Various Artists

MASA, Vol. 2: Marché des Arts du Spectacle Africain (Music from Africa)

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Like its predecessor, MASA Volume 1, MASA Volume 2 focuses on the Ivory Coast's MASA festival, in this case the 1999 edition. As before, there are some well-known names, in this case Senegal's Cheikh Lô, Malian diva Rokia Traore, and the welcome return of Wendo Kolosoy, the father of Congolese rumba. But they're far outnumbered by those without long reputations and glowing reviews in the international press, a showcase of new (and intermediate) talent, plenty of which is worth some time in the spotlight. And Morocco shines brightly with contributions from the all-female B'net Houariyat and Gnawas du Maroc, who offer some hypnotic traditional Gnawa music on "La Voix Errante." Madagascar's also well represented, with a wide range of sounds, from the virtual jazz fusion of Sameloa to the electric groove of Tearano, and the valiha (a kind of native harp) virtuosity of Ratavo. In many ways this is more adventurous than the volume that came before, with a wider range, such as the saudade of Cape Verdean singer Hermina, bluesier and grittier than her famous countrywoman Cesaria Evora, or the spicy taarab of Kenya's Malika. Although plenty of these artists have their own albums out, most are unavailable in the West, and a number of the performers were especially recorded for the compilation for MASA, making the set into a window on the music of the new Africa.

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