old recordings is superb and there are informative notes by Paul Vernon and full discographical info.

 
CUBA VARIOUS ARTISTS Nascente NSCD 055 Salsa Clasica ● CD $12.98
17 tracks, 78 minutes, highly recommended "Salsa Clasica" is contemporary salsa done in the style and spirit of the original salsa of the 1960's (and in that way, it is analogous to roots reggae). And just as New York City's Fania label dominated salsa in the 1960's, Miami's Kubaney label (from which the tracks are this CD are drawn) is the leading purveyor of salsa clasica. Infectious dance music from leading stars of the genre such as Johnny Ventura and Cuco Valoy. (JV)

 
AFRICA-GHANA VARIOUS ARTISTS Otrabanda 2 Vintage Palmwine ● CD $18.98
14 tracks, 62 mins., good This nicely-documented CD brings together three giants of this old popular West African musical style: Koo Nimo, T.O. Jazz, and Kwaa Mensah, presenting recordings done during the part 20 years, but harkening back to the roots of palmwine music in the early 1900s. Only Nimo is still alive today as an exponent of this meandering and hypnotic acoustic guitar-driven song style. The songs, while well-recorded, preserve the very rustic roots of the music, while weaving simple, hopeful lyrics about love, loss, and village life. The informative booklet described the artists, who span 60 years of highlife history, and gives the cultural context that gave rise to the styles. (DC)

 
BRAZIL VARIOUS ARTISTS Revivendo 196 Carnaval - Sua Historia, Sua Gloria ● CD $15.98
21 track collection of vintage recordings of music from the Brazilian carnival. The first track is from 1909 and sound quality is pretty grim but the rest range from the early 30s to mid 50s. The music is consistently charming and delightful but I can't tell you much more as all the notes are in Portuguese.

 
AFRICA-ZIMBABWE VARIOUS ARTISTS Sheer Sound 039 Jit Jive - Zimbabwean Street Party ● CD $16.98
Fine collection featuring some of Zimbabwe's currently popular artists performing in a variety of styles. Includes Andy Brown & The Storm, Simon Chimbetu, Oliver Mtukudzi, Thomas Mapfumo, Chiwoniso, Tanga Sando, The Four Brothers and others.

 
AFRICA-MALI VARIOUS ARTISTS Smithsonian Folkways 40508 Mali Lolo! Stars Of Mali ● CD $15.98
Superb compilation featuring 16 tracks by some of Mali's finest performers. Though contemporary the sound throughout is strongly rooted in traditional sounds. Includes Kasse Mady Diabate, Habib Koite & Bamada, Yoro Sidibe, Toumani Diabate & Ballake Sissoko, Tinariwen, Lobi Traore, Neba Solo, Les Esrocs, Super Rail Band and others. Includes 32 page booklet with detailed notes by African music expert Banning Eyre.

 
JAMAICA VARIOUS ARTISTS Trojan 80344 Trojan X-Rated Box Set ● CD $16.98
Another in Trojan's excellent series of budget priced three CD box sets this one is devoted to some of the more risqué recordings made between 1966 and 1975. Pretty tame by today's standards they are full of wit, good humor and great music. 48 tracks including such gems as Wet Dream by Max Romeo, Rub & Squeeze by Lee Perry & The Soulettes (the latter group included Rita Marley), the classic Bang Bang Lulu by Lloyd Chalmers, Want A Grine by Melinda Slack & Lee Perry, Pussy Catch A Fire by The Soulmates and, of course, Cock Stiff & Hard by George Anthony whose lyrics are not quite as graphic as the title. Also includes naughtiness from Loydie & The Lowbites, Augustus Pablo & Fay, The Versatiles, Max & Niney, Dermott & Lynch, Derrick Morgan and others.

 
JAMAICA VARIOUS ARTISTS Trojan 80392 Reggae Sisters Box Set ● CD $16.98
3 discs, 50 tracks, recommended The title says it all - 3 discs of the finest female reggae singers, recorded for Trojan 64-75, with producers such as Duke Reid, Lee Perry, Bunny Lee & Harry Johnson, plus a Rita Marley & The Soulettes side produced by Bob Marley. Includes the cream of reggae - Marcia Griffiths, Judy Mowatt, Phyllis Dillon, The Gaylettes. There are some self-penned tunes, but the majority is reggae-ed up cover tunes, with version of everything from Stand By Your Man/ Band Of Gold/ Son Of A Preacher Man to Young/ Gifted & Black/ In The Ghetto & a gorgeous version of Groovin’ by the Gaylettes that seems to be taken from the Booker T version! (GM)

 
JAMAICA VARIOUS ARTISTS Trojan 80404 Mark Lamarr Presents Duke Reid-The Trojan-Nuclear Weapon ● CD $13.98
26 tracks, 72 min, highly recommended If you thought that ska recordings were rough, how about the ones that DIDN'T get released. These were produced by The Trojan, but only exist on acetates, many of the artists are unknown, even a couple of song titles are unknown! And when there is a name given for the performer - Duke Reid All Stars, Roland Alphonso, Alton Ellis, Derrek Morgan, that still doesn't let you know which musicians actually appear. This stuff really rocks, done around '62, including such titles as Choo Choo/ Lollipop I Love You/ We're Going Rollin', & the Roland Alphonso title tune. (GM)

 
JAMAICA VARIOUS ARTISTS Trojan 80409 Trojan Originals Box Set ● CD $16.98
This budget priced three CD box features original versions of 50 ska, rocksteady and reggae songs that were covered by non Jamaican groups. Most notably UB40 devoted three big selling LPs to covers and most of the first two CDs here features originals of those. There are also originals of songs covered by Blondie, Boney M, The Specials and others. Among the artists featured here, recorded between 1964 and 1979 are Eric Donaldson, Bob Marley & The Wailers, The Slickers, Boy Friday, Jimmy Cliff, The Kinstonians, Jackie Robinson, The Melodians, The Paragons, Max Romeo, Ken Boothe, Nicky Thomas, Lloydie & The Lowbites, The Harry J. All Stars, Dandy, Eddie Lovettes, Desmond Dekker & The Aces, Joya Landis and others. Notes by Michael de Koningh are fairly scathing when referring to the covers.

 
AFRICA-MISCELLANEOUS VARIOUS ARTISTS Vestapol DVD 13017 African Guitar ● CD $23.98
Now on DVD. Solo fingerstyle guitar music from Uganda, Congo/Zaire, Central African Republic, Malawi, Namibia & Zambia.

 
TUVA YAT-KHA RCA 63351 Dalai Beldiri ● CD $16.98
Three member group (with various guest musicians) performing Tuvan folk music traditional and contemporary with both traditional and contemporary instrumentation including occasional use of heavily distorted electric guitar.

 

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