Kevin Bowers’ Nova

 Kevin Bowers - Nova

Kevin Bowers – Nova

Kevin Bowers – Nova (Machinery Music, 2016)

After a trip to Spain, American drummer Kevin Bowers composed his new album Nova. Even though he was heavily deeply inspired by the music, people, art, and food of Spain, he’s always had a passion for Brazilian percussion so Nova showcases his Brazilian rhythmic influences.

Nova features loungy bossa nova, Latin jazz and pop songs with English vocals (although he also includes a French-language version of one of the songs) along with highly percussive tracks where he develops the sound of a large batucada ensemble. On the instrumental “Imagination Voodoo” he ventures a little deeper into world music with a mixture of Arabic, Spanish and Latin American influences delivered in a spaghetti westerns style.

On Nova Bowers uses a wide range of Brazilian musical instruments, including surdo, repinique, tamborim, chocalhos (Brazilian shakers), as well as other percussion instruments from the Cuban tradition like timbales, bongos, and congas.

The musicians on Nova include Kevin Bowers on drums, percussion, and acoustic guitar; Michael Aguirre on vocals; Kevin Bachmann on electric bass; Zebadiah Briskovich on upright and electric bass; Paige Brubeck on vocals; Erminie Cannon on vocals; Aaron Chandler on trombone; Andy Coco on vocals; Dave Grelle on piano, electric piano, keyboards, vocals; Jimmy Griffin on vocals, electric and acoustic guitar, 12-string electric guitar; Jordan Heimburger on nylon-string guitar, electric and acoustic guitar; Nathan Hershey on vocals; Adam Hucke on trumpet, piccolo trumpet, French Horn; Ben Reece, flute, tenor sax, clarinet, baritone sax, recorder; and Andy Shadburne on vocals.

Nova is an easy to listen to collection of lounge and romantic songs with a Brazilian and Latin flavor.

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Jitka Šuranská Trio Releases Video Teaser

Jitka Šuranská
Jitka Šuranská

Jitka Šuranská Trio has released a music video to promote its upcoming album Divé husy. The new recording is scheduled for release September 16th, 2016

Jitka Šuranska has won the Anděl Award twice for Best album of the year in World Music category. The first time it was with Písňobraní in 2008 and then in 2013 with Nezachoď slunéčko.

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Middle Eastern and Pop Intersections

Brothers of the Baladi - Gravity of Love
Brothers of the Baladi – Gravity of Love

Brothers of the Baladi – Gravity of Love (Baladi Productions BLD12, 2016)

World music with a Middle Eastern edge, rock and pop intersect in the new album by American band Brothers of the Baladi. The group is celebrating its 40th anniversary with this new recording featuring rock instrumentation such as electric guitar, bass and drum kit along with a wide-range of world music instruments from the Middle East, South America, and Europe.

While many world fusion ensembles lean towards instrumental music, the Oregon-based Brothers of the Baladi features English-language vocals that bring the songs closer to a pop and rock audience. One of the songs has a Spanish language title, ¿Dónde están ahora? (where are they now?) and the group is known for also using other languages like Arabic, Turkish, Farsi, French, and Armenian.

Gravity of Love is the first album where Brothers of the Baladi has used electronic sounds and programming. The intention this time is to appeal to a pop audience, adding pop hooks and rhythms.

The lineup includes Michael Beach on lead vocals, dumbek, zarb, Eddie Kirkjan dumbeg, mizmar, zurna, midjwiz, nay, riq, tar, davul, and percussion; J. Michael Kearsey on vocals, Fender Jazz bass, percussion, and islik sesi; Clark Salisbury on vocals, oud, saz, guitar, dobro, charango, fretless bass, electronics and programming; Charles Pike on vocals, percussion, and drum kit. The guests are: Daniel Eshoo on kanoon (qanun) and Paul Beck on cymbalon.

Gravity of Love contains well-crafted instrumental performances within songs that will appeal to the mainstream.

