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Ray Barretto ->
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CUBA RAY BARRETTO Fania 130 074 Que Viva La Musica - A Man And His Music ● CD $19.98
2 CDs 28 tracks, 130 minutes, essential
The late Nuyorican conga player, composer, and bandleader was a titan over the last half century in two musical fields-salsa and jazz. This two CD set from Fania is the best available career retrospective of Barretto's salsa side and contains his 1963 hit El Watusi along with important and influential later tracks, such as Acid/ Hard Hands, and Indestructible. (JV)

CUBA JUSTO BETANCOURT Fania 130 014 Leguleya No ● CD $13.98
8 tracks, 42 minutes, highly recommended
Cuban-born salsa singer Justo Betancourt was a musical performer from his youth. He left Cuba in the early sixties, going first to Europe and then to the United States, where he sang with Johnny Pacheco, Sonora Matancera, and Eddie Palmieri. He went solo in 1968 and signed with Fania, with whom he recorded a series of albums in New York and Puerto Rico in a "Borincuba" (Puerto Rican/Cuban) style. This 1982 album was his last solo Fania recording. (JV)

HUNGARY CSOKOLOM Arhoolie 523 Dog Daze ● CD $12.98
17 tracks, 64 min., recommended
If you want to hear a song sung in Serbo-Croatian from the point of view of an abandoned dog, you've come to the right place. The subtitle of Csokolom's third Arhoolie release, "Fullbloods and Hybrids," goes a long way towards describing this Transylvanian quartets unstated mission: producing enchanting traditional and modern Hungarian music, heavy on the violins. In fact, three of the group (Anti von Klewits, Sandor Hoving, Anneke Frankenberg) play violin, and when they don't they play viola, leaving Jens Piezunka to play double bass. Plenty to think about and dance to. What's not to like? (JC)

A lovely collection of mostly traditional Jewish melodies featuring Grisman on mandolin and Statman on clarinet or mandolin joined by various other musicians on guitar, bass, tuba, drums, etc. The tunes are from songs based around the themes of Shabbos (Sabbath) and the mystical significance of Jerusalem.

CUBA LARRY HARLOW Fania 130 018 Yo Soy Latino ● CD $13.98
10 tracks, 53 minutes, essential
Classically trained, Brooklyn-born pianist Lawrence Ira Kahn caught the latin music bug and became famed salsa pianist, bandleader, and producer Larry Harlow. He has since made and produced hundreds of salsa albums for Fania and other labels. This set, cut in 1978-79 with an allstar band, is a wonderful updating of Cuban son stylings and features strong vocals from Nestor Sanchez, Tito Allen, and Adalberto Santiago. (JV)

HAWAII SOL HOOPII Hana Ola 682817 King Of The Hawaiian Steel GUitar, Vol. 1 ● CD $14.98
20 tracks, 63 mins, essential
Fabulous collection of 20 sides recorded between 1927 and 1936 by possibly the greatest and most influential the Hawaiian steel guitar players. A varied collection featuring vocals and instrumentals with Sol in trio, quartet and quintet formats plus one track with the trio joined by Andrew Aiona's saxophones. The earliest tracks from the 20s feature him playing acoustic steel while the 30s recordings feature his pioneering use of electric steel. Most of the tracks are derived from original metal masters so sound is superb. 12 page booklet has informative notes and numerous photos. Only a handful of tracks duplicate the two Rounder CDs of Hoopii (Rounder 1024 & 1025 - $15.98 each). (FS)

TRINIDAD LORD INVADER & HIS CALYPSO BAND Rev-Ola 150 Master Stickfighter In New York! ● CD $15.98
17 tracks, highly recommended
Lord Invader was among the most popular calypso artists in Trinidad during the 40's and 50's. Beginning in 1945, Invader made several extended trips to New York, originally to pursuit a plagiarism suit against the Andrew Sisters and songwriter Morey Amsterdam for approporiating his song, Rum and Coca Cola (not found here) without permission! He recorded quite prolifically both for commercial labels as well as for Alan Lomax and for Moe Asch's Folkways. This collection feature 17s sides recorded in the late 40s and early 50s full of the sly wit that disntinguishes the best of the calysponians including the great Yankee Dollar and the tongue in cheek tribute to Pepsi Cola. Also Out The Fire/ Cousin Family/ New York Subway/ Sly Mongoose/ Mary Ann/ Tied-Tongue Baby/ The Soldiers Came And Broke My Life/ Brown Girl In The Ring and others. Backing by a calypso band with stringed instruments, percussion and clarinet is top notch. (FS)

