Sound From Any Ground: International Music 2015

There are some international performers not here that are in the overall Top 40. Does not mean these are not of equal quality for more specialized tastes. Also does not mean are all strictly from 2015. Alphabetical.

  1. Debashish Bhattacharya, Slide Guitar Ragas From Dusk Till Dawn (Riverboat/World Music Network)
  2. Tamy Caieira, S/T (Zip-Sony/Red) Makes me think unclean thoughts — and not just the photos.
  3. Amir ElSaffar, Crisis (Pi) Strong political subtext comes through.
  4. Seckou Keita, 22 Strings/Cordes (ARC) Held back because it’s not as all-out wonderful as his collaboration with flutist Catrin Finch, Clychau Dibon.  Grab that first, but this will immediately follow.
  5. Cheiko Lo, Balbalou (Chapter Two/Wagram). Lesser effort by superb performer.
  6. Stephan Micus, Nomad Songs (ECM). For fans, but surprisingly vital.
  7. Nação Zumbi, S/T (Circular Moves). Group finally overcomes loss of charismatic singer Chico Science and makes the whomp and lilt followup you dreamed of. No promises about the future.
  8. Niyaz, Fourth Light (Six Degrees)
  9. Arturo O’Farrill & the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra, Cuba: The Conversation Continues (Motema). And it does, in depth. Reportedly even more on fire on stage.
  10. Aziz Sahmaoui & University of Gnawa, Mazal (World Village). Former collaborator with Joe Zawinul does fusion with a lotta spark here. Other record I heard was dull.
  11. Ballake Sissoko & Vincent Segal, Musique De Nuit (Six Degrees). Tasteful. Almost too.
  12. St. Germain, S/T (Nonesuch). This goes for brainy African fusion. Sort of album that gets overlooked.
  13. Tal National, Zoy Zoy (FatCat). Must for fans.
  14. Terakraft, Alone ((Out/Here). Key flaw: relies on vocals so much, language barrier becomes a problem.
  15. Toto La Mpomposina, Tambolero (Real World). Fascinating in that this is a reworking/rethinking of a basic chant-and-percussion album from back when that understands exactly what I think are the limitations of such enterprises. (Add some instruments and solos, dammit!)
  16. Daby Toure, Amonafi (Cumbancha). For fans.
  17. Various, Lost in Mali (Riverboat). “Off the beaten track from Bamako to Timbuktu.” Often swell, but sometimes there was a reason nobody beat a track.
  18. Various, Khat Thaleth (Stronghold Sound). “Arab Rap in the Wake of Revolution.” Mixed bags in the air and the world.
  19. Various, Senegal ’70 (Analog Africa). “Sonic Gems and Previously Unreleased.” Ignore acid bands. Embrace James Brown.
  20. Various, Barcelona Raval Sessions 2 (Industrial Cultural, 2005). Hip-hop engulfs regional styles. Half wonderful. A half you should probably seek out online.


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