Canadian Roots Band The Bills Releases Trail of Tales

The Bills
The Bills

Trail of Tales (Borealis Records) is the new album by Canadian roots music band The Bills. The band is known for its music of traditional music with contemporary folk music and global beats.

The Bills made the album in scenic Mayne Island, an artists’ community just off the coast of Vancouver Island in British Columbia.

The Bills lineup includes Marc Atkinson on mandolin, guitar, percussion, vocals; Adrian Dolanon- fiddle, accordion, piano, vocals; Chris Frye on guitar, vocals; Richard Moody on violin, viola, mandolin, vocals; and Scott White 0n upright bass, vocals.

Previous recordings include Yes Please (2013), Let Em Run (2004), All Day Every Day (2002) and The Bill Hilly Band (2000).

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M.A.K.U. Soundsystem to Perform at Sunset Concerts in Los Angeles

M.A.K.U. Soundsystem
M.A.K.U. Soundsystem

Colombian band M.A.K.U. Soundsystem is set to perform on Thursday, August 11, at 8:00 PM at Skirball Cultural Center’s Sunset Concerts in Los Angeles.
An eight-piece band based in New York City, M.A.K.U. Soundsystem explores the immigrant experience through an exciting blend of musical styles honoring their cultural heritage.

Psychedelic rock, funk, jazz, Afro-beat, and Caribbean grooves combine with the music of indigenous Colombian peoples and West African and Spanish influences-creating a sound sure to bring audiences to their feet.

In their latest album, Mezcla (the Spanish word for “mix”), they invite listeners to rediscover the United States through the eyes and ears of Colombian immigrants. The band formed in 2010 and has released two independent albums and one EP.

Skirball Cultural Center
2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90049
(310) 440-4500

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Fiddle Meets EDM

Fdler – Fdler (Linus Entertainment, 2016)
Fdler – Fdler (Linus Entertainment, 2016)

Canadian fiddler and singer-songwriter Ashley MacIsaac and fellow Canadian percussionist and producer Jay “Sticks” Andrews got together to form a new project called Fdler.

The self-titled debut album, Fdler, combines Celtic fiddle with electronics. Although Ashley McIsaac had a hit years ago with a fabulous song titled “Sleepy Maggie” where he combined Celtic music with electronic beats, he went into a separate direction afterwards. Now he’s back with considerably more electronics, venturing into the increasingly popular electronic dance music (EDM).

The best of Fdler are the combinations of fiddles with electronic atmospheres, loops and rhythms. I’m less impressed with the repetitive vocals that have hip hop and soul influences so I gravitated towards the instrumentals, which are way more attention-grabbing.

Buy Fdler Fdler

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26th Jewish Culture Festival, a Krakow festival of World Music

Libelid - Photo by Michal Ramus
Libelid – Photo by Michal Ramus

The first Jewish Culture Festival was held in Poland in 1988, at which time its main goal was to emphasize the very important role of Jews in the creation of the Polish state, cultural identity, and society. After 28 years, the Festival has become Krakow’s best-known cultural event, as well as one of the most important festivals of contemporary Jewish culture in the world.

Every year, nearly thirty thousand people take part in this event; the ten-day duration of the Festival marks the presence in Krakow’s Kazimierz neighborhood of artists, filmmakers, and musicians from around the world.

The themes of the 26th JCF were the Diaspora and the Sabbath, as symbols of historical and contemporary Jewish identity. The implementation of each edition of the Jewish Culture Festival is supervised by the Festival Office, operating under the auspices of the Association of the Jewish Culture Festival (cf. http://www.jewishfestival.pl/pl/).

Shai Tsabari & The Future_Orchestra featuring Ahuva Ozeri - Photo by Michal Ramus
Shai Tsabari & The Future_Orchestra featuring Ahuva Ozeri – Photo by Michal Ramus

The Jewish Culture Festival has become a permanent and very important part of Krakow’s cultural life, in addition to its significant contribution to the spread of knowledge about Jewish culture and tradition, not only in Poland but internationally. The organizers devote particular attention to the cultural significance of music; this is strongly supported by the Jewish religious tradition, in which oral transmission is particularly important. But Krakow’s Jewish Culture Festival also represents a bold transcendence of the boundaries of tradition, codes, and signs, which, expressed in the language of music, equates to “world music.”

Today, not only in Poland but also throughout Europe, very important voices are being raised on the topic of the cultural integration of multiple, often historically conflicting, religious circles. In terms of politics and, especially, economics, this problem, far from disappearing, is actually (as shown by the events currently taking place in Europe) growing. However, World Music shows another side of cultural dialogue, one referring to spontaneous cognitive and artistic desires. This is shown and proven not only by the numerous festival concerts, but also by academic lectures such as “The Musical Meeting of Judaism and Islam” by Prof. Edwin Seroussi of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. More on this topic, on the example of the musicians of the 26th Jewish Culture Festival, is presented below.

