Miguel Castro / Rhythm Journey/Miguel Castro

Percussion of the World

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Miguel Castro is a true multi-instrumentalist. The liner notes credit him with 50 different types of percussion instruments, and that's just on this album. He makes use of his virtuosity by taking listeners on a musical tour of the world, from the Andes to Japan, from Central Africa to Scotland. There's nothing wrong, of course, with playing music from other cultures. But generally speaking, one is not going to sound as good in a cultural idiom as the people who were born to it, and for this reason Castro is in danger of offering listeners a dozen technically proficient yet mediocre performances of "world music." At least sometimes, Castro does better than this. To be sure, the Middle Eastern offering "Hot Sand, Cool Sandals" does use a cheesy electrified or synthesized oud, but only lightly, and the drum work is quite thoughtful. The Japanese piece "Bugaku" makes dramatic use of the thunderous drums of the Land of the Rising Sun. "In My Travels" features a hammered dulcimer played so fluidly that it sounds like a spinet piano. Other experiments, like his multi-culti rendering of "Amazing Grace," fare less well. Worthwhile for fans of incredible percussion, but not really a good listen.

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