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World Music CD Reviews Reggae & Caribbean


By Jill Ettinger
Published January 24, 2006

Putumayo Presents The Caribbean

Putumayo should start a tour company. For a reasonable fee, they could fly patrons to the most beautiful parts of the world, put them up at the best hotels, feed them fine local fare and take them to the underground nightclubs, dancehalls and street corners where the world’s best music is being created and played. For now at least, though, it seems they believe there’s more of a profit in bringing the music to the masses rather than the other way around. No complaints from this quarter. Their latest offering highlights Hurricane Alley’s (aka the Caribbean’s) favorite heroes, like the legendary Skatalites, whose Jamaican ska records are so prolific, and their influence so broad, it’s nearly impossible to describe how far-reaching their sound has been. Stanley Beckford’s a legend, too, with two recent releases on French labels. Here he performs a mento (Jamaican folk music that precedes reggae) classic, “Sam Fi Man.” Haitian newcomer Mika delivers a catchy calypso-influenced treat on “Bel Fanm.” It’s also worth mentioning that a percentage of the proceeds from the album go to another Haitian musician, Wyclef Jean, and his charity Yele Haiti.