Riverboat Records, World Music Network’s Ongoing “Rough Guide To…” Series Gets Another Welcome Addition With Slide Guitar Blues Collection

Courtesy: World Music Network/Riverbaot Records

For those who may not be overly familiar with how the music industry works, every year from about early April until about late October, there’s a little something that happens that this critic has come to call the “annual Summer music push.”  It is during this time frame that it seems like every record label and act under the sun releases new music, from singles, to EPs, to full albums.  It starts as a slow boil in mid-late March and then really picks up in early April.  In the movement that is the annual summer music push, it gets easy for so many records to get lost in the mix along the way.  One record that will not get lost in the blues realm is World Music Network’s latest compilation record, The Rough Guide to Slide Guitar Blues.  Released Friday, this 25-song record is yet another enjoyable addition to WMN’s ongoing The Rough Guide To… compilation series.  Its success comes in no small part through its liner notes, which in this case really serve as the record’s foundation.  They will be discussed shortly.  The songs that make up the collection’s body work in direct partner with the liner notes and make for more engagement and entertainment.  They will be discussed a little later.  The record’s production puts the finishing touch to its presentation and will also be examined later.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the collection.  All things considered they make The Rough Guide to Slide Guitar Blues a presentation that any blues fan will enjoy.

The Rough Guide to Slide Guitar Blues, the latest release in World Music Network’s ongoing The Rough Guide To… compilation series, is a mostly successful new offering from the label.  It is a welcome companion to so many of the various blues compilations that have come from the label ahead of its release.  The collection’s success comes in part through its featured liner notes.  The notes are important to note because of the foundation that they form for the record.  From early on, audiences learn through the liner notes that while the blues is a distinctly American form of music, the use of a slide on a stringed instrument is in fact African at its roots.  Many audiences will be surprised to learn not only this, but that the African instrument that essentially gave rise to slide guitar blues was a children’s instrument.  The whole story there will be left for audiences to discover for themselves.  This is just one of the interesting items presented in the liner notes.  Audiences also learn through the liner notes that the use of a slide on a guitar, at least in the continental United States was first documented in 1903 by W.C. Handy while waiting for a train.  Yet, even before that time, the use of a slide on a guitar had also been well-known in Hawaii (before it became a state) and was becoming even more popular in the continental United States.  Yet again, this is an intriguing item that blues fans and music fans in general will find intriguing, and potentially even get them to do their own research into both genres’ histories.  It is just one more example of the foundation that the liner notes form and is certainly not all that makes them interesting.  The liner notes also point out the various kinds of slides used in the blues and the ways in which they were used, both in slower 12-bar blues and more upbeat music of the genre.  This item plays directly into the songs that make up the record’s body.

The songs that compose the body of The Rough Guide to Slide Guitar Blues offer audiences slide guitar blues recorded by blues musicians from the Mississippi Delta, Texas and the East Coast.  They are also up-tempo compositions and more reserved compositions.  In other words, audiences get quite the variety of slide blues compositions throughout the course of the record’s 77-minute run time.  The ability of the slide to sustain notes (going back to the liner notes) in slower songs is on wonderful display in Lemuel Turner’s ‘Way Down Yonder Blues.’  Easily one of Turner’s most well-known compositions, it is a full-on instrumental composition that features Turner playing his guitar by himself.  Nothing else is there.  The vibrato in so many of the song’s notes cuts through so clearly and really enriches the arrangement all the more.  On a completely opposite note, there is the country blues style composition that is ‘Somebody Changed The Lock On My Door,’ from Casey Bill Weldon.  In the case of this song, the notes are sustained in their own unique way as the contemplative composition progresses.  What’s more, the arrangement itself shows just another blues subgenre and how slides are used to enhance the music therein.  Kokomo Arnold’s ‘Feels So Good,’ which comes early in the set, is a prime example of more upbeat, energetic slide guitar blues.  The use of the slide in a case, such as this shows how a slide is used in direct contrast to slower, more reserved blues songs.  In slower blues compositions, the slide provides more of a vibrato, in almost a classical music style.  In the case of a song like this, the slide shortens the notes and really changes the overall sound of the recording.  It is just one more example of how the various compositions show so much variety in how slides are used in the blues.  When it is considered with the other compositions examined here and with the rest of the record’s songs, the whole of that content builds on the collection’s foundation and makes the presentation all the more enjoyable.

The liner notes featured in The Rough Guide to Slide Guitar Blues and the songs that directly partner with them do much to make the record.  They are just a part of what makes the set another enjoyable offering from WMN.  The production that went into the record’s presentation rounds out its most important elements.  The production is important because once again, what audiences get in this collection is another grouping of recordings that reaches back to the early 20th century.  The sound of the static is still there, more so in some recordings than others, but it is there.  At the same time, there is clearly no loss in any of the featured songs.  What this means is that those responsible for the transfers clearly went to painstaking efforts once again to ensure the songs sounded just as good decades later as they did in their original presentations.  The result is a wonderful general effect that puts the finishing touch to the record.  When the expert production is considered along with the impact of the liner notes and the songs, the whole makes this presentation overall yet another successful addition to WMN’s ongoing series of Rough Guide To… releases.

The Rough Guide to Slide Guitar Blues, the latest addition to World Music Network’s ongoing series of Rough Guide To…compilations, is another positive offering from the company in that series.  Its success comes in part through its liner notes.  The notes are important because of the rich background that they offer on the history of slide guitar blues.  The history that they provide is sure to educate and surprise plenty of audiences, and hopefully in turn, get those audiences interested in starting their own research into the genre.  The music that accompanies the liner notes does well to take audiences even deeper into that history, as they hear exactly what the liner notes point out, in terms of stylistic differences in each style of slide guitar blues.  The production that went into the compilation puts the finishing touch to the presentation.  That is because it ensures the featured vintage presentations sound just as good in their new presentations as they did decades ago.  Each item examined here is important in its own way to the whole of the presentation.  All things considered, they make The Rough Guide to Slide Guitar Blues yet another enjoyable addition to WMN’s Rough Guide To… series of releases.

The Rough Guide to Slide Guitar Blues is available now through World Music Network and Riverboat Records. More information on this and other titles from World Music Network is available online at:

Websitehttp://www.worldmusic.net

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/WorldMusicNetwork

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/WMN_UK

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Cherif’s ‘Djawla’ Is The First Great World Music Album Of 2022

Courtesy: World Music Network/Riverboat Records

World music artist Anouar Kaddour Cherif released his debut album Djawla Friday through World Music Network and Riverboat Records.  The nine-song record is an interesting start for the artist, who currently calls Switzerland his home following his exile from his former home nation of Algeria some years ago.  The 43-minute, mostly instrumental presentation proves itself worth hearing thanks to its diverse musical arrangements.  They are diverse not only in their sounds and styles, but also in their combination of cultural influences, which end up directly influencing their sounds and styles.  One of the most notable of the record’s songs comes early in its run in the form of ‘Savage Butterly.’  It will be discussed shortly.  ‘Sirocco,’ which comes a little later in the album’s run, is another way in which the arrangements’ diversity shines through.  It will be discussed a little later.  ‘A True Lie,’ one of the record’s later entries, is also of note.  It will also be discussed later.  When it is considered along with the other songs noted here and with the rest of the album’s songs, the whole makes the album overall a successful offering from Cherif.

