NEWSLETTER #127
Ethnic & World Music

Abagqobhi -> Various Artists

ABAGQOBHI
AMALIA
WILLIE COLON
ANTON KARAS
KAKAI KILONZO & LES KILIMAMOGO BROTHERS
LADYSMITH BLACK MAMBAZO
MACHITO & HIS AFRO-CUBANS
MACK MANUEL & JESSE LEGE
TITO NIEVES
SABU
PONCHO SANCHEZ
THE SKATALITES
VARIOUS ARTISTS
 


AFRICA-SOUTH AFRICA ABAGQOBHI Columbia (South Africa) 8035 Ngiyayifun'Imali Yami ● CD $11.98
10 tracks, 44 mins, highly recommended Exciting album of South African music from this fine group recorded in 1997. I can't find any information about them but from the rapid fire spoken rap in the middle of some of the songs I assume that they are based in South Sotho. Fine lead vocals and expressive group harmony from the rest of the group. Accompaniments are electric guitars and bass, accordion and drums. Excellent! (FS)

 
GREECE AMALIA Arhoolie 7049 Old Greek Songs In The New Land, 1923-1950 ● CD $12.98
21 tracks, highly recommended Superb collection of rembetika styled Greek music recorded in the USA by wonderful singer Amalia (Mazaltov Matsa) who emigrated from Turkey in 1912. Amalia was a superb singer and her varied repertoire finds her accompanied by violin, cymbalum, oud, santouri, clarinet and other instruments. Sound quality is excellent and set comes with 24 page booklet with extensive notes, lyric transcripts and great rare photos. (FS)

 
CUBA WILLIE COLON Sony International 81463 The Best II ● CD $14.98
12 tracks, 66 minutes, highly recommended Bronx born Willie Colon has been a powerful, innovative influence in Salsa and latin jazz since the 1960's. As a producer at Fania Records, he helped mold the modern Salsa sound. Outside music, he has acted, directed, and even run for Congress! This CD features him as a trombonist and singer on some fine Salsa sides, mainly from the 1980's. (JV)

 
AUSTRIA ANTON KARAS Jasmine JASCD 123 Plays "The Third Man" Theme & Other Favorites ● CD $14.98
25 tracks, 61 mins, highly recommended The 1949 movie "The Third Man" is one of the greatest movies of all time and it featured some of the most memorable theme music of any movie thanks to director Carol Reed's inspired decision to use music composed and played on the Austrian zither by Viennese tavern musician Anton Karas. The movie went on to deserved acclaim and the theme music became a world wide hit. This wonderful collection features all the main music from the movie along with a number of tunes recorded by Karas in the early 50s including two accompaniments to vocalist Kay Armen. This is a lot of zither music to listen to at one time but the music has an undeniable charm and if you've seen the movie the haunting sounds here will conjure up images of the Viennese sewers and of Orson Welle as Harry Lime's first appearance in a doorway. If you haven't seen the movie you really should - the recntly released DVD is superb with great quality and has all kinds of extras including a shot of Karas playing live. Booklet has lots of fascinating information about Karas and the movie. (FS)

 
AFRICA-KENYA KAKAI KILONZO & LES KILIMAMOGO BROTHERS Shava 011 The Best Of Kakai, Vol. 1 ● CD $16.98
Splendid collection of Benga music from Kenya recorded in the mid 80s by the immensly popular Kakai Kilonzo who tragically died in 1987 at the early age of 32. Most of the recording here were originally issued as two part singles and features Kakai's sinuous vocals in Swahili and superb backup by the band featuring that distinctive skittering twin guitar sound that is part of the Benga beat. The booklet has notes on the songs and the lyrics in Swahili and English.

 
AFRICA-SOUTH AFRICA LADYSMITH BLACK MAMBAZO Wrasse 005 Gospel Songs ● CD $19.98
Two CD set with 33 gospel songs by South Africa's leading acapella choir. The harmonies of Joseph Shabalala and the rest of the group are an exquisite and soul recharging experience. If you have never heard this group before you are in a for a wonderful experience as this is some of the most beautiful music on the planet. Except for one track in English it's all sung in Zulu. There is very little information given but I believe that these recordings are drawn from the groups many previous albums.

 
CUBA MACHITO & HIS AFRO-CUBANS Proper BOX 48 Ritmo Caliente ● CD $25.98
4 CDs, 73 tracks, 4 hours and 27 minutes, highly recommended. A wonderful and inexpensive collection of many of the recordings of the father of Latin jazz (or cubop) from his peak period (1941-51). Machito (born Frank Grillo) added Afro-Cuban rhythms to African-American big bad jazz and bop to create an exciting new music that took the country by storm and whose effects are still heard today. These sides feature both classic Cuban players like Chano Pozo as well as American jazz legends such as Charlie Parker and Buddy Rich. Includes 40 page booklet with the Machito story and full discographical information. (JV)

