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his own material, accompanied by guitars, harp, whistles, smallpipes, flute, accordeon, cello, programming and vocals. Joy Together and Cherry Tree Valley are composed and per- formed with an elegance that recalls Ossian’s William Jackson.

1 Vincent Zanetti / Compagnie Djinn Djow Siniya Na Kònò (Buda 860189) Swiss guitarist Zanetti teams up with an impressive assemblage of West African artists – principally golden-voiced griot Sidikiba Coulibaly – for a flavoursome set of acoustic music. Ngoni, simbi harp-lute, djembe and calabash are joined by clarinet and bluesy electric guitar in a set that can meander at times, but is executed expertly enough to be worth cherry-picking. Distributed in the UK by Discovery.

@ Peter Stampfel & Baby Gramps Outer- tainment! (Red Newt FPRNCD15) Stampfel has kept the flag flying for old-timey silliness for decades since the Holy Modal Rounders, and Gramps does have a voice like Popeye’s grandad singing Tuvan open-throat, but this is a mess, I’m afraid. They’re probably wonderful in front of a sloshed audience but are genuinely barely listenable on CD, which is a shame as there is some great material hiding behind the chaos.

1 Diogal Urban Spirit (Wasia/ PlayaSound PS66417) Senegalese singer-songwriter pro- duces another set of technically proficient, easy-on-the-ear acoustic pop music. With no discernible roots in any tradition, in a perfect world this kind of thing would be mainstream radio fare rather than being crudely bracket- ed as ‘world music’ and destined to forever suffer perfunctory reviews in magazines that cater to completely different tastes. Distribut- ed by Harmonia Mundi.

2 Stewart Hardy & Frank McLaughlin Root2 (Claytara CLCD092) / 2 Compass (Claytara CLCD091) Hardy is a Northumbrian fiddler who tutors on Newcastle University’s Folk degree course and McLaughlin is a Scot- tish guitarist and piper. Root2 is a polished, therapeutic album that presents Northumbri- an, Scottish, Irish and self-composed tunes performed beautifully, with delightful klezmer touches, on fiddle, guitar and small- pipes. On Compass, Hardy performs mostly

2 Jaakko Laitinen & Väärä Raha Jaakko Laitinen & Väärä Raha (Helmi Levyt Helmi 038) Fun, and perhaps a new Finnish music. Laitinen’s soulful baritone is like a Finnish tango star’s, while his songs, backed by nifty stuttering trumpet, accordeon, guitar and drums, embrace Serbian and Romanian Roma and Russian influences, with hints of mari- achi, humppa and trad jazz, and emerge not at all Balkanoid but as indisputably Finnish as Finnish tango.

1 Cookie McGee One Way Ticket (Wolf 120.632 CD) Billed as ‘The New Queen Of Texas Blues’, this live recording reveals Cookie McGee to be an excellent guitarist (she grew up in the Dallas neighbourhood where Fred- die King lived) but she lacks the vocal exper- tise to match. Her band boasts a three-piece horn section and has Lucky Peterson’s organ sounding groovy on several tracks. Decent but not dynamic.

1 The Teds You, Me & The Sea Between Us (Knotted Oak Music KOAK0004) Brum Irish funsters – once The Father Teds, dropped a word and became big mates with Rolf Har- ris – present a free-wheeling original album which displays a broad sweep of Celtic inspi- ration, though a rather large dose of Poguish rabble-rousing permeates the best tracks, cue the radio friendly The Hands That Built Lon- don.

2 Manu Dibango Choc ‘N Soul (Frémeaux & Associés FA523) Most tracks recorded in Jamaica with Sly and Robbie etc., others from various albums 1978-89. Dibango is never less than atmospheric, always funky, air- smoothed as a dolphin – but listen as you might, there always seems to be something going on that you can’t quite fix on. Brilliant background music to an invisible movie. Dis- tributed in the UK by Discovery.

2 Nordic Choro Nordic Choro (Ääniä AANIA-18) Mandolinist Jarmo Romppanen leads trio with Brazilian 7-string guitarist Fabio De Oliveira and percussionist in snappy, sweetly swinging compositions, choro in style but with melodic roots in Finland. Very attractive, with contrasting lead contributions from accordeon- ist Johanna Juhola, fiddler Kukka Lehto, saxist Jari Perkiömäki and Milla Viljamaa on harmoni- um. Choro, the new tango?

2 Batanai Pan-African Music (Arc Music EUCD 2290) Joyful percussion and melody from a slimmed-down band – now, under leader Wedzerai Zvirevo, a mere six – but they sound like more. Essentially southern African, the sound is not easily identifiable, with references to all over the continent.

1 The Blues Band Back For More/ Fat City (BGO BGOCD909) BGO continue their Blues Band reissue series with these two in one package. Back For More (1989) and Fat City (1991) date from when the band re- formed after an initial split in ‘82. They show the guys eschewing covers for self-penned material, trying out different styles, and invit- ing a number of guest musicians (including Nat Adderley, Big Joe Duskin, and The Mem- phis Horns) to add flourishes to The Band’s own sound.

2 Ola Belle Reed Rising Sun Melodies (Smithsonian Folkways SFW CD 40202) An abso- lute treasure from the point where the musical mountains meet the cities. Ola Belle Reed was a strong singer and performer who always remained too far in the background of country music. Classic originals sit alongside standards in a voice that deserved a much higher profile. I’ve Endured is one of her best known songs here, and that says it all. In the UK via Discovery.

2 Pete Seeger Tomorrow’s Children (Appleseed APR CD1123) Full of charm, good music and good intention, Seeger belies his age to perform songs with schoolchildren from his adopted home in Beacon, New York. Invited guests join the entourage to make for an interesting and worthy recording.

2 Septeto Nacional Ignacio Piñeiro Sin Rumba No Hay Son (World Village WV468105) Among Cuba’s most enduring cultural institutions – in its ninth decade and fourth generation of artists – the Septeto Nacional Ignacio Piñeiro is as fresh and con- temporary as ever, with a lovely blend of Piñeiro originals and new sones, boleros, guarachas and rumbas. www.worldvillage- Distributed by Harmonia Mundi.

2 422 Go Forth (Fellside FECD 237) After a productive hiatus (collecting degrees and ceilidh-band cred), the eternally youthful five- piece bounces back with a fourth CD concen- trating on everything they do best – eclectic, life-affirming (and faultless) music-making that inventively combines tunes from the traditions with composed pieces. This latest, though ‘more of the same’ in many ways, is unlikely to disappoint.

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