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NEWSLETTER #145
Ethnic & World Music
King Sunny Ade ->
Varttina
 

 

 

NEW DVD

 
TRINIDAD VARIOUS ARTISTS Efor Films 2869017 One Hand Don't Clap - Calypso Music History $26.98
DVD (NTSC/PAL), color, 100 min, recommended
This 1991 documentary (issued here on DVD for the first time) explores the career of master calypsonian and reigning king of the form Lord Kitchener and calypso's leading female practitioner, Calypso Rose. One Hand treats viewers to a rare look at life in Tobago and Trinidad for these calypso performers. The film includes footage of the annual calypso competition, The Calypso Review; a Calypso Rose recording session; extensive interviews (including one with Calypso Rose's mom, who would prefer her daughter sing for the glory of Jesus Christ); and concert performances. The pace for the first 20 minutes or so may be charitably described as relaxed, but when the historic Kitchener footage begins to roll and the competition begins in earnest, the documentary becomes pretty engrossing. Performers include Balck Stalin, Mighty Duke, Lord Pretender, David Rudder, Growling Tiger, and Natasha Wilson, among others. (JC)

 

NEW COMPACT DISCS

   
AFRICA-NIGERIA KING SUNNY ADE Shanachie 66041 Gems From The Classic Years, 1967-1974 $16.98
6 tracks (16 songs), 75 min., highly recommended
Nigerian-born Juju master King Sunny Ade garnered fame in the U.S. in the 1980s, but these earlier recordings have generally gone unheard by American ears. No duplication with Shanachie's Best Of The Classic Years CD (2003), which raises an obvious question. But these songs are infectious, pulse-quickening musical landscapes where psychedelic guitar and funky bass lines wander in and out of the proceedings. Excellent sound quality, but no booklet, no notes, no session details. Just music. (JC)

 
CUBA RAY BARRETTO Fania 130 192 Together $13.98
8 tracks, 38minutes, essential
The late Ray Barretto was versatile giant of salsa, latin jazz, jazz, latin soul, and even lounge music. He was also a triple musical threat as conga player, bandleader, and songwriter. This jumpin' 1971 record is great because it combines many of these aspects of Barretto the man and musician in a very exciting mix. It features perhaps his best band lineup (before several of them left to form Tipica '73) and riveting vocals from a young Adalberto Santiago. (JV)

 
CAJUN SHIRLEY BERGERON Mardi Gras 1102 French Cajun Music! $16.98
22 tracks, 52 mins, highly recommended
Previously available on a long out of print album on Ace this is a wonderful collection of traditional Cajun music at its best. Recorded for Lee Lavergne's Lanor label in the late 50s and early 60 it features Beregeron's expressive voice accompanied by the faultless accordion playing of his father Alphee. Half the tracks are very traditional with Shirley playing acoustic guitar and the duo accompanied by Noah Bourque on fiddle and Marc Savoy on triangle. The other half is a bit more "modern" with Shirley on electric or steel guitar and here Shirley and Alphee are accompanied by a drummer. The music is a mix of originals and traditional favorites like Madame Sosthene/ Poor Hobo and one of my all time favorite Cajun songs J'ai Passe Devant Ta Porte. Superb! (FS)

 
ARMENIA JOHN BILEZIKJIAN Global Village 809 Music From The Armenian Diaspora Played On The Oud $15.98
18 tracks, 57 mins, highly recommended
John Bilezikjan and his oud pay a stirring tribute to the long history and culture of Armenian music. A music and a culture not explored often, but deserving of much more. Stylistically falling somewhere between Greek and Arab music, but with a falir and feel all it's own. The oud is a stringed instrument, Mr. Bilezikjan plays it beautifully, bringing out the haunting melodies and charming nuances of the music. Informative notes tell the history of the songs. (JM)

 
CUBA CELIA, JOHNNY, JUSTO & PAPO Fania 130 199 Recordando El Ayer $13.98
10 tracks, 47 minutes, essential
This 1976 album brings together the Queen of Salsa Celia Cruz, Fania co-founder, producer, and flautist Johnny Pacheco, pianist (and leader of the Puerto Rican salsa group Sonora Poncena) Papo Lucca, and Sonero (salsa vocal improviser) Justo Betancourt in a heart-felt tribute to the Afro-Cuban roots of salsa music in its Dominican, Puerto Rican, and American manifestations. Most of the record is upbeat dance music, but its best moment may be the sympathetic vocal duet by Celia and Justo on "Cuando Tu Me Quieras." (JV)

