Tuesday, September 30, 2014

CD Review: Piers Faccini & Vincent Segal's 'Songs Of Time Lost'

Piers Faccini & Vincent Segal
Songs Of Time Lost
Six Degrees Records

Vincent Segal and Piers Faccini reunified after twenty-five years for an impressive duet on Songs Of Time Lost. Vincent is a cellist and Piers is a guitarist and vocalist. The thirteen songs weave a delicate array of laid-back, neo-classical, and jazzy compositions. The entire project is a mix of French, English, Italian, and Mediterranean melodies and rhythms. There are some original songs, traditional songs, and covers. Vincent's previous releases have garnered attention for successfully blending different musical cultures and directions and this new album flows the best. The poetic vocals float effortlessly along the strings of guitar and cello. The music is very relaxing and evocative at the same time without sounding too pretentious. Fans of Vincent Segal, neo-classical music, fusion, world jazz, and European music will love Songs Of Time Lost. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Lo'Jo's 2-CD '310 Lunes'

310 Lunes [2-CD]
World Village

The French group, Lo'Jo, brings us a new double-disc release of instrumental world jazz, Balkan delights, and impressionistic displays of musical ingenuity on 310 Lunes. Though, the second disc, The International Courabou, was originally released in 1989. At any rate, the music is adventurous, suspenseful, cinematic, and easy-going. There is a bit of North America, Europe, and the Middle East in the release. The music is arranged by Renaud-Gabriel Pion with guests including Magic Malik, Roswell Rudd, Erik Truffaz, and Hasan Yarimdunia. There are even neo-classical influences that mimic soundtracks and scores of America's early films from the 1940's and 50's. The second disc is more world fusion oriented with percussion and a contemporary rock beat. Still, there are neo-classical elements, but the vocals add another dimension to the music. As a set, the albums are dynamic and multi-dimensional with enough pizzazz to satisfy all world jazz aficionados. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Tanya Tagaq's 'Animism'

Tanya Tagaq 
Six Shooter Records

Hailing from Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, Canada, Tanya Tagaq is an innovative and experimental performer of throat-singing, rock, electronic, and avant-garde music inspired by the spirits of the great North. Sometimes the music is repetitive and meditative, but the wide variety of metallic, grinding, squeaking, and ancillary sounds makes it an intriguing and artistic piece of history. In addition to Tanya's sporadic vocals, there are drums, electronics, violin, viola, synths, bass, trombone, french horn, and assorted vocals throughout the eleven tracks. The combination of melodies and rhythms creates a dark and swirling masterpiece that is both chilling and exciting. Some of the sounds are quite abrasive and fairly removed from the traditional throat-singing structures, but this is contemporary music anyway. Still, Tanya succeeds with another stellar recording that has won--and will continue to win--awards. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Aurelio's 'Landini'

Real World

Garifuna singer and cultural ambassador, Aurelio Martinez, shares the music of Honduras through his Garifuna people for people everywhere. The music encompasses the traditions of Indian, African, and Caribbean roots, while English, French, and Spanish influences arrived later. Landini is an album of true authenticity devoted to Garifuna music about the life and culture of the region. The recording was actually recorded at Stonetree Records in Belize. The dozen tracks represent a musically-complex arrangement of songs that draw upon many different cultures and influences, which makes this recording a must-have. The mix of guitars, percussion, strings, and various intonations makes Landini a pivotal and recommended recording of a rare musical style. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Olcay Bayir's 'Neva/Harmony'

Olcay Bayir
Riverboat Records

Olcay Bayir hails from Turkey, but she currently lives in London, where the sounds of the world seem to congregate with such ease. Olcay knows how to channel this world music of sorts in her own recording of Turkish, Anatolian, Mediterranean, and Middle Eastern-influenced music. There is an element of jazz and neo-classical, which permeates throughout the yearning tracks. The music is ripe with folk elements and evocative vocal deliveries, which present listeners with an amazing listening experience. Olcay also incorporates traditional folk songs from Albanian, Armenian, Balkan, and Sephardic sources for a truly world fusion result. However, Olcay is well-centered with a creative vision that transcends space, time, and place. The music is made possible by the baglama, classical guitar, violin, darbuka, clarinet, bass, kopuz, and numerous other instruments. There are nine tracks in all that run about forty-eight-minutes long. There is an overall nostalgic romanticism with the music that is extremely enchanting and well-worth repeated listens. Hooray for Olcay! ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Paulo Padilha's 'Na Lojinha De Eu Me Sinto Milionario'

