various artists,
Jazz Around the World
(Putumayo, 2009)

Before I go any further, I am going to qualify this review by saying what I know about jazz could probably be summed up by listing a few names of the folks I like. Some reviewers have stated this CD isn't precisely jazz, and I'd have to agree with that assessment. I'd call these selections world music or fusion. Thankfully, none of it is smooth jazz.

The CD is the usual 11 songs and, in this case, the only two artists I have heard of are Hugh Masekela, via Grazing in the Grass, and Chantal Chamberland, who I believe I experienced first through Putumayo. For the most part, the songs are non-English; languages vary from French to Spanish and everything in between.

The only song sung in English is from Heather Rigdon, who may well be the next Norah Jones, although she's a bit lower in her register. "Young & Naive" is also the most jazzy-sounding of the batch. This song would be an excellent addition to the soundtrack of a noir film.

"Chan-Chan" with its gorgeous tango beat has got me looking for more of the Kora Jazz Trio, which is African-American swing. The group combines piano, percussion and kora, which is an African instrument that is strung somewhat like a harp and sounds like heaven. I almost didn't recognize the song from the original time I'd heard it on the Buena Vista Social Club CD.

"Open the Door" by Maskela closes the CD on an upbeat note with shining horns and a beat that will get you up on your feet and smiling.

As usual, after I've listened to a Putumayo disc, I find myself out looking for more by several of the artists. I believe this label has done more than anyone to bring music from all corners of the world to avid listeners. If you want an enjoyable fusion album that will blow your speakers away, this is the one you're going to want to buy.

music review by
Becky Kyle

5 March 2011

Agree? Disagree?
Send us your opinions!

what's new