Wine + Music = Bliss!

If music be the fruit of life……pour me another! 

Great tunes to enhance your Beverage Experience

(We don’t sell these!)

For those of you who wonder about our music fixation, the reason we have such cool wines here is that we apply everything we learned ferreting out the best records in the cut-outs at Woolworths in the seventies to finding great libations in today’s frantically churning market. For a direct fix, go here to listen to Roberto and WINE EXPO-ista Tom Schnabel playing the NEW sounds of Brasil:

Cafe LA goes Brazuka with Roberto e Tom


For an advanced course, check out some of the hand picked tunes from the WINE EXPO Adult Extraordinary Charts below or you may want to start out with these rocking renditions of the Official WINE EXPO Theme Song:


Michael Bloomfield and the Electric Flag


Jerry Lee Lewis AKA The KILLER


The Misbeats (from FINLAND!)


Larry Dale (with sing along lyrics)


Or, you can mellow down easy with James Brown and Luciano Pavarotti dueting on “It’s a Man’s, Man’s World (REALLY!)…


Funky / Latin / Party Grooves:

Los Mocosos “Shades of Brown”  Six Degrees 657036 1049-2

Imagine War jamming with Santana and the Tower of Power Horns, this is that good! Grooves to kill for, major horns anchored by a forceful Baritone Sax kicking major bootie, they even do a cover of “Spill the Wine”!!!!  Buy this record (but we don’t sell it here).


Bugalu Tropical: Gozalo! (Volume 1)  Vampisoul CD 080

A big tip of the hat to our visiting Ambassador from the Principality of Bass is the Place, Dan Fredman, for hipping us to this: a compilation of the musical explosion in Peru in the late sixties that incorporated the roots of Salsa, a touch of 60s Garage Rock and a solid backbeat of appreciation for Hermano de Alma Numero Uno, Jaime Cafe (that would be Soul Brother #1, James Brown). With groups like Los Hiltons, C. Palomares y su Yuboney and Melcochita y Karamanduka pounding out frantically dancable tunes like Fat Mama, Mambablues and Yo Traigo Boogaloo, this has pool, patio or roof party written all over it.


Spam Allstars “¡Fuacata! Live!” (Spamusica 003)       

Spam Allstars “Contra los Roboticos Mutantes” (Spamusica 004)

We have to give big ups to WINE EXPO-ista John Silva of Silva Artists Management for hipping us to our new favorite fun time party band, The Spam Allstars, who are sort of the Kinky of South Florida. These guys have taken up musical residence in the Little Havana section of Miami but bring not just Latin but Hip Hop and Dub flavors to their infectious sound. Founded and led by DJ Le Spam (a monster on the wheels of steel) but including a full band with brass, funky guitars and Afro-Cuban percussion, these guys are a welcome addition to the soundtrack here at your favorite wine emporium and you should check them out too! Here’s a fun video clip: Gallo Pinto.


Maldita Vecindad “MALDITA SEA 1989-1999”  (BMG US Latin 74321-74337-2)

How can these guys not be worldwide stars? Imagine if The Clash, The Specials and Los Lobos had all grown up together in Mexico City and united in one band: Politically charged Ska / Reggae / Calypso / Rock / Bomba / Ranchero / Rock y Roll en Espanol with fabulous melodies and a kicking horn section. Yeah Baaaaybe! Discovered while surfing on the hip LATV music video show on channel 57. Videos:  Un Poco de Sangre.


Inspector: “Unidad, Cerveza y Ska” (Unity, Beer and Ska)

Universal Music Latino #B0002261-02

Founded in 1995 and hailing from Monterey, Mexico, Inspector are one of the most exciting and fun party bands around in ANY language or style and are sure to get your pool or patio party moving, pronto. Their groove is based on early 60’s Jamaican Ska but with a big dose of Herencia Mexicana Autentico readily apparent in the horn arrangements and most especially the Roy Orbison meets Ranchero King voice of Big Javi. If you like The Skatalites, The Specials, Smashmouth or Skank, you will LOVE this record. And, if you click on the video to the break out single Ska Voovee Boobie Baby on YouTube, you will spill your beer laughing…


