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World Class

New CDs groove to a global beat

By Greg Cahill

Afrocelt Sound System Volume 3: Further in Time (Realworld)

SINCE 1995, this tightly woven group of musicians--which includes whistle player James McNally of the Pogues, Irish vocalist Iarla O'Lionard, and a revolving troupe of African artists--has been fusing the traditional music of West Africa and Ireland while wowing crowds on the annual WOMAD tour, Peter Gabriel's world music showcase. This third outing delivers percussion-heavy techno-based sounds and features Gabriel singing on "When You're Falling" and Robert Plant's vocals on "Life Begins Again." Energized, ebullient, and incredibly contagious.

Anourag Anoushka Shankar (Angel)

Ravi Shankar Bridges: The Best of Ravi Shankar (Private Music/BMG)

AT THE TENDER AGE of 19, the daughter of sitar legend Ravi Shankar delivers the follow-up to her impressive 1999 debut, teaming up with her famous father on several ragas. Pops once said it takes several lifetimes to master the complicated Indian instrument the sitar, though Anoushka shows a lot of mastery and maturity. These father-and-daughter duets are often intense and show that Anoushka is filled with promise. As for dad--who did, indeed, build a formidable bridge between East and West with his tutelage of Beatle George Harrison (who appears on this Best of Ravi package)--this new collection of material culled from the Private Music years is a mixed bag, centering around a variety of nontraditional cross-cultural projects that include his late-'80s collaborations with Philip Glass. These experimentations often were hit or miss, but when Shankar scores the results are memorable.

Various Artists Gardens of Eden (Putumayo)

THIS WORLD-music label has built a following by placing its festively decorated CDs on the counters of cafes and bookstore--sort of an eco-tourist guide to the sounds of the planet. These releases have become so ubiquitous that it's sometimes easy to take them for granted. Gardens of Eden, a collection of ethno-pop songs focusing on the mystical, suggests that it's best not to ignore these little gems. From Papua New Guinea to Tibet, it's a most pleasant trip--a veritable magical mystery tour.

Trilok Gurtu The Beat of Love (Blue Thumb)

FOR SOMEONE who tortures his children by watching Namaste America (the low-budget Indian film showcase on KTSF/cable channel 26) each and every Sunday afternoon, this is second heaven. Percussionist Trilok Gurtu (who performs this week at the Justice League in San Francisco) is the son of a popular Indian light classical singer and has collaborated with the likes of Bill Laswell and Pat Metheny. On his latest CD, Gurtu is five steps above those up-tempo and hokey Bollywood videos, having pulled together a talent-laden conglomeration of top-ranked Indian and African musicians that include sitar player Ravi Chary and Benin-born Afro-pop singer Angelique Kidjo. "Ola Bombay," indeed.

Spin du Jour

Centuries of displacement in Eastern Europe have created a deep sense of longing and a rich folk-song tradition that laments the plight of the Hungarian Roma. On I Left my Sweet Homeland (Rounder), the Okros Ensemble gathers songs from Transylvania and Hungary that beautifully evoke this wayward Gypsy culture and features the virtuoso violin of Aladar Csiszar. The title track was first collected by Béla Bartók in his early field recordings.

From the July 5-11, 2001 issue of the Northern California Bohemian.

© Metro Publishing Inc.

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