World music CDs of recent times/2012

I now realize that last year I neglected to cover “Best World Music CDs of the year.”  So here goes:

1. Bahamas: Goombay 1951-1959.  I listened to this CD last year more than any other.  It’s also some of the wittiest music I own, and it has plenty of economic themes.

2. Bwati Kono, by Lobi Traore, raw electric blues from Bamako, hypnotic, Jimi Hendrix of West Africa stuff.

3. Pete Seeger, The Complete Bowdoin College Concert 1960.  Some people think of Seeger as a “right place, right time” sort of guy, but that does him an injustice.  He was one of the most talented American musicians of his generation, and this live two-CD set shows him at his versatile peak, as a kind of walking human jukebox of American musical traditions, with lots of world music too.

For an honorable mention I would suggest Y’anbessaw Tezeta, by Getachew Mekuria and The Ex & Friends, Ethiopian saxophone.

Here are two free songs from Revue Noire a Tana, one of my favorite world music albums, years old but I am still listening to it regularly.  It’s not on Amazon, maybe you can find a copy somewhere in these links.


The Pete Seeger album is a free (and legal) stream on Spotify.

This is not so much about CDs, but if you're looking at world music in general, then Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan is something you'll fall in love with..Check out his collabs with Peter Gabriel and Pearl Jam..Absolutely mind-blowing..

The title of one Seeger song is "What a friend we have in Congress".

The preview of the song doesn't suggest it's as good as its title, but it's a great title.

Tyler, you're missing the terrific Francis Bebey compilation that came out this year, 'African Electronic Music: 1975-1982':


From a few years ago (and not widely known), but a mighty effort, and great disc of music: Samba Toure's Homage to Ali Farka Toure

This one (Gael Faye) has just been released and is not yet available in the US, but this is certainly one of the best albums of French Hip-Hop. The African influence is obvious with featurings going from Tumi and the volume (South Africa), Bonga (Angola) and musicians from Rwanda and Burundi.

Please don't use the term "world music", it's so ugly! If you want to be broad then say something like "non-western music", but I (non-expert) really can't see any good reason why we should group music into western and non-western – carnatic classical violin isn't really more connected to Polish tango or tuvan throat music than, say, to western classical music or whatever. And grouping all non-western stuff together suggests that western stuff is so much better it deserves disaggregation, while non-western music doesn't. NB: I don't think you intend any of this, I just dislike the terminology.

Other things you might like:

ทองฮวด ฝ่ายเทศ (Thonghuad Faited) – "The North East Thai Violin of Thonghuad Faited" (2012) [EM Records]

Karantamba – "Ndigal" (2012, archival from 1970s) [Teranga Beat]

Ilaiyaraaja – "Fire Star: Synth-Pop & Electric-Funk From Tamil Films, 1985-1989" (2012) [Bombay Connection]

VA – "Qat, Coffe & Qambus: Raw 45s from Yemen" (2012) [Parlortone, imprint of Dust-to-Digital]

Getachew Mekuria and The Ex & Friends, Ethiopian saxophone. Getachew is a great veteran saxophonist. Most of his works are incrediable and he is very popular in Ethiopia.

I agree with the above poster, 'world music' is something of a misnomer.

You may enjoy (if you don't already) the indian classical music genre. It has a lot of structure, but a lot of improvisational beauty, much like jazz. The instruments are interesting and have unique voices, and usually only two or three play at a time, making it a little easier to parse than western classical music. Some suggestions - Nikhil Banerjee playing the sitar (he was a fellow student of Ravi Shankar's, much less bombastic and a much better musician), Zakir Hussain playing the tabla (probably the most brilliant rhythmic mind on the planet), and Shiv Kumar Sharma playing the santoor (an instrument he adapted himself from the hills of Kashmir).

Very good.

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