Explorer Series: West Indies - An Island Carnival
The title is a bit misleading, since the pieces here aren't necessarily connected with carnival; instead, they're a celebration of the different cultures around the Caribbean. Unsurprisingly, there's a fair bit in Spanish, although "Aguinaldo," from the predominantly English-speaking island of Trinidad, might be a bit of a shock. However, the island's proximity to Venezuela has brought a strong Spanish element into the tongue. Inevitably, the rhythms are very African, as on the first two tracks here. Religion comes in with "Spiritual Baptists," a reminder that Christianity is a very important factor across the Caribbean. "The Story of Marrdevirain" highlights the tradition of immigrants from India who arrived during the 19th century, and "Reel" is a version of a Scottish tune dressed up in an African rhythm and loosened up, although many ears might have a problem discovering the original tune. The same is true for the song "Mr. Walker," here played on a pair of cocoa lutes. Regardless, it's a fabulous, varied listen, and also important in the way it highlights various aspects and traditions in island music.
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