FolkWorld Issue 32 12/2006FolkWorld CD Reviews
Greg Herriges "It plays me"
Label: New folk records ; 3673It plays me is the first solo output of the Minneapolis multi instrumentalist Greg Herriges. On this cd he shows he is a specialist on several types of string instruments which form the main ingredient in his music. It plays me surprised me a lot. He cooperates with some fine musician from all around the world including Gao Hong on pipa, a Chinese lute kind of instrument, Pavan Allalaghatta on tabla, Troy Berg on several kinds of percussion, John Wright on bass and Jesse Sheenan on tabla. His music is full of influences from the orient, but also from Celtic areas of this world. I love the tune Invisible fireworks, which contains some fabulous crossover world music of the highest quality. In this tune pipa player Gao Hong plays a big role, and it cant be a coincident that in the other song that I like most, Dragon song, he is also playing a big role. But not only these two songs, also the eleven other tunes show a gifted musician who is able to bring the best sounds from several cultures into one type of intriguing music.
Various artists "Circo inferno cabaret vol. 2"
Label: Felmay 8096The famous Italian label Felmay/Dunya comes with the second edition of Circo inferno cabaret. A collection of 14 brass band songs. On this cd groups like Banda Ionica, The Bollywood brass band and the famous Frank London's klezmer brass all stars. This cd shows how brass music has influences from many cultures. Besides the typical Gypsy sounds, there influences from Italy, Indian music, Arabic countries and western European countries. A good choice of music, the cd has no weak link. A fine selection of thrilling brass songs and tunes.
Skonrog "Weadke tar"
Label: Private releaseThe Danish band Skonrog has just released their first cd on their own label. The band has a traditional folk-rock setting with vocals, mandolin, violin, guitars and bass. Weadke tar contains 10 nice songs with an open, friendly atmosphere. The harmony vocals are decent but not remarkable. The same for the musical arrangements, it's simple but honest music. You can hear what I mean in for example the song tankens kraft. This song has a very straight melody line where not much happens. A great chance for the mandolin to give the song some body, but unfortunately also the mandolin stays to close to the careful and bit boring melody. This is the problem what I have with this cd. It reminds me many times of the famous Danish folk-rock band Kraen bysted, but it misses the right energy and guts to go offer the line. Skonrog has quality, thatís for sure, I just hope they dare to be a bit more creative and dare to take more risk in their musical arrangements next time.
Kitaro "sacred journey of ku-kai 2"
Label: MP mediaAlready for more than 30 years Kitaro has been a known Japanese musician. His music is deeply rooted in the Japanese tradition and on his last cd Sacred journey of Ku-kai vol. 2 his new age way of life, sounds through more than ever. If you visit his website you will soon find out that it's not only music but Kitaro is a way of life, a philosophy. His music reflects a part of this way of life. His music is to give inner peace and heal your inner being. Well, enough said about his lifestyle, what about the music. As I wrote before, it's much more new age music than early outputs by this famous artist. He creates sounds capes of flutes, strings and big walls of electronics. It's music that indeed gives peace to the mind and sometimes includes some nice traditional elements. It's not a cd that I would listen to discover a great musician but which I would listen when I need rest and peace. So, in that way Kitaro does exactly what he promises, his music does calm me down.
Frank London's klezmer brass all stars "carnival conspiracy"
Label: Piranha; pir1902By now, trumpet player Frank London is one of the best known names in the Klezmer music. He is not only a member of the Klezmatics, he worked together with some of the best musician on this planet including David Byrne and Jon Zorn. He has his own band which is called the Frank London's klezmer brass all stars. A cooperation between a big group of international acclaimed musicians. Previous cds got not only good critics but also won several prices. This new cd Carnival conspiracy is not only rooted deeply in the klezmer music but has some Latin-American influences as well. The cd has a smell of summer and dancing in a warm evening breeze. It's klezmer music like it's meant to be, music to dance on and get a good feeling from. All the songs and tunes are in the same vein, no unexpected breaks or innovations of any kind. Just strong, solid music brought by the best klezmer musicians alive.
ZUR "sale el sol"
Label: chivorecords; 709-2005ZUR is a new group existing out of two young musicians from Marbella. They compose their own music and mix more or less traditional styles such as Flamenco and other Mediterranean sounds with modern beats, electronics and rap. It's a pleasant cd to listen to in the same vein as Manu chao, but less experimental. This is open and honest pop music with a good touch of ethnical influences. It's very easy going and will be liked by a big audience. great for dancing or relaxing in the Mediterranean sun. This is a nice and solid cd, nothing more nothing less.
