The Southeast African country of Malawi is a land of many cultures: Chewa, Nyanja, Tumbuko, Yao, Lomwe, Sena, Tonga, Ngoni, and Ngonde. As a result, any single comprehensive CD portrait of Malawian music is not possible. On Music Tradition of Malawi, a generous sample of this country's complex and heterogeneous cultural identity is presented. All of its 20 tracks are outstanding, including "Ulimba: Mama Wo," where gourd-resonating 21-key xylophones known as Ulimba propel a dance in the country's Nsanje district; "Nyakatangale," in which a Malawian musician controls the elastic sounds of a mouth-resonating musical bow with the deftness of any Western virtuoso; and the cyclical melodic sounds of players board-zither on "Bangwe- Elis." A part of the UNESCO Collection of Traditional Music of the World, Music Tradition of Malawi informs the listener while introducing them to the staggering musical diversity of this nation.
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AllMusic Review by John Vallier