Artist Profiles: Kinabalu Merdu Sound

Kinabalu Merdu Sound at Rainforest World Music Festival in 2009 – Photo by Angel Romero

Kinabalu Merdu Sound is a world music band from Sabah (Malaysia). The band plays Sabahan ethnic music with bamboo musical instruments.

Kinabalu Merdu Sound’s roots began in 2001 with a modest group of 5. To reach its objective of reviving traditional ethnic music at the brink of extinction due to modernization, the band aimed to recruit school children and youth as its members. Kinabalu Merdu Sound’s efforts have been rewarded as the group has now grown into an assembly of 600 musicians.

This group has now performed throughout Sabah, Kuala Lumpur and the Rainforest World Music Festval in Sarawak. There have even been performances in Jakarta (Indonesia), Korea and Japan. Kinabalu Merdu Sound has emerged as champions in the national level ‘Ilham Desa” (loosely translated it means ‘countryside inspirations’) competition which was organized by the Ministry of Rural and Federal Development held on the 14th June 2007 at UPM in Selangor.

The use of the bamboo as a musical instrument in traditional music had its beginnings in 1945. Among the earliest instruments were the Tagunggak (percussion instrument), sompoton (wind instrument), bungkau (Jew’s harp) and gendang (drums). However, traditional music played with bamboo instruments was not the music enthusiasts’ favorite style at the time because it was a farmer’s past time and was played only during harvest festivals. The group has undoubtedly succeeded in changing this conception and begun to raise a widespread admiration towards the once-rejected bamboo melodies.

Discography

Muzik Tradisi Instrumental

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Artist Profiles: Keyvan Saket

Keyvan Saket

Keyvan Saket is an Iranian composer and tar and setar instrumentalist. Keyvan is a master of traditional Persian music who, after recording and touring extensively throughout Iran and abroad with traditional ensembles, began experimenting with creative arrangements of well-known Western classical music using the tar and setar.

Saket was born in 1960 in Mashad, Iran. He learned tar from his uncle, Manoucher Zamanian. In 1989, Saket joined the Aref Ensemble under the leadership of Parviz Meshkatian.

In addition to his work with Aref Ensemble, Keyvan Saket created the Vaziri Orchestra.

Discography:

Shabi Ba Khorshid
Yadgare Khone Sarv
Jamedaran (2009)
Sabokbal
Sashti Avaz Learn
Afsaneh
Didare Shargh Va Gharb
Ghasedak
Shargh Andoh
Bi Karvane Koli
An Soye Abo Gel
Zendegi

Web site: http://www.keivansaket.com

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Artist Profiles: Kevin Yazzie

Kevin Yazzie

Kevin Yazzie is a Diné (Navajo) musician born in Teesto, Arizona. Kevin now resides in Mesa, Arizona with his wife, Alberta, and children Shailen, Natashbah, and Jamon Noah. Kevin started singing at the age of six at Pow Wows and the Native American Church. At the age of thirteen Kevin grew closer to the Native American Church and it’s songs of prayer and started composing songs soon after.

The Peyote medicine and prayer songs have provided him with comfort throughout his life. Many of his songs come from his inspirations, his friends, family and those who are in need of comfort, healing and spiritual uplifting. In 2009, Kevin’s solo harmonized Peyote recording Faith (Canyon Records) was a finalist for the 2009 Grammy in the Native American Music category.

Kevin Yazzie’s albums include the Peyote song recordings First Light (Canyon Records) and Awakening of Life (Canyon Records) he made with Navajo (Diné) musician Cheevers Toppah and the solo album Faith (Canyon Records), where Yazzie uses lush multi-part vocal harmonies, soothing melodies, accompanied by gourd and water drum, to perform songs of healing and prayer in an inspirational expression of faith in the Native American Church.

