Perhaps the most intrigung aspect of Go Calypsonian by Lord Mouse & the Kalypso Katz is the fact that the group emanates from Berlin instead of Trinidad, the style's home, where the music itself is now forgotten. Lord Mouse had intended to get together a small ensemble to preserve the mode and bring it up to date, but the music proved to have a mind of its own and soon demanded a full 17-person orchestra, the Kalypso Katz. As usual, the music always prevails over mere humans, and the feel of a large ensemble, pronouncedly in the sweet-floozy eye-candy six-woman backing chorus, is tailor-made for the oft exuberant tracks. Chunga Changa, for instance, sounds like one of Dan Hicks' infamously cool tongue-in-cheek songs…had Dan, that is, issued from the islands and incorporated some Taj Mahal along the way.
White Boy Calypso is my favorite track, an ebullient little piece of don't-tell-me-what-to-do that swings like crazy and…well, why am I yakkin' about it when you can lay an ear down and dig it in all its glory right here:
Check out the dancers among the audience too—I mean, how can you sit on yer duff with this stuff? It's a misdemeanor! Listen to the rest of the CD, though, and more than a few sympathies to Germany's oom-pah-pah beerhall music make their way to the fore, going a ways to explain why Mssrs. Brineman and Kontorowski, the writers behind most of it, would don spats and reet pleats to go for the gusto with this sound.
Expect some Mexicali as well (Barefooted Lover), as though Herb Alpert dropped in with a ranchero horn section to throw back a few tequilas and get down to business. Calypso Hipshake is prime Belafonte material, but Snake Charmer—yes, it refers to exactly what your libidious nature supposes—is even more interesting, a kind of voodoo ballad in slinky slo-mo (and is my second fave cut in the shebang). It doesn't take long to realize that what started out as the too often questionable genesis of World Musics, once they escaped the true-blue jazz bands and became squishily corporate, is now undergoing a re-evaluation and revivification in combos like this one. Thank the heavens for that, hm?
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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