NEWSLETTER #131
Ethnic & World Music

Moh Alileche -> Ecos De Borinquen

MOH ALILECHE
VARIOUS ARTISTS
KEVIN NAQUIN & THE OSSUN PLAYBOYS
STEVE RILEY & THE MAMOU PLAYBOYS
RICO'S CREOLE BAND
ASMAHAN
VARIOUS ARTISTS
JOS GUTIRREZ & LOS HERMANOS OCHOA
RAUL "EL RUCO" MARTINEZ
MINGO SALDIVAR Y SUS TREMEDOS CUATRO
ECOS DE BORINQUEN

 

 

AFRICA-ALGERIA MOH ALILECHE Flag Of Freedom 003 The Source Of Water (Taawit) ● CD $16.98
9 tracks, recommended. Excellent Amazigh music of Kabylia, Algeria. Variety of warm, rich, often lively music with a fine small group. Much like other music of North Africa & the Middle East, but with its own distinguishing flavor. Alileche is an excellent singer and a master of the mondol, a five double-silk-stringed lute of Kabylia. Most instrumentation characteristic of the region (primarily bendir, dumbek, tambourine, qanun, violin, banjo, ney). The indigenous Amazigh (aka Berber), long oppressed by Arab & French, currently face a human rights crisis at the hands of the Algerian government. Alileche's compositions combine sounds of the Amazigh tradition with lyrics of their struggle; delivered with a passion which transcends language barriers. (JVI)

 
AFRICA-SOUTH AFRICA VARIOUS ARTISTS African Cream 013 Archive Africa - Jazz, Jive & Jibe ● CD $17.98
Pretty much straight ahead jazz performed by various South African groups recorded in the 50s and 60s including Miriams Trio with Theo Bophela, Gordon Mfandu Trio, Los Vbros Featuring Francis Kekane, Chris MacGregor & The Blue Notes, The Cool Cats, Dollar Brand & Sathima Benjamin, Pat Matchikiza Trio, The Rhythm Aces and others.

 
AFRICA-SOUTH AFRICA VARIOUS ARTISTS World Music Network 1099 Rough Guide To South African Gospel ● CD $14.98
22 tracks, 73 mins, essential. Simply beautiful and mesmerizing music. Gospel music is one of the most popular music forms in South Africa and this collection shows why. Most of the performances are by groups ranging from quartets to large choirs - some unaccompanied, some with just rhythm percussion sounds and others with small instrumental groups playing in the style of mbaqanga. The songs have consistently beautiful melodies and the vocal harmonies are simply stunning - dense and layered with different vocal lines going on the same time - it's hard to describe but the effect is spine chilling. The performances here were recorded between 1961 and 1994 and are sung in the Zulu, Sotho and Xhosa languages except for the Kings Messengers Quartet whose beautiful reading of the gospel song There's Room Enough brings to mind the great African-American acapella quartets of the 40s and early 50s. A number of the songs have passages of wordless chanting which only adds to the beauty of he performances. This glorious set was compiled and annotated by South African music expert Rob Allingham. (FS)

 
AFRICA-UGANDA VARIOUS ARTISTS Smithsonian Folkways 40504 Abayudaya - Music From The Jewish People Of Uganda ● CD $15.98
Fascinating album featuring recent recordings of this small community of Africans who practice the Jewish religion. The music blends the rhythm and harmonies of African music with traditional Hebrew prayer.

 
ASIA VARIOUS ARTISTS Topic 921 Before The Revolution ● CD $16.98
23 tracks, 67 minutes, highly recommended for adventurous ears. First off, these 1909 recordings ARE quite listenable, though certainly not hi-fi; and the amazing music on this CD is a must for anyone with a serious interest in music of these regions as it existed before "the Soviet Union changed lives and music forever". Sounds from the Caucasus (which now includes several Russian Federation republics - Armenia, Chechnya, etc.--between the Black and Caspian Seas) have many similarities to musics of Eastern Europe and the Near East. Many small choirs and various ensembles. Central Asia has some of the world's most striking music, and despite very non-western aesthetic values, some exotic forms have a devoted following worldwide (esp. the relatively mellow sounds of Tuvan music). Harsh, wailing sounds are prevalent in much Central Asian music (some may consider it "ear-wrenching", but legend has it that one of the Sufi Zikr ritual performers on the CD induced such ecstasy in participants that they often died!); but mellow lutes and classical forms are also common - the area covered here includes the Turkic states of the region and goes all the way to Afghanistan & the Chinese border. Many of these mind-blowing sounds were gone before modern recording technology arrived. With informative booklet. (JVI)

 
CAJUN KEVIN NAQUIN & THE OSSUN PLAYBOYS Swallow 6175 Bayou Groove ● CD $15.98
15 tracks, 52 mins, recommended Talented group of young Cajun musicians (age ranges from 16 to 25) led by singer/ accordion player Kevin Naquin performing a selection of traditional favorites along with a few originals. 17 year old guitarist Ashley Hayes is also a fine vocalist and when the two harmonize they sound particularly fine and fiddler Louis Dronet is also an asset. At times the bass and drums are a little heavier than I like but this is definitely a worthwhile group. Among the highlights are a beautiful rendition of La Valse Du Grand Bois and a spirited rendition of Chanson De Mardi Gras.

