It isn't easy following in the steps of Tinariwen, but Tamikrest are the brightest young contenders among the new Tamashek-speaking desert blues bands mixing traditional styles with elements of indie rock. Driven from northern Mali by the fighting and imposition of sharia law, they are currently exiled in Algeria, and their new set is a concept work, dealing with the courage of Tuareg women and the suffering of the past year. But the music is anything but bleak, driven on by sturdy bass, insistent percussion, and gently driving and inventive guitar work from lead singer Ousmane Ag Mossa, who also duets with the band's fine female singer Wonou Walet Sidati, formerly with Tinariwen. It's a refreshingly varied set, from the slinky and optimistic Tomorrow, Another Day to the atmospheric mix of wailing guitar and voices on the gently drifting The Journey, influenced by Pink Floyd.
Between 1960 and 1963 Texas tenor Curtis Amy (1927-2002) made six superb albums for Dick Bocks Pacific Jazz label, three of which, Groovin Blue, Way Down, and Tippin on Through, are included here. They were part of Bocks recognition of the emergence on the West Coast scene of a more groove-based, harder swinging approach than the cooler, considered style that preceded it. He chose well. Years of semi-obscurity in L.A. dance bands and organ combos had made Amy a thoroughly seasoned, assertive and inventive player in the mould of fellow tenor, Harold Land; these Pacific albums established him as a major exponent of the new music revitalizing West Coast jazz.