By David Font-Navarrete
Every lover of roots music with an internet connection should visit Smithsonian Folkways and Smithsonian Global Sound. You can browse an enormous, one-of-a-kind collection of essential music and information from around the world, download individual tracks in high-quality MP3 format and archival-quality FLAC format ... all without "security" algorithms that prevent you from transferring or sharing your purchases. From the Global Sound website:
"Smithsonian Global Sound delivers the world's diverse cultural expressions via the Internet in an informative way for a reasonable price. It also helps encourage local musicians and traditions around the planet through international recognition, the payment of royalties, and support for regional archives ... Launched in February 2005, SGS initially offers almost the entire Folkways and Smithsonian Folkways Recordings collections and the holdings of two regional archives: the International Library of African Music (ILAM), in Grahamstown, South Africa, and the Archives and Research Center for Ethnomusicology (ARCE), in New Delhi, India."
Some personal favorites from the Global Sound catalog:
Conga de Los Hoyos de Santiago de Cuba: "Conga de Santiago" on "Carnaval in Cuba" (FW04065): A tour through the mighty carnival music of my mother's hometown, complete with corneta china (double reed flute) and one of the most ass-shaking grooves known to humanity.
Tiroro: "Best Drummer in Haiti" on "Tiroro (Haitian Drums)" (COOK05004): A legend of Haitian drumming and singing solo. This is not hi-fi recording, but it is absolutely one of the most powerful percussion displays I've ever heard. Unbelieveable.
Bata ensemble of Sakete, Benin: "The Bata Repertoire for Shango in Sakete: Omenega" on "The World's Musical Traditions, Vol. 8: Yoruba Drums from Benin, West Africa" (SFW40440): Yoruba traditional music is an essential ingredient in Afrobeat, and the Bata drums are the supreme musical symbol of Yoruba tradition. Listen to this smoldering hot rhythm for the Yoruba deity of thunder and dance. Kaabiyesi o!
Also, check out Radio Global Sound and Radio Africa. Hours of gourgeous, rare music, streaming for FREE. Enjoy!