Djawla, the debut album from international artist Anouar Kaddour Cherif, makes for a positive start to this year’s field of new World Music albums.  Its featured musical arrangements do well to make that clear.  ‘Savage Butterfly,’ one of the album’s early entries, is one of the songs that makes that clear.  Drummer Hannes Junker’s performance on this song is just one of its highlights.  When he enters the arrangement, his performance comes across as quite similar to that of Terry Bozzio.  That is evidenced through the tight, staccato nature of his phrasing.  Cherif’s own performance on mandole alongside his own performance adds even more to that sense of songs from Bozzio’s Black Light Syndrome record, which also featured performances from Terry Bozzio and Steve Stevens.  The progressive nature of the overall performance, and the control that each musician has in his own performance makes this song so unique and just one of the works that makes this record so enjoyable.  Listening through the song after reading through the brief liner notes about the song, listeners can actually envision the tiny, gentle butterfly making its annual migratory voyage through everything, showing its wild nature (no pun intended) and determination to reach its goal.  It is such an enjoyable presentation, and just one of the album’s most notable works.  ‘Cirocco’ is another song that helps show what makes Cherif’s debut album worth hearing.

While ‘Savage Butterfly’ boasts something of a progressive nature in its stylistic approach and sound, ‘Sirocco’ bears its own separate identity.  Cherif’s Algerian roots are once again on full display here through his performance on the mnadole.  At the same time, the introduction of Clement Meunier on clarinet alongside Junker’s performance on drums, gives the arrangement a clear jazz influence, too.  The sense of swing that is displayed through the pair’s performance makes for its own uniquely engaging and entertaining presentation that also continues to show the diversity in the album’s lyrical themes.  According to the liner notes featured with Djawla, the arrangement is meant to conjure thoughts of the warm Saharan winds that blow from Africa all the way up to his current home in Switzerland.  The varying tempos and energies from each musician’s performance does so well to paint that rich picture.  The frenetic energy exhibited in the song’s final minutes paints that picture of the hot, dry winds blowing from the continent while the slower, more relaxed moments lead to thoughts of the winds building.  The whole musical story and the picture that it paints is fully immersive.  Keeping all of this in mind, it makes clear why this song is yet another important part of Djawla’s whole.  It is just one more of the songs that shows how much the album has to offer.  ‘A True Lie’ is one more example of how much the album has to offer.

‘A True Lie’ is described in Djawla’s linr notes as being about Cherif’s need to basically find something positive, something that would help him maintain at least some hope.  The way in which the song’s mood turns from somewhat edgy to more positive as it progresses does just as well to help make that story clear.  That edgy energy is accompanied by much of the music being played in a minor chord.  However, as the song progresses that all changes.  The arrangement turns somewhat funky for lack of better word, though the performance of bassist Antoine Brochot.  His fellow musicians follow suit from that point to the end, presenting the hope that Cherif must have found through his journey.  It will leave audiences feeling positive, just as Cherif must have felt.  The whole styling and sound here is unlike those of the other examined songs and from the rest of the record’s entries.  When each of the songs examined here and those other songs are considered together, the whole makes this record the year’s first great World Music offering and an equally enjoyable debut from Cherif.

Djawla, the debut album from Anouar Kaddour Cherif, is a strong first outing for the international artist.  Its success is shown from the record’s opening to its end.  That is proven through all three of the songs examined here.  When they are considered along with the rest of the album’s entries, the whole makes the record, again, the first great World Music offering of 2022 and an equally strong first outing for Cherif.

Djawla is available now through World Music Network and Riverboat Records. More information on this and other titles from World Music Network is available online at:

Websitehttp://www.worldmusic.net

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/WorldMusicNetwork

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/WMN_UK

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Blues Fans Across The Board Will Appreciate WMN, Riverboat Records’ New Compilation

Courtesy: World Music Network/Riverboat Records

January is officially in its final few days, but even with the month closing out, the year is still very young.  With the new year fully underway now, the staff of World Music Network and Riverboat Records wanted to make sure not to waste any time getting started on this year’s new additions to its ongoing series of Rough Guide To… releases.  The first of this year’s additions to said series came Friday in the form of The Rough Guide to Texas Blues.  The 26-song compilation is another impressive addition to the companies Rough Guide To…series, too.  That is due in no small part to its featured songs and artists.  This will be discussed shortly.  The liner notes that accompany the collection are another high point to its presentation and will be discussed a little later.  The set’s production rounds out its most important elements and will also be examined later.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the record’s presentation.  All things considered, they make the collection yet another successful addition to World Music Network and Riverboat Records’ Rough Guide To…series.

World Music Network and Riverboat Records’ latest addition to its ongoing Rough Guide To…series, The Rough Guide To Texas Blues is a presentation that blues fans across the board will enjoy.  That is due in no small part to its featured songs and artists.  The songs and artists in question cover a specific span of 11 years from 1926-1937.  That era was really the formative period for Texas blues.  Legends, such as Blind Lemon Jefferson, Leadbelly (a.k.a. Huddie William Ledbetter), and Blind Lemon Jefferson all rose to fame during those years and set the stage for future generations of blues performers.  They are featured here performing some of their most well-known songs along with some lesser-known artists of the day.  One of those lesser-known acts is Texas Alexander.  Born Alger Alexander, Texas Alexander was from Jewett, Texas.  While Alexander released a number of hits, such as ‘Texas Special,’ ‘Mama’s Bad Luck Child,’ and ‘Broken Yo Yo,’ his overall career did not make him a star at the level of the noted artists.  Stories passed down hint that his life and career was fraught with strife and that his musical output was limited.  Regardless of accuracy, his work helped establish the bigger sound that was early Texas blues, that jazz and swing-infused sound and style. 

Andrew “Smoky” Hogg is another of the bluesmen who made Texas blues so beloved even though his star never shined like those of some of his counterparts.  HE is also featured here, performing the song, ‘Kind-Hearted Blues.’  His performance here is a take of a song that helped establish Robert Johnson’s fame in the blues community a year prior in 1936, ‘Kind Hearted Woman Blues.’  The two renditions are noticeably different.  Johnson’s take is much more subdued and slower than Hogg’s update.  Hogg’s take on the song not only bears a slightly altered title – it drops the “woman” from the title – but it is also much shorter, clocking in at two minutes 39 seconds versus the five minute-plus rendition recorded by Johnson.  Even with the differences in mind, Hogg’s take on the song would still help Hogg make his own place in the Texas blues community.

Frenchy’s String Band is yet another of the lesser act featured in this collection that shows the importance of the set’s featured acts and songs.  This Texas-based string collective released just two titles for Columbia in 1928, ‘Sunshine Special’ and ‘Texas and Pacific Blues,’ which is the song included in this collection.  The song is a prime example of how early Texas blues were heavily influenced by the jazz and swing music of the age.  The use of the strings alongside the horns conjures thoughts of the swing bands of the era that would perform songs, such as the Charleston.  The connection between the two worlds is no clearer than in this performance from this little-known act.  When the pairing is considered with the other acts and songs noted and the others featured here, the collective leaves no doubt that the songs and acts featured throughout the collection are of their own importance to the compilation’s presentation.  They are just a part of what makes the compilation successful.  The liner notes that accompany the collection are of their own importance.