 
CUBA WILLIE COLON Fania 130 193 The Player $19.98
28 tracks, 153 minutes, essential
The subtitle on this one--"Armed with a trombone and extremely dangerous!"-has it about right. Behind his bad boy image the cover photo has him holding his trombone like a machine gun), Willie Colon was one of the versatile greats of Fania as trombone player, producer, and bandleader. This two CD package collects the cream of his best salsa recordings from his peak period running from the 1960's through the 1980's. (JV)

 
CUBA WILLIE COLON & HECTOR LAVOE Fania 130 172 Vigilante $13.98
4 tracks, 38 minutes, highly recommended
This 1982 album is the salsa soundtrack to a movie of the same name which was never made, one that was to have starred Willie Colon as a violent gang member, an echo of his earlier gangster musical image. Ironically, in death Hector Lavoe has now become the subject of two upcoming biopics. Colon produces here, while both he and Lavoe sing. The soundtrack format, with its longer tracks, allows the players to stretch out with some wonderful solos. (JV)

 
NORTENO CONJUNTO BERNAL Arhoolie 9060 Mi Unico Camino $9.98
15 tracks, 41 mins, highly recommended
Great conjunto music from perhaps its finest players, as recorded for the Ideal label in Alice, Texas from 1954-60. Led by Paulino Bernal's dazzling accordion, aided by brother Eloy on bajo sexto, the Bernals crowded the dance floors with rollicking polkas like Loretta Polka or Fidel Castro Polka or lively rancheras like Pa' Que Me Hago Ilusiones. Equally, they could slow people's pulses with torchy boleros as in their big hit Mi Unica Camino or Al Fin Mujer with passionate duet or trio singing with Ruben Perez. A connoisseur's delight, this release shows why their music was deemed "twenty years ahead of its time". Many of these tracks were on the now deleted Arhoolie 344. (JMC)

 
CUBA FANIA ALL STARS Fania 130 190 Guasasa $13.98
7 tracks, 34 minutes, highly recommended
This 1989 release is actually a dancy latin jazz record by the Fania Six, a Fania All Stars breakoff group made up of Papo Lucca, Bobby Valentin, Ray Barretto, Roberto Roena, Johnny Pacheco, and Nicky Marrero, featuring only piano, bass, flute and percussion no brass except for one guest solo!) and led by Johnny Pacheco. In addition to several band compositions, highlights here include an excellent cover version of Stevie Wonder's Why Can't We Live Together? and a reworking of Grant Greissman's The Sauce here under the title Los Seis Diferentes. (JV)

 
CUBA FANIA ALL STARS Fania 130 220 Bamboleo $13.98
6 tracks, 33 minutes, highly recommended
This 1988 recording presents Fania's response to the changing landscape of salsa with the rise of the slower, more programmed style of salsa romantica in the 1980's. Fighting a rearguard action against these trends the Fania All Stars reacted with a diversification of musical sources from the Gipsy kings' Bamboleo (with a great vocal from Celia Cruz) to covers of rhythm and blues tunes like Sade's Smooth Operator and Stevie Wonder's Don't You Worry About A Thing, all done in fine salsa improvisations. (JV)

 
CUBA  FANIA ALL STARS Fania 130 161 Tribute To Tito Rodriguez $13.98
9 tracks, 35 minutes, highly recommended
The Fania All Stars were the supergroup of 1970's salsa, numbering such luminaries as Ray Barretto, Willie Colon, Larry Harlow, and Johnny Pacheco (to name only a few) among its members. This 1976 recording, a tribute to one of the stars of the Palladium days (the mambo craze period of the fifties and early sixties)-Tito Rodriguez (who had died three years earlier)--was their first studio recording. It is, in effect, a great updating of some fifties Latin classics. (JV)

