Various Artists

The Rough Guide to the Music of Louisiana

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Louisiana has one of American's richest heritages -- the cradle of jazz, New Orleans, Mardi Gras, Cajun, and Zydeco music. It's impossible to capture it all in one disc, and this doesn't try -- which is both a good and a bad thing. The disc does have some Cajun and Zydeco (from Beausoleil and Buckwheat Zydeco, among others), and nods toward New Orleans jazz with Dr. Michael White and Kermit Ruffins, from the Rebirth Brass Band -- which also handily takes in the New Orleans brass tradition. And, to be fair, "You Are My Sunshine," written by the late Louisiana governor Jimmie Davis, is here. So yes, it's impossible to fault the music here on its own terms, although the fusion of Cubanismo with John Boutté and the Yockama All-Stars is at best only half-Louisiana. Yes, Dr. John is here (although hardly at his best) and Champion Jack Dupree -- but if you're going to have piano, how can you ignore Professor Longhair? And if you're dealing with jazz, why not go to the source, and include Louis Armstrong? Where's Allen Toussaint, one of music's legendary figures, or Fats Domino (whose "Walking to New Orleans" does appear here, by Buckwheat Zydeco)? The bottom line is, as a representation of Louisiana, it's very, very far from being either satisfying or definitive.

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