Land & Synir – Herbergi 313 (1999)

FrontCover1This is the first time I can present a band … and what a band ! from Iceland …

The band Land og Synir was founded in 1997 in Hvolsvollur by few Southeners and two of them are still in the band, Hreimur Ö. Heimisson singer and Jón Guðfinnsson bassist.

The band had a hitter that summer with the song Vöðvastæltur which was extreamly popular. In the beginning of the year 1998 occured some personnel changes in Land & synir, Birgir Nielsen drummer and Gunnar Þ. Eggertsson, gitarist joined the band along with Dísellu Lárusdóttur wichc played trumpet and keyboard. But in April ´98 Dísella quit the band and Njáll Þórðarson took her place. (by dalurinn.is)

This is the second album of Land & Synir and it´s an album full of magic … a powerful, a peaceful album with a very unique sound … strong melodies and great vocals …

Iceland must be a great country !

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Personnel:
Gunnar Þ. Eggertsson (guitar)
Jón Guðfinnsson (bass)
Hreimur Ö. Heimisson (vocals)
Birgir Nielsen (drums)
Njáll Þórðarson (keyboards)

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Tracklist:
01. Undraland (Heimisson/Eggertsson) 4.02
02. Allt Á Hreinu (Heimisson) 3.06
03. Freistingar (Heimisson) 3.50
04. Saga (Heimisson) 4.03
05. Örmagna (Heimisson/Eggertsson) 4.35
06. Lending 407 (Heimisson/Eggertsson/Guðfinnsson) 4.35
07. Eitthvað Nýtt (Heimisson/Guðfinnsson) 3.16
08. Hvað Er Að (Heimisson) 3.11
09. Stríð (Heimisson/Eggertsson) 3.36
10. Fordómar (Heimisson/Eggertsson) 4.49
11. Örmagna II (Heimisson/Eggertsson) 4.38

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Straw – Shoplifting (1999)

FrontCover1Straw was an English post-Britpop band that released one album, Shoplifting, in 1999.
Straw was formed in Bristol by Mattie Bennett (vocals/guitar) and Roger Power (bass/guitar), formerly of The Blue Aeroplanes. Later adding keyboardist Mark “Duck” Blackwell, the group signed to Arista Records under the moniker “Please” with a different lead vocalist. They recorded an album in Boston with American record producers Sean Slade and Paul Q. Kolderie. Unhappy with the results, however, the band was dropped by the label after releasing a single, “If I Was God…” (1995, Sugarscoop Records).
When Arista kept Please’s singer under contract, Bennett stepped into the lead vocalist role, the band adding drummer Andy Nixon and re-christening themselves Straw. This newly revitalised line-up was quickly signed to WEA and issued its debut single “Weird Superman” in the summer of 1998. Two more singles and one EP were released: “The Aeroplane Song,” (charting at no. 37 in the UK Singles Chart on 6 February 1999), “Moving to California” (charting at no. 50 on 24 April 1999), and Soundtrack of the Summer (including “The World Is Not Enough” — a James Bond theme attempt) in 1999 before Straw released their first full-length effort, Shoplifting.

Throughout 1998 and 1999 the band toured extensively with Puressence, Space and Feeder alongside emerging future stars Muse and gigs with Supergrass, Alanis Morissette, Fountains of Wayne and Reef. The extensive touring and television appearances (including the O-Zone and TFI Friday) took their toll, and differences broke out in the band resulting in the dismissal of Power after the band’s final appearance of 1999 at the Glastonbury Festival. They were also subsequently dropped by WEA. They recruited new bassist Dan McKinna, and self-funded (and self-produced) the recording of several new tracks in the basement studio of Pete Thomas’ house. On the strength of this new material they were signed to Columbia in 2000 and released the 4-track EP Home Work and the single “Sailing Off the Edge of the World” to critical acclaim. A second album, Keepsakes, was slated for release later that year but they were dropped by Columbia and went their separate ways shortly afterwards.

