Enzo Favata Tentetto, featuring Tenores di Bitti The New Village Manifesto (www.ilmanifesto.it)
Composer Enzo Favata plays multiple woodwinds (saxes, bass clarinet, and an array of wind instruments from his native Sardinia and beyond), combining a foundation in free jazz and European classical music with elements from around the Mediterranean and the African diaspora. He joins forces with the Tenores di Bitti, a riveting Sardinian a cappella quartet, and an ensemble of trumpet, piano, Fender Rhodes, electric guitar, live electronics, upright and electric basses, and drum kit (avant garde journeyman U.T. Gandhi). Together they conjure up a decidedly global (village) revelation, antiphonal, and thoroughly (uprooted) cosmopolitan. Featuring enduring Sardinian texts, The New Village offers an interplay of voices and instrumentation (as on "Comare Mia," "T'amo," "Pullighita Blues," or the funkified "In su Monte Seris now," something late Miles would have been proud to call his own) that opens up transcendent beyond-the-conservatory musical territory, uneasy revelatory listening for those more at ease than not in a restless sonic world. - Michael Stone
Culture Musical Club Shime! World Village (www.worldvillagemusic.com)
The opening drumbeats sound like the heart of Africa, but soon an accordion, oud and qanun are adding an Arabic grace. Strings, a chorus of female voices and subtle shifts in rhythm emerge, hovering somewhere between Nubia and the Indian Ocean. Such is the beauty of taarab music, which originated on the spice island of Zanzibar, located just off the coast of Tanzania, and draws from every direction that such a cross-culturally opportune spot would suggest. Culture Musical Club isn't the oldest taarab outfit (they've been around a mere fifty years; the similarly venerated Ikhwani Safaa Musical Club was established a century ago), but they're the best known outside their homeland and, as their new release Shime! ("Keep it Up") shows, they cover the most ground stylistically. There's a clear link to Egyptian orchestral music in the combination of slow-building intensity and melancholy beauty, especially evident when the accordion takes on a mournful tone during the instrumental stretches. It's not sad stuff, though. Percussion and bass often kick the songs into a mid-point tempo increase that clears the way for male and female vocals to take a similar jump from blues-tinged to almost jazzy. And despite an ability to sound highly polished and sophisticated when they see fit, the group retains a certain rawness at the core, touching upon the sparser, drum-driven kidumbak style and ending the CD with a two-song suite that puts aside the full ensemble in favor of violins, percussion and the weathered voice of principal male singer Makame Faki. So whether taarab is new to you or you're already hooked, you will want to hear this music by one of its finest collectives. - Tom Orr
The first release on the new Cumbancha Discovery world music line will be from Kimi Djabaté, a guitarist, percussionist and balafon player from the West African country of Guinea-Bissau who lives in Lisbon, Portugal. Djabaté's sound is acoustic and melodic with a bit of an Afro-Latin swing, reminiscent of Habib Koité. Djabaté's album Karam will be released in July.
Kicking off an accordion album with "Sous le Ciel de Paris" would seem like either an exercise in post modern irony or a display of total lack of imagination. When Esprit Follet does it, however, they give the Paris metro staple a spaciousness and generosity of spirit that immediately makes it your new old favorite song. Indeed this whole album of Franco-Italian music flows weightlessly on the vibration of a reed, or in this case, multiple reeds. Rinaldo Doro plays accordion and Sonia Cestonaro oboe and the two of them have a complex orchestral sound that plays on the pliability of both instruments...
Evgenios Spatharis, a Greek master of shadow puppet theater, died Saturday at the age of 85.
He was well-known throughout Greece for his puppet theater stories revolving around the hunchbacked character Karagiozi, who came to represent the virtues and vices of the average Greek. Cunning and rebellious, Karagiozi was often shown as a liar and petty thief who wormed his way out of difficult situations.
Well, Twitter and such led RootsWorld down an interesting world music path this week. A friend in Berlin posted a video on her blog of a NYC pop band called Vampire Weekend doing a song, with a Congolese guitar riff, called "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa"
Further pecking on the keyboard uncovered this little gem: Esau Mwamwaya from Malawi doing the same song, in a full trans-Atlantic turn around.
And of course, at that point, I needed to find some of the real deal, by Pepe Kalle.
And finally, Kalle and Empire Bakuba show how the Kwassa-Kwassa should be done.