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NEWSLETTER #140
Ethnic & World Music
King Sunny Ade ->
Various Artists
 

 

 

AFRICA-NIGERIA KING SUNNY ADE Shanachie 66034 The Best Of The Classic Years CD $16.98
10 tracks, 71 mins., highly recommended
there's not much left to be said about King Sunny Ade, the all-time master of Nigerian juju music and consummate performer, bandleader, and cultural mover and shaker. This CD offers a solid dose of Ade's music from 1966 to 1974 that for one reason or another has not before been available digitally. Culled from the dozen albums Ade recorded for the Nigerian label African Songs Ltd., these tracks are a timewarp trip back to the heyday of juju, the mesmerizing groove music that swept from west Africa to infect the entire world. Included is the complete original version of "Synchro System", all 18 minutes of it, along with another 18-minute 5-song medley that is guaranteed to get you smiling, bopping or both. A great addition to any serious Ade collection and a fine introduction for those who've never heard the King. (DC)

 
AFRICA-MALI AMADOU & MARIAM Because 3109842 1990-1995: Les Integrale Des Annees Maliennes CD $55.98
On the heels of the recent release featuring some of the best recordings released by this fabulous Malian duo on limited edition cassettes between 1990 and 1995 comes this wonderful five CD box set featuring all their recordings from this period. This is a limited edition (5,000 copies worldwide) featuring 47 tracks arranged chronologically from their earliest sides featuring just Amadou's funky bluesy guitar as accompaniment to the later sides with small groups. Includes fold out booklet with notes in French which also doubles as a poster.

 
BRAZIL GRUPO DE CAPOEIRA ANGOLA PELOU Smithsonian Folkways 40488 RINHO: Capoeira Angola 2 - Brincando Na Roda CD $15.98
9 tracks, 44 ins., good
Grupo Capoeira Angola Pelourinho, headed by singer Mestre Pedro Moraes, tries to maintain the deepest connections between this Brazilian ritualized dance form and its African roots. In this, the group's second CD, Moraes sings of the values of capoeira and the philosophy of capoeira as cosmic metaphor. "Brincando na Roda" means Playing in the Ring, referring to the ring in which the dances take place. The liner notes in English and Portuguese are tremendously informative for both newcomers to the music and seasones dancers. It may be impossible not to move while listening to this CD and the slow, inexorable rhythms driving the plaintive singing. (DC)

 
HAWAII SAM KU WEST Grass Skirt 1001 Hawiian Hula Blues CD $15.98
26 tracks (mostly instrumental) from this brilliant steel guitarist recorded in 1927 and 1928 - almost his entire output. His performances include traditional Hawaiian tunes as well as American tunes like St. Louis Blues/ memphis Blues and Old Black Joe. Superb sound and 12 page booklet has notes, discography, rare photos and label shots and other memorabilia.

 
SPAIN LEILIA Discmedi 796 Madama CD $15.98
13 tracks, 53 mins., recommended
The five women who share lead vocal duties in this wonderful Galician band deliver a punch comparable to the Bulgarian Women's Chorus, but with a band sound both very Western European and strangely exotic. Sometimes extraordinary and always engaging, these tradition-based Galician songs are all brought into the 21st century with a hot blend of varied percussion, guitar, bass, gaita (bagpipe), and clarinet. The buttery clarinet, the tart gaita, and spicy, edgy vocals add up to an entirely entertaining recipe. This stuff is as heartfelt as it is dreamy and evocative. (DC)

 
AFRICA-ETHIOPIA GETATCHEW MEKURYA Buda 82256 Ethiopiques 14 : Negus Of Ethiopian Sax CD $14.98
15 tracks, 67 mins., recommended
Ethiopian sax is a genre most of us have probably missed entirely. But adventurous lovers of African grooves should really check this CD out. Mekurya is considered the greatest Ethiopian sax player of his generation (most of these tracks being recorded in 1972), and one who resisted western influences and, instead, used his instrument to mimic the hair-raising traditional Ethiopian singing style called "shellela". Playing over spare but inexorable band grooves, Mekurya wails and declaims in a full-throated, totally committed way. An exotic music, unlike any other east African tradition, and played by the acknowledged master. (DC)

 
TEXAS-MEXICAN LYDIA MENDOZA Arhoolie 513 Recuerdos De Lydia Mendoza CD $12.98
15 previously unissued sides recorded by this great Tejano vocalist for Falcon in the early 70s. Includes sides with just her 12 string guitar, with mariachis and with an orchestra.

 
CALYPSO MIGHTY SPARROW Smithsonian Folkways 40534 First Flight CD $15.98
18 tracks, 77 mins, highly recommended
Slinger Francisco, called Birdie or Sparrow for his darting stage moves has remained one of calypso's most popular performers since the beginning of his career in the 1950's Since then he has won an unprecedented eight Calypso Monarch and Road march titles, despite his periodic absence from competition. This collection features some of his earliest sides recorded by pioneering producer Emory Cook between 1956 and 1959 and issued on four LPs on the Cook label. Accompanied by fine groups (uunidentified) he performs catchy and witty calypsos dealing with local Trinidadian politics, the calypso war between Sparrow and Lord Melody, local characters, Russian satellites and the strangely prescient Mad Bomber about a bomber who plants bombs in New York! Includes 16 page booklet with biographical info, discussion of all the songs and some great photos of Sparrow wearing his well deserved crown!