Paulo Padilha
Na Lojinha De Eu Me Sinto Milionario

Brazil's Paulo Padilha is a talented musician with a knack for crafting delicate songs with a message in a fanciful format with traditional instruments. The thirteen songs feature giddy tunes with an effervescent guitar, swishy percussion, and breezy arrangements that are perfectly-suited for the oceanside shanties and bungalows or high-rise offices. Paulo permeates every facet of life with his evocative little songs. The instrumental nuances are full of life with scintillating guitar work that possesses a Portuguese influence and South American essence. The music mixes a little jazz and neo-classical influences with folk and pop to create a very intriguing and lasting recording. The vocals are rich and varied with a moderate dose of maturity. Anyone looking for easy-going, Brazilian music with roots in Portuguese and folk styles will love Paulo's new release. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Captain Planet's 'Esperanto Slang'

Captain Planet
Esperanto Slang
Bastard Jazz Recordings

The global sounds of Captain Planet's music brings out the funkiest grooves known to mankind on their latest release, Esperanto Slang. There is an underlying South American funk sound mixed with urban hip-hop, dance, psychedelic, and Afro-beat concoctions that bring the music to life. A dozen tracks and a dozen different tunes represents Captain Planet's latest release. The international grooves and musical influences could not have been accomplished without the help of contributing musicians, such as Samira Winter, Chico Mann, Brit Lauren, Alsarah, La Yegros, Paco Mendoza, and a few others. The laid-back, almost reggae-tinged, "In The Gray," is a beautiful anthem with lush vocals, a catchy melody, and urban influences with a trippy, dance-groove. "Safaru" is another gem on the recording with a contemporary beat and world jazz arrangement. Anyone seeking contemporary groove music from South America to Central Africa north to European clubs and back to the Caribbean region will love the trans-cultural music of Captain Planet. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Akale Wube's 'Sost'

Akale Wube

Akale Wube's third album is aptly-titled Sost, which means 'three' in Amharic--the official language of Ethiopia. The music is highly groove-based and follows the early traditions of Ethiopian jazz, which is not too unlike the popular Ethiopiques series. About half of the music is based on traditional recordings and cassettes found in Ethiopia, while the other half of the songs are original compositions. The emotive vocalist, Genet Asefa, leads a few tracks with her seasoned voice in line with tradition Ethiopia music. The blurt of a trumpet, the beat of a drum, and a jazzy melody with Afro-jazz flavorings rounds out the gist of each song. However, each song brings something new to light--whether it be a hook, a sound, or a rhythm. Akale Wube know how to tease the feet with danceable grooves and lush sounds. This is another acclaimed album. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Troker's 'Crimen Sonora'

Crimen Sonora

The Tex-Mex Balkan funk dance beats of Troker is multi-dimensional and definitely interesting. Troker brings heady electronica, jazz, and muted metal sounds to the alternative forefront throughout the album. There is a mix of swirling noises, sounds, and melodies that traverse the funk, cinematic, and psych worlds in such a fashion as to arouse listeners in a very positive direction. The music moves along with an earnest energy never really heard before in Mexican music. The music is quite contemporary and amorphous with no real multi-international origins, but anyone into experimental, avant-garde, and art rock will love it. The steady world jazz connotations on a few tracks suggests a down-tempo pulse, which they know how to pull off with ease. If you are seeking Mexican maracas, congas, and mariachis; then look elsewhere. These guys are so good they will blow the chimi right out of the changa! ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Cocek Brass Band's 'Here Comes Shlomo'

