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Various Artists: Sweet Sunny North Volume 2

Norwegian music gets another boost into the general global public with Vol. 2 of Sweet Sunny North (Shanachie 64061; 79:58), which began as an enthralling sampler produced by ad hoc musicologists David Lindley and Henry Kaiser in 1994. Of course, a single sampler of a rich musical tradition is nowhere near sufficient, and the second package is more than welcome. Nearly 80 minutes are packed onto the CD, which includes new recordings and live tracks from a 1995 tour following the release of the first compilation. Halvard T. Bjorgum’s hypnotic prelude on the hardanger fiddle (with sympathetic strings adding resonance) eases us into another fascinating glimpse into a venerable idiom which has been blissfully detached, geographically and culturally, from the world’s melting pot. Highlights include music by hardanger fiddler Annbjorg Lien and nimble guitarist Knut Reiersrud, both of whom have had their own Shanachie albums released since the first compilation came out, munnharpe (jew’s harp) virtuoso Bjorgulv Straume, scintillating three-woman vocal group Tiriltunga, and the icily eloquent semi-jazzy brass group known as the Brazz Brothers. As before, Kaiser and Lindley make cameo appearances, but the real story here is indigenous Norwegian music.

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