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Maria Jameau and Blue Brazil: Gema

C. Michael Bailey By

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Track review of "Malaika"

Gema is Maria Jameau's collection of Brazilian, Spanish, and African tunes, with the ostensible intention of showing how big the folk musical tent is. Jameau and her band, Blue Brazil, are centered in the culturally-rich Sonoma County, where the muse is strong for an organic mix of musical influences, all thickened with the roux of Mother Africa. The regions of origin for a given selection is easily identified, but there exists a rhythmic thread passing through all of this music like the Biblical remnant of Christian tradition.

Amongst these eleven songs emerges the enlightening Kenyan pop song, "Malaika." Surrounded by plush samba and Spanish beats, something more basic and fecund blooms, stripping away regional artifice to reveal that all these musics have in common: the harmony and rhythm—the life pulse. In "Malaika" can be heard plainchant, chansons and European folk tunes as well as native American and Canadian songs. Jameau beautifully renders this piece so it will teach those commonalities among us all.

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