The liner notes that accompany the compilation’s featured acts and songs are important because of the history lesson that they provide.  Whether audiences are casual or more well-versed, the history lesson featured in the liner notes will engage and entertain listeners.  One of the most interesting items pointed out in the liner notes comes in the discussion on the influence of Henry Thomas.  The liner notes state that Thomas’ first recording session did not take place until 1927, when he was 53 years-old. That is an old age for any artist in any genre to get started.  Add in that at such point, the music that he recorded was, as the liner notes state, a representation of a bygone era.  His performance of ‘Don’t Ease Me In’ is a prime example of that older sound.  It really served to exemplify the sound that set the stage for the creation of the Texas blues, and is so pivotal as part of the bigger picture of the region’s blues scene. 

The revelation of Thomas’ role in the region’s blues development and history is just one of the most interesting of the items featured in the liner notes.   The focus on the role of blues vocalists, such as Bessie Tucker and Texas Alexander is of its own interest.  The notes point out that their vocal styles are so reminiscent of the work songs and field hollers that African-Americans would use in the fields in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.  Audiences who are even slightly familiar with those vocal styles will hear it cut through clearly from each, too.  At the same time, their singing styles also show the connection to the jazz influences on the blues at the time.

As if everything noted is not enough, the liner notes’ lead paragraph points out the stylistic difference between Texas blues and Mississippi Delta blues, the other most famous blues style of the age.  That in itself will hopefully encourage audiences to embark on their own musical voyage to learn even more deeply, just how different and alike the two genres were and still are.  The journeys that audiences will hopefully end up taking will lead to an even deeper appreciation for both forms of the blues, and possibly even the subgenre that is Chicago blues in the long run.  Between this starting point, the other revelations and other items included in the liner notes, those notes play heavily into the compilation’s presentation just as much as the collection’s musical content.  Together, they give audiences more than enough reason to take in this record.  Even collectively, they are just a portion of what makes the record stand out.  The songs’ production rounds out the record’s most important items.

The songs’ production is so important plays such an important part in the collection’s presentation because of its role in the record’s general effect.  Hearing the static from one song to the next, hearing the richness of each song even in its simplicity, hearing the depth of the vocals, all of it is so clear in each song.  That is a tribute to the work that went in to making sure the songs’ aesthetic effect remained just as powerful in their transfer from their original recordings to this point.  To that end, those responsible for touching up the songs and making sure they are fully immersive are to be commended for their work.  The result is a record that is just as successful for its general effect as for its overall content.  All things considered, that content and general effect makes The Rough Guide to Texas Blues such an enjoyable new addition to World Music Network and Riverboat Records’ ongoing Rough Guide To…series that any blues fan will enjoy.

World Music Network and Riverboat Records’ The Rough Guide to Texas Blues is a welcome new addition to the companies’ ongoing Rough Guide To…series.  It is a presentation that will appeal widely among blues fans.  That is due in part to the songs and acts featured in the collection.  They come together to help tell the story of Texas blues’ formative years in such rich fashion.  From well- to lesser-known acts and songs, they form a solid foundation for the collection.  The liner notes that accompany the record’s musical content adds even more to that history lesson and can certainly encourage audiences to embark on their own blues history lesson when considered with said content.  The production that went into the record’s production ensured that the original recordings were expertly transferred to this presentation.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the collection’s presentation.  All things considered, they make The Rough Guide to Texas Blues a solid starting point and otherwise for any blues fan’s musical library.

The Rough Guide to Texas Blues is available now through World Music Network and Riverboat Records.  More information on this and other titles from World Music Network is available online at:

Websitehttp://www.worldmusic.net

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/WorldMusicNetwork

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/WMN_UK

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Monoswezi’s ‘Shanu’ Gets “Five” Stars

Courtesy: Riverboat Records/World Music Network

International music collection Monoswezi is scheduled to release its latest album, Shanu this week.  The band’s fifth album, it is scheduled for release Friday through Riverboat Records and World Music Network.  The nine-song presentation is a surprisingly enjoyable addition to this year’s field of new World Music offerings and will appeal to audiences new and established alike.  That is due in no small part to its featured musical arrangements.  They will be discussed shortly.  The record’s liner notes build on the appeal established through the album’s musical arrangements and make the record even more engaging and entertaining.  They will be addressed a little later.  The record’s production rounds out its most important elements and will also be examined later.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the album’s presentation.  All things considered, they make Shanu a strong new offering from Monoswezi that is among the best of this year’s new World Music offerings.

Monoswezi’s fifth full-length studio recording, Sanu, (which just so happens to translate to the word “five” from the Shona language of Zimbabwe) is an impressive new offering from the group.  The record’s appeal begins with its featured musical arrangements.  The arrangements in question blend elements of Zimbabe, the home nation of the group’s vocalist, Hope Masike, with just enough subtle Western influences to make them appealing for pop musi and World Music fans alike.  One of the most notable ways in which this is evidenced is in the early entry, ‘Woshanda.’  The arrangement here incorporates Masike’s African percussion influences with a distinct Western disco influence for a whole that is unique, to say the very least.  The African percussion comes primarily here through the subtle use of the mbira (basically a little finger piano) while the western influence is a more prominent use of keyboards and electronics.  The blending of those influences here makes the whole a surprisingly infectious composition that is certain to get listeners dancing.  Ironically, as danceable as the musical arrangement proves here, it is an interesting contrast to the song’s lyrical theme, which will be discussed in the examination of the album’s liner notes.

Immediately after ‘Woshanda,’ the group continues to exhibit the way in which it blends its African and American influences so fluidly in the form of ‘Where is My Mbira?’  As the title notes, the song once again incorporates the mbira.  The instrument, by the way, is traditional to the Shona people of Zimbabwe, fittingly.  At the same time, the song also incorporates a distinct western R&B sensibility into the mix alongside a subtle, country western style guitar line to make the whole all the more interesting.  The mix of musical influences immediately conjures thoughts from the group’s fellow international music performer Dobe Gnahore, who released her latest album, Couleur early this year.  The overall subtlety of the mix is unlike the more energetic approach taken in ‘Woshanda,’ showing in its own way, the diversity and originality of the album’s featured musical arrangements.

‘Um Pouco,’ which serves as the second half of the album’s midpoint, is another example of the diversity in the album’s musical arrangements and how the diversity within the songs themselves makes them so appealing.  In the case of this song, Masike’s Zimbabwean roots remain on display.  However in this composition, that influence is complimented with a horn and saxophone arrangement that at times conjures thoughts of the lounge style jazz sounds of the 60s and at others of the soul and funk of the age.  That soul and funk leaning is made even more evident as the group incorporates some equally subtle guitar and percussion lines into the work.  The balance of those elements here makes the song’s arrangement just as unique as the others examined here and just as engaging and entertaining.  When this work and those noted are considered along with the rest of the album’s works, the whole of that content gives audiences more than enough reason to take in this record.  As much as the noted content does to make the album so appealing, it is just one part of the album’s success.  The record’s liner notes add their own appeal to the overall presentation.

