Music Review

The Oliver Mtukudzi Collection, the Tuku Years, Oliver Mtukudzi (Putumayo World Music)

Oliver Mtukudzi’s newest release is a vibrant collection of songs that address everyday concerns in his home country of Zimbabwe. Mtukudzi is a talented musician who is capable of crafting melodic, uplifting tunes that are pleasing to the ear. The Tuku Years is a nice mixture of slow and danceable African rhythms.

Futuro Flamenco, Vol. 2, Various Artists (Outcaste Records)

This release demonstrates that flamenco is percolating with new life. Spanish musicians continue to innovate in this classic genre, mixing flamenco with contemporary melodies.

While some flamenco purists might object to this, the artists on this CD demonstrate that they can maintain flamenco’s integrity without overwhelming it with other musical styles and also take the genre in a new direction.

Futuro Flamenco has an irresistible, dance inflected groove, enough to quench the thirst of old fans and draw new ones. Ojos De Brujo’s “Ventilator R-80” and Toro’s “Amigo” are worthy hip-hop driven flamenco numbers. Even more irresistible is SUV’s “Colores,” which lays ambient synthesizers over a torid, staccato flamenco rhythm.

With other songs, such as Willie Colon’s “Gitana,” the link with flamenco is pretty tenuous, as this song is a salsa tune.

Futuro Flamenco is a marvelous release.

Brazilian Grooves, Various artists (Putumayo World Music)

Since Brazilian musicians brought Bossa Nova and Samba to the world, they have not been resting on their laurels. In recent years, Brazilian artists have been busy in their sound studios successfully fusing modern tunes with samba, Bossa Nova, and other traditional musical forms.

Brazilian Grooves is a tasteful sample of the nouveau Brazilian music that is animating dance floors across the world. In particular, the release shines in showcasing artists who have artfully combined Bossa Nova with contemporary club beats such as Rosalia de Souza’s silky “Maria Moita.” There are also old familiars such as BossaCuca Nova’s funky “Consolacao.”

Brazilian Grooves also moves beyond traditional genres to give listeners a taste of the very good funk inspired dance music coming from Brazil. Brazilian Grooves is an irresistible, dazzling collection of contemporary Brazilian music.

Essential Asian Flavas, Vol.2, Various Artists (Outcaste Records Ltd.)

This terrific new CD provides a glimpse of the British Asian music scene. Young Indian musicians and DJs residing in Britain and elsewhere in Europe have mixed punjabi rhythms with contemporary club music – hip-hop, lounge, funk, electronica – creating lively, ensnaring melodies.

A wide range of material can be found on this release. There are danceable hits such as DJ Vix’s hipped hopped “Lakh De Hulare” and Panjabi MC’s driving “Jogi.” However there are also beautiful dreamy liquid tones like Shazia Manzur’s “Aoja Sohneja.”

While most of the cuts are vocal driven, there are enticing instrumentals such as Zeb’s “Bombay Mix,” a fusion of Indian sitar with deep emotive ambient melodies.

Essential Asian Flavas successfully demonstrates the wide possibilities that exist when it comes to the fusion of contemporary western music with Indian beats.

– Tim Pelzer (