RootsWorld Bulletin #399 http://www.rootsworld.com/rw/ contact3@rootsworld.com

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Jeanette Eriksson Lĺtar pĺ skĺnska Nordic Tradition (www.nordictradition.com)

Jeanette Eriksson was only 16 years old when she recieved the Zorn medal in silver, an award for Swedish folk musicians. She currently studies folk music in Gothenburg. On Lĺtar pĺ skĺnska she plays 22 tunes, mostly traditional, but also some original pieces. The booklet includes short biographies (in Swedish) of twelve traditional fiddlers from Skĺne, her home province and it shows her deep respect and knowledge of her forebearers.

Many of Sweden's folkmusic fiddlers born in the 1980's are classicaly trained- and this album proves that it is indeed not a hinderance. In fact, much of Sweden's folkmusic originates from Poland and Germany, and was brought to Sweden by classically trained musicians in the 17th and 18th centuries. Then it spread to the rural areas, and became "folk music." So, in a way, it is more authentic to play this music with a technique derived from the classical world. Regardless of the authenticy issue, Jeanette Eriksson's first album is mature and powerful. Her tone and technique is impeccable, yet she maintains the dancability and the groove. However, concentrated listening to a full album of a solo-fiddler is somewhat demanding. Guest appearances would have been a nice addition. Some tracks stand out, especially Eriksson's own composition "Beskyddaren." - Staffan Jonsson

Listen to "Beskyddaren" http://www.rootsworld.com/audio/laterpa.html

Available from cdRoots http://www.cdroots.com/cda-nt06.html


Benjamin Escoriza Alevanta! Riverboat Records/World Music Network (www.worldmusic.net)

Granada-born Benjamin Escoriza was Radio Tarifa's lead vocalist, so it's no surprise that his solo debut sounds a lot like a Radio Tarifa album. I'm quite fine with that- in fact, I don't know if I would have wanted it any other way. His former band is reportedly no more, and their fusion of flamenco, Moorish, Medieval, Saharan and Latin sounds will be missed. It served them well through four albums (three studio, one live) that will continue to be essential listening as long as there is such a thing as music. Escoriza's rough but oddly sensual and poetic vocal style was integral to Radio Tarifa's success, as was his knack for lyrics both original and based on sources from centuries past. His strengths remain firmly intact on Alevanta! and several of his old bandmates (including wind and reed player/composer Vincent Molino and percussionist Sebastian Rubio)

contribute.

The disc starts in a flamenco vein with the instantly snappy "Carambola" before getting down to dissecting and rebuilding many of the sounds that have shaped contemporary Spanish music. Flamenco is the closest thing to a recurring theme, while the other flavors entice and embellish liberally. Molino's unmistakable crumbhorn dances through "Paquita La Guapa," Morocco and Spain embrace on "El Raton" and "Nina" laces an accordion waltz with buzzing Arabic percussion. There are also steps into territory previously untrod by Radio Tarifa, such as the Afro-Cuban feel emerging in the midst of "Rumba Del 14" and "Rap de Marrakech," on which Escoriza's voice squares off against itself over a stinging hip-hop arrangement. So while Radio Tarifa comparisons are as unavoidable as they are welcome, the excellence of Alevanta! also signals the emergence of a solo artist whose past and present pave the way toward a likely brilliant future. - Tom Orr

Available from Amazon http://astore.amazon.com/rootsworldmagazi/


Balkan Beat Box Nu Med JDub Records (www.jdubrecords.org)

The band's name is a catchy bit of alliteration that doesn't tell the whole story. There are Balkan sounds here, primarily Gypsy and Jewish and the common ground they share, but a good deal of Mediterranean, North African, Middle Eastern and Jamaican strains as well, all seamlessly assembled in an endlessly grooving sonic assault. The album's pretty good despite the fact that the programming and sampling are relentless at times. That's because there are some well-displayed chops on real instruments (violin, accordion, percussion) in between sections where so many layers of eclectic sounds fly at you it seems this group is trying to avoid categorization at all costs. Firmly contemporary, Balkan Beat Box also wisely remember what the musical culture their name bespeaks is all about. So they insert brass and reeds aplenty amid the controlled anarchy, and tracks where the band doesn't feel compelled to throw in gimmicks at every turn ("BBBeat," "Gypsy Queens") are murderously good. Still even when they seem more concerned with elbowing you in the ribs than making cohesive music, Balkan Beat Box come across as a savvy bunch of border busters who know how to mix, match, mash and modernize. - Tom Orr

Available from Amazon http://astore.amazon.com/rootsworldmagazi/

Artists' web site: www.balkanbeatbox.com


Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh Daybreak: Fáinne an Lae Compass Records (www.compassrecords.com)

After two records with Danú, and songs on a record in which each band member made separate contributions, this is the logical next step. Compared to Sandy Denny, Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh also entered a young ensemble of talented musicians and steered it in a more accessible, if less daring, direction. Like Denny, Nic Amhlaoibh possesses a clear, pleasant, and steady voice suited to both traditional and MOR soft rock tunes. Also, she favors interpretations of efforts by contemporary songwriters along with a selection of traditional and traditionally-inspired tracks. Fairport Convention moved under Denny first into folk-rock and then continued with it even as Denny grew restless and left to craft a folk-pop blend suiting her gentle delivery. Suitably, this album includes the traditional song "The Banks of the Nile," first made famous when Denny covered it with her post-Fairport mates in Fotheringay.

Nic Amhlaoibh has shifted Danú from a fiery, all-male traditional group into a band whose songs increasingly resembled Denny's own more intimate solo work. Gerry O'Beirne plays guitar on the two tracks he wrote, "Western Highway," which as sung by Maura O'Connell had appeared on the RTÉ "Bringing It All Back Home" series and album, and "The Isle of Malachy." "Persuasion," written by Richard Thompson and Tim Finn, likewise continues the association of Fairport and contemporary singer-songwriter folk-rockers with her own intentions to make an album still rooted in mostly traditional songs, both in English and Irish, but with enough popular tunes to appeal to a wider audience. Nic Amhlaoibh's versions recall O'Connell in her wistful, almost casual approach. The songs on Daybreak avoid drama, and Nic Amhlaoibh is content to create more of a lingering sense of calm. Despite the presence of Shane McGowan's guitar on five tracks, little intensity emerges. This is a consistent and polished album, but designed for those listeners seeking less concentration on only traditional Irish tunes, while not as dramatic a shift into MOR as earlier singers as Denny and O'Connell themselves made in earlier decades. But Nic Amhlaoibh's next album, if judging from the sheen applied to this self-produced collection, may reveal such a transition from trad to folk to pop. - John L. Murphy

Artist's web site: www.muireann.ie

Available from Amazon http://astore.amazon.com/rootsworldmagazi/

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