Spin the Globe's Best
World Music of 2002
Mtukudzi (Zimbabwe): Shanda Soundtrack
This CD companion to the new documentary on
the life and music of Tuku is icing on an already rich cake.
Recorded live, it contains a take on his "Hear Me Lord"
(recently covered by Tuku fan Bonnie Raitt) and many others.
A joy for the ears.
Beat Science (USA-India-Ethiopia): Live in San Francisco
at Stern Grove
The followup to Tala Matrix, this double
CD takes the Tabla Beat Science experience to a live crowd,
with electric results. Zakir Hussain's sizzling tabla combines
with the exotic voice of Ethiopian star Gigi, the bass of
Bill Laswell, and others including turntablism by DJ Disk.
Veering from traditional Indian to pumped-up dance beats,
this CD will challenge your feet to get up and groove.
Kotani (Hawaii): To Honor a Queen
|Quiet instrumentals aren't a mainstay of Spin
the Globe, but this beautiful CD had to find a place on the
list. For a longer review, click here.
Zawose & Brook (Tanzania-Canada): Assembly
|Dr. Hukwe Zawose is a weighty singer on his own.
Backed with the alchemic mixing talents of Michael Brook, he
absolutely soars. The unique Tanzanian scales lie at the heart
of this CD, which also features vocals by Zap Mama's Marie Daulne
on several tracks. Horn blasts, powerful vocals, and great beats
will have you turning this CD up loud.
||One of only two compilation CDs on my list, despite
many strong contenders. Silk Road is a beautiful aural
journey along old trade routes. Though many of these areas have
modernized, the traditional music is still alive, and is captured
here on two fine CDs from the trusted Smithsonian Folkways label.
Compiled by Silk Road Project Director Yo-Yo Ma, the tracks
range along the traditional road through Afghanistan, Iran,
Mongolia, China, and beyond.
||"Those from below" are delightfully
difficult to categorize. This feisty band from Mexico City incorporates
all kinds of urban sounds into their nonetheless distinctly
Mexican sound, from street noises to hiphop beats. Consider
this a preview of the musical future as the Hispanic population
in the USA continues to grow.
||New-York based Grupo Fiesta only recently wandered
into my consciousness, but their infectious dance tunes get
my behind moving every time I put in this CD. Powerful vocals
by Cindy Padilla and tight horns and rhythms will keep this
group spinning in clubs and home stereos.
Yeux Noirs (France): Balamouk
World Village/EMI Music France
"Balamouk" translates from Romanian as "insane
asylum" or "house of fools." That should give
you an idea of the crazy gypsy-klezmer sounds conjured up
by this band of talented Frenchmen.
For a longer review, click here.
||After being disappointed by Hassan Hakmoun's bland,
wandering The Gift, I found the Moroccan connection I
was seeking in Mountain to Mohamed. Not officially released
in the US (though available through Tropical Music's website)
this CD features powerful songs of love and faith. It even includes
a cover of Neil Young's "Cowgirl in the Sand."
||Absolutely one of the most stunning releases of
the year. I was unfamiliar with the West African style of flute
playing when I popped this in the CD player, and was blown away
by the the powerful playing and the vocalizations that Guinean
Bailo Bah utters as he plays the tambin. The effort of
the playing may leave you out of breath just from listening.
Other artists include Sylvain Leroux (tambin), Famoro
Dioubate (balafon), Keba Cissoko (kora), Yacouba Sissoko (kora),
Peter Fand (contrabass), and Kourou Kouyate (bolon). Highly
An ambitious (and mostly successful) project by Jamie Catto
and Duncan Bridgeman, incorporating music and thoughts from
many cultures into a high-tech collage of images, sounds,
and ideas on a CD and a jam-packed DVD. Get the CD for the
music (some of which doesn't appear on the DVD) and the DVD
to see it all happen.
For a longer review, click here.
Vaka (New Zealand): Nukukehe
Spirit of Play
|The Kiwi Polenesians are back with another CD
celebrating the island cultures of Down Under...and neighboring
islands. From explosions of log-drum energy to soulful ballads,
Te Vaka bridges the sometimes-difficult gap between the traditional
and the modern. [If you're looking for more great Kiwi music,
be sure to ckeck out Moana and the Moa Hunters, also know as
Moana and the Tribe. Maori hiphop, ballads, and more.]
Bagayogo (Mali): Sya
|While traditional Malian music thrives with lots
of CDs getting international distribution, Issa Bagayogo reminds
us that Mali is also a contemporary nation with (among other
modern conveniences) musical innovators. Bagayogo adds a delicate
spicing of electronic beats and embellishments to Malian music,
with fantastic results. His deft touch results in music that
still sounds acoustic, yet is fit for latenight club dancing.
The continuing adventures of the wild French musical commune.
For more, click here.
||Brass on Fire. There couldn't be a better description
of Fanfare Ciocarlia than that title of a 2002 documentary film
on the band. Tight gypsy horn tunes with blistering tempos.
And they can keep it up for the many hours that wedding ceremonies
||Always a willing experienter, former Manu Negro
frontman Manu Chao combines alt-Latin punk sensibilities with
a populist anti-globalization message that packs halls from
Europe to South America. His message and his recording style
(the CD's tracks all run together) may make him unpalatable
for mainstream US airplay, but you'll certainly hear him on
Spin the Globe.
||dj Cheb i Sabbah could be a poster child for the
good side of globalization. Born in Muslim Algeria, he worked
as a DJ in Paris in the 1960s, and still spins at clubs today
from his home in San Francisco. Along his journey, he became
a devotee of Krishna, and Krishna Lila is an exploration
of the traditional devotional music of both north and south
Tounkara (Mali): Sigui
|A beautiful acoustic CD by a master guitarist
whose licks were sometimes overshadowed in the past by loud
dance numbers he chuned out with the rest of the of The Super
Rail Band. On Sigui (sounds like "figgy") Tounkara
takes a step back into tradition, while keeping a firm grip
on his guitar, at times sounds like a flamenco player, and at
times a kora. In a Spin the Globe interview, he described this
CD as a bridge to an even more traditional recording he plans
to make using only old, traditional Malian instruments like
the n'goni (hunter's harp).
||The Taureg rebels of the Saharan desert lay down
their guns and picked up guitars. Their songs of desert life,
of struggle and love, have all the earmarks of the blues, but
blues with an otherworldly feel.
Honorable Mentions (and great