CUBA LA LUPE Fania 130 015 The Queen ● CD $13.98
10 tracks, 30 minutes, essential
Lupe Victoria Yoli Raymond was born in Santiago de Cuba in 1939 and began her tempestuous singing career in the 1950's in Havana clubs. Her wild stage show and rock and roll singing upset the Castro regime, leading to her departure from Cuba in 1962. She first went to Mexico and then to New York, where Mongo Santamaria helped her break into the latin music scene. She had a personal life to match her stage act and became a camp icon, the latina Judy Garland. This 1969 collection gives a good survey of her latin soul style. The first track, Puro Teatro, became an international hit years later after Pedro Almodovar used it in his movie, "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown." (JV)

CUBA THE LEBRON BROTHERS Fania 130 016 Salsa Y Control ● CD $13.98
8 tracks, 27 minutes, highly recommended
The four Lebron brothers, Angel, Carlos, Frankie, and Jose, hail from Brooklyn, where they burst on the scene as a boogaloo band in the late 1960's with an album entitled "Psychedelic Goes Latin." As boogaloo evolved into salsa with the turn of the decade, so did the Lebron Brothers, who made many fine salsa albums in the seventies and eighties, perhaps the best of which is this 1979 classic. (JV)

AFRICA-SOUTH AFRICA MIRIAM MAKEBA Manteca 502 Her Essential Recordings ● CD $14.98
Two CDs, 40 tracks, 2 hours, highly recommended
There are few choice artists that simply fill me with joy as soon as I hear them, as does Miriam Makeba. I can be having a lousy day, but I know putting her on will cheer me up. This is truly uplifting work from one of the world's greats. This fabulous collection brings together two CDs jam packed with all her great songs from her heyday of 1950's - 1970's, accompanied by solid notes and attractive package. The usual suspects of guest stars are here like Harry Belafonte and Hugh Masekela (her second husband), as well as fantastic African backing musicians especially on the early tracks. Miriam Makeba is retiring from live performance, but thankfully will still continue to make music, which I still look forward to hearing. For now though we can revel in this fine collection. (JM)

JAMAICA BOB MARLEY & THE WAILERS Heartbeat 7761 Greatest Hits At Studio One ● CD $15.98
18 tracks, 52 minutes, highly recommended
Not a new release but not reviewed before. Heartbeat has really done a fantastic job on this. Not only do you have eighteen of some of the best Ska to ever blow out of Studio one (sounding as crisp and lively as ever), they have also provided us with a gorgeous booklet containing full lyrics to all the tracks, liner notes, superb photos, and even a couple of original label reproductions. The Wailers recorded 100 tracks at the famed Studio One and a lot of those were the hits of their day, but while similar compilations of this material have come out over the years, this is the best one that I have come across. (JM)
BOB MARLEY & THE WAILERS: And I Love Her/ Cry To Me/ Dreamland/ I Am Going Home/ I Need You So/ I'm Gonna Put It On/ I'm Still Waiting/ It Hurts To Be Alone/ Jailhouse/ Let Him Go/ Love And Affection/ Maga Dog/ Simmer Down/ Sinner Man/ Sunday Morning/ Treat Me Good/ Who Feels It Knows It

10 tracks, 40 minutes, highly recommended
When Dominican bandleader Johnny Pacheco scored some hits during the charanga (Cuban style music with flute, violins, and rhythm) Pete "El Conde" (the Count-so called because of his regal bearing) Rodriguez sang on a number of the records. The two men continued their association after Pacheco went on to co-found Fania records in 1964, producing some excellent salsa albums, including this 1971 classic. (JV)

