New York has long been a one-city trip around the world, and that's vividly demonstrated by this wide-ranging compilation. With so many cultures represented among players living in the five boroughs, the city is spoiled for musical riches. Some have enjoyed long professional careers, like the female Irish-American group Cherish the Ladies, whilst others, such as Besim Muriqi, are essentially unknown. But the quality of the performances here is universally high. That's part of what makes this so thrilling, but even more is the juxtaposition of styles — jubilant Jewish klezmer next to Chinese wedding music, for instance. At times the music takes on American colours, like Simon Shaheen and Qantara with Olive Harvest, where jazz inflections became part of the whole. It makes for a vibrant snapshot of a city where immigrants treasure their heritage, but are also changed by their new circumstances.
By Douglas Wolk on 01.29.14 in Spotlights
Pete Seeger's contributions to American music were so titanic that it's easy to overlook them, or to assume they've always been there. To many, the folk singer, who died January 28 at the age of 94, was simply the old ma...
By John Morthland on 12.04.13 in Spotlights
How important a figure was Dave Van Ronk on the Greenwich Village folk scene in its heyday? Consider the description of Bob Dylan, who was befriended by Van Ronk upon his arrival in New York in 1961, in his own memoir, C...
By Wondering Sound Staff on 05.23.13 in Reviews
The Smithsonian Folkways collection is a musical treasure, a chance to wander down the byways of music not only from America, but all parts of the globe. From Woody Guthrie to Leadbelly to Elizabeth Cotten, the label is...
By Peter Blackstock on 07.10.12 in Reviews
How to honor Woody Guthrie on the 100th anniversary of his birth? It's no easy feat finding focus for a subject whose body of work practically defines "iconic." The depth and range of this three-disc collection seeks not...