What are some of the best parts of having the chance to travel abroad? Absorbing a new culture, meeting new people, and shopping are some the highlights as you get your passport stamped. However, after all of those activities, and your stomach starts to rumble, it is time to partake in the local foods. More times than not, as you sit back to break bread and take in your international experience, your ears will also have an aural adventure. Whether it’s within the restaurant, or outside at the closest corner, music will find its way to embrace you. Music is indeed the universal language, and while you are traveling abroad, it will somehow find its way to speaking to you and capturing the soul.
The record label Putumayo, focuses on featuring international artists from across the globe, and recently they released two new albums. Putumayo Presents: Vintage Italia, and African Rumba are two great albums that need your immediate attention.
Putumayo Presents: Vintage Italia puts you right in the middle of a small, quaint, Italian village. As you are walking by the open-air markets, these sounds from this album could definitely capture your ears. The album opens with the song entitled Boccuccia di Rosa by the late Fred Buscaglione. The Italian singer attacks this song with the vocal bravado reminiscent of Mr. Frank Sinatra. Boccuccia di Rosa, or Mouth Of A Rose, also carries a great horn line with a jazzy, big-band feel which compliments the strong vocal lines. Ba Ba Baciama Piccina by Renzo Arbore and Gli Arborigeni sounds just like the title – an Italian, jazzy, scat arrangement. This is an upbeat number that will have you getting up to dance. Flo Sandon’s T ‘ho Voluto Bene has light, airy vocals executed wonderfully by Flo. Sprinkled in between her vocals, is a beautiful orchestra in the background.
If Michael Buble traveled to Italy to record a song, it would sound like Teddy Reno’s Accarezzame which translates to Caress Me. Just like the title, the lush vocals grasp your attention from start to finish. Moving to one of the highlights of the album, Roma Nun Fa La Stupida Stasera by Quadro Nuevo, which translates to Rome Don’t Act the Fool Tonight, is a lively instrumental piece, with a beautiful saxophone solo. If you close your eyes on this tune, it will sweep you right into the heart of Italy. This album closes out with the tune Torna A Surriento or Come Back to Surrento. This arrangement is done in a 3/4 time signature and the singer Marco Calliari has a powerful, yet sweet baritone voice that meanders through the song. Marco has a prominent vibrato to his phrasing, which encapsulates the Italian spirit.
Transitioning from Italy, to the music of Africa, Putumayo’s Presents: African Rumba is sounds from the Motherland, with the taste of Cuban flavor. The album opens with the piece entitled Aminata by Alune Wade and Harold Lopez-Nussa. Aminata, meaning powerful and complete, is the perfect blend of Afro/Cuban sounds. The lead singer has a pleasing falsetto which flows nicely with the guitar line. The Latin feel is on display with the background vocals. The use of an organ in a song is always a pleasant surprise, and the tune, Jammo by artist Le Sahel, gives you that and uses the organ expertly. The bassist and singer Alune shows off both vocal and playing dexterity on the song entitled, Mame. One of the standouts in the album, Mame has a strong, and funky bass line. A tribute to the peasant farmers can be found in the song Payson by the Michel Pinheiro’s African Salsa Orchestra. The album closes with the song, Sin Murri Gossi by Banda Maravilha. This piece has quite the spirited vocals, along with a passionate and technical guitar line that is played with great ferocity.
As you strive to expand your horizons, to explore new places around the world, please do not forget to also strive to try to explore new music from across the world. The Putumayo Company is a great media platform to achieve this mission. Music is universal and omnipresent, so sit back, close your eyes, press play, and allow the music to create a life long memory for you that allows you to reach a place much further than your passport allows.