Back to Peru: The Most Complete Compilation of Peruvian Underground 64-74 (2002)

«Outside of a handful of reissues from Inca rock outfits like We All Together, Traffic Sound, and Laghonia, the Peruvian music of the rock & roll era has gone largely unrecognized and underappreciated in the rest of the world. Back to Peru, a superbly eclectic and comprehensive overview of the scene during its 1964 to 1974 heyday, goes far in correcting the error, casting a net over the best hard rock, garage, soul, and unclassifiable weirdness the country has to offer. According to the engaging liner notes, this stuff is rare even in its native land, going far beyond the few Peruvian artists who have earned international notice into uncharted territory – the sheer scope of the material is impressive enough, but its consistently high quality really pushes the disc over the top. Highlights include Hot Butter Sound's Pa Pa Pa, los Holys' Holy's Psicodelicos, and Black Sugar's Funky Man.» (AMG)

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Cal Tjader - Plays the Contemporary Music of Mexico and Brazil (1962)

«This 1962 set by Cal Tjader, recorded at the beginning of the bossa nova craze in the United States (released in the same year and on the same label as the smash Jazz Samba by Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd), has one of the most boring titles imaginable — which doesn't begin to describe the laid-back yet magical innovations in the grooves. Produced by Creed Taylor, the date was arranged and orchestrated by the great pianist Clare Fischer (who also wrote the liner notes). Tjader set out to offer a very modern portrait of the music pouring out of Mexico City by showcasing selected Mario Ruíz Armengol compositions and out of Brazil by spotlighting numbers by singers such as Elisete Cardoso and João Gilberto. Tjader's vibes are placed in juxtaposition with Fischer's piano and percussion by Changuito, Milt Holland, and Johnny Rae, with a woodwind section that included both Don Shelton and Paul Horn, and even some wordless exotica vocals by Ardeen DeCamp. In addition, Brazilian guitar star Laurindo Almeida helps out on about half the set and contributed "Chôro e Batuque," while Fischer offers "Elisete," named for the singer. The feel here is gentle with infectious rhythms and beautifully wrought woodwinds (check "Se é Tarde, Me Perdoa"), gorgeous piano, and spacious vibes. The arrangements by Fischer certainly represent the era, but they endure into the 21st century because of the shining example of interplay between the percussion and melodies (note the breezy "Silenciosa"). Tjader had been playing samba on records for a number of years by this point, and worked with Getz in 1957, but this was the first place he allowed his own complex yet delightfully subtle melodic (rather than just rhythmic) sensibilities to shine on the vibes. The most remarkable thing about this set is how effortlessly the two traditions blend.» (AMG)

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Petru Guelfucci - Corsica (1991)

«Born in Sermanu in 1955, Petru Guelfucci was always impassioned since tender childhood by the Corsican song. Already adolescent, he joined a folk group called “A manella”. In 1973, he met the talented Ghjuvan Paulu Poletti, one of the principal actors of the cultural movement of the Seventies in Corsica. Shortly after that they formed a band of young people. This band, with, inter alia, Ghjuvan Paulu Poletti and Petru Guelfucci will lead to the foundation of the well known (even today) Corsican group: Canta U Populu Corsu. Crucible of the most known artists to date, this group will revive the nationalist flame within a whole generation. After 15 years of success, Canta U Populu Corsu disappears. Canta was the group of the FLNC and one found all the sensitivities of the nationalist movement there. After its dissolution, Petru Guelfucci continues a solo career, recording albums such as Isula, Memoria and Corsica (The album’s theme song, Corsica, was a great success, as well as another song, Catalinetta). Petru devotes his time also to his other group of polyphonies, Voce di Corsica.» (Last.fm)

«The absence of a percussive anchor to Petru Guelfucci’s pop version of traditional Corsican vocal music launches his operatic, thrown vocal style into the romantic ether without a tether. But aside from a single song, the famous Corsican polyphony is intermittent and used primarily as a dramatic device for thickening Guelfucci’s beautiful solo voice. Still, this is pop mastery at its best, with nods to flamenco, Mideastern genres, and other styles. While the pop vocabulary shifts from song to song, Guelfucci’s vocals stay the same, as if he’s pining for a genre that does him justice. For a hint of what might have been, check out the full-blown Corsican polyphony on the traditional-based I detti di u ventu.» (AMG)

Official site: http://www.petruguelfucci.com/

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Sally Nyolo - Multiculti (1998)

