Alibi V.20 No.51 • Dec 22-28, 2011 

Sonic Reducer

Ellis Marsalis A New Orleans Christmas Carol (ELM Records)

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It says A New Orleans Christmas Carol, but even though New Orleans’ signature funky march does appear from time to time, it’s more of a straight-ahead Christmas carol. Whatever you call it, you get the refined elegance of Marsalis’ playing in solo, trio and quartet settings; his encyclopedic jazz knowledge; and a few surprises, such as an upbeat “Silent Night” and a thoughtful “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.” Originally issued in 2002, this 2011 release has added new tracks and some overdubs on a couple of songs, and the modest slipcase has been replaced with fancy holiday packaging. (Mel Minter)

Various Bambara Mystic Soul (The Raw Sound of Burkina Faso 1974-1979) ()

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Amazing. Fans of Afro-pop, rare groove, lo-fi, funky soul, psychedelia and world folk traditions alike will be interested in this album. Sixteen tracks from the landlocked, French-speaking West African nation of Burkina Faso represent a period of musical and artistic renaissance—there and in much of Africa—which was propelled by nightlife in cities and documented by labels Volta Discobel and Club Voltaïque du Disque (aka CVD). Learn more about Burkinabé music via Analog Africa: (Jessica Cassyle Carr)

Various Tally Ho! Flying Nuns Greatest Bits ()

This 40-track compilation commemorates last month’s 30-year anniversary of New Zealand pop label Flying Nun—responsible for sharing the twee Kiwi music of bands like The Clean, The Chills and The Bats with the world. Not quite as cool as the label’s 25th anniversary box set, but also not as overwhelming. Stream in full on Flying Nun’s Bandcamp page: (Jessica Cassyle Carr)