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2 The Victor Mourning A Handful Of Locusts (Backwoods Modern BWM 1668) Collection of original songs, well performed with fiddle, guitjo and guitar. Singing by Stephen Lee Canner well above average with good old-time country feel to it all and nicely mournful.

1 La Bruja Gata Fugaz (own label no cat. no.) Madrid instrumental band of clarinet, guitar, accordeon, hurdy-gurdy, dulzaina, bass drums etc. with self-composed tunes. Accom- plished, and pleasant enough, but polished, intricate and calculated rather than character- ful or memorable, though three songs from guest vocalists open it out to some extent.

The albums – good (2), adequate (1) and bad (@) – which didn’t get the full-length treatment, contributed individually by a selection of our various reviewers cowering under the cloak of collective anonymity.

2 Baaba Maal African Soul Revolution- ary (Nascente NSCD019) The full three albums that were released around the time of Baaba’s breakthrough Djam Leelii. The heady mix of mbalax, funk, rock and reggae and that voice more than mitigate the tinny clang of ‘80s drums and over-utilised keyboard. Historic.

2 Various Unheard Ofs & Forgotten Abouts: Rare And Unheralded Gramo- phone Recordings From Around The World, 1916-1964 (Tompkins Square TSQ 2387) Engaging miscellany of early world music, including blues and country, the out- standing track being the French country dance Un Pied Dans L’Eau by Bernard & Cantournet. Usual great packaging, sound quality etc. but only 16 tracks. Distributed in the UK by Cargo.

1 Piirpauke Koli (RockAdillo ZENCD 2132) Saxist/ flautist/ keyboardist Sakari Kukko’s long-established Finnish combo has been drawing on African and other world musics since 1974. Over 20 albums later, it transforms again in line-up and music, this time fusing its rock, jazz and African approaches with Finnish motifs in developments of Sibelius, Kaustinen pelimanni tunes, Tchaikovsky as well as originals.

@ Various The Ecstatic Music Of The Jemaa El Fna (Sublime Frequencies SF056) Vinyl-only issue of poor quality 2005 ‘field recordings’ of three artists who nightly play covers of chaabi classics in Marrakesh’s infa- mous central square. There are some fiery performances, but everything is so distorted it’s difficult to tell mandolins from banjos and ouds; the frequencies are far from sublime.

1 Edgard La Route Des Epoques (Futur Acoustic F215) A partially successful aventure humaine, with a who’s who of Madagascar’s roots musicians on great backing vocals and instrumental support. Edgard Ravahatra’s chanson background means he often sings in French, covers Brassens as well as adapting traditional pieces and writing his own. There’s even a version of The Harder They Come, but his rather tense, strangulated vocals won’t appeal to everyone. Via Harmonia Mundi.

2 Shira U’tfila Life As A Song (Music & Words MWCD 4063) Serbia-based ensemble led by Stefan Sablic’s vocal and oud with qanun, violin, double bass and percussion, on their 7th album draw pre-WWI material from 78s of Balkan Sephardic singers such as Haim Effendi and Victoria Hazan, absorbing and renewing it with skill and present-day spirit. Bonus CD has 14 of the original 1911-1942 Istanbul and New York recordings.

2 Lissa Schneckenburger Dance (Foot- print FR2010) There is some really fine sparky fiddle playing here. Lissa plays music for square and contra dancing in New England, but titles like Moneymusk, Petronella, Hunts- man’s Chorus, Jamie Allen etc. suggest that these tunes started out somewhere else.

2 Pierre Bensusan Intuite (DADGAD Music DM 1008)/ 2 Altiplanos (DADGAD DM1009) Two more in the massive release programme of all Bensusan’s albums: from 2000, Intuite features solo guitar in his inimitable, lyrical style, while 2005’s Altiplanos adds spare North African-tinged flavourings. Wonderful stuff, but I wonder why five-year-old CDs need new releases?

2 Sonnich Lydom & Morten Alfred Høirup Svip Svap Svovlstikke (GO’ Danish Folk G0510) An interesting, varied set of shapely and attractive, mostly traditional Dan- ish tunes and songs, simply presented by Lydom on melodeons and harmonica and Høirup on guitar and occasional vocal, joined by singer Channe Nussbaum and by Ruthie Dornfeld and others on fiddles, harmonium, vielle, clarinet and Jew’s harp.