Bantu feat. Ayuba "Fuji satisfaction"
Label: Piranha; 1998Bantu is a Nigerian-German music collective formed around Ade Bantu. He grew up in Lagos and in Cologne and he sees himself as a African-European. Because of his roots he is able to mix both the Nigerian music with West-European sounds. He cooperates with Adewale Ayuba a known musician from the young West-African generation. Together they created Fuji satisfaction, a modern interpretation of traditional grooves. The main ingredients are the African beats mixed with rap, electronics and hip-hop. I like this music because it's easy to listen to and it has a perfect balance in sound. It's far from the 'ethnic Afrikan' stuff, but gives a good picture of how the young generation creates their own style. Nice!
Pam Swam "Dance to your shadow"
Label: private cdThis is a very special cd release, containing an impressive collection of mouth music. Pam Swam started as a collector of mouth music from all around the world and now recorded 26 mouth music songs from several cultures. She gets help from some legendary names such as Peggy Seeger, Christine Primrose but also from more ethnic singers such as Julia Tsisi Chigamba from Nigeria and many others. What makes this cd so interesting is to hear the different mouth music traditions within one hour. Itís nice to hear some differences but also some similarities. It's good that Pam Swam didn't do all the singing solo, because many of the traditions need such vocal techniques that it would be hard for a vocalist to give a good picture of old singing traditions. Many of them are learned from parent to child and are deeply rooted in the cultures. By inviting guest singers I think Pam Swam shows that she really respects the music tradition. I often hear people from western cultures imitating the vocal techniques of for example Asia or Arabic nations. They fail because they don't have the deep band with the music that a native has. So I can only make a big compliment to Pam Swam for this interesting collection of music.
Banda inaudita "Dos"
Label: Vela vr02Banda inaudita is a Spanish band which with Dos, released their second cd. It's not a traditional band but a group who composes new music with influences from flamenco, folk, chamber music but most of all I find their music most of all influenced by the jazz. The band exists out of three musicians from which two play Clarinet and one violin and guitar. They get help from a few nice guest musicians varying from vocals , oboe to percussion. The cd contains fourteen nice pieces of music which are easy to listen to. It are especially the sound of the clarinet that get noticed immediately. Not heavy and fast like in klezmer music, but gentle and relaxing with some Latin atmosphere. This band exists out of three strong musicians who know their instrument very well and that can be heard. But most of al, they sound like a team and with the help of some extra musicians they managed to create a strong and solid style of music. Their open minded compositions will be liked by many. They don't do anything experimental, they just play atmospherically ethno-jazz with a Latin smile.
Label: Airmail music; 141115Airmail music is such a label that issues loads of cdís against budget prices. Their interpretation of traditional music isnít always my style, but than...they do send this cd to get it reviewed. There are no artists mentioned on the cd only that the music comes from Romania and is composed by Gheorge Rizea. It's so unbelievable stereotype that it's hard to sit this one out. It's wallpaper music with some ethnic touch. Leading panflutes in to many tunes, some nice violin work at some occasion. Perfect if you own a Eastern European restaurant, than this is the better music. But for me to middle of the road and most of all I find it respectless to musicians that they are not mentioned in any way.
Martin Sommer "Wort & tonschlag"
Label: private cdMartin Sommer is a German singer-songwriter who won several prices at singer-songwriter festivals in Germany. Here on review is his first cd with personal songs about life, the world and observations of daily life. His music has a nice intimate atmosphere and I think that the cd would be most appreciated by these persons who understand the German language. His lyrics are sometimes a bit dreamy, sometimes critical and sometimes with a light sense of humour. He has a peaceful voice which is a pleasure to listen to and his sober musical arrangements are very effective. Often only guitar or just a lonely violin or flute added. A really nice debut cd with a very personal touch.
Gunner Friis "Kalejdoskop"
Label: Go Danish folkmusic; 0605In the big revival of Scandinavian folkmusic during the past ten years, Denmark is often forgotten. It might have something to do with the more down to earth nature of Danish music compared with the often mystical tunes from further North. I think that de Danish label GO proved for many years now, that Danish folk is very alive and it's absolutely unfair that we forget this rich musical tradition. Denmark has a very own violin tradition and one of the godfathers in traditional violin music is Gunner Friis. With this first edition of the Kalejdoskop series, the label wants to honour special Danish folk musicians. Gunner Friis shows with his workman craft that he is worth it to be the first. A clear sound, beautiful tunes often played solo and nice collaborations with other folk musicians. I think this cd gives a great impression of the heart of Danish traditional violin music. I cant wait to hear the next cd in the Kalejdoskop series.
