World Music

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Natacha Atlas and the Mazeeka Ensemble: Ana Hina (World Village)

2 Jun 2008  |  <1 min read  |  1

The great Natacha Atlas first came to my attention two decades ago when I was in England and she was guesting on albums by TransGlobal Underground, a multicultural London-based outfit that brought together trip-hop, techno, Middle Eastern and Indian sounds. Anything with Atlas employing her remarkable voice was an absolute winner and I subsequently followed her into many delightful solo... > Read more

Natacha Atlas: La Shou El Haki (Why the Need to Talk)

Various: Musiques Metisses: Le Sahel (Marabi)

1 Jun 2008  |  <1 min read  |  1

When the Buena Vista Social Club burst into public consciousness every major record company starting looking at its catalogue -- and wondrous to report, they too had recorded Cuban artists down the decades! Suddenly Cuban music was everywhere. The sceptical among us might look at this compilation of "desert blues" from the Sahara which has arrived in the wake of global success... > Read more

Mounari Mitchala: Talou Lena

The Ipanemas: Call of the Gods (Farout/Southbound)

17 May 2008  |  <1 min read

You would have thought that the high-profile 2006 album Samba is Our Gift by the Ipanemas from Brazil would have kick-started a whole samba/Afro-Brazil movement much like the Buena Vista Social Club album did for Cuban music. After all, many of the elements were the same: the Ipanemas (drummer Wilson Das Neves and guitarist Neco) were elderly gentlemen who had been professional musicians for... > Read more

The Ipanemas: Doriva

Ricardo Lemvo and Makina Loca: Isabela (Mopiato/Southbound)

28 Apr 2008  |  <1 min read

Anyone wanting a quick injection of jazzy Afro-Latin grooves and palm wine warmth shouldn't go past this laid-back but lively outing by this LA-based but authentic band which is like a smorgasbord of Spanish, soukous, son, salsa, Congolese rumba and much more -- with the great guitarist Papa Noel appearing four tracks. And the Cape Verde singer Maria de Barros drops by for a couple of songs.... > Read more

Ricardo Lemvo and Makina Loca: Kasongo Boogaloo

Asa: Asa (Naive)

26 Apr 2008  |  <1 min read  |  1

Channeling equal parts Bob Marley, Joan Armatrading, Tracey Chapman and Minnie Riperton would seem quite some feat, but this Paris-born singer-songwriter of Nigerian descent makes it seem effortless. Mostly singing English (some Yoruban), her subjects are universal injustice tempered with glimpses into the personal (love and lost love . . . and the injustices of those situations). With... > Read more

Asa: Jailer

The Garifuna Women's Project: Umalali (Elite)

22 Apr 2008  |  <1 min read

The sudden death in January of singer-songwriter Andy Palacio from Belize robbed the Garifuna movement of an important figurehead. His album Watina took the distinctive music of the coastal people of north-east South America -- who speak Arawak, a native Indian language once found in Jamaica -- and put it into the pages of world music magazines. The sound -- an amalgam of local... > Read more

The Garifuna Women's Project: Hattie

Sari Gelin Ensemble: Music of Azerbaijan (Elite)

13 Apr 2008  |  <1 min read  |  1

The music of Central Asia has featured on Elsewhere previously, notably with the excellent Smithsonian Folkways series (see tags) which come with fascinating DVD mini-films. This is can be "difficult" music but it is also quite breathtaking and this album by a creditable quintet is no exception. The songs are long (three of the seven go past the 12-minute mark), they are... > Read more

Sari Gelin Ensemble: Shushter rangi

El Hadj N'Diaye: Geej (Marabi)

6 Apr 2008  |  <1 min read

This Senegalese singer-guitarist (here recorded in Paris) has one of those mesmerisingly soulful voices which, even though you probably don't understand a word, pulls you in. His lyrics address social issues (if translating avec mon rudimentary Francaise est bien) -- but you get that from the emotion he pours into the words. French producers often like to polish up musicians from the... > Read more

El Hadj N'Diaye: Cheick Anta Diop

The Rail Band: Soundiata (Southbound)

15 Mar 2008  |  1 min read

The Rail Band is one of the cornerstone groups out of Mali and launched the careers of Mory Kante and Salif Keita. I first heard them maybe 20 years ago when a salty old journo read something I had written about some African band and guessed my interest. He'd lived somewhere in the region and had old vinyl which he transferred to tape for me, among them an album by the wonderful Rail Band.... > Read more

The Rail Band: Maliyo

Bedouin Jerry Can Band: Coffee Time (Southbound)

2 Mar 2008  |  <1 min read  |  2

The band name and album title here explain it all: this is a group of Arab musicians whose instrumentation -- alongside traditional instruments like the local lyre, gritty fiddle and various flute-like pipes -- includes discarded jerry cans used for tuned percussion (and an ammunition box, which tells you much about the volatile world they inhabit). Coffee is the currency of hospitality in... > Read more

Bedouin Jerry Can Band: Khalf

Various: Womad New Zealand 2008 (Shock)

