DVD of music videos
takes viewers on an
enjoyable trip

Art It seemed only natural that Putumayo World Music, a forward-looking company that has released numerous and colorful CD compilations over the years, would sooner or later release a compilation DVD of music videos from around the world.

"Travel the World with Putumayo" is just that, and is a successful attempt to include the eye as well as the ear in our armchair travels.

Most of the videos and two concert performances included have reportedly never been seen outside their countries of origin, but the bulk of the artists have already been featured on previous Putumayo compilations. The music videos are a mixture of simple and concept-driven productions that probably aired on their versions of MTV.

Of the 12 videos featured on the DVD, personal favorites include:

>> "Mama Africa" by Brazilian Chico César that features himself, his family and the people of his hometown all running, skipping and dancing down the main thoroughfare of his hometown, and done in a well-coordinated single tracking shot.

>> The remarkable faces of Vera Bilá and the residents of her gypsy village in what is now the Czech Republic. Their rustic and seemingly harsh way of life is offset with Bilá's gloriously uptempo "Pas O Panori."

>> The black-and-white stylized filming of couples doing the sensuous tango on the streets of Argentina to the electronic-influenced "Santa Maria (Del Buen Ayre)" by the Gotan Project.

Two of the best music videos come courtesy Zimbabwe in southern Africa and India. Top-notch production values and a strong storyline propel Oliver Mtukudzi's "Ndakuvara," retelling the eternal message of how the youth should respect their ancient traditions against easy temptation.

(Mtukudzi is also featured in concert with his band, in a clip filmed in a nightclub in Zimbabwe, performing "Hear Me Lord." The other concert clip is equally arresting, with fellow label artist and Malian Habib Koité and his band performing on a Belgium stage "Wassiyé" that features solo work on the percussive balafon.)

The most fun offering is a mini-Bollywood production of Hisham Abbas' "Nari Nari," sung in both his native Arabic and Hindi by guest singer, the lovely Jayashree. Partly using the Taj Mahal as a scenic backdrop, the elements of production design, choreography, camera work and editing flow extremely well together.

Watching and listening to these music videos reminds one of how small our world is, and how music easily crosses national borders. The Congolese Ricardo Lemvo has a Afro-Latin hit and the video is shot in Havana, Cuba. Senegalese duos Tukuleur and Touré Kunda do a hip-hop version of the Toto hit "Africa" and a salsa-influenced "Rapada," respectively.

"Travel the World with Putumayo" is a visual polyglot of world music sure to please.

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