world & roots music

MIKKO JOENSUU – AMEN 1      SVART RECORDS

Mikko JoensuuBorn in Finland in 1986, Mikko Joensuu formed indie rock trio Joensuu 1685 in the mid 2000’s with his brother and another musician, releasing a self titled debut album in 2008. When they split, Joensuu retreated to rural Finland and came up with the concept of his Amen Trilogy, the first volume of which has just been released (2 will be released later in 2016, with 3 coming in Spring 2017). Amen 1 taps into the American folk music tradition, and it is all about deep and healing songs which at times give the listener an impression of spending time in quiet, intimate surroundings with people like Townes Van Zandt, Lee Hazlewood, Josh T. Pearson or Leonard Cohen. Arrangements are raw but beautiful - mostly just the piano and guitar accompany Mikko’s voice, with pedal steel guitars and soothing string sections paying a visit every now and then. This is, according to Joensuu, the most fragile part of the trilogy, which is ‘an effort to find balance between great sadness and beauty’. Opening track ‘Closer to God’ sets the tone with deeply personal lyrics relating to Joensuu’s redemption and connection to God. It also showcases the folky, Americana style that directs the album’s sound - lush, uplifting and beautiful, it’s an outstanding opening number. Some of the songs have a hymnal quality, especially the lovely ‘Enjoy It While It Lasts’, the sweet, piano-led ‘Sometimes You Have to Go Far’ and the plaintive ‘Valley of Gold’. There are also touches of proto country rock as well as Americana (‘I’d Give You All’, ‘Thief and a Liar’). Poignant, delicate and intelligent, this beautiful music is touched with a melancholic sensibility and spiritual depth. Highly recommended.

AFRO CELT SOUND SYSTEM - THE SOURCE    

Afro Celt Sound SystemOriginally formed in 1995 by Grammy-nominated producer-guitarist Simon Emmerson, Afro Celt Sound System is a musical group which fuses modern electronic dance music with traditional Irish and West African music. Their albums, featuring a wide range of guest artists, have been released through Peter Gabriel’s Real World Records and they have frequently performed at WOMAD festivals worldwide. The Source, their first album in 11 years, summons the original Afro Celt energy and legacy, while simultaneously yielding fresh inspirations. ‘There was so much scepticism when we started out’, admits multi-instrumentalist producer Simon Emmerson. ‘We’ve gone from what was a fairly eccentric concept 20 years ago, to something that everyone understands; I think that’s testimony to how resilient the music is. It is the first album to fully celebrate the African and Asian roots brought to the band by long-term members’ vocalist, kora and balafon player N’Faly Kouyat and Dhol drummer Johnny Kalsi. Along with founder member Simon Emmerson (producer, guitars, cittern) and new core member Griogair (vocals, piping, guitars) winner of Gaelic Singer of the Year at the 2015 Scots Trad Music Awards. ‘Primal intensity, spiritual beauty and explosive rhythms, this is a colossus of an album.’ - fRoots.

ANOUSHKA SHANKAR - HOME      DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON CD 4794785

Anoushka ShankarIndian sitar player and composer Anoushka Shankar was born in London in 1981 and her childhood was divided between London and Delhi. Daughter of the great Ravi Shankar and half-sister of singer Norah Jones, Anoushka Shankar is one of the leading figures in world music today. Deeply rooted in the Indian classical music she studied from the age of nine under her father and debuted professionally at the age of thirteen. As well as being a fine sitarist performing in prestigious venues such as the Royal Albert Hall and Carnegie Hall (over a dozen times) she has also been acclaimed for her compositions, which explore fertile ground in the crossover between Indian music and a variety of genres including flamenco, jazz, electronica and Western classical music. Her unique approach to classical music and world music genres is both highly artistic and commercially appealing to a wide audience. Among various accolades she has been nominated four times for a Grammy® Award and was the youngest, and first female, recipient of a House of Commons Shield from the British House of Parliament in 1999. Her latest solo album on Deutsche Grammophone is a pure Indian classical album which showcases the meditative and virtuosic qualities of the Indian raga. Home features two ragas, one of them composed by Ravi Shankar, with which Anoushka shares an intimate, heartfelt live performance in the traditional style. The album offers both meditative and virtuoso Indian classical raga for solo sitar with ensemble as Anoushka Shankar continues to explore modern and fresh ways to reinterpret and keep alive the beautiful musical traditions of India, as taught to her by her father. The tabla player is Ravi Shankar’s own tablist, Tanmoy Bose, and the tanpura bass and treble drones are by Kenji Ota, creating music that is by turns contemplative and thrilling. ‘No one embodies the spirit of innovation and experimentation more evidently than Anoushka Shankar.’ - Nitin Sawhney.

FEUFOLLET - TWO UNIVERSES      FEUFOLLET RECORDS FR003P

FeufolletFeufollet is an Americana/Cajun band from Lafayette, Louisiana, that received the Big Easy Award for ‘Best Cajun Band’ and was nominated for Best Zydeco or Cajun Music Album at the Grammy Awards. When Feufollet formed in the late ‘90s, the six-member band was composed of boys and girls between the ages of 11 and 17. Christopher Stafford is a songwriter and plays the fiddle, guitar, accordion, bass, trumpet and piano with the band. Chris Segura took up the fiddle when he was four years old and went on to win many fiddle championships, including top honours for his age group in the Louisiana State Fiddling Championship. Ashley Hayes first became involved with music when she was ten years old and originally concentrated on country music. before she and singer Brittany Polaski joined la Bande Feufollet in 1998. Michael Stafford (Christopher’s brother) plays drums and previously was a member of the group les Acadiens. Following the celebrated releases Cow Island Hop and En Couleurs, Two Universes is the product of long-steeping recording sessions and collaborative songwriting between bandleader Chris Stafford and singer and multi-instrumentalist Kelli Jones-Savoy. Raised on Appalachian fiddle traditions, Kelli adds old-time stomp to the band’s repertoire. Also new to the band, keyboardist Andrew Toups lends a new-wave gospel sound owed to his background playing in rock bands. Toups’s influence on shaping the record, combined with Feufollet’s usual fare - twin fiddles, French accordion, guitar twang, and barn-dance rhythms - give the record more than a passing resemblance to the Band’s Music From the Big Pink. Flipping from husky honky-tonk angel to French chanteuse, Kelli’s voice perfectly pairs with Stafford’s swamp-pop vocal stylings. Theirs is the sound of two universes colliding and, no surprise, it reaches maximum effect on the album’s title track. This heady mix of Cajun, country and rock’n’roll influences combines with an experimental spirit, edgy arrangements and pop-song sensibilitie on these 11 tracks, exquisitely packaged with the psychedelic-folk art of Louisiana painter Francis Pavy. The band accomplishes the unusual feat of creating a sound that is at once familiar and fresh, classic and yet unmistakably original.

STEVE RILEY AND THE MAMOU PLAYBOYS - VOYAGEUR    MAMOU PLAYBOY MAMU25863

VoyageursSteve Riley and the Mamou Playboys began over twenty five years ago and their performances of infectious Cajun French music from the backwaters of Southwest Louisiana quickly propelled them into the world music limelight. Steve Riley, of Mamou Louisiana, is a master of the Cajun accordion and its singularly powerful sound. His playing is a standard by which timing, phrasing and ingenuity are measured on the royal instrument of South Louisiana. This is combined with his searing, emotional vocals, songwriting, soulful fiddling and onstage front man charisma. Kevin Wimmer has been playing fidle since the age of three and performed regularly with Dewey Balfa, learning the essence of the tradition directly from him. He has performed with Preston Frank and the blues and swing inspired Red Stick Ramblers and brings a Creole influence to the Mamou Playboys with his unique fiddle repertoire and his powerful vocals. Sam Broussard plays acoustic, electric and electric slide guitar as he carries the music of his ancestry farther than it’s ever gone, adding to that his songwriting, arranging and fine tenor singing. Kevin Dugas on drums and Brazos Huval on bass are known throughout South Louisiana for their hydromatic groove and draw crowds in their own right wherever they perform. Together, Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys play stunningly clean and cohesive music that is a feast of creativity that can motivate a packed dance hall or a concert audience. Voyageurs bursts with the full growl and sparkle of the region’s music, honed over decades. With new member and old friend, fiddler Kevin Wimmer, the band finds the funky, unexpected crossroads of rock, blues, country, Zydeco, and just about every other branch of Americana out there. It’s quite a trip, from East Texas wedding travails (beloved Cajun singalong ‘Brasse donc, le couche-couche’), to the wild journey of Mardi Gras (Dewey Balfa’s galloping classic ‘Le danse de Mardi Gras’), to saying a playful good riddance to your hometown (the gorgeous ‘Au revoir Grand Mamou’). Other highlights include the traditional ‘Allons boire un coup’ and ‘La Betaille’, ‘Boozoo’s Blues’ by the Zydeco icon Boozoo Chavis, the irresistible ‘Bernadette’ and two rousing instrumentals – ‘Malcolm’s Reel’ and ‘Bottle it Up’. This joyous, polyrhythmic music is guaranteed to put a smile on your face and a spring in your step.

RAVI SHANKAR - TANA MANA     FLOATING WORLD RECORDS FLOATS6224

ravi shankar tana manaThe late Ravi Shankar was one of the great ambassadors of Indian classical music. He became well known to Western audiences following his remarkable performance at the great Monterrey Pop Festival of 1967, and was a significant influence on George Harrison of The Beatles. He was a tremendously open-minded and free-thinking individual who saw the arbitrary pigeonholing of musical styles and sounds as an irrelevance. Tana Mana, originally credited to ‘the Ravi Shankar Project’, was recorded for the Private Music label run by Peter Baumann, of Tangerine Dream. Much of the music was recorded at George Harrison’s house, Friar Park, which gives its name to one of the best tracks, based on the Raga Charukeshi. Although regarded as being an early example of New Age music, the actual content - stylistically varied, beautifully performed and offering up intriguing musical contrasts (including guest appearances by rock luminaries such as George Harrison on autoharp, jazz bassist Patrick O Hearn and Al and Ray Kooper) belies any categorisation. Shankar’s mastery of a variety of sitar instruments (including bass sitar) is much in evidence, as expected, but overall this is a collaborative, inclusive album that has broad appeal. Shankar also plays synthesizer and there are contributions from Lakshmi Shankar, Aashish Khan and Kumar Bose. This experimental work (the title translates as ‘body and mind’), intriguingly mixes traditional instrumentation, 1980s electronic music, sampling technology and sound effects, to create a transcendental blend of East and West.

DJIVAN GASPARYAN - I WILL NOT BE SAD IN THIS WORLD & MOON SHINES AT NIGHT    ALL SAINTS RECORDS WAST084CD

Djivan GasparyanThe duduk, the Armenian oboe, is a single or double reed wind instrument made of the wood of the apricot tree and has a warm, soft, slightly nasal timbre. The soft wood is the ideal material to carve the body of the instrument and the reed, called ghamish or yegheg, is a local plant growing alongside the Aras river. The roots of Armenian duduk music go back to the times of the Armenian king Tigran the Great (95-55 BC) and the instrument accompanies popular Armenian traditional songs and dances and is played at social events, such as weddings and funerals. The haunting sound of the duduk has become known to wider audiences through its use in film soundtracks, starting with Peter Gabriel’s score for Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ. The duduk’s archaic and mournful sound has been employed in a variety of genres to depict such moods and the ‘Master of the duduk’, Djivan Gasparyan, can be heard in films such as Gladiator, Syriana and Blood Diamond. Born in Armenia in 1928, Gasparyan started to play duduk when he was six. In 1948 he became a soloist of the Armenian Song and Dance Popular Ensemble and the Yerevan Philarmonic Orchestra. He has won four medals at UNESCO worldwide competitions and was awarded the honorary title People’s Artist of Armenia. In 2002, he received the WOMEX (World Music Expo) Lifetime Achievement Award. A professor at the Yerevan State Musical Conservatory, Armenia’s greatest living musician has instructed and nurtured many other performers and has toured throughout Europe, Asia, the Middle East and the United States for over fifty years. This new release from All Saints is a combined reissue of two of Gasparyan’s finest albums. His debut solo CD, I Will Not Be Sad In This World, was originally released in the Soviet Union in 1983 and was described by Brian Eno as ‘Without doubt one of the most beautiful and soulful recordings I have ever heard.’. Moon Shines At Night dates from 1993 and was recorded in London with the acclaimed Canadian producer, guitarist and frequent Eno collaborator Michael Brookwith, which the Independent called ‘perfect music for an imperfect world’. Now in his 85th year, Djivan Gasparyan will be performing a series of farewell concerts over the next 12 months.

SIMON THACKER’S SVARI-KANTI - RAKSHASA     SLAP THE MOON RECORDS STMRCD02

Svara Kanti RAKSHASASvara-Kanti features Simon Thacker’s unique synthesis of world traditions and contemporary innovation on the guitar with the beautiful, often sweetly ethereal voice of Japjit Kaur, leader/director of Britten Sinfonia Jacqueline Shave on violin and renowned tabla (Indian percussion) master Sarvar Sabri, who has a musical lineage stretching back ten generations to the Royal Court of the Mughal Emperor Akbar. Rakshasa  features the ensemble’s work with some of the most distinctive compositional voices of today to create one of the most successful, wide ranging and ambitious intercultural programmes ever assembled - refreshingly listenable yet effortlessly redefining the limits of Indian/Western collaboration. Each of the composers has a unique perspective and experience on the richness, contrasts and confluences between Western and South Asian culture, so that you hear elements of the North and South Indian classical systems transformed, Punjabi folk reimagined, the immense expressive possibilities of ragas extended with Western harmonic explorations, the subversion of the customary composition/improvisation relationships in Indian and Western music, the backwards guitar recording technique pioneered by the Beatles (among others) brought to its culmination in the title track, the combining of the explosive Indian rhythmic systems with the boundless searching of cutting edge Western classical and jazz, as well as inspiration from sources as diverse as Heavy Metal, Flamenco, Blues, Indonesia and Jimi Hendrix. ‘Simon Thacker’s mastery of the guitar allows him to pilot the ensemble through unchartered waters with great conviction.’ - Edinburghguide.com.

ORCHID ENSEMBLE - LIFE DEATH TEARS DREAM   OE2012

Orchid EnsembleBased in Vancouver, the Juno-nominated Orchid Ensemble is a Canadian/Taiwanese group that blends western classical and jazz with traditional Chinese music. Their compositions are driven by poetry, drawing on Hebrew, Spanish, British and Chinese texts, drawing on poets from China’s 8th-century wordsmith Li Bai to the Romantic Dante Rossetti. Orchid Ensemble’s new album, Life Death Tears Dream, shows how words and music can combine to create a new, uncanny world. They can tie down the meaning of a musical piece - or inspire and liberate its performers. The poetry and words that underpin this recording conjure otherworldly landscapes, wandering spirits and ethereal loves, while integrating traditions rarely considered compatible. In this new world, erhu (a two-stringed fiddle) echoes a flamenco lament (‘Ay la llamo’). Stark electronics and earthy marimba (‘Ghostly Moon’), full choir and zheng (zither with moveable bridges, ‘Life Death Tears Dream’) unite the spiritual and sensual, the terrifying and wonderful. By turns thrilling and meditative, this exotic music is a tribute to Canada’s thriving multi-culturalism. ‘Many of the pieces we wanted to include on the album included or were inspired by poetry, but stylistically were wildly diverse,’ explains Orchid’s marimba player Jonathan Bernard. ‘As the process evolved, we felt liberated from a musically-defined theme and found cohesion through the world of poetics, which we feel allows for realms beyond rational or logic, beyond earthly constraints.’