Sambaguru featuring Katia Moraes  “Navegar ao Sol” (Mondo Records MDO 2009-2)

If you have been to almost any local Brasilian cultural event in the past few years here in LA you have probably seen Sambaguru as they open a lot of shows with visiting Brasilian artists plus headline local Brazuka clubs on a regular basis. Working here serving the musical and spiritual needs of the expat community from all over Brasil, they need to cover a lot of musical ground: from Roots Samba Rio style through Frevro and Baiao from the Northeast to a calmer, more acoustic take on the Samba Reggae popularized by Bahiana divas Daniella Mercury and Ivete Sangalo plus even Marisa Monte style balladry, they do it all. Now you can get that groove (propelled by WINE EXPO-ista Kevin Ricard on percussion!) at home with this fun CD. Try a nice glass of Brachetto while you listen (and dance)!


Gotan Project “La Revancha del Tango” (YAB 013CD)

Serious Tango musicians from Argentina get an Oprah style make over by hanging in the studio with electronic dance masters from Paris. Sounds crazy but it really works!


Aleks Syntek “De Noche en la Ciudad”  EMI Latin / Virgin H2-7243-535748-0-2

The greatest Pop Artist you never heard of? Aleks Syntek! This guy LOOKS like he should be in The Bare Naked Ladies, writes epic pop songs like Elton John or Smokey Robinson and can sing his tush off. Yet, because he does so in Spanish, most Americans have no idea he even exists. His 2001 CD De Noche en la Ciudad (A Night on the Town) is one of the most perfect pop records ever made and has not left our music rotation since its release. Aside from great tunes, production that reminds us of some the better work of Queen or Todd Rundgren and hyper infectious grooves, the too cool for the room libretto has all of the lyrics presented as 1950s style magazine ads. Make a pitcher of Margaritas turn up the box and have a party with this. A more recent hit of Aleks: Lindas Criaturitas


Orlando Cachaito Lopez  World Circuit / Nonesuch 79630-2

The Buena Vista Social Club goes to the Hood? What it is is the son of legendary Cuban Bassist Cachao stepping out to show that, while they know, practice and respect tradition in Cuba, they also are aware of EVERYTHING that has happened in rhythmic music in the last century. Fabu grooves, Ventures meets Barney Kessel guitars, Kingston stylee dubbing, a DJ scratch or two and a tribute to Charlie Mingus all on one disk. This is the real merda caliente!


The Spanish Harlem Orchestra: un Gran Dia en el Barrio (Rope-a-Dope Records)

Even though this translates to A Great Day in the Neighborhood, this is NOT a tribute to the late Mr. Rogers but perhaps the best intro to the hyper-caliente world of NuYoRican Salsa you can get without actually visiting the Big Tomatilla in person. This will MAKE you dance and maybe inspire your cooking as well. Clip: Llego la Banda (The Band is Here)


Ursula 1000 “Kinda Kinky”  Eighteenth Street Lounge Music # ESL054 

In a brilliant bit of market pre-positioning, this appears to be the soundtrack for the 2017 summer blockbuster Austin Powers meets The Jetsons: retro yet futuristic, sensual yet square, kitschy but debonair. With tracks like Do the Beatbox Cha-Cha, Samba1000, The Girl from N.O.W.H.E.R.E and That Hindu That You Do, all that is missing is a rave up cover of Eep-Op-Ork Means I Love You to play over the final credits…..


Kinky  “Kinky”  Nettwerk 0-6700-30254-2-3   

(were all those numbers REALLY necessary?)

Cumbia meets Electronica? Imagine if Smashmouth had grown up in Mexico instead of NoCal and had listened to Moby and Brian Eno as well as The Ventures and The Specials. FUN, FUN, FUN! These guys use all the cool textures and sounds of club music but they can play their asses off as actual musicians and have not lost touch with their Latino roots. Mas tequila! Their biggest hit: Mas! 