ARGENTINA ASTOR PIAZZOLLA Fabulous 201 The Best Of ● CD $6.98
11 tracks, 50 minutes, recommended
Not the "best of" in my opinion, the stunning "The Tango Way - The Classic Way" 2 CD set from 2002 on EMI is a far superior collection (I'll look into getting that for the catalog.) This is however a good introduction to the "King Of The Tango," featuring 11 excellent tracks, including Suite Punta Del Este Theme from the film "12 Monkeys", which is probably his most recognizable track to the casual listener nowadays. Astor Piazzolla was an amazing performer who left behind a staggering amount of great music, whether it be his traditional tango, his Jazz experimenting with the likes of Gerry Mulligan and Gary Burton, or his copious soundtrack work throughout his career. This collection is a sampling of cuts from the last half of his career 1976 onward and it is a great jumping in point. (JM)

CAJUN THE PINE LEAF BOYS Arhoolie 520 La Musique ● CD $12.98
14 tracks, 44 min., highly recommended
Much could be made of the fact that these five guys are only college aged kids, or that they actually live in the same house (in Lafayette, Louisiana), just like The Monkees did on teevee. But more should be made of how talented they are. Traditionalists of a sort, they definitely pay homage to their many Cajun heroes and influences, but they alternate between originals and classics, and their interpretation isn't always standard. And that's encouraging. Their music is instantly engaging, heartfelt, and endlessly energetic. The group's core would seem to be accordionist Wilson Savoy (son of Marc Savoy) and fiddler extraordinaire Cedric Wilson, although Drew Simon, who drums, sings, and plays guitar is, well, instrumental too. Highlights include an Iry LeJeune cover (La Branche de Murier), Blue de Bosco and New Family Waltz, a Milton Adams tune. A group to watch and listen to. (JC)

CUBA LOUIE RAMIREZ Fania 130 017 Ali Baba ● CD $13.98
9 tracks, 33 minutes, essential
The late (he died in 1993) Louie Ramirez was called the Quincy Jones of Salsa because of his many talents. He played timbales, vibes, and keyboards and was also a composer, arranger, bandleader, and producer. He had a hand in literally hundreds of salsa records from the sixties to the nineties. This 1972 latin soul album was one of his best (and goofiest) with cuts ranging from the humorous Ungawa to the swinging Yambu. (JV)

CUBA RICHIE RAY & BOBBIE CRUZ Fania 130 023 Sonido De La Bestia ● CD $13.98
7 tracks, 35 minutes, highly recommended
Pianist Ray and singer Cruz have been playing latin music together since the 1950's, having their greatest success with a series of salsa/latin jazz records in the sixties and seventies. This 1980 album came at the end of that run and was made after they both became born-again Christians (a theme which influences both the music and lyrics of the songs on this record). (JV)

CUBA PETE RODRIGUEZ Fania 130 021 I Like It Like That ● CD $13.98
7 tracks, 33 minutes, essential
Legend has it that the boogaloo was born in 1966 when some African-American dancers asked Pete Rodriguez' band to play some songs to which they could soul dance. The result was this 1967 album in which pianist Pete (not to be confused with Latin vocalist Pete "El Conde" Rodriguez) and his trumpeter and English language singer Tony Pabon made "cha cha with a backbeat," most notably the monster hit I Like It Like That, which took its title and refrain from Chris Kenner's 1961 R & B hit (the song was a big hit again for Tito Nieves in the '90's). (JV)

CUBA ROBERTO ROENA Fania 130 024 Y Su Apollo Sound 5 ● CD $13.98
10 tracks, 47 minutes, essential
Puerto Rican percussionist/bandleader Robert Roena actually started his musical career as a dancer, but soon switched over to latin percussion, playing with bands such as Cortijo's Combo and El Gran Combo before starting his own band in 1966 and signing a few years later with Fania to make progressive salsa records. This 1973 album is simply a classic of the era, firing on all cylinders. (JV)

PERU YMA SUMAC Proper Intro 2086 Queen Of Exotica - A Proper Introduction To Yma Sumac ● CD $9.98
22 Tracks, 65 mins, recommended
Is it real or hoax? Was Yma Sumac a wondrous folk artifact from far away mystical places, or was she a Brooklyn girl with one of histories greatest P.R. teams behind her? I prefer to believe the exotic myth and revel in the fun of her outlandish recordings. Compared to her recent compilation for ASV/ Living era "The Sun Virgin," the track list on this doesn't go as deep or obscure, but there are 12 tracks on this release that are not included on that title. Plus, the packaging on this is a lot livelier than the ASV outing, with gorgeous photos etc. I wouldn't say that owning both would be necessary, but if I had to pick one of the two, I would go with this one. (JM)

