So much music, so little time. I may get to longer reviews of some of these new releases in coming days, but for today here's the quick and dirty on some notable albums.
Salif Keita: M'Bemba (Universal) - Buy CD
The new album from "the golden voice of Africa" doesn't hit stores until June 20th, but a sneak preview shows Keita in fine form. The acoustic magic follows the pattern of his previous album Moffou. With a range and style not entirely unlike Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Keita has a voice that, the Washington Post gushed, "other mortals can only aspire to." Look for a US tour in summer 2006.
Gotan Project: Lunatico (XL Recordings) - Buy CD
The tangotronica pioneers return with an album more "classically tango-oriented," to use their phrase. Still highly engaging for fans of a modern global mix, and less of a stretch for world music purists, Lunatico is sure to wind Gotan new fans following its April 11 release date.
Richard Bona: Tiki (Decca) - Buy CD
The bassist from Cameroon provides more catchy melodies on his latest dispatch of soft African jazz. Looking forward to digging more deeply into this album, which hits stores May 9.
Various Artists: From Bakabush (Stonetree) - Buy CD
For 10 years, Stonetree Records has focused on the music of the Garifuna people of Central America's Atlantic coast. This celebration of that decade includes young and old Garifuna artists, and with its beautiful and informative packaging is a wonderful introduction to the music.
Yeshe: World CitiZen (Dog My Cat) - Buy CD
Yeshe's half-whispered vocals and liquid mbira dzavadzimu create an intimacy that makes you want to lean into the music. Combining his own Australian roots (Ganga Gigi contributes yidaki/didg to three tracks) with with the Zimbabwean roots of his primary instrument, Yeshe has uncovered the traditional music of a land that exists only in his mind. And I want badly to vacation there. Includes a cover of Marley's "No Woman No Cry." and eight other compelling tunes.
Eyal Maoz: Edom (Tzadik) - Buy CD
Guitarist/composer Eyal Maoz brings in John Medeski on Hammond B3. Together with bass and drums, they take you along on an exploration of new experimental Jewish jazz territory.
Turlu Tursu: Accordion 'n Drum 'n Bass (Home Records) - Buy CD
The album title gives you a sense of the instrumentation; what's surprising is the fresh ways in which the players come together on songs from India, Eastern Europe, Turkey, and beyond.
Corou De Berra: Maschi Femmine & Cantanti (Fanzines) - Buy CD
Gorgeous harmonies are the hallmark of this 6-voice traditional vocal ensemble from the Mediterranean Alps.