The liner notes featured in Shanu are important to address because of the information that they provide.  For instance, with each song is an explanation of the song’s lyrical theme.  This explanation is so important because save for one song – ‘We Crown You Nehanda’ – the album’s songs are sung in Masike’s native tongue.  Masike actually presents the whole of the one noted song in English.  The themes in each song are accessible to audiences American, Zimbabwean and otherwise.  Case in point is the theme of ‘Zvorema,’ In the case of this song, the liner notes point out that the song centers on the topic of encouraging the downtrodden.  It states here, “A lament to the heavens to help us carry and fight the burden of greedy and selfish leaders who feast off the tears and sweat of the rest.”  This is a topic that will, again, resonate with any listener.  Understanding that theme, the song’s musical arrangement, which is decidedly somber and almost melancholy, makes sense and becomes more moving in its impact.

The information provided about ‘Tsika Szako’ states that this song is about the importance of appreciating one’s culture and not giving up on it and just adopting the culture of another.  The information states here, “It’s a form of poverty when one shuns their own traditions and heritage in favour of other cultures.  Look for the good in each culture, including your own.”  Again, this is a fully accessible theme.  Even though Masike, again, sings fully in her native tongue here, audiences can understand and appreciate  the message as it is translated so well here and in the mood set by herself and her fellow musicians.

As if everything noted here is not enough, the group also takes on the topics of love lost and gained here in the album’s opener, ‘Kuwonerewa’ and ‘Paya.’  The opener is about love lost and the closer brings things full circle as it focuses on love gained.  In regards to the album’s opener, the description points out that the song centers on the feeling that one has as a relationship progresses but changes in a not-so good way.  Meanwhile, the closer states simply, “Oh, how beautiful it is to be in your arms!”  That speaks volumes.  So again, audiences are given at least some translation in the liner notes.  Those notes go a long way toward making the arrangements (and songs in general) more appealing.  That is because those brief but concise explanations work well to make for more appreciation for the album’s arrangements.  Together, the explanations and musical arrangements make the songs fully translated and in turn all the more engaging and entertaining.  To that end, the overall content strengthens the album’s presentation that much more.  Even with this in mind, there is still at least one more item to examine in the form of the album’s production.

Shanu’s production is important to examine because of its impact on the arrangements.  As already noted, the arrangements featured here blend elements of Masike’s home nation of Zimbabwe with more accessible western musical influences.  This is also addressed in the liner notes.  Audiences will learn that this approach was intentional this time out for the group.  Getting back on the matter at hand, the album’s production played clearly through each arrangement.  The time and effort put into each composition, to balance those African and American musical influences expertly balances the noted elements.  The subtleties in that balance completely immerse audiences in each song.  The end result is that the album’s production makes its aesthetic impact just as strong as that of the arrangements and the album’s liner notes.  Each item noted, they make the album overall, a successful work that Monoswezi’s established audiences will enjoy just as much as those who are less familiar with the group and its catalog.

Monoswezi’s latest album, Sanu, is an impressive new offering from the international musical collective.  Its success comes in part through its featured musical arrangements.  The arrangements offer audiences the best of both worlds so to speak as they blend elements of Africa and America into one in each work.  It is a first for the group, too, making for even more interest.  The blending of that work will immerse audiences into the record by itself.  The liner notes that accompany the record are also of importance here.  That is because they lessen the impact of the songs being sung mostly in the native tongue of front woman Hope Masike.  The themes prove quite accessible, and when they are considered alongside their musical counterparts, the result is even more enjoyment for listeners.  The record’s production adds to the immersion that audiences will experience in listening to each arrangement.  That is because it exhibits the time and effort put into balancing each song’s instrumentation.  It brings everything together and completes the record’s presentation.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the album.  All things considered, they make Sanu a successful new offering from Monoswezi that is also among the best of this year’s new World Music albums.

Shanu is scheduled for release Friday through Riverboat Records and World Music Network.  More information on Shanu is available along with all of Monoswezi’s latest news at:

Websitehttps://monoswezi.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/monoswezi

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to https://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.  

World, Indian Music Fans Alike Will Appreciate Guy Buttery’s Latest Album

Courtesy: Riverboat Records/World Music Network

Lack of planning and preparation generally leads in most cases in life, to anything but success.  That goes without saying.  At the same time, it is not necessarily the rule.  Case in point is some of the best improvised jazz to ever be created.  Some of the best classical compositions are works that also were developed as they progressed.  Now this Friday, the World Music community will have its own entry to support the noted statement when Guy Buttery releases his new album, One Morning in Gurgaon.  Crafted in partner with Mohd. Amjad Khan and Mudassir Khan, the seven song record was created literally in a single morning, thus the record’s title.  According to the album’s liner notes, that limited time frame was not something that the trio planned, but rather that happened by chance.  It forced the group to essentially craft the record almost on the fly so to speak.  The session ultimately led to some interesting content, as is evidenced in part through the album’s penultimate entry, ‘Bakithi.’  It will be discussed shortly.  ‘Chidiya,’ which opens the 46-minute record, is another example of the positive that rose from the trio’s short recording time.  It will be discussed a little later.  ‘Kya Baat,’ another late entry to the album, is yet another example of the positive that rose from the stress of the group’s recording session.  It will also be discussed later.  When it and the other songs noted here are considered along with the rest of the record’s songs, the whole becomes another unique addition to this year’s field of new World Music albums.

Guy Buttery’s forthcoming album One Morning in Gurgaon, which he crafted with Mohd. Amjad Khan and Mudassir Khan, is an example of what good can come from people making the most of a bad situation.  It is a record that World Music fans and those of Buttery and company will agree equally is worth hearing.  That is because even in such a short time together, the trio crafted quite the interesting group of compositions.  One of the most interesting of those works comes late in the album’s run in the form of ‘Bakithi.’  ‘Bakithi’ stands out because of its balance of Indian and Western influences.  Throughout the course of the nearly five-minute opus, the pairing of the guitar line – which boasts a sort of country/folk vibe a la Dave Matthews and Ben Harper – and the Indian instrumentation makes for such a unique work in itself.  It makes the song stand out opposite its counterparts clearly.  The song starts off a little contemplative in its nature, but once it gets going, the two sides really get audiences engaged and entertained.  The production here is just as much to attribute to that impact as the song itself.  The echo effect used in the Indian instrumentation gives that side its own depth that, set against the song’s more Western-influenced guitar line, really adds such a welcome aesthetic to the whole.  That joining of “East” and West here is important not just on the musical level, but also the cultural level, too.  It serves to show what happens when two cultures work together.  All things considered here, the song proves to be just one of the most important of the album’s songs.  ‘Chidiya’ is another example of all the good that came from the trio’s brief recording session.