Singles

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Andy Nixon and Dan McKinna went on to play in The Jeevas with Crispian Mills of Kula Shaker and then onto The Magic Bullet Band. McKinna has been a session player for many bands including James Morrison, Ben’s Brother, Stuart Staples (Tindersticks), A Man Called Adam and Farrah. Blackwell, after producing Straw, The Jeevas and The Magic Bullet Band, continues to work as a record producer and songwriter. Bennett is currently an English and media teacher at Bodmin College in Cornwall. (by wikipedia)
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Straw’s Shoplifting was truly one of the gems of late-1990s Britpop. While the British sound had more or less turned its back on pop music (with mainstream artists like Blur shunning their pop roots for more experimental territory), it’s refreshing to hear a band as unpretentious and shamelessly poppy as Straw. From the opening notes of “Dracula Has Risen From the Grave,” it’s obvious that this album is all about fun sound clips from old movies and video games, which abound on the album from start to finish. “Weird Superman” and “The Aeroplane Song” are catchy, if somewhat conventional, anthems, while the searing “Wake Up (Miss Venezuela)” is good disco-pop. Part of the true magic in Shoplifting, however, is its depth. Straw may be a pop band, but they aren’t superficial. Tender, emotional moments like “Kill Your Boyfriend” and “We Don’t Belong” show that this band has a lot more to offer than just shiny pop tunes; they go deeper, and this disc is one that’s worth diving into. (by Jason Damas)

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Personnel:
Mattie Bennett (vocals, guitar)
Mark “Duck” Blackwell (keyboards)
Andy Nixon (drums)
Roger Power (bass)
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Tracklist:
01. Dracula Has Risen From The Grave 3.42
02. Weird Superman 4.10
03. The Aeroplane Song 4.05
04. Moving To California 6.04
05. Shoplifting 3.54
06. Kill Your Boyfriend 3.56
07. Anthem For The Low In Self-Esteem 3.29
08. United States Of Amnesia 4.02
09. Postcards From Hell 4.28
10. Soundtrack Of The Summer 4.42
11. Wake Up (Miss Venezuela) 4.02
12. We Don’t Belong 5.04
13. Galveston 4.05

All Songs written by Mattie Bennett . Mark “Duck” Blackwell – Andy Nixon – Roger Power
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Los Soneros de Havanna – Cafe Havana (1999)

frontcover1The music of Cuba, including its instruments, performance and dance, comprises a large set of unique traditions influenced mostly by west African and European (especially Spanish) music. Due to the syncretic nature of most of its genres, Cuban music is often considered one of the richest and most influential regional musics of the world. For instance, the son cubano merges an adapted Spanish guitar (tres), melody, harmony, and lyrical traditions with Afro-Cuban percussion and rhythms. Almost nothing remains of the original native traditions, since the native population was exterminated in the 16th century.

Since the 19th century Cuban music has been hugely popular and influential throughout the world. It has been perhaps the most popular form of regional music since the introduction of recording technology. Cuban music has contributed to the development of a wide variety of genre and musical styles around the globe, most notably in Latin America, the Caribbean, West Africa and Europe. Examples include rhumba, Afro-Cuban jazz, salsa, soukous, many West African re-adaptations of Afro-Cuban music (Orchestra Baobab, Africando), Spanish fusion genres (notably with flamenco), and a wide variety of genres in Latin America. (by wikipedia)

Los Soneros de Havanna is a totally unknown group from Cuba and you can hear on this album “14 great Cuband classic songs”. I found no further informations about this group … but … even this is a very cheap production … it´s a great album, with fantastic melodies and rhythms …

