The Rough Guide.
Edited by Simon Broughton, Mark Ellingham, David Muddyman and Richard
Trillo. ISBN 1858280176.
The words of one reviewer summarises the guide beautifully: "A
work of lunatic scholarship". If youíre into any form of world
music, donít settle for anything less. It covers the widest range of
music, and does so very well. Superlatives blush with inadequacy.
The Power of Dance Around the World.
By Gerald Jonas. ISBN 0563364114.
Jonas examines dance in all its guises, all over the world. Such a broad
remit results in coverage that can be best described as a strong introduction
to each dance. Nevertheless, the book still manages to convey a genuine
feel for every aspect of its content using its beautiful photographs.
A lovely book for dancers and non-dancers alike.
Currents. Caribbean Music from Rumba to Reggae.
By Peter Mañuel. ISBN 1899365079.
Mañuel examines the existence and development of music in the
Caribbean; a mighty task. The level of detail varies from area to area,
as would be expected. Prior knowledge of particular aspects is sometimes
assumed, rendering the content slightly less accessible to the newcomer.
A more than competent treatment of the topic, perhaps better suited
to readers who share similar political views with the author. Useful.
Is My Flag: Puerto Rican Musicians and Their New York Communities, 1917-1940
(Latinos in American Society and Culture).
By Ruth Glasser. ISBN 0520208900.
narrative of this work straddles the story of Puerto Ricans on the island
of Puerto Rico and in New York City, from the early colonial period
until the effective end of the Prohibition. It is an intensely human
account of the events that befell the Puerto Ricans and how they managed
to negotiate the challanges and changes they were faced with in this
turbulent period, which coincidentally contributed immensely to the
rise of salsa as we know it. Very good.
Heat, Bronx Beat.
By Hernando Calvo Ospina. ISBN 090615698X.
A Colombian view of salsa and its origins, the book offers many
valuable insights. Foremost among these is a third party perspective
of the contributions of Cuban and New York Latin populations on Salsa
in recent times; a topic often polarised by political ideologies. Mr.
Ospinaís style settles easily on the reader, which is an advantage since
the book should be read more than once to get the most from it. Good.
Musical Heartbeat of Latin America.
By Sue Steward (Foreword by Willie Colón). ISBN 050028153X.
Sue's long term immersion in the Latin music scene provides her
with a very special perspective. She demonstrates a reasonable working
knowledge of the landmark songs, albums, and performers. I found the
portrayal of their histories and interconnections most informative.
Her writing style is skittish and leaves the reader with an impression
of sentences straining to cover too much ground in too little time,
and when she touches on areas out of her field of competence, the material
is occassionally flawed. The book is a good starting point, but I would
encourage readers to delve a little deeper in other sources too. In
the main she achieves what she sets out to do. Fair.
Cuba and Its
Music: From the First Drums to the Mambo.
By Ned Sublette. ISBN 1556525168.
Seldom with subjects as broad as salsa do you find a text that
is so well researched and so engagingly written that it justifies its
position as the definitive text. Well, this is such a work. The author
draws seemingly disparate ideas together and weaves them into a richly
colourful tapestry. Often I found myself thinking "why is he talking
about this matter now?" only to say to myself "it will be
made clear in a few pages time", and my faith was never misplaced.
The sheer scope of the work, from the second millenium BCE to the mambo
period, is dealt with thoroughly and compassionately. This is the Ultimate
endeavour, and I can pay it no greater complement than to say it is
the book that I wish I could have written.
Dominican Music and Dominican Identity.
By Paul Austerlitz. ISBN 1566394848.
Paul Austerlitz writes authoritatively without losing touch with
the reader. The tremendous amount of detail is finely crafted into a
work that borders on the enthralling, demonstrating his comsummate understanding
of the Merengue and its cultural context. Definitive.
By Simon Collier, Artemis Cooper, Maria Susana Azzi, & Richard Martin.
Special Photography by Ken Haas. ISBN 0500279799.
History and development of the Argentine Tango is covered in
four sections, each by a different author. Some writing flow is sacrificed
in favour of providing the reader with four personal views of the dance.
It works well. The visual presentations are superb and go a long way
in conveying the full flavour of the tango. The kind of book that spends
more time on your lap than on the coffee table.
History of Latin America
By Edwin Williamson. The Penguin Press, 1992. ISBN 0 14 01.2559 0
Professor Williamson traces the history of Latin America from
when the first Latindescended peoples set foot on those shores,
detailing the impact they had on the indigenous cultures and how they
evolved from that point. Five hundred years worth of history across
such a large geographical span is a tremendous amount to cover, and
he has succeeded in doing so extremely well. The topics of narration
are arranged in a manner that makes it relatively simple to follow the
most crucial developments. As general histories go, you would be very
hard pressed to find a better one. Definitely an invaluable foundation
piece for those who want to develop a good understanding of Latin American
By Nestor Capoeira. North Atlantic Books, 1995. ISBN 155 6431996
Speed, agility, and balance create a lethal combination in martial
arts, but how can one bring these same qualities to the "jogo"?
Capoeira has its unknown origins enveloped by tales of slaves and dancing
arriving to Brazil from the African continent. In The Little Capoeira
Book, Nestor Capoeira explores the possible roots of the fascinating
art that captures and entices its practitioners and its viewers into
wanting to learn more about the execution of the individual moves. He
combines background information about Capoeira, as well as explanations
of the jogo or game in which skills are performed. Brief excerpts of
songs involved in the practice of the martial art are also included.
Unlike many books on Capoeira, he also provides diagrams outlining the
basic moves, which can lead to the more exciting manoeuvres used in
the jogo. Nestor Capoeira invites his readers to challenge their minds
and bodies in the practice of a lesser-known martial art. (Leslie Kirchler)