There's no single city in the world like New York, because no other city has so many worlds within it. The Big Apple in all its kaleidoscopic variety is yours for the tasting on this fascinating collection of music from dozens of different ethnic groups who've made New York home. An information-crammed 40-page booklet is your guide, detailing the performers, their cultures, and their neighborhoods, but all that's really needed are open ears. Beginning with the Latin sounds of New York, circa 2001 -- Puerto Rican plena and bomba from estimable locals Viento de Agua and Los Pleneros de la 21
-- the collection leaves virtually no region of the world untouched. Albanian folk tunes, Korean classical music, Indo-Caribbean drum jams, salsa, calypso, Irish reels, klezmer, Ukrainian dances, and contemporary Arabic music make for a engaging parade of sounds. The recordings are uniformly excellent and feature some of the top artists in their fields: Hassidic jazz visionary Andy Statman
, Palestinian oud star Simon Shaheen
, Irish fiddlers Cherish the Ladies
, and timbales legend Manny Oquendo
are just some of the international stars who just happen to call New York home. Like any real New Yorker, you'll have your own favorites, but some outstanding cuts include Dickson Guillaume's Haitian gospel choir, straight out of East Flatbush and praising Jesus in Kreyol; Yuri Yunakov
's dizzying "Cocek Manhattan" celebrating Balkans-style in 9/8 time; and the Neopolitan song "O Giglio e Paradiso," which commemorates a Williamsburg, Brooklyn, festival involving a two-ton aluminum tower, a statue of Saint Paulinus, 125 Italian guys, and pile of brass bands. All in all, this collection is a must for any New York-ophile.