Well, why not enjoy a live world-music festival while casually browsing the bins at a record store? The idea made sense to Rhino Records, which presented a two-day "Global Music Mashdown" on Saturday at its Santa Monica store, with the Sunday show scheduled at its Westwood location. The free event featured a dozen locally-based world-music ensembles that were generally closer to the formal ethnomusicology zone than the global dance floor.
The small stage limited James Mcubea's eight-strong Kiyira Ensemble, and the Ugandan percussionist's set didn't really fit the informal setting, but that didn't keep the blend of dance and percussion pieces from sounding superb. A stringed instrument feature for African harps, lyres, fiddles and log xylophone was particularly effective in showing how the individual parts are layered into a whole.
A Man, Two Women & A Couch (actually a sextet) made the musical connection between Eastern European folk traditions and the English/Celtic variety with three-part vocal harmonies supported by the violin melodies and solos of John Zeretske (of the Aman Folk Ensemble). Spanish Fly offered a stripped-down, duo edition of their modern flamenco with guitarist Alberto De Almar and percussionist Rene Castro employing a savvy command of dynamics to great effect.