In his hometown of Buenos Aires, Cristobal Repetto brought back the traditional voice of the tango. In his early 20s, his voice could easily have been confused with the great voices of tango’s past. He leads a new generation of artists breathing new life into this genre.
Cristobal Repetto was born in 1979 on July 9. Repetto grew up surrounded by musicians, peñas (clubs where you can listen to tango and folk music) and town festivities where he quickly found a way to get on stage and show his early vocal abilities.
“The emotion I feel when I see rock kids appreciate tango, or tango old-timers appreciating what I do, is indescribable,” says Repetto. “That’s the most amazing thing. True, I’m the singer, it is my voice… but it’s also about the songs, which go beyond tango and anybody can appreciate, despite its dark elements. In that sense, I agree with Adriana Varela: tango is the ultimate heavy metal.”
His self-titled album consists of tangos composed and first recorded in the 1920s to the 1960s. “Listening and listening: that’s what my life has been all about so far,” continues Repetto. “I grew up listening to music of every genre.
From an early age, I was shown a vast musical landscape by my parents, popular music of Argentine and of the world. In my family’s large record collection, there were albums by Mercedes Sosa, Tita Merello, Jorge Cafrune, Violeta Parra and Yupanqui. Later on, León Gieco, Fito and Spinetta arrived and, with them, my first songs. Then came the candombes, Caetano and my first bands. And eventually Corsini, Magaldi, the songstresses and ‘Polaco’ Goyeneche. Today it continues to be the music that gets me going.”
Repetto toured Spain as one of Bajofondo Tango Club’s opening acts with great success.
Caetano Veloso is one of the most influential and beloved artists to emerge from Brazil. He’s been an acclaimed artist since the 1960s. Veloso has made more than thirty recordings to date and has developed a strong international following.
Born in Santo Amaro, Bahia, in 1942, Caetano Veloso began his professional musical career in 1965 in Sao Paulo. In his first compositions, he was influenced by the bossa novas of Joao Gilberto, but rapidly began to develop his own distinctive style.
Absorbing musical and aesthetics ideas from sources as diverse as The Beatles, concrete poetry, the French Dadaists and the Brazilian modernist poets of the 1920s, Caetano, together with Gilberto Gil, Gal Costa, his sister Maria Bethania and several other poets and intellectuals, founded a movement called Tropicalismo.
By experimenting with new sounds and words, adding electric guitars to their bands and using the imagery of modern poetry, Caetano became a musical revolutionary. The short-lived Tropicalismo movement, founded in 1968, ended abruptly when Caetano and Gil were briefly imprisoned by the military junta that same year. Both musicians left the country and went into exile for a few years. Veloso lived in London during most of that time.
Now, generally credited with redefining what is know as Brazilian music, Tropicalismo led the groundwork for a renaissance of Brazilian popular music, both at home and abroad. Caetano and Gil returned to Brazil in 1972 and found that Tropicalismo had remained intact and their admirers continued to grow.
Although Tropicalismo set the tone for Caetano’s career, his music has evolved greatly over the years. Incorporating elements of rock, reggae, fado, tango, samba canao, baiao and rap – with lyrics containing some of the best poetry in a musical tradition rich in verse – Caetano’s music is sometimes traditional, sometimes contemporary, often hybrid.
Caetano is a skilled social commentator and balladeer of highly emotive love songs, one of the most respected poets in the Portuguese language. Indeed he is one of only a handful of artists who has resolved how to be musically modern and still undeniably Brazilian.
Veloso followed his 1999 Grammy Award-winning Nonesuch Records’ release Livro, an album that received widespread critical acclaim in the United States of America and brought with it his first-ever US tour, with a soundtrack for the Carlos Diegues film Orfeu.
In Spring 2001, Nonesuch released Noites do Norte (Nights of the North), a meditation on themes of race, slavery and Brazil’s quest for a national identity. Caetano also completed a book on Brazilian music and culture, published in the US by Knopf.
Caetano later released Omaggio a Federico e Giulietta, a live recording made in 1997 in Rimini in honor of two masters of Italian cinema, Federico Fellini and Giulietta Masina.
