Kenia Celebrates Dorival Caymmi (Mooka Records – 2010)

Dorival Caymmi was considered a seminal figure in the music of Bahia in Brazil. His influence on the Música Popular Brasileira movement was incalculable and Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso continue to pay him homage in their original work even today as it is impossible to escape his influence. In the appropriately entitled album, Kenia Celebrates Dorival Caymmi, the wonderful vocalist, Kenia literally recreates the unusually festive nature [...]

Paul Austerlitz – Journey (Innova Recordings – 2008)

There is very little precedence for Journey, a work of striking newness and dazzling virtuosity, by the reeds player, Paul Austerlitz. First of all it occupies a rather narrow stream in Afro-Caribbean music—Dominican music of African origin—and secondly it is largely played on reeds of the very lowest register—only the great Anthony Braxton ventures there. It combines Yoruba chants with African and jazz musical idioms [...]

Roberto Fonseca: Akokan

In his follow-up to 2007’s Zamazu (Enja/Justin Time), Cuban piano master, Roberto Fonseca deepens his journey into his quasi-mystical musical search. Like the mythical...

Samuel Torres – Yaoundé (Self Produced – 2010)

For the spirits to materialise when they are summoned in worship the practice of the worship must reach a level of intensity—get to the blue part of the flame, so to speak—and arouse the angels and God as well to come down and bless the worshippers a million-fold. When David played his harp, so intense was his music that Samuel was inspired to anoint him King. Now it is the turn of another Samuel, not to anoint, but to call up the angels and saints [...]

Antonio Adolfo & Carol Saboya – Lá e Cá (Self Produced – 2010)

Although Antonio Adolfo makes a point to explain his singular style as an amalgam of a very personal style with a distinct infusion of Brazilian phrasing, this may not be necessary at all. Adolfo’s sweeping, symphonic pianistic style and the immaculate sense of swagger is highly recognizable. His virtuoso piano playing echoes with the offbeat of the samba, the irreverent rattle of maracatu and flights of fanciful capoeira. These he incorporates into his often [...]

El Movimiento – The Movement (Nueva Nota Records – 2010)

To employ a guitar in the melange of Latin music is no great deal, but to make use of the melodic and harmonic richness of the instrument over its rhythmic capability in the manner that El Movimiento have done on The Movement is quite courageous. Adam Agati has woven a mighty spell of seductive magic here. His mastery of the elements of melody and harmony are second to none and on this album, he certainly follows saxophonist Rashaan Barber close enough [...]

Gabriele Tranchina: A Song of Love’s Color

It appears that exacting pitch is not really important in the grander scheme of things, for Gabriele Tranchina’s singing. Although it seems likely that if she really wanted to this vocalist could nail the exacting pitch of the notes themselves with perfection, Tranchina eschews the exactitude of notation to scale impossible heights of emotion. In this respect she is like a storyteller who uses lyric passages to let tales of longing and other elusive emotions unfold [...]

Steve Pouchie – El Puente (The Bridge) (Self Produced – 2010)

It is altogether a special virtue to make an album that features music delightful to listen to as well as to feel an irresistible urge to get up and dance to when the first chords are struck. This is exactly what Steve Pouchie has done with El Puente. From the outset the vibraphonist draws a direct line in his musical lineage from Cal Tjader and Dave Samuels. There is that swaggering bluesy influence of Milt Jackson that may sometimes peep through [...]
Omar Sosa & NDR Bigband - Ceremony

Omar Sosa & NDR Big Band: Ceremony

Omar Sosa inhabits two worlds. One in which all humans live and the other is the spirit world. On Ceremony (Music arranged by Jaques Morelenbaum) a record that he made with the NDR Big Band, he has opened the door to both worlds. Moreover, with Jaques Morelenbaum’s masterful arrangements of his (Sosa’s) music these worlds are that much closer. Sosa has been crossing the threshold between this world and the spirit one [...]

Hamilton de Holanda Quintet: Brasilianos 2

The mandolin has barely evolved since its incarnation as a lute in Italy over three hundred years ago. A few more strings may have been added, so that there is now a ten-stringed version; tuning of these strings may have become more creative and different, but the instrument has remained essentially the same. Unlike the violin, its notes decay quicker after they are sounded and cannot usually be sustained after a point. But then you have musicians [...]