 
CAJUN STEVE RILEY & THE MAMOU PLAYBOYS Rounder 6084 Bon Reve ● CD $15.98
New album by this fine group is a selection of mostly traditionally oriented material.

 
CUBA RICO'S CREOLE BAND Fremeaux 5050 Cuba In Paris, 1947-1951 ● CD $24.98
Two CD set with 36 tracks by this great band that first introduced Paris to Cuban music in the 20s.

 
EGYPT ASMAHAN Buda Musique 82217-2 Le Coeur A ses Raisons 1935 - 1944 ● CD $14.98
Only available recordings of superb Egyptian singer who died tragically at the age of 26 in 1944 and was considered by many as a potential rival to Oum Kalthoum.

 
ITALY VARIOUS ARTISTS Pias PIASG 001 Omerta, Onori e Sangu ● CD $19.98
Second volume of songs about the Calabrian Mafia and their code of "Omerta, Onuri e Sangu" - "Discretion, Honour and Blood". Once again the beauty of the music marks a stark contrast to the frequent bloodthirstiness of the lyrics. Booklet includes introductory notes in English and lyric transcripts in Italian, English, French & German.

 
MEXICO JOS GUTIRREZ & LOS HERMANOS OCHOA Smithsonian Folkways 40505 La Bamba: Sones Jarochos from Veracruz ● CD $15.98
21 tracks, 68 minutes, very highly recommended Title may be misleading, as "La Bamba" has been performed in so many different styles. Son Jarocho is the traditional music from Veracruz, Mexico, on the Caribbean Coast of the southern Yucat n peninsula. These are some of the very finest recordings I have ever heard of this joyous, fiery, rhythmic music which combines outstanding elements of Spanish, African, and Caribbean culture. Performed with overflowing enthusiasm by wonderful musicians, showcasing their great improvisational skills, both vocal and instrumental. Instrumentation includes Arpa Jarocho (regional folk harp) and regional variations on guitar (requinto, jarana, and (bass) jarana tecera). Informative booklet included. (JVI)

 
NORTENO RAUL "EL RUCO" MARTINEZ Arhoolie 9029 Dueto Alegre- Historic First Recordings, 1948-1956 ● CD $9.98
21 tracks, 58 minutes, recommended Great and varied tracks by pioneering Tex-Mex accordion master, vocalist, and composer Ra£l "El Ruco" MartĦnez, on most tracks with "Dueto Alegre" w/ bajo sexto & vocals by Juan Gonz lez. Ra£l, along with his nephew Narciso MartĦnez, were among the first to popularize accordion in M£sica Tejana. Influences from Western Swing fiddling and other stringband music of the region. The variety, and the duo format rather than a full conjunto with drums etc. showcase many of the subtleties and idiosyncrasies that have been streamlined out as Tex-Mex music has become more stylized; doesn't get into a groove as other Tejano music may, but more interesting. Typical repertoire of mostly polkas, waltzes, corridos (ballads), & folksongs (canciones). Only reservation I have is vocals, while wonderful on some tracks, are inconsistent, even ragged at times. Part of the problem is bad sound on a few tracks, which sounds like microphone distortion and thus is worst at vocal climax points. Tracks were originally recorded by various regional labels, some with excellent sound, mostly remastered from original 78's. (JVI)

 
NORTENO MINGO SALDIVAR Y SUS TREMEDOS CUATRO ESPADAS Rounder 6105 A Taste Of Texas ● CD $15.98
12 tracks, 40 minutes, good As Mingo says, his music relates to life itself, especially for hard working, beer drinking, truck driving people. Tex-Mex (Tejano) based, incorporating regional elements including country, western swing, rockabilly, Cajun, and Blues/ R&B (esp. harmonica and Mingo's soulful & powerful vocals, in Spanish and English). Mingo (also a songwriter and accordion player) is joined by a typical conjunto lineup with bass, bajo sexto, & drums, plus harmonica. Now in his mid 60s, Mingo was a migrant earlier in life, won a NEA National Heritage Fellowship in 2002, & now has become a worldwide emissary bringing his music to a wider audience. Booklet includes lyrics. (JVI)

 
PUERTO RICO ECOS DE BORINQUEN Smithsonian Folkways 40506 Jibaro Hasta el Hueso ● CD $15.98
16 tracks, 67 minutes Beautifully performed JĦbaro music - traditional music of the campesinos of Puerto Rico; a sung poetry set to (usually) a seis rhythm. The sound is Spanish and Afro-Caribbean; less strongly African than most Cuban music, but similar to guajiras; lovely and lilting with a more snakey rhythm. All-acoustic instrumentation of conjunto jĦbaro includes 2 cuatros (10 string guitar), guitar (no bass in this group), bongos, and guiro - an indigenous Taino Indian derived gourd rasp & scraper. Wonderful soulful vocals, female & male lead. The group, led by singer/ composer Miguel Santiago DĦaz, has won National Trovador contest for best jĦbaro group in Puerto Rico. As a connoisseur of JĦbaro music, I feel these studio recordings are slightly below the best I've heard in terms of vitality; but they are more relaxed and virtuoso, emphasizing the Spanish elements. Informative booklet. (JVI)

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