Album Review

Songs of The African Coast [coll] – [Yarngo]

ArtCrimes   9/9/2009   CD, International

A new label, Yarngo, debuts with this reissue (and expansion) of field recordings made in Liberia, Africa, in 1948 by ethno-musicologist Arthur Alberts (eventually part of his “Tribal, Folk and Cafe Music of West Africa” collection, first issued on 78 rpm discs). Fans of African field recordings may be expecting the ethnic percussion and vocal styles in village communities heard on any number of Nonesuch Explorer releases, but this music has a far more Westernized approach, with piano accompaniment by the blind Prof. Howard B. Hayes (who also composed a number of the songs) that suggests the influence of American jazz and popular song. Hayes does duets with vocalist Malinda Jackson Parker on the first several tracks, and the balance of the disc features the Greenwood Singers, doing a slightly more folk-based approach with an ensemble, sometimes doing their own versions of songs also done by Hayes & Parker. There are similarities to Bahamian and Calypso styles, so fans of the Pindar Family, Joseph Spence and Mighty Sparrow may enjoy the wit and charm of many songs here. (((crimes)))


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