Titan “Elevator” (Virgin America 7243-5-26003-0-4)

Years ago Roberto saw a video with what appeared to be Mexico’s answer to Ciba Matto (three really cute girls playing poppy Punk rock) thrashing out a song called “Corazón” in gold lame mini dresses in the middle of Death Valley. It haunted him (the song, really), he searched everywhere, describing the video to record store clerks in LA, Brasil and Italy all to no avail. So he walks into Hear Music on the Promenade and they are playing the song and it turns out to be Mexico’s answer to the Beastie Boys (three pasty faced guys with attitude but musical senses of humor and a love of both Disco and The Ventures) who just used their girlfriends in the video. Worth seeking out.


Radio Mundial “La Raiz”  (RX Records RXCD 8003-2)

Described by one reviewer as hot, sticky, and soulful, the sonic equivalent of a New York summer, these guys manage to invoke everything from gorgeous acoustic ballads to Santana meets Rare Earth Latin Funk throwdowns, singing in Spanish, English and Riddim inspired Tongues. Guaranteed to get the party started….throw some more chorizos on the grill! Here are the boys Live in Italy.


Os Ipanemas “Afro Bossa” (Far Out Recordings FARO 076CD)

Drummer / Vocalist Wilson des Neves and Singer / Guitarist Neco have been making minimalist, super cool, Miles Davis meets AfroBeat influenced Bossa Nova since 1962 and this new CD distills all of that experience into a perfect soundtrack for chilling round the pool after the crowd has dwindled (and you bring out a bottle of the good stuff to share).Live in Europe.


Nu Yorica 2! Further Adventures in Latin Music,

Chango in the New World 1976-85   (Soul Jazz Records CD36)

Subtitled “Santeros, Marielitios and Nuevoyorquinos, Latin Music in NYC”, this CD reminds Roberto of many glorious Saturday afternoons spent on the lawn in front of his Army barracks in Ansbach, Germany in the seventies playing a beer bottle with a metal rod while grooving to the drumming and singing of his many Puerto Rican, Dominican and Panamanian roommates. Absolutely joyous long form grooves from, among others, Mongo Santamaria, Eddie Palmieri, Irakere, Cachao and the Fania All Stars. HIGHLY recommended, Sopa de Pollo para su Alma!


Roots of our Culture:

Hey, Hey, My My…Rock and Roll will never…oh… the funeral is Sunday? 

Mick Jagger and Pete Townsend are senior citizens, Sam Phillips (founder of Sun Records, discoverer of Elvis and legend in general) died at age 80 and now we hear that Roger Daltry is singing the lead role in My Fair Lady?!?!? Is the end indeed nigh? We suggest you buy the CD below and play it REALLY loud for your kids and see if perhaps you can jumpstart the career of the next Gene Vincent, John Fogarty or Jimi Hendrix through sheer inspiration….


The Kings Record Collection: 

Original Versions of Songs later recorded by Elvis (Hip-O Records 40083)

features the divine Little Willie John crooning Fever, Tommy Tucker elegizing High Heel Sneakers, Lowell Fulson begging his squeeze to Reconsider Baby, Jimmy Reed flipping off his Big Boss Man and closes with Chuck Berry taking us to The Promised Land. This is actually Volume Two in a series so you should probably track down Volume One as well to ensure plenty of Good Rocking Tonight around the summer BBQ / Pool Party circuit…. Cheers!


Charlie Christian “The Genius of the Electric Guitar”  

(Columbia Masterpieces CK-40846)

The Jimi Hendrix of Pre-War Jazz? The similarities are striking: a young black man comes out of virtually nowhere, completely reinvents the guitar, gives generations of future players homework with his scant recorded oeuvre then dies a tragic death all in three years. This is undeniable stuff, the very birthing cries of BeBop, mostly recorded with the Benny Goodman Sextet. No CD collection is complete without this.


Jongo Trio (Mix House MH005)

Imagine if Lambert, Hendricks and Ross were simultaneously the Oscar Peterson Trio blowing grooving Bossa / Samba influenced Jazz while singing three part harmony over the top. An instant classic from 1965, reissued.