THE JOLLY BOYS - GREAT EXPECTATION    WALL OF SOUND/GEEJAM

Great ExpectationMento was the music of the Jamaican dancehalls before ska, rocksteady and reggae came along. A people’s music typically played in the countryside on acoustic (often homemade) instruments, it dates back to the late 19th century and its lyrics often deal with rude or slack topics, or address social issues of the day. Although often confused with calypso (largely because calling it ‘calypso’ was a handy way of marketing it to tourists who didn’t know any better), it has a rawness and rhythmic feel that is uniquely Jamaican. Mento typically features instruments such as acoustic guitar, banjo, hand drums and the rhumba box - a large mbira in the shape of a box that can be sat on while played. Drawing on musical traditions brought over by African slaves, Mento is also strongly influenced by European music, as slaves who could play musical instruments were often required to play music for their masters. In the winter of 1946, buccaneering Hollywood star Errol Flynn purchased Navy Island and for the next decade this became the staging point for his unending party that is today the stuff of legend. The entertainment Flynn featured most often was a small local group that he named ‘The Jolly Boys’ after the vibe he caught from their playing. With an amazing history spanning 60 years, The Jolly Boys’ name is now synonymous with the mento sound and they are undoubtedly the most recognisable mento band in the world. The current lineup consists of lead singer and guitarist Albert Minott (72), Joseph ‘Powda’ Bennett (73) on maraccas, Allan Swymmer (82) on percussion, ‘newcomer’ Egbert Watson (84) on banjo, and, amazingly, original member Derrick ‘Johnny’ Henry (71) on rumba box and backung vocals. The band’s sensational new album, Great Expectations, features 12 brilliant interpretations of contemporary songs given a mento makeover, including Iggy Pop’s The Passenger, Lou Reed’s Perfect Day, a fantastic version of Amy Winehouse’s Rehab (also released a single), Nightclubbing, Telephone, Do it Again, Riders on the Storm’, Golden Brown, I Fought the Law, Ring of Fire, Blue Monday and the Rolling Stones classic You Can’t Always Get What You Want. This is outrageously infectious music that has made The Jolly Boys festival favourites this year. ‘If it was good enough for Errol Flynn it’s good enough for me!’ - Amy Winehouse.

OUT OF BABYLON    CELESTIAL HARMONIES 13274-2

Out of BabylonIn 1993 during a visit to carry out some Southeast Asian music research, Margaret Kartomi stumbled on the Maghain Aboth Synagogue in Singapore. The congregational community were of Baghdadi descent; their forebears had originated in Babylon, the land of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers and home of the first Jewish diaspora 2500 years ago. The Jewish community of ancient Baghdad went on to found a rich civilisation and Jewish merchants from Baghdad settled in port cities around colonial-British and colonial-Dutch Asia, such as in Bombay, Calcutta, Singapore, Hong Kong and Shanghai. Dr Kartomi visited and studied the music she recorded in these communities; and fellow ethnomusicologist Sara Manasseh researched the Baghdadi-Jewish music of her hometown, Bombay, revealing how some of the songs sung today resemble those recorded in the Baghdadi community in Israel early in the 20th century. As the colonial era came to an end, members of the Asian-Baghadi diaspora communities and those in Baghdad itself emigrated again, settling in cities in Israel, the UK, Canada, USA and Australia. When Manasseh and Kartomi recorded the liturgical music in the synagogues in cities such as Manchester and Sydney, they found remarkable similarities to the performances they had recorded in Bombay, Singapore and elsewhere. Some relatively minor changes can be observed in the recordings made in different eras, but individual singers continue to sing the same texts set to basically the same melodic ideas, though they vary them on the spur of the moment, creatively ornament a melodic phrase, add melismatic notes, and vary the rhythms in their own personal style, as did their forebears over the centuries. The music on this fascinating CD therefore belongs to the ancient tradition of Bagdhadi-Jewish music and documents songs performed in the synagogues of the Baghdadi-Jewish diaspora in Asia from the end of the 18th to the mid-20th centuries, and in a further diaspora since the 1950s to Australia, the UK and beyond. The songs were recorded in Bombay, Poona, Singapore, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Manchester, London and Sydney by Margaret Kartomi and Sara Manasseh as part of a team which also included Regina Randhofer and Bronia Kornhauser. Randhofer’s interest in psalmody led her to the National Sound Archives in Jerusalem. From there she selected a number of valuable historical recordings, originally collected in Iraq and Israel, to provide more comparative material for the CD. Although the recordings have a documentary character, they have been carefully prepared to maximise their audio-technical qualities and provide a fascinating insight into an enduring tradition.

PAPA MOJO’S ROUNDHOUSE        BIG ROUND RECORDS BR8909

Papa Mojo's RoadhouseRoy ‘Mel’ Melton knows how to cook onstage and off. Nicknamed ‘The Zydeco Chef’ by former bandmate and friend C.J. Chenier, he has been a musician and professional chef for three decades, becoming known as a singer and a harmonica player who created a style of playing that has earned him the reputation as the world’s finest Zydeco harmonica player. After pursuing a full time chef career in Chicago, Melton moved back home to North Carolina in 1990, where he formed his current band, Mel Melton & the Wicked Mojos. Papa Mojo’s Roadhouse is his third CD with the band and features Mel Melton (vocals, harmonica, rub-board), Ricky Olivarez (guitar) and Evans Nicholson (drums, percussion), with guest appearances by Sonny Landreth and Trisha Yearwood’s guitarist Johnny Garcia. This is Louisiana dance hall music straight from the bayou - nourishing gumbo stew that includes rowdy Zydeco and Cajun tunes, R&B and boogie-woogie, swamp bop, juke joint blues, jazz and New Orleans funk. There’s even a special ‘Lagniappe’ at the end from Mel and his thirteen-year-old daughter, Laurel. This is good-time music straight from the bayou. Mel Melton and the Wicked Mojos bring a blend of zydeco, blues, and New Orleans jazz and funk with a Cajun flair. This is fast, high-spirited party music that makes sure everyone has a great time. ‘Listening to this album is like stumbling upon a homey bayou roadhouse after traveling for miles on Interstate Highway 10.’ - Living Blues.

TIROLIRIUM     COL LEGNO 20288

This unexpected col legno release features pure folk music at its best, collected by Herma Haselsteiner and compiled by Gustav Kuhn. Swinging and sonically rich yodelers, catchy song structures, polkas, waltzes, and, time and again, the landler, attain a special intensity in arrangements for vocal trios and quartets, for parlour as well as dance music settings. Male and female voices, the harp, dulcimer, zither, accordion, ocarina, violins, etc. represent the originality and diversity of the folk music of the Tyrol and its neighbouring Alpine regions. In addition, Gustav Kuhn creates new ‘Tiroliria’ from the musical material and scatters them amongst the original recordings. In order to fully reveal the immediacy of the music on these tracks, Gustav Kuhn animates the succession of songs and pieces by using refrain-like collages of sound resembling the tuning of an orchestra. A yodeler and the voices of girls overlap and mesh with the drive of the well-oiled musical machine consisting of Zillertaler dancing fiddlers and bawdy, mocking songs. This is joyous, exuberant music that you won’t hear anywhere else.

KATIA GUERREIRO - FADO   WARNER 9903-99269-2

Portuguese Fado music dates back at least to the 1820s but its origins are probably much earlier. The term ‘Fado’ can be translated as destiny or fate and the music is characterised by mournful tunes and lyrics expressing longing, sorrow or nostalgia. Some claim that Fado’s origins are a mixture of African slave rhythms with the traditional music of Portuguese sailors and Arabic influence. The two main varieties of Fado are found in the cities of Lisbon and Coimbra. The Lisbon style is the most popular, while the Coimbra style is ore refined. Modern Fado is popular in Portugal and has produced many renowned musicians. Performances during the 20th century usually featured only a singer, a Portuguese guitar player and a classical guitar player, but more recent settings range from singer and string quartet to full orchestra. Over the last few years, Fado has been enjoying an unprecedented revival, thanks to new voices like Misia and Cristina Branco. Katia Guerreiro was born in 1976 in South Africa and soon after the family returns to the island of S. Miguel, Azores, where she was raised. At the age of 18, she began studying medicine in Lisbon, along with playing music - singing, playing ‘Viola da Terra’, and occasionally appearing with a folk band. One night, to celebrate her doctorate, she went to a Fado venue and was invited to sing. Everyone there was mesmerised by her remarkably expressive voice and she became the new revelation of Fado. Several successful albums followed and Katia Guerreiro allied herself with the First Lady of Fado, Amalia Rodrigues. Less tragic an actress than Amalia, Katia shows amazing musicality, with a strong, passionate and slightly scratched voice. As she likes to say, ‘I sing Fado to cure the soul but I am still a doctor to treat the suffering.’ Highly recommended.

BALLAD OF AMERICA, VOL 3: SONGS IN THE LIFE OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN

Songs in the Life of Abraham LincolnThis is the third in Matthew Sabatella’s ‘Ballad of America’ series, which tells the story of the United States through traditional folk songs. Volume 1 focussed on Westward Expansion in the United States, beginning in the latter part of the eighteenth century and following the paths of the pioneers, sailors, lumberjacks, immigrants, ‘49ers, farmers, slaves, soldiers, cowboys and railroaders who moved the country across the continent and into the twentieth century. Songs in the Life of Abraham Lincoln celebrates the 200th birthday (February 12th) of America’s 16th president through the music he cherished. Matthew Sabatella and the Rambling String Band’s traditional acoustic arrangements of his favourite folk and popular songs enable 21st century listeners to better understand the man himself and the times in which he lived. This is the soundtrack to Abraham Lincoln’s life and extensive liner notes tell his story while highlighting his personal relationship to each song. Lincoln was a man of remarkable determination, compassion, honesty, humour and melancholy. Highlights on the album include the lovely Barbara Allen (Lincoln’s mother’s favourite song), Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen, the jaunty Battle Cry of Freedom, Tenting on the Old Camp Ground, Dixie’s Land, and Twenty Years Ago (which often touched Lincoln with its reflections on the vanished joys and the delightful associations of lost youth).

MAMA ROSIN - BYE BYE BAYOU    MOI J’CONNAIS RECORDS MJCR017

The engaging Mama Rosin are a Swiss trio playing an unlikely blend of ‘psychedelic Cajun punk voodoo rockabilly’ that incorporates flashes of blues and rock as well as old time French migrant music of Louisiana, all played with incendiary power on melodeon, electric guitar, banjo, harmonica, washboard and drums. Their breakthrough album, Bye Bye Bayou, reveals a sound unlike any other band on earth - rock’n’roll at its most primal, warped and obsessive, ‘where Lower East Side hustlers go alligator hunting’. Singing in French and English, the band has toured all over Europe and Bye Bye Bayou is their breakthrough album. Produced by Jon Spencer (of Blues Explosion fame), Louisiana swamp grooves meet New York’s CBGB white heat/white noise! Highlights include Marilou, the irresistible Parait Qu’y A Pas Le Temps and Casse Mes Objets (You Broke My Stuff), Wivenhoe, the moody Black Samedi, Mama Don’t and Seco E Molhado, and a superb version of the traditional Sittin’ On Top Of The World. These high-spirited recordings capture Mama Rosin’s full-on crowd-pleasing performance style and are sure to win the band many more fans.

SOTHO SOUNDS - JUNK FUNK    RIVERBOAT TUGCD1066

Sotho Sounds are an eccentric band of funky shepherds from the hills of Kingdom of Lesotho who have literally invented their own music, crafted their own instruments and continue to follow their own mission – turning junk into funk. The band’s debut album perfectly captures the excitement and humorous bounce of their live performances. The musicians play guitars are made from tin-cans and bicycle wire, and rattle melodiously alongside the fuzzed ring of one-string fiddles and the thud and boom of their drums. Atop the mix, swinging unison vocals bring to mind the hugely popular choral tradition of Lesotho. Sotho Sounds also weave the sounds of their everyday life into the music - listen closely and you can hear everything from the jangle of their home-made guitars, to the hum and shatter of the percussion, to the bark of a dog, an accordion, whistles and more. The subject matter of their lively songs draws on the social issues and experiences of their everyday lives at home in Lesotho and while travelling abroad. ‘Something To Think About’ was inspired by their travels in England. Amused by everyone constantly asking them, ‘How are you?’ and ‘What are you thinking?’, they decided to write a song in order to give them ‘something to think about’. ‘Ha Kele Monateng’ translates as ‘When I’m Happy’ and is a bright, positive number with catchy call-and-response vocals. ‘Ntheke Ntheke’ (or ‘The Sun Is About To Set’) is a stunning a cappella track that is reminiscent of South African isicathamiya. Influence by Basotho traditional music as well as South African pop, the band has a fierce innovative streak and their infectious home-made sound produces music with a deeply personal edge. Let the Junk Funk revolution begin.

GREEKADELIA     WORLD MUSIC NETWORK TUGCD1065

Pioneers of reinvented folk, Kristi Stassinopoulou & Stathis Kalyviotis remix traditional demotika songs to reflect their own experiences of urban life in their native Greece. The invented term ‘Greekadelia’ perfectly captures the far-out spirit of the duo’s new album, following a previous release that topped the World Music Chart for five months, as they once again shake up the scene with their version of Greek folk music. Old demotika songs are mixed with quirky samples, Kristi’s vocals, a traditional Greek lauto, an Indian harmonium and various frame drums, all underpinned by live looping. The opening track, ‘Matia San Kai Ta Dika Sou’, begins with a sampled recording of a captain announcing his boat’s arrival at an island. From here, Kristi and Stathis launch their musical voyage through Greece, each track taken from a different island or region of the country. Highlights include the the haunting sailor’s song ‘Anamesa Nissirou’, from the Dodecanese Islands, and ‘Halassia Mou’, a meditative song from the north western region of Epirus. The album retains the gentle intimacy of the duo’s live performances as with minimal instrumentation they carve out their own truly original soundscape.

GURRUMUL YUNUPINGU - RRAKALA    DRAMATICO SFGU110402

Born blind, Gurrumul grew up as a member of the Gumatj clan on Elcho Island, off the coast of tropical North East Arnhem Land. This enigmatic musician first came to attention when he released his eponymous multi ARIA award winning double platinum debut album, which the number one world music CD throughout Europe. His angelic voice connected with listeners including Elton John, will.i.Am and Sting, who after performing with Gurrumul in France declared that he has ‘a voice of a higher being’. Rrakala is Gurrumul Yunupingu much anticipated second album, recorded at the old Power Station in New York by ARIA Award nominee producer Michael Hohnen. This new album retains the quality, purity and sound of his first but allows this elusive artist to delve into other genres and instruments within his own cultural context. Rrakala (the name the Gumatj people call themselves) taps into old songs from Gurrumul’s band, his family’s songwriting, his new material and presents a choice of songs that reflect deeper into his Aboriginal identity. Showcased for the first time are his exceptional skills on piano, drums, nylon string acoustic guitar, electric and acoustic guitars. By opening up further, this album reveals more of his rich vocal harmonies which creates a deeper, more complex and as he says ‘more cultural and spiritual body of work.’ Album highlights include songs about longing, beautiful places, whispering trees, a funeral song and features Ulminda; a quasi-classical duet with Hohnen on bowed double bass and Gurrumul on guitar, singing about the mysterious power of the mind. ‘Australia’s Most Important Voice.’ - Rolling Stone.