Donald McPherson & Tetuzi Akiyama "Vinegar & Rum"
Label: Boweavil records; 12CDIn two other reviews of cdís published by this label I already tell what great things Boweavil produces. Not only new music but they also reissue great classic albums and less known music. This is a cd by the duo Donald McPherson and Tetuzi Akiyama. It contains fourteen acoustic guitar parts, mostly improvised. They have been published before on a private cassette in New Zealand in 2004. Again a beautiful booklet, what a great design! But the music is way out of my style. Pure acoustic guitar music can be astonishing and beautiful, but somehow this cd doesnít catch me at all. The recordings are not of the best quality and it is more of the same . This is the first time Iím not impressed by a Boweavil production. Until now all the cdís and lpís I heard from them where great, but this cd misses an original sound to be an ear catcher in the hundreds of acoustic guitar cds that are published every year.
Lao Kouyate "Porquoi tout ça?"
Label: Felmay; 8099Lao Kouyate is a singer and Kora player from Senegal. On this cd, published on the Italian Felmay/Dunya label, he sings and tells stories from his home country. Kouyate was born in 1970 and comes from a long line of musicians and singer-storytellers known as the Griots. They are seen as the living historical memory of their land and people. After playing in a band he now released this solo cd with nine small and intimate sung-stories. It are all his own compositions and besides the vocals and kora, nothing else is added. That is exactly the strong side of this cd. It has a very warm and personal atmosphere and reading the English translations of the songs, I understand that he is singing about his life, the culture and history of his country. This he does with a pleasant voice and with smooth Kora playing.
Various Artists "Kyzyl-Moscow"
Label: Sketis 019
Tumat Choduraa "Belek"
Label: Sketis 021
Andrey Mongush & Salgal group "v pochete"
Label: Sketis 016
Starostin & Mario
Ivan Smirnov "The land where slumbers"
Label: Sketis 003
Mikhail Smirnov & Ivan Smirnov "Crimean holiday"
Label: Sketis 010
People who read my reviews frequently know that I have a small ìreviewingî history with this Russian Sketis label. The first time I got some of their cdís I was very enthusiastic about the music, but found that no information in English was available. So I was very surprised that last year somebody of the label contacted me to let me know they are working on their English version of all the information. And now a whole English version of the website is available! This is great news because Sketis is still a unique label with some remarkable releases. Some of the I have for review now. Three of them contain Tuva music. Kyzyl ñMoscow are recordings from the festival of Tuva music in Moscow in 2004. Some traditional throat singing containing twenty-five songs. The second one is Tumat Choduraa with her cd Belek. A woman throat singer with amazing vocal art. Sometimes deep and dark, sometimes high like a bird. Very traditional so only for more experienced Tuva lovers. Less traditional Tuva music comes from Andrey Mongush & Salgal group. A very nice mixture of Tuva and influences of other Russian region. Much more suitable for a bigger audience, nice arrangements and great singing. Also three non Tuva cds. Starostin & Mario contains Authentic Russian songs, woodwinds and percussion. A very serene and pure cd which gives a great example of Russian music. I love the intensity of this music, this comes right out of the cultural heart. More modern folk style by Ivan Smirnov. A 2 cd set called The land where the sun slumbers. Fresh Russian music with traditional influences from not only Russia but also some Celtic elements. Besides Smirnovís guitar works also flute, accordion, percussion etc. A recommended live double cd with intense and great acoustic music. Another cd by Ivan Smirnov is together with (his brother?) Mikhail Smirnov. Less acoustic, with light pop influences and a just a bit of new age style. Nice soundscape music, almost like a soundtrack. Very suitable to relax on during a long holiday in a sunny place. Again Sketis shows that they have a fine nose for good music. They bring together music from every corner of the Russian country. Do visit their website, it's worth the visit!