Discography

* First Light (Canyon Records CR-6436)
* Awakening of Life (Canyon Records CR-6458, 2009)
* Faith (Canyon Records CR-6444, 2008)
* Hope: Harmonized Peyote Songs of the Native American Church (Canyon Records, 2010)
* Love: Songs of the Native American Church (Canyon Records, 2011)
* Charity: Songs of the Native American Church (Canyon Records, 2013)

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Artist Profiles: Kaykhosro Pournazeri

Kaykhosro Pournazeri

Kaykhosro Pournazeri, born in Kermanshah (Iran), studied music under master musicians Ostad Vaziri and Darvish Khan. He began his university studies in engineering, but soon realized his musical interests were stronger and left engineering to start music training at the Department of Fine Arts at Tehran University.

In 1971, he began working at the Department of Culture and Art, studying and recording Kurdish music, and directing orchestras of both Kurdish and Persian traditional music. After the Iranian revolution he started to exclusively research the sacred, little-known tanbur, and began composing modern classical Persian music for it.

The establishment of the Shams Ensemble in 1980 by Kaykhosro was a turning point in the development of modern classical Persian music, combining a deep understanding of the music and the spiritual meaning of the tanbur with the poetry of Rumi and the daf frame drum.

Through the Shams School of Music that he founded, Kaykhosro has taught numerous students.

Discography:

Mystified – Poetry of Rumi: Sufi Music of Iran (Quartertone Records, 1997)
Afsaneh-e Tanbour (2011)
Nishteman (2012)
Mastan (2012)
Hidden in Heart (2012)
The Land of Sun (2013)
Raindrops (2015)

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Artist Profiles: Kayhan Kalhor

Kayhan Kalhor

Kamancheh virtuoso and composer Kayhan Kalhor was born in Tehran (Iran). He began his musical studies at the age of seven. Kayhan Kalhor performed with the prestigious National Orchestra of Radio and Television of Iran and the Shayda Ensemble of the Chavosh Cultural Center while still a teenager.

Deeply devoted to the Iranian classical repertoire (radif), Kayhan Kalhor was further inspired to study regional folkloric traditions, which added additional dimensions to his improvisations and acted as springboards for cross-cultural explorations.

Since then, Kalhor has performed and recorded with Iran’s greatest instrumentalists and singers, including Mohammad Reza Shajarian and Shahram Nazeri, and toured the world as a soloist.

He co-founded the Dastan, Ghazal: Persian & Indian Improvisations, and Masters of Persian Music ensembles and has appeared with the New York Philharmonic and the Orchestre National de Lyon.

He was the featured soloist on the soundtrack of Francis Ford Coppola’s Youth Without Youth, a score on which he collaborated with Osvaldo Golijov.

Kayhan Kalhor is an original member of Yo-Yo Ma’s acclaimed Silk Road Ensemble and his works are heard on all of the ensemble’s albums.

Discography

* Eastern Apertures (1995)
* Lost Songs of the Silk Road, Ghazal (Shanachie, 1997)
* Scattering Stars Like Dust (Traditional Crossroads, 1998)
* As Night Falls on the Silk Road, with Ghazal (Shanachie, 1998)
* Through Eternity, with Dastan (Sounds True, 1999)
* Moon Rise over the Silk Road, with Ghazal (Shanachie, 2000)
* Night Silence Desert, with Mohammed Reza Shajarian (Traditional Crossroads, 2000)
* Caravan, with Kronos Quartet (Nonesuch Records, 2000)
* Silk Road Journeys, with Yo-Yo Ma and Silk Road Ensemble (Sony Classical, 2001)
* Without You, with Masters of Persian Music (World Village, 2002)
* The Rain, with Ghazal(ECM, 2003)
* Beyond the Horizon, Silk Road Ensemble (Sony Classical, 2004)
* In the Mirror of the Sky, with Ali Akbar Moradi (World Village, 2004)
* Faryad, with Masters of Persian Music (World Village, 2005)
* The Wind, with Erdal Erzincan (ECM, 2006)
* New Impossibilities, with Silk Road Ensemble (Sony Classical, 2007)
* Silent City (World Village, 2008)
* Off the Map, with Silk Road Ensemble (2009)
* Voices of the Shades, Madjid Khaladj (2011)
* I Will Not Stand Alone, with Ali Bahrami Fard (World Village, 2012)
* Kula Kulluk Yakişir Mi, with Erdal Erzincan (2013)
* Sing me home, with Silk Road Ensemble (Sony Masterworks, 2016)
* Hawiniyaz (Harmonia mundi, 2016)