THE ROUGH GUIDE TO SUFI MUSIC    WORLD MUSIC NETWORK RGNET1262

Sufi music is inspired by Sufism, defined by its adherents as the inner, mystical dimension of Islam, and by the works of Sufi poets such as Rumi, Hafez, Bulleh Shah and Khwaja Ghulam Farid. Sufi love songs are often performed as ghazals and Kafi, a solo genre accompanied by percussion and harmonium. Qawwali, the best known form of Sufi music, is common in India and Pakistan but Sufi music is also central to the whirling dervishes and can be found in many places around the world, including West Africa, Indonesia, Afghanistan and Morocco. Whether being sung in devotion at a religious shrine, pumping out of a car radio, blasting out of a nightclub sound-system or is being danced to under the stars at a music festival, the Sufi sound is alive and kicking. Renowned Pakistani singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan was, until his death, unarguably the most famous Sufi singer in the world. On this Rough Guide the ‘Elvis of the East’ is remixed and reinvented by London-based dub and electronica producer Gaudi. Also hailing from Pakistan, Sain Zahoor is a holy minstrel who rose to fame via word-of-mouth recommendations that eventually led to his performance at a festival of Sufi music in London. The track ‘Manzil-e-Sufi’ is by Sindhi devotional singer Sanam Marvi and the hugely popular Punjabi folk and rock inspired track, ‘Alif Allah Chambey Di Booty’, is by Arif Lohar and Meesha Shafi. The engimatic dread-locked singer Cheikh Lo is based in Senegal and his music is infused with Sufi sensibilities and infectious reggae vibes. Also from Senegal Mdou Gaye is a Sufi Jazz singer and player of the hang, a metallic percussion instrument physically related to the steelpan. A track by the London-based collective, Transglobal Underground features their work with singer Natacha Atlas and the Rajasthan gypsy group, Musafir. The Rough Guide To Sufi Music shows the wonderful variety of this complex, powerful and mysterious music, which becomes more rewarding with each listen. The album comes with a bonus CD, The Rough Guide To Sufi Fakirs of Bengal, featuring music that has not been released outside India until now.

THE SALTWATER BAND – MALK   DRAMATICO DRAMCD0077

The Saltwater Band consists of eight Yolngu musicians from Galiwink’ku Elcho Island, Australia, lead by singer/songwriter Manuel Dhurrkay and featuring multiple award winning artist Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu - often humorously referred to as the Lennon and McCartney of N E Arnhem Land. Together they write in a style that combines traditional songs with reggae/ska-influenced pop and this unique combination has built them a strong following in Northern Australia. Through their music, the band aims to reach as broad an audience as possible and to strengthen and influence their own communities. Their songs serve to pass on to the younger members of their communities their traditional stories and values so that they are not swamped by western influence. Thanks to an ARIA Award nomination for Best World Music, multiple Indigenous Music Awards, two Deadly Awards for Best Album and Best Band along with a knock out performance at the Byron Bay Blues Festival, the band has begun to attract the attention of the mainstream market. Recorded prior to Gurrumul’s international solo success, Malk is a collection of songs with a sound that combines the band’s first two recordings and includes upbeat versions of a number of songs found on Gurrumul’s debut album. Co-produced by Michael Hohnen and recorded mainly during the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, this is essentially an islander reggae album with a collection of songs which showcase a strong fusion of modern music with the spirit of the Gumatj people, language and culture. ‘Aboriginal music as never heard before’ - Sydney Morning Herald.

SUSANA BACA - AFRODIASPORA   LUAKA BOP

Susana Baca was born in the small fishing village of Chorrillos in 1944 and is a key figure in the revival of Afro-Peruvian music. Like the culture that produced it, this music had previously been little recognised but has become a vital part of Peruvian culture. Acclaimed singer Susana Baca has contributed much to its international popularity, which began in 1995 with the release of the compilation CD The Soul of Black Peru album, featuring the Baca song ‘Maria Lando’, which was released on ex-Talking Heads frontman David Byrne’s Luaka Bop record label. Her songs, often with lyrics composed by some of Latin America’s finest poets, are rich in evocative imagery and her voice is delicate yet soulful. On this terrific new album, the Grammy Award-winning vocalist explores further the influence that Africa has exerted on Latin American music and culture. The eleven tracks of mellifluous, soulful music were inspired by the talents of songwriters such as Javier Ruibal and Iván Benavides, and span a wide range of traditional and contemporary styles, from the Colombian cumbia of ‘Detras de la Puerta’ to the Puerto Rican rhythms of ‘Plena y Bomba’. Other highlights include the Cuban beat of ‘Baho Kende/Palo Mayimbe’ (a tribute to salsa queen Celia Cruz), the powerful Venezuelan drumming of ‘Taki Ti Taki’, the elegant Mexican waltz of ‘Que Lindo tu Vestido’, and an audacious reworking of ‘Hey Pocky Way,’ a New Orleans funk classic originally popularised by The Meters. Afrodiaspora features Susana Baca’s talented regular group of musicians, along with an impressive assortment of guest performers such as Santana drummer Michael Shrieve, Rene ‘Residente’ Perez of Puerto Rican hip-hop stars Calle 13, and Chicago blues great Billy Branch also playing harmonica to Hey Pocky Way. ‘Baca captures history, even as she transcends it.’ - Rolling Stone.

BALLAD OF AMERICA, VOL 2: AMERICA SINGING – MATTHEW SABATELLA

These songs are among the most commonly sung - a unique musical blend with roots in European and African traditions and branches that have sprouted countless regional and personal variants throughout the country. Collectively, the songs transcend social and ethnic boundaries, painting a broad picture of America during the 18th and 19th centuries when music making was, for many, an integral part of everyday life. On stage and on the new album Matthew Sabatella plays guitar, clawhammer banjo and mountain dulcimer, backed by the Rambling String Band featuring Lynn Griffith (banjo and vocals), Chris DeAngelis (bass fiddle and vocals), Jack Stamates (fiddle) and Sean Edelson ( mandolin). Highlights on the new album include hobo song Wabash Cannonball, Buffalo Gal (often sung by travelling minstrel troupes as they toured the country), Blue Tail Fly - another favourite of Abraham Lincoln), Stephen Foster’s Oh Susanna!, Bile Them Cabbage Down , Pick a Bale of Cotton, I’ve Been Working on the Railroad, Red River Valley, Old Blue, Billy Barlow based on an old English ballad of protest by the hungry British peasantry) and Home on the Range, published in the 1870s and hugely popular throughout the English-speaking world in the first half of the twentieth century. Matthew Sabatella’s warm baritone voice is in fine form and he brings an unfussy intimacy to these traditional songs.

AMADOU & MARIAM - WELCOME TO MALI   BECAUSE

African superstars Amadou Doumbia (vocals) and Mariam Bagayoko (guitar and vocals) met during the 1970s at the Institute for the Young Blind of Mali. The husband-and-wife team have had to overcome many obstacles, from blindness to living under a military dictatorship, to reach their current status as leaders of African music’s commercial music scene. Their joyous music mixes traditional Mali sounds with rock guitars, Syrian violins, Cuban trumpets, Egyptian ney, Colombian trombones, Indian tablas and Dogon percussion, bringing all these elements together in what has been called ‘Afro-blues’. Amadou & Mariam’s new album features Damon Albarn as guest producer on the opening track, plus appearances by Keziah Jones, ‘M’, Tiken Jah Fakoli, Toumani Diabate and Juan Rozoff. The album was recorded over twelve months in Bamako, Dakar, Paris and London, produced by their long-time manager and artistic director Marc-Antoine Moreau and Lauren Jais who, together with Manu Chao, were co-producers of the previous acclaimed album, Dimanche à Bamako. Welcome to Mali expands their horizons and yet remains true to their core sound, putting the spotlight firmly on their unique mix of sweet melodies and funky rhythms, driven by Amadou’s bluesy guitar and the duo’s compelling voices. This is warm, transcendent music that lets in Western influences yet maintains its profound African integrity.

THE ROUGH GUIDE TO THE MUSIC OF VIETNAM  WORLD MUSIC NETWORK RGNET1183CD

The apocalyptic image of Vietnam in the movies is very different from the reality of today’s Vietnam - a dynamic country with an ancient and vibrant culture combining Eastern, and in recent years, Western influences. Featuring some of the biggest stars of contemporary Vietnamese music, key regional styles, popular folk songs and ancient court music, this fascinating and accessible CD offers a unique insight into one of the world’s least understood nations. In spite of the onslaught of Western culture in Vietnam, a strong national identity remains intact, revealing a people who are proud of their culture and music. Vietnamese instruments – the one-stringed dan bao, the sixteen-stringed dan tranh, the sao truc (bamboo flute) and the tam thap luc (dulcimer) and many more can be heard on 14 tracks representing a wide variety of musical styles, both traditional and modern. Tracks include ‘Crossing the Valley’, by Paris-based Huong Thanh and guitarist Nguyen Le, a traditional tune given a new arrangement; a bluesy version of a traditional song on a two-stringed lute by KimSinh; ‘On the Bamboo Bridge’ by the Khac Chi Ensemble; the beautiful music of hat van (a kind of trance singing and dancing) by Huy Du, Tuyet Tring; ‘Luyem Nam Cung’, featuring the sixteen-stringed dan tranh by Nguyen Thanh Thuy; the sweet voice of central Vietnamese folk singer, Van Khanh, who combines traditional Vietnamese flavours with a modern accompaniment and a song by one of the great ca hue vocalists, Chau Dinh, from Hue, the cultural centre of Vietnam. Two of Vietnam’s most loved and adored pop stars, Cam Ly and Quang Linh appear on this album, plus a track by Blue Asia, featuring dan bao player Thuy Hanh and jazz drummer Bernard Purnie. The album ends with an amazing live version of ‘(Ghost) Riders in the Sky’ by the family band, Dan Bao Vietnam, with the one-stringed dan bao, accompanied by wooden percussion and keyboards. This Rough Guide offers a unique glimpse into the rich variety of sounds emanating from Vietnam, mixing vibrancy with tradition and real beauty. The album has been compiled by Paul Fisher, founder of Far Side Music and a specialist in music from East Asia as well as a DJ and broadcaster. A bonus data track includes an interview with the compiler Paul Fisher and travel information from The Rough Guide To Vietnam book.

SIGUR ROS - ( )    FATCAT RECORDS

Named in part after a sister of one of the band members, Iceland’s Sigur Rós (Victory Rose) is an acclaimed post-rock band formed by guitarist and vocalist Jonsi Thor Birgisson, bassist Georg Holm, and drummer Agust. Formed in early 1994 while the members were teenagers, the trio’s first recorded song earned them an early recording deal for their distinctive brand of melodic, classical, experimental and minimalist music. Kjartan Sveinsson later joined the band on keyboards and and Agust departed, replaced by Orri Páll DýRason. On the curiously named ‘( )’, Sigur Rós play eight untitled songs recorded at Alafoss, the group’s converted swimming pool studio just outside Reykjavik. Featuring the group’s live string section amina, ‘( )’ is in many ways a rawer, more fragile record than its acclaimed predecessor, with the band moving towards something starker and less obviously honed. For this reason it perhaps appears as more of a live record, although, paradoxically, it also sees them experimenting with samplers and the overall breadth of their sound more than ever before. What remains constant, however, is their unparalleled ability to draw on deep wells of emotion and beauty wordlessly. Jonsi Thor Birgisson uses his remarkable, other-worldly voice as another instrument in the band to produce hypnotic music that is by turns lush melancholic, meditative, serene and emotional. The CD and album artwork features close-up photographs taken by the band, which have been manipulated using natural materials. The tracing paper CD booklet contains only subtle designs and no text, with listeners invited to write or illustrate their own interpretations of Birgisson’s ‘Hopelandish’ vocals.

HEART OF FIRE – USTAD NISHAT KHAN    NAVRAS NRCD0209

Heart of FireThe charismatic sitar virtuoso Nishat Khan transcends musical barriers with his provocative emotional expression and supreme technical mastery. He is the eldest son of the distinguished sitar player Ustad Imrat Khan and his uncle, the late legendary sitar maestro Ustad Vilayat Khan, achieved almost mythical status on the instrument. Nishat Khan is renowned and acclaimed as one of the most exciting sitar players in India today, blending an incredible technique with beautiful lyricism.. His style and personality have been received with great enthusiasm among international audiences, bridging the gap between East and West through the language of music. Heart of Fire begins with a recital of Raga Desh a popular night-time raga. This is followed by the more melodic and even more popular light classical raga Pilu. The final piece is a Maand, which again is a much lighter melody with a Rajasthani flavour. Ustad Nishat Khan performs with Shabaz Hussain Khan on Tabla. While proudly representing the family tradition and closely adhering to it, as in this recital, Nishat continues to push the boundaries of his art in exciting ways.

LADYSMITH BLACK MAMBAZO – ILEMBE    GALLO CDGMP 40976

Ladysmith Black Mambazo first achieved worldwide prominence as a result of singing with Paul Simon on his 1986 album, Graceland. Formed by Joseph Shabalala (who still leads the group today), this male choral group from South Africa sings in the vocal style of isicathamiya and mbube. They are one of that country’s most prolific recording artists, with their releases earning gold and platinum discs, and have become a mobile academy, teaching people about South Africa and its culture. Joseph Shabalala formed Ladysmith Black Mambazo because of a series of dreams he had in which he heard certain isicathamiya harmonies, isicathamiya being the traditional music of the Zulu people. Following their local success at wedding ceremonies, Shabalala entered them into isicathamiya competitions. The group were so good that they were eventually forbidden to enter the competitions but were welcomed to entertain at them. Although they had been recognised as an isicathamiya group in 1964, they had been singing together since the early 1950s. Winners of two Grammys, they have performed at two Nobel Peace Prize Ceremonies, for the Pope in Rome, the South African Presidential inaugurations, the 1996 Summer Olympics, a Muhammad Ali television special and Queen Elizabeth’s II’s 50th Anniversary celebrations. They released their first album, Amabutho, in 1973, and the latest is Ilembe – King of Kings. The new album sees a return to their roots, exploring more traditional sounds with recordings such as Ommu Beno Mmu, Sizobalanda (We Will Get Them) and Iphel’ Emasini. Ladysmith Black Mambazo’s beautiful music reflects the struggles and passion of South Africa, powerful choruses contrasting with softer, almost whispering chants where voices blend harmoniously. ‘South Africa’s cultural ambassadors’ - Nelson Mandela. Ladysmith Black Mambazo’s biggest ever TOUR starts with two nights at London’s Royal Festival Hall on October 15 and 16, followed by over 30 other dates around the country until the end of November. They are joined on tour by Vusi Mahlasela, an accomplished guitarist, percussionist, composer, arranger, band leader and performer, who has bridged generations at home and abroad. Dubbed ‘a South African Bob Dylan’, his sound is a hybrid of folk, world, blues and soul - one that connects his country’s past with its promise for a better future. The sell-out concert at Wolverhampton’s Grand Theatre was a triumph, with wonderful Zulu harmonies, audience participation, infectious good humour and much spirited high-kicking from the nine-man group (and the excellent Vusi Mahlasela). Irresistible.