CUBA TIPICA '73 Fania 130 027 Charanguedo Con La Tipica ● CD $13.98
8 tracks, 41 minutes, highly recommended
This progressive band was formed in 1972 by defectors from Ray Barretto's band seeking to make hay from the 1970's salsa boom. The band was signed by Fania and enjoyed a decade-long run. This album was recorded in 1978 (but not released until 1980) and was based on the band's jam session without written arrangements. It features the strong lead vocals of Jose Alberto and the wonderful violin of Alfredo de la Fe. (JV)

PORTUGAL VARIOUS ARTISTS Documents 222299 Original Fado De Lisboa ● CD $25.98
4 CDs, 56 tracks, 2 hours 43 min., recommended
The origin of Portugal's soulful Fado is hotly debated--they can't even seem to nail down the century. No matter. Fado literally means fate, and the songs seem to indicate a strong strand of fatalism in the Portuguese culture. This collection features such currently popular Fadistas as Alfredo Marceneiro, Maria Valejo, Alexandra, Carlo Macedo, Odete Mendes, Alfredo Duarte Junior, Fernando Mauricio, Lidia Ribeiro, Maria Armanda, Nuno de Aguiar, Vasco Rafeal, and a great many others. A Mediterranean influence is clear throughout, and the music sometimes recalls traditional Greek song. But the Portuguese guitar is as distinctive as it is captivating. A wonderful introduction to a beautiful and moving musical tradition. (JC)

TRINIDAD VARIOUS ARTISTS EMI/Honest Jon's 540 343-2 London Is The Place For Me ● CD $12.98
20 tracks, 58 mins, highly recommended
Available again at a substantially reduced price. This compilation features Trinidadian Calypso artists: Lord Kitchener, Young Tiger, Lord Beginner, Lord Invader, The Lion, Mighty Terror and Timothy, recorded during their stay in the London area in the 1950s, where they seemed to be part of a real special scene. The music is a winning blend of jazz, calypso and traditional African music that clearly laid the foundations for Ska and influenced many more. This comes packaged within a CD sized booklet edition-an unusually clever CD sleeve--with tons of great photos, vinyl label reproductions, bio info and stories of the artists. Seeing the events of England through the eyes of these performers was fascinating to me, Young Tiger's I Was There (at the Coronation) is the best example: he revels in all the pageantry and goings on of the Queen's coronation in a way seldom (if ever) heard anymore-truly in the moment without resorting to either blind patriotism or sarcasm. Fantastic. (JM)