 
CAJUN MACK MANUEL & JESSE LEGé Swallow 6141 Memories Du Passe ● CD $15.98
15 tracks, 57 mins, highly recommended Singer/ accordion Jesse Lege is one of the finest performers of traditional style Cajun music active today. We have previously reviewed his recent albums on Acadiana and Arhoolie - this is an earlier release (from 1997) and is equally fine featuring Lege beautiful crying, yearning vocal style and dynamic accordion with a fine band featuring bassist Mack Manuel, steel guitarist Orsy "RC" Vinicor and fiddler Elzie Matthews. Most of the material is Cajun favorites like Cher Be Be/ Allons A Lafayette/ Lake Charles Two Step/ Les Flammes D'Enfer and others. His performance of the beautiful Trop Jeune Pour Se Marier is so full of emotion it will chill you to you soul, There are a couple of originals and Jesse's reworking of the country standard Making Believe as Memories Dans Mon Coeur - a new recording which Jesse first recorded as a single in 1987 and which became a local hit. This is the real thing - no frills - just truly heartfelt singing and playing! (FS)

 
CUBA TITO NIEVES RMM 82066 I Like It Like That ● CD $13.98
14 tracks, 77 minutes, highly recommended Puerto Rican born Humberto "Tito" Nieves moved to New York City as a child to become one of the leading Salsa vocalists of the 1980's and 1990's-"the Pavarotti of Salsa." This 1997 CD, with its hit title track, finds Tito singing salsa in English to a club/disco-influenced beat (it led to mainstream exposure, including performances with Stevie Wonder). (JV)

 
CUBA SABU Blue Note 22665 Palo Congo ● CD $11.98
8 tracks, 41 minutes, essential Jazz conga virtuoso Louis "Sabu" Martinez was born in Spanish Harlem in New York City, later moving to Puerto Rico and then Sweden. He replaced one mentor, Chano Pozo, in the Dizzy Gillespie big band in 1948 and, after forming his own quintet in 1957, recorded with another mentor, Arsenio Rodriguez, on this CD, a Latin jazz classic, the same year. (JV)

 
CUBA PONCHO SANCHEZ Concord Picante 4406 Chile Con Soul ● CD $12.98
12 tracks, 56 minutes, highly recommended Though born in Texas and raised in California, conga player Poncho Sanchez worked his way up to being one of the leading Latin jazz names of recent years. Starting with vibist Cal Tjader's band in 1975 (to whom a song is dedicated on this CD), Poncho has led his own band since 1980. This 1990 recording, a mixture of salsa and jazz influences, finds Sanchez leading a fine band, including Tito Puente on timbales. (JV)

 
JAMAICA THE SKATALITES Proper Pairs 109 Lucky Seven ● CD $12.98
35 tracks, 108 min, essential. Though The Skatalites were only together from '64-66, they made literally hundreds of records for most of the big JA producers. This set contains material cut for the great Duke Reid, under their own name, as well as under the names of some of the musicians & as part of the Baba Brooks Orch. A loose aggregation, it's unknown who played what on what, as besides their own recordings they were one of Jamaica's best & busiest backing bands. Made up of such great musicians as Don Drummund, Jackie Mitoo, Jah Jerry, Roland Alphonso, Dizzy Moore, Ernest Raglin, Tommy McCook, Rico Rodriguez, et al. As another exceptional value from Proper, you get the double CD in a slipcase with full liner notes & such gems as Jamaica Goes Ska/ James Bond/ Independence Anniversary Ska/ Blackberry Brandy & the title tune! (GM)

 
ETHIOPIA VARIOUS ARTISTS Buda 82982 Ethiopiques, Vol. 8 - Swinging Addis ● CD $15.98
21 tracks, 74 minutes, highly recommended. Another one of those strange wonderful Ethiopiques CDs preserving soul and R&B influenced Ethiopian pop music of the late 1960's and early 1970's. This volume features eight different performers working mainly with sax/organ led combos-kind of an Ethiopian mixture of James Brown and Jimmy Smith - a different kind of funk. (JV)

AFRICA-SOUTH AFRICA VARIOUS ARTISTS Columbia (South Africa) 11549 Homebrew, Vol. 1 ● CD $11.98
20 tracks, 60 mins, highly recommended Wonderful and inexpensive collection of contemporary flavored traditional style music from South Africa. Most of it falls under the category of mbaqanga - a heady mixture of traditional Zulu and Shangaan music melded with American R&B, rock 'n' roll and funk utilizing exquisite vocal harmonies, thundering electric bass, chattering guitars and drums plus occasional riffing accordion, stuttering sax or scratchy fiddle. A couple of tracks feature acapella vocal harmonies in the mbube style popularized by the great Ladysmith Black Mambazo. This collection features some of the top artists of the 80s and 90s including Dilika (featuring the superb lead vocals of David Mtshali), The Boyoyo Boys (the group that first inspired Paul Simon's "Graceland" album), Mzikayifani Buthelezi, Majakathatha, The Umsimkhulu Black River Band and others. There are brief notes on all of the artists. Supplies of this and others in this series are very limited. (FS)

 
AFRICA-SOUTH AFRICA VARIOUS ARTISTS Columbia (South Africa) 5028 Homebrew, Vol. 2 ● CD $11.98
Another fine collection of traditional styled South African music. Five of the artists were also featured on volume 1 and six are new to this colletion. A few tracks show the influences of more contemporary genres like hip-hop but it's all worthwhile and exciting including Izigi Zabezayo, Nkuke & the Jopie Sisters, Majakathatha, The Newcastle Five Roses (a fine acapella vocal group), Mzikayifani Buthelezi, Molahleli, The Boyoyo Boys, Dilika and others.

