The Rummage

Tag: Playful

. issue XVII : iv .

. artist : various artists .
. album : diablos del ritmo: the colombian melting pot 1960-1985 .
. label : analog africa .
. year : 2012 .
. grade : a plus .

Diablos

Analog Africa’s Samy Ben Redjeb has been collecting historic Colombian recordings for six years now. This is his second Colombian release, and it’s a great addition to the growing catalog of reissues from that musically diverse and vibrant country. Disc 2 here focuses on cumbia and other tropical and folkloric styles. Most of the disc functions like a third volume follow-up to Will Holland and Soundway’s definitive The Original Sound Of Cumbia, and there are some new directions as well — carnival music from Barranquilla (“El Garabato”), porro orchestra with psychedelic organ (“La Nena”), and the influence of NYC salsa (“Lluvia” and “Santana En Salsa”, for example). Disc 1 follows the trail blazed by Lucas Silva’s Champeta Criolla and Palenque Palenque collections, digging into the incredibly fertile soil of Afro-influenced Colombian music. Along with champeta (tracks “Shallcarri,” “Lumbalu” and “Calambre”), we get Afro-soul (“Enyere Kumbara”), Afro-cumbia (“Cumbia San Pablera”), and killer covers of French Caribbean (“El Caterete”) and Fela Kuti (“Shakalaodé”) material. The booklet is the icing on the cake — 60 pages of photos, interviews, authoritative essays and Samy’s personal narrative. Fabulous!

by Bill Lupoletti

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. issue XVI : i .

. artist : various artists .
. album : the roots of chicha 2: psychedelic cumbias from peru .
. year : 2010 .
. label : barbes .
. grade : a plus .

Chicha

The first volume of The Roots Of Chicha was one of the surprise hits of 2007, exposing an unsuspecting public to the peculiar blend of cumbia, twangy guitars and psychotropic drugs that fueled this Peruvian style. This second volume casts a broader net – where volume one focused primarily on rural Andean bands, this edition is more urban, more Cuban, less psychedelic, maybe a bit mellower, and provides a more well-rounded view of a genre that has remained popular since the 70’s in Peru’s slums but has barely been acknowledged in upper-class Peruvian culture. Compiler Olivier Conan (who leads the revival band Chicha Libre) has put together another superb selection here – kudos to him for more or less singlehandedly bringing this great musical style to the attention of American and European listeners.

by Bill Lupoletti

. issue I : v .

. artist : caravan palace .
. album : caravan palace .
. year : 2008 .
. label : wagram .
. grade : a minus .


Despite their rather intriguing birth from pornographic film scoring, Caravan Palace has introduced the French jazz scene to a refreshing flavor of upbeat electro swing jazz with their self-titled Caravan Palace (2008). This eclectic collaboration of musicians adds an interesting dubstep-esque harmonic accompaniment to the traditional gypsy jazz guitar music pioneered by Django Reinhardt. One would think these two genres would combine inharmoniously; however, Caravan Palace uses its bass drops and low-end acoustics tastefully, and so retains the traditional feel.

The striking album artwork (depicting a tin-man holding a vinyl LP above an old-style phonograph) will attract collectors to pick up the album, but it is the first two tracks “Dragons” and “Star Scat” that solidify the listeners’ love for this innovative musicianship. Arnaud Vial’s Freddie Green-style guitar begins the first track, and, with accents from Hugues Payin on violin, introduces the gypsy jazz theme. Quickly the song develops into frenzy as Charles Delaporte drops in on bass with electronic synthesizers overtop. The second track, “Star Scat,” throws the listener for a loop with a thematic dubstep interpretation of Louis Armstrong’s scat singing (later made still more famous by greats like Ella Fitzgerald) and features sliding melodic unisons on the violin and clarinet played by Camille Chapelière.

“Despite an innovative approach, Caravan Palace stays true to its gypsy jazz origins. The rest of the album is a surprising mix of rhythmic changes between cool jazz and hard-pressing boppy tunes. The ethereal voice of Colotis Zoé adds an interesting twist to many a song with her incredible range, quick vibrato, and full-bodied tones.”

Caravan Palace builds the listener’s intrigue with hit tracks such as “Je M’Amuse,” the single “Jolie Coquine,” and the up-tempo “Brotherswing.” While the lyrics may leave a bit to be desired, the melodic and jazzy improvisations of Payin, Chapelière, and Vial do not. They have a keen awareness of when and how to fill space and accentuate vocals or solos.

Caravan Palace keeps it lively and intriguing, and their self-titled debut will make any gathering exciting, whether you are waving your finger at a sock hop dance to offbeat gypsy rhythms or indulging in a cool, relaxing glass of wine at the poolside. If you like what you hear, their much-anticipated follow-up Panic (2013) has just been released on Wagram. Keep an ear open for this group — their new beats mixed with traditional stylings are certain to be top-charters in the future.

by Colin Greatwood