Cyprus Thing Vol 1 : Various Olive Tree

Double CD compilation from this excellent label which is spreading the peace and unity vibe. 29 tracks covering a range of styles with a real chance to discover what’s happening on the urban scene in Cyprus, as with a lot of compilations you probably will not like everything here but I’m sure you’ll discover at least one or two new artists to look out for in the future.

Graham Radley

Nu Latin-Various: Manteca

Compiled by Gerry Lyseight so you know it’ll be good this a double CD of 28 tracks that throw us straight into dance action with the brilliant Eat Static and ‘Love Truncheon’. Things move through styles from Ibrahim Ferrer (In Birmingham November 5th) to Delinquent Habits, with tracks also from Ska Cubano, Snowboy, Omar Sosa and Bobby Hutcherson amongst many more tasties.At a time when Latin Line dancing is taking off (you could easily see that one evolving out of the salsa classes) then it’s good to get raw & dirty on the dance floor and celebrate great music. Graham Radley

Women Of Latin America ‘Various’ Putumayo

Female voices from Colombia, Chile, Brazil, Peru & Mexico. This fairly laid back collection opens with a new name to me, Marta Gomez from Colombia, with ‘La Ronda’ a gentle Afro-Peruvian influenced rhythm. Also here are tracks from Jacqueline Fuentes, Monica Salmaso, Mariana Montalvo, Tania Libertad, Susana Baca, Lila Downs, Belo Velloso, Lhasa and Toto La Momposina. I especially like Brazilian singer songwriter Adriana Calcanhotto’s ‘Justo Agora’, such a lovely voice. Graham Radley

Essential Afrobeat – The Very Best Of Afrobeat: Family Records

Afrobeat was brought to us first by Fela Kuti and his Africa 70 band (Dele Sosimi, who has compiled this album, worked with Fela Kuti as his musical director for a period of time). Now thankfully it is stirring up UK dance floors again with this tasty triple CD compilation giving a varied look at the history, influences and future. We have of course Fela Kuti & Femi Kuti plus Tony Allen, Orlando Julius, Hugh Masekela and Salif Keita. The DJ take on Afrobeat comes from Fatboy Slim and DJ Food while one of the discs is an ’Afro Chill Mix’ which includes Antibalas ’Elephant’ The Meters ‘Just Kissed My Baby’ and Afro Dizz with ‘Kalakuta Show’. 51 great tracks in all, feet don’t fail me now!

Graham Radley

Nois4 ‘Gente’ Candid Records

Monica Vasconceles, Ingrid Laubrock, Ife Tolentino and Chris Wells formerly known as As Meninas but now going out as Nois4. Recorded in San Paulo this follow up to ‘Bom Dia’ features a guest appearance from Guinga who contributes a couple of tracks plus guitar on 3 tracks and vocals on another, the superb ‘Com a Perna no Mundo ’. As wonderful as all the composite parts are it’s Monica Vasconceles’ gorgeous, warm vocals that frame the musical picture and make the magic work. Great release. Graham Radley

Mbilia Bel ‘Belissimo’ Stern’s Africa

Follow up to 2001’s ‘Welcome’ and marking her return to Sterns this is delightful. It’s over 25 years since she first hit the scene , in the mid 80’s came the classic duets with Tabu Ley, here she duets with Kandia Kouyate on my favourite track ‘Droit a l’amour’ . This is an African diva in her element with her distinctive vocals at their best when set against some flowing guitar licks from Souzy Kasseya who also wrote a lot of the material. Graham Radley

Donna Ivone Lara ‘Sempre a Cantar’

Now 82, she has been writing carnival sambas for 60 years but only started recording in 1978 (this is only her eighth release). Considered to be the first female samba composer and as such a big part of the whole culture and history of the genre especially on the afro-samba side of things. Things started off when she moved to Mangueira in the 1940’s and met some samba musicians going on to join Império Serrano samba school and writing sambas especially for carnival parades. Living history as fresh as ever.

Graham Radley

Ray Mantilla & The New Space Station ‘Man-Ti-Ya’ Savant

SCD2060 (available from HarmoniaMundi 02087099500)

Tasty Latin jazz from the New York percussionist in the tradition of Machito and Tito Puente. This is a touring seven piece band that is as tight as the proverbial and captured spot on by Cedar Walton’s production, lining up are Willie Williams on saxes, Enrique Fernandez on baritone sax and flute, Guido Gonzalez on trumpet, Edy Martinez on piano, Cucho Martinez on bass and Bill Elder on drums. These guys have it in their blood. Very good. Graham Radley

Astral Travelling Since 1993