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Spin the Globe's Best World Music of 2003

Ojos de Brujo - Bari

Flamenco meets hiphop, with wonderous results. Read Spin the Globe's CD review.

Salif Keita - Moffou

The latest CD from the "golden voice of Mali" - one I've played far too little this year. If you like the acoustic flavor of Djelimady Tounkara's Sigui, check Moffou out too.

 

Bobi Cespedes - Rezos

A wonderful debut solo CD incorporating Yoruba chants and songs with light touches of electronica.

 

Super Rail Band - Kongo Sigui

"The first soundtrack to summer 2003 just arrived" says Ian Anderson.

 

Salsa Celtica - El Agua de la Vida

The crazy, talented bunch from Scotland turn out another Latin dancefloor-burner. Just try to keep your hips from moving...

 

Vusi Mahlasela - The Voice

During the first listening, this CD reminded me of Paul Simon's Graceland. Now, however, I just hear the voice of truth, singing songs that cut to the heart. Highly recommended.

 

Virginia Rodrigues - Mares Profundos

Virginia's velvety voice makes this stand out among a flurry of recordings of the Afro-Sambas by Baden Powell and Vinicius de Moraes, some of the most important compositions in samba.

 

Garikayi Trikoti - Maidei

Garikayi Tirikoti is an mbira revolutionary, intensifying the experience and sound of mbira music. Fill your sails with Mbira music, the gentle mbira force, Garikayi Tirikoti.

 

Susheela Raman - Love Trap

Weaving the sounds and cultures of the UK and India, Raman's haunting new CD is a great listen.

 

Besh O droM - Can't Make Me

Here's a group whose following takes to the dance floor at the first notes of each concert and just cannot stop dancing. Besh o droM's music is a highly original alloy of East European folk music vernaculars such as Hungarian, Rumanian, Bulgarian, Southern Slav, Greek musical dialects, not to speak of the marked Gypsy, Turkish and Mid-East leanings.

 

Mahwash - Radio Kaboul

Exiled from a nation torn by 23 years of war - with music officially banned much of that time - Mahwash and Ensemble Kaboul keep Afghani traditions alive in this important new recording.

 

Various Artists - Festival in the Desert

An amazing recording from an amazing event in January 2003. Take one desert, add musicians, armed Tauregs on camels, lots of sand, plaintive guitars, some Navajo punk, bands from Mali and Europe, and a pinch of Robert Plant. Mix well. Enjoy.

 

Baikouba Badji & Modibo Traore - Babu Casamance!

Modibo Traore has a mission. It involves great music, preventing leprosy, and this field-recorded CD of bougarabou drumming.

 

Barun Pal & Ray Spiegel - Ragas on Slide Guitar

Raga Malkauns is a complex raga that evokes the feelings of devotion, heroism, and pathos. Raga Piloo expresses the emotions of love, and romance. And they sound great on that most ancient of Indian instruments, the slide guitar.

 

Bembeya Jazz - Bembeya

These guys haven't lost a bit of their fire since they filled the dance halls of Conakry, Guinea, in the 1970s. Sekou "Diamond Fingers" Diabate's crisp guitar leads the way on this timeless, wonderful music.

 

Coco Mbassi - Sepia

Coco Mbassi sings a love letter to God. Her smooth, dynamic voice gives life to songs about family, Bible stories, love, and faith. Uplifting even if you don't speak the language.

 

Solomon and Socalled - Hiphopkhasene

In blending traditional Jewish wedding music, historic-sounding audio samples, and hiphop beats, it treads an ambitious - and fine - line between campy and brilliant. Hiphopkhasene is a vow-sealer unlike anything you've heard before.

 

Various Artists - Cafe Music of Liberia and Ghana

In the 1940s, Arthur S. and Lois Alberts drove around remote West Africa with a Jeep-powered tape recorder. "I wanted," he wrote in an August 1951 National Geographic article chronicling the trip, "to show that so-called Darkest Africa has more to offer than the tom-toms and jungle chants usually associated with it by the Western World." Listen for a calypso-flavored African music you've never heard before.

 

Oi Va Voi - Laughter Through Tears

Though all six members have Jewish roots, the sound is not so much klezmer, or even distinctly Jewish, but rather that of a confident group of musicians in a worldly city making sense of culture, sound, past, future.

 

Various Artists - Drop the Debt

This is a great CD that just happens to champion a great cause as well. All the tracks are exclusive to this release, and with a variety of styles and consistently high energy it's bound to have wide musical appeal. Get it as a wide-ranging survey of contemporary world music or as a political statement. But get it.

 

King Sunny Ade - The Best of the Classic Years and Synchro Series (reissues)

In the early 1970s, nighttime Lagos was awash with the sounds of juju music - the sound of traditional Nigerian music meeting electric guitars and other new instruments. Bands tried to trump their rivals by innovating new grooves and adding new instruments (accordion, slide guitar), and each innovation became known as a "system." Featuring some tracks previously available only on Nigerian vinyl, these two CDs include two versions of "Synchro System" recorded a decade apart, allowing a fascinating glimpse into the musical changes taking place.

 
 

 

Honorable Mentions (and great albums, all):

I apologize to the artists I've undoubtedly overlooked in compiling this list. Looking at a year of music from the whole world is a formidable task, and this reflects my personal tastes and biases. If you think something should be on this list, feel free to email me and let me know. If you're convincing, I might add it. Finally, a year-end thanks to all the artists and labels who provide this great music. You're an inspiration and you truly provide a vibrant soundtrack for many lives around the world. Without you the planet and the radio would be sad, lonely places. Happy New Year!
--Scott



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