Caetano’s long-awaited memoir, Tropical Truth: A Story of Music and Revolution in Brazil, was published by Knopf in Fall 2002, alongside the release of a new 2-CD set, Live in Bahia, on Nonesuch Records.
On April of 2004, Caetano Veloso released his first album sung entirely in English. A Foreign Sound (Nonesuch Records) reveals the diversity of American songwriters he has loved and studied over the years, from Irving Berlin, Rodgers and Hart, and Cole Porter to Stevie Wonder, Bob Dylan and David Byrne.
A Foreign Sound is a culmination of Veloso’s longstanding exploration of American music. Surprising and imaginative interpretations of American songs have been a staple of his recent live shows, and they have made occasional appearances on his studio albums over the years.
As he explains in his acclaimed memoir, Tropical Truth: A Story of Music & Revolution in Brazil (Knopf 2002), he came to some of his favorite American singers and musicians, including Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Chet Baker, Miles Davis, and the Modern Jazz Quartet, by tracing the steps of his foremost musical hero, Joao Gilberto.
On A Foreign Sound, Veloso interprets several songs he first learned listening to these artists in the early 1960s, including ‘So In Love,’ ‘Love for Sale,’ ‘Manhattan,’ and ‘Body and Soul.’ Other songs have particular significance in the context of Brazilian culture, such as the1970s hit ‘Feelings,’ which is widely used to teach English there.
Veloso’s approach to the music varies from track to track. While on some songs he is backed by a 28-piece orchestra, on others his only accompaniment is his signature acoustic guitar playing. ‘Love for Sale’ is recorded completely a cappella. Among the many accomplished musicians featured on the album are Caetano’s son Moreno and his longtime collaborator Jaques Morelenbaum, who contributes as arranger, conductor and cellist.
In 2016, Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil released Dois Amigos, Um Século de Música: Multishow Live. It’s a live two-disc collection, recorded during a 50-show worldwide tour. The album and tour celebrate 50 years of friendship and artistic collaboration.
Born May 14, 1952 in Dumbarton, Scotland and raised in Baltimore (Maryland, USA), David Byrne has come a long way from playing guitar in high school bands and solo performances on the ukulele in Providence, Rhode Island. Perhaps best known as the energetic front man for the new wave group Talking Heads, Byrne has cast a much larger net over art world as a photographer, film editor, author and solo artist.
Byrne teamed with Chris Frantz, Tina Weymouth and Jerry Harrison, formed the Talking Heads and released their first album, Talking Heads 77 in 1977. The group was to release 18 more albums with such critically acclaimed recordings as Speaking in Tongues, Stop Making Sense and Remain in Light. The band’s popularity has long outlived the group’s dissolution in 1988 with the latest release being a 2005 boxed set, Talking Heads Brick, of the group’s studio recordings.
The success of the group afforded Byrne the opportunity to cast his creative eye in other, maybe not so profitable, directions by scoring the Twyla Tharp ballet, The Catherine Wheel, directing music videos and recording My Life in the Bush of Ghosts with collaborator and Talking Heads’ producer Brian Eno. There was Byrne’s solo work in The Knee Plays, a theater piece of New Orleans based brass band and spoken word score directed by Robert Wilson. Jonathan Demme directed the film Stop Making Sense using the Talking Head’s 1983 tour.
In 1986 Byrne wrote, starred and directed the movie True Stories, and collaborated on the score for the movie The Last Emperor in 1987 with Bernardo Bertolucci. Byrne along with Ryuichi Sakamoto and Cong Su shared the Academy Award for The Last Emperor.
The Forest’s (1989) theatrical score and directing Ilé Aiyé: The House of Life 1989 documentary were two more projects bearing David Byrne’s creative mark.
In 1988, David Byrne founded the Luaka Bop record label devoted to Byrne’s love of world music. In 1989, Byrne worked with such greats as Ruben Blades, Celia Cruz, Tito Puente, Wilfredo Vargas and Brazil’s Os Paralamas do Sucesso and released Rei Momo. The recording sampled the rumba, the samba, the cumbia and the plena. The Luaka Bop label had produced such artists as Susana Baca, Tom Ze, Nouvelle Vague and Los Amigos Invisibles.
Byrne has continued to work, writing the music for the film Young Adam (2003) and recording in 2004 Grown Backwards, appearing on Nonesuch Records.
