Caribbean Odyssey

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This easygoing, playfully percussive disc doesn't break any new smooth jazz or world music ground, but its ability to conjure laid-back, balmy images of surf and swaying palms makes it the perfect collection for those who just got back from a romantic getaway to the Caribbean. Born in Trinidad of mixed indigenous origin (Amerindian, African, French and Syrian), Cascadu has been performing for audiences in his native region and throughout the New York tri-state area for years while also working as a marine biologist and professor of marine and ecological sciences. He brings all of these elements of his life into the autobiographical fold, enhancing his likeable compositions with colorful, image-filled liner notes. While melodically gifted, Cascadu's real achievement is in creating a wide variety of lush soundscapes and atmospheres, employing his arsenal of exotic percussion instruments in the service of catchy tunes. His ensemble is excellent, too, as "East River Sail," "Anansi's Dance" and other tunes of various tempos showcase the fine sax work of Aaron Heick. With its blend of murky undersea sounds, crashing waves and hypnotic rhythms, "Grouper Grounds" is like a musical portrait of Cascadu's work as an environmentally conscious scientist. The only misstep is the corny vocal element of "Island Woman," which attempts to be ultra-romantic but detracts from the other instrumental charms here.

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