Cocek Brass Band
Here Comes Shlomo

The five-piece brass band, Cocek Brass Band, instills the Balkan spirit of brass and jazz on their debut release, Here Comes Shlomo. The band formed in the Northeastern U.S., but their roots extend far beyond the borders of North America--with swirling, bubbling brass melodies blurting out from two trumpets and a tuba--all highlight the band's international style and presence. The music is a mix of Roma, gypsy, klezmer, New Orleans jazz, and Dixieland orchestrations that are highly-textured and classically-significant. The sauntering tunes are completely instrumental without any vocal accompaniment, which suits the music perfectly. The album is based on Balkan cocek dance tunes. Anyone with an interest in traditional Balkan music will find the music very entertaining and upbeat. All jazz, brass, and band fans unite! ~ Matthew Forss

Monday, September 29, 2014

CD Review: Farah's 'Neoteric'


California-based, Farah Washington, is a singer, performer, model, and all-around creative person with a heart and soul in alternative, urban, R&B, and hip-hop-like song-crafting. Her new album, Neoteric, which actually means 'new idea,' is a perfect description of this carefully-selected and imaginative work of slow beats, urban sounds, and even electronic embellishments. The five-track release features a groove-laden and sultry song, "I Don't Wanna (Leave)," which showcases Farah's intimate and commanding vocals. "You Got It (Interlude)" is a two-minute song with a beat akin to something by Rihanna with repeating vocals and swishy percussion. The opener is a fuzzy, electronic, and drowned-out track with a smattering of vocals and an urban beat that sounds distant and despondent, but that doesn't make it terrible. "5.3.1" is a soothing tune with R&B grooves and sultry vocals. The percussion is rather swishy and electronic. For an EP, Neoteric is a good example of an artist defining their voice and musical style, while making us yearn for more. Little room for improvement here. 4 Stars (out of 5). ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: The Glass Child's 'I Must Be Gone And Live, Or Stay And Die'

The Glass Child
I Must Be Gone And Live, Or Stay And Die

The young songstress and guitarist with an unbelievable knack for crafting sweet, meaningful, and moving pop songs, Charlotte Eriksson, is the chief progenitor for The Glass Child on her latest release, I Must Be Gone And Live, Or Stay And Die. The poignant alternative and pop song structures are more cohesive than fellow-countrywoman, Katie Melua. However, the vocals are a mix of Avril Lavigne and Adele. "The Fall" is an amazing pop anthem with neo-classical instrumentation and contemporary sounds that coalesce with such ease. "Yesterday" incorporates plaintive acoustic guitar sounds and an emotive vocal set-up that is full of poignant pining. "Who I've Grown To Be" is a pop song with a slight rock sound that incorporates a little punk and alternative stylings that are unlike any other songs on the album. Overall, The Glass Child, the brainchild of Charlotte Eriksson, shines above the London fog with nothing but good things. Taste some of the sweet sounds of The Glass Child on her latest release. 5 Stars all the way.  ~ Matthew Forss

Friday, September 19, 2014

Download Review: Jay Soul's 'Stay With Me'

Jay Soul
Stay With Me

London's Jay Soul is an R&B, soul, and pop up-and-comer with a voice for romantic suavity and a skillful mind for songwriting. The new ten-track release is only available as a download for now, but that doesn't diminish the quality of the music. "Inspiration" is a neo-R&B groove with piano elements, neo-classical atmospherics, and a little guitar work that is bright, new agey, and contemporary. "Get A Job" opens with a dance-like melody and smart lyrics arranged in an R&B and jazzy setting with some urban fortitude that is not hip hop or rap-oriented. "Up" has a throwback dance vein akin to the dance and pop movements of the mid-1990's. The steady rhythm is multi-varied with flashy dance effects. "Stay With Me" is an R&B ballad with a majestic chorus, atmospheric keys, and heartfelt vocals. Overall, the album is very good with dance rhythms, R&B soul, and neo-classical-jazz and a side of pop. Some of the songs are not particularly catchy, but with repeated listens each song grows on you. 4 (out of 5) stars. ~ Matthew Forss  

Monday, September 15, 2014

CD Review: The Toure-Raichel Collective's 'The Paris Sessions'

