New Reviews: October 7, 2002
Reviews by Matthew J. Forss
Belly Dance! The Best Of George Abdo And His Flames Of Araby Orchestra
Smithsonian Folkways Recordings
Middle Eastern maestro, George Abdo, features some of his best works over
the years in his Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and American influenced songs.
George Abdo and his Flames of Araby Orchestra, brought Middle Eastern music to
mainstream America in the 1970ís. This album features songs from the 1970ís and
early 1990ís. Georgeís vocals and abundant instrumentation are a perfect
combination for belly dancing. Some of the instruments used include qanun,
ud, violin, bongo, conga, darabukkah, bass, trumpet, claves, oboe and guitar.
Upbeat rhythms, choral arrangements and instrumentals indicate Georgeís incredible
and creative musicianship in the composition of traditional Middle Eastern tunes
that entered the American mainstream. Belly Dance! is a truly wonderful and
historical album that should not be missed by long-time fans of George Abdo and
lovers of Middle Eastern music.
Song Ziní. . .
Cameroonian Gino Sitson, brings us African jazz and "vocadelic tales". Song Ziní. . ., which
means "Iím gonna tell you," mixes indigenous African rhythms and vocal acrobatics with
contemporary melodies that are reminiscent of todayís smooth jazz artists. Gino sings
all of the songs in the Medumba language. His African vocal stylings blend nicely
with the contemporary instrumentation. Overall, Song Ziní. . . contains beautiful
melodies, rhythms, vocals and superb songs of African traditions and stories.
Fans of African jazz should acquire Song Ziní. . . for their listening pleasure.
Bahamian Ballads - The Songs Of Andre Toussaint
The late Haitian guitarist and vocalist, Andre Toussaint, was known for
his lounge-style calypso music from the 1950ís to early 1980ís. Andre combined
French, Haitian, Spanish and Italian rhythms and melodies in his compositions.
Bahamian Ballads features his early music that utilizes rumba, folk, jazz, calypso
and American Western music styles. Fans of Bahamian music should definitely check
out Bahamian Ballads.
Electric Highlife - Sessions From The Bokoor Studios
Electric Highlife features the music of eight bands from Ghana during
the early 1980ís. Highlife music incorporates reggae, jazz, rumba, folk
and European music styles. The music also contains big band sounds,
upbeat guitar licks and melodic instrumentation. It is important to note
that most of the African popular music grew out of the Highlife musical
style. A booklet is included, detailing Ghanaís Highlife music; itís bands,
and songs. Perfect for fans of historical African music.
Maron di Mar
Ze Manel releases his latest album of Portugese-Creole lyrics and West
African rhythms on Maron di Mar (Sea Wave). The entire album draws upon folk,
jazz and fado styles. Sincere vocals, melodies and elegant instrumentation emanate
from this impressive musical adventure. Ze Manel utilizes rhythms and instruments
from other countries surrounding his native land of Guinea-Bissau. Fans of Bidinte,
another musician from Guinea-Bissau, would thoroughly enjoy Maron di Mar. In general,
fans of African jazz and West African music will find Maron di Mar to be a refreshing
and joyous album.
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.