‘Chidiya,’ leans more toward the trio’s affections for Indian music and its culture.  The song barely tops the two minute mark, clocking in at two minutes, five seconds.  Even in that short time, the song evokes such depth and emotion from the simple arrangement.  It is centered on am unidentified string instrument that sounds an awful lot like a cello, but obviously is not.  The simple, mournful approach to the song is so rich.  Going back to the understanding that this song and each work featured in the album was essentially an improvised work, that the trio was able to bring about so much heart in this song is another statement of how sometimes, just sometimes, a bad situation can in fact create something positive.  It is just one more of the songs that serves to exhibit how much this album has to offer.  ‘Kya Baat’ is yet another way in which Buttery’s new album proves a success.

‘Kya Baat’ is stylistically similar to ‘Bakithi’ in that it once again brings together Buttery and company’s Western and Indian leanings.  At the same time, the arrangement is once again unique from the rest of the album’s entries.  Instead of the lighter approach of ‘Bakithi’ or even the mournful approach of ‘Chidiya,’ this song presents more of an urgent, contemplative sense.  That sense is especially established through the pairing of the tabla and guitar.  The other unnamed Indian string instrument invluded in the mix adds even more depth to the whole.  As the song progresses, the urgency in each instrument’s line increases, eventually building to a climax near the song’s finale that will leave listeners in awe.  That is especially the case as the climax immediately takes listeners back to the urgency exhibited in the song’s opening.  That also builds quickly back to a second climax at the finale that leaves listeners just as fulfilled.  Keeping that in mind, the whole of this song proves in itself just as much as the other songs examined here that even though Buttery and company had so little time to record this album, the product that the group produced was and is a success.  That is even clearer when all three songs examined here are considered along with the rest of the album’s entries.  All things considered, the whole of the album proves to be a unique new addition to this year’s field of World Music albums that is well worth hearing.

Guy Buttery’s new album, One Morning In Gurgaon is an interesting presentation.  Crafted alongside with his friends Amjad Khan and Mudassir Khan, the seven-song record holds its own against its fellow World Music offerings because of its featured arrangements.  The arrangements bring out the best of Buttery’s own performance and those of his friends.  At times blending what sounds and feels like Western influences with Indian and at others leaning more directly toward the group’s Indian influences, the whole presents unique content from one song to the next, as is evidenced through the songs examined here.  When the songs in question are considered along with the rest of the album’s entries, the whole becomes a work that World Music aficionados will enjoy just as much as those who are more interested in pure Indian music.

One Morning in Gurgaon is scheduled for release Friday through Riverboat Records and World Music Network.  More information on the album is available along with all of Buttery’s latest news at:

Website: https://guybuttery.co.za

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/guybutterymusic

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to https://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.  

One Shortfall Aside, WMN’s Latest Compilation Won’t Give Audiences The Blues

Courtesy: World Music Network

World Music Network has taken audiences on a thorough journey into the history of the blues over the course of the past year or so.  The company has done this with the release of two blues compilations, The Rough Guide to Spiritual Blues and before it, The Rough Guide to the Roots of the Blues.  Now Friday, WMN continues its journey into the history of the blues with a third new offering, The Rough Guide to the Best Country Blues You’ve Never Heard (Vol. 2). This second volume in the specific blues compilation series is another impressive piece for anyone with any interest in the blues in large part because of its featured songs.  They will be discussed shortly.  While the songs are themselves key to the compilation’s presentation, the record is not perfect.  It has one shortcoming related to the songs.  That shortcoming is the lack of any background information on the songs in the form of liner notes.  While this clearly detracts from the record’s presentation, it is not enough to make the compilation a failure.  The work done to remaster the songs makes up for the noted shortcoming, to maintain the compilation’s appeal.  That production and the songs join to make the record yet another welcome addition to WMN’s ongoing Rough Guide To… recordings that is well worth hearing.

World Music Network’s latest addition to its ongoing Rough Guide To… recordings series (and its blues entries therein) is a positive new entry in that franchise.  That is due in large part to its featured songs.  The songs in question span approximately 16 years of American music history.  Getting a little off topic here, there are no liner notes to explain why that span was chosen or even the artists and songs.  This will be addressed a little later.  Getting back on the subject at hand, the songs (26 in all) provide listeners with another in-depth audio history lesson on the blues.  Songs, such as ‘When You’re Down and Out’ is a well-known composition that has been covered by the likes of Tony Bennett and Eric Clapton.  Scott Joplin’s ‘Easy Winner’ is one of his slightly lesser-known but still know works.  It is covered here by The Blue Boys in a 1928 recording. Others, such as William McCoy’s ‘Central Track Blues,’ Walter Vincent’s ‘Overtime Blues,’ and Jesse Thomas’ ‘No Good Woman’ Blues’ are definitely more obscure songs, thus fitting again the compilation’s title.  Odds are even the most devoted blues aficionados have likely not heard of the majority of the record’s featured songs.  To that end, they will likely be a first time exposure for most listeners.  Building on that, the history lesson that they provide in themselves could lead to a new journey for some and even more research into the history of the blues for others.  Keeping that in mind, the songs featured in this record serve a very real and important purpose.  In turn, they form a solid foundation for the record’s presentation.  While the songs themselves are undeniably important to the record’s presentation, the previously noted lack of background information on the songs detracts from the record’s presentation to a point.

The lack of any background on the songs is a bit of a surprise in this case.  That is because by comparison, the company has provided at least some kind of background introductory information on the songs featured in their existing compilations.  As noted, it would have been interesting to find out why the 16 year span from 1927-1943 was selected for this volume of country blues songs.  Even the slightest bit of background would also have been welcome.  That would have served to enhance the listening experience even more for listeners, even at a minimal level.  The thing is that even at that minimal level, it still would have served as a starting point in the noted research into the history of country blues for audiences new and seasoned alike.  To that end, it is disappointing that said information was not featured with this compilation, unlike its predecessors.  It is not enough to make the record a failure, though.  It just would have been nice to have had it as part of the presentation.

While the lack of background information on the songs does detract from its presentation, the work put in to remaster the vintage recordings makes up considerably for that shortcoming.  From one song to the next, the sound of the static from the old records (likely 45s in most cases) is fully audible.  Along with that, the balance of the vocals and instrumentation (which in most cases was just a guitar or other stringed instrument) is just as expert.  In short, what audiences get as a result of the work put in to remaster this record is a presentation that is just as appealing for its sound as for its content.  When those two elements are considered together, they show clearly why this latest entry in WMN’s Rough Guide To… series and blues compilations is worth hearing.

World Music Network’s forthcoming compilation record, The Rough Guide to the Best Country Blues You’ve Never Heard (Vol. 2) is another welcome addition to the label’s ongoing series of Rough Guide To… releases.  Additionally, it is a welcome addition to the ongoing series of blues compilations that the label has already released.  That is due in large part to the songs that make up its body.  The songs are a balance of familiar and lesser-known pieces that still live up to the compilation’s title.  They also serve as a good starting point for audiences’ journeys into the rich history of the blues and even country music.  The two genres really are inextricably linked.  While the songs featured in this record give the compilation a solid foundation, the lack of any background on them does detract from the listening experience to a point.  It is not enough to make the record a failure, but certainly would have enhanced the listening experience, as with so many of the record’s predecessors.  The production/remastering of this record’s songs works with the songs themselves to round out the compilation’s most important elements.  That is because audiences who love vinyl will have no argument here.  The sound of the static and the general sound balance makes hearing the songs here just as enjoyable as on any vinyl.  It really is a tribute to those who worked to restore the songs for their presentation here.  When this is considered along with the record’s songs, the two elements more than make up for the record’s one shortcoming and make it well worth hearing and another welcome addition to WMN’s Rough Guide To… series of recordings.  The Rough Guide to the Best Country Blues You’ve Never Heard is scheduled for release Friday through World Music Network.

