Issue 22 06/2002
FolkWorld CD Reviews
Yuri Yunakov Ensemble "Roma Variations"
Crossroads; No. CD 80702-4306-2; 2001
Roma-Bulgarian-Turkish wedding music at its highest quality, with a strong jazzy
spice in it. Yuri Yukanov hails from Bulgaria, nearby the Turkish border, and
has also family links to Turkey. His biography is rather exciting; Yuri became
nationally famous as a box champion, and changed his former Muslim name Husein
Huseinov to a Bulgarian name, as in communist Bulgaria you would have no success
as a boxer with Muslim name. The full biography is extensively described in
the CD booklet.
Yuri himself is a master on the saxophone, and Yuri's ensemble is full of talent:
Ivan Milev on the accordion, Catherine Foster on clarinet, Georgi Petrov on
percussion and Lauren Brody on keyboards. The music is mostly wild and fast,
with terrific and breathtaking duos on saxophone and accordion. Impressive musicianship,
very lively inventive and improvising music. Still I have to say this is not
a CD that I could listen to every day - which is not a question of quality but
only of personal taste.
Katia Guerreiro "Fado Maior"
No.OCA002; 2001; Playing time: 35.34 min
Fado - probably the most important and best known music style of Portugal -
enjoyed during recent years a new revival. One of the young singers entering
the music scene is Katia Guerreiro, a 25 year old with South African and Azores
background. "Fado Maior" is her most impressive debut album.
Katia has a beautiful warm and expressive voice; she knows to change in her
singing between whispering and shouting. She sings full of emotion, creating
this blue, romantic atmosphere so typical for the Fado, singing about what the
Portuguese call "saudade" - yearning, homesickness, bitterness. Kato
is tastefully sparsely accompanied by three skilled musicians: Paulo Parreira
on Portuguese guitar, João Mário Veiga on classical guitar and
Armando Figueiredo on acoustic bass. Her repertoire consists of songs from some
of the great Fado singers and composers, especially Amália Rodrigues,
who has been a major influence on Katia's singing style.
Katia Guerreiro proves already with her debut CD that she is part of the top
league of Fado, and of European roots music in general. A superb voice which,
I am sure, we will here often in future.
Azarbe "Acuarela de me tierra"
Label: Trenti Discos; No. TF-CD-125-2001;
2001; Playing time: 63.36 min
Azarbe are six young folk musicians from Murcia in Spain. Playing a mixture
of traditional and self penned music, Azarbe have a very good hand for compiling
a highly attractive selection of songs and tunes. Most notable is the impressive
soulful singing of Carmen Maria Martinez Salazar creating a beautiful Southern
atmosphere. Instrumentally, often a violin is in the centre of the music, joined
by two guitarists (on classical, Flamenco, acoustic and Spanish guitars), a
bassist and a very effective percussionist (playing bongos, darbouka and other
percussion instruments). Some numbers start off with melodies in the Mediterrean
tourist cliché, just long enough to be still thoroughly enjoyed, to move
on from there into more lively and exciting tunes or songs. The music seems
to be rooted in the Murcia region, presenting a distinctive Southern Spanish
sound with various influences from around the Mediterrean.
A very talented band and a highly recommended CD. One of the special discoveries
of recent times.
Homepage of the artist: www.azarbe.com,
contact to artist: firstname.lastname@example.org
Antonello Paliotti Trio "Tarantella Storta"
Felmay; No. FY 8036; 2001
The Tarantella is the typical dance of Southern Italy. Antonello Paliotti gets
with his string-based trio away from any cliché, developing the tarantella
and other typical Southern tunes away from their traditional form. There is
a lot of improvisation in this trio, as much improvisation as we are used to
from Jazz musicians. At the same time, the music has often a flair of classical
music, yet also adding to this musical mosaic influences from other Mediterrean
cultures, such as Arabic and Andalusian.
Antonello plays guitar, and his trio partners play mandolin/mandoloncello/percussion
and violoncello/mandoloncello. Antonello has composed nearly all numbers of
the album himself, taking traditional melodies as a based, yet developing them
into something completely new.
Contact to artist: email@example.com,
contact to label: firstname.lastname@example.org
Altan "The Blue Idol"
Label: Virgin Records; No. CDVE961/8119552;
2002; Playing time: 49.25 min
One of the undoubtedly best traditional bands Ireland has to offer is back with
a new album. "Blue Idol" is once again steeped in Irish traditional
music; all tracks on the album are traditional. Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh's
voice is as beautiful and crystal clear as ever; actually you start thinking
if her voice sounds younger with every CD. She sings six songs (out of 13 titles)
on this album, two of them in Irish, the other four in English. While four of
the songs are slow and enchanting, among them twice the same song in an English
and an Irish version, my personal highlights of the album are the two livelier
songs, when Mairéad's voice joyfully gliding across the music - the Gaelic
"Cuach mo Lon Dubh Buí" even features a saxophone, adding a
new exciting dimension to Altan.