16 Feb 2008  |  <1 min read

More than a third of the artists on this 16 track collection -- Toumani Diabate, Mavis Staples, SJD, Cesaria Evora, Beirut, Susana Baca -- have appeared at Elsewhere, and a few of them have been considered among the Best of Elsewhere 2007. So much of this multi-culti music will be familiar to Elsewhere people -- so let's throw the attention on the great French songwriter/oud player/folkloric... > Read more

David D'Or: Lecha D'odi

ZAKIR HUSSAIN INTERVIEWED (1999): Has tabla, will travel

6 Feb 2008  |  7 min read

Early morning in Paris and the start of another long day for Zakir Hussain, master of the tabla drums and son of tabla legend Ustad Alla Rakha. Hussain speaks of the previous day's programme: some showcase performances with guitarist John McLaughlin (with whom he co-founded the seminal Indo-jazz group Shakti in the mid 70s), CD signing sessions (a Best of Shakti has just been released on... > Read more

Alim and Fargana Qasimov: Spiritual Music of Azerbaijan (Smithsonian/Elite)

3 Feb 2008  |  <1 min read

This will be brief as some of the previous albums in this beautifully packaged CD/DVD series Music of Central Asia have already drawn attention to these compilations which come with remarkable doco-footage from the regions (See tags). This sixth volume takes the listener to Azerbaijan and the keening, soaring folk styles of music there, starting with the seven-part Mugham Chargah, one of the... > Read more

Alim and Fargana Qasimov: Hisar

Badakhshan Ensemble: Song and Dance from the Pamir Mountains (Smithsonian/Elite)

12 Jan 2008  |  1 min read

Okay, this is not for everybody ("Who is that?" said my wife, and not in a favourably curious way) but the previous collection in this Music of Central Asia series (see tag) was an impressive package of a CD, an excellent doco-DVD, and a very useful essay in the booklet. This equally handsome pack, volume five in the series, introduces music from the mountainous region around... > Read more

Badakhshan Ensemble: Rapo

Habib Koite and Bamada: Afriki (Cumbancha/Elite)

11 Jan 2008  |  <1 min read

Music from Mali doesn't come much more mesmerising or mellow than this consistently laidback series of songs by one of that country's most inventive and musically curious griots. For this album, recorded on three continents, Koite typically drew on Mali's regional styles -- although most listeners (self included) won't be attuned to these nuances: what we hear is a collection of gentle songs... > Read more

Habib Koite and Bamada: N'ba

Bassekou Kouyate and Ngoni ba: Segu Blue (Out Here/Elite)

3 Jan 2008  |  <1 min read

The death in March 2006 of the great Mali musician Ali Farka Toure -- who reached a global audience in the mid 90s with the Talking Timbuktu album recorded with Ry Cooder -- lead to many tributes but also the question, who could possibly take his place? Well, his son Vieux Farka Toure's album -- which appeared in the Best of Elsewhere 2007 list, see tag -- certainly suggested all was not... > Read more

Bassekou Kouyate and Ngoni ba: The River Tune

Various: Music of Central Asia Vol 4, Bardic Divas (Smithsonian/Elite)

1 Dec 2007  |  1 min read

This beautifully packaged collection -- informative booklet, DVD with doco footage and interactive instrument section -- is not only a handsome set, but contains the remarkable voices of women singers from Central Asia, the region between Iran and the Steppes. Politics and ethnic separations over the past half century have lead to a diaspora of cultural voices (for example Jews from... > Read more

Aigul Ulkenbaeva: Aqsholpan (Lovely Sholpan)

Taoist Music Orchestra of Shanghai: Chinese Taoist Music (Arc/Elite)

30 Nov 2007  |  <1 min read

With bamboo flute, erhu (two stringed fiddle) simple drum, dulcimer, lute and bells, this ensemble bring back to life ancient Taoist music in a modern style and evoke a more ancient world, a spiritual one of contemplation and internal focus. These pieces are either marvellous miniatures or extended pieces with evocative titles: Incense Hymn, Wind Through the Pines, Jade Hibiscus. Not to... > Read more

Taoist Music Orchestra: Qupai Lianzou (Qupai legato)

Yasmin Levy: Mano Suave (Adama)

30 Nov 2007  |  <1 min read

Jerusalem-born Levy created a lot of interest when she appeared at the 2007 Taranaki Womad for her swooning style of Ladino music which comes out of the Spanish/Jewish tradition. What she also brings is a contemporary Middle Eastern feel by the introduction of oud alongside her hypnotic singing style, flamenco influences and western instrumentation. This new album is a leap ahead from her... > Read more

Yasmin Levy: Una Ora

Various: Brazil 70: After Tropicalia (Soul Jazz)

5 Nov 2007  |  <1 min read

The earlier Tropicalia collection of revolutionary Brazilian music from 1968 posted some months ago (see tag) will set you up for this excellent 19 track compilation subtitled "New Directions in Brazilian Music in the 1970s". Crushed by the military, the Tropicalia movement -- which explored a fusion of folkloric music, funk, psychedelia and soundtrack styles -- was scattered when... > Read more

Nelson Angelo E Joyce: Vivo Ou Moro