I first heard some cuts from this cd over the distant BBC shortwave service several months ago and it's finally out. It was worth the wait and I absolutely love it, especially the several tracks featuring Venezuelan harpist Carolos Orozco who works with Costa's heartfelt compositions to make this work special - not just African, or Portuguese, or Venezuelan but something for everyone. I'm still whistling the first cut "Nha Mame," (My Mother) after two weeks and also love the combination of the two muscians on "Ermons Di Terra," (People of the Same Country.) I've also found if you keep listening, you'll get further into the whole work and while everyone might think you're nuts you'll be so happy you just don't care. The liner notes help a lot in understanding each song, especially if you're like me and can only speak English and not Costa's native Bissau Criolu, a mixture of Portuguese and local West African languages. I don't know much about world music living here in Virginia, USA, and I'll probably never meet Costa or Orozco but it strikes me that what's being offered here is a warm handshake and if I could find some way to join this world described in Paraiso Di Gumbe, I would. Listen to this wonderful cd and maybe you will too.
My first encounter with the music of Manecas Costa was at the 2003 WOMAD festival in Reading (UK)where he and a group of very talented musicians entertained an appreciative crowd one warm summer afternoon. I immediately bought his debut which contains an interesting ensemble of world music styles and instruments. Highlights of the live performance include the waterdrum and (outstanding) venezuelan harp which feature in a number of tracks but which are put to good effect in the standout song of the album (Pertu Di Bo) - arranged but unfortunately not written by Costa. This captivating love song alone is worth the price of the album. Other worthwhile moments include the funky yet melodic Djunda Djunda, Paraiso di Gumbe, and the soulful Antonia which showcases some great vocal harmonies. Costa's vocal style, inspiring guitar work, and percussive delivery of his music has wide appeal and he deserves acclaim on a par with Ismael Lo and others who have succeeded in popularising this particular brand of world music.
I'd heard good reviews about this album, so was slightly disppointed when it didn't reach my expectations. The guy has talent no doubt, but i found my mind drifting away from the music occiasionally and then making a concious effort to return it. That's not to say i don't enjoy it, but it doesn't reach out and grab me. Maybe not upbeat or toe-tapping enough for my liking, Orchestra Baobab's "Specialist in All Styles" for example has the type of African rhythms that really do grab me!