GREECE VARIOUS ARTISTS JSP 7776 Rembetika ● CD $28.98
Four CDs, 89 tracks, approx five hours, essential
This is one of the reissues of the year. Rembetika is often thought of as the Greek equivalent of the blues - a creation of the underclass and dealing with the realities of their life - smoking hash, thieving, jail, addiction, desire and betrayal sung with incredible soul and feeling. The music is thought to have originated with Greeks who had to leave Asia Minor at the beginning of the 20th Century. The earliest form is the Smyrnaic style (after Smyrna in Turkey) where the musicians first played the style and had a strong Turkish flavor to it. The usual accompaniment included violin, santouri/ cimbalom (hammered dulcimer), guitar and oud. The first volume is mostly devoted to recordings in this style and includes such legendary performers as Marika Papagika (who recorded in the USA), Achilleas Poulus (who sang in Turkish), the prolific and popular Andonios Dhiamandidhis (aka "Dalgas"), the sublime female singers Roza Eskenazi and Rita Abadzi. In the early 30s a new style of rembetica began to appear in the port city of Piraeus with a less ornamented style of singing and the extensive use of the bouzouki and its smaller cousin the baglama. The second disc is devoted to this style featuring sides by the gruff voiced Markos Vamvakaris - another extremely popular performer who recorded hundreds of songs as well as Stratos Payioumidzis, Yiorgis Batis and others.
The third disc is strongly dominated by the guitar though the bouzouki and other instruments are also featured. It includes five gorgeous instrumental sides - two of them featuring bouzouki master Jack Halikias, one a rare example of a lute instrumental in rembetika and a dazzling guitar instrumental from the mysterious K. Kostis. This disc also features a track by the amazing George Katsoras whose modal singing and guitarist almost has the feel of a Mississippi hill country blues. In April, 1936 a right-wing government took power in Greece and censorship was introduced resulting in the banning of lyrics with an "undesirable" content as well as "Eastern style" music. The fourth disc features recordings from this period of censorship and while the lyrics are more concerned with romance than with dope or crime the performances are still powerful and moving featuring artists like Rirta Abadzi, Stellakis, Vassilis TsitsanisYiorgos Kavouras and others. The sound quality is superb and the only drawback to this set is that only 12 pages were allocated to the notes and compiler and annotator Charles Howard has done his best to give an overview of the music, brief biographies of the performers, a glossary and very brief excerpts or descriptions of the songs. There is no discographical information but Charles has kindly provided us with discographical details which we have printed up and will provide to anyone who orders this set. (FS)
RITA ABADZI Markopouliotissa/ I Margarita/ O Vlamis Tou Psyri/ Pane Yia To Prasso/ To Flidzani Tou Yianni/ YIORGOS BATIS: I Fylakes Tou Oropou/ Taxim Athineiko Ke Zeimbekiko/ Varka Mou Boyiatismeni/ Thermastis/ AND. DALGAS: Sousta Politiki/ Zeimbekiko Melemenio/ ANDONIOS DALGAS: Echo Meraki Echo Dalga/ ANESTIS DHELIAS: Soura Ke Mastoura/ A. DHIAMADIDHIS ‘DALGAS’: Huseini Manes/ GUS DUSSAS: I Efmorfi Attaleia/ O Paraponiaris/ ROZA ESKENAZI: Dzerkeza/ Gazeli Sabach, Sti Mavri Yi Chrosto Kormi/ Ime Prezakias/ Mas Kynigoun Ton Argile/ Mes’ To Vathi Skotadhi/ LEOPOLD GAD: Piran Ta Frygana Fotia/ D. GONGOS ‘BAYIANDERAS’: Htan Anixi/ Panta Me Glyko Hasisi/ JACK GRIGORIOU & S.MICHELIDHIS: To Minore Tou Deke/ HADZICHRISTOS & I.STAMOULIS: Nea Vaggelitsa/ A. HADZICHRISTOS: Paliopedho/ Tha Se Klepso Tha Se Paro/ JACK HALIKIAS: Trikouverto/ JOHN (JACK) HALIKIAS: Raste Tou Deke/ YIANNIS IOANNIDHIS & MANOLIS KARAPIPERIS: Tout’ I Batsoi Pou’Rthan Tora/ AND. KALYVOPOULOS: O Prezakis/ Paraponiounde I Manges Mas/ Pende Manges/ Yiovan Tsaous/ KOSTAS KARIPIS: Minore Manes, S’Afino Tin Kali Nychtia/ YIORGOS KARRAS: Strive Logia/ GEORGE KATSAROS: Stis Syras To Aniforo/ YIORGOS KAVOURAS: Dhen Tha’rtho Peia Stin Kokkinia/ O Tsiggounis O Babas Sou/ STELLIOS KEROMYTIS: I Moni Mou Parigoria/ Mes’Tou Vavoula Ti Gouva/ A. KOSTIS: Me Pianoune Zaladhes/ K. KOSTIS: Troumba/ PETROS KYRIAKOS: O Skylomangas/ EL. MELEMENLIS: Tsifte Telli/ MARIKA PAPAGIKA: Aidhinikos Xoros/ Mandalena/ YIANNIS PAPAIOANNOU: Pali Mou Kanoun Proxenia/ Vadhizo Me Parapono/ MIKE PATRINOS & YIANNIS DEYAITAS: Hadzimilousiko/ PAYIOUMIDZIS & TSITSANIS: I Meraklidhes/ EF. PAYIOUMIDZIS: Manges Piaste Ta Vouna/ Vaggelitsa/ EFSTRATIOS PAYIOUMIDZIS: Ouzak-To Tragoudhi Tis Xentias/ San Eyriz’ Ap’ Tin Pylo/ STRATOS PAYIOUMIDZIS: Opios Orfanepse Mikros/ Zeimbekano Spaniolo/ STELLAKIS PERPINIADHIS & ANNA PAGANA: Dhervisis Ke Anna/ STELLAKIS PERPINIADHIS: Ego Thelo Prigipessa/ D. PHILLIPOPOULOS & D. EFSTRATIOU: To Yellekaki/ MARIKA POLITISSA: Melachrinoula/ Rast Zergile/ THE POPULAR ORCHESTRA: Bournovalio/ ACHILLEAS POULOS: Chakiji Zeibek/ E. SOPHRONIOU ‘VAGGELAKIS’: Ballos Smyrneikos Me Mane/ STELLAKIS: I Mikri Ap'To Passalimani/ Mikroula Pireotissa/ Ola Ta ‘Cho Varethi/ STELLLAKIS: I Magdhalo/ STRATOS & ST.KEROMYTIS: I Baglamadhes/ STRATOS & STELLAKIS: O Serianis/ Se Fino Akroyiali/ Thelo Na Se Andamoso, Xaveriotissa/ STRATOS & ST. KEROMYTIS: Tis Mastouras O Skopos/ STRATOS & V.TSITSANIS: To Proi Me Tin Dhrossoula/ Varka Yialo/ VASSILIS TSITSANIS: Tatavliano/ MARKOS VAMVAKARIS: I Klostirou/ Kapote Imouna Ki’Ego/ Manavissa Me Gaidhouraki/ O Synachis/ Olli I Rembetes Tou Dounia/ Prepi Na Xeris Michani/ San Ise Mangas Ke Dais/ Taxim-Zeimbekiko/ To Portofoli/ NIKOS VRACHNAS: Ithela Na’ Moun Iraklis/ MICHAILIS YENITSARIS: Ego Mangas Fenomouna