Ricardo Silveira – Até Amanhã (Adventure Music – 2010)

The music of guitarist Ricardo Silveira flows—especially on Até Amanhã/'Til Tomorrow--flows like an interminable river into the proverbial ocean of sound where a world of music mixes and mingles. Yet the idea that he is only marginally Brazilian is anathema. Silveira’s music ripples and gushes with a forceful swagger recalling, at times, the immensity force Rio Negro. That is when his phrases and lines bubble like with liquefying, steamy splendour [...]

Mark Weinstein – Timbasa (JazzHeads – 2010)

It would seem that there is no stopping flutist, Mark Weinstein. While the composer and instrumentalist extraordinaire may not have trumped his awe-inspiring expedition into the realm of improvisation, Tales From The Earth (Ota Records, 2009) his album, Timbasa has certainly turned out to be an alchemist's dream. Who would ever have imagined that Miles Davis' languorous performance of "Milestones" could be regenerated as an extravagant and masterful Afro-Cuban adventure? [...]

Luis Muñoz – Invisible (Pelin Music – 2010)

Luis Muñoz thinks with an open palette of sound. His vision of music is as sweeping as the eye can see and absorbs a wide spectrum of color and tone texture, from the sophisticated rough and tumble of the trance-like sound of Afro-centric worship music to the delightful swing of idiomatic phrases that spring from the joyous spirit of jazz [...]

Miguel de León – Postcards from Rio (Migsmuse Records – 2009)

There are several multi-lingual artists—some are even musicians. However, the fact that several languages may be spoken, even sung, it does not mean that they get to the soul of the musical culture whose garb they put on for the occasion. But Miguel de León is one of those artists who wears a cultural garb just like a second skin [...]

Nando Michelin – Reencontro (Self Produced – 2010)

In one of those eternal conundrums in the life of an artist, while Nando Michelin gets plenty of recognition he is relatively little known outside the small coterie of musicians who have taken the proverbial creative leap and transcended cultural boundaries. To be as little known as Michelin in outside intellectual circles is a pathetic fallacy. This is no fault of Michelin of course [...]

Pablo Aslan: Tango Grill

To the unsuspecting ear, Pablo Aslan may sometimes appear to be just a fabulous bassist, with sublime technique and a virtuoso of limitless possibility. But dig a little deeper, especially into this album, Tango Grill and the impossible will seem to appear. Aslan takes the relatively rigid structure of the written music and dance form, the Tango, into a stratospheric space where [...]
Otmaro Ruiz - Sojourn

Otmaro Ruiz Presents Sojourn

The Chambers Dictionary describes the word “sojourn” as “a temporary residence or stay, as of one in a foreign land.” Pianist, Otmaro Ruiz’s musical journey offers all the right cues for his Sojourn being so apt to document, because even though it gets somewhat personal at times, it is one that is memorable for anyone interested in taking the journey with him [...]

Desandann: ¡Pwan Dife! (Light The Flame!)

Thanks to their greatest champions outside Cuba, Jane Bunnett and Larry Cramer, the extraordinary ten-person vocal ensemble, Desandann has returned after a decade with their second, spell-binding album, ¡Pwan Dife! (Light The Flame!). The album was recorded on the back of Bunnett’s brilliant, Juno award-winning album Embracing Voices, (EMI/Sunnyside Records, 2008) [...]

Marcus Tardelli – Unha & Carne (Biscoito Fino – 2009)

Even if Guinga never pronounced that Marcus Tardelli is "the greatest acoustic guitar player that Brazil has produced in history," the musical evidence on this record, Unha e Carne (Fingernail and Flesh for those interested), would certainly put him on a pedestal right next to Egberto Gismonti and the Assad Brothers. In fact, based on technique, expression, intonation and [...]

Carlos Barbosa-Lima – Merengue (Zoho Music – 2009)

There is distinct nobility surrounding the virtuosity of the guitarist, Carlos Barbosa-Lima. His South American sojourn, Merengue presents sweeping vistas and myriad emotions described by such technical superiority as only a few musicians have achieved. Unfortunately Barbosa-Lima’s reputation has not kept pace with his magnificent musicianship [...]

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