Various Calypso Awakening

Calypso Awakening is a truly stimulating listen, a stunning achievement in recording and performance. Emory Cook was an early pioneer of stereo recordings who always sought audiophile-quality results. He made a point of capturing music from around the world to record with his innovative techniques. This collection covers 1956 to '62, an important time in the development of calypso. It showcases the multi-ethnic personality of Trinidad and Tobago, recorded live on location in calypso tents, street parades and night clubs. The music is laid-back and horn-dominated and played with inspiration that rivals (and is heavily influenced by) the best American jazz at the time - it is impossible not to swing to Lord Melody's "Turn Back, Melody." These melodies will seem familiar to any fan of Caribbean music. Some themes are heavily Spanish-influenced, sounding as though they could have been Cuban. Others sport the influence of the mento tradition, a strong influence in ska. The verbal sparring matches are part of centuries-old Afro-American-Caribbean traditions that persist in hip-hop today. And the lyrics! Themes of discrimination, self-reliance and American influence on Trinidadian society are delivered poignantly and with great humour - social criticism this pointed would not exist in American popular music for another 15 years. It's all presented in Cook's glorious stereo, especially the live recordings, which capture the interactivity of the performers with the audience. Great playing, great recording, wicked tunes - anybody young or old will love this disc! (Smithsonian Folkways)