Enjoy this trip to Cuba …

havannaPersonnel:
Los Soneros de Havanna

tray1Tracklist:
01. El Carretero (Portables) 3.16
02. Dos Gardenias (Carillo) 3.02
03. Chan Chan (Repilado) 4.17
04, Alto Songo (Martinez) 8.18
05. Amor Verdadero (Marquetti) 7.31
06. Son De La Loma (Matamoros) 4.13
07. No Llores Más (D.K.) 4.49
08. El Guato De Catalina (Rodriguez) 3.17
09. Mentiras Tuyas (Portas) 2.58
10. La Charanga (Farjado) 4.23
11. Rico Vacilón (Ruiz) 4.04
12. Toda Una Vida (DeLange/Farres) 2.32
13. Los Sitio Asere (Gonzalez) 6.17
14. A Toda Cuba Le Gusta (Becquer) 5.48

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Various Artists – An Easy Christmas (2001)

frontcover1This is just a sampler, full with 20 old and classic christmas songs, performed by many stars in the easy listening style.
You can hear singers like Don McLean, David Bowie, Andy Williams, Nat King Cole, Doris Day, Perry Como and Al Green.

“This is my most favourite christmas album ever-I had to order a second copy as the first had a scratch on. I listen to it all the time. Not your average Christmas album!”(by miss r aughton)

“Great to listen to while wrapping presents” (by Zoe Bell)

And I guess, I will play this album (amongst others) on December 24, 2016 … Enjoy this romantic and sentimental sampler.

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Tracklist:
01. Andy Williams: Most Wonderful Time Of Year (2001) (Pola/Wyle) 2.34
02. Nat King Cole: Christmas Song (1963) (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire) (Tormé/Wells) 3.14
03. Eartha Kitt: Santa Baby (1953) (Javits/Springer) 3.26
04. Dean Martin: Let It Snow Let It Snow Let It Snow (1965) (Cahn/Styne) 1.58
05. Judy Garland: Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas (1944) (Martin/Blane) 2.45
06. Harry Belafonte: Mary’s Boy Child (1957) (Hairston) 2.59
07. Bing Crosby: White Christmas (1954) (Berlin) 3.04
08. Al Green: Silent Night (1963) (Gruber/Mohr) 3.19
09. Crystal Gayle: Rudolph The Red Nose Reindeer (1996) (Marks) 2.57
10. Anne Murray: Snowbird (1978) (MacLellan) 2.11
11. Don McLean: Winter Wonderland (1991) (Bernard/Smith) 2.54
12. Charles Brown: Please Come Home For Christmas (Christmas Finds Me Oh So Sad) (1961) (Brown/Redd) 3.18
13. Doris Day: I’ll Be Home For Christmas (1964) (Gannon/Kent/Ram) 2.27
14. Andy Williams: Sleigh Ride (live) (2001) (Anderson) 2.22
15. Crystal Gayle: Silver Bells (1996) (Livingston/Evans) 4.09
16. Don McLean: Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town (1991) (Coots/Gillespie) 3.06
17. Perry Como: God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen (1959)(Traditional) 2.56
18. Al Green: What Christmas Means To Me (1963) (Story/Gaye/ Gordy) 3.44
19. Bing Crosby + David Bowie: Peace On Earth/Little Drummer Boy (1977) (Fraser/Grossman/Alan Kohan/Simeone/Davis/Onorati) 2.38
20. Michael Ball: Happy New Year (1999) (Andersson/Ulvaeus) 4.18

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Windchase – Symphinity (1977)

frontcover1Windchase was basically an offshoot of Sebastian Hardie, one of the rare examples of Australian prog rock. Sebastian Hardie fell apart after their second and final album, leaving two members to continue on with a new band. Windchase consisted of two ex-Sebastian Hardie members, guitarist/vocalist Mario Millo and keyboardist Toivo Pilt. Naturally the band was named after Sebastian Hardie’s second, and final album, called Windchase (1976). Apparently Mario Millo and Toivo Pilt couldn’t use the SH name because neither were original members, only bassist Peter Plavsic was there from their 1960s formation right down to the two albums they recorded in 1975-76, and he had nothing to do with this 1977 version (Mario Millo came around 1973 when he was 18). The Plavsic brothers were replaced by drummer Doug Blight, and bassist Duncan McGuire.

