Reviews of World Music Concerts and CDs
Concert Review: Ballake Sissoko and Vincent Segal
A review of a concert performance by this collaborative duo who bring Malian kora and European classical and jazz cello together.
CD Review: The Creole Choir of Cuba - 'Santiman'
A review of the 2013 release, 'Santiman,' from the Creole Choir of Cuba, a group who keep alive the music of the Haitian community in Cuba.
CD Review: Putumayo Presents Vintage France
A review of Putumayo's March 2013 release, Vintage France, which sees contemporary artists covering classics of French chanson.
CD Review: Väsen - 'Mindset'
'Mindset' is the 2013 release from Swedish instrumental folk trio Vasen, whose mastery of their instruments and smooth, elegant style have made them an international fan favorite. Does it measure up to their earlier releases? Read on and see!
CD Review: Red Baraat - 'Shruggy Ji'
Red Baraat are a dhol and brass big band sensation. 'Shruggy Ji,' their second studio album, was released in January of 2013, and it's a hot one. Read on for a full review.
Review: The Debo Band Live
Reviewer Rob Hillard shares his impressions of the Ethiopian stylings of the Boston-based Debo Band at their January 2013 performance in Arlington, VA.
A Report from GlobalFEST 2013
Reviewer Dorothy-Johnson Laird takes a look at the 2013 iteration of the wildly popular taste-making music festival GlobalFEST, which takes place each January in New York City. Read about her favorite performances of the night and her thoughts on the evening overall.
CD Review: Le Vent du Nord - 'Tromper le Temps'
A review of the November 2012 release from Quebecois modern traditional group Le Vent du Nord, titled 'Tromper le Temps,' which translates to 'To Trick (or Fool) Time' in English.
Putumayo Presents World Yoga
A review of Putumayo World Music's release 'Putumayo Presents World Yoga,' a collection of songs from both yoga-based and non-yoga-based musical traditions that follows the arc of a yoga class.
CD Review: Elena Moon Park - 'Rabbit Days and Dumplings'
Rabbit Days and Dumplings is the debut CD from Elena Moon Park, a regular member of Dan Zanes and Friends. The CD is a family-friendly (meaning parents will actually like it, too) collection of folk and children's songs from East Asia.
CD Review: Mary Jane Lamond and Wendy MacIsaac - 'Seinn'
A review of the 2012 release 'Seinn' -- the first recording as a duo from balladeer Mary Jane Lamond and fiddler Wendy MacIsaac, and a stunning debut at that.
CD Review: Avila Featuring Ernest Ranglin
A review of 'Avila Featuring Ernest Ranglin,' a jazzy, jam-laden exploration of the near-limitless guitar skills of Jamaican guitar legend Ernest Ranglin, featuring a small cast of superstar sidemen.
Easy Star All-Stars - 'Thrillah'
A review of the Easy Star All-Stars' 'Thrillah,' which covers Michael Jackson's legendary album 'Thriller' completely in reggae and dub styles. Sounds cool enough, but does it work? Check out my review to see what I think.
CD Review: Ben Zabo
Contributor Dorothy Johnson-Laird takes a good listen to the self-titled debut CD release of up-and-coming Malian musician Ben Zabo, and talks to the man himself about his music and the Bwa people.
Jimmy Cliff - 'Rebirth'
A review of reggae legend Jimmy Cliff's 2012 CD 'Rebirth,' a decidedly rootsy reggae album produced by Rancid frontman Tim Armstrong and featuring a slew of rock and roll heavyweights as the band.
Wu Man and Master Musicians from the Silk Route - 'Borderlands'
A CD review of 'Borderlands,' the 10th Volume of the Smithsonian Folkways series 'Music of Central Asia.' The CD features Chinese pipa player Wu Man and a variety of Master Musicians from throughout Central Asia, performing collaborative music evoking the Eastern route of the ancient Silk Road.
CD Review: Putumayo Presents Arabic Beat
A review of 'Arabic Beat,' a CD released by Putumayo World Music in July of 2012.
Bibi Tanga and the Selenites - '40 Degrees of Sunshine'
40 Degrees of Sunshine is the third release from Paris-based world-funk globetrotters Bibi Tanga and the Selenites. It's an easy-to-love global groove extravaganza: check it out!
Putumayo Presents African Blues
A review of the compilation CD 'Putumayo Presents African Blues,' which includes tracks from Taj Mahal, Tinariwen, Issa Bagayogo, and many more.
Juwon Ogungbe Does His Own Thing
A review of 'Life Force Music', the latest CD from London-based Nigerian composer Juwon Ogungbe.
Amadou & Mariam - 'Folila'
A review of Malian couple Amadou et Mariam's 2012 release, 'Folila.'