  
AFRICA-SOUTH AFRICA VARIOUS ARTISTS Columbia (South Africa) 3000 Homebrew, Vol. 3 ● CD $11.98
13 tracks, 43 mins, highly recommended More great South African stylings and with a nice booklets that points out the differences among the various styles. The ever popular Boyoyo Boys are back with more sax jive and this collection also includes some wonderful mbube singing from Amadaduzu which unlike much of this style which is acapella features some very effective and powerful instrumental back up. The South Sotho style with it's riffing accordion and thundering rhythm backup is represented by Amatso Makaota and Limano Lingaka Mabili No. 3. There are also fine sides from Simon Ngobeni (Shangaan), Ndukuziyashisa Nezinyosi ( Pondo traditional - a sub tribe of the Zulus), Mzikayifani Butheleiz (Zulu) and Dilika (Zulu). Wonderful, exhilarating and moving music. (FS)

 
AFRICA-SOUTH AFRICA VARIOUS ARTISTS Melt 2000 BW 2148 Roots & Ancestors 1 ● CD $16.98

 
ITALY VARIOUS ARTISTS Pias America 8 Il Canto Di Malavita - La Musica Della Mafia ● CD $17.98
24 tracks, 67 mins, highly recommended. Remarkable and controversial album featuring songs about the Calabrian Mafia - the first time this music has ever been issued on CD. This CD was originally issued in Germany as no Italian record company wanted to handle it and when plans were underway to issue it in the USA several Italian-American organizarions protested its release as reflecting poorly on Italian-American life. These songs deal with such realties of Mafia life as the life of crime, prison life and the bonds of blood, honor and discretion. In spite of the often grim nature of the lyrics ("While the sawn-off shotgun sings/ The traitor screams and dies/ This hard and bitter law/ Splits The traitor's heart") the music is quite beautiful with expressive singing and lovely instrumental accompaniments on mandolins, guitars, accordion and other traditional instruments. Booklet includes introductory notes and translations of all the lyrics. (FS)

 
CAJUN VARIOUS ARTISTS Rounder 11604 Cajun Music - The Essential Collection ● CD $15.98
Superb collection of Cajun music drawn from the Rounder catalog - Bruce Daigrepont, Eddie Lejeune, D.L. Menard, Mamou, Jo-El Sonnier, Al Berard & The Basin Brothers, The Magnolia Sisters, Balfa Toujours, Danny Collet, Geno Delafose, etc.

 
CUBA VARIOUS ARTISTS Smithsonian Folkways 40490 Matanzas, Cuba 1957 ● CD $15.98
26 tracks, 70 minutes, essential. The subtitle of this CD says it all-"Afro Cuban sacred music from the countryside." On this CD Lydia Cabrera and Josefina Tarafa do for bembe lukumi Santeria drumming what the Lomaxes did for American folk music, producing an invaluable and historic record of the African roots of modern Afro-Cuban music. (JV)

 
TEXAS-BOHEMIA VARIOUS ARTISTS Trikont US 222 Slow Music - Texas Bohemia 2 ● CD $19.98
A very strange album featuring recordings from the 60s, 70s and 80s of Bohemian, Moravian and German bands from Texas performing country and pop songs. Most intriguing are Joe Patek and Orchestra and Ray Krenek & His Orchestra - a typical oompah band doing songs like Fraulein/ Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain and even Hank Williams' May You Never Be Alone Like Me. Other groups get closer to a typical country band - but not too close! Includes Jimmy Brosch & His Happy Country Boys, the perennial Adolph Hofner & His Pearl Wranglers, Lee Roy Matocha's Orchestra and others. Some of the vocals bring new (and painful) meaning to the term "off-key".

 
CAJUN VARIOUS ARTISTS Vanguard 79585 Evangeline Made - A Tribute To Cajun Music ● CD $15.98
14 tracks, recommended A collection of mostly non Cajun performers doing a tribute to Cajun music. The idea seems a little redundant since there's plenty of the real stuff out there but if the names here attract new devotees to the music that's a good thing and the music is generally appealing. The accompanying musicians are often the real thing (Marc Savoy, Michael Doucet, David Doucet, etc). The most appealing tracks are the two tracks by Linda Thompson (who could probably sing the New York phone book and make it sound good) and former hubby Richard Thompson with a great treatment of Les Flammes D'Enfer featuring some lovely and imaginative acoustic guitar work. Other artists featured include Ann Savoy (with Linda Ronstadt), John Fogerty, Patty Griffin, David Johnasen, Maria McKee, Rodney Crowell and Nick Lowe. (FS)

 

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