And then of course there are also the good old fast and powerful reels that
Altan is famous for, with the two fiddles just flying away. To give an overview
of the tunes on this album: Two sets of reels, two jigs, an air, one set highlands
and reels, and one slip-jig and reel. Guest are also on this CD; among them
Donal Lunny, Liam O'Flynn, Paul Brady, Dolly Parton and Harry Bradley.
Another classic Altan album.
Homepage of the band: www.altan.ie
Gunter Bauweraerts "MidWinter"
Label: Own; No. W20011; 2001
This CD had reached in the Readers' Top 10 2001 the Number 2 - a big surprise
for all concerned. Gunter Bauweraerts is in Belgium well-known bagpiper and
composer. The CD "MidWinter" is an impressive album celebrating winter
traditions and the winter atmosphere.
Gunter invited a range of the very best musicians of Belgium for his album.
The choice of instruments makes this recording most unusual - most of the pieces
are based on a combination of Gunter's bagpipes (and bodhran), church organ
(played by Erik Claeys) and cellos (Haedwijch Devillé and Winde Caluwe).
Additional players on the album are Paul Garriau on hurdy gurdy and Stefan Timmermans
on bagpipes and recorder. Obviously, the music has throughout the CD a strong
bordun feeling about it; for my taste it is at times a bit too much.
Although the CD is based on instrumental music, you find also three songs -
two traditional German songs ("Tjo-iri" from Bavaria and "Ein
Kindlein") presented by choirs plus a bariton singer; and a song by the
Belgian Luc Cielen, "Verlangen", sung by the Belgian folk stars Lais
with a children's choir. All music presented on this album (with the exception
of the above mentioned songs) is written by Gunter Bauweraerts. It reflects
on winter and Christmas, and creates a peaceful and harmonic atmosphere. A lot
of the music has been recorded in a church, giving an additional atmospheric
element to the music.
"MidWinter" is an unusual CD, probably most enjoyed if also listened
to during winter time. If you like both bordun instruments (especially bagpipes)
and organ, you will love this album.
Contact to artist: email@example.com
Sangeeta Bandyopadhyay "Shruti"
8046; 2002; Playing time: 66.51 min
Sangeeta Bandyopadhyay is the daughter of the well-known Indian tabla player Pandit
Sankha Chatterjee. Together with her father and harmonium player Saibal Bandyopadhyay
she released an essential double cd on the Dunya label. Sangeeta has been coached
by several known Indian musicians and her voice can be heard on several indo-western
fusion cd's. She has a three octave range and somehow she got my attention more
than other Indian singers I heard during the last years. Her interpretation of
the traditional tunes is with respects but she also knows how to add a new sound
. Her voice is very powerful and on some occasions she amazes me with vocal techniques
I hardly ever heard before. Helped with the two great musicians on tabla and harmonium
this cd opened my ear again for the traditional music of India. But there is more....What
makes this cd extra important is the second cd which contains more than 50 minutes
of video material. Besides live recordings it also contains Sangeeta telling about
her music and explaining some of her techniques. But also her father Pandit Sankha
Chatterjee tells about his music on Tabla in such a way that it's impossible not
to watch this with great admiration. The video end with a part of a live concert
by Manilal Nag. This production is worth every euro, dollar, krone, pound or any
kind of money and for me the most refreshing Indian product in a long time.
Yasko Argirov "Hot blood"
8047; 2002; Playing time: 47.27 min
Yasko Argirov was born in central Bulgaria and grew up in a family who had its
roots in old Bulgarian wedding music. His father played the accordion and used
to drag him along to all kind of celebrations. As a child he started playing the
clarinet and from his thirteenth birthday on he started playing on wedding parties
as well. For more than thirty years he has been playing with several Bulgarian
folk-artists and he can be heard on the balkanton 1986 release about famous Bulgarian
clarinettists, playing together with Ivo Papasov. He released his first cd in
1999 and Hot blood is his newest recording. Argirov is absolutely a master on
his instrument. He is accompanied accordion, drums, keyboard and sax and he plays
several folk-tunes from Bulgaria and a few from other places. It's impossible
to compare him with an artist like Ivo Papasov because they both choose to interpret
the music in a different way. I think that Argirov has a much more traditional
sound and play the tunes in such a way that a big audience will enjoy them. This
last remark has two sides, his music will be enjoyed by many people but on the
other side I personally miss some adventure in his way of playing. It's a bit
to brave for me. This cd also contains some video which can be played on your
computer. I wish more groups would do that because it really adds something extra
to the audio part of this cd.
Donnie Munro "Across the city and the world"
Hypertension; 2212; 2002; Playing time: 45.41 min
Donnie Munro is a well-known name in the Scottish folkrock scene. As leadsinger
of Runrig he recorded many fantastic songs. In 1997 he decided to leave the band
and to focus on a solo carrier. After his first solo cd from 1999 On the westside
this across the city and the world is his second solo album. The new album
has a different sound than the westside album. Less musicians, sober sound
and I have the feeling that this album is much more personal. Does this mean it
is also of better quality? My personal opinion would be that it's not. Although
this album contains a few nice songs like sweetness in the wind it never
gets more than "nice songs". They all have a poppy sound and some tunes like Highland
heart are of poor quality and don't capture my attention for even a second.