The Toure-Raichel Collective - 'The Tel Aviv Session'
What happens when you put an Israeli pop superstar and a Malian guitar hero in a recording studio together? Read on and find out!
NIMBAYA! Power, Beauty, and Joy!
Dorothy Johnson-Laird reviews a performance by women's African drumming ensemble NIMBAYA!, whose moving March 2012 performance at New York's Symphony Space brought awareness to the horrors of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) through music and dance.
Celtic Woman - 'Believe'
A review of Celtic Woman's 2012 CD release, 'Believe.'
Kiran Ahluwalia: 'Aam Zameen: Common Ground'
Kiran Ahluwalia's 'Aam Zameen' is one of the most exciting (and yet, oddly comfortable) examples of world fusion I've heard in a long time. Check out my review and see what you think!
C.J. Chenier - 'Can't Sit Down'
C.J. Chenier's 2011 release 'Can't Sit Down' is a solid, dancer-ready zydeco CD. If you're a zydeco fan, it's definitely worth checking out.
Sergent Garcia - 'Una Y Otra Vez'
Sergent Garcia's 2011 CD 'Una Y Otra Vez' is his first major release in the U.S. market, and is an excellent showcase of his genre-bending sound. Coming out just in time to make it onto your summer road trip playlist, 'Una Y Otra Vez' is definitely a CD worth checking out.
Putumayo Presents Celtic Christmas
A new holiday offering as of 2011, Putumayo Presents Celtic Christmas is a good album that will certainly fit in nicely with any traditional Christmas celebration. Read my review for more!
Festival International de Louisiane 2011 Pictures
Festival International 2011 in pictures! See these photographs of various artists who performed at Festival International 2011, including Keb' Mo', Balkan Beat Box, The Duhks, Ramesha Master Drummers of Burundi, Maria de Barros, and more!
Aurelio - 'Laru Beya'
Aurelio is a musician from the Garifuna tradition of Central America, and his 2011 CD 'Laru Beya' explores both the musical tradition of his people and the varying traditions that fed it. Aurelio's 'Laru Beya' is expressive, modern, and utterly danceable.
Bob Marley and the Wailers Live Forever
Bob Marley and the Wailers Live Forever is a new release of Bob Marley's final concert, which took place at the Stanley Theatre in Pittsburgh, PA on September 23, 1980. The CD is made from Soundboard recordings, so the actual recording quality is excellent, and the Wailers were in outstanding form that night -- it's a special recording, for...
Ladysmith Black Mambazo - 'Songs From a Zulu Farm'
Songs From a Zulu Farm is a 2011 CD from Ladysmith Black Mambazo. The CD takes Ladysmith Black Mambazo back to their roots: Zulu folk songs, of the sort sung by parents to their children. Read my review of Songs From a Zulu Farm.
Angelique Kidjo - 'Oyo'
'Oyo' is a CD released in 2010 by Angelique Kidjo. It features songs and songwriters who have influenced Kidjo over the years, re-interpreted with Kidjo's signature sound and distinctive voice. 'Oyo' was nominated for a 2011 World Music Grammy Award.
Loreena McKennitt - 'The Wind That Shakes the Barley'
The Wind That Shakes the Barley is Loreena McKennitt's most purely Celtic CD to date. Read a review of Loreena McKennitt's 2010 release The Wind That Shakes the Barley.
Putumayo Presents World Christmas Party
Putumayo Presents World Christmas Party is a collection of mostly modern Christmas songs performed by artists from around the world. It's upbeat and catchy, and if you're a fan of songs like "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree," "Winter Wonderland," and "Santa Claus is Coming to Town," you'll enjoy these fun world music covers.
Orla Fallon - 'Distant Shore'
Orla Fallon is best-known as being the harpist and one of the singers from the international sensation Celtic Woman. Her CD 'Distant Shore,' which is her first solo release since she left Celtic Woman, is an excellent choice for those who are already Orla Fallon fans... but is it such a good choice for those who don't already love Celtic Woman? Read on and find out!
Huun Huur Tu and Carmen Rizzo - 'Eternal'
Huun Huur Tu and Carmen Rizzo's new CD, 'Eternal,' is a collaborative effort between not just the artists, but the genres: Tuvan Throat Singing and World-Electronica must find a way to intermingle and intertwine. Does it create something new and magical, or is it just weird? Read and find out more about Huun Huur Tu and Carmen Rizzo's CD, 'Eternal.'
Oumou Sangare - 'Seya'
Oumou Sangare's latest CD, Seya, is the first internationally-released CD from the queen of Malian music in six years. Read my review of "Seya," and get a taste of this extraordinary work from Oumou Sangare.
