Tina Marsh & CreOp Muse Circle of Light (CreOp Muse)
Reviewed by Christopher Hess, Fri., Dec. 22, 2000
Tina Marsh & CreOp Muse
Circle of Light (CreOp Muse)In attempting to link the musical traditions of secular and religious winter holidays -- Christmas, Kwanzaa, Chanukah, and Diwali -- Tina Marsh and CreOp Muse's latest project Circle of Light succeeds beyond any reasonable expectation. Drawing on a pool of local talent not limited to Marsh's Creative Opportunity Orchestra, Circle of Light opens with a beautiful South African freedom song by the Collaborative Voices, which include singers from Inkululeko among many others, and the album only gets better. Abel Rocha and Madeline Sosin of Correo Aereo guide us through Christmas songs from Mexico and Venezuela, their modest folk arrangements wonderfully enhanced by the rich choruses. A detour through Brazil and into Chanukah for a fun, bluesy romp through "The Dreidel Song," follows, the transition from Christian to Jewish to Hindu being remarkably smooth; the Nigerian and Swahili invocations that follow ("Ise Oluwa" and especially "Funga Alafia") are among the album's most beautiful moments. Laborious versions of "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" and "We Three Kings" bog things down toward the end, but never enough to dull the sense of continuity and spiritual good cheer that runs through every song. "These are our gods, our religions," states one of the songs. "We made them. Let them not separate us, but bring us together." What better way than through music? What better time than the holidays?