With such songs I got the feeling that Munro plays them without any joy or inspiration.
The sound of the bagpipe comes out of the keyboards and that can be heard. It's
all done too easy and so much without passion. Please, please bring back the old
fire on your next solo cd and make me enjoy your music again like I did for so
many years before.
Juan Mari beltran " Arditurri"
Elkar; kd-614.; 2001; Playing time: 48.10 min
Juan Mari Beltran is a musician who brings the traditional Basque music alive.
His album Arditurri, which he made together with a nice group of fellow musicians,
is of high quality. Altough Beltran used acoustic instruments only, he managed
to create a full sound-landscape with intense melodies and songs. He uses, besides
several flutes, traditional instruments such as the txalaparta and accordion and
all kind of instruments that I didn't even know they existed. I love the sound
of the Alboka in songs like gorrotxategitarren pandango and rau rau. Beltran found
a good balance between powerful and intense songs like Charmagarri bat badit,
which exists of nothing more but the txanbela and the voice of Maddi Oihenart.
The cd comes with a nice booklet where you can also find English translation for
the songs. With this work Juan Mari Beltran shows how alive and how rich and beautiful
the Basque traditional music is.
Dave Ellis and Boo Howard " Amber"
Doghouse records; dghcd523; 2002
The English duo Dave Ellis and Boo Howard just released their second record called
Amber. Dave Ellis already released his first solo record in the seventies on the
Sonet label. Their first album which I never heard, has been compared with the
early work of Gregson and Collister. When I compare these two duo's I'm afraid
that I even prefer Ellis and Howard. The singing of Boo Howard is very intense
and a bit melancholic. But the strongest part of Amber is the instrumentation.
Sober and intense the instruments support the lead vocal to a higher level. Weak
point of this cd would be some of the lyrics. The song Amsterdam is the best example
of this. "Cos all the sex and drugs in Amsterdam can't give me inspiration like
my baby can" This is almost to much to take serious, but maybe this song is meant
to be cynical? please note that I'm Dutch and born in Amsterdam so maybe you should
not take me to serious Nevertheless, this album sounds fine and will hopefully
find it's way to all the lovers of male/female duo folk.
Peer Gynt " Fairitale"
Ruf; 1070.; 2002; Playing time: 47.42 min
I'm going to be very short about this cd. Although the opening song gives the
idea that Peer Gynt has something to do with folk music, the rest of the songs
have nothing to do with any kind of traditional music. So I think this album is
not on the right place here; it contains long electric guitar music with beating
drums. This is an album for rock freaks and to be honest, it's brought with a
lot of enthusiasm but not suitable for a folk magazine.
Bert Smeets and Ey Uchnjem " Lukomorye"
Label: Triskell ; 0101; 2001; Playing time:
Well, this is something new! The Dutch singer Bert Smeets has a voice that reminds
of the Beatles and his songs also have that atmosphere. But he does something
extra with his music. He co-operates with the Russian group Ey Uchnjem and this
combination makes the songs very pleasant to listen to. It's funny to hear Smeets
sing a pop-song and he is backed by balalaika and full Russian vocals although
they sing in English, the sound is very recognisable as Russian The cd is a bit
short but I also think this is enough. For eight songs Smeets showed is quality
and that is exactly enough to be interesting. Highlight of the cd is Desert
moon which sounds like a desperate Russian ballad. Interesting cd which you
should have heard at least once.
no contact info available
Mahones " Get stuffed"
; 1019; 2002; Playing time: 42.42 min
The Mahones are a German band playing Irish fun music. The band started in 1987
and this is their fifth cd. They mix Irish folk with some chicken humour and the
result is not bad at all. The cd starts with the song Get stuffed which
is a "happy" folk song and might give you the impression that this whole cd is
nothing more than Irish feeling good dance music. The second song Salonika
shows different. The mahones blend the "happy" songs with some very interesting
self-written ballads and interpretations of famous traditionals like Black
is the colour. High quality is their version of Salt creek which is
featuring the band Lecker sachen. A great mix of samples and strong banjo music
wrapped in a light dance-beat. It is these songs that make this cd really interesting.
The "happy" songs are not new and played by so many other bands. It is the slower
numbers and the song where they co-operate with Lecker Sachen which shows that
the Mahones have a lot to offer.
Alyth McCormack " An lomall / The edge"
Vertical; vertcd054; 2000; Playing time: 43.41 min
The singer Alyth McCormack comes from almost the upper north of Europe from the
Island Lewis. This Island can be found North ofthe Scottish mainland. This album
has been a product of a creative process of years. It developed slowly in her
mind and now finally it's released. She wanted to express the extremes of the
island where she grew up, in her music. The songs are sung in Gaelic and have
a very sober and almost cold atmosphere. Alyth sings with a crystal clear voice
in a monotone way which make the songs sound like small prayers sung on a very
cold night. She plays with rhythm and knows how to create a unique atmosphere.
Many artists make their music drown into too much effects, Alyth knows that more
is not always better. This cd is of high quality. It took me a few times listening
before I found its quality. In my opinion this cd is worthwhile taking the time
and trouble to get to know it.
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