Steve Kindig’s Best World Albums of 2015

Steve Kindig, host of Radio Tropicale (Wednesday, 12-2 pm)

In no particular order (Artist/Album/Label) with thoughts and top pick off each album
Grupo Fantasma/Problemas/Blue Corn Music
This Grammy-winning Austin-based 9-piece band delivers another horn-drenched blast of Latin funk.
Top picks: “Descarga Pura Y Dura” and “Cayuco.”

Amara Toure/Amara Toure 1973-1980/Analog Africa
Yet another essential release from Analog Africa. A collection of mesmerizing Afro-Cuban tunes from the Senegalese singer/percussionist, after he’d moved to Cameroon. Fans of Orchestra Baobab should enjoy this.
Top pick: The haunting, hypnotic “Lamento Cubano.”

Ballake Sissoko & Vincent Segal/Musique de Nuit/Six Degrees
Another gorgeous gem from Malian kora master Ballake Sissoko and French cellist Vincent Segal. Several tracks were recorded on the rooftop of Sissoko’s house in Bamako, complete with street sounds and the bleats of sheep.
Top picks: “Passa Quatro,” and “Balazando.”

Aziz Sahmaoui/Mazal/World Village
Aziz Sahmaoui’s second album again blends traditional Moroccan gnawa spiritual music with jazz and rock, creating a unique world groove that’s equally suited to dance and trance.
Top picks: “Mazal” and “Hada Majari.”

Songhoy Blues/Music in Exile/Atlantic
Hard-rocking desert blues from a young Malian four-piece. You can hear influences from Touareg bands like Tinariwen, and Malian guitar guru Ali Farka Toure in the snaky guitar lines. This is one high-energy debut.
Top picks: “Soubour” and “Irganda.”

Kareyce Fotso/Mokte/Contre Jour
OK, this CD actually came out in 2014… but it didn’t reach my ears until 2015. Cameroonian singer Kareyce Fotso accompanies herself on acoustic guitar on this collection of lovely, tuneful songs.
Top picks: “Ndolo Comment Ca Va” and “Messa.”

Amadou Ballake/In Conclusion/Stern’s
African music legend Amadou Ballake passed away in 2014, and these are his final recordings. Drawing from stints in several bands, including Afro-Cuban heroes Africando, Ballake revisits some of his favorite songs from a long career.
Top picks: “Bar Konon Mousso” and “Massa Kamba.”

Lila Downs/Balas Y Chocolate/Sony
Here the Grammy-winning Mexican-American singer tackles issues facing Mexico with a wide-ranging, mostly upbeat collection of songs that is her most personal, and possibly her best, yet.
Top picks: “Humito de Copal” and “La Patria Madrina.”

Pat Thomas & Kwashibu Area Band/Pat Thomas & Kwashibu Area Band/Strut
Punchy horns and gleaming guitar riffs lead the way in this album of bright, breezy Ghanaian highlife. Pat Thomas, the “Golden Voice of Africa” gets some help from longtime associates: music legends Tony Allen and Ebo Taylor.
Top picks: “Gyae Su” and “Amaehu.”

Amanaz/Africa/Now Again
Originally released in 1975, this CD re-issue introduced me to Zambia’s “Zam rock” scene. Heavy on the fuzztone guitar, this music sounds more Western than other African styles of the time — Afrobeat, highlife — but it’s trippy fun.
Top picks: “Sunday Morning” and “Easy Street.”

 

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