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World Music CD Reviews Middle East & North Africa


By Paul-Emile Comeau

Old Street
Bandaz Records

The Cascade Folk Trio takes its name from a cascade fountain located in the Armenian capital city of Yereva, which is also a meeting place for lovers in the band's favorite part of town. Even before The Trio got together in New York the members had already been listening to American jazz and R&B but, as members of the Armenian Diaspora, the group is attempting to keep the culture alive while expanding its appeal. Nine of the thirteen songs were written by members of the group although the lyrics are mostly simple love songs that seem inspired from traditional material. Some of the group's songs start off as fairly straightforward folk but a large group of guest musicians help veer the music into more progressive areas. Of course the duduk is featured but other local instruments are especially intriguing in this kind of modern context. "Bad Days," which was written by Djivani, a folk singer who died in 1909, is sung passionately with very little instrumentation, giving it a spiritual tinge. The trio is off to a great start in its avowed goal to keep Armenian culture alive.