Monday, May 21, 2012

In review--Honoring indigenous women

Fawn Wood
Canyon Records

Fawn Wood (Cree and Salish lineages) represents a new and powerful voice on Canyon Records. Along with her husband Dallas Waskahat and her Native American musician family members, Wood honors indigenous women on her CD, Iskwewak (means all women in the Cree language).  Her collection of mostly round dance songs sung in Plains Cree, vocables and English, reflect on the different situations women face from participating in relationships with the “wrong man” or honoring elders, as in Grandmother Song.  Mostly, Wood sings about love for her husband and for her baby son.

I cannot emphasis enough the beauty and power in Wood’s vocals, along with her sense of humor, and songwriting skills.  The text to Mr. Wrong cracks me up every time I hear it, especially the line “Mr. Wrong with five kids on the side...” However, most of the songs fall on the tender side expressing love and appreciation for relations.  If you’re seeking pow-wow and power round dance songs, take a listen to Plains vs. Coast, Pt 1 & 2 in which Wood honors her Cree and Salish lineages.  They must feel proud of their singing relation.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

In review--The Gypsy Experience

Urban Bratsch
World Village

I was in the mood for gypsy jazz just when the French group Bratsch’s new recording Urban Bratsch arrived in my mailbox.  A delicious mix of klezmer, gypsy jazz, German theater (Brecht/Weill), and Eastern European music, this quintet delivers a whopper of a recording. It is as eclectic as Lo-Jo, and as rousing as Les Yeux Noirs (also from France).  These guys show what passions are possible played on acoustic instruments (guitar, accordion, violin, double bass, and clarinet).

The opener Sirba Din Joc De Constanca/Hora certainly starts off a rousing listening experience with its gypsy violin.  I expect to hear one of those wild and crazy Eastern European zithers conversing with the violin, but in all honesty, this music fills the space just fine.  Francois Castiello’s accordion resembles a harmonium on the ballad Scetate with Nano Peylet’s klezmer clarinet singing mournfully along with the raspy vocals.  Garo├»bar screams gypsy.  Just listen to that Gypsy-Rom violin during the short introduction. Ravel probably rolls over in his grave with envy.

Rer C reminds me of Lo’Jo’s swirly circus songs, but Dans Le Ciel De Ma Rue with its Django-style guitar, ethereal accordion, and slightly melancholic vocals is my favorite track.  The musicians perform alchemy on this piece. And if you find yourself waltzing across your kitchen while listening to this track, all power to you.  This music was made for reflecting and for dance.