 
HAWAII SOL HOOPII Grass Skirt 1002 Sol Hoopii In Hollywood - His First Recordings, 1925 $16.98
26 tracks, essentia
These are great times for fans of Hawaiian steel guitar music and Sol Hoopii in particular. This is the third Hoopii CD released in the past year - all of them different and all of them great. This one features Hoopii's earliest sides recorded for the Sunset and Hollywood labels in Los Angeles in 1925 with Lani McIntyre on guitar and ukulele player Glenwood Leslie. These were only distributed in California and are extremely rare. The group perform a wonderful mix of Native Hawaiian tunes along with American pop and jazz tunes with Hoopii's dynamic steel playing well to the fore. his set features all 16 of the group's recordings for the label plus three alternate takes and the CD is filled out with all the remaining recordings of Hawaiian artists made for the label - Coppock's Hawaiins, Charles Frederick's Hawaiians and Charles Diamond who are superb musicians in their own right. Sound quality is superb and the 20 page booklet has four sets of notes discussing the Hollywood Record Company, Hoopi's early years, Hoopi's involvement with the netertainment industry and information of the other artists. (FS)

 
HAWAII SOL HOOPII & HIS NOVELTY QUARTETTE Origin Jazz Library 3000 Classic Hawaiian Steel Guitar Performances $13.98
Wonderful collection featuring 24 tracks from probably the greatest and most influential Hawaiian steel guitarist. A mix of instrumentals and vocal sides from 1933 and '34 just before Sol switched from acoustic to electric steel. Most tracks are making their first appearance on CD. Sound is superb and 24 page booklet has extensive notes, rare photos and full discographical info.

 
CUBA MACHITO & HIS AFRO CUBANS ASV CDAJA 5602 Relax & Mambo $11.98
22 tracks recorded between 1942 and 1954 by one of the most popular Latin baneds of the era. Includes tracks with his regular band The Afro Cubans including sides where they were joined by Charlie Parker and Flip Phillips including the 17 minute "Afro-Cuban Jazz Suite" where they are also joined by Sweets Edison and Buddy Rich.

 
TRINIDAD THE MIGHTY SPARROW BRG 123 Hot + Sweet $9.98
We have limited stock of this out of print album which is a reissue of 1972 Warner Brothers album produced by Van Dyke Parks. Accompanied by a superb large group he performs mostly remakes of Sparrow classics along with a few newer compositions. Note that track order on cover is different to actual order.

 
BOSNIA MOSTAR SEVDAH REUNION Trade Root 001 A Secret Gate $14.98
13 tracks, 67 min., highly recommended
Originally released in 2003 on Snail Records, this charming album of tradition Bosnian music, played acoustically and more-or-less traditionally, has finally been issued domestically. Comparisons between sevdah and blues seem somewhat apt insomuch as these songs are soulfully executed, steeped in emotion, and altogether compelling listening. Similarities to gypsy music, itself an ill-defined form, abound, but MSR's sound defies easy description. Bosnian Fado? Balkan blues? Not quite. Fans of rembetika or klezmer should delight in these heartfelt performances. Happily, the booklet includes lyrics in English. (JC)

 
CUBA JOHNNY PACHECO Fania 130 209 Tres De Cafey Y Dos De Azucar $13.98
10 tracks, 43 minutes, highly recommended
This 1973 recording is perhaps the best collaboration between two great Dominican salseros-flautist, producer, and bandleader Johnny Pacheco and sonero Pete "El Conde" (the Count) Rodriguez, recorded just before Rodriguez left Pacheco's band to begin his career as a solo performer. The music is basically a seventies updating of classic Dominican and Cuban latin tunes. (JV)

 
CUBA EDDIE PALMIERI Fania 130 198 Azucar Pa' Ti $13.98
7 tracks, 36 minutes, essential
The title of this 1965 early salsa album translates as "sugar for you," and it is! In his liner notes Eddie says, "In unity there is strength." And the record proves the truth of this statement in the wonderful musical collaboration and interplay of Eddie's piano, trombone from Barry Rogers, timbales and bongo from Manny Oquendo, and vocals from Ismael Quintana. This record has long been a critics' favorite. (JV)

 
ITALY LA PIVA DAL CARNER New Tone 6735 Le Pegra A La Mateina La Bela E La Sira La Bala $21.98
Lovely collection of traditional songs and dance from the Emilia region of Italy performed by group of young musicians with bagpipes, hurdy gurdy, double bass, soprano sax, piano, Renaissance shawm melodeon, clarinet and more.

