Gamana: Le Marija

Life is not easy in the impoverished island microcosm of Madagascar, but much of the traditional musical culture there bristles with a kind of amiable, hope-filled spirit, very much in evidence in the group calling itself Gamana. Formed in 1993 by leader Rasolofonirina Denis Roland, the group’s sweet-toned new album Le Marija (Lyrichord 7445; 51:25) is truly a joyful noise, digging deep into Malagasy culture, while gently extending said legacy. Two of the songs on this collection translate to “Always Alert” and “Good News,” and the emotional brunt of those titles are woven into the music as a whole.