Review of The Caribbean Album by Putumayo Records

The Caribbean

Putumayo Records The Caribbean Album

Putumayo Records

Barbados, Bahamas, Jamaica. These names conjure images of baking sun, endless beaches and a lifestyle to die for. The Caribbean Islands are well known for their unique contribution to the world of music and it is about time Putumayo, the definitive world music label, doffed their cap again to a culture as strong and subtle, positive and present as the Caribbean culture is. Calypso, Reggae, Ska, Soca & Salsa are all Caribbean grooves and the groove is all important in the Caribbean scene. Caribbean music has been bleeding into popular culture since the 50's and there is a whole new world of music to discover - for any intrepid musical explorers out there.

As usual Putumayo has collected a rather handsome pack of tracks to help you dip your toe in that beautifully crisp blue water. Go on… won't regret it.

Turn on the radio and there's a good chance that you'll find sounds of the Caribbean permeating the airwaves. From reggaeton and dancehall to soca and salsa, its influence is everywhere. Caribbean music is steeped in African traditions, incorporates European and Latin American sounds, and satisfies virtually any listening palate. With the pop charts currently reflecting love for these genres' growing appeal, Putumayo World Music's new collection - The Caribbean - delves into the roots of the music, its present and its future.

Chart toppers No Doubt, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones and others owe much of their success to Jamaican legends The Skatalites, who helped pioneer and popularize ska around the world. Their contribution to the album, "Freedom Song," shows influences of American jazz, swing, and rhythm and blues, as well as Trinidadian calypso and Jamaican mento.

Mento, a Jamaican folk style that is a predecessor of reggae, has been widely championed by Stanley Beckford. An underground legend, Beckford grew up singing in his church choir and winning talent competitions. Now in his 60s, he has experienced a career revival after recording two critically acclaimed albums for French major labels. His cover of the mento classic "Sam Fi Man," (Jamaican slang for "con man") warns of those trying to pull a fast one.

Breakout star Mika mixes the compas music of his native Haiti with influences of calypso, R&B, reggae and pop to create a gentle breezy groove. After attending college in Montreal, Mika recorded a hit song that quickly established him as a leading figure in the compass scene, and has just released his first solo album. On "Bél Fanm" he sings of Haiti's beautiful women.

Militant is quickly joining Sean Paul and other Caribbean stars with crossover appeal. This new artist struts his stuff on the track "Hot & Groovy." Using a sample from Putumayo recording artist Habib Koite's song "Saramaya," Militant creates a quintessential soca party song that has erupted as an enormous hit in the Caribbean.

The Caribbean party flavor of newcomers Jab Jab will also have audiences dancing. Based in Montreal, the band is a unique discovery and their song was added to The Caribbean even though they are still relatively unknown in their native islands of Trinidad and Grenada. They were discovered on a three track demo acquired by Putumayo's Jacob Edgar. A song of true soca origins, "Rev It Up" does just that with a live brass section.

Although most of the artists appearing on The Caribbean have experienced limited fame, all deserve wider recognition. Discover why Martinique's Kali and Marcé & Toumpak have deep-rooted local celebrity status and why Ska Cubano, whose mix of Jamaican ska and soulful Afro-Cuban son, are gaining stardom in Europe. The Caribbean has long been a bastion of musical innovation and The Caribbean shows that today's artists are continuing to build on its powerful musical heritage.

A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this album will be donated to Wyclef Jean's Yéle Haiti charity in support of their development efforts in Haiti.

1. Kali * Aline Volé

2. Stanley Beckford * Sam Fi Man

3. Claudius Phillips & O.R.E.O. * Overtime (Nami Chens Pa Mi Biba)

4. Ska Cubano * Chango

5. Mika * Bèl Fanm

6. Coalishun * Thundah

7.Waldo Mendoza * Pasa un Tiempo Viejo

8. Marcé & Toumpak * Bon Tché

9. Skatalites * Freedom Sounds

10. Jab Jab * Rev It Up

11. Jandy Feliz * Los Amores

12. Militant * Hot & Groovy

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