Wednesday, April 22, 2015

CD Review: Paula Maya's 'Iluminar'

Paula Maya
Yellow House Records

The jazzy, South American styles of Texas-based, Paula Maya, incorporates Brazilian melodies with folk, roots, electronica, and pop on Iluminar. The soft ballads and Brazilian percussion reveal an intimate side of Paula's music. It is very enjoyable and steeped in swirling melodies and rhythms of South America. Whether you are on an island, on the beaches of Rio, or in the comfort of your living room, Iluminar lights up any mood or situation with grace and authenticity. "So In Tune" showcases some great vocals here. Crystal-clear vocals and an uppity melody cements a beautiful song to her credit. The light vocals are indicative of Susan Aglukark's voicings. At any rate, Paula Maya creates a stunning release of pop-friendly songs with a good dose of South American pizzazz. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Monoswezi's 'Monoswezi Yanga'

Monoswezi Yanga
Riverboat Records

Monoswezi is a group born out of several nations, including Mozambique, Norway, Sweden, and Zimbabwe. The instrumental backing is primarily due to the mbira--thumb piano. However, the mbira is accompanied by bass, marimba, sax, clarinet, percussion, guitar, harmonium, harmonica, and drums. Hope Masike and Calu Tsemane provide vocal accompaniment to many of the tunes. The sparkling and earth-laden mbira provides a dreamy and contemplative resonance that is very magical and seductive. The album borders on jazz, folk, roots, Afro, traditional, neo-classical, and experimental music genres. Scandinavia is normally a country positioned very far away from Zimbabwe. Thankfully, Monoswezi bridges the gap between the two world regions in one, cohesive offering titled: Monoswezi Yanga. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Newpoli's 'Nun Te Vuta'

Nun Te Vuta
Rotary Records

Italy's Newpoli group brings us a swirling mix of tunes that are definitely vibrant and showy with lush melodies and rhythms, along with fanciful vocal displays. The instrumental repertoire is rich with mandola, guitars, accordion, bass, strings, oud, drums, and wind instruments. The minstrel-like melodies and playfulness to the songs represents a historical presence in a contemporary world. The vocals lead the tunes at times, but the instruments are the stand-out here. Anyone interested in folk music, world music, Italian roots, ensemble, neo-classical music, and Renaissance-type music will find happiness throughout the tunes of Nun Te Vuta. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Midival Punditz' 'Light'

Midival Punditz
Six Degrees Records

The electronic and fusion-focused Midival Punditz release their latest album, Light. It is anything but light from a musical standpoint. In fact, the tunes are rather hard-hitting with diverse South Asian, new age, and world music stylings with contemporary beats, guitars, and traditional sounds emanating from keyboards and actual instruments. The rather organic and enticing sound from New the Delhi-based duo stem from eighteen-years of DJ culture exposure and world music experience, which culminate in a very rewarding and satisfying album. There are nine tracks, but most of them are pretty long. Everything is diverse and reaches deep into the soul of the Earth with fluttering melodies, heavy percussion, wild guitars, dance-friendly beats, and a mix of electronic sampling and engineering that is unparalleled. All of the songs are produced by Gaurav Raina and Tapan Raj--the progenitors of the group. The primary sounds resemble South Asian electronica mixed with a dose of The Trans-Siberian Orchestra! ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Bill Gable's 'No Straight Lines'

Bill Gable
No Straight Lines

From the Midwestern United States, Bill Gable carves a niche in the pop and jazz standard genre with poignant and personal songs backed by flamenco, world jazz, neo-classical, and pop elements. The songs are slow-tempo morsels of ear candy that incorporates a stellar musical cast, including Steve Rodby, Jimmy Haslip, Larry Goldings, Greg Ellis, and a few others. Inspired by destinations never reached, No Straight Lines offers a spirited record of hope, love, and freedom to be one's self--no matter what people say. Subtle jazz horns, delicate acoustic guitars, and light percussive arrangements cement Bill Gable in a group of very talented musicians. Fans of laid-back, neo-classical, jazz, and pop standards with a world music presence will love No Straight Lines. ~ Matthew Forss  

CD Review: Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba's 'Ba Power'

Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba
Ba Power

The power of the Malian ngoni lute is highlighted by Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba's powerful rhythms, rock-tinged arrangements, and bluesy vocals ripe with African panache and deep, historic roots amidst a contemporary setting. The ngoni's stirring and entrancing sounds are intensified by the fact there are five ngonis that make up the band's sound. Traditional drums, calabash, keyboards, guitars, and horns provide a modern tone, but the music is still rooted in Malian blues and soul. There are vocal pieces, but the real charm comes from the instrumental grooves and punchy rhythms found throughout the album. Ba Power is a musical gem with occasional rock guitar displays and earthy, traditional instrumentation with a trance-filled soul. There are nine tracks in all. The vocals are in Bambara. Not to be missed! ~ Matthew Forss

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

CD Review: Gino Sitson's 'VoiStrings'

Gino Sitson
Buda Musique

Gino Sitson, a Cameroonian-native, is a vocal acrobat with diverse vocal stylings indicative of jazz, Afro-soul, and European classicism. There are various body effects and miscellaneous vocal effects that produce a variety of sounds--all of them pleasant. The music is very laid-back, sweeping, and neo-classical with some African percussion and rhythm influences. Gino's vocals are accompanied by piano, double bass, drums, cello, and viola. There are two covers on the album, which include Faure's "Elegie Opus 24" and Herbie Hancock's "Maiden Voyage." Of course, Gino makes both tracks his own. There are fourteen original tracks. Fans of world jazz, African vocal music, neo-classical, and even South American bossa nova would relish the sounds on VoiStrings. ~ Matthew Forss