YAADEIN – USTAD SHUJAAT KHAN         NAVRAS NRCD0203

Grammy nominated sitarist sitarist Shujaat Husain Khan is perhaps the greatest North Indian classical musician of his generation and is the seventh in the unbroken line from his family that has produced many musical masters. The son and disciple of the great sitar master Ustad Vilayat Khan, who passed away in 2004, Shujaat began practicing on a specially made small sitar at the age of three, and by the time he was six he was giving public performances. Since then he has played at many music festivals in India and around the world, developing his own uniquely spontaneous and intuitive style. He belongs to the Imdad Khan gharana (tradition) of the sitar (lute) and his style, known as the gayaki ang, is imitative of the subtleties of the human voice. He has performances memorably at the Royal Albert Hall and often explores different genres of music, as with the very successful Indo-Persian venture, the Ghazal Ensemble. This new album, Yaadein (Memories), was recorded live at the Royal Festival Hall in 2005 at the first Vilayat Khan memorial concert in London and for Shujaat Khan, this performance of Raga Shyam Kalyan brings back memories of his father. A superlative technique means that he can play at dazzling speed as well as coax wonderfully languid and melodic sounds from his instrument. Shujaat Khan is accompanied brilliantly on tabla by Arunanghsu Chaudhury and Shankar Debnath. The music is captivating - filled with emotional warmth and joy – and makes a graceful and moving tribute by one master to another, his father.

THE VERY BEST OF ETHIOPIQUES       MANTECA MANTDCD245

The music of land-locked and mountainous Ethiopia is extremely diverse, with each different ethnic group having its own unique sounds. Some forms of traditional music have been influenced by Muslim and folk music from elsewhere in the Horn of Africa, and Ethiopian religious music has an ancient Christian element. Ethiopia is a musically traditional country and many of its popular musicians also perform traditional songs. The Paris-based world music record label Buda Musique’s Ethiopiques series of CDs initially compiled Ethiopian popular music releases from the 1960s and 1970s, the dying years of Emperor Haile Selassie and the beginnings of the ‘Derg’, a military junta led by Mengistu, now an exile in Zimbabwe. Some of the CDs focus on traditional music, while others highlight individual musicians or specific styles, and there have now been more than 20 releases in all. Beginning in 1986 with Mahmoud Ahmed’s ‘Erè mèla mèla’ on Crammed Discs, editor Francis Falceto has continued to promote this seductive and thrilling music despite the junta and a tragic Ethiopian war. Today the politics are still confused but the music is becoming better known, with Mulatu Astatqé’s music featured in the cult movie ‘Broken Flowers’ (included here) and high-profile fans such as Robert Plant, Brian Eno, Elvis Costello, Charlie Gillett and Arcade Fire’s Win Butler. This mid-price double CD from Manteca brings together 28 of the finest tracks in the series. The performers’ names may be unfamiliar but the sultry opening instrumental immediately draws you in to an intriguing mix of exotic African sounds infused with blues, soul, jazz and irresistible funkiness.

PROBIR BHATTACHARYYA

Probir Bhattacharyya was born in the year of 1975 in the state of west Bengal in India. At the age of 19 he started learning sitar from his mother and then studied with Nikhil Bhadury for six years before going to kolkata for further lesson with Pt kushal Das, the internationally famous sitar player. Probir Bhattacharyya is still taking lessons from him as well as performing on stage. For more information Probir Bhattacharyya and his CD recordings, visit his website

AMIINA - KURR          EVER RECORDS 11CD

Hildur Ársælsdóttir, Edda Rún Ólafsdóttir, Maria Huld Markan Sigfúsdóttir and Sólrún Sumarliðadóttir are four Icelandic women in their mid twenties. Collectively known as Amiina, they met at Reykjavík’s College of Music in the 1990s and began writing music together in 2004. The quartet’s minimalist style incorporates contemporary classical viol parts, ambient electronic loops and metallophones (a musical instrument consisting of tuned metal bars which are struck with a mallet). The band uses many different instruments, with members moving from one instrument to another, often in mid-song. Kurr, the group’s debut album, named after the sound that birds are said to make in Iceland, features an eclectic range of instruments, including violins, guitars, keyboards, wine glasses, bells, Celtic harps, musical saws, Balinese-type metalophones, glockenspiels and kalimbas (ancient instruments from Africa, made from a wooden box and a few tines of flattened metal). These multiple instruments come together to produce gently mellifluous music that evokes the mysticism and ethereal landscapes of their native country. Highlights include a lilting Sexfaldur, Rugla, the dreamy Glamur, and the serenely beautiful Seoul. This tranquil music, reminiscent of the early Cowboy Junkie, soon becomes magically addictive. ‘A revelation’ – The Guardian.

YOSHIDA BROTHERS – HISHOU    DOMO RECORDS DM73071-2

The Yoshida Brothers are something of an anomaly. Rock stars with classical roots, their music showcases the place where tradition meets youthful irreverence. Superstars in their native Japan, Tsugaru-shamisen virtuosos Ryoichiro and Kenichi Yoshida have effected nothing short of a cultural revolution with a muscular reinvention of the ancient three-stringed instrument, giving it the fiery passion of a rock music guitar. Their sound is at once rooted firmly in the ancestral sounds of northern Japan, while infused with the energy of contemporary interpretation. Hishou continues the exploration of marrying new phrasings to traditional sounds, producing mesmeric music that is at once sentimental and respectful of the past, while also forging a sonic bridge to the future. Having explored rock and world music themes in previous releases, this album marks a return to basics for the brothers, highlighting their commitment to and reverence for the historic art of Tsugaru-Shamisen - a genre of shamisen music originating in Aomori prefecture in the northernmost area of the Japanese island of Honshū and today performed throughout Japan. This is the Yoshida Brothers’ most accomplished and uninhibited album yet, expanding their unique talents into ever more beautiful and original realms.

GREAT LAKE SWIMMERS – ONGIARA       NETTWORK 30691-2

This new album by Tony Dekker’s musical project, Great Lake Swimmers, explores the worlds of indie folk, roots music and alt-country pop, with a focus on lyrics and the craft of songwriting. The ten songs are largely inspired by Canada’s majestic natural environment (Your Rocky Spine), and our reciprocal relationship with the environment (Put There By The Land). The gorgeous Where In The World Are You, Passenger Song and Changing Colours touch on themes of seeking grace and understanding in the weary journey of everyday life, and the latter reflects on the cycle of living and dying. There Is A Light is a love song thinly veiled as a protest song, and I Am Part Of A Large Family contains a message of peace. The final track, I Became Awake, is country-infused lullaby which speaks to revelation and self-realisation. In addition to the core band of Tony Dekker (voice, guitar), Erik Arnesen (banjo, electric guitar) and Colin Huebert (drums, percussion, glockenspiel, timpani), Ongiara features guest appearances by singer-songwriter Serena Ryder (backing vocals, autoharp), Bob Egan of Blue Rodeo (pedal steel and dobro), Sarah Harmer (backing vocals) and Owen Pallett of Final Fantasy and Arcade Fire (string arrangements). Mike Overton (upright bass), Darcy Yates (electric bass), Mike Olsen (cello) and Mike Bonnell (organ) also contribute. The title was taken from the Toronto Harbour boat that carried the band to their initial recording sessions on Toronto Island, although Ongiara was mainly recorded in the Aeolian Hall, a centuries-old acoustic jewel in the heart of London, Ontario. This provides a rich natural reverb, creating the magical background on which the songs are painted with a melancholic finesse that pulls at the heartstrings. Ongiara is a relaxed, thoughtful album filled with sublime rustic beauty, sweet harmonies, fresh instrumentation and plaintive vocals that will appeal to anyone who loves this band’s fellow-Canadians, the Cowboy Junkies and Neil Young. Other Great Lake Swimmers albums include the eponymous first album (WEEWERK 001) and the excellent Bodies and Minds (WEEWERK 004). Highly recommended.

THE ROUGH GUIDE TO BOLLYWOOD GOLD WORLD MUSIC NETWORK RGNET1182CD

Bollywood is the informal name given to the hugely popular Mumbai-based Hindi language film industry in India. The music and songs are usually pre-recorded by professional playback singers, with the actors lip-synching the words to the song on-screen, often while simultaneously dancing. Playback singers are usually prominent in the opening credits and their fans will often go to an otherwise mediocre movie just to hear their favourites. Most actors are excellent dancers but few are also singers - one exception being Kishore Kumar, who has starred in films while also composing, directing and recording thousands of songs in a successful career as a playback singer. Several tracks on this compilation feature Kishore Kumar and other singers include the great Asha Bohsle, Lata Mangeshkar, Mohammed Rafi, Mukesh (‘The Man With The Golden Voice’), Jolly Mukherjee (India’s ‘King Of Strings’), Rahul Dev Burman (a live version of his irresistible ‘Mehbooba Mehbooba’), Shailendra Singh and Mahendra Kapoor. The composers of film music, known as music directors, are often as well known as the performers, with their songs frequently set to modern beats and released along with the regular soundtrack albums. The Rough Guide To Bollywood Gold has been compiled by DJ Ritu - renowned BBC radio presenter, club DJ and compiler of the Rough Guides to Bollywood, Bhangra, Bhangra Dance and Asian Underground. The album showcases the leading singers and revisits some of the world’s most glamorous movies, concentrating on the golden period between 1960 and 1980. Indian composers became influenced by Western sounds and as cinema moved from black and white to glorious Technicolor the playback singers became stars in their own right, taking audiences on a roller-coaster ride of emotions. The album contains a data track that includes an excellent interview with the DJ Ritu, explaining much about this entrancing and passionate music.

THE ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO AMERICAN ROOTS UNION SQUARE RECORDS ESGCD308

Americana can be loosely defined as American folk music in its broadest sense, ranging in style from bluegrass to alternative country, blues, zydeco, and other native forms. The rich and diverse range of cultural influences may include the banjo which originated on the African continent, guitars from Europe, and fiddle-playing styles rooted in traditional Irish and other Gaelic music. This fine three CD box set features more than two and a half hours of great music. On these 42 well-chosen tracks you can find music by legends such as the Carter Family, Robert Johnson, Woody Guthrie, Hank Williams (I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry), Johnny Cash, John Lee Hooker, Dolly Parton (My Tennessee Mountain Home), Howling Wolf, zydeco master Clifton Chenier, Elmore James and Sonny Boy Williamson. Equally enjoyable are some of the recordings by lesser-known artists such as the wonderful Lydia Mendoza (Mal Hombre, first recorded when she was aged 16 in 1932), Dock Boggs and the brilliant New Orleans pianist James Booker, as well as contemporary artists who inlude Chris Hillman (The Byrds’ psychedelic classic 8 Miles High, Gillian Welch & Alison Krauss, Navajo singer Radmilla Cody, acclaimed Texan singer-songwriter Lucinda Williams (a live version of Passionate Kisses), Ryan Adams, Alejandro Escovedo and Junior Kimbrough. From hillbilly and old-timey country through, among others, the blues and Cajun and Mexican music, these CDs bring together some of the greatest talents and best songs to tell the story of American Roots.

THE ROUGH GUIDE TO THE MUSIC OF MALAYSIA     WORLD MUSIC NETWORK RGNET1176CD

Malaysia’s popular music scene developed from traditional asli music, a type of opera influenced by Indian opera featuring music, dance and acting. In the 1960s, western-influenced Pop Yeh-yeh based on The Beatles and other British rock bands ruled the Malay music scene, making way for Hindustani-influenced music in the 1970s. Bands such as Alley Cats, Discovery and Chendrawasih modernised Malaysian Pop music with solo singers like Sudirman and Sharifah Aini. Malaysian punk rock started in the small town of Dungun, again influenced by British music. The 1980s brought slow rock, heavy metal, hard rock and the blues, and between the late 80s and early 90’s urban music became more cosmopolitan. Around this time nasyid pop music, based on an Islamic religious form utilising a vocal group and percussion, became successful and an underground scene developed with guitar-driven bands influenced by heavy metal, hip-hop, electronica and dance music. This diverse music scene is reflected in The Rough Guide To The Music Of Malaysia, which delves behind the tourist-destination facade to explore a wealth of musical styles, from Arabic-influenced pop with a distinctive Bollywood flavour to the pulsating roots sound of local Malay groups. Featuring an infectious mix of both traditional and modern sounds, this album presents Malaysia’s potent musical force. Featured artists include Mari Menari, Noraniza Idris, Sandii, Pak Ngah, Zaleha Hamid & M. Sharif, Kumpulan Ahmad Yusoh & Rakan-Rakan, Malek Ridzuan, Siti Nurhaliza, Liza Hanim, S. Atan, Salih Yaacob, M. Salim & Rosiah Chik, Muzik Tarian Malaysia, Yusni Hamid & Bersama R. Ismail and the splendidly named Fredo & The Flybaits.

GJALLARHORN – RIMFAXE        WESTPARK MUSIC CD 87130

Finland’s acclaimed Gjallarhorn group (Jenny Wilhelms, Goran Mansson, Adrian Jones and Petter Berndalen) has brought traditional Nordic tonalities up to date by incorporating them into jazz, rock and world music. Their exciting and imaginative interpretations, allied to an unique combination of instruments, create fascinating landscapes around mythical medieval ballads, hymns and whirling minuets. The theme of this excellent CD is the magic horse that often appears in Nordic mythology. The album features some surprising sounds and a deep bass boost from the recently introduced sub contrabass recorder. Although this is the group’s most ambient, modern, and rhythmically varied album yet, it remains deeply rooted in the Nordic vocal tradition. Jenny Wilhelms’s astonishing vocals feature the distinctive ornaments and micro-tonalities, laced with elements of improvisation, that lie so deeply embedded within the Scandinavian singing tradition. Because the Nordic hymns originate from Gregorian chant, there are also many similarities here with the Middle-Eastern and Indian modes. The medieval ballads of Scandinavia represent an oral tradition of epic stories that has passed from one generation to another over hundreds of years. The title track was inspired by the mythological horse of the goddess of night and dawn, riding the night sky to bring rest and tranquillity to the gods. Other highlights include the thrilling Kokkovirsi (Bonfire Song), Hymn, Norafjelds (Mountain Poem) and Staffan, a medieval ballad about St Stephen. Gjallarhorn make ethereal music that combines contemporary and traditional sounds in strangely wonderful ways to create a unique experience.

TWILIGHT MELODIES - TEJENDRA NARAYAN MAJUMDAR   NAVRAS NRCD 0195

Tejendra Narayan Majumdar was born in a musician’s family and introduced to the sarod by his grandfather Sri Bibhuti Ranjan Majumdar, nurtured by his father Shri Ranjan Majumdar and groomed under the tutelage of Ustad Bahadur Khan. After his Ustad’s untimely demise, Tejendra continued his studies with Sri Ajoy Sinha Roy and the greatest sarod maestro of our times, Ustad Ali Akbar Khan. Tejendra has given many concerts at home and abroad and is now one of India’s most popular classical musicians. On Twilight Melodies he is accompanied by one of the finst tabla accompanists, Tanmoy Bose. The first (Raga Shree) is one normally performed at dusk and is best suited to mature and experience performers as it clearly comes across in this album. Tejendra Majumdar goes on to complement his Shree with the early morning raga Bhatiyar, providing a welcome contrast without completely erasing the serious and contemplative mood of the first raga. Tejendra Majumdar’s sarod playing is aesthetically excellent and technically masterful, and he continues to surprise and delight with his impressive virtuosity.