Vieux Farka Toure - 'Fondo'
Vieux Farka Toure's second album, Fondo, is a tradition-respecting yet forward-thinking record from the son of the late great Ali Farka Toure. Unlike his first album, which was something of an homage to his father, Vieux Farka Toure's Fondo is a full step out of his father's shadow, completing the passing of the torch from father to son.
The Idan Raichel Project - 'Within My Walls'
The sophomore release from Israeli producer and musician Idan Raichel features dozens of guest musicians from around the world, all of whom make up the Idan Raichel Project. Titled 'Within My Walls,' the Idan Raichel Project explores themes of home, confinement, and love.
Toubab Krewe - 'Live at the Orange Peel'
Toubab Krewe's 2009 release, Live at the Orange Peel, is a strong testament to the band's effortless ability to blend West African music and American surf-rock. Read what I have to say about Toubab Krewe's Live at the Orange Peel CD.
Ladysmith Black Mambazo - 'Ilembe: Honoring Shaka Zulu'
Ilembe: Honoring Shaka Zulu is the 2008 offering from seminal South African group Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Shaka Zulu was a hugely important leader for the Zulu people, and for their CD Ilembe, Ladysmith Black Mambazo have compiled a beautiful group of songs in his honor.
Burning Spear - 'Jah is Real'
Jah is Real is a 2008 release from roots reggae legend Burning Spear. Jah is Real was nominated for a Grammy Award, and deservedly so - it's a great back-to-basics CD from Burning Spear.
Lakshmi Shankar - 'Dancing in the Light'
Lakshmi Shankar's 2008 CD, Dancing in the Light, was nominated for a Grammy Award. Read my review of Lakshmi Shankar's Dancing in the Light.
Enya - 'And Winter Came'
'And Winter Came' is Enya's 2008 Christmas and Holiday music CD. Read a review of Enya's 'And Winter Came' CD.
Loreena McKennitt: 'A Midwinter Night's Dream'
A review of Loreena McKennitt's newest CD, 'A Midwinter Night's Dream,' which is a collection of Christmas and wintertime songs. 'A Midwinter Night's Dream' is a wonderful Celtic Christmas CD, with Loreena McKennitt's signature touches, as well as traditional elements.
Solas - 'For Love and Laughter'
For Love and Laughter is the 2008 release from Irish music group Solas. For Love and Laughter is a really excellent collection of songs that showcase both Solas's virtuosity and their diversity.
Putumayo Presents Acoustic France
The latest offering from Putumayo Records is Putumayo Presents Acoustic France, a charming collection of breezy, guitar-based ballads from various French singer-songwriters. Included on the collection are songs from Carla Bruni, Rupa and the April Fishes, Sandrine Kiberlain and more!
Karan Casey - 'Ships in the Forest'
Karan Casey's 2008 release 'Ships in the Forest' is a sweet, if slightly bland, collection of traditional Irish ballads performed with modern instrumentation.
Think of One - 'Camping Shaabi'
Review of Belgium-based world fusion band Think of One's eighth CD, "Camping Shaabi".
Le Trio Joubran - Majaz
Majaz is the Sophomore CD from the Palestinian oud group Le Trio Joubran. The CD showcases the Joubran brothers' masterful oud skills and their tasteful songwriting abilities.
Eileen Ivers - An Nollaig - An Irish Christmas
Eileen Ivers's 2007 Christmas release is entitled "An Nollaig", and it's a nice, though not extraordinary, Christmas album.
Manu Chao - La Radiolina
CD Review - Manu Chao - La Radiolina
Putumayo Presents World Hits
A review of Putumayo Presents World Hits - a compilation CD featuring songs that have crossed over into the main stream; actual hit songs by world music artists.
Zap Mama - Supermoon
Zap Mama's 2007 CD "Supermoon" is a sultry fusion of African and Euro-pop styles. Read my review
The Rough Guide to the Music of Vietnam
The Rough Guide to the Music of Vietnam is exactly what it describes itself as: a sampler CD covering a variety of folk and popular musical styles and artists from throughout Vietnam. Artists such as Huong Thanh, Nguyen Le, Kim Sinh and the Khac Chi Ensemble are featured.
Les Yeux Noirs in Concert, May 6, 2007
Les Yeux Noirs, a French Gypsy Jazz fusion band, played an amazing concert at Ithaca, NY's State Theatre on May 6, 2007.
Putumayo Presents Gypsy Groove
Putumay Presents Gypsy Groove, CD Review, World Music, Gypsy Music, Balkan Beat Box, Luminescent Orchestrii, Balkan Music
Tinariwen - Aman Iman: Water is Life
Tinariwen is a band comprised of Tuareg people, desert nomads who play a combination of North African music and American blues. Their latest CD is called Aman Iman: Water is Life, and it is simply excellent.
