Post-modern delta blues meets Malian string-driven things in this satisfying collusion between musical traditions. Taj Mahal doesn't get overly respectful, and his spirited guitar playing is lively, while the six- piece Malian ensemble sounds appropriately rough and ready. "Queen Bee" is a killer, with Diabate's kora - a West African harp-lute - creating shimmering patterns around Mahal's ragtime-derived guitar beat.
THE BEST BEST OF FELA KUTI
Double CD compilation from the back-catalogue of the late, great Nigerian bandleader, James Brown, with riffs melting seamlessly into tribal trance-rhythms. It also sounds incredibly fresh and new; perfect for hip clubs in either London or Lagos.
MISIA: GARRAS DOS SENTIDOS (Detour)
Dark and melancholy Portuguese fado; Misia is its new voice, and her delivery of lyrics from contemporary poets is strikingly effective. Half plaintive croon, half strangulated cry.
VARIOUS ARTISTS: BRASIL 2 MIL: THE SOUL OF BASS-O-NOVA (Ziriguiboom)
Old-style Brazilian bossa nova re-recorded and remixed into a contemporary dance style, with contributions from Bebel Gilberto, Arto Lindsay, Chico Science and Vinicius Cantuaria. As the above names might suggest, this is far from an "authentic" world music collection (whatever that may be), but as a suck-it-and-see sampler of cutting-edge Brazilian grooves, it's great. Track six, "Alta Noite" by Arnaldo Antunes, is one of the best things I've heard all year.
VARIOUS ARTISTS: THE BEST OF TROPICALIA (EmArcy)
Compilation of late 1960s tracks from the influential Tropicalismo movement in Brazilian popular song, which sought to mix indigenous styles with Western pop, rock and jazz. Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil are the main men here, with additional contributions from Gal Costa and the group Mutante. The results are continually surprising, as near to Lennon and McCartney as to Jobim or Gilberto, and at times approaching a kind of southern hemisphere psychedelia.