Samy Izy - Tsara Madagasikara
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Samy Izy
Tsara Madagasikara
Network Medien ( www.networkmedien.de)

Following a rather prolonged hiatus, new sounds have emerged from Madagascar in the form of Tsara Madagasikara, by the group known as Samy Izy. Their name is a typical Malagasy poetic play on words, with multiple meanings that include “Just as good” and “the true Sammy.”

Andriamalalaharijaona Samoela, better known as Sammy, has appeared on many recordings through the years by Tarika Sammy - on Globestyle (1985), Feuer und Eis (1989) and Shanachie (1995) - with a floating group of musicians primarily centered on his family: Sammy, his cousin Tiana, and their talented wives, Claudia and Hanitra. Through the global economic slump since 9/11 and the spiraling political chaos of Madagascar, Sammy’s continuing efforts to reach distant shores have not fared well. To the rescue, Birger Gesthuisen, the estimable proprietor of the Feuer und Eis label out of Köln which featured some of Sammy’s best early work, has produced this refreshing new facet of Sammy’s musical vision for Frankfurt’s Network label.

Again basically a quartet - fronted this time by two marvelous young singers, Bosco and Amizou, along with Sammy and his trademark ethereal string and flute sounds and sparkling percussionist Petit - the disc also showcases a host of assisting musicians, including sodina maestro Rageorge (brilliantly evoking the late Rakotofrah), guitarists Andry and Laza, bassist Bivy, accordionist Medicis, an entire brass section on some tracks evoking the thrilling hiragasy ensembles that still traverse the Red Island, a whole gospel choir (quite a phenomenon in Malagasy culture that few outside the island have ever heard) plus Claudia Marie Noëlle Ramasimanana, from the original lineup of Tarika Sammy, lending vocals on four tracks. The album is a fresh and vivid tour of Malagasy music that pulsates with young energy, yet bridges and embraces the distinctive atmosphere of Madagascar’s older musical traditions. - Paul Hostetter

CD available from cdRoots

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