Russian group Ochelie Soroki is deeply inspired by ancient traditional Russian songs along with Norse mythology. We interviewed vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Uliana Shulepina to learn more about Ochelie Soroki.
How did the group get started?
Uliana: When I met Pavel Boev in 2005, he worked in Moscow Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra as a double bass player. He has travelled a lot with his orchestra and collected ethno musical instruments, which he brought from every country where he has been visited. At that moment I was already interested in traditional Russian singing, so we decided to combine all these things, and start the greatest ethno folk band ever existed.
In the next 6 years, we worked on the creation of relevant arrangements, and the repertoire for the first album. And, of course, searched for musicians. Also studied traditional Russian musical heritage, researched the ancient culture of the Baltic countries and peoples of the Siberian region. Since 2011, the group got its name Ochelie Soroki and began performing numerous concerts, and participating in festivals across Russia.
You describe your music as pagan dark folk, based on Russian old traditional songs as well as Norse mythology. Can you elaborate a little more, especially about the Russian traditions?
Uliana: When we say ‘pagan dark folk’ we mean that some of the songs we perform are really very old, at least 1000 years old, which is meaning they were created probably before Christianity came into Russia. Many old Russian folk song were part of rituals, connected with the most important events of human existence, like birth, life and death, as well as astronomical phases of the sun like solstice and equinox, in accordance which all ancient celebrations were established on.
The old traditional Russian songs were not originally performed for the audience; there was no audience at all, but only participants. The rituals included singing or playing, as well special dances (round dancing), games, incantations, lamentations, some magical acts in certain locations, such as sacred forests, lakes, rivers, tops of hills and mountains, etc. However, this subject is too vast to talk briefly, so we focus on the musical aspects.
The most archaic Old Russian polyphonic chanting complexes which survived till nowadays as calendar, epic, ritual or warriors songs have complicated microtonal improvisation structures, intuitively recognizable by all participants. This ancient singing tradition has been passed down from generation to generation orally, from age to age.
Currently, homophonic-harmonic system of the musical texture is completely different from the early sacred fractal scales and heterophony, characteristic of folk music. By the way, there are many musicians interpreting old music material greatly simplifying it, to make it easily digestible and well-selling product. We are characterized by a very attentive and careful attitude to the ancient musical artifacts which in our opinion is just necessary.
What do you consider as the essential elements of your music?
Uliana: Researching ancient Russian musical heritage, I think, is the most important part of our music. Even just retransmission of these old songs is connecting us and our audience with a powerful source of the archetypal images. Some of our sounds determine this effect, like trance state and slowing down the time motion. So, second important element is a special atmosphere of our performance, which is achieved by using bourdon type of the ethnic string instruments, ornamented with low-frequency bass pads and drums as well as playback of some special selected background video.
Who can you cite as your main musical influences?
Uliana: As the main music source, we believe it is an ancient Russian musical tradition and some of its local keepers and researchers since the late 18th century to nowadays. As interpreters of folk music, some Nordic bands, such as Garmarna (Sweden), Wardruna (Norway), and Hedningarna (Sweden\Finland).
Tell us about your first recordings and your musical evolution.
Uliana: We spent about 4 years to prepare and record our debut CD album called “Northern Kingdom” which was recorded on “Pro live recording® Studio” and released in May 2015. The album received very good reviews and the band got many fans around the world. Currently, Ochelie Soroki started to record its second album, which is scheduled for spring 2017.
Many of your musical instruments are made by luthier Pavel Boev, founder and musician of the group. How did he become interested in making musical instruments?
Uliana: Well, I think, he made his first instrument in the early 2010. That was a jouhikko (bowed lyre); it is a string bowed instrument of the Baltic countries. We call it in Finnish, jouhikko. Pavel had not so much experience in making musical instruments at that moment, but in the meantime, he was very inspired by the jouhikko sound. And also, it was very complicated to buy it, because jouhikko or talharpa (Sweden) is a quite rare instrument. So, it was easier to create it, than to order it.
What instruments does he make? And what materials does he use?
Uliana: For now, he is making tenor and alto Jouhikkos, also an extremely rare bass jouhikko (bass bowed lyre); the citras, Norwegian langeleik, a sort of archaic dulcimer; traditional overtone flutes and reed flute.
