Kwanzaa Party! — Various Artists
The year's finest world-music anthology succeeds partly because it doesn't try to be a rip-roaring introduction to everything or some sort of crossover dream. As the title indicates, this is simply modernish music of the African diaspora with affirmative, upbeat moods. Full of light grooves that never turn frantic, Kwanzaa Party! leans toward Caribbean cadence with calypso, merengue, Cuban son and Haitian compas, but effortlessly weaves in not only African soukous, but the vintage soul of the Staple Singers and the Afro-blues experiments of Johnny Copeland. A delightful tangle of vivid styles, poise and slinky sensuality.