The Toure-Raichel Collective
The Paris Sessions

As a follow-up to their 2012 The Tel Aviv Sessions, The Paris Sessions continues to bridge the musical worlds of Israel and Mali together. The collective is Vieux Farka Toure and Idan Raichel. Vieux Farka Toure is the son of the late-Ali Farka Toure, and one of Ali's best guitar jams, "Diaraby," is included. Most of the songs are instrumental jams that are jazz and African-influenced. The collective is joined by musicians, Niv Toar, Daby Toure, Abdourhamane Salaha, Seckouba Diabate, Eyal Sela, and Dialimory Sissoko. The piano adds a plaintive touch to the music, which is not necessarily a bad thing. The vocals are not too showy or overdone. In fact, the entire production is quite poignant, mature, and timeless. The music was recorded in France over Mali, due to the societal/political instability. At any rate, the result is a fantastic overview of Israeli and Malian tunes coming together in a sort of fusion that works. ~ Matthew Forss

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Single Review: Hard Proof's Cassingle Release of "Soul Thing" and "Lake Tana"

Hard Proof
"Soul Thing" and "Lake Tana"

Hard Proof is a Texas-based, Afro-beat collective that will be releasing a new 'cassingle' during Cassette Store Day on September 27, 2014. The release will be digital and as a physical cassette. The instrumental tracks are lively, upbeat, and full of Afro-beat grooves that are funky, psychedelic, and jazzy. Both tunes are headed by guitars, horns, keys, drums, and sax. The result is a groovy mix of Afro-beat melodies that are produced with the aid of a ten-piece line-up. The two-song release is only nine-and-a-half-minutes long, but it seems to linger on much longer than that. In the end, we are left with a groovy medley of lush Afro-beat melodies and rhythms that bring to life jazz and funk sensibilities for a generation thirsty for diverse sounds. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Gypsy Hill's 'Our Routes'

Gypsy Hill
Our Routes
Batov Records

Gypsy Hill is a contemporary gypsy, dub, and folk music group that specializes in the obscure and different. The music is akin to Klezmer, dub, dance, electronica, and Balkan beat sounds, though. The punchy horns, edgy percussion, and strings are playful and refreshing. The music is mainly instrumental throughout. Balkan music has been covered before, but never before has a throbbing, dub beat entered the genre. The lively and upbeat sounds are heady, swirling delicacies of dance music. There are eleven tracks that stir the soul and invigorate the mind. The popular group, Besh O Drom, is even featured on the second track, "Balaka." Fans of gypsy, Klezmer, Balkan jazz, European folk music, and brass bands will appreciate the indigenous complexities of the music. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Arun Ramamurthy Trio's 'Jazz Carnatica'

Arun Ramamurthy Trio
Jazz Carnatica

New York-based and South Indian-influenced, the Arun Ramamurthy Trio waste no time getting down to business bringing Indian Carnatic compositions to life that are centuries old. Arun is the violinist, while Perry Wortman plays bass and Sameer Gupta is in charge of drums. There are some guest artists on piano, violin, and mridangam to round out the instrumental ensemble. The compositions are mostly five to nine-minutes long, which allows for some great melody and rhythm expansion. Also, the tunes possess a creative quality that is innovative and refined. The organic elements are historic and accessible. In this case, it is satisfying to hear the sounds of a by-gone era. Experience historic Indian music in a contemporary setting from the Arun Ramamurthy Trio. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Tour de Force's 'Battle Cry' Double-Disc

Tour de Force
Battle Cry [2 CD]
Dub-Stuy Records

When all the top reggae and dub DJ's in the world come together; Battle Cry results. The impressive two-disc release contains ten different tracks on Disc 1. The dub-steady, electronic, and funk-infused concoctions bring in some guest musicians, including Brother Culture, Jahdan Blakkamoore, Jay Spaker, and Luciano. The whole mix is dub, hip-hop, urban, reggae, and electronic dance music with a soul. Disc 2 contains remixes of eight songs on Disc 1. Most of the songs on Disc 2 contain at least two different remixes per track. Overall, Tour de Force is a great collection of dub-songs with a heavy beat and reggae ambiance. Fans of dub, reggae, dance, electronica, world fusion, and contemporary music will find solace in Battle Cry. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Radio Riddler's 'Purple Reggae'