In general Pavel prefers to work with natural materials and components. Some plants and reeds are very suitable to make overtone flutes, as well as some fish bones are useful to produce authentic fishbone glue. As I know, Pavel is using pine wood, maple and special resonant spruce wood to construct his jouhikkos and citras. Also, he sets Mongolian horse hair in his bows.
Is Pavel Boev teaching new generations how to make instruments?
Uliana: Yes he is, during the years he organizes training courses on the history and manufacture of ancient folk musical instruments for everyone.
If someone is interested in purchasing one of the instruments, how can they do it?
If you could gather any musicians or musical groups to collaborate with, whom would that be?
Uliana: Honestly, we’ve already performed with numerous Russian bands and surely would love to collaborate with many amazing musicians around the world. Currently, we are especially addicted to some Scandinavian neo folk bands such as Garmarna (Sweden), Wardruna (Norway), and Hedningarna (Sweden\Finland), so we would be happy to perform on the same stage with them. And of course, we hope we will be honored to have an opportunity to make ‘Ochelie Soroki debut performance with LSO (London Symphony Orchestra) at the Barbican Hall, or at the Royal Albert Hall.
Do you have any upcoming projects to share with us?
Uliana: Of course we do, the most exciting is release of our second greatest CD album which is scheduled for the next spring. As well as the upcoming Ochelie Soroki European tour next summer 2017.
Hedningarna’s world is a place where primitive, energetic folk music collides with sampling and programming, developing a new direction. Hedningarna, “the heathens” in English, propel ancient Nordic music into the modern era paying no attention to the rules of the road.
At the helm of Hedningarna are the three founding members of the band, Anders Norudde, Hållbus Totte Mattsson, and Björn Tollin, who started the band in 1987. All three were involved with rock and had worked on world music projects, but they returned home to Nordic music.
In 1987, Hedningarna played together for the first time. Totte recalled: “When we joined together at the beginning Anders had his drone instruments, Björn had his tambourine and I had my lute, and, like an accident, we started to play together and these instruments, they loved each other…We’re not interested in trying to be authentic or historical; we don’t mind how it was done years ago, but we mind what wonderful instruments they had then.” He added: “Because we know the tradition, we write a lot of new stuff that is based on traditional ideas, scales, modes, rhythms and so on.”
Anders continued: “We seek folk music with harsh melodies, twisted rhythms and percussive bass notes, the kind that was played in a lonely glade somewhere in the northern parts hundreds of years ago. No other music reaches so far down to our collective roots. There is so much power in the old music.”
When the core trio, Anders Norudde, Hållbus Totte Mattsson, and Björn Tollin, heard female Finnish voices drifting through the halls of the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, Hedningarna invited Sanna Kurki-Suonio and Tellu Paulasto to join the band. Both singers later left the band to pursue other projects.
In 1999, Hedningarna added Magnus Stinnerbom on octave violin to their lineup. Magnus had his own band, Harv.
Through all the modern technology, Hedningarna remains true to the polska, an addictive three-beat rhythm unique to Sweden; a derivation of a dance from elsewhere in Europe in the 18th century. The polska is rhythmically complex and has many regional variations both musically and in dance forms. In modern day terms, the polska was the party music of that time, Anders explained: “People danced themselves into ecstasy to these compelling rhythms. This was not tolerated at all. The religious ‘revival’ movement killed much of the Swedish folk music tradition. The fiddle was regarded as the devil’s instrument and was burned. As industrialization crowded out village life, this form of music nearly died out completely. The folk music that survived was ‘refined’ and ‘respectable’ not sweaty and ecstatic.”
The lineup in 2016 included Hållbus Totte Mattson, Anders Norudde (formerly known as Anders Stake) and Samuel Andersson.
Swedish band Garmarna creates contemporary folk firmly rooted in Nordic folk music traditions. They have developed their own sound, influenced by the rock tradition they’ve all grown up with.
Garmarna ignores the unwritten laws of how traditional music should be performed; the musicians know no boundaries. The music is half new – and newly-written – and half traditional with ancient instrumentation next to sampled drum-loops, suggestive mouth harps, tender violins and distorted guitars.
