Music From the Coffee Lands II (Putumayo)

Various Artists

By David Lilly

"After water, coffee is the world's most popular beverage, and occasionally it is difficult to tell which one is more important for survival." Thus begin the informative and philosophical liner notes that accompany this CD, giving the listener "drink" for thought.

While you're chewing on that idea, sip from a cup or two of java and immerse yourself in the mellifluous, savory and exotic sounds from Brazil, Mexico, Haiti, Colombia, and -- you'd never guess -- Java, among other places. Not surprisingly, this is one of the more mellow Putumayo CDs; fine sounds for solitude or the background for conversation.

Please excuse the burping bass that greets you just as you begin to sip. It's actually kind of subtle, and the rest of the song, "Dindinha," exercises fine, upstanding politeness. But seriously, the song is as easy on the ears (check out that gorgeous, crying violin), as the singer, Ceumar, is on the eyes. Angolan singer and multi-instrumentalist Mario Rui Silva is the Leon Redbone of his country, in the sense that he studies and plays Angolan pop music from the first half of the 20th century. His offering to this collection is a romantic and haunting song entitled "Nzaji."

Now that you're underwhelmed with information about these solo artists, along comes none other than a group called Sabah Habas Mustapha & The Jugala All Stars with one of the more caffeinated numbers here, "Di Nagara Deungeun." Señor Mustapha was a founding member of 3 Mustaphas 3, a legendary band that played (surprise!) music from all over the world and whose singing was multilingual. The Mustaphas are not on this disc, but Sabah Habas is a big star in Indonesia. You know what they say: If you can make it in Indonesia, you can make it anywhere.

So you see, this Music From the Coffee Lands II isn't quite the sonic revelry that some of the other Putumayo discs are, but it percolates just the same in its own mellow way. The accompanying booklet is very informative and entertaining, too. As always, there are sounds and lots more info waiting for you at

www.putumayo.com