Buy Gravity of Love

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Guillermo Velázquez y Los Leones de la Sierra de Xichú Release Serrano de Corazón

Guillermo Velázquez y Los Leones de la Sierra de Xichú Serrano de Corazón
Guillermo Velázquez y Los Leones de la Sierra de Xichú Serrano de Corazón

Smithsonian Folkways Tradiciones/Traditions has released a new album Guillermo Velázquez y Los Leones de la Sierra de Xichú. The title of the recording is Serrano de Corazón (Highlander at Heart).

Huapango arribeño is a distinct regional tradition of Mexican music with colonial roots, long-lasting but sheltered in its mountainous homeland in the central states of Guanajuato, San Luis Potosí, and Querétaro.

Remarkable folk poet Guillermo Velázquez and his Leones de la Sierra de Xichú deliver the songs with their violins, guitarra quinta huapanguera, jarana, and percussive dancing. Serrano de Corazón (Highlander at Heart) evokes the spirit of all-night topadas, competitive duels between poets and their musicians for the delight of all. The album includes a 40-page bilingual booklet with photos.

Buy Serrano de Corazón

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Israeli Electronic Folk Trio A-Wa to Perform in Los Angeles Skirball Cultural Center

A-Wa
A-Wa

Israeli electronic folk band A-Wa is set to perform Sunday, September 25, 2016. The group includes sisters Tair, Liron, and Tagel Haim who mix their voices and timeless Yemenite folk songs with modern electronic rhythms.

A-Wa was formed by the Haim sisters who grew up in the small desert village of Shaharut in the southern Israeli Arava Valley. After years of experimenting and recording new musical works in English, Hebrew, and Yemeni-Arabic for YouTube, the Haim sisters recruited Balkan Beat Box producer Tomer Yosef. Wearing signature fashion that combines urban aesthetics and traditional Middle Eastern garb, A-Wa’s 2015 music video for “Habib Galbi” (“Love Of My Heart”) went viral in the Middle East and has since attracted more than four million views on YouTube.

A-Wa’s debut album, A-Wa, is inspired by traditional love and protest songs of Yemenite women. A-Wa’s music also explores commonalities with their Arab neighbors, including language (the band usually sings in Yemeni-Arabic).

Sunday, September 25, 2016, 8:00 p.m.

Tickets available on site, online at skirball.org, or by phone at (877) SCC-4TIX.

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Earls of Leicester Release “The Train That Carried My Girl From Town” Music Video

Earls of Leicester
Earls of Leicester

Bluegrass band Earls of Leicester has released a new music video featuring Release “The Train That Carried My Girl from Town”, one of the singles from its new album Rattle & Roar.

The lineup includes Jerry Douglas on dobro, Shawn Camp on lead vocals and guitar; multi-instrumentalist Jeff White on high harmony and mandolin; Charlie Cushman on banjo and guitars; Johnny Warren on fiddle; and Barry Bales on vocals and bass.

To capture the atmosphere of a live show, Rattle & Roar was recorded in one room, with all of the band members around microphones, with no separation between them.

Buy Rattle & Roar

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Artist Profiles: Foday Musa Suso

Foday Musa Suso
Foday Musa Suso

Foday Musa Suso is an internationally recognized musician and a Manding griot from the West African nation of Gambia. Griots are the oral historians and musicians of the Manding people, who live in several West African nations.

Griots are a living library for the community, providing history, entertainment, and wisdom while playing and singing their songs. The history of empires and kingdoms, tribal conflicts, cultural heroes, and family lineage are all part of a griot’s traditional repertoire.

Foday is a direct descendant of Jali Madi Wlen Suso, the griot who invented the kora over four centuries ago. In 1977, he moved to Chicago and became the first kora player to establish himself in the United States. He formed The Mandingo Griot Society with 3 American musicians, playing a fusion of traditional and jazz that is now known as “world music”. Since 1977, he has performed as a soloist and with other musicians throughout Africa, Asia, Europe, North and South America.

