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Phil Bennett reviews his preferred listening of the month.

Kali Sultana
Titi Robin
(French Gypsy Folk)
Reviewed by Phil Bennett

One of the leading exponents of Gypsy music for the past 30 years, French bred Titi Robin brings together elements of Gypsy, North African, Middle Eastern and North Indian sounds in this haunting, majestic tale of Kali Sultana, The Black Queen.

A 2 part suite, consisting of 7 movements and 3 interludes, this mostly instrumental album is an exhilarating affair that swells and ebbs from the soft and beguiling to the jubilantly buoyant, capturing both the moods of moonlit solitude and market place madness.

The pieces are intriguingly melodic and inventive, mainly utilising Arab scales, which immediately lends an air of mystery and desert sand magnitude.

Switching from guitar to oud and bouzouki, Robin's accompanied by bassist Kalou Stalin, Francis Varis on accordion, percussionist Ze Luis Nascimento, and Renaud Pion on clarinet and sax, a unit who seem to possess the ability to read each other's minds before each note is struck.

Disc 2 sees the appearance of Robin's daughter, Maria, on vocals which, while she is a very good singer indeed, does tend to interrupt the flow marginally.

Ranging from strangely intense to heart-rendingly beautiful, Kali Sultan is an exotic aural adventure that is a thrill to listen to.


Bossa Nova Is Not A Crime
Juju Orchestra
(Instinctive Travels)
(Latin Jazz)
Reviewed by Phil Bennett

Striking an acrobat's balance between Samba, Bossa, funk and Latin jazz, this re-release of the Juju Orchestra's debut serves as a fine reminder of what an outstanding outfit they are.

Inspired and influenced by the likes of Miles Davis and Stan Getz, the album is a meeting of the minds of Fab DJ Sammy and producer/engineer, Oliver Belz, who take the sounds and rhythms of 1960s Bossa Nova and sift it through a contemporary studio remake.

The results are exuberant and fresh with delicate instrumentation and sizzling grooves fusing together to craft a sound that combines the swinging Latin feel of 40 years ago with today's sonic textures.
There's a mix of original and cover material, the most notable of which is a savvy, saucy, rimshot driven rearrangement of Steely Dan's Do It Again.

Elsewhere, El Bravo skips along a bed of punchy brass riffs while Funky Nassau is all choppy guitar scratching and smouldering organ chords.

Solos appear throughout the tracks, mainly courtesy of George Bishop's smooth sax breaks and Jan-Heie Erchinger's watery Fender Rhodes electric piano runs, but the essence of this material is always the groove, which pulses like a beating heart flushed with romance.

Timeless cool.

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