More information on this another other titles from World Music Network is available online at;

Websitehttp://www.worldmusic.net

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/WorldMusicNetwork

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/WMN_UK

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

WMN’s Latest Entry In Its ‘Rough Guide To…’ Series Is A Welcome Return Musical Trip To Japan

Courtesy: World Music Network

The staff of World Music Network is taking audiences back to Japan.  For the second time this year, the label is scheduled to release a compilation focused on music from the Far East in the form of The Rough Guide to the Best Japanese Music You’ve Never Heard.  The latest entry in the label’s ongoing Rough Guide To… compilation series, this record is another presentation that any World Music fan will find engaging and entertaining.  That is due in no small part to the record’s featured musical arrangements.  They will be discussed shortly.  While the songs themselves make for reason enough to take in this record, the general lack of background on any of the songs in the record’s booklet detracts somewhat from the compilation’s appeal.  This will be discussed a little later.  The sequencing of the record’s songs works with the songs themselves and rounds out its most important elements.  This will be discussed later.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the compilation’s presentation.  All things considered, they make the record another positive addition to WMN’s Rough Guide To… series.

World Music Network’s second musical journey to Japan this year – the first came in January through The Rough Guide to Avente-Garde Japan – is an interesting return trip to the Land of the Rising Sun.  That is due in no small part to its featured songs.  The songs run the gamut, stylistically speaking.  The record offers listeners a little more of that avant-garde in ‘Saboten no Wakusei’ (roughly translated, it apparently means ‘Cactus’ Excitement’), as well as an intriguing East-Meets-West hybrid style work in ‘Eh! Eh? Eh!? Janaika.’  A close listen to this song reveals a subtle ska-type guitar line alongside the arrangement’s more distinct Asian influence.  The airy kick of the snare drum and the light, bouncy bass line alongside that guitar line adds even more to the noted ska feel.  The whole makes for quite an interesting work in itself.  Audiences hoping for something more along the lines of some traditional Japanese music will get that in the form of ‘Kyuramun Rimse.’  The simple use of the vocals and obvious Asian instrumentation makes the nearly four-minute opus seem like something that one might expect upon taking a trip to Japan in terms of older music of the region.  As if that is not enough, the compilation even offers a clearly 19060s/70s Western influence in its opener in ‘Don-Don Bushi.’  This song, with its instrumentation and overall sound, sounds like it belongs in the soundtrack to the original big screen adaptation of The Odd Couple, believe it or not.  It is just one more unique addition to the album that shows the importance of the album’s presentation.  Between the songs addressed here and the rest of those that fill out the 16-song record, the arrangements featured throughout are diverse. They are unique in that diversity, too.  They form a strong foundation for the record’s presentation.

For all that the songs and arrangements featured in this record do for its appeal, the record is not perfect.  As noted, its companion booklet is lacking any substantive background information on any of the songs.  The maximum that audiences receive is a brief mention of the diversity as well as songwriting credits.  Considering the noted diversity, it would also have been nice to know at least a little bit on that diversity.  How much of the music is traditional and part of the nation’s culture?  How much is more modern?  Again, background on all of the songs is impossible, considering there are 16 songs.  At the same time, having at least a little bit of background information would have been nice.  It would have made for a good starting point for discussions and research on the songs.  To that end, that lack of background noticeably detracts from the compilation, but not to the point that it makes the record a failure.  Keeping that in mind, the sequencing of the songs works with the songs themselves to make up for that one detraction and make for one more positive.

The sequencing of this compilation’s songs shows a deliberate direction for the record in terms of its energies.  It starts upbeat in ‘Don-Don Bushi’ and picks up even more from there in ‘Otemo-Yan,’ which boasts some vintage funk and Latin influences alongside the more Asian influences here.  The record’s energy becomes increasingly laid back and relaxed as it progresses.  It is not until the reaches ‘Hiyamikachibushi’ that it gets more up-tempo again.  Between the two points, the stylistic approaches and sounds change just as much as the songs’ energies, making for even more interest along the way.  The record’s energy eases off again from there right to the record’s end while the sounds and stylistic approaches vary just as much.  The constant changes throughout the record and thought out changes in the songs’ energies works with those variances in style and sound to make the record well worth hearing and one more positive addition to WMN’s Rough Guide To… compilation series.

World Music Network’s latest addition to its Rough Guide To… compilation series is another positive entry in that series.  That is due in part to its featured songs.  The songs feature influences from East and West throughout.  Those influences create a wide range of stylistic approaches and sounds from one song to the next.  That ensures listeners’ engagement and entertainment throughout in its own way.  While the record’s musical content ensures listeners’ engagement and entertainment, the lack of any substantive background on any of the songs and artists detracts from the presentation, at least to a point.  That negative impact is not enough to make the record a failure, though.  It just would have been nice to have had that information included.  The sequencing of the record’s songs take the variety in the sounds and stylistic approaches into full account, as well as their energies to keep listeners engaged, too.  That attention to detail works with the record’s songs to complete the compilation’s presentation complete and make it that much more engaging and entertaining.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the compilation.  All things considered, they make The Rough Guide to The Best Japanese Music You’ve Never Heard a welcome return musical trip to Japan from World Music Network.  The compilation is scheduled for release Friday through World Music Network.

More information on this and other titles from World Music Network is available online at:

Websitehttp://www.worldmusic.net

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/WorldMusicNetwork

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/WMN_UK

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Anansy Cisse’s New LP Holds Its Own Against This Year’s Current Crop Of New World Music Offerings

Courtesy: World Music Network

Musician/composer Anansy Cisse spent the better part of the past three years working on his latest album, Anoura (The Light) and now after almost not even happening, the 10-song record – his second – will finally see the light of day this week.  Set for release Friday through World Music Network, the 45-minute album is a presentation that will appeal equally to World Music fans and to those of the blues.  That is due to the musical arrangements, which will be discussed shortly.  The album’s companion booklet is directly connected with the record’s featured arrangements and the appreciation thereof.  It will be discussed a little later.  The record’s production rounds out its most important elements and will be discussed later, too.  When that item is considered along with the rest of the album’s booklet and its arrangements, the presentation in whole proves itself to be an interesting addition to this year’s field of new World Music records.

