CD Reviews

Saint-Germain-des-Pres Cafe II – the finest electro-jazz compilation, Wagram, 2002

Saint-Germain-des-Pres Cafe II – the finest electro-jazz compilation is a stylish and innovative collection of jazz fusion. The superb jazz throughout the CD from 18 different groups and performers is drizzled with hip hop, funk and electro.

David Grummels’ successful ‘D’jazz Tribute’ successfully lays Billie Holiday’s vocals over a hip-hopped flavored jazz number. Mo’Horizon does a funked-up, silky jazz version of Ray Charles’ ‘Hit the Road Jack’ in Portuguese. Duran Y Garcia’s ‘Heavy Piano’ adds a new dimension to jazz piano with its inclusion of ambient synthesizer and striking bass. Songs such as Kaori’s ‘Good Life,’ Kenny Dope’s ‘Mr Dope’ and Mark de Clives’ ‘Move on Up’ are Jamiroquaish tracks that have more in common with club music than jazz, but they are worthy of being listened and danced to. The other 12 tracks on the CD are also real delights.

Revolucion de Amor, Group: Mana, Warner, 2002

Mana’s Revolucion de Amor quickly dispatches any lingering perceptions that Mexico only excels in traditional forms of music such as ranchero and musica norteña (northern Mexican music).

This Guadalajara-based Mexican rock-’n-roll group rocks like hot tamales and can certainly hold its own with any English rock group. Revolucion de Amor is a mediation on politics and love. Politically, Mana certainly lets you know where it stands. In ‘Justicia, Tierra y Libertad’ the group – propelled forward by Carlos Santana’s searing electric guitar – alluding to the conflict in Chiapas, pleads for respect, justice and land reform for natives, incorporating a quote from commandante Marcos, prominently displayed on the CD’s inner back cover. ‘Fe’ asks why there is oppression and hate in the world, demanding ‘ no more blood … the world can change if we want it to.’

While retaining a hard rock edge throughout the album, the group successfully incorporates Caribbean and Latin rhythms in some of the songs. For instance, in ‘No voy a ser tu esclavo,’ Mana fuses rock with salsa to produce a highly danceable track. Revolucion de Amor is a well crafted rock album that is a pleasure to listen to.

– Tim Pelzer (