World Music Reviews

Buena Vista Social Club

World Circuit, 1997

It's unclear if this runaway hit produced by Ry Cooder started -- or surfed -- today's tsunami of zeal for Cuban music in the U.S. What's certain is that this disk, when spun, will magically transport all within earshot to Havana. The Buena Vista Social Club is atmospheric, soulful, sensual, multi-textured, elegant.

Music of the Gypsies
World Music Network/Rough Guides, 1999

Music of the Gypsies (part of the Rough Guides series of world music compilations) is 16 wildly different songs from as many different artists and groups. Nomadic people who left the Indian subcontinent about a thousand years ago, Gypsies remain one of the least integrated people in the world. This musical journey has hints of flamenco, dance, jazz and Jewish klezmer. Perhaps best played loud on a Saturday afternoon.

Gipsy Kings Live

Elektra, 1992

Speaking of gypsy culture, this merry band of guitar-wielding brothers and cousins from the south of France enjoys cult status in the U.S. and abroad. The Kings, who are from Arles, France, sing in Gitane, a mix of Spanish, French, and Gypsy dialect. The vigorous strumming of multiple acoustic guitars and the passionate vocals of the Gipsy Kings are wonderful but seeing them perform live is awesome! This disk captures the energy and spirit of a Gipsy Kings concert.

Shaka Zulu
Ladysmith Black Mambazo
Warner Bros. Records, 1987

The honey-throated, all-male South African a cappella singing group that Paul Simon introduced to the world via his "Graceland" recording has many recordings on its own as well. This one is superb, offering several of the Joseph Shabalala-led group's standards including "Hello My Baby" and "Rain, Rain, Beautiful Rain."


World Disc Music, 1997

Self described as "ancient visions in an extraordinary mix of trip hop grooves and organic voicings," Waterbone's Tibetan trip journal is pure tantra. Source material was recorded during Waterbone's (the group is two guys from L.A.) travels through Tibet and Nepal. The instrumentals and vocals (recorded in temples, open air markets and airport terminals) were remixed stateside to fuse into a rich, karmic-techno sonic curry. Seek out this disc as a monk would enlightenment!

The Thoughtful Traveler






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