Harry Manx – Om Suite Ohm

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Harry Manx has been called an “essential link” between the music of East and West, creating musical short stories that wed the tradition of the Blues with the depth of classical Indian ragas. For Om Suite Ohm, his eleventh album, Manx teamed up with composer/producer Hans Christian (who worked with Daniel Lanois and was bassist on Robbie Robertson’s solo CD) in Australia where he recorded with guests Yeshe and didjeridoo player Ganga Giri, who played with Peter Gabriel.
Manx has been cultivating his musical roots for more than 30 years. Much of that time has been spent immersed in Eastern culture under the guidance of mentors like slide guitarist Vishwa Mohan Bhatt in India. With Om Suite Ohm, however, Manx seems to be expanding his global influences.
“Further Shore,” for example, sings of Spain with an overriding African melody, while “Way Out Back” is clearly drawn from countless tours in Australia.
Despite his little jab at the music industry’s need to pigeonhole, Manx is an artist who happily professes to always have one foot in the blues door. From India to jazz to Africa, it doesn’t seem to matter where the other foot may go. His intricate compositions, virtuosic playing and natural ability to blend genres have allowed Manx to carve out a place for himself in music that always feels like Om Suite Ohm.

Fela & Africa 70

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Fela Kuti ( 15 October 1938 – 2 August 1997), was a Nigerian multi-instrumentalist, musician, composer, pioneer of the Afrobeat music genre, human rights activist, and political maverick.This is the re-release of the old Barclay album by the same name from the 1970s, now taking advantage of better mastering techniques. The album is split into two discs, stylistically the “Jazz Side” and the “Dance Side.” Admittedly, this is a rather difficult task to undertake, dividing the songs into their components. Fela had a huge amount of jazz influence embedded in his music, including the songs made primarily for dancing. And even the more free jazz-oriented numbers were created in part to make people dance. As such, separating the two is an endeavor doomed in part. Despite this difficulty, the split is made decently well, with the more outstandingly leaning numbers on either side being displayed for the listener. The jazz side includes “JJD,” “Roforofo Fight,” “Sorrow Tears and Blood,” “Water No Get Enemy,” and “Just Like That.” The dance side includes a small piece of the incomparable “Kalakuta Show,” “Perambulator,” “Pansa Pansa,” and “Eko Ile.” Each piece is a masterwork in and of itself. As such, the highlights have a hard time standing out from the filler, with all pieces being a highlight of some sense. “Perambulator” shows off some incredible instrumental work from Africa 70, and “Just Like That” on the jazz side showcases a nice bit of call and response. For a basic introduction to Fela’s sound, this doesn’t make a bad album to pick up. The Best Best of Fela Kuti is comparable in this respect. For the collector, the original albums (now remastered) would perhaps be more comprehensive certainly, but this still makes a good addition to the collection for its attempt at showing a couple of aspects separately. Either way, pick it up for at least one listen.

Putumayo – Cover the World

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This album offers 12 enlightening cover versions of Western pop tunes, as performed by artists from places like France, Spain, South Africa, Germany, and Mali. It’s always instructive to glimpse how one culture’s music is perceived by another, whether through a funhouse mirror, from under a microscope, or even face-to-face. The performances gathered here range from misguided (Albert Pla’s bizarre Spanish language take on Lou Reed’s “Take A Walk On The Wild Side”) to hilarious (Fatal Mambo’s salsa interpretation of Mungo Jerry’s “In The Summertime”) to a delightful breath of fresh air (Malian girl group Les Go’s version of Hall & Oates’ “I Can?t Go For That”). Nenes’ earnest Japanese-language rendition of Bob Marley’s “No Woman No Cry” is laced with plangent plucked samisens and is somehow extremely touching. Other attempts are less effective, but at least none of them come across as cynical and all are worth a listen. 

 

 

Barrabas-Wild Safari

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The seventies produced a great number of new sounds, Barrabas was one of them. Created by former BRINCOS’ star MR.Fernando Abex, this band reached an excellent level of popularity on the US charts with “wild safari” “try and try” just to name a few.
Barrabas-Wild Safari is filled with great tunes and superb musicianship. If you a music lover like I am, you will love this CD becouse it represents the creativity of an entire generation, Abex’s concept of music ideology based on afro-latin-funk-salsa-rock rythms moved us for over an whole decade .

Winston Mcanuff & Fixi – A New Day

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If the pavements of Kingston, Paris, New York and Lagos formed one country with the mountains of Jamaica and the Reunion, that nation’s anthem would be A New Day. This luminous record, concocted by two unrepentant music-lovers, came from the back of a draw that was already opened a few years ago. In 2007, Fixi and his band Java recorded Paris Rockin’ with Jamaican musician Winston McAnuff and sold over 20 000 copies. That day, the pair started a collaboration that would bring them together again one day.
Six years later, here is the second chapter of this adventure, and this time it’s a real duo. The foundation of their collaboration remains the same, one of them on the accordion or keyboards, the other behind the mic – surrounded by their friends – their ambition to break down barriers between musical genres reaching its culmination. The tandem mixes rock-musette, reggae, soul, blues, afrobeat and maloya in the same score. But rather than joining these styles together, they fused them together to break with tradition and create rather than copy.
With A New Day, they created a unique blend, taking us through the twists and turns of a musical Eden. Some songs are more upbeat, like ‘Garden of Love’, a cheerful cavalcade recalling the blissful shores of love; there’s a nursery rhyme, ‘Let Him Go’, built on a background of cha-cha-cha that’s guarantied to stay in your head all day long; there’s ‘One, Two, Three’, a heady maloya pulsating like a heartbeat, like a trance leading from vertigo to total freedom; just like ‘Economical Crisis’, a frenetic antidote against recession that could wake the dead; there’s ‘You and I’, whipped into an afrobeat gem by non other than the maestro Tony Allen, Fela’s ex-drummer, who’s always thirsty for new experiences and whose latest albums were conceived by… Fixi. This ambitious project was produced by Olivier Lude (Vanessa Paradis, -M-, …) and had to feature some of the people who fundamentally inspired this great musical voyage: other than Tony Allen, there’s Olivier Araste of Lindigo (a young maloya band that’s very popular in the Reunion and whose last album was produced by Fixi), -M- on guitar, Cyril Atef on percussion and several others.
There are also some more meditative songs: after the unbridled and explosive impulsion of the start of their collaboration, their approach is now more profound, leaving room for spleen and spirituality. ‘Wha Dem Say’, an incantatory blues, is the perfect backdrop for the great soul man Winston McAnuff’s rough and banged-up voice, recalling Bobby Womack’s, to assert its strong personality. In perfect communion with Fixi’s accordion, Winston’s voice sets and appeasing mood, watching the world from a distance, questioning it, far from its buzzing urgency. This philosophical and sometimes social dimension appears on ‘Heart of Gold’ (a woman who swaps her heart for gold), ‘Johnny’ (a lost youth lacking guidance that gets broken by prison), ‘Don’t Give Up’ (illusions clouding the way to true love) and ‘A New Day’ (a comforting song opening-up a glorious future at our fingertips). ‘If You Look’ reaches a height of melancholy and lyricism that cures the soul.
You’ll feel a serene calmness coming out of the enchanted garden that is A New Day, a welcome comet in the formatted musical cloud of today’s scene. The universality of Fixi and Winston McAnuff’s record could only come from rebels like themselves. “I’m a rebel”, says Winston, on the only truly reggae song of the album, with fine maloyen tones sung by a feminine chorus that sound like The I Threes. They’re rebels to the end, choosing their own path and inviting us on this universal waltz, coming from far away and from nowhere we know.