Various Artists

World Routes: On the Road

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BBC radio program World Routes does things a little differently. There's studio time and music from well-known names in the genre, but there's also something more -- recordings made on the road in different countries around the globe -- and that's the focus of this excellent compilation. With 30 tracks culled from 18 different countries, it's the best, and most melodic, geography lesson anyone could hope to have. Even more interestingly, many of the musicians recorded for the show are unknown outside their immediate areas, and may not be well known even in their homelands. What they capture is the creativity and spirit of the people. So, alongside Toumani Diabaté, captured playing the kora in his home, there's the traditional ensemble Riho living deep in the country of Georgia, or Venezuelan Carlos Orozco. But whether famous or otherwise, the music is a delight, a mélange of global styles that can be breathtaking in its expanse. The quality of the sound is superb throughout, exceptional for what are really field recordings, and the extensive liner notes put everything in context. It serves as a very overdue reminder that not all the good music in the world makes it onto CDs, and that we can go out and listen and well as sit home with the stereo.

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