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Voices of the World

World Music Reviews by
Brian Grosjean, host of Sunday morning FM On Toast
The Culture Café

World Peace Through Cultural Celebration

  After five years on the show, I feel very happy to be continuing as your host to the rest of the world. The Culture Café website is up and alive. Hopefully you can make a visit and let me know what you think. There are some great suggestions here for new music for every mood. Listen in every week and give me a call if you are listening for something in particular.

Various / Congotronics 1 and 2 / Crammed Disks (Ryko) (www.crammed.be)
This is raw, unfiltered Africa. Bands from around the sprawling Kinshasa suburbs crank over-amped thumb pianos and tinny drums at tiny dance clubs. Although the disc will never win an award for sound quality, there's the sound of experimentation, and lots of raw energy.

Kufala Records - live recordings (www.kufala.com)
This is the first time I've recommended a set of recordings, but they're all great. Kufala has produced dozens of live recordings of bands such as Los Pinguos "Live in Los Angeles" (Tex Mex/ Cuban/ Nuevo Flamenco), Katia Moraes & Sambagaru "Live at La Ve Lee" (Brazilian Samba Jazz), and the electric band from Mexico - Los De Adajo, "LIve in LA" (cumbia / ska / rock). Clear recordings with just enough audience to know they're there without spoiling it for everyone else.

Various / Rough Guide to Flamenco Nuevo / World Music Network (www.worldmusic.net)
Truly a great intro to the nuevo flamenco music in Europe and some of the rest of the world. Just wish they had included some US groups. This compilation includes Elena Andujar, the ground-breaking Son De La Fronterea, France's electronic Gypsies Ojos de Brujo, and many more crossovers.

Varttina / Miero / Realworld (www.realworld.co.uk)
Another offering from the women of Finland, this time on a new label. Lovely tight harmonies with best backing band in many years. Their insightful arrangements came from a session where they created music for a stage version of Lord of The Rings (don't blame them). Listen to "Maaria" float and dance with icy hot vocals.

Amir Beso / Fatamorgana / Kamala (www.cdbaby.com/cd/amirbeso)
This guitarist from Sarajevo mixes gypsy jazz, Balkan folk and modern productions for an acoustic winner.

Ali Farka Toure and Toumani Diabete / In The Heart of The Moon/ Nonesuch
This last session from the Malian elder statesman of music is the state of the art of African music, especially in production and songcraft. This African superstar returns to his roots once again, in a posthumous production with the Kora star Toumani Diabete. Beautiful arrangements of long, folky songs.

Zuco 103 / Whaa! / Six Degrees
Fun, fun, fun! - what else is there to life? This is the third release from this can-do-any -style multi-ethnic group. They start with Brazilian forro, bossa-nova and afoxe rhythms and whip up a CD to get any party going.

Word Beat / The Soul Dance / T&T Records
Very nice gatefold package with each trak carefully notes. Very nice collection of percussion-based tracks, usually with more than one idea in them from this Washington DC based duo. This harks back to 60's - 70's drumming jam sessions which prefigured funk and free jazz. The added instrumentation includes jazz horns and backing vocals. Some of the tracks would be better with more development beyond call and response, but in all, the percussion rules.

Yungchen Lhamo / Ama / Realworld www.realworld.co.uk
This spectacular return of this Tibetan born singer with astounding voice control includes contributions from Joy Askew and Annie Lennox. Lhamo's quiet Tibetan vocals talk of home and her mother using long meditative notes and beautiful accompaniment.

Susheela Rama / Music for Crocodiles / Narada (www.narada.com)
Using mostly Indian instrumentation, this great album succeeds in combining the mellower Indian influence and modern sounds. She crosses over between light jazz and the rhythms of world music and keeps it always interesting and lively.

Various / Rough Guide to Music of Israel / World Music International
A very educational and surprising survey of mostly traditional music from Israel, including The Israeli Andalusian Orchestra's wonderful orchestration of a folk classic, of course a Chava Alberstein song, and music influenced by Yemen and North Africa. Lots of great liner notes for more information.

Terezinha Araujo / Nos Riqueza / l'empreinte digitale
The soft, recognizable vocals of Terezinha Araujo fly over light guitars and sturdy percussion, including cavaquinho and piano touches. These simple straightforward Portuguese melodies truly captivate - something so often lacking these days in World Music. Araujo simply captures the essence of Portuguese/Cape Verde morna.


The Electronic World Of Music
  Independent music labels have been quick to jump onto the internet. Email, web sites, and the like offer inexpensive ways of communicating with record stations and the general public. In addition, this also helps level the playing field by providing equal access to labels no matter what their size. An email or web site for the smallest independent label is as accessible as is Sony, Capital, or any of the major brands. I try to give a website for each label, when available. For more information, try browsing for World Music Links at Rootsworld.com/rw . Or contact me at via email (see below).

Brian Grosjean, World Music Director
"World Peace Through Cultural Celebration"
WWUH Radio 91.3FM
University of Hartford
200 Bloomfield Avenue
West Hartford, CT 06117
(860) 768-4703

email: culturecafe913@yahoo.com

Visit my website at:

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