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Garry Dial & Terre Roche: Us An’Them

As world music projects go, it’s hard to imagine an initiative more global in scope than this compendium of national anthems, as compiled by jazz pianist Garry Dial and folk singer Terre Roche (of the Roches). Dial and Roche are to be commended for assembling an international multitude of fine collaborators (rather hyperbolically credited as “the greatest musicians in the world”), ranging from vocalists Peter Eldridge, David Massengill (doubling on dulcimer), Sabina Hank and Terre’s familial bandmates, sisters Maggie and Suzzy, to guitarist Romero Lubambo (unfortunately credited as “Lubamba”), flutist Anne Drummond and drummer Richard DeRosa (here demonstrating his skills as orchestrator and conductor).

Yet, ambitious as Dial and Roche’s endeavor is, and as stirring as specific tracks may be, Us An’Them ultimately proves unfulfilling. If, for example, their stated intent was, at least in part, to demonstrate how rich a melting pot New York is, why are neither Mexico nor England represented? (It seems a safe bet that the New York population includes vastly more citizens of Mexican or British heritage than it does Greenlanders or Tibetans.) Why are the anthems listed only by country and not by title? Why are no composer credits provided? Why are some sung in their native language while others-most irksomely “Les Marseillaise,” stiltedly performed in English when it is so immensely powerful in French-are presented in often-awkward translation? Give it an “A” for ingenuity and a disappointing “C” for execution.

Originally Published