New Reviews: June 25, 2002
Reviews by Matthew J. Forss
Rajery is an exceptional author, composer, musicologist, vocalist and percussionist in
his native land of Madagascar. The musical foundation of this recording lies in
the sparkling sounds of the valiha. The valiha is a bamboo zither or harp that
is representative of Madagascar. Interestingly, the valiha originated from Indonesia.
The valiha sounds very similar to the West African kora. Rajery combines harmonic
chants with guitar, bass, flute and percussion. In general, fans of African harp
music will appreciate Rajery’s musical instrumentation and tradition. Tarika is a
similar group from Madagascar that also features the valiha in their music. Overall,
Fanamby is a captivating and interesting album of African music.
Toto la Momposina
Toto la Momposina combines traditional flute, guitar and percussion that
radiate the musical intricacy and history of her native Colombia. Various
horn arrangements, vocals and percussion rely on an assortment of musical
styles. Some styles include bolero, cha-cha-cha, guaracha, traditional Mayan,
Brazilian, and even a hint of South Asian. It is important to note that a
few tracks are vocally and rhythmically, rather than culturally reminiscent
of South Asia. Toto’s vocals range from short utterances to long, operatic
vocal stylings that are surprisingly similar to Eurasian mugam songs.
However, the music draws exclusively upon traditional sounds and rhythms
from Mexico, Central America and South America. Fans of traditional music
from these regions, Cuban, Latin and Tex-Mex music should purchase
Pacanto for their listening pleasure.
Papa Noel & Papi Oviedo
Bana Congo is an excellent collaboration between Congolese guitarist Papa Noel
and Cuban tres player Papi Oviedo. Bana Congo contains Afro-Cuban rhythms and melodies
that seem to draw more heavily on Cuban rhythms. Instruments used include guitar,
bongo, double bass, conga, trumpet and percussion. Male and female vocals resound
on each track. Beautiful vocals and skillful instrumentation of all musicians
involved, make Bana Congo an essential album of Afro-Cuban music. A "must-have"
for Cuban music lovers.
Matthew J. Forss is currently a full-time student at Lakeland College-Sheboygan,
Wisconsin. He is majoring in Biology and German Language/Culture. Since 1998,
he has collected numerous musical instruments and CDs from around the world.
Also in 1998, he wrote a paper on Mongolian Ethnomusicology, titled:
How Does Music Play An Important Role In The Life And Culture Of Mongolia?
Currently, he has collected over 100 CDs that represent dozens of different
countries. His general interests include ethnomusicology journalism and
researching the traditional/contemporary ethnic music of various cultures
from around the world. His specific, geographic areas of study include the
traditional and popular music from Central Eurasia (especially Mongolia, Uzbekistan,
Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan.) In November of 2000, he accepted the position of
writing world music CD reviews for this site.