In 2016, Krakow hosted musicians from around the world, with a significant portion coming from Israel but as well from the United States, Hungary, Germany, Russia, and Turkey.

The first day of the Festival opened with an evening session in the rhythm of mizrahi, a genre that combines Arabic, European and African music. Khen Elmaleh and David Pearl, creators of the best mizrahi events in Tel Aviv today, played their sets. The second day of the Festival featured an international evening concert of cantors, “By the Rivers of Babylon …,” with the participation of cantor Benzion Miller, one of the most famous Jewish cantors in the world (from the synagogue of the Jewish Center in Hillside, New York, and from 1981 Temple Beth El, Borough Park, Brooklyn, New York, USA), who, in Poland with Alberto Mizrahi and the Ben Baruch Choir, inaugurated the 8th Jewish Culture Festival in 1998 in the courtyard of Collegium Maius of Jagiellonian University.

Also taking part in this year’s concert was the world-famous lyric tenor cantor Yaakov Lemmer, followed by Avraham Kirshenbaum, lyric tenor and hazzan of the Great Synagogue of Jerusalem, one of the most outstanding heirs of the legacy of the Levites. This concert was marked as well by the participation of the Jerusalem Great Synagogue Choir, one of the best choirs performing liturgical music; of the composer Maestro Eli Jaffe, a member of the Royal Academy of Music in London and honorary conductor of the Prague Symphony Orchestra; and of pianist Menachem Bristowski. A Polish accent was provided by the participation in the concert of Krakow’s city orchestra, Sinfonietta Cracovia (PL).

Lola Marsh - Photo by Michal Ramus
Lola Marsh – Photo by Michal Ramus

The third day of the Festival featured an encounter with Jewish music from Austria-Hungary: Glass House Orchestra is the latest project by Frank London, undertaken on the initiative of the Balassi Institute Hungarian Cultural Center in New York. The group, comprising eight respected musicians from different countries, adopts elements of the extremely complex Jewish musical tradition. The result is – as ensured by the organizers of the Festival – truly cosmic.

Also worthy of our attention are The Brothers Nazaroff. As the Festival organizers write on the event’s website: “In the mid-twentieth century, Yiddish music in America was played mainly in the form of lullabies, elegies and Americanized folk songs. It was OK, but a little boring. In 1954 Nathan ‘Prince’ Nazaroff appeared with the album Jewish Freilach Songs (Freilach means happy in Yiddish) which was boisterous and joyful.”

Nathan ‘Prince’ Nazaroff
Nathan ‘Prince’ Nazaroff

By the end of the 26th Festival of Jewish Culture, numerous chamber, club, traditional music, and outdoor concerts had been held. The festival closed with a concert by Totemo, an Israeli music producer and singer. Her music is a combination of futuristic beats and precise sounds, enriched with melancholy lyrics, in a downtempo rhythm.

Given the scope of our review, we are unable to mention all of the artists participating in this Krakow festival of World Music, so we encourage you to take a look at the following websites:

More information: www.jewishfestival.pl/en/
More pictures: www.flickr.com/photos/126134189@N02/albums/with/72157652769675744

Text by Paulina Tendera & Wojciech Rubiś

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Thalma de Freitas to perform at Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles

Thalma de Freitas
Thalma de Freitas

Brazilian singer, songwriter, and actress Thalma de Freitas is set to perform on Thursday, August 4, at 8:00 PM at the Skirball Cultural Center’s Sunset Concerts. The Los Angeles-based artist performs a thrilling fusion of samba, jazz, and bossa nova.

Also known as the “maestro’s daughter,” de Freitas grew up in Rio de Janeiro under the musical tutelage of her father, acclaimed arranger, composer, pianist, and conductor Laércio de Freitas.

Since making her professional debut in a Brazilian production of Hair in 1992, de Freitas has starred in numerous Brazilian television shows and released her debut self-titled solo album in 2004.

In addition to singing with the carioca big band Orquestra Imperial, de Freitas also fronts an experimental sonic project called Serendipity Lab. Having performed at concerts and festivals in South America and Europe, de Freitas was honored to join Carlinhos Brown in representing Brazil in the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

Skirball Cultural Center
2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90049
(310) 440-4500

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A Beautiful Musical Experience in East Jerusalem

East Jerusalem West Jerusalem
East Jerusalem West Jerusalem

East Jerusalem West Jerusalem, featuring David Broza, Steve Earle, Muhammad Mughrabi and Mira Awad (Film Movement, 2016)

The film East Jerusalem West Jerusalem is a documentary about the 8 day creative experience envisioned by celebrated Israeli singer-songwriter David Broza in East Jerusalem.