Interested in both traditional and cutting-edge music, he has also written many original compositions, toured and recorded with many prominent musicians. Foday Musa Suso’s collaboration with Herbie Hancock began in 1984, when Bill Laswell introduced them and they co-wrote a composition for the Los Angeles Olympics entitled ‘Junku’ (‘Let’s Do It’). This song was included on the official Olympic album and on Herbie’s ‘Sound System‘ album. Herbie then invited Foday to join his band for a tour of the United States and Japan, where they co-wrote and recorded a duet album entitled ‘Village Life’.

In 1987, both Herbie’s and Foday’s bands joined forces to record ‘Jazz Africa’, a live concert which was released as a CD and video.

Foday also has a long history of collaboration and performance with renowned composer Philip Glass. In 1985 they co-wrote the soundtrack for the movie ‘Powaqqatsi’, and in 1990 co-wrote the music for a revival of the Jean Genet play ‘The Screens’.

In 2004 they collaborated on the music for ‘Orion’, a concert work commissioned by the Cultural Oympiad which premiered in Athens Greece preceding the Olympic Games. Since the early 1990’s, Foday and Philip have performed in concerts together at venues all over the world, including Carnegie Hall, and Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Barbican Center in London, and the Melbourne Arts Centre.

In addition, Foday has worked closely with the Kronos Quartet, an ensemble who commissioned him to compose five works. ‘Tillyboyo’ (Sunset) was released on their 1992 CD ‘Pieces of Africa‘. Foday and Kronos have performed together at venues such as Lincoln Center in New York, Staatsoper Opera House in Vienna, and the Royal Festival Hall in London.

From 2003-2005, Foday and Jack De Johnette toured extensively together and recorded 2 CDs, ‘Music from the Heart of the Masters‘ and ‘Ripple Effect’.

In 2008, Paul Simon invited Foday to perform with him in ‘American Songs’, a weeklong musical retrospective at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Also in 2008, Foday composed music for the acclaimed Susan Cohn Rockefeller documentary about Dr. Rick Hodes work in Ethiopia, titled ‘Making the Crooked Straight’, due to be released on HBO in 2010.

Discography:

Kora Music from Gambia (Folkways, 1970)
Mandingo Griot Society (Flying Fish, 1979)
Mighty Rhythm (Flying Fish, 1982)
Hand Power (Flying Fish, 1984)
Mandingo Featuring Foday Musa Suso – Watto Sitta (Celluloid, 1984)
Sound-System, with Herbie Hancock (Columbia, 1984)
Village Life, with Herbie Hancock (Columbia, 1985)
Mansa Bendung (Flying Fish, 1986)
The Dreamtime (CMP, 1988)
Jazz Africa, with Herbie Hancock (Verve, 1985)
Music from “The Screens”, with Philip Glass (Point Music, 1992)
Off World One, with Possession & African Dub (Sub Meta, 1995)
Jali Kunda: Griots of West Africa & Beyond (Ellipsis Arts, 1996)
Music from the Hearts of the Masters, with Jack DeJohnette (Golden Beams, 2005)
Hybrids, with Jack DeJohnette’s The Ripple Effect (Golden Beams, 2005)
The Two Worlds (Orange Mountain Music, 2008)
Koralations: Heart to Heart, with Gretchen Rowe (2012)

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Artist Profiles: Seleshe Damessae

Seleshe Damessae (also known as Sileshi Demissie and Gashe Abera Molla) is an extraordinary singer and musician from Ethiopia. He uses a complex vocal styling, sung in Amharic, his native language. He accompanies himself on the krar, a 6-string lyre which dates back to the ancient civilizations of the Nile.

Born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Seleshe Damessae began studying the krar at an early age with his father, and later attended the Yared School of Music. He spent nearly four years studying traditional Ethiopian culture in northern rural areas, and today is highly respected for his knowledge of the vocal and instrumental music of his native land.

Seleshe is also a skilled instrument maker who builds and plays a variety of folk instruments such as krars, fiddles, harps and drums. He has performed throughout the United States, Europe and Africa.