Anansy Cisse’s new album Anoura (The Light) is a presentation that many audiences will find interesting.  That is due in part to the album’s featured musical arrangements.  In some cases, the arrangements blend elements of the blues with the more traditional sounds of Cisse’s home nation of Mali for a unique sound.  At other points, those elements are held to their own songs, making for even more engagement and entertainment.  Among the most notable of the arrangements that blends east and west is ‘Foussa Foussa.’  According to information provided in the album’s booklet, which again will be discussed later, the song finds Cisse imagining talking to his daughter about the festivities that he enjoyed when he was a child.  The blues side of the song lends itself to the best works of artists, such as John Lee Hooker and Bo Didley.  The African/Malian side meanwhile gives listeners a light introduction to some of the instruments and sounds of Cisse’s homeland.  The balance in the two sides as they combine ensures listeners will remain engaged and entertained.  ‘Talka,’ which comes later in the album’s run, is centered on the soku – for those unfamiliar with the instrument it looks like a cross between a banjo and a fiddle and is played like a fiddle.  That focus gives the song a much more direct Malian identity.  That is even considering the use of the guitar and shaker.  It makes for more interest in the album’s arrangements because of the contrast of the instrumentation within the song and even to the album’s other works.  On the other polar end of the album’s arrangements is ‘Cisse’.  This song’s instrumentation and its overall sound is very much a direct blues style work.  The layering and sound of the guitar couples with the subtle time keeping lend themselves wholly to comparisons to the old R&B-infused blues works of days gone by.  It is an approach and sound that audiences will welcome.  When this is considered along with the other arrangements examined here and the rest of the album’s compositions, the overall musical picture presented here creates a strong foundation for the record.  The album’s companion booklet builds on that foundation, making the album even more appealing.

The companion booklet that comes with Anansy Cisse’s new album is critical to the record’s presentation because of the background that it presents.  Audiences learn in reading the booklet’s liner notes, that Anoura almost did not happen.  That was because of a robbery and assault that happened to him in 2018.  The full story will be left for audiences to learn for themselves.  What will be noted here is that the delay happened as a result of the emotional impact that the incident had on Cisse. 

Also revealed through the booklet’s liner notes is that some of the songs present socio-political themes that are directly related to the unrest in Cisse’s home nation.  He does not just touch on political issues here.  As noted in the liner notes, the record’s opener, ‘Tiawo’ (which translates to ‘Education’), is a work that lyrically focuses on the need for more and better education among Mali’s children.  As if that is not enough, there is also a tribute to Cisse’s friend and legendary suko player, Zoumana Tereta in one of the songs. This is yet another tidbit that enriches the overall listening experience here.  Add in the fact that the album’s full songs – there are two instrumentals featured in the record – are sung in Cisse’s native language (also revealed through the liner notes), and the background offered in the liner notes helps establish even more appreciation for the album among audiences who do not speak the noted language.  That is because they offer an understanding of the songs through their brief windows.   Keeping this in mind, no doubt is left as to the importance of the album’s booklet to its presentation.  It is just one more element that makes the album a success.  The album’s production puts the final touch to its presentation.

The production that went into Anoura (The Light) plays its own part to the record’s presentation in that it ensures the various elements in each arrangement are balanced.  As noted already, some of the songs featured in this album blend east and west while others are distinctly either east or west.  The songs that blend the noted influences do so well in making sure each side is brought out best, making sure the fullest impact results in that balance.  From the guitars, to the soku, to the calabash and more, audiences get in this album, a collection of songs that makes sure no one part overpowers the others at any point.  The result of that balance is that each song equally engages and entertains listeners throughout.  When this final touch is considered along with the importance of the album’s musical arrangements and its companion booklet, the whole makes the album’s overall presentation fully engaging and entertaining.

Anansy Cisse’s sophomore album Anoura (The Light) is a presentation that his established audience base will appreciate just as much as general World Music and blues fans.  That is proven in part through the record’s featured arrangements.  The arrangements blend eastern and western influences at some points while also separating them at others.  Throughout it all, the arrangements offer something for every noted listener.  The companion booklet that accompanies Cisse’s new album adds to the record’s appeal thanks to the background information that it offers on the album and its content.  The production rounds out the album’s most important elements.  It ensures that each song offers listeners the best possible impact by balancing each element within each song.  Each element examined here is important in its own way to the whole of the record.  All things considered, they make Anoura (The Light) a presentation that holds its own against this year’s current field of new World Music offerings.  Anoura (The Light) is scheduled for release Friday through World Music Network.

More information on this and other titles from World Music Network is available online at:

Websitehttps://www.worldmusic.net

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/WorldMusicNetwork

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/WMN_UK

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to https://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

World Music Fans Will Appreciate WMN’s Musical Trip To Japan

Courtesy: World Music Network

World Music Network’s forthcoming compilation record The Rough Guide to Avant-Garde Japan is the first great new World Music compilation of 2021.  It is also another interesting addition to the label’s ongoing Rough Guide To… series.  That is proven in part through its featured songs.  The sequencing of that content adds its own touch of appeal to the record and will be addressed a little later.  The booklet that accompanies the recording rounds out its most important elements.  It brings everything full circle.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the compilation.  All things considered, they make the record in whole unique new entry to WMN’s ever-growing series of compilations that will appeal to most World Music fans.

World Music Network’s latest addition to its ongoing series of The Rough Guide To… is easily one of the most unique entries in the ever-growing series to date.  It is a collection of songs that takes listeners beyond the barriers of the typical music that they think of when they think of music from the “Far East.”  Case in point is the subtle ‘Daidai.’  Roughly translated, the title means ‘From Generation to Generation.’  It makes sense, too.  That is because it incorporates traditional Japanese instrumentation alongside some modern electronic effects for a unique whole that would make Trent Reznor proud.  Composed by the Japanese act Ken Sugai, that melding of modern and classical elements really is its own representation of generations passing yet joining as one.  It stands out as one of the record’s peaks.  On yet another note, EMiKO VOiCE’s gentle flowing ‘Sanosa’ boasts more of a modern jazz sensibility than anything Asian or even specifically Japanese, save for the song’s lyrics, which are sung wholly in Japanese.  Other than that one element, this composition could easily be likened to works from any modern American jazz act out there today.  What is even more interesting about the song is that the gentle use of the brushes against the snare alongside the bass, piano, and vocals gives the song thoughts of the smoky jazz clubs of the 1930s and 40s.  It is such an enjoyable presentation that will appeal not only to people who have love for all things Japan, but for all things jazz.  Add in the fact that it is such a starkly different work from the likes of ‘Daidai’ and the importance of the songs becomes even clearer.  That variety –even on that micro level — shows in its own way how much the compilation has to offer audiences in regards to the record’s musical presentation.  On yet another note (no pun intended) ‘Akkan’ proves just as sharply opposite ‘Sanosa’ and ‘Daidai’ as they are from one another and from the rest of the album’s entries.  At one point, the use of the strings lends itself to thoughts of the gypsy style music of Eastern Europe.  As the song progresses, the addition of the horns gives the song a more modern and truly avant-garde sensibility.  The hip-hop beat that is added on top of everything here makes for even more interest.  The result is a song that stands out just as much from the songs noted here as they do from it and the rest of the album’s entries.  It shows yet again, the diversity of the music in this recording.  That diversity is important to note because it serves to show how much Japan’s culture has grown and changed throughout its history.  Now in the 21st Century, it shows that despite the change in time, there is still a link to and respect for the roots of the nation’s music and culture even as the nation’s culture, including its music has evolved.  This in itself makes for more than enough reason for audiences to hear this compilation.

