Izaline Calister - Kanta Helele (Curaçao)

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Izaline Calister
Kanta Hélele
Network Medien (www.networkmedien.de)

There's not a lot of music from the island she calls home that's readily available to the rest of us, so Izaline Calister is seeing to it that the often-lively, sometimes-reflective music of Curaçao in the Dutch Antilles gets a fair hearing. The first two tracks on Kanta Helele swing feverishly like salsa, but by the time the title song rolls around, the acoustic guitar is at the forefront, a melodica is punctuating the melancholy and the lyrics are urging hanging in there through tough times. And yet the swing remains. One of the great things about the sounds of Curacao and the way Calister renders them is that there are recognizable similarities to calypso, zouk, merengue, timba and other genres in the nearby Caribbean. To those are added the occasional waltz tempo, the scrappy but tight percussion of Curaçao's own African traditions and Calister's willingness to hush the party at various intervals to favor us with some ballads. She's got a voice for all moods, from a soaring, melodic belt rather like Angelique Kidjo's to an imploring breathiness that gives a poetic shine to the Dutch, Iberian and African roots of the Papiamento language she sings in. Thanks to adept pacing, the disc steps easily from a carnival atmosphere to starker moments. But it's the African foundation that gets a final say on "Mitar de She," a rouser with nothing but voices and percussion. Calister and her supporting players and singers keep it all together marvelously and keep Curaçao on the musical map. - Tom Orr

The artist's web site: www.izalinecalister.com

Further reading: Aruba Bonaire Curaçao: An ABC Island Primer

CD available from cdRoots

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