Radio Riddler
Purple Reggae
MITA Records

2014 is the thirtieth-anniversary of Prince's Purple Rain release and Radio Riddler pays homage to that very successful album with Purple Reggae. However, Radio Riddler's spin on the music involves the reggae genre. Radio Riddler incorporates the help of vocalists, Suggs, Deborah Bonham, Frank Benbini, Naim Cortazzi, Citizen Cope, Sinead O'Connor, Beverley Knight, and Ali Campbell. Every track on Prince's original album are included here, but each tune has a reggae beat and subtle musical nuances that separate them from the originals. At any rate, Radio Riddler knows how to succeed with reggae beats and a slew of guest vocalists that provide a very talented repertoire that should not be ignored. Fans of Prince, Radio Riddler, reggae music and anyone else interested in music should love it. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Sound's 'Steady'

Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Sound
Easy Star Records

Psychedelic roots-reggae? Yes. That is one phrase to describe New York's Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Sound. The group will be releasing Steady at the end of September and it is packed with thirteen thrilling, reggae-infused tunes. Every song is catchy and full of dance grooves, head-bobbing rhythms, and soulful vocals. As with other Easy Star recordings, Steady continues in the reggae realm with enhanced vigor and pleasant tunes. GPGDS, as they are known, feature great reggae, rock, and pop sensibilities that are unforgettable. There is a jam-band appeal on some of the tracks, but the characteristic syncopated beats inherent in reggae are still present here. Steady is a great release that should please world reggae fans everywhere. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: FatDog's 'New Found Land'

New Found Land
Riverboat Records/World Music Network

FatDog is an engaging folk music troupe with members from Sweden, England, and Norway. The group is rich in roots and jazz styles, too. The European group incorporates diverse instruments, including cittern, concertina, guitar, clarinet, flute, trumpet, sax, bass, and hurdy-gurdy. All the members chime in from time to time on vocals. There are Scandinavian dance elements and other Western European musical styles that propel the music into a very intriguing and addictive whirlwind of aural color. The percussion is produced from various instruments, but there are no drums on the recording. The brass keep the music moving along into some jazzy realms, while the strings and vocals keep it well-rooted in Scandinavian ancestry. At any rate, the twelve tunes are mostly traditional, but arranged by FatDog. Fans of European jigs, reels, sailor songs, folk music, and roots music will find New Found Land a necessary listening experience. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Easy Star All-Stars' 'Dub Side Of The Moon'

Easy Star All-Stars
Dub Side Of The Moon
Easy Star Records

In celebration of their 10th anniversary for the 2003 release of the same name, Easy Star All-Stars are proud to announce their dubby and reggae-infused, Dub Side Of The Moon. The album celebrates the music of Pink Floyd with his ever-popular, Dark Side Of The Moon released many years ago. This new release contains different liner artwork, a liner note booklet, and a few bonus tracks. The entire project is produced by Michael Goldwasser and Victor Axelrod. The album is fifteen-tracks long and features the music of Pink Floyd's abovementioned release, including "Speak To Me," "Breathe," "On The Run," "Time," "Brain Damage," and several others. The dub and reggae-infused concoctions are heady, lush, and dance-inducing. There are electronic elements, which modernize the sounds a bit. But, anyone interested in reggae, dub, and Pink Floyd will love this very special ten year anniversary release. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Ayelet Rose Gottlieb's 'Roadsides'

Ayelet Rose Gottlieb
Arogole Music

Born in Jerusalem, Ayelet Rose Gottlieb brings us a magical and historical release of Hebrew songs with some Palestinian vocals, a jazzy repertoire, and avant garde set-up that is both relaxing and innovative. The sauntering songs are loaded with jazzy effects, but the music is a kind of fusion that is born out of Middle Eastern, Arabic, and Ladino musical styles. The music is very dreamy, contemplative, and authentic. Ayelet's vocals are inspirational, playful, and mature. The music is sometimes giddy, too. Overall, the album is so diverse and varied that it is difficult to categorize it in one word. Anyone interested in Middle Eastern, Arabic, flamenco, Ladino, folk, roots, world fusion, avant garde, and world jazz will love Roadsides. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Dalava's Self-Titled Release From Moravia