Dolly Parton “Little Sparrow”  (Sugar Hill  SUG-CD-3927)

Heartfelt, homespun, non-industrial Music to enhance your wine experience: Some of you will laugh at this but one of our very favorite releases of this year is the latest from non other than Dolly Parton, “Little Sparrow”, which is an absolutely stripped down and GORGEOUS compendium / tribute to the sort of music she heard growing up in the back hills (fans of both “Songcatcher” and “Oh Brother Where Art Thou” will LOVE THIS) presented with minimal instrumentation and maximum emotion. Really, we aren’t kidding and it is a shame that so much crappy “Country” music is out there that we have to make this disclaimer. Enjoy and Cheers!

Howard Tate: Get it While You Can

Perhaps the very Rossetta Stone of Soul, with such gems as Get it While you Can, Ain’t Nobody Home, Part Time Love, Stop (the one covered by the James Gang) and How Come My Bulldog Don’t Bark (when Big Jim comes around)? In addition to the original album (with full notes and biography) there are 19 extra tracks including Mono Mixes of all the singles and more. An absolute CLASSIC but ONLY available online at (along with a lot of other amazing things) in limited editions. Thanks, Thane, now get your ass back in the vault and find us some more!  Howard throws down live on Show me the Man.


Charlie Musselwhite Sanctuary  (Real World 07243 597379 2 8)

From the Gospel inflected rave up of Homeless Child to a truly spooky version of Randy Newman epic Burn Down the Cornfields, this is the merde, the real merde and nothing but the merde. BUT, is blues really so esoteric now that it needs to be on a World Music label? Big ups to Peter Gabriel for signing Charlie but that is just whack!


Grant Green “Retrospective 1961-1966” (Blue Note 7243-5-40851-2-3A/B)

Guitarist Grant Green blew into the Jazz world from the club scene in St Louis in the middle of the Cold War and turned up the heat but good, bringing an intense blues influence honed in organ trios but adding the harmonic sophistication he soaked up along the way. This is a four disc set of grooving sounds that will remind you of just why music is one of your best companions.


B.B. King “Anthology 1962-1998” (MCA 088-112-410-2)

Even if you have ten other records by The King, THIS is amazing. Riley “Blues Boy” King lays out how “Everyone wants to know why I sing the blues” with poetry like “I’ve heard the rats tell the bedbugs to give the roaches some” and “If that ain’t loving you baby, then grits ain’t groceries, eggs ain’t poultry and Mona Lisa was a man!” then stops for a political message with “Help the Poor”. Comes with a nice historical booklet and a complete discography. Buy two and give someone a copy!


The Blue Hawaiians “Savage Night” (Coolsville Records)

As regulars know, we always have lots of fun music playing in the store, featuring a heavy serving of the latest from Brasil but also lots of Blues, Jazz, Rock en Espanol, Honky Tonk, Afro-Beat, Reggae and more. Lately one particular CD has been stopping lots of you in mid browse to demand “Who ARE these guys? This is sooooooo cool!”. The answer is Coolsville recording artists The Blue Hawaiians who manage to combine a low key Rockabilly sensibility (with MAJOR twanging guitar action!) with that dreamy, steel guitar driven “let’s go to the beach and have fun” Hawaiian vibe plus sexy cool vocals that make Chris Isaaks sound like William Hung. Their debut CD, Savage Night (produced by WINE EXPO-ista Michael Frondelli whose family hails from near Potenza in Basilicata, home of funk-a-docious Aglianico) is a near masterpiece of cool with our favorite track being a slow burn version of the classic Searchers rave up Shakin’ all Over (famously covered by The Who on Live at Leads). You can find it online and it is well worth the trouble:


Johnny Burnette

Complete Coral Rock n Roll Trio Sessions (Hip-o-Select B0002209 02)

If your mom was something of a Bad Girl in the fifties then THIS was the guy she really wanted to meet, not Elvis. Johnny was the (young, handsome) Keith Richards meets Billy Idol of his day and the Trio ROCKED. The Yardbyrds AND Aerosmith covered The Train Kept a Rollin (all night long) but neither could accomplish with sheer volume what these hillbillies with Telecasters did with pure adrenaline, attitude and bad ass style. Lovingly packaged with original liner notes and a nice biographic booklet. You NEED this. This and MANY other amazing retro-re-releases are ONLY available on the web at:


Bobby Broom: Modern Man (Delmark DE-530)

A modern rethinking of the sort of slow burn, jazzy but not too out there, sexy but cool music that those of you with hip parents might have been conceived to: Mr. Broom is a monster Jazz Guitarist with credits ranging from Miles to Sonny Rollins to Dr. John and is joined here by Lonnie Liston Smith on B-3 and Ronnie Cuber on Bari Sax (half of the famous mid-sixites George Benson Quartet!) while he grooves through material ranging from the Bacharach chestnut “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again” to a wondrous retake on “Layla” by Eric Clapton plus some adventurous originals. Hats off to hot Jazz guitarist Matt Aschkynazo for hipping us to this.


Paul Peña “New Train” (Hybrid 20019)

If you saw the amazing documentary film “Genghis Blues” wherein a blind Delta-style Bluesman from San Francisco (Mr. Pena) hears Tuvan Throat Singers from the wild steppes of Asia, learns their language and not only visits them but wins a national music festival in their county, then you know this is a special thing.  Recorded in 1973 but not released till recently, this disc features guests Jerry Garcia, Merle Saunders and even soul vocal legends The Persuasions helping Paul boogie on down, keep on trucking and rip the roof off the mother and, among other great tunes,  includes the original version of “Jet Airliner” later flown to the top of the charts by Steve Miller.


Can Slide Guitars Save the World? Maybe there IS hope…

Roberto was channel surfing on Sunday, watching the Recall Circus and depressing war news when he happened upon the strangest sight on VH1: a video that looked like an out take from Do The Right Thing (set in Bed Sty, NYC on the hottest day of the year) featuring an integrated band of fugly over thirty types playing a joyously Gospel inflected rave up called I Need More Love and the lead singer was WAILING on a lap steel guitar, not grabbing his crotch. THEN, the video ended and the VJ announced that Robert Randolph and the Family Band were at #5 on the weekly countdown right behind Byonce at #4! Experiencing flashbacks of Sly Stone, War or Santana being on the charts, our house musicologist dashed off to the record store and, while looking for the Randolph disc, stumbled across something even MORE amazing:

Derek Trucks (the young nephew of Butch Trucks, the drummer in the Allman Brothers Band) is ABSOLUTELY channeling the voice of Duane Allman on slide guitar here but using it to play hauntingly spiritual renditions of Coltrane, Wayne Shorter and even Bob Marley songs with a slinky rhythm section, a vibraphone and a flute player! Transcendental stuff…will make the hair stand up on your neck. This was recorded almost four years ago yet has just been released and on a major label with some promotion behind it at that (discovered at a listening station and you have to BUY those slots) so someone with juice believes in the kid. A natural extension of the jazzier side of the Allmans and with even more soul, this sounds like what Dawg would be doing today if he had not been killed so tragically and we cannot recommend it highly enough.

Robert Randolph & the Family Band “Unclassified”   Warners / Dare 48472-2

The Derek Trucks Band  “Soul Serenade”   Columbia CD 89013


Olu Dara “Neighborhoods”  (Atlantic 83391-2)

Olu Dara is our favorite Left Field Bluesman, Slow Motion Rapper, Science Fiction Griot with a trumpet, Reincarnation of both Robert Johnson AND Ebinezer the Obeah Man (he’s the only one actually but still our favorite). This outing is a bit more dense than his debut, try some Amarone or maybe Sfurzato with it and don’t forget the cornbread (smeared with some Miele di Tarrasco, pah-leeeze!) .


The Last Days of the Fillmore on CD (Epic /Associated / Legacy Z2K-31390)

The soundtrack to the wonderful film documenting the final shows at one of the birthplaces of modern multiculturalism, this two disc set includes future superstars like Santana, Boz Scaggs playing a truly epic version of “Baby’s Calling Me Home” featuring the Tower of Power Horns and a Sketches of Spain style arrangement and the Grateful Dead but also forgotten treasures like blues diva Lydia Pense and Cold Blood, horn driven Latin powerhouse Malo (led by Jorge Santana, brother of Carlos), It’s a Beautiful Day and The Sons of Champlin. For those of you who were there in the day, the booklet contains a complete list of every show Bill Graham ever put on so you can finally settle that bet over whether it was Family Tree or Moby Grape who opened for the Airplane on the night your brother had a bad trip!


