Category: Music reviews

Out of Tenderness and Wisdom: Ramzi Aburedwan, Reflections of Palestine

Bouzouk-player Ramzi Aburedwan’s Reflections of Palestine reminds me a little of Spanish music.  (Could it be that the Middle East influenced Spain?  Yes.)  Music is almost always a shared thing, a common treasure.   I can’t say this music is calming, as it is full of detail, intensity, shifts, requiring attention—but it is enriching.

Earthy Pleasure Beyond Conflict and Poverty: Cedric Watson and Corey Ledet’s Goin’ Down to Louisiana

The divergent rhythms in “Ma Negresse” give the composition its complexity and charm, whereas “Black Snake,” with drumming by Brad Frank, has a country blues feel.  Watson’s fiddle is the dominant force in the old-fashion country dance song “Calinda.”  The tempo is fast and sends “Madame Faielle” reeling with a lot of energy; and although the song has some lyrics, it is mostly instrumental. 

A Master of Melody and Swing: Kermit Ruffins and his Happy Talk

Anyone who has heard of the talented, improvising trumpeter Kermit Ruffins, a friendly sensualist, and one of the founders of the Rebirth Brass Band, as well as a respected barbecue grill man, knows that those who love the trumpeter’s work consider him an embodiment of the spirit of New Orleans. 

Loss and Sorrow in the Words of Soldiers: David T. Little, Soldier Songs

Soldier Songs begins and ends with gong-like sounds, which could be large mortar explosions.  There are quotes from soldiers about the life-or-death circumstances of war as killing; and making oneself available to die upon orders; and the (usually forbidden) permission to kill.  An experimental classical sound supports the ordinary conversation of the soldiers’ testimonies: piano, drone, and pulsing rhythm accompany the voices.

Inspiration for Independent Rock found in New Orleans: the album Algiers by the band Calexico

In working in New Orleans the band members were finding a home in a town that has long been known for the interactions of different cultures, African, European, Native American—and a place some people think of as Caribbean. New Orleans is a city and a village, a place of family, work, religion, food, music, sex, and violence; a place of piety and pleasure—of private passions that become public. The members of Calexico were able to see the past and the future in New Orleans, the rich and the poor, the familiar and the strange—the complexities.