Garmarna started in January 1990, just a week after a performance of Hamlet that featured very strong, old Swedish music. Stefan, Gotte, and Rickard were inspired by the show, and they began searching for old tunes and instruments. After a year of playing together, just before their appearance at Sweden’s biggest rock festival, Jens Höglin joined the band on drums.
In autumn 1992, the band recorded an EP. They realized that female vocals would provide a light contrast to the naturally dark moods of the music. Emma Härdelin (a longtime friend of the band) guested on that record, then joined the band in early 1993, completing the lineup. The debut EP sold well in Sweden, and helped the band tour in Scandinavia.
The following year, the band decided to add samples and sequencers to the mix, giving the old tunes a modern musical foundation. Still, the heart of the music remains the harsh Swedish harmonies created by acoustic instruments, topped off by Emma’s intense vocals. The album Vittrad (“crumbling away”) was immediately hailed by the press, calling Garmarna “probably the best folkmusic band in Scandinavia.” In the deep winter of 1994, Omnium released Vittrad in the US, with full English translations of the dark old songs and an extra track Kleveberg’s Fire, pointing the way towards a new style of retro-futurist folk music (including samples from prehistoric Scandinavia.) The band made the cover of Billboard and the CMJ World chart.
1996 started with a long German tour closely followed by the album Gods Musicians / Guds Spelemän (named after a poem by Swedish poet Nils Ferlin.) The Swedish press went wild over it, the album made it to the Swedish sales charts, and it was released by Omnium in September 1996. Again, the band appeared on the cover of Billboard with rave reviews in Wired and Playboy.
Garmarna did a series of concerts in churches in the North of Sweden presenting their interpretation of the medieval works of 12th century German abbess Hildegard von Bingen, together with actress Felicia Konrad. It was Garmarna’s interpretation of her work placed in a 21st century environment. The reviews were great, the shows sold out and the audience was very enthusiastic.
In 2003, Garmarna re-released its first EP as a full album with six bonus tracks.
In 2016, the band released its sixth album titled 6.
Some of Garmarna’s album were released in the United States under Northside and Omnium.
Eamon Murray from Randalstown, Co. Antrim is one of the most important young bodhrán players in Irish music. Described by Johnny McDonagh (De Dannan/Arcady) as “the future of bodhrán playing”, Eamon has held the All-Ireland Bodhrán title on four occasions.
Eamon has performed alongside many distinguished artists including Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin and Liam O’Maonlai and was highly commended in the 2004 Northern Ireland Young Musician of the Year competition.
Cultura Profética is a Puerto Rican reggae band that was formed in 1996. Cultura Profética creates a fusion of smooth sounds rooted in reggae with touches of salsa, bomba, ska, jazz, funk, hip hop and additional Afro-Caribbean rhythms.
The band has toured across the island and in venues of Central and North America, and was the only Spanish-speaking band invited to perform at the prestigious Bob Marley Festival in California in 2003, 2004 and 2006.
Cultura Profética worked with Errol Brown, Bob Marley’s legendary producer. The band’s lyrical content emphasizes socio-political and environmental concerns, thus making them a treat to both the ears and the mind.
Dino Saluzzi is one of the leading bandoneon players in the world. Timoteo “Dino” Saluzzi was born in Campo Santo in northern Argentina and led his first group at the age of 14. He began to play professionally while studying in Buenos Aires. It was in Buenos Aires, too, that he met and befriended Astor Piazzolla as the term “tango nuevo” began to gain currency.
Even though Piazzolla and Saluzzi always respected each other’s work, Dino has never cared to put a label on his own work. But he has emphasized in numerous interviews that his is not an “art music” but a music that comes out of life and attempts to express the emotions, thoughts and memories that accompany it. And this has remained as true of the work that stresses primarily his compositional projects such as the ongoing Kultrum collaboration with the Rosamunde Quartett – as it is of work in which improvisation has a larger role to play, as on Senderos.
From his first ECM album, recorded in 1982, Saluzzi’s music was well received by the world’s press.
In 1997 at the ECM Festival in Badenweiler, Germany, Dino Saluzzi and Jon Christensen, bandoneonist and drummer, came together originally to play music of Krzysztof Komeda with trumpeter Tomasz Stanko. The line-up, also included saxophonist John Surman, violinist Michelle Makarski and bassist Anders Jormin, went on to play on Stanko’s prize-winning album From the Green Hill and toured extensively.