Seleshe Damessae founded the Gashe Abera Molla Association, upon returning to Addis Ababa after 20 years as a successful singer in the United States and decided to address the social and environmental problems that plagued his home city. He set up the new organization and named it after a character in his songs – Gashe Abera, the old man who takes care of his local community.

Discography:

Tesfaye: a future hope (Music of the World MOW 107, 1987)
Songs from Ethiopia today (Wergo/Haus der Kulturen der Welt SM1516-2, 1993)
Sorene: Children’s Songs from Ethiopia (1999)
Yamiral Hagere (2013)

Credits

Photo by Lorraine Tipaldi

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Length & Time: Chouk Bwa Libete

I will be writing a column on Length & Time in music, in each presenting an album and its strategies that pertain to addressing Length & Time. 

Most bands who claim to be playing Vodou music are not really: there isn’t enough time to play music how it is required in a Vodou ceremony. The point of drumming, singing, etc, in a Vodou ceremony is for there to be a possession and or a communication with Vodou spirits.

There is no way that such a phenomenon can be formatted for radio. One would have to wait for the spirit to possess someone in a ceremony or record a believer’s singing in private to a spirit. In Haiti, a subgenre of Vodou music, Rasin, was created to be Vodou music that is meant for any sort of consumption, whether secular or sacred but tailored for radio use and for contemporary performance.

Some bands, however, aim to stay true to music how it is used in Vodou religion and they play Vodou as such, Rasin Seche, or whatever they would like to call it. Azor is perhaps the most notable Haitian musician of Vodou as such, or Rasin Seche. Like in a Vodou ceremony, he sang his songs as a Simidor, surrounded by Hounsi and Reines Chantrelles. His songs, because of this, were often up to 10 minutes long. Chouk Bwa Libete’s songs on Se Nou Ki La are midway between this raw Rasin Seche and the more commercial Rasin for both secular and non secular consumption. We hear Chouk Bwa Libete sing praises to themselves on this album as no Vodou spirit expects from an officiant.

It is, in the end, an album that makes use of length to express the art of the musicians on this album and not to be a Vodou album. The lengthiest song “Je M La” is 7:53, nowhere near the amount of time it takes on average to serve a Vodou spirit. It has no choice but to: the demand for Vodou music, ceremonial music, is very small. Instead, this album, like many other albums like it, plays Vodou rhythms and Vodou lyrics as art.

Buy Se Nou Ki La

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offWOMEX Showcases Confirmed

Anelis Assumpção - Photo by Renato Stockler
Anelis Assumpção – Photo by Renato Stockler

WOMEX 2016 organizers confirmed the offWOMEX showcase program which will bring artists from Canada, Mexico, Chad, Puerto Rico, Brazil, Japan and Portugal. WOMEX 2016 will take place in Santiago de Compostela, Spain during October 19 – 23.

List of offWOMEX artists at WOMEX 16:

Anelis Assumpção (Brazil)
Brazilian-afrobeat-dub.

Boogat (Canada/Mexico)
Latin Quebecois rapper, writer, producer.

H’Sao (Chad/Canada)
band of brothers merging global influences into Chadian roots.

iLe (Puerto Rico)
Calle 13’s little sister vintage Latin styles with post-nostalgic sheen.

Les Tireux d’Roches (Canada)
Québécois story-tellers.

Maltese Rock (Japan)
Avant-garde activists furthering positive social change with gypsy-punk-rock-enka-tinged Okinawan minyo.

Nomade Orquestra (Brazil)
Sao Paolo big-band’s widescreen mergings of Afro-beat, Ethio-jazz, reggae, hip-hop and psychedelic funk.

Quique Escamilla (Mexico/Canada)
Toronto-based Mexican singer who blends huapango and ranchera with country-and-reggae.

Reyfado Lisboa (Portugal)
Ensemble of young fado artists.

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Your Connection to traditional and contemporary World Music