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Angelique Kidjo: Oyaya!

In Angelique Kidjo's native language, Yoruba, this album's title means "joy." And there couldn't be a better name for this festive collection, co-produced by Steve Berlin of Los Lobos. This CD is the final part of a trilogy tracing West African music through the diaspora. "Oremi," released in 1998, explored African influences on American R&B, while 2002's "Black Ivory Soul" concentrated on Brazilian music, specifically in the Bahia region. Her latest CD may be the best of the bunch (and that's saying a lot), with its focus on Caribbean music, including calypso, merengue, and salsa. "Seyin Djro," the ebullient opening track, sets a spirited mood which never lets up. "Oulala" bounces along with steel drum accents so brilliant they sound as if they're leading a West Indian parade. Dedicated to the late, great Celia Cruz, the lovely "Djovamin Yi" is the kind of sexy, throbbing song the Queen of Salsa would have loved. For the album's only duet, "Le Monde Comme un Bebe," sings in French with Henri Salvador, France's cabaret legend, now in his 80s. The rest of the album is performed in various African languages, but as with all great music, it hardly matters. Kidjo's mastery is communicating a story beyond mere words. Full of tropical breezes, and cool, cool waters, this is a magnificent effort from a singer who continues to surprise and satisfy.

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