1977’s Symphinity, was released on the Infinity label (division of Festival) (nothing to do with the American MCA division called Infinity) and wasn’t really a continuation of the Sebastian Hardie sound, so if you’re expecting another Four Moments, you won’t find it here. But what happened if Santana was a full-on prog rock band? This is that album! Toivo Pilt whips out the Hammond organ, Santana style, and Mario Millo’s guitar playing is much closer to Carlos Santana’s, but thanks to their experience with Sebastian Hardie, the music is naturally going to be much more progressive. This album really emphasizes Mario’s guitar playing even more. The occasional Mellotron does surface, but as demonstrated on Sebastian Hardie’s Windchase, Toivo preferred to use the string synths more here as well, meaning Four Moments is the best place to hear the Mellotron used the most. “Forward” is a brief piano intro that leads to “Horsemen to Symphinity”. This shows that Santana influence, but comparisons to Camel can be valid, as Mario Millo’s guitar playing has been compared to that of Andy Latimer. “Glad to Be Alive” and “Flight Call” are ballads, and many are turned off by those cuts, because it might come across as too soft rock for some. “Glad to Be Alive” can remind one of ELO, especially because Mario windchaseMillo’s vocals do remind one of Jeff Lynne here and the presence of strings (not to mention it’s probably no coincidence, as ELO was at the beginning of their commercial peak). Thanks to Mario Millo’s Italian heritage, it’s little surprise the album would feature a short piece called “Non Siamo Perfetti”. It’s an acoustic piece with an Italian feel to it that incorporates a couple of Sebastian Hardie themes from Four Moments and Windchase. “No Scruples” is a favorite of mine, I especially dig the Moog solo that Toivo Pilt gave us. Symphinity was the only album Windchase had done, it’s not too surprising, given this was 1977, smack in the middle of punk and disco. Mario Millo then went solo, released an album in 1979 called Epic III, before entering the world of film and television to score music. I found Symphinity a bit underrated in comparisons to Four Moments, but it’s a great album, and one of the greats of Aussie prog, as far as I’m concerned. (By Benjamin Miller)

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Personnel:

Doug Bligh (drums, percussion, background vocals)
Duncan McGuire (bass)
Mario Millo (guitar, mandolin, vocals)
Toivo Pilt (keyboards, synhesizer, clavinet, vocals)
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Jeff Camilleri (bass on 09.)
Mario Millo (guitar, vocals on 09.)
Doug Nethercote (bass on 03. + 05.)
Cos Russo (keyboards on 09.)
Robbie Siracusa (drums on 09.)

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Tracklist:
01. Forward We Ride (Pilt) 1.39
02. Horsemen To Symphinity (Pilt) 8.33
03. Glad To Be Alive (Millo) 8.06
04. Gypsy (Millo) 4.47
05. No Scruples (Pilt) 6.29
06. Lamb’s Fry (Pilt) 9.39
07. Non Siamo Perfetti (Millo) 1.57
08. Flight Call (Millo) 4.36#
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09. Horsemen To Symphinity (live ) (Pilt) 11.55
(recorded live at Harbourside Brasserie, Sydney, Australia, October 1999. by Mario Millo and Men From Mars)

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Big Country – Driving To Damascus (1999)

frontcover1Driving to Damascus is the eighth studio album by Scottish rock band Big Country. It was released in 1999 as both a standard edition and a limited edition digipack, and with bonus tracks in 2002. In the U.S. it was released under a different name, John Wayne’s Dream. The limited edition version featured different cover artwork, and included two tracks by Stuart Adamson’s alt-country side project, The Raphaels (“Shattered Cross” and “Too Many Ghosts”, subsequently released on the 2001 album “Supernatural”), although there was no indication in the credits that these were not by Big Country. Driving to Damascus marks the band’s last studio album to feature vocalist Stuart Adamson (who would die in 2001) and bassist Tony Butler (who retired from the band in 2012), and the last studio album until The Journey was released in 2013 with The Alarm vocalist Mike Peters taking over for Adamson and Simple Minds bassists Derek Forbes replacing Butler. (by wikipedia)