While the diversity in the musical arrangements featured in The Rough Guide to Avant-Garde Japan creates a strong foundation for the record, the sequencing of those songs adds its own share of engagement and entertainment.  It has already been noted that the arrangements are starkly unlike one another from one to the next.  That those behind the compilation’s sequencing clearly put so much thought and time into that diversity makes for even more appeal.  The changes in the songs’ stylistic approaches and moods are constant from start to end of the 75-minute presentation.  At no point do things ever get monotonous or boring as a result of the nonstop changes.  The picture that the sequencing paints here is one that is so fully immersive.  When this is considered along with the very diversity in the arrangements, the compilation becomes that much more appealing.  Those items are just a portion of what makes the compilation appealing.  The companion booklet that comes with the record has its own value.

The booklet that accompanies The Rough Guide to Avante-Garde Jazz is important because its information really serves to set the stage for the presentation contained on the record’s disc.  The booklet’s liner notes open by stating the irony in the contrast of Japan’s very structured culture and the free expression presented through the music in this collection.  It is a true, powerful statement.  As the notes continue, statements are made about the stylistic approaches taken by some of the record’s featured artists.  Those brief but concise discussions make for their own share of appreciation for the works.  That is because it sort of takes listeners behind the scenes so to speak in the songs’ creation.  That background, while brief, is still its own strong addition to the compilation’s presentation.  When it is considered along with the record’s songs and their sequencing, the whole makes the record overall a presentation that any World Music aficionado will agree is well worth hearing at least once if not more.

World Music Network’s latest addition to its ever-growing The Rough Guide To… series, The Rough Guide to Avant-Garde Japan is a good start to the year for the label and its series of compilations.  As noted, that is due in part to the songs that make up the album’s body.  They show the connection to Japan’s past while also reaching to the nation’s future.  The sequencing of those songs makes for even more appeal.  That is because it ensures there is not one mundane moment in this record.  The background information provided in the compilation’s companion booklet puts the finishing touch to the compilation’s presentation.  Each item noted here does its own share to make this presentation interesting for listeners.  All things considered,  they make the record in whole, a presentation that any World Music fan will find worth hearing.  The record is scheduled for release Friday.

More information on this and other titles from World Music Network is available online at:

Websitehttp://www.worldmusic.net

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/WorldMusicNetwork

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/WMN_UK

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

WMN Closes Out 2021 On A High Note With ‘The Rough Guide To Cape Jazz’

Courtesy: World Music Network

World Music Network has done quite a bit this year to take audiences into America’s rich musical history and culture.  That is thanks to successful compilations that present rich histories of the blues, gospel, and even country music.  Now as 2020 winds down, the label is presenting one more rich musical lesson in its brand new compilation, The Rough Guide to Cape Jazz.  The eight-song record is a presentation that will appeal widely to jazz aficionados and world music fans alike.  That is due in part to the compilation’s companion booklet, which will be discussed shortly.  The songs that make up the record’s body build on the foundation formed by the record’s companion booklet and add to the record’s appeal.  They will be discussed a little later.  The record’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements and will be addressed later, too.  Each item noted here is key in its own way to the whole of the compilation’s presentation.  All things considered, the record proves itself an enjoyable way for World music Network to close out the year.

World Music Network’s latest compilation record The Rough Guide to Cape Jazz is a work that will appeal just as much to jazz lovers as much as it will to world music fans.  That is thanks in part to the booklet that accompanies the record.  More specifically, the liner notes featured in the booklet are to thank for its appeal.  The notes lay the groundwork for the compilation, explaining the history behind Cape Jazz as a genre.  The notes point out that “Cape Jazz” as a genre is relatively young, having really gotten its start in 1993.  It is essentially popular folk and blues music paired with influences of the South Africa region of the African continent, according to the booklet’s featured liner notes.  This is just part of what is pointed out in the booklet’s liner notes.  The liner notes also the genre’s ties to South Africa’s own social and political culture, which adds even more interest to the genre’s story.  Between that, everything else noted here and the remainder of the booklet’s information, the whole of the information more than shows its importance to the whole of the compilation’s presentation.  It is just one part of what makes the compilation engaging and entertaining.  The record’s featured songs add their own value to the record.

The songs that make up the body of The Rough Guide to Cape Jazz are of note because while the genre allegedly is said to pair with South African musical elements for its presentation, none of the songs featured here would seem to reflect that pairing of influences.  Now ‘Liberation,’ which comes early in the 39-minute record’s run does seem to hint at the connection between the genre and region’s sociopolitical history and culture.  The energy in the arrangement hints at the emotion perhaps felt by the people of the region when apartheid came to its end in the early 1990s.  ‘The Dance of Our Fathers’ meanwhile bears quite the Westernized jazz sense a la Yellowjackets in its arrangement.  At the same time, the relaxed vibe that the arrangement exudes presents a sense of happiness that, considering the song’s title, seemingly reflects the upbeat tribute to the region’s history.  ‘Cape Joy’ come the closest of all of the compilation’s songs to featuring the noted combined South African and American jazz influences what with the use of the shakers, cowbell and other percussion.  Yes, what people call Latin is in fact African at its roots, so to that end, audiences will hear that noted pairing of influences here.  Between that and everything else noted here, along with the rest of the arrangements in all their presentation, the whole of the songs does plenty in their own right to make this record appealing.  They still are collectively just one more aspect of the record’s presentation that deserves attention.  The songs’ sequencing rounds out the compilation’s most important elements. 

The sequencing of The Rough Guide to Cape Jazz is important to address especially because this record is a compilation.  It ensures the record’s energy remains stable from the start to end of the nearly 40-minute record.  The record’s first half maintains a catchy, upbeat vibe thanks to the sequencing.  ‘Give A Little Love,’ the record’s midpoint breaks things up nicely as it slows things down noticeably.  The record’s energy picks back up from there, but never goes over the top.  The most energetic that the record gets from that point is in the funky ‘The Way It Used To Be,’ whose arrangement will appeal to fans of the likes of Weather Report.  As the album closes in ‘Crossroads Crossroads,’ the record’s energy pulls back one more time, landing listeners on a separate show so gently while also leaving them fulfilled.  Simply put, the record’s sequencing wholly ensures that its energy will keep listeners engaged and entertained just as much as the songs themselves and the information behind the songs.  All things considered, the record completely ensures its success and that it succeeds just as much as the other records released by World Music Network this year.

World Music Network’s final new compilation for this year takes the company out on a high note.  That is proven in part through the record’s companion booklet.  The booklet’s liner notes set the groundwork for the record’s presentation.  The songs that are featured in the record do their own part to entertain and engage audiences, as does the sequencing of those songs.  Each noted item examined here is important in its own way to the whole of this recording.  All things considered, they make the compilation a nice finale for World Music Network for 2020.  In the process, it leaves listeners looking forward to the company’s new slate of compilations to come in 2021.

More information on this and other titles from World Music Network is available online at:

Websitehttp://www.worldmusic.net

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/WorldMusicNetwork

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/WMN_UK

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