 
CUBA ISMAEL RIVERA Fania 130 195 De Todos Maneras Rosas $13.98
8 tracks, 31 minutes, highly recommended
The late Ismael Rivera (he died in 1987) was one of the best, most moving salsa singers produced by Puerto Rico. He was dubbed "El Sonero Mayor" by the great Beny More himself. This 1977 album, as its title indicates, finds him in a romantic mood and features a variety of Puerto Rican and Cuban song forms, from guaracha and son to bomba and bolero. (JV)

 
UKRAINE MARIANA SADOVSKA Global Village 819 Songs I Learned In Ukraine $15.98
18 tracks, highly recommended
A lovely collection of songs performed by singer/ harmonium player Mariana Sadovska that she collected from traditional singers in The Ukraine. Sadovska is a loevly singer who occasionally double tracks her voice to great effect and the harmonium provides a haunting mournful backdrop to the songs. Booklet with tiny notes includes discussion of the songs and some of the people she collected from by Sadovska. (FS)

 
CAJUN JOE-EL SONNIER Music De Joel 1755 Cajun Blood $15.98
13 tracks, 43 mins, highly recommended
We missed this Grammy nominated album when it first came out in 1999 but are now rectifying that omission. Joe-El is one of Cajun music's most talented artists - firmly rooted in the past traditions of legendary performers but able to update the music in a tasteful and effective manner. This is primarily a tribute to the great Cajun and Zydeco musicians of the past with Jo-El doing superb renditions of songs like The Back Door/ Eh Tit Fille/ Flammes D'Enfer/ Te Yeux Noir/ Bayou Teche and others. There are also two versions of the original beautiful title song that bookend this album - one version in French and the other in English - a tribute to the history and traditions of the Cajun people. (FS)

 
JEWISH/YIDDISH/KLEZMER DAVE TARRAS Global Village CD 105 Master Of Klezmer Music, Vol. 1 : 1929-1949 $15.98
15 tracks, highly recommended
Available again. A great compilation of fifteen 78 rpm sides by Dave Tarras, the virtuoso clarinetist whose long career (1925-1989) defined the recorded history of klezmer music. Tarras, a Ukranian immigrant, was a constant innovator in the klezmer tradition, and this well-chosen selection from the 20's, 30's and 40's documents his growth from a talented newcomer to the leading clarinet stylist of the golden age. His playing never ceases to amaze, displaying profound soulfulness and dazzling technique, especially on the later material with its detailed, swooping solos. An absolutely essential collection, not only for klezmerphiles, but for anyone who enjoys Eastern European sounds. (MB)

 
BALKANS VARIOUS ARTISTS Arhoolie 7051/52 Tamburitza! From The Balkans To America, 1910-1950 $22.98
Two CD set featuring a wonderful collection of Balkan string band music featuring artists from the Balkan states recorded between 1910 and 1950. Most of the recordings were made in the USA along with a few recorded in Europe. The emphasis is on lively dance music, often featuring virtuoso instrumental work on the tamburitza - a long-necked lute type instrument related to the Turkish saz. Includes 40 page booklet with extensive background notes and information on each performance.

