Friday, February 19, 2010

CD Review: France's Latcho Drom

Latcho Drom

Deborah 1999

Fremeaux & Associes

Formed in 1993, the French-jazz-gypsy group, Latcho Drom, performs traditional and modern gypsy tunes and rhythms. Do not confuse Latcho Drom with the musical documentary of the same title by Tony Gatlin. In both cases, Latcho Drom translates to 'safe journey'. For Latcho Drom, Deborah 1999 contains instruments such as violin, guitar, contrebass, piano, percussion, and accordion. There is a ballad, 'La vie en rose', by Louiguy and Piaf that is highly indicative of the sultry sounds emanating from a smoky, nightclub somewhere in Paris. There are slower songs and brisk fiddling and guitar playing of tornadic proportions with excellent precision. Though, Latcho Drom excels at any speed, style, and rhythm. Almost entirely instrumental, Deborah 1999 is another fine chapter in Latcho Drom's musical history of life-inspiring tsigane/gypsy music. Liner notes in French. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Milana Misic Resurrects 12 Memorable Songs

12 Laila Kinnunen Ikimuistoista Laulua (12 Memorable Songs of Laila Kinnunen)

Finland's classy vocalist, Milana, brings to life 12 songs written by and/or performed by Finland's most popular vocalist of the 1950's and 60's, Laila Kinnunen. Milana's interpretations are classical, Latin-tinged, and lounge-jazz musical masterpieces. Sung in Finnish, Milana's orchestra of bossa nova, samba, and tropically-inspired pop songs of the 1950's and 60's are sure to brighten up any gloomy day. A particularly catchy song, 'Ala kiusaa tee' (Bad To Me), was written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney of Beatles' fame. Another popular song included is 'Pikku pikku bikinissa' (Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini). Milana's voice is perfect throughout. The mix of classical, jazz, Latin, and pop sounds are iconic of Laila Kinnunen's signature style. Laila would be proud. Let's celebrate the music of Finland's most popular singer of the 1950's and 60's with Milana today. Liner notes in Finnish. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Nadia Ali's 'Embers' Is On Fire

Smile In Bed

Nadia Ali is a Libyan-born, New York resident of Pakistani heritage. The ethnic influences are not so prominent on Embers. In fact, it is primarily a contemporary pop music project with little similarity to other musicians. However, Nadia's voice can only be described as a combination of Sarah McLachlan, Hilary Duff, Stevie Nicks, Shawn Colvin, and Kylie Minogue put together. Every song is sung in English. The music is more mature and developed compared to any other popular artist today. There are basic electronic washes, drums, guitar, and a little Middle Eastern instrumentation and rhythms. Moreover, there is a bit of dance music in her repertoire. Overall, Nadia Ali's Embers is an introspective journey of love and life with pop and dance music as the medium. Embers will be burning up the charts. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: The 'Spirit' of Lawson Rollins' Espirito


The fiery sounds of jazzy-flamenco guitar stylings and Latin/Caribbean rhythms make Espirito all the more enjoyable. Guitarist Lawon Rollins is joined by Shahin Shahida and the producer for Ottmar Liebert, Dominic Camardella. The outstanding musical accompaniment of Flora Purim, Airto Moreira, Kayhan Kalhor, Charlie Bisharat, and Horacio El Negro Hernandez completes a truly 'world music' journey across styles, countries, and sounds. Vocalist Flora Purim adds a tropical, rumba-esque feel to the album. There is classic flamenco, bossa nova, jazz, tango, gypsy, and lounge elements throughout. The intrinsic musical abilities of all involved shine through on every track. 'Santa Lucia Waltz' is an especially endearing and moving instrumental piece. Though not a negative in my book, the instrumental tracks are somewhat reminiscient of the older music for the local forecasts on The Weather Channel. Still, Lawson and company brings a refreshing outlook to new guitar-centered music. Espirito is an album made with all the right ingredients for a delicious result. ~ Matthew Forss