In early 2013, David Broza fulfilled his dream to record songs in the Palestinian side of Jerusalem with musicians from Palestine and Israel. The8-day sessions took place in the studio of Palestinian band Sabreen. The idea was to create a space for peace and to listen to each other with the hope that this will have a ripple effect.

Broza invited award-winning American singer-songwriter and activist Steve Earle as producer. Even though Steve Earle wrote a song called “Jerusalem” in the 1990s, he had never visited Jerusalem before.

Other guests included Israeli Palestinian singer, actress and activist Mira Awad; Palestinian cinematographer Issa Freij; Muhammad Mughrabi, Palestinian hip hop artist from the Shuaafat refugee camp; Israeli musicians Jean Paul Zimbris, Alon Nadel and Gadi Seri, along with other American, Israeli and Palestinian participants.

At the beginning of the film, David Broza sets the context for the project, showing the two sides of Jerusalem, and fascinating interviews. Broza sits on a rooftop with Issa Freij where they discuss their different experiences. Broza greets Steve Earle at the airport and later talks, jams and rehearses with him. There is also an interview with American record producer David Greenberg and several segments with Broza himself.

Some of the most noteworthy footage includes the shots of the musicians (and the filmmaker) rehearsing and having fun in the studio as they prepare for the recording sessions.

Broza chose to record in English, as a universal language, and the two local languages, Hebrew and Arabic. Although I don’t have the album, it is evident that that album has a mix of American folk music influences along with the Middle Eastern nuances of the ud, darbuka and kanun. Broza also adds a little flamenco spice that he picked up in Spain.

The film follows David Broza as he takes a night drive to the impoverished Shuafat refugee camp, the home of the two Palestinian rappers who collaborate on the album. It’s surprising that despite all the security measures nearby, the camp itself is pretty much on its own, without police or emergency services.

There are additional interviews with the Israeli and Palestinians where they describe their experiences. Many of them had never visited each others neighborhoods.

Broza also brought the new generations into the project, recording the voices of young singers representing the various communities.
Sadly, near the end of the film, Broza and Freij encounter a demonstration of Israelis who trade insults with the Palestinians, demonstrating that it’s hard to get away from politics and there is much more work to do.

David Broza grew up in Israel, Spain, and England. His musical influences range from flamenco to rock and Americana. He is also recognized for his commitment and dedication to several humanitarian causes, mostly, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Since 1977, Broza has released over 30 albums in Hebrew, English and Spanish, many of which have become gold and platinum albums.

In the year 2006 David Broza received the “In Search for Common Ground” award along with Palestinian musician/composer Said Murad, and in 2009 the Spanish King, Juan Carlos I, decorated him with the Spanish Royal Medal of Honor for his longtime contribution to Israel-Spain relations, and his dedication to promotion of tolerance and conflict resolution.

In 2015 Broza recorded the album “Andalusian Love Song” with the Andalusian Orchestra of Ashkelon.

East Jerusalem West Jerusalem is a remarkable project that shows how we can all get along through the language of music.

Buy the East Jerusalem West Jerusalem DVD in the Americas

Buy the East Jerusalem West Jerusalem CD in the Americas

Buy the East Jerusalem West Jerusalem CD in Europe

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Maggie the Pony Helps Mamadou Kelly and Ban Kai Na

Maggie the Pony and Brehima "Youro" Cisse
Maggie the Pony and Brehima “Youro” Cisse

 

Malian blues act Mamadou Kelly and Ban Kai Na ran into problems last week during their American tour when the one string of their njarka snapped and they needed to find a replacement. The njarka is a small, one-stringed fiddle, made from a gourd and stringed with the tail-hair of a horse.

 

The njarka
The njarka

 

Maggie_Pony_njarka2

 

Fortunately, the band’s manager Christopher Nolan contacted a Hudson Valley neighbor who has a horse farm. A visit was arranged, and Maggie the Pony donated tail hairs to Brehima “Youro” Cisse, the band’s njarka master.

Mamadou Kelly’s albums include Djamila and Adibar.

 

Mamadou Kelly and Ban Kai Na Remaining Tour Dates:

July 27 Joe’s Pub, Manhattan NY
July 29 BSP, Kingston NY
Aug 5 Kennedy Center, Washington DC
Aug 6 Balliceaux, Richmond VA
Aug 7 Bossa Bistro, Washington DC
Aug 10 Union Pool, Brooklyn NY

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Sinkane to Perform at Sunset Concerts in Los Angeles

Sinkane
Sinkane

Sinkane is set to perform on Thursday, July 28, at 8:00 PM at the Skirball Cultural Center’s Sunset Concerts.

