Various Artists

Putumayo Presents: World Party

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Most of Putumayo's compilations have focused on a specific area of world music -- perhaps Celtic music, perhaps Brazilian samba, perhaps Mediterranean music. Typically, Putumayo will stretch things as far as they can; if the focus is salsa, for example, Putumayo will do something delightfully orthodox like unearthing Scottish and Japanese salseros. But there is still a concrete, well-defined theme no matter how far Putumayo twists and bends that theme. On World Party, however, the theme isn't as concrete; this time, the theme is world music that Putumayo loosely defines as "party music." The liner notes explain that this 2007 release consists of recordings that Putumayo really liked but couldn't "find a place for on current projects." But if World Party is a collection of odds and ends, they are pleasing odds and ends. The term "party music" can mean a wide variety of things, and on this 44-minute CD, it means everything from reggae (Burning Spear's "Walk") to Haitian compas (Orchestra Tropicana D'Haiti's "Gason Total") to zydeco (Beau Jocque's "Just One Kiss") to Afro-funksters Osibisa's 1976 hit "Sunshine Day" (which is the compilation's oldest recording and probably its most famous). True to form, Putumayo unearths some very unorthodox material. "Ciuri Ciuri," for example, is trumpeter Roy Paci's unlikely ska arrangement of a traditional Sicilian folk song -- and on "Mindé Sè," one hears Laurent Hounsavi performing salsa in the Fon language of Benin. Full of surprises, this rewarding, if brief, disc is among the many Putumayo releases that world music enthusiasts need to be aware of.

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