Lionel Belasco
Goodbye Ladies and Gents
Rounder (

An enchanting period piece, this album presents charming "potted palm" parlor music charged with a jolt of Caribbean rhythmic intensity. It is a sterling example of an early urban synthesis of European and African sensibilities. Trinidadian Lionel Belasco's sweetly swinging, piano, along with his cosmopolitan combo of cuatro, bass and the jaunty West Indian violin of Cyril Monrose (plus occasional flute or clarinet) defined the accompaniment and instrumental interludes of the music of Trinidad for decades.

Belasco began recording before the classic age of calypso. His Trinidad-Venezuelan repertoire on this CD includes an archaic pre-calypso paseo recorded in 1914, Venezuelan waltzes, and early calypsos (featuring vocals of such luminaries as Houdini). Belasco is rarely out front, but his piano forms the backbone of the rhythm. Light the candles, put on your Panama hat, watch a black and white video and enjoy a breath of another time. Exemplary notes by producer Donald Hill are a plus. - Stacy Phillips