Various Artists

Greece Is...Magic

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Ok, so this looks like a tacky "tourist" item, there's hardly any English info on the thing, and it's expensive. But in spite of being a merchandising failure, this CD contains 13 examples of the most soulful modern Greek music -- the kind of passionate tunes that make you want to soak up ouzo like a sponge and smash glasses until dawn. The heartfelt sounds of violin, accordion, 'ud, bouzouki, and an abundance of mournful clarinet dominate the instrumental landscape, with just one powerful vocal number starting off the program. These recordings (all done in the studio) probably come from the Greek AF label; clarinet-legend Yiorgos Mangas is included, as well as samples from a gorgeous AF record of Byzantine music. The origin of the rest is unknown, but every one is a gem, the variety of styles is captivating, and you'll be yelling for more when this hour-long disc is done.