World Music, a phrase that literally should include all cultures’ sounds but as a genre has become narrowed, softened and commercialized, is being re-invigorated by a new cadre of bloggers with interests in adventure and discovery as well as analytic study, according to Ross Simoninini in the Village Voice Aug 20 – 26 issue. At last, it’s easy to reach beyond those pleasant Putumayo greatest hist packages (“guaranteed to make you feel good”) for fuller access to what’s played and heard all over the globe.
I grew up buying bargain-priced lps in the Nonesuch Explorer Series, gaining an interest in Indonesian gamelan, Ghanian highlife,shepherd’s flute from Burundi and marimba ensembles of Kenya. I developed a belief that recorded music offers an easy way to travel. Ravi Shankar, Jali Foday Musa Suso, Celia Cruz, Umm Kulthum, King Sunny Adé, Bismillah Khan, Hariprasad Chaurasia, Mbuti pygmies, Tibetan Gyoto monks, Brazilian samba schools, guitar bands of the New Guinea rainforest, Middle Eastern oud, Mexican corridos, Andean panpipes and Japanese shakuhachi have all stretched my ears and blown my mind.