Each of the major areas of music that Alan Lomax researched is documented on the very, very large Alan Lomax Collection series on Rounder. This sampler album has a short introduction to Lomax's philosophy as he conveyed it to Charles Kuralt before his death. From there, the collection moves into a quartet of tracks from the Southern Journey years, with some basic folk songs as well as the then-undiscovered Bessie Jones from the Georgia Sea Islands and the rather rare sacred harp singing style. One track is provided as an example of Prison Songs -- one of the first projects undertaken by Lomax and his father. Five more come from The Caribbean Collection (primarily in Trinidad), hitting upon everything from straightforward calypso to East Indian bhajans. Another five tracks hailing from the time in Great Britain and its territories follow, with the singing in Scots and Gaelic being some of the last remaining examples at the time, and starting the folk revolution in Scotland, Ireland, and England to a degree. A quartet of tracks from Spain follow, featuring more than the well-known flamenco, and they are followed by a clump of tracks from his Italian journey, showcasing a very wide range of music with diverse and isolated cultural influences. Another four tracks come from the World Library series that Lomax actually didn't record, but spearheaded the creation of nonetheless. Here, there's a Romanian doina, a bit of gamelan, a Japanese folk song, and an Iroquois dance. From here, the album uses the Iroquois as a point of return to the American South, with Lomax's attempt to revive the traditions fed by the Mississippi River basin that were in a rut and fading in the late '70s. Four pieces come from an upcoming series on Rounder featuring some of the larger names in folk music who were found by Lomax, and the final track comes from Lomax's own ballad opera composition, "The Martins and the Coys," a piece of WWII propaganda featuring his friend Woody Guthrie. With the vast breadth of material covered and touched by Alan Lomax in his long career, it's not surprising that Rounder is able to produce over 100 albums of his material. What is surprising is that they're able to produce a single album standing as a basic look at all of the work. As such, this album does a good job of giving a taste of the various forms and cultures of music that Lomax recorded, and gives the listener a good chance to decide which series to focus on more heavily as desired.
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