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Frontcover of the US version of this album called “John Wayne´s Dream”

Big Country’s 1995 album, Why the Long Face, was a very tough act to follow. But they succeeded brilliantly with their first full-length studio album, Driving to Damascus. This is one of their finest moments, full of trademark Big Country sounds (the guitar, the heavy beat, and Adamson’s fantastic vocals). What sets this CD apart from their other releases is the strong use of melody tied together with heartbreaking stories and well-constructed arrangements. Listening to the harmony vocals melt with the guitars in “Fragile Thing,” it’s difficult not to be moved. Adamson has never sounded better, and the band is tighter than ever before. Hearing this album, it is hard to believe that the band was celebrating their 20-year anniversary and still sounding so fresh and excited. This is a group who have not mellowed out, but are able to structure melodic, driving songs. There are a couple of interesting points with this album. First, Ray Davies (of the Kinks) co-wrote two songs with Adamson (the brilliant “Somebody Else,” and the wonderful “Devil in the Eye”). To hear these, one would never guess that there was any involvement from Davies. The songs fit for Big Country, but would be out of place on a Davies’ or Kinks’ album. Also, the CD appears on the Track Records label (famous for Hendrix and the Who, to name two). It seems fitting that Big Country is signed to the resurrected label — it just fits. It is the mixture of old and new that helps Big Country form their own distinct (and brilliant) sound. This album is highly recommended. (by Aaron Badgley)

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Personnel:
Stuart Adamson (guitar, vocals, mandolin, slide-guitar, synthesizer)
Mark Brzezicki (drums, vocals)
Tony Butler (bass, vocals, vibraphone)
Bruce Watson (guitar, mandolin, sitar, slide-guitar)
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Josh Phillips (keyboards)
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background vocals:
Eddi Reader – Kirsten Adamson – Rafe McKenna

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Tracklist:
01. Driving To Damascus  (Adamson/Brzezicki/Watson) 3.58
02. Dive In To Me (Adamson/Brzezicki/Butler/Watson) 5.02
03. See You (Adamson) 3.50
04. Perfect World (Adamson/Brzezicki/Butler/Watson) 4.02
05. Somebody Else (Adamson/Davies) 4.04
06. Fragile Thing (Adamson/Watson) 4.33
07. The President Slipped And Fell (Adamson/Brzezicki/Butler/Watson) 2.57
08. Devil In The Eye (Adamson/Davies) 4.15
09. Trouble The Waters (Adamson/Brzezicki/Watson) 4.10
10. Bella (Adamson) 3.34
11. Your Spirit To Me (Adamson) 5.13
12. Grace (Adamson/Brzezicki/Butler/Watson) 5.10
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The John Wayne’s Dream extra tracks:
13. Loserville (Adamson/Brzezicki/Butler) 5.18
14. This Blood’s For You (Adamson) 3.43
15. I Get Hurt (Adamson) 4.30
16. John Wayne’s Dream (Adamson/Brzezicki/Butler) 4.58

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Soriba Kouyaté – Kanakassi (1999)

FrontCover1Griots: »We are vessels of speech, we are the repositories which harbor secrets many centuries old. The art of eloquence has no secrets for us. I derive my knowledge from my father, who also got it from his father; history holds no mystery for us, every name has a meaning, a secret import. For the world is old, but the future springs from the past. My word is pure and free of all untruth. Listen to my word, you who want to know« (from Sundiata: An Epic of Old Mali by Djibril Tamsir Niane)

