Various Artists

Naxos World Sampler 2004

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The nice thing about these annual samplers of world music from the Naxos label is that they aren't the thin-lipped, poorly recorded anthropological documentaries that you so often encounter from other labels; instead, they tend to consist of happy (and mostly quite modern) party music from around the globe. (The fact that they list for $6.99 tends to set them apart, as well.) The 2004 edition of this series is no exception to the rule: there's jittery jump-up bhangra from Anakhi (in two very different mixes), some lovely pipa strumming from the internationally famous Wu Man, and some cheesily wonderful Bahamian lounge crooning courtesy of André Toussaint. The Cuban jazz of Alfredo Rodriguez and Los Acereko is lots of fun as well, as is the gorgeous Swahili rumba of Kenya's Golden Sounds Band, with its stutter-step rhythms, glittering guitar lines, and choral vocals. There are a couple of inevitable clunkers as well, such as the poorly-produced and out-of-tune excerpt from Dave Swarbrick's recent solo album, and a lackluster tarantella from Alessandra Belloni. But the good heavily outweighs the bad on this collection and, of course, the price is right. Recommended.