Toots in Memphis (Mango CCD 9818)

Raw Soul Power wrapped in Pure Elegance wherein the amazing voice of Toots and the Maytalls repays the debt of all reggae musicians to Otis, Wilson, Sam and Dave, Al Green and others by romping through “Knock on Wood”, “Hard to Handle”, “Love and Happiness” and more. Mesmerizing, spellbinding, joyous music like they just don’t make anymore.


James Brown Soul on Top  (Verve B0001978-02)

The jazziest session Soul Brother #1 ever recorded, this disc features James (with Maceo on sax of course) with the Louie Bellson Orchestra (featuring Ray Brown on Bass and Ernie Watts on Alto among others) putting a whole different spin on classics like Your Cheating Heart  (re-invented as a horn driven boogaloo, Hank would have loved it!), For Once in My Life  and Everyday I Have the Blues  as well as It’ a Man’s Man’s Man’s World  and Papa’s got a Brand New Bag  with new,  modernist arrangements by the legendary Oliver Nelson. Originally recorded in November 1969, this is a classic and we have to give big props to Verve / Universal for un-earthing it again.


Pachuco Boogie Featuring Don Tosti and his Pachuco Boogie Boys (Arhoolie 7040) 

Even besides the fact the this features a jumping track called Wino Boogie that sounds like Cab Calloway and Louis Jordan riffing about a three day bender in Spanish, this disc is the real menudo: packed with the sophisticated Jazz and Afro Cuban influenced sounds of the big bands of Los Angeles Zoot Suit Culture of the forties and fifties, sure to fire up a BBQ or a Tamale Party!


Labels Matter!

There was a time when just the name of a record label told you a lot about a record even if you were unfamiliar with the artist: Blue Note meant uncompromising Jazz (often exquisitely recorded by Rudi Van Gelder in his parents living room), Elenco brought you the best of Bossa Nova, Motown gave you uptempo pop with some flava but nothing that would scare your grandmother and Atlantic was the Palace of Soul with Aretha and Ray Charles reigning as Queen and King. Just in time for Summer Pool and Patio Dance Parties or Camping Trip Seductions, Atlantic / Rhino has released a series of double disc comps called The Definitive Soul Collection:


Otis Redding (Rhino R2 77663) covers the beat from spine chilling ballads like These Arms of Mine and Pain in My Heart to rave ups like Satisfaction, Knock on Wood, Hard to Handle and even a take on that famous Brand New Bag of James Brown.


Curtis Mayfield (Rhino R2 77661) features the work of the legendary guitarist / composer / prophet from the time he left the Impressions until his tragic death in 2000: from the inspiration of Move on Up through the groundbreaking relaxed funk grooves of Superfly, Pusherman and Future Shock to romantic ballads like Only You Babe, Curtis was all that with some special sauce on the side and we STILL miss him.



Sexy tunage to help you get your groove on…

Yes, the CDs below are guaranteed to raise your batting average in the romantic department so use with caution….


Jai “Heaven” (RCA 07863 67514-2)

An oldie (relatively) but goodie: this is a white English guy who manages to evoke the vibes of Johnny Mathis, Marvin Gaye and D’Angelo, does a dreamy version of “Cry me a River”, covers “Magnolia” by J.J. Cale and dedicates the record to “Blue Note, Northern Soul and Hip Hop without whom it would not have been possible”. A nearly fool-proof seduction soundtrack.


LTJ Bukem  “Producer 01”  (Good Looking Records GLRD-01)

Jazzy, sexy yet hyper-modern meditations on themes like “Cosmic Interlude”, “Coolin’ Out” and “Atlantis” from a UK based ambient genius with enough respect for his “roots” to put a gatefold spread of a Fender Rhodes Concert 88 Stage Piano in the CD. Fans of Lonnie Liston Smith, slow kisses by the fire, Ramsey Lewis, Suba or Erica Jong should all relate to this….