Video

The Music of Strangers, with Silk Road Ensemble (2016)

Web site: www.kayhankalhor.net

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Flamenco innovators Josemi Carmona & Javier Colina to appear at Various Top Flamenco festivals in the USA

Josemi Carmona and Javier Colina

Guitarist Josemi Carmona and bassist Javier Colina will present their unique sound at the Flamenco Festival in New York on March 10 at Joe’s Pub: “We will play humbly but with the certainty that what we do is special and very enjoyable. Up close, it’s not a project of virtuosity but of emotion and emotion difficult to match,” explains guitarist Josemi Carmona.

On March 12th, the duo will land at the Miami Festival to show, in Colina’s words, this “jazzified flamenco that combines improvisations with touches of flamenco and African-American music“.

Finally, on March 14 Carmona and Colina will present their music at the XV Chicago Flamenco Festival, which collaborates for the first time with Flamenco Eñe.

Opening the range of flamenco artists is very difficult, festivals always present the same musicians. Flamenco Eñe has made younger generations express their talent to the programmers, giving strength to flamenco and energy to authors who are not so well known, “added Josemi.

The duo’s most recent recording is De Cerca (Universal Music Spain, 2016).

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Artist Profiles: Kassé Mady Diabaté

Kassé Mady Diabaté

Kassé Mady Diabaté has one of West Africa’s greatest voices and he’s one of the most cherished singers in Mali. He is known for his profound knowledge of Mali’s deepest oral and musical traditions and the beauty of his tenor voice.

He was born in 1949 in Kela, a renowned center of the Mande jeli tradition in western Mali, near Kangaba, one of the seats of the great Mali empire (1235-1469). 

Kasse Mady’s family, the Diabates of Kela -all of whom are jelis- were the singers for the emperors and their descendants, the royal Keita lineage.  And still today they are considered among the most important and authoritative jeli families across seven West African countries where Mande culture predominates.

Kasse Mady is the second person ever to be given the name Kasse Mady, which means ‘Weep Mady’  (Mady is a regional variant of Mohammed).  His grandfather, also from Kela, was the first.

Mady, the grandfather, had such a beautiful voice that when he sang, he would move people to tears, therefore his nickname, ‘Kasse from Kassi,’ (to weep).  Kasse Mady the younger was given this name at birth to honor the grandfather.  But no one in the family could imagine that his voice would have the same power and ability to move people to extreme states of emotion.

While still a young boy, Kasse Mady began singing at local weddings and other ceremonies, and around 1970 he was invited to become the lead singer of the dance orchestra of the nearby town of Kangaba.  This orchestra was called the Super Mande, a name his brother Lafia Diabate, also a well-known singer, now uses for his own band of Kela musicians who are based in Bamako and who are the principal musicians on the album Kassi Kasse.

The decade of 1970s was an important period in Mali because of the new Cultural Authenticity policies that was in place in the newly independent nation states of West Africa.  In Mali, as elsewhere, musicians were encouraged to return to their own folklore instead of imitating rock or Cuban music.  As it happened, Kasse Mady’s special blend of traditional Mande folklore with modern instruments was to play an important role in this movement.

Every two years, the Malian government sponsored a major festival call the Biennale, in which all the regional ensembles and dance orchestras competed with each other.  In 1973, it was the Super Mande from Kangaba who won, thanks to the remarkable singing of Kasse Mady.

Not long before that, a group of eight musicians who had been studying music in Cuba had returned to Mali and formed the group Las Maravillas de Mali, famous for their charanga interpretations of Cuban classics.  But according to the dictates of Cultural Authenticity, they had to begin to take on more of a Malian repertoire.  After hearing Kasse Mady perform at the Biennale, they decided that he was the one to do this.

The musical director was sent down to Kela, 104 kms west of Bamako down a bumpy dirt road, to find the singer.  After various ritual consultations with the family, who were (and still are) very protective of their traditions, Kasse Mady was allowed to go to join the band in Bamako. Soon after, the Maravillas began enjoying a tremendous success throughout West Africa with songs like ‘Balomina Mwanga’ and ‘Maimouna,’ all sung memorably by the young Kasse Mady in Cuban style, but with a new Mande touch. 