«Sally Nyolo is one of the most successful vocalists to emerge from the jungles of Cameroun. Although she's lived in Paris since the age of 13, Nyolo remains tied to the tribal rhythms and musical traditions of her birthplace. As she explained during a 1998 interview, "I try to be as rootsy as the (Eton) language would like me to be because it's a language we speak with images… I try to be like old singers used to do traditionally in Eton. I try to do like them, speak with image, give my best feeling to the audience." Known for her strong and throaty vocals, Nyolo built her initial reputation as a background vocalist for such Afro-French artists as Toure Kunda and Princesse Erika. Meeting members of Belgium-based women a cappella ensemble Zap Mama at a festival of world music, Nyolo was invited to join the group in 1995. She remained with Zap Mama for a year before resuming her career as a soloist. Nyolo's strengths as a songwriter have been reflected by her solo albums. Her debut recording, Tribu, released in 1996, featured twelve original songs written in the Eton language. The album received a prestigious Decouverte RFI award from Radio France Internationale in 1997. With her second solo album, Multiculti, released in 1998, Nyolo took a more-acoustic approach, forsaking electronic instrumentation for complex, vocal multi-layering.» (AMG)

Full album review inside the zip file. Much more info (in English & French) here.

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Postcards from Paris - Belleville

Monna Bell y Aldemaro Romero - La Onda Nueva en Mexico (1970)

«For those unaware of the greatness of Venezuelan conductor Aldemaro Romero, we could compare him with the better known Esquivel. Romero and Esquivel had more than one thing in common. In addition to being piano virtuosos with a futuristic sense for popular music revitalized with vocal arrangements and original instrumentation, they each experimented in the recording studio and maintained a mutual admiration and friendship. Probably the rarest album from Aldemaro Romero is this homage to traditional and popular Mexican songs, with the Pop singer Monna Bell on vocals. The musicians (well-skilled Jazz players from Mexico) were free to bring in any idea to the studio and to improvise during the recordings. The result was an explosion of tonalities that, in spite of being essentially popular traditions, revealed something exceedingly unique cosmopolitan and modern. La Onda Nueva en Mexico has remained a cult record among those searching for rare grooves because of its completely unique concept of combining traditional Mexican music arranged by a cosmopolitan Venezuelan influenced by Bossa Nova, sung by a Chilean pop singer and orchestrated by Mexican jazz musicians, all on one record! Vampisoul. 2007.» (Amazon)

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Fairuz - Modern Favorites (2001)

«Born and educated in Beirut, Fayrouz (alternative spellings: Fairuz, Fairouz, Feyrouz, Feiruz) began her musical career as a chorus member at the Lebanese Radio Station. In the late 1950s her talent as a singer became fully acknowledged. Met with unprecedented enthusiasm, Fayrouz's early songs featured the singer's distinct vocal timbre and lyrics expressing romantic love and nostalgia for village life. They meshed with a delicate orchestral blend in which certain Arab instruments figured prominently but which also subtly incorporated European instruments and European popular dance rythms.

She also sometimes sang adaptations Arab folk tunes. By the early 1960s Fayrouz was already one of the main attractions of the annual Baalbeck Festivals and a celebrety not only in Lebanon but throughout the Arab world. The dissemination of hundreds of songs, many musical plays and several films had widened her audience to include Arabs living in Europe and the Americas.

During most of her singing career, Fayrouz was part of a three-member team which included the two Rahbani brothers. Generally, her lyrics were written by Mansour Rahbani, and the tunes were composed and arranged by his brother 'Assi, Fayrouz's former husband. Fayrouz's songs owe a great deal to the musical and poetic genius of these two Lebanese artists. In recent years they have also reflected the composing talent of Ziad Rahbani, Fayrouz's son. In addition, they testify to Fayrouz's broad musical background, which encompasses Christian liturgical forms as well as the secular traditions of Arab music.

The Fayrouz-Rahbani legacy is a peculiarly twentieth-century cultural phenomenon. During the early postwar decades, most urban communities in the Arab world underwent rapid expansion, partly because of an influx of population from the rural areas. The city of Beirut in particular had absorbed a substantial number of people whose ethnic and social roots went back to various Lebanese villages, especially those in the mountainous regions of central and northern Lebanon. Politically and socially influential, this segment provided fertile ground for the rise of a new artistic tradition - music, dance, poetry, fashions, handicrafts - whose context was unmistakably urban but whose ration was folk and rural.» (alMasriq, from Fairouz: legend and Legacy – click for much more about Fairouz)

Official Site: http://fairuzonline.com/

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