With its detailed liner notes and diversity of sounds, Putumayo World Party proves ideal for the listener relatively alien to the world’s varied musical traditions. This is definitely a “feel good” compilation that should, as the label promises, enliven parties and foster appreciation for world music. While aficionados of the genre are likely to be disappointed by the rather eclectic mix, newcomers will appreciate its attempt to cover a wide range of styles. From zydeco to big band sound hailing from Italy, Martinique, Denmark, Ghana, France, Jamaica, Argentina, Haiti, and Canada, Putumayo’s selection of cross-over rhythms doesn’t skip a beat. These are all highly danceable tunes that are almost impossible to dislike. This is, of course, Putumayo’s claim to fame, namely: that their compilations tend to be “accessible” (read: familiar enough to be reassuring to those whose musical palettes might be rather limited) and democratic in the sense that no one region is privileged over another. World Party fits in perfectly with Putumayo’s canon and its commitment to multiculturalism. Indeed, Burning Spear’s “Walk”, which constitutes the disc’s sixth track, ably sums up the label’s efforts to support musical expressions of any and all kinds: “Walk, walk, walk, walk, walk/Walk your country walk/Walk your [fill in nationality] walk”. Spear covers a number of nationalities in this song, urging individuals around the world to keep moving. Appropriately, that’s exactly what World Party invites us to do.
// Notes from the Road
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