Various artists Mosaic of ottoman "Ermeni Bestekarlar 1"
Label: Sony; 501258Various artists Mosaic of ottoman "Yahudi Bestekarlar"
Label: Sony; 501257Various artists Mosaic of ottoman "Kadin Bestekarlar"
Label: Sony; 501256Three beautiful issues with music from the Ottoman empire. All three cdís come in a beautiful booklet with stacks of information about music and history. These are small treasures of documentation. On Ermeni Bestekarlar there are recordings of twenty one tunes and songs from Armenian composers. This are not old archive recordings but new recordings from the beginning of this millennium by the same group of musicians on all three the cdís. This one with Armenian compositions sounds very classical, slow music with sometimes dark and sad vocals. In the booklet many important composers are mentioned and some facts about their live is documented. A nice, intense cd which does give me a light sad feeling. The second cd is Yahudi Bestekarlar. This is a cd wit eighteen compositions of Jewish composers. again with great booklet offering many info about music and the composers. Personally I find that the music on this cd needs more time to listen to. The compositions do not vary that much and the differences between the tunes are very subtle. It's melancholic music, but somehow I feel better with the Armenian composers. Maybe I should give this cd more time but I do miss some variation here. The third one is Kadin Bestekarlar, women composers. This time sixteen tunes that are more accessible than the Jewish composers. I do find the vocals of the singers getting a bit annoying after three cdís, there isnít much variation in their way of singing and it really needs a trained ear to hear the differences. What I like most of these three cdís is that they give a nice documentation in sound and writing about some of the best known composers of the Ottoman empire. I will never be able to listen to them all three at the same day, as the music is to heavy and specific for that. But it does show how rich the Ottoman culture is.
Ahimsa "what is the nature of spirit"
Label: Acoustic music 31913522 The German world music-group Ahimsa fuses Indian classical music with jazz and improvised music. "What is the nature of Spirit" is a re-release of their second cd that appeared in 2003. The group is formed by the guitarist Matthias Muller and South Indian violin-player S. Radhakrishna. They are accompanied with a bass player and two Indian percussionists. The cd starts with 'a Fistful of Talas', a jazzy melody in which they try to show the mixture of different music they mostly focus on. Unfortunately, like more songs on the cd, it is like a puzzle with bits of jazz and bits of Indian music. The whole sound doesn't show a very innovative character it is all much too clean. The big contrasts, so typical for Indian music is totally gone. The guitar and bass-solo's are quite tame. The only piece that creates something more is 'kriti', which in fact is a traditional South-Indian piece played by the Indian part of the group. Although the group tries to make serious improvised music, the result is more like a soundtrack for a cheap Indian restaurant.
Joscho Stephan"Acoustic live"
Label: Acoustic music 3191369Guitarist Joscho Stephan from Moenchengladbach is the type of musician that naturally belongs on stage. As a real virtuoso, he is not only able to bring the gypsy-jazz-style of Django Reinhardt alive, he also creates a nostalgic atmosphere. Listening to the cd, it brings you back to the time of black and white movies, slapstick or mid-twentieth century Parisian nightclubs. Some songs are in fast finger picking-style, others are just creating a mood. Joscho understood that his music doesn't come alive in the studio as it does in a concert and he therefore recorded a live-show on a 8-trackrecorder. His gigs are normally with a trio or with an quintet/sextet. For this occasion, he did songs with both formations. A nice choice, there is so much variation in sound, that the cd never bores me, although I am not a typical Reinhardt-fan.
Label: Skipinnish SKIPCD06, 14 tracks, 48 minutesThis trio of youngsters presents a tasty sample of Scottish music, mainly dance music in the West Highland tradition. Plenty of Gaelic airs, pipe marches and the occasional Irish reel: they do tend to sneak into the Scottish repertoire. Starting with Frank's Reel by John McCusker, there's a thorough mix of new and old. Amongst the established favourites are the 6/8 march Angus MacKinnon, the stomping jig Wee Murdie, Dick Gossip's Reel and the Gaelic waltz Leaving Barra. Alongside these sit modern treasures such as Break Yer Bass Drone from the late great Gordon Duncan, The Slalom Skier by John Barnes, and Wee Muffin Cameron by the band's piano box-player Stuart Cameron.
As well as Stuart, Deoch'n'Dorus comprises Simon Moran on fiddle and Andrew MacPherson on drums and pipes. I'm not sure who's Jock and who's Doris. There are a few guest appearances, particularly on piano and guitar, plus a Gaelic love song from Darren MacLean and a border pipe cameo by Ross Ainslie. All these musicians come out of the Glasgow course in Scottish music, and it's slightly surprising that this album sounds so traditional: almost all of it would fit with Fergie MacDonald or the Wallochmor. Donald Black is obviously a major influence too. Innovation isn't the goal here: it's the enduring appeal of good music well played, and Deoch'n'Dorus provide that in spades.
The Eavesdropper, The Little Cascade, The Seagull, The 79th's Farewell, Lucy Campbell, and Fleshmarket Close: all are delivered with verve and vigour by this tight combo. There's a lovely slow air by Derek Rae, and a snappy strathspey by Simon. Most tracks are fiddle, box and drums, but the boys ring the changes often enough. There are some missing notes in a few tunes, and the fiddle is a little exposed at times, but this is rattling good stuff overall and a very impressive debut CD. More information is available from www.skipinnish.com.