Born in London and raised in Sudan and Ohio, Sinkane mixes free jazz, shoegaze, krautrock, Sudanese pop, and funk.

In 2014, he released his most recent album, Mean Love.

Skirball Cultural Center
2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90049
(310) 440-4500

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Unpredictable Bareto

Bareto - Impredecible (World Village, 2016)
Bareto – Impredecible (World Village, 2016)

Bareto, one of Peru’s leading cross-genre bands has released its latest album Impredecible in the USA. The new recording features a mix of psychedelic Peruvian cumbia, Andean melodies, reggae, dub, merengue and Afro-Peruvian beats.

The band’s sound is characterized by the sound of psychedelic and retro-60s electric guitars and organ along with acoustic percussion and dub effects. Celebrated Afro-Peruvian singer Susana Baca appears on one song, “El Loco”, which is one of the best on the album.

Although most of the album has a fun feel and encourages the listener to dance, the band also has a mordant attitude, mocking the cheesy Latin American variety shows on the song “La Pantalla.”

Bareto includes Rolo Gallardo on guitar, keyboards, ukulele, backing vocals; Jorge Giraldo on bass and backing vocals; Joaquin Mariátegui on guitar, keyboards, ukulele, and lead vocals; Mauricio Mesones on lead vocals; Jorge Olazo on drums and percussion; Sergio Sarria on drums and percussion; Miguel Ginocchio on keyboards.

Special guests: Susana Baca. Additional musicians: Eka Muñoz on backing vocals; Henry Ortiz on accordion; Juan Medrano “Cotito” (Novalima) on cajón; Esteban Copete on marimba; Rawa Muñoz on backing vocals; Carlos Espinoza on saxophone; David Haddad on percussions; and Chongo on percussion.

 

 

 

Tour Dates

July 24: Festival Peruano de San Francisco, Newark, CA
July 27: Club Michella Room, Chicago, IL
July 28: The Palace Night Club, Woodbridge, VA
July 30: Coliseum Night Club, Sarasota, FL
July 31: Festival Peruano de Miami, Miami, FL

Buy Impredecible

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Length & Time: Gilberto Gil

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. 

Perhaps Time & Length would be a clearer moniker to use in order to articulate the relationship between the time that we are living and not only the length of the songs that we listen to but the strategy used by musicians to make the most out of length to both express the times that are being lived or express themselves to those who are living specific times.

How does one communicate ‘I’m crazy about you,’ to an international audience, in one album, in 1987, as Gilberto Gil does with the album Soy Loco Por Ti America

The immediate times that hosted the album’s release was a time of radio and of euphoria and so all of the songs are less than 5 minutes; its the best way to invite everyone to the party. Gil, however, was a political artist and first and foremost intended to affect his listeners positively and politically through his songs. How does he pull off his gamble?

Gilberto Gil - Soy Loco Por Ti
Gilberto Gil – Soy Loco Por Ti

He is not playing religious music; he does not have the time to express some sort of complex epic that all will feel faith in. Never forgetting to achieve compositional beauty, he uses keywords and emotion, such as melancholy and the word ‘Marti’ (from Jose Marti) in the song “Soy Loco Por Ti America,” speaking in language that the world knows through mass media. In other words, he explores the world that is obvious and that we all know, despite, for example, the size of America in “Soy Loco Por Ti America.” It’s an album of 8 songs, and many of the titles make us blush: “Mamma,” “Vida,” which even a non-speaker of Portuguese can guess means mother and life.

Gil here is genius at conveying emotion and it is the genius of this album. It’s as if we are listening to what we are also “crazy about” as we listen to Soy Loco Por Ti. There is a certain amount of ambiguity heard that comes with interpreting sound – what the sound expresses is quite simply the instrument’s notes. Does one note specifically correspond to one emotion? Civilizations have their notions of what each note should correspond to, but as we know music grows like weeds and is pretty good at getting out of control. Not to mention that Brazil is a melting pot like no other wherein ethnic groups often retain the sounds of their pasts in their Brazilian presents. However, many of us are socialized pretty similarly, work, television, radio, and Gil succeeds at playing us language that we may all fall into such as lush and lyric repetition which can only really mean joy at this point in human time for “Aquele Abraco,” or playing us Reggae, letting his songs signify whatever Reggae may mean to our time (justice, freedom,) on most of the other songs.

Is he being honest? Even if he is being honest, he would have to adapt his honesty to the times through strategy.

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Your Connection to traditional and contemporary World Music