ANOTHER WORLD IS POSSIBLE    UNCIVILIZED WORLD 

Another World is Possible is a collection of words, photographs and music that make a powerful statement against globalisation. A CD-sized, hard-cover book features fifty pages of essays by some of the world’s greatest thinkers and critics and photographs that poignantly capture demonstrations against globalisation in its current form. Featured writers include linguist Noam Chomsky, Canadian journalist Naomi Klein and India's Arundhati Roy. The album’s producer, Arnaud Frisch, put this project together to educate fans of the artists on this compilation as well as to raise money for ATTAC, an international organisation trying to create an alternative to the type of globalisation that puts profit over people and multinational corporations before national governments. All proceeds from the sale of Another World is Possible will go directly to them. The 15 music tracks include work by Manu Chao, Asian Dub Foundation, the brilliant Emir Kusturica and The No Smoking Orchestra (Lost in the Supermarket), Femi Kuti, The Skatalites (a live version of Freedom Sounds) , Lee Scratch Perry, Salif Keita, Grandaddy (the haunting Wives of Farmers), Moby (Alterlife), Massive Attack and Underground Resistance. This wonderfully diverse range of music, together with the words and photographs in the book, makes a persuasive argument for a world that celebrates the individual over the suffocating might of corporate globalisation. A unique album that is highly recommended.

SONGS OF THE VOLCANO   TUGBOAT/WORLD MUSIC NETWORK TUGCD1040

The world renowned American guitar virtuoso Bob Brozman made an unforgettable journey to the Rabaul area of Papua New Guinea to capture a raw, unique sound that has largely remained untouched by outside or commercial influences. He has previously produced fascinating musical collaborations working with musicians in Japan, India and various Indian Ocean islands. To create Songs Of The Volcano, in his capacity as Adjunct Professor of Music at Sydney’s Macquarie University, the much-travelled Brozman went with filmmaker Phil Donnison to five villages in East New Britain to perform with five different Tolai string bands, often featuring ukeleles. The purpose of filming and recording the performances was partly to document this fragile music before it disappears and partly to facilitate the musicians in Papua New Guinea where there is a lack of musical infrastructure. The energetic and distinctive blend of voice and instrument performed by the Rabaul community’s local string bands reflects their unfailing optimism in the face of adversity, be it war or the volcanic eruptions that have destroyed the town twice in the past century. In addition to much joyfully exuberant music, this package features a full length, behind the scenes DVD documentary that shows the making of this intriguing and delightful album. More information about Songs of the Volcano and other fascinating projects can be found on the Bob Brozman website. Bob Brozman’s inspiring DVD, ‘Rhythm in your Riffs’, can be seen here

SALSA - SERIOUSLY GOOD MUSIC   PETROL RECORDS PETROL071

Salsa music is a varied, mainly Caribbean and Latin type of music popular throughout Latin America and among Latinos abroad. It is the predominant style of music played at dance clubs and is the essential pulse of Latin music, incorporating a wide range of styles and variations. The term can be applied to almost any form of popular Cuban-derived sound (such as the chachachá and mambo) but salsa strictly speaking refers to a style developed in the New York City area in the 1960s and 70s. Groups of Cuban and Puerto Rican immigrants began to popularise a genre that has gone on to incorporate many other Latin styles along with pop, jazz, rock and R&B influences. At its root, however, salsa remains an intoxicating mixture of Spanish and African music, filtered through the music histories of Cuba and Puerto Rico, and adapted for Latino populations with diverse musical tastes. The most important instrumentation is the percussion, played by a wide variety of instruments, including claves (consisting of two round sticks of hardwood, one being struck against the other), cowbells, timbales and conga. Melodic instruments can include a guitar, trumpets, trombones, piano, and many others. By the turn of the century, salsa was one of the most popular types of music in the world, and salsa stars became international celebrities. This album, appropriately subtitled Seriously Good Music, features 13 seductive and danceable tracks that show why this sexy music has become such a hit with aficionados around the globe.

GAMBIA BANKO - DJEMBO JOBARTEH

African griots were court musicians, singing praise of their leaders and telling the history of the region. Many musicologists consider them to be the African root of the acoustic blues that developed during the early 20th century. Even in these days of modern technology their services are still sought after. Next to their musical activities they also act as arbitrators and matchmakers. In this way they bind the relations between people and families and in a wider circle the whole of society. Dembo Jobarteh, a nephew of the famous kora-player Amadu Bansang Jobarteh, is a griot from Niani Kayai, a small village on the north bank of the river Gambia. His father is a koraplayer and his mother is a singer (griotte) and he was brought up in the traditional griot way - working in the groundnut and rice paddies while studying kora and drums in his spare time. By the age of 18 he was a professional koraplayer and singer in Dakar, Senegal, playing in restaurants and markets. He returned to The Gambia and founded the Gambian Griot School of Music and Dance. He teaches kora, balaphone and drums to foreigners, and over the past few years has made three albums. Gambia Banko was recorded in 2003 and contains eleven songs - five traditional and the others written by Dembo. This is the first CD on which he sings traditional Gambian songs in English, and he is accompanied on one song by female singers: Sirra Suso, Fatoumata Suso, Majo Sakiliba and Jessy Jobarteh This is music that is guaranteed to take away the stress of everyday life and make you happy.

INTRODUCING DABY BALDE    WORLD MUSIC NETWORK INTRO104CD

This beguiling album features the work of an outstanding musician who is already a star in his own country and is now acquiring an appreciative international following. Moutarou ‘Daby’ Balde was born in 1969 in Kolda, Fouladou, in a lush region of southern Senegal called Cassamance, famous for its deep roots in ancestral values and customs. Ethnically diverse, Cassamance is located between Gambia and Guinea-Bissau, cut off from the north of Senegal. From the fifteenth to the nineteenth centuries, the Portuguese were the only Europeans to settle and have dealings in the region, so music from Cassamance has a particular rhythm (quite different to that of the Dakar sound), which resonates throughout Daby’s music. His stunning arrangements are based on his Fula traditions and feature the fiddle, accordion and flute alongside the more familiar West African sounds of the kora, acoustic guitar and percussion. Recorded in Senegal and Belgium, Daby sings in Wolof, Mandinka, French and Fula, and his compositions are messages of peace, love, brotherhood, social justice and faith in God. With strikingly rich and beautiful melodies, a wonderfully expressive voice and a repertoire that ranges from euphoric to melancholic, this is music that is highly accessible that remains true to southern Senegalese traditions. 'Wonderfully assured, full of subtle details’ - Charlie Gillett.

PRAATAH - BUDHADITYA MUKHERJEE  NAVRAS NRCD 9021

Budhaditya Mukherjee, one of India’s best young sitar players, began studying at the age of five under his famous father Pandit Bimlendu Mukherjee, a virtuoso of the Imdadkhani gharana of sitar. Budhaditya specialises in disciplined development of ragas, based on the Gayaki style, the basis of Imdadkhani gharana. His technical ability is outstanding and he expresses great depth of feeling and emotion through his music. After gaining a first class dgree in Metallurgical Engineering, he chose the sitar as a career and has received many awards and honours in India and has represented his country at numerous international festivals, giving 573 concerts in twenty two countries. His concerts within India have been widely acclaimed and he created history by becoming the first ever musician to perform in the House of Commons, London.. Budhaditya Mukherjee uses the sitar to such affect that he is able to make it imitate the way the human voice is used in Indian music. On this new CD he performs Mian Ki Todi, which is a morning raga from the time of Emperor Akbar’s court. He follows this with Basant Mukhari, another beautiful morning raga. He is accompanied by Anindo Chatterjee on Tabla.

THE ROUGH GUIDE TO TITO PUENTE    WORLD MUSIC NETWORK RGNET1162CD

Tito Puente (1923-2000) was a hugely influential musician, bandleader, composer, arranger, percussionist and mentor.. A Puerto Rican native of Spanish Harlem in New York City, the ‘El Rey del Timbal’ and ‘King of Mambo’ recorded more than a hundred albums featuring his unique dance-oriented, mambo and latin jazz in a career that lasted fifty years. He was also an actor, most notably in the 1992 film The Mambo Kings and in guest appearances on the The Cosby Show. He even appeared in The Simpsons as a suspect in the murder of Montgomery Burns. Puente was at his most popular in the 1950s, bringing Afro-Cuban and Caribbean sounds such as mambo, son and cha-cha-cha, to mainstream audiences. Later, he included pop music and bossa nova before creating a fusion of Afro-Cuban and Latin jazz that became known as salsa. Over his astonishingly varied career he earned many awards, including five Grammys, and published more than four hundred compositions. This joyful album celebrates Tito Puente’s musical diversity with mambo, pachanga, boogaloo, salsa, and Latin jazz styles. His inspired solos on vibes and timbales are accompanied by some of his favourite singers, including Santos Colon, Celia Cruz and the extraordinary La Lupe, whose performances are explosions of vocal passion. This is irresistible dance music from a true legend.

LATAR - SWEDISH FOLK TUNES       CAPRICE CAP 21733

Gunnar Idenstam and Johan Hedin play tunes, reels and other dances in eighteenth-century late Baroque style, a waltz tinged with the Spanish Renaissance, another dance from Italy and a number of compositions by the musicians themselves. The music has characteristics of rock, reggae, medieval music and gospel. Idenstam is a freelance concert organist, composer and folk musician who gives concerts all over the world. As a folk musician he seems to be unique in his manner of transferring the genuine Swedish fiddler tradition to the church organ or to the pump organ and the keyboard. Johan Hedin grew up in the province of Småland, in an area where folk music was cultivated. He often plays in groups where different genres meet and are inspired by one another, as in the trio Bazar Blå (Bazar Blue), and has also put a lot of work into developing the construction of the keyed fiddle (or nyckelharpa), which has its origin in the 14th century. Hedin music composed for this unique Swedish instrument crosses barriers between world and folk music, baroque, drum ‘n’ bass and pop. He has also composed for orchestras and is a regular solo performer with the jazz, contemporary and folk groups in Sweden. This is surprising and sometimes hypnotic music that defies categorisation.

THE ROUGH GUIDE TO CELTIC MUSIC   WORLD MUSIC NETWORK RGNET1155CD

The term ‘celtic music’, although most commonly associated with Irish and Scottish music, covers the traditional music of all celtic countries - Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Brittany (in France), Galicia (in Spain) and areas which have come under their influence, such as the USA and parts of Canada. The Celts no longer exist as a race, and the traditional music in the different countries varies considerably, but celtic music, with its bittersweet a cappella ballads, lively jigs and reels, remains hugely popular throughout the world. The Rough Guide To Celtic Music features music from Ireland, Spain, Scotland, Canada, France, the USA and Wales to explore common connections between the different traditions. Filled with the sounds of fiddles, flutes, pipes, harps, guitars and mandolins, the music is performed by some of the finest musicians. These include Dervish, Kíla, Mercedes Peón, Capercaillie, Natalie MacMaster, Skolvan, Old Blind Dogs, Kornog, Llan De Cubel, Celtic Fiddle Festival, Bohola, Téada, Niamh Parsons, Ffynnon, Alan Stivell, The Poozies, Flook and Shooglenifty. This is a fascinating collection that shows celtic music is as exhilaratingly alive as ever.

DEBASHISH BHATTACHARYA - CALCUTTA SLIDE-GUITAR   RIVERBOAT RECORDS/ WORLD MUSIC NETWORK TUGCD1036

The amazing guitar virtuoso Debashish Bhattacharya has created his own unique style and technique of playing. Born in Calcutta, India, he learnt to sing before he could talk and started playing the Hawaiian lap steel guitar at the age of 3. He received the President of India Award in 1984 and was made a Pandit (master) at 40. As well as being one of the world’s great slide guitarists he is also a designer, creating nineteen guitars since he began experimenting in his twenties. All three guitars heard on this album were designed by him. For the opening track, ‘Aanandam’ (‘Joy’) he performs on ‘Anandi’, a slide ukulele that produces a direct, clear tone. Raga Tilak Kamod is an evening raga played on the fourteen-stringed Ghandarvi, whose name derives from Gandharva loka, the celestial realm of music. Chaturangui, a twenty-two-string guitar with four additional tones, features in Raga Basant Mukhari. In the first section, ‘Usha’, Sutapa Bhattacharya plays the background drone of the tambura whilst Debashish delicately introduces each note of the raga. In the second part, ‘Prabha’, Debashish performs with tabla accompaniment from Subhasis Bhattacharjee. The final section, ‘Maha Shakti’ (‘Beyond The Sun’) is performed at a fast tempo in tintal, a sixteen-beat cycle, displaying marvelous improvisation between the guitar and tablas. Calcutta Slide-Guitar dazzles with its hypnotic patterns, as the three-finger picking technique of Debashish Bhattacharya brings together a thousand-year tradition of Indian music to produce an exhilarating and unique experience.

THE ROUGH GUIDE TO IRISH MUSIC   WORLD MUSIC NETWORK RGNET1148CD

This irresistible album provides the perfect introduction to Ireland’s musical landscape, from the energetic music of Donegal and the polkas and slides of Kerry and Cork to the work of those exploring the borders between traditional music and other genres. Dance tunes predominate, with fiddle and flute the chief instruments alongside the button accordion, concertina, banjo, tin whistle and the uillean pipes. A guitar or bouzouki usually provides accompaniment, together with the bodhrán (a goat-skin frame drum). Songs (in Irish or English) exemplify the vivacity of the Irish singing tradition and its wide range of subjects. This second edition of The Rough Guide To Irish Music features some of the most successful performers from recent years, as well as introducing others who are less well known. They include Flook, Dervish, Frankie Gavin, Maighread & Tríona Ní Dhomhnaill with Dónal Lunny, The Prodigals, Séamus Quinn & Gary Hastings, Paddy Keenan & Tommy O’Sullivan, Lasairfhíona Ní Chonaola, Ciarán Ó Maonaigh & Dermot McLaughlin, Mary McPartlan (a wonderful version of Slieve Gallion Braes), Séamus Creagh & Aidan Coffey, Paul Brady, Matt Molloy, Séamus Begley & Jim Murray, North Cregg, Cran, Paul Moran & Fergal Scahill, Lúnasa, Helen Roche, Paul McGrattan, Altan and Gerry O’Connor. These excellent recordings show that Irish music continues to prosper, combining tradition with modernity and effortlessly switching between plaintive airs and compelling rhythms.

