Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Putumayo Presents African Blues: A CD Review

About The CD:

The blues has long been about storytelling, about raising a voice from the margins and edges of American life. As it spread from the Deep South toChicago and beyond, the blues incorporated a powerful musical groove which has influenced music around the world. Now, musicians are reaching across the Atlantic and finding that they have a common story to tell in shades of blue. 

Putumayo’s African Blues (Putumayo World Music; release: April 24, 2012) chronicles the return of the blues to its African motherland. It also demonstrates the burgeoning connections between West and East African musicians and performers from the blues’ traditional heartland in the U.S., as well as converts in Europe—and shows how these connections are revolutionizing traditions on both continents. 

Taj Mahal, together with the Culture Musical Club of Zanzibar, gets down and deep in a slow-burning meditation on the beauties of Dhow Countries.Mali’s Issa Babayogo brings his characteristic, sparkling knack for gritty, melodic grooves. The ever-evolving Playing for Change band—this time featuring hip desert rockers Tinariwen and Keb Mo—reveals how globally malleable a good old 12-bar blues can be. And as always, the collection is filled with engaging new discoveries like hard-hitting Tuareg singer-songwriterAmar Sundy, unfolding and grooving collaborations like the Belgian-Malian project Kalaban Coura and the unexpected blend of Mali Latino

“It’s like two halves of a circle,” muses Putumayo head Dan Storper, a passionate collector of music from around the world. “The blues’ roots are in Africa but emerged and evolved as a powerful musical style in America. Now they’re reuniting in new and exciting ways.”

“When we worked on Mali to Memphis, we recognized the powerful connection between the bluesy music of West Africa and the Mississippi Delta,” explains Dan “That began my search for American and African blues and blues-influenced music and led to a series of successful CDs includingMississippi BluesAmerican Blues and Blues Around the World.” 

Storper, a blues fan who lives in New Orleans and his staff found a growing number of collaborative projects based on close musical friendships British guitarist Ramon Goose teamed up with kora (West African bridge-harp) whiz Diabel Cissokho (“Totoumo”), while respected Latin keyboard player and producer Alex Wilson found the sweet spot where Afro-Latin beats and roaring organ lines jive with kora, percussion, and other sounds from West Africa (Mali Latino’s “Ni Koh Bedy”).   

As the various currents of blues have flowed back together—the developments in the U.S. and Europe, and African musicians’ responses to the American blues records that arrived midcentury—a new depth and richness have come to this storied musical form. 

“It’s natural since the collaborations between Harry Belafonte and Miriam Makeba, George Harrison and Ravi Shankar, Paul Simon and Ladysmith Black Mambazo,” reflects Storper. “There’s something magical when two musical cultures collide and bring the best of each world to a song.”

Putumayo will contribute $5000 from sales of African Blues to the International Rescue Committee in support of their humanitarian work helping refugees to survive and rebuild their lives. For more information, visit www.rescue.org

About Putumayo:

Putumayo World Music was established in 1993 to introduce people to the music of the world’s cultures. The label grew out of the Putumayo clothing company, founded by Dan Storper in 1975 and sold in 1997. In the past eighteen years, the record label has become known primarily for its upbeat and melodic compilations of great international music characterized by the company’s motto: “guaranteed to make you feel good!”

Putumayo’s CD covers feature the distinctive art of British illustrator Nicola Heindl, whose colorful, folkloric style represents one of the company’s goals: to connect the traditional and the contemporary. By combining appealing music and visuals with creative retail marketing, Putumayo has developed a unique brand identity, a rarity in today’s artist-based music industry.

Putumayo is considered a pioneer and leader in developing the non-traditional market. A large portion of its target audience consists of “Cultural Creatives,” a sociological term for 50 million North Americans and millions more around the world with an interest in culture, travel and the arts. To reach these consumers, Putumayo has built a proprietary network of more than 3,000 book, gift, clothing, coffee and other specialty retailers in the US and thousands more internationally that play and sell its CDs, in addition to maintaining a strong presence in record stores.

Dan Storper’s vision of establishing a global company and lifestyle brand is being furthered by CD distribution in more than 80 countries. The opening ofPutumayo Europe in the Netherlands in 2000 enabled the company to connect with the European music and retail scene. The expansion ofPutumayo International has also extended the label’s presence in South America, Asia, Africa and Oceania. The company now has offices in 10 countries around the world.

The Putumayo Kids division was created to introduce children to other cultures through fun, upbeat world music. Since the release of the best-selling World Playground CD in 1999, Putumayo Kids has become one of the world’s leading children’s record labels, winning critical acclaim and honors from Parents’ Choice Awards and many others. The division is expanding its globally-themed product offerings in 2011 with three fun, educational coloring books and sticker collections with African, Latin American and European themes. With its growing collection of children’s albums and other cultural products, Putumayo Kids endeavors to inspire children’s curiosity about the world.

Putumayo launched the Putumayo World Music Hour in 2000. The first commercially-syndicated world music radio show, it is now heard internationally on more than 150 commercial and non-commercial stations. Periodically, Putumayo presents thematic tours in conjunction with its CD releases. Acoustic Africa, a CD and successful international tour in 2006, returns to 32 cities in North America in 2011. Putumayo Kids has also produced several thematic tours.

The company’s commitment to helping communities in the countries where the music originates has led to the label contributing more than one million dollars to worthwhile non-profit organizations around the world.
Charitable recipients include Amnesty International, whose 50th anniversary Putumayo is commemorating via a parnership on the new Kids World Party CD, Coffee Kids, Oxfam, Mercy Corps and many more.

As international markets and consumer awareness of world music grow, Putumayo continues to develop creative ways to present exciting, underexposed global music and engaging cultural products. Please visitwww.putumayo.com for more information, news and updates on Putumayo World Music, its releases and events.

My Review:

I am an absolute huge fan of Putumayo World Music. It has been a part of my music curriculum in early childhood education for many years now, and I love that now I can introduce their amazing music to my own children. Recently I was sent Putumayo Presents African Blues and it has been a welcome addition to our music collection. 

The CD is an eclectic collection combining African sounds with Blues for a fun listening experience. The blending of the two styles of music is amazing and more than once I found myself putting songs on repeat. A couple of my favorite tracks included Groove In G, Camel Shuffle, and Ni Koh Bedy.

If you are looking for a new listening experience I highly recommend Putumayo Presents African Blues and give it a huge thumbs up.

BUY IT: You can purchase Putumayo Presents African Blues at your favorite music retailer

***I received a complimentary copy of this CD, courtesy of Putumayo Music, for the purpose of review on this blog. All opinions expressed are my own, and I have not been compensated in any other manner***

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