Traveler

Phoenicia
(self-released)

Who coined the term "world music?" Was it foreigners, resigned to Yankee cultural imperialism, who created it for Americans to signify "music you aren't expected to like"? Or was it Westerners themselves, who like to tap their toes to a snappy melody but are traumatized by any instrumental music more complex than "Music Box Dancer"? Despite those restrictions, violin virtuoso Scott Jeffers went ahead and formed Traveler in 2000, playing a brand of world music he tagged "ethnic fusion." Those predisposed to shunning anything with accordion, bendir or darbukas should note that Traveler has a full rock band propelling its flights of exotica, and if you need a classic rock touchstone, Jeffers' furious bowing picks up where the gypsy fiddle on "Baba O'Riley" leaves off. On the new CD Phoenicia, Traveler's musical passport gets stamped with all kinds of ports of interest — "Tripoli," "Roma," "Lebanon," "Salaam" and "Jerusalem" — with Jeffers occasionally featured as vocalist and exhibiting a pleasing stage voice that's somewhere between Alice in Chains and Neil Diamond. If that's too wide a stretch for you, note that the band are all accomplished musicians and aren't afraid to let some showmanship shine through. If ever there was a band that could compel an audience to play air oud, it's this one.

 
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