The virtuoso Senegalese kora player Soriba Kouyaté is a griot, one of a group of West African musicians who trace their heritage back to the 13th century and the rule of the legendary emperor of the ancient kingdom of Mali, Sundiata. Griots are the historians, praise singers, and musicians of the West African Mandingo society. In Sundiata’s time, griots tutored princes, and gave council to kings; long after the fall of the Mali empire in 1468, wealthy Mandingo families would employ their own griot to advise them, and help them in negotiations with other Families. The griot’s ancient art, jeliya, is still practiced today, and the griots remain the keepers of the Mandingo oral history and musical tradition. Soriba Kouyaté’s family traces their roots back to the time of Sundiata and the golden age of the kingdom of Mali. Soriba’s father Mamadou Kouyaté is a legendary kora player who performed regularly at the presidential palace of the Senegalese president Senghor. He created ballets, formed instrumental ensembles, and opened the first kora school. Soriba: »My family has been making music since the dawn of time; the playing and making of the kora has been passed down from generation to generation.«

Soriba Kouyaté02The origins of the kora can be traced to Sundiata’s son Mansa Wali’s conquest of the Gabu region. Situated between the Gambia river in the north and the Fouta-Djallon Plateau in the south, (present-day Gambia, Southern Senegal and Guinea Bissau), the area became a center for the Mandingo griot tradition and the playing of the kora, and remains so today. The kora is a »harp lute«, traditionally with 21 strings, 11 played by the left, and 10 by the right hand. The kora’s body is made from a large calabash gourd cut in half and partially covered with calf skin. The sound is similar to a harp, but its intricate playing style is closer to flamenco guitar. In the hands of a master musician such as Soriba, it is a magical instrument. The kora has a range of three octaves. There are four traditional tunings; all of them use seven note scales similar to the major, minor, lydian, and blues scales in Western music.

Soriba Kouyaté was born in Dakar Senegal on December 23, 1963. At the age of five he began studying the kora with his father. From the age of 13 he accompanied his father on tour playing festivals and concerts across the globe. His travels brought him in contact with the musical traditions of cultures throughout the world and led him to investigate the possiblilities of widening the scope of the kora by combining the richness and depth of it’s griot tradition with various contemporary music. According to Soriba »the kora should be able to play classical music, blues, jazz, funk, reggae and Arabic music; to put it simply, it should be able to play all styles of music.« His eclectic worldview has led to his working with some of the best-known names in music: Peter Gabriel, Youssou N’dour, Salif Keita, Hugh Masekela, and Dizzy Gillespie.

OutOfPrint
Soriba Kouyaté and Philippe Gaillot first met in 1994 at the African Jazz Festival in Saint-Louis, Senegal, where Philippe was the sound engineer. In 1997, Kouyaté and Gaillot met again at the Festival d’Avignon in France through their mutual friend, Joëlle Merlier. Following this reunion, they began recording the music of «Kanakassi», «Don’t cry» in Mandingo tongue.

What a wonderful album !

Recorded at Recall Studio Pompignan, France in May 1998

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Personnel:
Jean-Charles Agou (saxophone)
Joël Allouche (drums, percussion)
Paolo Fresu (trumpet)
Philippe Gaillot (synthesizer, guitar, vocals)
Soriba Kouyaté (kora)
Linley Marthe (bass)
Gérard Pansanel (guitar)
François Quillet (piano)

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Tracklist:
01. Ankana Diamana Ké (Traditional) 5.13
02. Massanicissé (Traditional) 8.32
03. Another Day In Paradise (Collins) 4.05
04. Bani (Traditional) 5.56
05. Sakhadougou (Traditional) 5.57
06. Mariama (Traditional) 6.15
07. Kanakassi (Traditional) 4.31
08. Nice To Meet You; Me Too (Kouyaté/Fresu/Marthe/Allouche) 3.26
09. Deli Guéléma (Traditional) 3.45
10. Autumn Leaves (Kosma/Mercer/Prevert) 8.52
11. Saint Louis – Dakar (Kouyaté/Soriba) 3.41
12. Cortoum (Kouyaté/Fresu) 4.54
13. American Standard (Traditional) 4.36

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(* December 23,  1963 in Dakar; † Oktober 13,  2010 in Paris)