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Diaspora - Ten Favorites from 2014

Clychau Dibon by Catrin Finch and Seckou Keita (Astar Artes)

This stunning disk is now much more widely available after a late 2013 release of limited availability. Originally slated to be a duet between classically trained Welsh Royal Harpist Finch and Malian kora royalty Toumani Diabate. Seckou Keita stepped in after Diabate had to cancel and magic happened. This is achingly beautiful music. The kind that can make you stop what you are doing and give your being over to its soul.

Clychau Dibon cover

Soutak by Aziza Brahim (Glitterbeat)

Gritty, down to earth, up tempo music from the Sahara Desert. Brahim was raised in a Sahrawi refugee camp after the Moroccan occupation of Western Sahara. After briefly studying on a scholarship in Cuba she settled in Spain and developed her musical career. A terrific album of well crafted, high energy songs.

Soutak cover

Rabbits Motel by Woody Pines (www.woodypines.com)

Pine's music expertly blends the wide variety of traditional American musical styles he has absorbed in his years on the road to make catchy and fun roots music. From danceable standouts like "Who Told You" to sad ballads like "Hobo and His Bride, this is a fantastic disc from a unique artist.

Rabbits Motel cover

Acoustic Classics by Richard Thompson (Beeswing/ Rough Trade)

The best Thompson recording in many years and that's saying a lot for this often underrated and high talented songwriter and guitarist. His songs shimmer and dig using just his voice and guitar. Many of these versions are more powerful than originals arranged for a full band. An amazing disc.

Acoustic Classics cover

Saulem Ai by Violons Barbares (World Village)

An unlikely trio consisting of a Mongolian morin khuur, a Bulgarian gadulka and percussion from a Frenchman. It is wild and primitive while seamlessly blending instruments and traditions that don't normally cross paths.

Saulem Ai cover

Tincian by 9Bach (RealWorld)

A Welsh band whose music is tough to classify. Distinctly modern with tinges of tradition. Gorgeous, unusual tunes and arrangements with lovely vocals sung in Welsh, a uniquely mellifluous language. "Pa Le" is my personal favorite.

Tincian cover

From His Heart to His Head to His Hands by Michael Bloomfield (Sony Music)

Bloomfield was a meteoric talent who burned up streaking through the excesses surrounding the music industry. This three disk collection provides a convincing portrait of a uniquely talented young man whose whole being came through the music he made.

From His Heart to His Head cover

The Paris Session by Touré-Raichel Collective (Cumbancha)

Israeli pianist and Malian guitarist? Even without the cultural differences, guitars and pianos have been strange bedfellows since the days of Scrapper Blackwell and Leroy Carr. Vieux Farka Touré admits he had to listen carefully and adapt to playing with a piano and it's clear Idan Raichel developed a great ear for North African musical styles. This recording is especially appealing because you can feel the energy of great artists making music together without any padding or refashioning via studio trickery.

AParis Session cover

After the Tempest by Baka Beyond (March Hare)

This is Baka Beyond's tenth recording and they are in the groove again. With an energy and feel much like "Spirit of the Forest", "The Meeting Pool" or "Sogo", this recording doesn't break any new ground. Why bother when you can still weave a spell?

After the Tempest cover

Rough Guide to African Blues (2014 version - World Music Network)

World Music Network likes to recycle titles and this is the third album with the same name. Not that you'll go wrong buying the 1998 or 2007 versions as they are equally superb. The current edition is packed with stunning tunes. A perfect selection if you are new to this genre of music or if you want to explore.

African Blues 2014 cover
Diaspora is hosted by Terry O', a WORT volunteer since 1985. He can be contacted here.
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