Monday, 17 May 2010

This Week's Picks (#1)

Deciding upon the very first tracks for our "This Week's Picks" series was not an easy task. These had to be really good. After much soul searching, we've decided upon our three tracks that I am sure will not disappoint. Without further adieu, I would like introduce our top three picks for our series premiere.

"Masimango" by Mbaraka Mwinshehe and Moro Jazz Band

I recently traveled to Zanzibar, Tanzania and came across a small shop with a shelf of local music. I came away with a few selections, but this album Tanzania Dance Music ended up being the real treasure. This track my favorite off the album, however the whole album is fantastic. The distinct guitar style makes it easy to understand why Mbaraka was often called the Franco of Tanzania.
The big band sound urges you to your feet, and the vocals provide the unmistakable East African flavor. This truly is dance music.
(Reviewed by Alexandra)  

"El Negro Estan Cocinando" by Los Van Van

Los Van Van was my introduction to Cuban music.  With the recent attention they've been receiving after their long awaited return to the USA for a tour this past winter, it only seems appropriate that
they appear in the premiere of NP's picks. This live performance of "El Negro" is a prime example of their energy and groove. It is impossible to stay still when listening to this track. Formed in 1969, Los Van Van have been reshaping salsa music for forty years. Their recent return to Miami drew no protesters (unlike their performance 10 years before) and heralds better times for Cuban musicians in the States.
(Reviewed by Alexandra)

"Sundary Arak" by Balkan Beat Box

I can't help but love this track. While I may be slightly bias and love anything I've ever heard by this group, this instrumental track really grooves. Based in Brooklyn with a sound and background that crosses several borders, this group successfully mixes world music with pop, hip-hop, and rock. The horns in this track kick in over a grooving pulse, and get down and dirty with some gooey, irresistible lines. Balkan Beat Box is able to convincingly give a modern twist on the Balkan melodies without losing the spice like many modernizing attempts.
(Reviewed by Alexandra)

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