JAMAICA VARIOUS ARTISTS Pressure Sounds 51 Take Me To Jamaica ● CD $21.98
24 tracks, 76 mins, highly recommended
Wonderful collection of Jamaican mento music recorded between 1951 and 1958 for producers Stanley Motta, Ivan Chin and Paul Khouri. Starting as a rural dance music using banjo, guitar, fife, maracs and "rumba box" mento eventually moved to the cities adding violin, clarinet, saxophone and featured lyrics often commenting on everyday life, sex and cautionary tales. It bears a resemblance to Trinidadian calypso and both islands borrowed songs from each other though mento has a different feel. Although Trinidadian calypso had been recorded since 1912, it wasn't until 1950 that the first recordings were made of Jamican in London for the Melodisc label. Jamaican entrepreneur Stanley Motta built the first recording studio in Jamica in the back room of a woodwork factory in 1951 and was shortly followed by Ivan Chin, Ken Khouri and Edward Seaga and over the next half a dozen years several hundred recordings were issued but by the end of the decade the interest in mento was almost non-existent - most young Jamaicans wanted to hear American rhythm & blues which they began to emulate subsequently leading to ska which included some elements of mento. This collection features irresistable performances from the likes of Hubert Porter, Lord Messam & His Calypsonians, Lord Tickler, Evarart Williams & Chins Calypso Sextet, Alerth Bedasse & Chins Calypso Sextet (his Monkey's Opnion is a version of The Monkey aka The Monkey Speaks His Mind which I think predates the Dave Bartholomew version), Count Lasher & His QUintette, Lord Composer & The Silver Seas Hotel Orchestra and Boysie Grant & Reynold's Calypso Clippers. Sound quality is generally excellent and there is a 20 page full color booklet with some great photos, label shots and other illustrations and notes on the Jamaican recording pioneers but no info on the artists or songs. However you can find loads of additional info on mento and all the performers here at www.mentomusic.com. (FS)

AFRICA-MISCELLANEOUS VARIOUS ARTISTS Wergo 1624 Echoes Of Africa - Early Recordings ● CD $23.98
Wonderful and varied collection of African music drawn from commercial recordings made between 1930 and the early 50s. It includes music from South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria, Zanzibar, Tanzania and Kenya and includes accordion duets, twin guitar highlife, brass bands, female group vocals with percussion, vocals with single stringed fiddle, vocals with violin and banjo, Arabic songs and more. Includes 32 page booklet with some great photos and informative notes by Keth Chandler in English and German.


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