THE ROUGH GUIDE TO ZYDECO   WORLD MUSIC NETWORK RGNET1145CD

Zydeco is an irresistibly infectious accordion-based music from south-central and southwest Louisiana in the USA. Zydeco is not Cajun in origin but south Louisiana’s ‘Creoles of Colour’ borrowed many elements from Cajun music. The word zydeco (sometimes called zarico, zodico, zordico or zologo) comes from the French ‘les haricots’, meaning ‘beans’ - the musical genre supposedly taking its name from the Creole expression ‘Les haricots sont pas salés’ (The beans aren’t salty), which was the title of a popular recording. Zydeco music first appeared after the Second World War, when innovators such as Clifton Chenier and BooZoo Chavis combined traditional sounds with rhythm and blues. The music has continued to evolve and now incorporates many types of pop music, including soul, disco, hip-hop and rap. The Rough Guide To Zydeco features such legends such as Clifton Chenier and Buckwheat Zydeco and highlights the driving sounds of the accordion as well as the frottoir, a percussion instrument with an unequivocal rasp. Among the other performers are Beau Jocque, Keith Frank, Chris Ardoin, the gospel-influenced J. Paul Jr & The Zydeco Nubreedz, Curley Taylor, Geno Delafose, Zydeco Joe, Canray Fontenot and Amédé Ardoin (born in 1898 and a true pioneer of the music). This rewarding album also features two outstanding female artists, the saucy Rosie Ledet and Donna Angelle, a versatile performer on the saxophone, clarinet, flute, viola and bass guitar.

FAIRUZ: THE LADY & THE LEGEND    UNION SQUARE MANTECA MANTCD053

The remarkable Lebanese diva Fairuz was born into the Christian community of a small town about 70 years ago before moving to Beirut with her family at an early age. She began her musical career as a teenager and from being a chorus girl at a Lebanese radio station in the 1940s she rose to critical and popular acclaim in the 1950s and has remained there to the present day. For most of her career, she has been associated with the brothers Assi and Mansour Rahbani, who wrote the words and tunes to her songs. In the early ones her seductive voice expressed romantic love and nostalgia for village life as delicate orchestral accompaniment subtly combined Arab and European instruments with popular dance rythms. Many of her songs today are written by Ziad Rahbani, her son, and reflect Fairuz’s wide musical background, including Christian liturgical forms as well as the secular traditions of Arab music. Performing hundreds of songs, musical plays and films, she has become an icon to Arabs living in Europe and around the world. This CD showcases some of Fairuz’s greatest performances, with recordings from the very earliest to her most recent, and shows why she has been called ‘the Arab world’s most beloved singer’.

PARIS - THE CAFÉ CHANSON         FLAPPER PAST CD 7859

Post-war Paris was liberated in many ways, not least in giving a chance to artists and intellectuals to express themselves freely after the years of repressive occupation. Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir held court, French cinema was reborn and Existentialism was everywhere. Genet, Camus, Sarraute, Picasso, Bresson, Messiaen and Boulez were among the many remarkable talents who produced new writings, exhibitions, ballets, music, theatre and films. This heady atmosphere was reflected in new cabaret-theatres such as Les Trois Baudets and L’Ecluse, where a fresh generation of performers reinvented the Chanson Parisienne. Among these artists was the young Juliette Gréco, whose iconic image became almost synonymous with Paris life of that period. Her long dark hair, soulful eyes and sultry voice mesmerised a generation, and this CD of rare radio transcriptions from 1953-4 features four of her irresistible performances: Autumn Leaves, Avec les anges, Le Jour and sans vous Aimer. The other artists here are less well-known and include Francis Lemarque, Colette Mars, Paul Peri, Mick Micheyl, Jacques Douai and Castel et Casti. This is a highly enjoyable disc that cleverly recreates an era which still influences artistic endeavour and haunts the popular consciousness.

MORY KANTE - SABOU    WORLD MUSIC NETWORK/RIVERBOAT TUGCD1034

The legendary singer and kora player Mory Kanté from West Africa plays all-acoustic music on an exciting and innovative album that is both contemporary and modern while also grounded in his traditional griot roots He comes from a family of griots - musicians who pass on their people’s traditional stories from generation to generation. ‘Sabou’ means ‘the cause’, or the reason why things happen the way they do. In this recording Mory Kanté goes back to the source of his inspiration, the ‘cause’ of his musical talent and knowledge: the art of the Mande griots, framing the rolling harmonies and sounds of Guinean music with his own inimitable songwriting styles, full of ever-changing ethereal female choruses and cascading melodies on kora, flute and balafon (xylophone). He was the first African artist to sell a million singles, with ‘Yéké Yéké’, which topped the European charts in 1988, but here he returns to a simpler style of song that is both a refreshing and joyful. ‘There’s a great sense of rhythm and energy and dance to these tracks...it’s tremendous’ - Robin Denselow.

THE ROUGH GUIDE TO TANGO NUEVO   WORLD MUSIC NETWORK RGNET1140CD

The Rough Guide To Tango Nuevo showcases the diverse styles that tango has been experiencing since the death in 1992 of Astor Piazzolla, the Argentinian who was the greatest innovator and single most important figure in the history of tango. New artists have continued to revolutionise tango, developing an urban folk style for their own times and lives. ‘Nuevo’ (or ‘New’) tango moves through dark-hued dub tango, tango electronica, tango with a sassy salsa twist, and even grungy tango for the rock generation. Today, contemporary tango, though still firmly rooted in the mordant, melancholy soul of the urban Argentinean, adds newly imported sounds and ideas into the mix, and the results are as stirring as they were a century ago. Artists featured here include Daniel Melingo, Lidia Borda, Brián Chambouleyron & Esteban Morgado, La Chicana, Roberto Polaco Goyeneche feat. Adriana Varela, Patricia Andrade, Omar Mollo, Orquesta El Arranque, Sonia Possetti Quinteto, Trío Gorosito Cataldi De La Vega, Juanjo Domínguez, Julio Pane Trío, Dino Saluzzi, Sandra Luna, Juan Carlos Caceres, Adriana Varela, Quinteto La Camorra, Adrián Iaies Cuarteto and Carlos Libedinsky.

TAPASYA, VOLS. 1,2 & 3         NAVRAS NRCD0164/NRCD0165/NRCD0166

In Hindustani classical music Tapasya is the attainment of a powerful stage of constant unbroken deep concentration by having ‘one thought’ with the Supreme Soul without the slightest trace, influence or attraction of any other thing, be it physical or subtle, in words, thoughts and actions. A tapasui soul is one who is a complete renunciate and has the ability to perform actions and yet remain in the remembrance of God. This series of albums features three of the greatest vocalists, or ‘tapasvis’ - Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, Pandit Jasraj and the late Pandit C. R. Vyas. At a landmark concert in Mumbai, 2001, these Hindustani classical legends came together for the first time to enthral the audiences with spellbinding performances. Volume 1 features Pandit Jasraj in performances of Raga Purvi and Bhajan. Volume 2 has Pandit C. R. Vyas performing Raga Shuddh Kalyan and Raga Bihag. Volume 3 has Pandit Bhimsen Joshi with Raga Puriya Kalyan, Thumri and Bhajan.

THE ROUGH GUIDE TO CAJUN DANCE   WORLD MUSIC NETWORK RGNET1139CD

Cajun music comes from the prairies and bayous of south Louisiana and has a irresistibly distinctive sound full of fiddles, guitars, boisterous accordion playing and songs of heartbreak and love (sung in French). The forced relocation of many Acadians or ‘Cajuns’, from what is now Nova Scotia to Louisiana in the eighteenth century, led to the development of a rich and unique musical genre combining French, Celtic, Spanish, Native American and African music. From the parties and dancehalls of the Louisiana prairies to the waltz and two-step rhythms of Cajun music, The Rough Guide To Cajun Dance features some of the finest and most innovative artists of the genre, including The Jambalaya Cajun Band, Zachary Richard, Magnolia Sisters, La Bande Feufollet, Hadley J. Castille & The Louisiana Cajun Band, Balfa Toujours, Steve Riley & The Mamou Playboys, Mack Manuel, Jesse Legé & The Lake Charles Ramblers, Beausoleil, Bruce Daigrepont, Dewey Balfa, Marc Savoy & D.L. Menard, The Balfa Brothers, The Savoy Family Band and Donald Thibodeaux & Cajun Fever.

SWARAANJALI - CARNATIC MUSIC     AUDIOREC 766032 1058-2

Carnatic Music is the classical music of Southern India. The basic form is a monophonic song with improvised variations. There are 72 basic ragas, with a wide variety of melodic motion, and thousands of other ragas are derived from these. Both melodic and rhythmic structures are varied and compelling, making this one of the world.s oldest and richest musical traditions. This album is a collection of some of the finest of these raagas, songs featuring different moods of the day: ushakkalam (dawn), sandhyakkalam (dusk), etc. The songs are performed by the renowned artist Sampath Kumar and Thanikay Velan using traditional instruments, naadaswaram and tavil. Naadaswaram (similar to shehnai) and tavil (percussion) are know as auspicious instruments which is quite popular in south India, a combination of these two instruments producing melodious music with countless variations which transforms the listeners to various heights and depths. Each of the eight songs has a uniqueness, and listening to them inspires a blissful peace and calmness.

THE ROUGH GUIDE TO THE MUSIC OF ARGENTINA WORLD MUSIC NETWORK RGNET1119CD

Argentina is synonymous with its global music export, the glamorous and elegant tango. Born as an expression of the country’s working classes in the brothels and bars of late nineteenth century Buenos Aires, this sensual and highly popular dance swept the world. However, the tango is just one of Argentina’s many musical treasures explored on this fascinating album. Over the years, Spanish stringed instruments and African rhythms have been incorporated into the array of indigenous styles, many of which date back centuries, adding to the country’s diverse musical outpourings. This revelatory CD explores a rich musical region, home to countless Andean folk styles, travelling through tango, milonga, chacarera and chamamé. Performers include the wonderfully passionate singer Adriana Varela, the evocative bandoneon-player Osvaldo Piro and Carlos Gardel, tango’s first superstar.

SHRINGAR - USTAD VILIYAT KHAN     NAVRAS NRCD0181

The inspired performance on this album was recorded live at the Theatre de la Ville in Paris in October 2002. After a softly spoken introduction, the sitar virtuoso and showman Vilayat Khan performs Raga Bihag, a popular and beautiful night time raga which is associated with the Shringar Rasa (an emotion associated with love and romance). Viliyat Khan continues to push back the boundaries and is in the kind exhilarating form that belies his age (he was born in the 1920s). He is joined by the exciting tabla player Sukhvinder Singh Namdhari, otherwise known as ‘Pinky’, and between them these two musicians conjure up beautiful and magical sounds that are captured brilliantly in this wonderfully atmospheric recording.

THE ROUGH GUIDE TO THE MUSIC OF MOROCCO WORLD MUSIC NETWORK RGNET1128CD

The rich musical gene pool of Morocco includes sounds that can variously be raw, sophisticated, ancient, modern, acoustic, electronic, mellow, fierce, spiritual and extravagantly hedonistic. The unique legacy of this country’s native Berber culture nevertheless remains more rooted than any imported influences and this engaging album features two of Morocco’s musical giants, Jil Jilala and Nass El Ghiwane, the best-loved Moroccan female group, Bnet Marrakech and the greatest al aita star of modern times, Fatna Bent El Houcine. Delving into some of the country’s musical traditions, such as melhoun and gnawa, The Rough Guide To The Music Of Morocco also features fascinating contemporary and electronic sounds, and the performers include Nass Marrakech, Najm El Farah Essafi, Mohamed Amenzou, Emil Zrihan, U-Cef feat. Dar Gnawa, Hassan Hakmoun and Mustafa Bourgone.

LUMINOUS - KALA RAMNATH        AUDIOREC 766032 1057-2

The talented young violinist Kala Ramnath is one of the most promising instrumentalists to have emerged in recent years in the performance of North Indian classical music. She started to learn the instrument when very young under the guidance of her grandfather, Narayan Iyer, and subsequently was trained by her aunt, the famous musician Dr N. Rajam. Kala Ramnath successfully combines this fine family tradition with more than a decade’s training under the distinguished khyal singer Pandit Jasraj. The violin is used in this music essentially as a surrogate for the human voice, and Kala Ramnath is remarkable for the way she reproduces her guru’s vocal style on the instrument. She is accompanied on this recording by an experienced master of the tabla, Kumar Bose, who has performed with many leading artists, including Ravi Shankar, and is noted for his versatility, playing several kinds of drum in different genres of music. This is an unusual album of passionate and adventurous music.

THE ROUGH GUIDE TO SALSA COLOMBIA WORLD MUSIC NETWORK RGNET1112CD

The infectious and vibrant phenomenon of salsa music and dance has captivated audiences around the world. In Colombia, salsa took hold in the main Atlantic and Pacific coastal cities, where a distinctive style emerged and had a significant impact on the genre as a whole. Within Colombia, salsa is danced in clubs, discos and at carnival – dancing is widespread in a land where the latest salsa hit is heard everywhere, on your way to work, when you do the shopping, and when you go out with your friends. This album of wonderfully effervescent dance music features some of Colombia’s best-known salsa artists, including The Latin Brothers, Joe Arroyo Y La Verdad, Fruko Y Sus Tesos, Los Orquesta Internacional, Sonora Dinamita, Los Nemus Del Pacifico, Luis Felipe Gonzalez, Gambino Pampini, Los Titanes, Sonora Carruseles, Los Del Caney, Yolanda Rayo and Los Golden Boys.

AMRUT RAS - LAKSHMI SHANKAR         AUDIOREC 766032 1055-2

Lakshmi Shankar sings songs from the devotional tradition, creatively accompanied by Partha Sarathi Mukherjee (tabla) and Ramesh Mishra (sarangi). Devotional songs in Hindi have been part of north Indian culture for half a millennium, and the lyrics are mostly addressed to God, or describe and praise him, whether in the form of Krishna or Rama. Lakshmi Shankar is one of the most celebrated singers in the North Indian (Hindustani) style of music has a great reputation as a singer of devotional lyrics, best known for her performances of the work of poets such as Surdas and Mira Bai. Her mesmerising voice brings out every nuance of the pain of love expressed by the Rajasthani princess who lived five hundred years ago. ‘Lakshmi Shankar holds her listeners spell-bound... her whole presentation, suffused as it were with tender lyricism, leaves nothing to be desired. It is perfect in itself’ - Times of India.

INDIA MYSTICA - SHUBHA MUDGAL      NAVRAS NRCD 5508

Five ancient, rarely heard song-texts were set to music specially composed for this CD by the award-winning young vocalist Shubha Mudgal. Her clear voice soars and keens mesmerically on these classic songs from the poet-mystics of India - including Raidas, Yaari Sahab, Amir Khusrau and Kabir - and a lighter but emotionally charged religious bhajan style. The album features both Mudgal the composer and Mudgal the singer, with an even-paced approach and trance-like chants exploring the ‘potency and the divine nature of the whole album’ - Songlines Magazine. A feeling of desolation combines with the spiritual enrichment that comes from pining for an unseen Beloved. The remarkable singer is joined by Aneesh Pradhan (tabla), Sudhir Nayak (harmonium), Indru Atma (ektara, surmandal, additional percussion) and Sonam Kalra (tanpura).

ROUGH GUIDE TO THE MUSIC OF CHINA  WORLD MUSIC NETWORK RGNET1122CD

This wide-ranging collection of Chinese music includes everything from Cantonese opera to Beijing punk, taking in along the way various ancient traditional instrumentals, revolutionary rock, 1930s pop-swing and 1990s pop-folk. An eclectic array of performers include Bai Hong, Li Xiang Lan, 1920s singing star Gong Chio Xia, Tats Lau, Liu Fang (one of the world’s leading players of the pipa, a pear-shaped lute), Farhan Sabbagh, Cui Jian, Kin Taii, Yao Gongbai, Sinkiang Uighur Autonomous Region Song & Dance Ensemble, qin virtuoso Tse Chun Yan, Min Xiao-Fen, Hang On The Box (China’s only all-girl punk band), Urna, Zheng Jun Mian & Li Hong, Wu Xing, Ai Jing and Silk Road Music. This revealing album demonstrates the evolution and revolution in Chinese music, with its many influences and fascinating diversions.