Sanasar Records

Dalava is led by vocalist, Julia Ulehla and guitarist, Aram Bajakian. The entire project brings together Moravian folk songs originally transcribed by ethnomusicologist and biologist, Dr. Vladimir Ulehla. The Moravian/Czech folk songs are reinvented by Julia and Aram, with special contributions on violin, acoustic bass, gumbri, and glockenspiel. The instrumentation is very Squonk Opera meets the Faroe Islands' Valravn. The magical sounds are sometimes heavy, construed, and stirring, which reflects the innovation of the performers. This is a contemporary recording with ancient songs that are ripe with folk, opera, and roots-inspired music. There is even a slight rock vein on a few tunes, but this is not rock music. Anyone interested in Moravian/Czech music, opera, folk, and fusion music will love it. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Dirtwire's 'The Carrier'

The Carrier
Beats Antique Records

Spearheaded by California's Evan Fraser (of Hamsa Lila and Stellamara fame) and David Satori (of Beats Antique fame), Dirtwire is a seven-track album of distilled Americana tunes that showcase the bluesy and Appalachian side of the musical spectrum. However, the Americana sounds are not to be ignored, as the world fusion and slightly electronica qualities take center stage. There is a light, easy listening feel to the music with intonations of banjo, guitar, saz, melodica, percussion, megaphone, jaw harp, steel guitar, ngoni, calabash, and other instruments. The vocals are sparse, but lead by Evan Fraser, Leah Song, Chloe Smith, and TBird Luv. The entire album is only twenty-five minutes long, which categorizes it as an EP. Still, there is something intriguing and memorable with Dirtwire's latest release. This is one album that astounds -- from the liner art to the last track. ~ Matthew Forss

Thursday, September 11, 2014

CD Review: Megan Chaskey's 'Naam Radiance'

Megan Chaskey
Naam Radiance
Heartways Music

Produced around the basic structure of Naam Yoga meditation, Naam Radiance is a collection of Sanskrit-soaked compositions that feature wistful sounds and glorious melodies that are transcendental and soul-soothing. Almost an hour of calming music is included on her new album. Her vocal delivery is delicate, purposeful, and amazing. Of course, there are South Asian influences, but there are also world fusion embellishments on guitar, bass, piano, percussion, celtic harp, and cello. Each song is meaningful on a deeper level, but they be easily enjoyed with passive listening. One need not be a yoga expert or practitioner to appreciate the multi-factoral songs. As a whole, the recording is light, airy, spacious, and pleasantly-delightful. Anyone with an interest in contemporary yoga music will love Naam Radiance. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Moira Smiley & VOCO's 'Laughter Out Of Tears'

Moira Smiley & VOCO
Laughter Out Of Tears
Whim Records

The sensational vocal songs of Moira Smiley & VOCO are steeped in Appalachian, Scandinavian, and European styles that echo similarities with Dala Girls, Varttina, Heidi Talbot, Helene Blum, Fay Hield, Karine Polwart, and similar gals. The album features fifteen songs of audio delight that are mostly original songs, but some are covered from Swedish, Appalachian, Serbian, and Croatian ancestries. A few feature vocals as the lead instrument. The group has an uncanny ability to magically gel together with such a compelling and intriguing vocal repertoire that is never pretentious or egotistical. You will even hear a little Zero 7 and Dala Girls influences on "Blow Blow Thou Winter Wind." The forty-five-minute album is hearty enough; even for the most discriminating vocal connoisseur. Anyone with an interest in female vocal folk music will relish Laughter Out Of Tears. ~ Matthew Forss

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

CD Review: Various Artists' 'Ultimate New Orleans Brass Second Line Funk!'