2 Ewan McLennan Rags And Robes (Fell- side FECD 235) Ewan’s skilled debut displays not only an immediate and accessible way with songs (trad to MacColl) and tunes, but also an impressive talent for composition. With vocal style deriving from early Gaughan and guitaris- tic fluency from Martin Simpson, he neverthe- less possesses an individual identity and real presence, aided a little here by Peter Tickell and Jackie Oates.

2 Finest Kind For Honour & For Gain (Fallen Angle Music FAM 09) Luscious and sure-voiced harmony singing from a Canadian trio who draw their material and inspiration from a wide range of sources from The Cop- per Family to Jimmie Rodgers; from shanties to the Appalachian tradition; some fine varied accompaniments as well.

Late ‘80s Baaba Maal

2 Færd Landmark (Tutl SHD 096) The current Færd is founders saxist Eskil Romme (also artis- tic director of the excellent north Danish vil- lage venue and festival Halkær Kro) and Fanø fiddler Peter Uhrbrand, since 2005 joined by Trio Mio’s Swedish bouzouki-ist Jens Ulvsand. After earlier more pan-Nordic repertoire, here they deliver a sprightly set of mostly Danish trad and new songs and tunes.

1 Various The Rough Guide To Paris Café (World Music Network RGNET1240CD) Paris must be the most popular city for the Rough Guide CD series and we are back again in the world of latter-day musette, Gypsy swing etc. Perhaps it’s that feeling that has tempted them to include a second CD this time. Overall, the Beltuner bonus CD makes more satisfying listening than the original compilation.

2 Chokladfabriken Chokladfabriken (Gammalthea SEWJN 01) Quintet of two fid- dles, recorder, cittern and bass guitar from south Sweden’s Skåne with a fresh, open, spir- ited sound. They play shapely trad and original tunes, half of them to a live local audience, with likeable, communicative lurch and spring. Vorsprung lurch technik.

2 The Once The Once (Borealis BCD204) First released locally in 2009, this debut album could help a versatile mixed trio make waves beyond their Newfoundland base. Their singing and playing ennobles both tra- ditional and contemporary airs, starting with one that Geraldine Hollett gleaned from Sandy Denny. Distributed in the UK by Proper.

@ Cherif Mbaw Sing For Me (World Village WVF479050) What a pity. Cherif Mbaw has a truly magnificent voice, one that occasionally makes even Youssou N’Dour sound like John Lydon. So it almost makes one want to weep to hear it wrapped around songs of such excruciatingly nondescript nature. Let’s blame the influence of Ms Worthy-but-Dull herself, whom the man cites as an influence in the sleeve-notes. Yeah, thanks a bunch Tracy Chapman. Distributor: Harmonia Mundi.

1 Flavio Esposito Napoli E Dintorni (Buda 3018166) Flavio takes songs from Naples and its environs and sets them to bossa and other Brazilian rhythms. His smooth, rich- toned voice and similarly resonant guitar style sound very much like Caetano Veloso. The songs lend themselves readily to this treat- ment, but with virtually every track a Neapoli- tan/ Brazilian hybrid, the album lacks variety. Distributed in the UK by Discovery.

2 Sondre Bratland & Annbjørg Lien Alle Vegne (Kirkelig Kulturverksted FXCD 358) Sondre has long been the leading singer of Norway’s substantial body of religious songs with traditional folk melodies. In a new duo project, Annbjørg accompanies him, and plays traditional tunes, on ringing, rich-textured nyckelharpa, hardingfele and fiddle, and her occasional singing makes an appealing con- trast to his resonant baritone.

2 Le Ballet National De Guinée Conakry Invite Bertrand Renaudin (Cristal CR169) Originally recorded in 1998 (did it see the light of day back then?) this album of traditional Guinean tunes is atmospherically delivered on percussion, balafon, kora and sax. Punctuated by thrilling inter-song improvisations, this mostly instrumental music is leavened by the presence of some delightful female harmonies and the late, peerless, Momo Wandel Soumah. Nice.

1 Chuck Levy With Mike Eberle & David Forbes Banjourneys (Red Dog Records 001) There are quite a few of these banjo-meets- West Africa albums about at the moment, and Chuck Levy’s USP is the marriage with the Gambian akonting lute of the Jola. And along- side there’s some great pickin’ and playin’ by Chuck and his two fiddlers, although it’s all slightly let down by very average singing by the Americans.

Photo: Jak Kilby

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