 
JAMAICA/ REGGAE VARIOUS ARTISTS Charly SNAJ 702 Gems From Treasure Isle $27.98
Three CD set in small box featuring 54 tracks of classic ska and rock steady from the catalog of the famed Treasure Isle label run by the legendary Duke Reid. Includes the original version of The Tide Is High by The Paragons (later a big hit for Blondie), Phyllis Dillon's reworking of the pop standard Perfidia and the Alton Ellis anthem Rock Steady plus sides by The Skatalites & Margarita, Eric Morris, Baba Brooks, Shenley Duffus, Tommy McCook, Joya Landis (a great cover of the R&B hit Kansas City), The Three Tops, The Termites, The Ethiopians, The Techniques, The Melodians, U.Roy and others. Includes 20 page illustrated booklet.
BABA BROOKS: Twilight Zone/ THE CONQUERORS: I Fell In Love/ DEREK & PATSY: Housewife's Choice/ PHYLLIS DILLON: Don't Stay Away/ Don't Touch Me Tomato/ Perfidia/ Rock Steady/ DON DRUMMOND: Corner Stone/ Street Corner/ SHENLEY DUFFUS: Rukumbine/ ALTON ELLIS: Baby I Love You/ Chatty Chatty People/ Cry Tough/ I Can't Stand It/ Remember That Sunday/ Willow Tree/ Rock Steady/ THE ETHIOPIANS: Conditions Bad A Yard/ JUSTIN HINDS & THE DOMINOES: Save A Bread/ THE JAMAICANS: Dedicated To You/ JOYA LANDIS: Kansas City/ THE MAYTALS: John James/ TOMMY MCCOOK: Flying Home/ Starry Night/ Strolling In/ FREDDIE MCKAY: Love Is A Treasure/ THE MELODIANS: Hey Girl/ You Don't Need Me/ ERIC MORRIS: Penny Reel/ THE PARAGONS: Maybe Someday/ Mercy Mercy/ My Best Girl/ On The Beach/ Only A Smile/ Tide Is High/ Wear You To The Ball/ KEN PARKER: True True True/ DUKE REID'S GROUP: Rude Boy/ Soul Style/ THE SENSATIONS: Those Guys/ THE SKATALITES & DON DRUMMOND: Eastern Standard Time/ THE SKATALITES & MARGARITA: Woman A Come/ VIC TAYLOR: Heartaches/ THE TECHNIQUES: Drink Wine/ How I Wish It Would Rain/ My Girl/ Queen Majesty/ Travelling Man/ You Don't Care/ THE TERMITES: Love Up, Kiss Up/ THE THREE TOPS: Do It Right/ It's Raining/ U. ROY: Midnight Hour/ Rock Away

 
AFRICA-CONGO VARIOUS ARTISTS Crammed Discs CRAW 33 Roots Of Rumba Rock - Comgo Classics, 1953-1955 $28.98
Two CD set with 40 tracks of early Congolese Pop Music featuring recordings which chronicle the birth of what was to become Africa's most popular music style. The music included elements of traditional music, Afro-Cuban piano styles, French crooning and Belgian Brass bands, Beautifully packaged in a fold out digipack it includes 44 page booklet with notes in English and French discussing the music, it's social context and each of he songs.

 
CUBA VARIOUS ARTISTS KBOX 3471 Early Hot Dance Music From Cuba, Vol. 1 $15.98
Three CD set at a bargain price featuring 72 great recordings of Cuban music from the 30s and 40s. There are no notes or recording details but sound is fine and music is consistently superb with contributions from Oscar Calle's Cuban Band, Antonio Machin et son Orchestre Cubain, Guida Tropical Boys, Don Barreto et son Orchestre Cubain, Ernesto Lecuona & The Cuban Boys, Antobal's Cubans, Xavier Cigat & His Orch., Orquestra Paulina Alvarez, Trio Mantamoros and others.

 
PORTUGAL VARIOUS ARTISTS Manteca 044 Fado - The Soul Of Portugal $12.98
19 tracks, 59 min., recommended
Instrumentally, Fado traditionally requires a 12-string Portugese guitar, a Spanish guitar, and a double bass, or so the purists would have it. Many modern fadistas here take liberties with the tradition, but, as this collection demonstrates, they tend to remain close to its spirit. A pleasing one-disc sampler, this album offers fado recorded between 1951-2002. The earliest cut belongs to the undisputed queen of Fado, Amalia Rodrigues, although she also has a song here that was recorded in 1971. Newer talents include Katia Guerreiro (Asas), Antonio Zambujo (O Mesmo Fado), Mariza (O Gente da Minha Terra, co-written by Amalia Rodrigues), and Joana Amendoeira (Fadista Louco), among others. Not a bad introduction to a soulful musical form. (JC)

 
FINLAND VARTTINA Northside 6054 Ilmatar $14.98
2001 album from progressive Finnish folk-rock group featuring the expressive harmony vocals of Susan Aho, Mari Kaasinen, Kirsi Kahkonen and Riikka Vayryn with accompaniments on bouzouki, soprano sax, accordions, bass, fiddle, Galician bass drum, guitars, kantele and more.

 

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