Various Artists
Ultimate New Orleans Brass Second Line Funk!
Mardi Gras Records

The punchy, brass sounds of Mardi Gras are captured on Ultimate New Orleans Brass Second Line Funk!. The music is full of fun, party-like elements that are celebratory and youthful. However, the music takes on a Southern jazz vein, which is expected, but it also contains some vocals that seem to be more funk-centric. There are thirteen tracks in all representing Rebirth Brass Band, Soul Rebels, Lil Rascals, Olympia Brass Band, Treme Brass Band, and Hustlers Brass Band. The music is born out of a foot parade that generally accompanies Mardi Gras activities and festivities, but it may also accompany other festivals, funerals, and parades. Some of the vocal lines and/or melodies are repetitious, but anyone familiar with jazz bands and brass bands in particular, will love the bluesy, jazzy, and funky sounds. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Pharaoh's Daughter's 'Dumiyah'

Pharaoh's Daughter

The great Basya Schechter is the Pharaoh's Daughter's chief vocalist and progenitor of the group. The Jewish-inspired and infused concoctions are actually pan-global with tons of influences coming from North American psych, Mediterranean folk/rock, and Middle Eastern music. The diverse song styles and multi-instrumental compositions create an engaging world fusion of sorts that succeeds on all accounts. The refreshingly authentic and memorable grooves are carried by Basya's female vocals that float effortlessly throughout the melodies. The music incorporates the synth, electric guitar, shofar, hammered dulcimer, acoustic guitar, resonator guitar, santoor, kora, ney, tuba, trumpet, and more. The entire production is contemporary with traditional elements that are very catchy and majestic overall. A very good recording to say the least. ~ Matthew Forss

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

CD Review: Sally Nyolo's 'Tiger Run'

Sally Nyolo
Tiger Run
Riverboat Records/World Music Network

Cameroon's Sally Nyolo has released a few albums over the years and they continue to provide an introspective and awe-inspiring window into her personality and creative style. The Afro-pop foundation of her songs are still inherent on Tiger Run, but there seems to be more attention given to other influences. For example, there are South Asian undertones on "Me So Wa Yen." "Bidjegui" is inherently-African, but it tends to be rather repetitive. "Tiger Run" is more like a ballad from a lounge club or jazz club somewhere in North America. The bubbly guitars of "Eeeh," signify a true, West African song rich in vibrant percussion and a fast tempo. The entire album is only thirty-eight-minutes long, which may be disappointing. Nevertheless, Sally Nyolo returns to the studio with a rather admirable result with only minor adjustments needed. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Simo Lagnawi's 'The Gnawa Berber'

Simo Lagnawi
The Gnawa Berber
Riverboat Records/World Music Network

Based in the U.K., but inspired his Moroccan-Berber origins, Simo Lagnawi presents us with an exciting and entrancing album of a dozen songs that successfully and faithfully adheres to North African gnawa traditions. There is some improvisation of sorts, which cover Saharan folk songs and ceremonial compositions. All of the songs are diverse and feature the guimbri -- a plucked lute that is native to North Africa. The authentic and tribal sound of the guimbri is haunting and natural with vocals, flute, fiddle, and banjo accompaniment in spots. Hassan Hakmoun fans will find some similarities, but the music is not electronic or rock-oriented. This is for fans seeking unadulterated gnawan trance music. Find your inner gnawa today! ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Various Artists' 'Afrolove Kizomba Special' [2 CD]

Various Artists
Afrolove Kizomba Special [2 CD]

The folks at Lusafrica understand Lusophone music inside and out. This new release, Afrolove Kizomba Special, is all the evidence anyone needs to make up their mind about the best African music release of the year. The double-disc features urban hip hop, romantic ballads, folk sounds, dance music, and Portuguese-influenced compositions with musical roots running from the Cape Verdes through West Africa and ending in the south-central regions of Angola and Congo. Some of the most catchy music is brought to us by Sekouba Bambino, Fode Baro, Meiway, Cubanito, and Oliver N'Goma. Even Cesaria Evora is featured, but it is a remix of "Regresso." At any rate, anyone interested in contemporary music from Africa would find this a must-have album without a doubt. The music is akin to Afro-zouk, Congolese rumba, and the loose-fitting term of kizomba, which encompasses all Lusophone dance musical traditions. It is nice to know this does not contain very much rap, if any, which would interrupt the accessibility of this recording to some age groups. Thankfully, it is highly-recommended to anyone with a fascination in contemporary African music. ~ Matthew Forss