Around 1976 the band renamed themselves National Badema du Mali (meaning national family of Mali). Kasse Mady launched this new lineup with several deep Mande songs that were to become hits, such as ‘Sindiya (later re-recorded by Ali Farka Toure as ‘Singya’ on his first World Circuit album) and ‘Fode’ that was also the title of Kasse’s first solo album in 1988.  Other hits were ‘Nama,’ a song Kasse Mady composed about a true story of a canoe that overturned while crossing the river Niger on September 22 in which many people drowned and ‘Guede’ that he later re-recorded with american bluesman Taj Mahal.
  
By the mid 1980s, there was no longer much interest among Malian audiences in the old dance bands of the 1970s.  The Rail Band was playing to ever decreasing audiences, and the Ambassadeurs, formerly led by singer Salif Keita, had disbanded.

So when Kasse Mady was invited to Paris to record his first solo album for Senegalese producer Ibrahima Sylla (of Africando fame), Kasse decided to try his luck. He left the national Badema and moved to Paris, where he spent the next ten years. During this period he recorded two solo albums, Fode, an electric dance album that was meant to be the answer to Salif Keita’s Soro but did not enjoy the same promotion; and Kela Tradition, an acoustic album of Kela jeli songs, both on the Paris label Syllart. 

Also in this period, Kasse Mady collaborated in the album Songhai 2 with Spanish flamenco group Ketama and Malian kora player Toumani Diabate, with some stunning versions of classics such as ‘Mali Sajio,’ as well as, the beautiful ballad ‘Pozo del Deseo’ sung together with Ketama singer Antonio Carmona.

But things did not turn out as planned in Paris. Kasse Mady’s non-confrontational and peaceful character did not help him find his way through the labyrinth of royalty payments and contracts and the hard-nosed music business of Paris. 

Exploited and disappointed, he returned to Bamako in 1998 where things began to look up for him.  The music scene in Bamako had picked up considerably since he had left ten years before. For a start, there was now a new democratic government and a renewed interest among the youth in traditional music. 

The kora player Toumani Diabate immediately recruirted Kasse Mady for more collaboration after the successful work they had done together on Songhai 2.  Kasse Mady was invited to take part in the acclaimed Kulanjan project with Taj Mahal.  Taj was so moved by Kasse’s singing that he presented him with a beautiful steel-body guitar and now, having heard the new album Kassi Kasse, is so entranced by it that he takes it with him everywhere he goes on his extensive concert tours.

in 2010, Kasse Mady partricipated in the landmark Afrocubism project, a spectacular collaboration of musicians from Mali and Cuba. the lineup featured Eliades Ochoa, Bassekou Kouyate, Djelimady Tounkara, Toumani Diabaté, Grupo Patria, Kasse Mady Diabaté and Lassana Diabaté.

Discography

* Fode (Syllart)
* Kela Tradition (Syllart)
* Songhai 2 (Hannibal, 1994)
* Kulanjan (Hannibal, 1999)
* Kassi Kasse (Narada, 2003)
* Manden Djeli Kan (Wrasse Records, 2009)
* Afrocubism (World Circuit, 2010)
* Kiriké – Horse’s saddle (No Format!, 2014)

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Artist Profiles: Karl Seglem

Karl Seglem in 2010 playing saxophone – Photo by Angel Romero

 

Karl Seglem was born in 1961 in Årdalstangen in Sogn. He’s one of the most important contemporary tenor saxophonists in Norway.

With the group Sogn-A-Song, the trio Utla and the duo Isglem, Seglem has consistently broken through musical boundaries with his wide range of musical perceptions and daring improvisational style.

Seglem’s influences include Norway’s rich folk music traditions and jazz, combined with his own sense of expression make his music a modern soundscape that gives equal weight to improvisation and composition. His saxophone tone is innovative in its use of breath, resonance and syncopation.

He also plays the Norwegian ram’s horn. Seglem’s music has a wide scope, ranging from folk to free form and world beat, inspired by and invoking Nordic nature. In addition to his many CD releases, he has composed several major works and has performed them in public.

