Global beat

Mexican Independence parade 2003Back in 2001, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings issued a double CD called New York City: Global Beat of the Boroughs: Music from NYC’s Ethnic & Immigrant Communities. Samples are available on the Folkways site.

It’s great—of course it includes several Latin beats (plena, bomba, bachata, merengue, salsa, and Colombian vallenato) and various Eastern European styles (Albanian folk songs, Gypsy music, Ukrainian dance tunes, a Hasidic holiday melody, klezmer, and mountain Jewish improvisation). The Caribbean region also provides a chauti-style tan sangeet song, a santerĂ­a ritual song, Trinidadian calypso, excerpts from a Haitian Rara processional, vodou jazz, and gospel.

Asia is represented a little more thinly, with a Cantonese wedding processional and classical Korean. African-American gospel represents North America, and from the Middle East, there’s a contemporary Arab composition and traditional Lebanese songs. Western Europe offers the Italian giglio song they sing at the festival in Williamsburg (July 9–20 this year), Greek rembetika, and a couple of Irish fiddle tunes.

Africa is limited to a Bambara jaliya song from West Africa, but if you love it, they do have a whole CD dedicated to the style: Badenya: Manden Jaliya in New York City.

From the Epirus region of Greece comes a lament for those who leave their homelands: “Oh, how they bury an immigrant in a foreign land, without mother and father and relatives. Oh, you birds, cry for him, especially you nightingale. Oh, mourners, recount his life and good deeds.”

Of course, it’s in Greek, but that’s what the booklet is for.

Comments are closed.