Gotan Project “La Revancha del Tango” (YAB 013CD)

Serious Tango musicians from Argentina get an Oprah style make over by hanging in the studio with electronic dance masters from Paris. Sounds crazy but it really works!


Johnny Frigo “Collected Works” (Luv n Haight / Ubiquity LHCD 036)

Slow bump and grind Organ / Guitar / Bass grooves ala Jimmy Smith and then slowly revs up to Shaft /  Super Fly style funk but with no distracting vocals. Works for us!


Easy Star All-Stars “Dub Side of the Moon” (obrigado João!!!)

Once the deal is sealed, pop this on (and set the player for infinite repeat!): The classic Pink Floyd album reinterpreted (through what seems like EPIC clouds of ganja!) by Dub Reggae magicians Michael G and Ticklah and featuring Corey Harris, Frankie Paul, The Meditations, Ranking Joe and more. Big thanks to João Augusto of DeckDisc in Rio de Janeiro for hipping us to this.



Africa Calling….

Khada Nin “Ya…” (Mondo Melodia I-86-810-062-2)

Serene, sensual, moving, gorgeously produced, sung by an angel….and that’s just the first song, “Mama”! The Erica Badhu meets Enya of BURUNDI (?!?!?) sings intricate melodies in French, Swahili and Kirundi over calming but compelling Afro-Acoustic grooves, your mother will probably dig it but it’s great make out music too.


Angelique Kidjo “BLACK IVORY SOUL” (Columbia 85799)

Some of the most enchanting but also sexiest music made in years. The Pop Queen of Benin brings everything from the dreamscapes of Enya-esque Celtic Mysticism through slammin Funk to Afro-roots keening vocals to the table. This is great!


Papa Noel “Bel Ami” (Stern’s Africa STCD 3016)

Without doubt the happiest record we’ve heard this year, a Living Guitar Legend of Congolese Rhumba (Soukous) picks his favorite tracks for a remastered blast of sheer joy through riddim and melody. Definitely a Moscato d’Asti kind of record.


Ethiopiques Volume 8 “Swinging Addis” (Buda Musique 82982-2)

Who knew that some of the hippest music ever made was recorded in Addis Abbaba in the late Sixties, early Seventies? From the James Brown meets Haile Selasse grooves of Alemayehu Eshete to the fuzz-toned pre-Santana Jingo of Bahta Gebre-Heywet’s “Tessassategn Eko”, this is too cool for the room.  Clear the furniture for dancing and have plenty of good beer on hand!


Issa Bagayogo “TIMBUKTU” (Six Degrees 657036 1062-2)

Ancient Malian kora riffs and vocal chants from the dawn of time meet the big beat in a dub-wise style. Transcendentally exquisite: turn down the lights, sip a glass of the Fay Sforzato, find your inner lion (ess).


Eclectic and Fun:

Cibo Matto “Stereo Type A” (Warner Bros 9-47345-2)

Two cute Japanese Girls who sing about food, John and Yoko’s son Sean on Bass, lots of Bossa Nova and Lounge-y influences, NO politics or singer songwriter angst!


The Slackers “Wasted Days” (Hellcat Records 80429-2)

You’ve got to love a bunch of guys who not only so flawlessly recreate the sounds of classic uptempo Reggae from the sixties (think Toots or the Heptones) that you can’t believe this is a contemporary recording but also play a version of Bon Jovi’s “Dead or Alive” that you can actually listen to. AND, their publishing company is called Relaxo Music!!!


Lewis Taylor “Stoned”  (Hacktone Records DK-37422)

Imagine if the British biologist who created Dolly the cloned sheep got their hands on genetic material from Marvin Gaye, Jimi Hendrix (in ballad mode), Curtis Mayfield, Prince, Stevie Wonder and legendary Motown producer Norman Whitfield. The result would be Lewis Taylor, the best soul artist we have heard in decades, whose 2002 release has been rescued from oblivion by WINE EXPO-ista David Gorman and re-launched to huge critical acclaim in the US. You need this disc, we are not kidding. Stop what you are doing and find a copy online or at your favorite music store. You can thank us later….