“That was an interesting band but difficult to present live because Dino often plays so quietly,” said Christensen. “As a drummer I actually like that, bringing the volume level right down. It’s very good for intense listening. And in fact you can play quietly and very dynamically. Anyway, Dino and I qot to be very good friends on the Stanko tours, we have a very good understanding. Of course, rm never going to be a tango drummer (laughter) and fortunately Dino doesn’t want that. I know he also appreciates the possibility just to play very openly and to see what happens…”
Senderos (paths in Spanish) is one of the most spontaneously-conceived of all Saluzzi’s albums. The Argentine master musician was in Oslo, working on another project in November 2002, when producer Manfred Eicher first proposed an immediate start upon a new solo album. “And then I got a phone call,” drummer Jon Christensen recalls, “How about coming over and adding some cymbals on a few tracks?’ And then it was, ‘Well, why don’t the two of you play a few things together?’ And about three hours later, we realized we’d made an album. I love to work this way, and it seems only to happen with this record company.”
On Senderos, you can almost hear the artists thinking aloud as they shape the music in the moment. Ten of the album’s pieces are duets. Some are Dino’s songs, some are freely improvised. There are also four solo bandoneon pieces that seem to melt with nostalgia for the simple life which Saluzzi left behind so long ago in the village of Campo Santo.
In recent years Dino Saluzzi has toured and recorded primarily with his son, guitarist José Maria Saluzzi, the two of them playing in trios with Marc Johnson (Cite de la Musique) and Palle Danielsson (Responsorium).
Ojos Negros was Saluzzi’s 2007 release. It is chamber music with inspirational roots in Argentine traditions, putting the emphasis on Dino Saluzzi’s finely-crafted compositions and adds the beautiful old tango by Vicente Greco that is the album’s title track. Interplay and improvisation also have roles to play in a recording that follows six years of duo concerts as well as ten years of collaboration between bandoneon master Saluzzi and the Rosamunde Quartet, of which cellist Anja Lechner is a founder member. They have taken their time to get this right.
A classical musician firstly, Anja Lechner’s interest in tango goes back some 25 years, when she formed a duo with pianist Peter Ludwig to play their German interpretations of the idiom. She gave her first concerts in Argentina in the early 1980s and made a point of looking for tango’s master musicians. But she first encountered Dino Saluzzi at a Munich concert where he played solo bandoneon. “He was playing a music that was really his own. When we finally began to play together I can say that I entered a new world.”
The shared work has been a gradual process of becoming freer with the material while respecting it, resulting in a very integrated music. Saluzzi praises the cellist’s commitment and stylistic independence: “Anja has become part of the music without losing her own identity. I think this is very important. She doesn’t try to imitate the tango players. She has her own sound and character, and this makes our project together culturally richer.”
De Vuelta a Salta (RCA Camden, 1972)
La Cerrillana, with Los Chalchaleros (RCA Victor, 1972)
Bandoneón Tierra Adentro – Vol. 1 (RCA Camdon, 1973)
Bandoneón Tierra Adentro – Vol. 2 (RCA Victor, 1975)
Dedicatoria (Melopea, 1977)
Bermejo (Microfón, 1980) Kultrum (ECM, 1982)
Once Upon a Time – Far Away in the South (ECM, 1985) Volver with Enrico Rava (ECM, 1986) Andina (ECM, 1988)
Argentina (West Wind Latina, 1991)
Mojotoro (ECM, 1991) Rios, with Anthony Cox and David Friedman (veraBra, 1995) Cité de la Musique (ECM, 1996) Kultrum with the Rosamunde Quartett (ECM, 1998) Responsorium (ECM, 2001) Senderos (ECM, 2002) Juan Condori (ECM, 2005)
Trio Tage, with George Gruntz and Thierry Lang (PJL, 2005) Ojos Negros, with Anja Lechner (ECM, 2006) El Encuentro (ECM, 2009) Navidad de Los Andes, with Anja Lechner and Felix Saluzzi (ECM, 2011) El Valle de la Infancia (ECM, 2014)
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