 
CUBA BENNY MORE Y SU BANDA GIGANTE Tumbao TCD 309 Grabaciones Completas, 1953-1960 CD $65.98
91 tracks, 273 mins, essential
For the non-Spanish speakers, the title of this four CD "brick" tells us that it contains the complete recordings of singer Benny (sometimes also spelled "Beny") More and his big band from 1953-1960. The subtitle calls him the legendary idol of the Cuban people-and that's no overstatement. More was to the golden age of Cuban Music (1940's to 1960's) what Muhammad Ali has been to American boxing. This box set contains his best sides from the peak of his career and features a who's who of Cuban musicians of the time. Includes 120 page book with extensive notes, rare photos and discography. (JV)

 
CUBA ARTURO NUNEZ Tumbao TCD 112 El Caballero Antillano CD $14.98
21 tracks, 61 mins, highly recommended
Arturo Nunez was a Cuban pianist and bandleader who first found fame leading a band in Mexico in the 1940's. This fame lasted through the mambo, cha cha cha, and mambo era from the forties to the sixties and spread through the Spanish-speaking Americas. This CD is made up of sides from the peak of his career, recorded in Mexico between 1949 and 1953 and features vocals by the "Duo Antillano"-Beny More (who went on to become the foremost singer of Cuban music) and Lalo Montane. (JV)

 
CAJUN THE PINE LEAF BOYS Arhoolie 520 La Musique CD $12.98
Fine new young Cajun group which includes Wilson Savoy, the son of the legendary Marc Savoy. A mix of traditional and more modern sounds.

 
TEXAS-MEXICAN LOS PINGUINOS DE NORTE Arhoolie 9051 Corridos De La Frontera CD $9.98
14 tracks, 60 min., highly recommended
The Penguins of the North--northern Mexico, that is--have been providing the music for the same cantina for better than 50 years, and these recordings document corridos from the early 20th century--mostly the '20s and '30s, judging from the references in the lyrics. This kind of working-class, accordion-based music has clearly informed the music of more recent artists, such as Chalino Sanchez, and from the subject matter of the corridos (bragging, smuggling, fighting, murder, injustice, pride), complete with references to specific people, places and dates, one can begin to understand the tradition behind the more recent narcocorridos. Arhoolie's Chris Strachwitz has thoughtfully provided the lyrics in English (and Spanish) so that the music can be more fully appreciated by those whose high school Spanish has all but evaporated. Most of these songs, including El Desesperado, Yo Soy Norteno, Mexico Americano, and Los Dos Hermanos, were recorded "live" at cantina El Patio in Piedras Negras, Coahuila, Mexico, in May 1970. An excellent release. (JC)

 
CUBA MONGUITO SANTAMARIA Vampisoul 021 Hey Sister CD $21.98
9 tracks, 32 mins, highly recommended
Monguito Santamaria is the son of legendary conga player Mongo Santamaria. His career has been as a singer/pianist of latin music and he had a hit in 1969 with this latin soul release on the Fania. It came out as the boogaloo years were ending and the era of salsa was beginning. Not surprisingly, it combines the soul beat of the earlier period with the latin rhythms of salsa to produce a doubly danceable mixture. (JV)

 
AFRICA-MALI ALI FARKA TOURE & TOUMANI DIABATE Nonesuch 79920 In The Heart Of The Moon CD $18.98
12 tracks, 55 mins., recommended
When northern Malian guitarist Toure‚ and southern Griot kora master Diabate‚ got together in a Bamako, Mali studio in July 2004 to record this CD, they had spent all of three hours together in their lives. Yet with no rehearsing and little fuss, they sat down and began to spin these simple, yet lovely conversations between two very different branches of Malian musical tradition. With the subtle, unobtrusive help of several friends including Ry Cooder, these two geniuses of melodic understatement produce a hypnotic blend, beautifully recorded and lovingly performed. The booklet includes musing by both Toure‚ and Diabate‚ on the meaning of their music and how they view their place in the tradition. This was a meeting long in coming but well worth the wait. (DC)

 
MEXICAN-AMERICAN VARIOUS ARTISTS Smithsonian Folkways 40516 Rolas De Aztlan - Songs Of The Chicano Movement CD $15.98
19 tracks, 70 min., highly recommended
A sort of folk music soundtrack to the Chicano movement ("Movimiento") of the late 1960s, although these songs range from the 1960s to 1998. Compilers pulled most of the cuts from rare independent records that have yet to seen the light of reissue. Flor del Pueblo's Soy Del Pueblo comes from their 1977 LP Musica de Nuestra America, which is probably tough to track down right about now, as is the track from Daniel Valdez's 1974 LP Mestizo, and El Teatro Camesino's cut taken from their 1966 LP. Song subjects include labor disputes, Vietnam, revolution, identity and more, with all lyrics thoughtfully given in Spanish and English in the 38 page booklet--that's where listeners find out that two of the songs (De Colores from 1977 and El Tilingo Lingo from 1978) are by none other than Los Lobos! And the second one is previously unreleased. A fascinating document full of charming acoustic music. (JC)

 

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