Bossacucanova & Roberto Menescal “Brasilidade”

(Ziriguiboom / Six Degrees 657036 1043-2)

Roberto Menescal, one of the fathers of Bossa Nova Guitar (and the actual father of Marcio Menescal, bassist of Bossacucanova), collaborates with a collective of musician / DJ / Ambient-istas including our Roberto’s buddy DJ DaLua to bring a post millennial vibe to such classics as “Agua de Beber”, “Bye Bye Brasil” and “Girl from Ipanema”. Perfect tunage for when you want to start winding the party down or are just waking up on Sunday morning (afternoon?).


Sister Bossa “Cool Jazz with a Brasilian Flavou”r (Irma 494549-2)

Acid Jazz rethinking of classics from “Agua de Beber” to “Meu Desepero” spotlighting the musical side of electronica. Who knows, maybe your Rave Head daughter will discover Tom Jobim or Stan Getz?


Trojan Soulful Reggae 3 CD Box Set (TRBCD-021)

Ya, Mon! I and I be rankin and skankin in a Lovers Rock stylee with this ting and the girlies be meltin in I and I hands….. Contemporaneous Reggae styled covers of your all time favorite Motown, Stax and Atlantic hits from Tears of a Clown and Just My Imagination through Shaft, Kung Fu Fighting and Living for the City into Tell Me Have You Seen Her, Love and Happiness and, of course, Papa was a Rolling Stone. Get some Jerk Chicken, Curried Goat and Shrimp Patties, make a Sorrel Sangria, invite the gang and get your groove on! This is just one of six different bargain priced 3 CD sets in limited release, worth seeking out.


Great Holiday music you could listen to in July!

World Christmas (Metro Blue CDP7243-8-36928-2-8)

Afro-Pop diva Angelique Kidjo singing “O Holy Night” in French with a percussion ensemble? Diane Reeves and Mino Cinelu doing an almost sexy jazz-blues throwdown on “The 12 Days of Christmas”?? John Scofield and Mardi Gras Indians The Wild Magnolias raving through “Go Tell it on the Mountain”????? You MUST buy this!


Etta James “12 Songs of Christmas” (Private Music 01005-82166-2)

The Queen of the Blues wails on the standards: you can boogie, your Grandma can pray, it’s a family thing.


Festival of Light (Six Degrees Records 657036-1001-2)

and Volume 2 (657036-1018-2)

Absolutely transcendental odes to Hanukkah from talents as diverse as the Klezmatics to Jane Siberry, Marc Cohn to Peter Himmelman. Classics and originals (Himmelman’s original “Lighting up the World” deserves to be a classic). The only thing missing is some comic relief from Adam Sandler.


Blue Yule (Rhino R2-70568)

Yo! Santa! Who’s making Mrs. Claus while you’re out dropping toys? Uproarious celebrations of the party side of Christmas from Charles Brown, Canned Heat, John Lee Hooker, Johnny and Edgar Winter as teenagers and the wonderful Sonny Boy Williamson ranting about Santa getting all up in his baby’s drawers (in her dresser!).


El Vez “Merry MeX-mas!”  (Sympathy for the Record Industry 350)

YES! From “Santa Claus is Sometimes Brown” to “Feliz Navidad” to “Mamacita, donde esta Santa Claus?”, this not only rocks out severely, it is funny and reminds you that we live in Azatlan Norte so why not stuff your turkey with Menudo, make eggnog with Mezcal de Oaxoca and put a piñata on top of the tree?


Heads up on the Hot Holiday CD of the Year: Christmas as Rave!

A Six Degrees Collection Christmas Remixed  (Six Degrees  657036 1095-2)

The CLASSIC Holiday songs get put through an Acid Jazz filter: aside from being just plain groovy, imagine watching your great aunt Floozy disorient a bit when the Mulato Break Beat Mix of Louis Armstrong singing Baby its Cold Outside or maybe the Brazilia Beach Mix of Johnny Mercer doing Winter Wonderland plays!