Jazz Around the World is a collection of 11 jazz selections from various parts of the globe including Cameroon, Canada, Cuba, France, Guinea, Mali, Mexico, New Zealand (Maori), Panama, Senegal, South Africa, and the US. What it lacks in time, being a short 42 minutes, it more than makes up for in content.
Some listeners may be surprised that there is not at least one selection from our South American neighbors, although Putumayo has previously issued at least one all-Latin jazz CD, plus several other strictly jazz discs. I am surprised there are four selections from various countries in Africa. Africa is well-known for its world music and Arabic music and tribal music, but little news seems to circulate on African jazz. With this compilation’s polyglot mix of musicians, many who are probably complete unknowns in various parts of the world, Putumayo thoughtfully included a 32-page booklet of liner notes giving a brief introduction and description of the many musicians included in the mix. The notes are in English, Español, and Français.
The first selection is “La Mer (The Sea),” which should be immediately recognizable to many in the listening audience. The song was originally a French hit in the 1940s, then was released in the US as “Beyond the Sea,” sung by Bobby Darin, one of his huge hits before his untimely death, and has since made its way around the world. This version is a soft and sexy version, with a prominent but soothing piano in the soft jazz style, guitar and drum, and a sexy French version, again, sung by Quebecoise Chantal Chamberland.
Other easily recognizable names on this compilation include Habib Koite, Bamada, Billy Cobham, and Hugh Masekela. The unnamed musicians are most likely little known outside their native countries.
This mixed jazz CD is eminently listenable, even luxurious, and about the only people who won’t be tapping a shoe to these rhythms are people not wearing them.