Pauline Cato "New Tyne Bridge"
Label: Tomcat Music 2005Pauline Cato started to play the Northumbrian Pipes at the age of thirteen and became a professional musician in 1993. She has released nine albums, and two of them have been awarded Folk Album of the Year by the Daily Telegraph. Her latest CD "New Tyne Bridge" features some excellent guest musicians, including Phil Cunningham on piano and cittern, Ciarán Boyle on bodhrán, Christine Hanson on cello and Dave Wood on guitar.
From the first note you can distinguish the typical sound of the Northumbrian Pipes. Cato is one of the best traditional performers of that rare instrument and her playing is exceptional. In my personal opinion the tone which is higher than that of the uilleann pipes matches better slow airs and rather quiet tunes. My favourite tune is therefore "Bovaglie's Plaid", a slow air from Scottish fiddler James Scott-Skinner (1843-1927).The CD also features different dance tunes like waltzes, hornpipes, reels, slip-jigs and jigs - the two great jigs "New Road to Tynemouth/New Tyne Bridge" gave the album the name. Phil Cunningham's contributions on the piano are a perfect match for the sound of the pipes and the bodhrán emphasizes the traditional origin of the tunes like on the first set "The Cow's Corrant/The Jackdaw/Kielder Castle/The Sunny Banks of Wooler". While the piano and the bodhrán are a major part in the arrangements, the guitar and the cello rather stay in the background.
"New Tyne Bridge"is a stunning collection of 16 traditional set of tunes and compositions of the 19th / 20th century. Cato found most of them during her research work for the AHRB (Arts and Humanities Research Board) in Northumberland. Some of the tunes had to be transcribed and arranged for the Northumberland Pipes. The CD is a must for those of you who love the unique sound of this small brother of the Irish uilleann pipes. It is also a very precious item of historic music research and features very interesting information about the different tunes and their background. More information at www.tomcatmusic.com
Adolf "Gorhand" Goirup
Pádraig Rynne "Bye a while"
Label: own label 2005Pádraig Rynne from County Clare is one of the finest concertina players in the Irish music scene. He started his career with the band Turas when he was seventeen and joined in 1998 another Irish band, Cían. Since he left Cían in 2001 he has worked with some of the best traditional musicians like John McSherry and At First Light, John Joe Kelly and Flook, Paul Meehan (Lunasa, Karan Casey Band, North Cregg) and fiddle maker Paul Bradley. I saw him live in 2004 with Rogaire Dubh (see my review in issue 28 from April 2004) and I was very pleased to receive his first solo CD "Bye a while" for reviewing.
Pádraig Rynne wrote the title track "Bye a while" and named it after a favourite saying of his father. He has been joined by a bunch of brilliant guest musicians; some of them long time musical partners from the At First Light/Flook connection. The album is composed of nine traditional and contemporary Irish tunes - jigs, slip-jigs, reels, slow reels, hornpipes - as well as two Breton instrumental tracks.
The first set of jigs "Barbara Needham's/Christy Barry's/Bye a while" starts with a brilliant duo with Rynne on concertina and John McSherry on the uilleann pipes. Another great playing together with McSherry on low whistle and pipes can be heard on the beautiful Breton "Dans Loudieg". But the concertina also matches very well with Mirella Murray's piano accordion on the reels "Not Safe with a Razor/The Palm Tree/Jimmy's Return". The Galician/Breton set "Fusco/Plevin" is a perfect showcase for Murray's musical partner Tóla Custy on fiddle and John Joe Kelly on bodhrán. Arty McGlynn and Paul McSherry add their excellent guitar playing throughout the album and thus together with Kevin Dorris on bouzouki and Kelly on bodhrán they guarantee the breathtaking rhythms. I also love Rynne's playing on the slow reels "The Old Bush/The Swallow's Tail" and Dónal O'Connor's keyboards on the jig/slip-jig/reel set "Fisherstreet/The Wingflapper/The Céilíer".
The CD is a wonderful sample of Irish music brought forward by some of the finest traditional musicians of the Irish music scene. Look for more information at www.padraigrynne.com
Adolf "Gorhand" Goirup
More English CD Reviews: Page 1 - Page 2 - Page 3 - Page 4 - Page 5 - Page 6
More German CD Reviews: Page 1 - Page 2 - Page 3
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