Sunday, December 6, 2009

CD Review: Alan Lomax in Haiti 10-CD Collection

Various Artists

Alan Lomax in Haiti [10 CD set]

Harte Recordings

The musical achievements of the late-Alan Lomax are superbly displayed in this attractive 10-CD box set with accompanying photos, map, and two books, including Alan's field journal. The songs were recorded throughout Haiti from 1936-1937 for The Library of Congress. These are largely traditional, field recordings with typically grainy and raw sound quality. However, the CD's are mastered by Grammy Award-winning engineers to elicit the best sound quality available today. The music was culled from over 50 hours of never-before-released field recordings. You will hear Voudou songs, percussion pieces, choral sounds, vocal/instrumentals of people young and old, male and female, and even Alan's own voice explaining where a specific song was recorded and/or noting the musicians themselves. The box set format of this size is unique and relatively rare in the world of international music. Still, do not let the price tag of $120+ deter you from purchasing a literally priceless volume of musical history from the perspective of the ethnomusicologist. For fans or students of traditional music, especially from the Caribbean, this is a highly-desirable gift. Of course, Alan Lomax fans will put this set on the top of their list this holiday season, for good reason. Look for more good things to come from Harte Recordings in the future! ~ Matthew Forss

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