REFLECTIONS AROUND NOON - RAJEEV TARANATH   AUDIOREC 766032 1054-2

Reflections Around Noon features a sarod recital by the acclaimed performer, composer and teacher Pt Rajeev Taranath. He began his musical training under the guidance of his father and later became a disciple of the great Ustad Ali Akbar Khan. Taranath is a highly successful concert performer, touring widely both in India and abroad, has composed the music for several Indian films, and teaches as a faculty member of the California Institute of the Arts in Los Angeles. He is accompanied on this recording by the Mumbai-based tabla player Udayraj Karpur, who is a disciple of both Sri Ravindra Yavagal and Pandit Suresh Talwalkar. Udayraj is a also regular concert performer, besides being a part of the Netherlands-based fusion group Bhedam. Taranath and Karpur seem to have a telepathic understanding, making music (Rag Miyan ki Todi and Misra Kafi) that moves sublimely from brooding introspection to climaxes of breathraking excitement.

THE ROUGH GUIDE TO THE MUSIC OF CANADA   WORLD MUSIC NETWORK RGNET1125CD

MUSIC OF CANADA CDCanada is a nation built based largely on immigration from many countries so it’s no surprise to find almost every imaginable kind of music, and artists who bend and sometimes defy traditional boundaries. This highly enjoyable introduction to the richly varied music of Canada includes Celtic fiddle playing from Cape Breton, Québécois chanson and Inuit throat singing, since the album focuses on the longer-standing roots music traditions created in established communities, together with some of the newer hybrid styles. The perormers include Natalie MacMaster, Bruce Cockburn, La Bottine Souriante, Wade Hemsworth, Tudjaat, Zubot & Dawson, Longbottom, Stan Rogers, Emile Benoit, Hart-Rouge, Cordes En Folie, Anita Best, Matapat, Silk Road, Mary Jane Lamond, Rheostatics and Wendell Ferguson.

VIRA - MUSIC FOR THE 21ST CENTURY       SONA RUPA SRCD 053

‘Vira’ means 'Brotherhood', and the ethereal music on this CD features a fraternal meeting between the outstanding flute player Rakesh Chaurasia and the brilliant tabla player Talvin Singh. The latter combines his training as a classical Indian musician with the latest sound technology to produce music that remain true to the classical tradition while adding a pleasing contemporaneity. In a traditional classical recital, the soloist has a repetitive background drone provided by the tanpura (or tamboura.) but this recording features a richer background and texture with the use of special keyboard pads. Virtuoso flute player Rakesh Chaurasia perfectly complements Talvin Singh in this one-to-one recital for which there were no rehearsals. Once the Raags were chosen, the recording was done in a spontaneous, improvised way, and the tracks include Meeting, Friendship, Heaven, Vira and One World.

THE TEACHER - RAVI SHANKAR       MANTECO MANTDCD036

Sitar virtuoso Ravi Shankar is probably the most successful Indian musician in modern times and these recordings of key works show the Pandit (Teacher) at the height of his powers. Hailed as a mediator between tradition and modernity, the master melodist bridged continents and cultures by introducing the sitar and Indian music to a world outside the Indian subcontinent. He first became known in the West through his evocative score for the Apu Trilogy of films made by fellow Bengali, Satyajit Ray, and this album includes ‘Farewell, My Friend’, a moving tribute Ravi Shankar recorded when he learned of the great director’s death in 1992. The CD also features five other ragas that demonstrate the full range of moods, from contemplative to ecstatic. This is a fine homage to a great musician and an excellent introduction to the world of Indian classical music.

INVOKE - ARTO LINDSAY     RIGHTEOUS BABE  RBR027-D

American-born, Brazilian-bred songwriter, musician and producer Arto Lindsay explores provocative sounds rooted in the rhythms and aesthetic sensibilities of Brazil’s rock and pop scenes. On this, his latest solo work, he continues to establish his reputation for beautifully crafted, densely textured music. Hushed vocals and characteristically poetic lyrics, in both English and Portuguese, make for a sensuous, beguiling experience. ‘World-musical art-rock of the most refined kind’ - Uncut.

AMERICAN ROOTS     UNION SQUARE RECORDS  MANTECO MANTDCD210

American Roots - ‘The Essential Album’ - has over two hours of irresistible bluegrass, folk, blues and old time country music that will delight anyone who has enjoyed the best-selling soundtrack to the Coen Brothers movie, ‘Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?’ This cleverly chosen double-CD set is an ideal introduction to the great pioneers of hillbilly music and traces their influence to some of the biggest names in American music today. Among those featured are Bob Dylan (Girl from the North Country), Mississippi John Hurt (Here I Am, Oh Lord, Send Me and Trouble I’ve Had It All My Days), Woody Guthrie (This Land is Your Land), Emmylou Harris (Deeper Well), Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs (Foggy Mountain Breakdown) and Ralph Stanley (Man of Constant Sorrow).

COMPOSITIONS OF BENARES - SHARDA SAHAI     AUDIOREC 766032 1053-2

Pandit Sharda Sahai is an internationally renowned tabla maestro, famous for his classical skills and collaborations with Nana Vasconcelles, Andy Sheppard and Nexus, as well as his performances at WOMAD and other festivals around the world. He is the leader of the Benares style of tabla playing and this rare recording is the third in an extraordinary trilogy. The album incorporates compositions that have been handed down five generations and which have rarely been heard in public. Shardaji is accompanied on this thrilling and beautiful journey to the shores of the Ganges by Ramesh Misra (sarangi).

ROUGH GUIDE TO ASIAN UNDERGROUND WORLD MUSIC NETWORK RGNET1096CD

Musical styles and genres blend together as cultures intersect, forming new sounds that push the boundaries of experimentation. One of the most exciting forms of music to emerge in the UK in the last few years, Asian Underground is an exciting mix of tabla-driven beats and Indian classical samples combined with frenetic drum’n’bass, trip-hop and techno. This irresistible CD features a collection of classics as well as fresh, unreleased material. The performers here include include Ananda Shankar, State Of Bengal, Black Star Liner, Joi, Fun-Da-Mental, Asian Dub Foundation, TJ Rehmi, Mahatma T (Aka Talvin Singh) and Mo Magic.

THE MASTERWORKS OF SATYAJIT RAY    NAVRAS NRCD1002

Satyajit Ray (1921-1992) was one the world’s greatest filmmakers and wrote some of the finest film-music ever. Music was always his first love and he began to compose his own music from his seventh film and used Indian music virtuosos such as Ravi Shankar (for ‘The Apu Trilogy’ and ‘The Philosopher’s Stone’), Vilayat Khan (for ‘The Music Room’) and Ali Akbar Khan (for ‘The Goddess’). Satyajit Ray received many awards and in 1992 accepted a Lifetime Achievement Oscar. ‘Ray’s use of music impressed me so much that I sought out and eventually found soundtracks to his films, like Ravi Shankar’s music from Pather Panchali. Ray’s magic, the simple poetry of his images and their emotional impact will always stay with me’ - Martin Scorsese.

THE ROUGH GUIDE TO THE MUSIC OF SPAIN     WORLD MUSIC   RGNET1082CD

Spain’s musical heritage has long fascinated and influenced people from all over the world, the infectious beats having a profound musical impact on countless musicians and composers. The Rough Guide To The Music Of Spain features tracks from such distinguished performers as Javier Ruibal, Companyía Elèctrica Dharma, Luís Delgado, María Del Mar Bonet, Diego Carrasco, Ronda Segoviana, and José Antonio Ramos with Pancho Amat. These recordings were made with independent local companies so this music is not usually found on commercial radio or in the bestseller lists. Instead, it’s played mostly in homes, bars and cafes - rising up from the streets. 'Excellent' - Wanderlust.

ECSTASY - LAKSHMI SHANKAR        AUDIOREC 766032 1052-2

South Indian born Lakshmi Shankar was originally a dancer and has had a long musical association with her brother-in-law, Pandit Ravi Shankar. She is now one of the most famous singers performing the North Indian (Hindustani) style of music and has developed a great reputation as a singer of devotional lyrics. This impressive album was recorded during in London her concert tour celebrating her 70h birthday, when she was accompanied by Pandit Ramesh Mishra (sarangi) and Partha Sarathi Mukherjee (tabla).

REMINISCENCES - ALAKNANDA PATEL        AUDIOREC 766032 1043-2.

Alaknanda Patel is among the most outstanding exponents of Rampur-Sahaswan gharana to have emerged in recent years. She received much of her initial training from Ustad Rasheed Ahmed Khan. After two years, she embarked upon the next, more rigorous, phase of her musical education under the guidance of his son, Ustad Hafiz Ahmed Khan, who became her principal guru. The singer’s remarkable performances are supported on this recording by Ustad Sultan Khan (sarangi) and Ustad Zamir Ahmad Khan (tabla). ‘A glorious discovery’ - Classic CD.

MUSIC FROM VIETNAM, VOL. 3: ETHNIC MINORITIES    CAPRICE CAP 21479.

Vietnam is a land with an immense musical tradition. The different ethnic groups living there have their own distinct languages, religions, customs and music, and this excellent CD features many fine examples. As well as wonderfully rhythmic music played on a tuned gong, there are love songs, instrumental music and religious vocal music. ‘An important sampler made in remote parts of Vietnam that will amaze listeners of African, Asian and New Music’ - Rhythm Music. Also available from Caprice are two more volumes in this enjoyable series Music from Vietnam 1 (CAP 21406) and Music from Vietnam 2: Huê (CAP 21463).

ORCHESTRA BAOBAB - SPECIALIST IN ALL STYLES    WORLD CIRCUIT WCD064.

Twenty after they disbanded, this great band from Senegal returns with its original line-up and a fine new album. Orchestra Baobab’s unique and life-affirming music mixes Afro-Latin sounds with reggae and a wide range of other influences to produce a wonderfully cosmopolitan whole. Since the band’s previous recordings, their brilliant guitarist Barthélemy Attisso has been working as a lawyer but is now happily back with smooth tenor saxophonist Issa Cissokho and other regular members, including five vocalists. Superbly updated versions of old favourites such as Bul Ma Mine, Gnawe and On Verra Ça are here, together with the classic Utru Horas (appearing as Hommage à Tonton Ferrer and featuring vocals from Ibrahim Ferrer and Youssou N'Dour). ‘A gloriously enthusiastic and classy set’ - The Guardian.

MUSIC FROM MOZAMBIQUE       CAPRICE CAP 21652.

Music in present-day Mozambique truly deserves to be called ‘world-music’, if any music does. In this East African country impressions from Africa, Europe and probably even Asia, have now and then met and been thoroughly mixed. The results of this process are now available on this unique and highly enjoyable record featuring a wide variety of musical cultures in Mozambique - from the rural, traditional music to the acoustic, popular music of yesterday, as well as today’s urban rock sounds. These 17 tracks were recorded in January 2000 with a mobile digital studio at various places throughout the country.

OXFAM LATIN DANCE        WORLD MUSIC NETWORK RGNET 1108CD.

This infectious album features Bossa Nova and Cuban jazz, new wave Latin music, Afro rhythms and contemporary classic son styles to produce an upbeat and irresistible atmosphere. Artists include Quarteto Jobim Morelenbaum, Mario Bauza, Los de Abajo, Africando and Cubanismo, and the CD helps raise valuable funds for Oxfam.

THE ROUGH GUIDE TO YOUSSOU N’DOUR & ETOILE DE DAKAR   WORLD MUSIC NETWORK RGNET 1109CD.

This album explores the early successes of Senegal’s Youssou N’Dour with the various incarnations of Etoile De Dakar. Taken from the original series of authorised cassette releases for the local Senegalese market, this selection includes many hit songs from the 1970s and early 1980s. Stirring music from an artist soon to become an international superstar working with the likes of Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen and Neneh Cherry.

THE ROUGH GUIDE TO THE MUSIC OF LOUISIANA    WORLD MUSIC NETWORK RGNET1094CD.

This appealing and diverse collection provides a perfect introduction to the 'Well Spring of America's Music'. Louisiana, the birthplace of jazz, is also home to many other styles, including blues, gospel, rock and roll, Cajun and zydeco. The state is a cultural gumbo brewed from a dynamic mix of indigenous inhabitants and settlers including French, Spanish, English, German, Acadians and Africans. This highly entertaining CD features popular hits from a unique state, which has been hugely influential in contemporary music. The impressive artists include Dr Michael White, Cubanismo!, Dr John, Champion Jack Dupree, Kermit Ruffins, Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys, Beau Jocque & the Zydeco Hi-Rollers.

AFRICAN BLUES      WORLD MUSIC NETWORK RGNET1019CD.

This illuminating collection of songs from Africa was compiled in association with VSO (Voluntary Services Overseas). Discover ‘the roots of the blues’ alive and well in Africa, from the first subtle chords of Ismael Lo (Talibe) to the pure, aching vocals of Oumou Sangare (Saa Magni). The featured artists include Ismael Lô, Cesaria Evora, Ali Farka Toure, Oumou Sangare, Rokia Traoré, Henry Makobi, Hamza El Din and Orchestra Marrabenta Star De Moçambique. 'Superior mid-price compilation of acoustic Africana. Perfect summer listening' Observer.

TOWARDS THE WIND - STEPHAN MICUS      ECM 1804.

This adventurous recording by the world-traveller and multi-instrumentalist Stephan Micus features his debut performances on the Armenian duduk, an expressive forerunner of the oboe and clarinet. He was inspired by recordings of the duduk virtuoso Jivan Gasparian and his studies with Armenia's greatest folk musician in Yerevan in the autumn of 1999. On this disc Micus performs his own fascinating compositions and plays the duduk, bass duduk, kalimba, steel-string guitars, 14-string guitar, shakuhachi, dondon and sattar. Thse are captivating sounds that take you on a unique musical journey.

ROUGH GUIDE TO MUSIC OF THE INDIAN OCEAN  WORLD MUSIC RGNET1086CD

For many thousands of years, outriggers, junks, dhows and galleons have ridden the monsoon winds of the Indian Ocean. The islands consequently produced a unique musical culture, with influences that include the segá from Mauritius, the salegy of Madagascar, La Réunion’s maloya and the Arab influenced sounds Zanzibar. Hip-hop and reggae have also penetrated the region and this excellent CD showcases the wide variety and depth of culture to be heard. The artists include Tarika and Ricky Randimbiarison (both from Madagascar), René Lacaille & Bob Brozman (La Reunion/USA), Belle Lumière (Grande Comore), Kaya (Mauritius) and Culture Musical Club (Zanzibar).

THE ROUGH GUIDE TO RAI    WORLD MUSIC RGNET1100CD.

Raï is to Oran and western Algeria what reggae is to Jamaica: its soundtrack and cultural ambassador. The hinterlands of Oran stretch from the Mediterranean in the north to the Sahara desert in the south, and it is from here that the beat-driven, rebel pop music of Algeria originated. Raï’s popularity subsequently spread throughout the world, led by the brilliant performers Cheb Khaled and Cheb Mami, who both feature on this exciting album. Among the other artists here are Abdou, Bellemou, Cheb Zahouani, Cheikha Remitti, Fadela & Sahraoui, Cheb Hasni and Malik.