 

Karl Seglem in 2010 playing Norwegian ram’s horn – Photo by Angel Romero

 

Seglem was awarded the Edvard prize in 1998 for his piece “Tya.”

Seglem has toured extensively throughout Norway and abroad.

Discography

* Poems for trio (NOR-CD HCRCD 49, 1988)
* Sogn-A-Song (NOR-CD 9101, 1991)
* Rom, with Isglem (NOR-CD 9102, 1991)
* To Steg, with Isglem (NOR-CD 9204, 1992)
* Utla (NOR-CD 9205, 1992)
* Juv, with Utla (NOR-CD 9309, 1993)
* Rit, with Sogn-A-Song (NOR-CD 9410, 1994)
* Brodd, with Utla (NOR-CD 9514, 1995)
* Null g, with Isglem (NOR-CD 9615, 1996)
* Prosa, with Jon Fosse (NOR-CD 9616, 1996)
* Tya, with Reidar Skår (NOR-CD 9717, 1997)
* Spir, with Sogn-A-Song (NOR-CD 9830, 1998)
* Dans, with Utla (NOR-CD 9935, 1999)
* Daa, with Henriksen, Seglem, Isungset (2000)
* Nye Nord (2002)
* Fire, with Isglem (2003)
* Song, with Utla (2003)
* Femstein (NorCD, 2004)
* Budda og reven Singie (NorCD, 2005)
* Reik (NorCD, 2005)
* Urbs (NorCD, 2006)
* Spelferd – a playful journey DVD (NorCD, 2008)
* NORSKjazz.no (NorCD, 2009)
* Skoddeheimen (NorCD, 2009)
* Draumkvedet (NorCD, 2009)
* Ossicles (NorCD, 2010)
* NyeSongar.no (Ozella Music, 2013)
* Som Spor (NorCD, 2014)
* Waves, with Christoph Stiefel (Challenge, 2015)
* Laerad The Tree (NorCD, 2015)
* Live In Germany (NorCD, 2015)
* WorldJazz (NorCD/Ozella, 2015)
* Nordic Balm (NorCD, 2016)

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Top Flamenco Talent at Chicago Flamenco Festival 2017

Anabel Veloso – Photo by Oscar Romero (Bienal de Flamenco)

The Chicago Cervantes Institute celebrates, in collaboration with the SGAE Foundation, the Old Town School of Folk Music, the Flamenco Arts Center and the City Winery, will present the XV Chicago Flamenco Festival from February 24 to March 25.

During five weeks, this festival will bring together young flamenco artists as well as established stars of this genre in order to bring Spanish culture closer to Chicago.

In 2017 the lineup includes Anabel Veloso, Alfonso Aroca, Josemi Carmona & Javier Colina, Alba Heredia and Isaac De Los Reyes, Amparo Heredia, Angel Ruiz, Las guitarras de España, Tamar Ilana, La Chimi.

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Flamenco Eñe Heads to New York, Miami and Chicago in March 2017

left to right clockwise: Alfonso Aroca; Josemi Carmona & Javier Colina; and UHF at Flamenco Eñe 2016. Photo by Jesús Domínguez

The SGAE Foundation will continue with its Spanish Flamenco promotion overseas program, Flamenco Eñe, with presentations in New York City, Miami and Chicago during March 2017. The artists featured include flamenco fusion acts performed by Josemi Carmona & Javier Colina, pianist Alfonso Aroca and the instrumental flamenco quartet Ultra High Flamenco (UHF). All of them participated in the first edition of Flamenco Eñe that took place in Malaga last May 2016.

The Flamenco Eñe Malaga showcase brought together several foreign performing arts presenters and promoters with a selection of musicians from Spain.

The Flamenco Eñe initiative has opened the doors of the international circuits to Josemi Carmona & Javier Colina, Alfonso Aroca and Ultra High Flamenco (UHF), who will export their talent within the official program of Flamenco Festival 2017, held in New York and Miami between March 2 and 19, and the XV Chicago Flamenco Festival, organized by the Cervantes Institute, with the collaboration of the SGAE Foundation, until March 25.

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