Mariza - Concerto Em Lisboa
Mariza is the reigning queen of Portuguese Fado music, and her latest CD "Concerto em Lisboa", a live recording of a concert in Lisbon, is absolutely wonderful. The CD also includes an hour-long documentary by the BBC entitled "Mariza and the Story of Fado".
Loreena McKennitt - An Ancient Muse
Loreena McKennitt's 2006 album, An Ancient Muse, is her first album of new material in nearly ten years. It's a stunning album wherein Loreena McKennitt musically traverses the ancient Silk Road, studying the influence and roots of the Celts.
Putumayo Presents Acoustic Africa
Putumayo Presents Acoustic Africa is a wonderful CD that includes acoustic cuts from Angelique Kidjo, Habib Koite, Gabriela Mendes, Diogal and more.
Concert Review - Balkan Beat Box and Golem at Castaways in Ithaca, 9/17/06
Balkan Beat Box and Golem put on a phenomenal live show at Castaways in Ithaca on September 17, 2006. Golem plays klezmer with a punk twist, and Balkan Beat Box plays a fusion of various Middle Eastern and European genres with modern electronic and hip-hop sounds thrown in.
Ska Cubano - Ay Caramba!
Ska Cubano is a band that fuses Jamaican ska with Cuban Son and Colombian Cumbia. Ska Cubano's 2006 debut CD, Ay Caramba!, is exciting, dynamic and, above all, fun!
Sara Tavares - Balance
CD Review: Sara Tavares - Balance. Sara Tavares is a Portuguese woman of Cape Verdean descent who has recorded a delightful multilingual and multigenre CD, Balance.
Putumayo Presents Paris
Putumayo Presents Paris is a new collection from Putumayo World Music highlighting some of the greatest songs of the nouvelle scene of Parisian chanson. The compilation includes songs from Paris Combo, Coralie Clement, Carla Bruni and Karpatt.
Cedric Watson and Corey Ledet - Going Down To Louisiana
Cedric Watson and Corey Ledet present an array of traditional Louisiana roots music, including Cajun music, Creole music and Zydeco music, on their new CD, "Going Down To Louisiana", from Valcour Records.
The Pine Leaf Boys - La Musique
The Pine Leaf Boys are one of the hottest young Cajun bands in Southwest Louisiana today. Their attitude is completely irreverent, and they are known for hilarious onstage antics, but their music is pure and straight-ahead old-style Creole and Cajun music.
Susheela Raman - Music For Crocodiles
Susheela Raman's latest CD, Music For Crocodiles, deftly blends modern jazz, classical Indian music and pop into a cool and highly listenable album that fans of jazz-pop chanteuses like Norah Jones and Alicia Keys, as well as world music fans, will enjoy.
Putumayo Presents The Caribbean
Putumayo's "The Caribbean" is a fun and playful romp through several of the islands that comprise the tropical region. Ska, Cuban Son, Mento and Soca are all represented.
Cesaria Evora In Concert in New York City, 3/30/06
A review of the Cesaria Evora concert in New York City at the Beacon Theatre on 3/30/06. Seu Jorge opened.
Ladysmith Black Mambazo - Long Walk To Freedom
Long Walk To Freedom is the 2006 offering from South African band Ladysmith Black Mambazo. The CD features Sarah McLachlan, Emmylou Harris, Taj Mahal, Natalie Merchant, Zap Mama, Hugh Masekela, Melissa Etheridge and more.
Matisyahu - Live At Stubbs: Austin, TX
Matisyahu is a Hasidic Jewish Reggae Rapper, who recorded this live album in Austin, TX in 2005.
Matisyahu - Youth
Matisyahu is a Hasidic Jewish Reggae Rapper. Youth is his first nationally-released studio album.
Sean Paul - We Be Burnin'
We Be Burnin' is reggae superstar Sean Paul's followup to his hit album dutty rock.
Tim O'Brien - The Crossing
Tim O'Brien is a noted genre-mixer, combining old-time, bluegrass and Celtic music into his own signature sound. The Crossing is a particularly Celtic-sounding CD from O'Brien.
The Chieftains - Essential Chieftains
The Chieftains are undoubtedly one of the most influential Irish groups in the world. On this "Greatest Hits" album, they collect a number of not only their best Irish tunes, but also a number of folk collaborations with American artists.
Putumayo Presents South Africa
Putumayo Presents South Africa is a CD featuring songs from a dozen different South African artists playing multiple genres of music. In true Putumayo fashion, it's an uplifting and fun collection of South African music.