RAGA PILOO - PANDIT NIKHIL BANNERJEE      AUDIOREC ARCD 2005.

An evening raga played in light classical style, Raga Piloo uses the twelve chromatic notes in the octave. It is played here with remarkable passion and sensitivity by Pandit Nikhil Banerjee (sitar), Anindo Chatterjee (tabla) and Ratan Mukherjee (tanpura). ‘Bannerjee plays sitar with a more hopeful, upbeat style than some other players, especially in the slower opening sections. His Tabla player Anindoo Chatterjee gets to the heart of the groove without clouding the issue with pyrotechnics’ - Hi-Fi News & Reviews.

TOGETHER - RAIS KHAN & SULTAN KHAN     AUDIOREC ACCD 1032-2.

This vibrant recording brings together two of India’s leading instrumentalists, Ustad Rais Khan (Sitar) and Ustad Sultan Khan (Sarangi), accompanied by the dexterous tabla player Sabir Khan in a jugalbandi performance. The virtuosic climax of Raga Bilaskhani Todi is followed by a lighter piece, a dhun. This more relaxed and soothing music is reminiscent of, and perhaps is based on, a folk melody.

ROUGH GUIDE - ALI HASSAN KUBAN    WORLD MUSIC NETWORK RGNET1106CD.

The late Ali Hassan Kuban pioneered the modern sound of urban Nubia, adapting jazz forms to the beat of traditional Nubian music to transform the complex rhythms and trance-like chants of ancient Nubia into forms that appealed to a younger audience. This compilation, including his hits Sukkar Sukkar Sukkar and Mabruk, is an excellent introduction to this revered innovator and his infectious Egyptian music.

ROUGH GUIDE - DELTA BLUES     WORLD MUSIC NETWORK RGNET1087CD.

Blues music from the Mississippi delta is the foundation of much American popular music and this brilliant 25 track compilation by Joathan Ogle, who also contributes the excellent sleeve notes. The CD eatures some of the music’s greatest performers, from Robert Johnson and Son House to Bukka White and Big Joe Williams. Standout tracks include Mississippi John Hurt’s timeless Stack O’Lee, Robert Wilkins’ That’s No Way To Get Along and the eeery Last Kind Word Blues by a fine, though little heard, female blues artist, Geechie Wiley. Intense and often awe-inspiring, this album reminds us again how much is owed to these great musicians.

CLASSICAL SITAR - MICK TAYLOR    AUDIOREC 1042-2.

Mick Taylor, one of the few westerners to have become fully accomplished at the art of playing Indian classical music, performs three popular Gindustani rags; two morning rags and a rag of the middle-night. He is accompanied on this CD by the tabla virtuoso Ustad Sabir Khan, who infuses a rare quality of harmony into the powerul cadences of his playing.

SUZANNE TENG - MYSTIC JOURNEY     EROICA JDT 3077.

The beautiful flute player, dancer, percussionist, composer and teacher Suzanne Teng is joined by 17 other fine musicians, including the percussionist Gilbert Levy, on this debut recording of original music featuring flutes, strings and percussion instruments from around the world. The ensemble blends music and sounds from east and west, combining the ancient with the new to produce an ethereal and ecstatic whole. ‘Sensual and serene’ - Billboard Magazine.

BUDDHIST CHANTS     METRO METRCD037.

Music is an integral part of Buddhist cuture, seen as and aid to meditation and spiritual insight. Chanting helps concentrate the mind and the music’s simplicity and repetition help the participant to attain an elevated state of awareness. Buddhist music is traditionally acoustic but the recordings on this collection include keyboard accompaniment, making the sounds more accessible but perhaps diluting their purity for some listeners. This haunting and reflective music providesa relaxing antidote to the stresses of modern western life and gives an insight into another, more spiritual philosophy.

CELTIC ANGELS         AMIATA ARNR 1397.

This enchanting collection of soul-stirring tracks features music from some of Ireland and Scotland’s most gifted performers, including Sinead O’Connor, Johnny Cunningham, Whisky Trail and the Chieftains.

TAHUANTINSUYO - MUSIC OF THE ANDES      ADELPHI GCD 3001.

Tahuantinsuyo (tah-won-tin-soo-yo), a Quechua word, was the name the Incas gave to their Empire and represents the culture from which the core of their music comes: highland South America, or the Andes. The songs performed on this recording come mainly from Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and northern Argentina, and the roots of the music are pre-Hispanic. The rhythms, harmony structures, melodies and instruments are part of a long tradition of music played by native South Americans. Since the Spanish arrival, the indigenous culture has naturally evolved and combined with European elements. The haunting sounds transcend location and time, although many Spanish influences may be heard in this music. Tahuantinsuyo is a musical group dedicated to researching and performing music that is an integral part of the heritage of most South Americans and which still lives and communicates the basic human ideas of beauty, life and spirit.

RAGA KHAN - USTAD NISHAT KHAN     AMIATA ARNR 1997.

Ustad Nishat Khan, one of India’s finest new sitar players, performs Raags from the Khan family lineage that evoke the magical spirit of the Mogul court. This recording also features the acclaimed tabla player Sarvar Sabri. ‘...extraordinary virtuosity and facility...’ - Chicago Tribune.

ROUGH GUIDE - MUSIC OF THE GYPSIES  WORLD MUSIC NETWORK RGNET1034CD.

The Gypsies are a nomadic people who left the Indian subcontinent about a thousand years ago, and as they travelled west they made a great impact on musical traditions and folklore. This excellent CD shows the extent of that journey, featuring a a wide range of music from as far apart as India, Turkey, Hungary and Spain. Artists include the famous Taraf de Haidouks (Cind Eram La ‘48), Kurbeti (Love Birds), Kostas Pavlidis (Jastar Amenge Dur), Tomatito (Mundi), Pata Negra and Jasper & Levi Smith. 'For anyone interested in discovering the wealth of Gypsy music from across Europe and beyond, The Rough Guide to Music of the Gypsies is a must' - Red Pepper.

ECHOES OF INCAS - CORDILLERAS    CHACRA CHACD 051.

This haunting album features a dynamic blend of traditional and ancient music of the Andes and South American. Instruments include the zampona, panpipes, quena flute (made of a joint of cane), bongos, ocarinas, rattles, whistles (primarily made of bone), shakers, and a small guitar-like charango with ten strings fashioned from an armadillo shell. Stirring and exhilarating music throughout.

DROMEDARY - ARTIFACT     SOLPONTICELLO SP-007.

The Athens duo Dromedary (Rob McMaken and Andrew Reissiger) perform pieces of their own composition as well as arrangements of traditional music. These unique works combine the rhythms and harmonic concepts of Andean music from Bolivia with klezmer, Arabic and Celtic sounds as well as mandolin and the dulcimer-like cumbus of the eastern European. Abundant melodies and infectious rhythms resonate throughout.

IT HAPPENS - IN A SPLIT SECOND     AMIATA ARNR 0297.

The clear voice of Surabhi flows serenely over lyrical guitar passages in a series of original compositions. Hauntingly beautiful, sometimes melancholy, the subtle energy of this record is a healing balm for the soul.

USTAD ABDUL HALIM JAFFER KHAN     NAVRAS NRCD 0110.

This release marks the 70th birthday of the distinguished sitarist Ustad Abdul Halim Jaffer Khan, born in Jawra, Madhyar Pradesh. He can trace his musical lineage back to Ustad Murad Khan and Ustad Bande Ali Khan of the Indore beenkar gharana, a distinguished instrumental tradition with links to khyal singers. On this fine CD he plays three ragas, accompanied by Sadashiv Pawar (tabla).

TRAVERSATA - ITALIAN MUSIC IN AMERICA      ACOUSTIC DISC ACD-47.

On Traversata, mandolin virtuoso David Grisman plays the rarley-heard music of early 20th century Italian immigrants in America, an eclectic mix of jazz tunes, folk ballads, opera aria transcriptions, serenades and dance tunes. With fellow mandolinist Carlo Aonzo and bluegrass guitarist Beppe Gambetta (here playing a custom-made 14-string harp guitar), Grisman displays his faultless technique as he performs instrumentals from forgotten Italian composers Pasquale Taraffo, Attilio Margutti and Raffaele Calace, along with more familiar tunes from jazz pioneers Nick Lucas and Eddie Lang. Also included are Nino Rota's Godfather Waltz and two compositions by Rudy Cipolla, the late San-Francisco-based music pioneer. All the tunes are intensely lyrical and full of delightful melodies.

100% HANDMADE MUSIC      ACOUSTIC DISC ACDS-48.

100% Handmade Music Vol. VI is a showcases fifteen tracks representing two from each of the past seven projects by Acoustic Disc, including two previously unreleased live performances featuring Jerry Garcia and David Grisman. The eclectic compilation ranges from folk and bluegrass through traditional Italian and gypsy music to an examination of resophonic instruments and innovative jazz. The performers include Tony Rice, Charles Sawtelle, Mike Auldridge, Bob Brozman, Denny Zeitlin, Carlo Aonzo, Beppe Gambetta and Frank Vignola, with guest musicians Sam Bush, Jerry Douglas, Flaco Jimenez, Laurie Lewis, Todd Phillips, Joe Craven and Jim Kerwin. Highly recommended.

NEW RIVER - GRISMAN/ZEITLIN       ACOUSTIC DISC ACD-45.

Pianist-composer-psychiatrist Denny Zeitlin and the excellent mandolin player David Grisman perform a most enjoyable selection of their own compositions, including Brazilian Street Dance, Blue Midnite, the brilliant DG/DZ Blues, On the March, New River and the splendidly titled Dawg Funk. This is fine jazz with folk and blues influences that take the music into a highly individual genre.

THE MASTER MUSICIANS OF JAJOUKA      ADELPHI GCD 3000.

Jajouka music conjures up visions of magic carpet rides through the moon-like mountains of North Africa and these fabulous sounds have influenced the work of Paul Bowles, William Burroughs, Timothy Leary, Ornette Coleman, Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones. The legendary troupe of trance musicians from the Moroccan village of Jajouka were recorded by Brian Jones in 1968 and the Jajoukas have subsequently acquired cult status. This CD contains those classic recordings, digitally remastered, made originally in Morocco by Jones. Their music’s strange, high-pitched sounds combines with surging rhythms to induce an ecstatic trance state. Highly recommended. One of the most musically inspiring groups still left on the planet - Mick Jagger.

MUSIC FROM TUVA      AMIATA ARNR 1497.

Tuva is a small republic in the Russian Federation, situated geographically in the center of Asia, between Siberia and Mongolia. Among its traditions, biphonic singing, popularly known as Khoomei, holds a premier position. Khoomei is defined as the simultaneous producing of a sound in the lower register with a melody composed of minor harmonics in the upper register.

ENCUENTROS - TANGO FUEGO      K & K ISBN 3-930643-39-1.

A great singer and expressive instrumentalists supported by a string orchestra carry you away into the world of the finest tango and right to the soul of the Argentinian people.The passionate melancolic tango of Argentina is for dancing and feeling well, and Tango Fuego presents a most attractive programme of this hypnotic music. The featured performers are Detlef Strüwe (piano), Laura D´Onofrio (vocals), Fabian Carbone (bandoneon), Sebastian Reimann (violin), Fritz Roppel (double-bass), together with the strings of the Broadcast Orchestra Sofia in Bulgaria. The orchestral arrangement and direction is by Thorsten Wollmann. ‘Bandoneon, piano, violin, double-bass and the sheer mellifluous quality of the strings combine in moving melancholy’ RHEINISCHER MERKUR.

WORDLESS MEANINGS - RAGA DOLLS     MOVE MD 3249.

The Raga Dolls, a Melbourne-based Salon ensemble, play a selection of originals and well-known favourites, including works by Schubert, Brahms, Mascagni (Intermezzo from ‘Cavelleria Rusticana’) and Massenet (Meditation from Thais). Entertaining and accessible music that should appeal to people of all ages and musical tastes.

DREAMS ON DRUMS - ANINDO CHATTERJEE     AUDIOREC 1050-2.

The superb virtuoso tabla player Anindo Chatterjee is joined by Murad Ali (sarangi), Sanatan Goshwami (harmonium) and Subhashish Bhattacharya (tanpura) to perform music that is intense and exciting as well as profoundly spiritual. This magnificent recording shows why Pandit Anindo Chatterjee is one of the most sought after soloists on the international concert platform.

THE QUEST - WAJAHAT KHAN     AUDIOREC 1047-2.

The superb Indian sarod player Wajahat Khan can trace his family back its origins back 400 years through a line of celebrated musicians to the court of the great Moghul Emperor Akbar. He started his training under his father from the age of three, studying singing, sitar and surbahar in his family's tradition, and later the sarod. On this outstanding recording he is joined by Sabir Khan (tabla) and Miriam Nelken (tanpura) in two ragas, ‘Khamboji’ and ‘Khammaj’. Beautiful, delicate music music by a true master.

THE SPIRIT OF BENARES - SHARDA SAHAI AUDIOREC 1044-2.

Sharda Sahai, born in 1935, belongs to the Benares (or Varanasi) style of tabla playing and studied under the virtuoso Kanthe Maharaj. He has accompanied many great musicians, including the sarodist Ali Akbar Khan and sitarist Ravi Shankar. With melodic support here from Ramesh Mishra (sarangi) Pandit Sharda Sahai explores the technical and expressive possibilities of the tabla to its fullest.

BREATHTAKING - HARIPRASAD CHAURASIA    AUDIOREC 1051-2.

On this double CD live recording the fine bansuri player Hariprasad Chaurasia is joined by Shubhankar Banerjee (tabla), M Balachander (mridangam) and Natasha Ahmed (tanpura). These performances demonstrate Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia’s complete mastery of the most serious as well as the lightest varieties of Hindustani music, his style being particularly well suited to a rag like Jaijaivanti - serious enough yet at the same time plaintive and romantic. The second CD starts with the delightful Rag Hansadhwani, one of the most popular of all rags.

MOCARABE - EDUARDO RAMOS    MUSICALIA M0104006.

Delicate, exotic music is performed by the Ensemble Mocarabe, featuring the talents of Eduardo Ramos, Jose Paulo Galvao, Joaquim Pedro Galvao and Americo Cardoso.

A MORNING RAGA - PANDIT SHIVKUMAR SHARMA    NAVRAS NRCD 0025.

Pandit Shivkumar Sharma (santoor) plays the Raga Gurjari Todi in this highly atmospheric recording, where he is accompanied by Anindo Chatterjee (tabla) and Naina Shah (tanpura).

USTAD RAIS KHAN - LIVE IN LONDON 1993     NAVRAS NRCD 0020.

Ustad Rais Khan has long enjoyed a reputation as a brilliant sitarist. Born in Indore in 1940, the son of sitarist Ustad Mohammed Khan, his family includes illustrious musicians such as Ustad Vilayat Khan. Rais Khan has much in common with Vilayat Khan himself, including a reputation as an outstanding singer, yet he is very much his own man and has developed a distinctive style of his own, as this fine CD of ragas shows. He is joined by Anindo Chatterjee (tabla) and Uma Mehta (tanpura).

 

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