All posts by Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music and progressive music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced "Musica NA", a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music and electronic music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World, Lektronic Soundscapes, and Mindchild Records. Angel is currently based in Durham, North Carolina.

Artist Profiles: Michael McGoldrick

Michael McGoldrick

Inspired by Irish parents and encouraged by the thriving traditional music scene in his home town of Manchester, England, multi-instrumentalist Michael McGoldrick began playing Irish music at the age of 8. By the age of 15 he already had already won numerous All-Ireland Championship and became well-known as a member of influential Manchester-based Celtic rock band Toss the Feathers. He later performed with leading Celtic and folk music acts Capercaillie, Flook, Lunasa and Kate Rusby.

On Fused, McGoldrick teamed up with members of Capercaillie and Flook to create a sound that borrows as much from ambient trance as it does from traditional Irish music. Guests on the record include Karan Casey formerly of Solas and Karen Matheson and Manus Lunny of Capercaillie.

In 2010 he performed at Celtic Connections with the Future Trad Collective along with Ian Fletcher and Andy Dinan. The band released a self-titled album in 2011.

Discography:

Live at the 32 Club with Toss the Feathers (1988)
Rude Awakening with Toss the Feathers (Magnetic Music, 1993)
Columbus Eclipse with Toss the Feathers (Magnetic Music, 1989)
Awakening with Toss the Feathers (1991)
TTF’94 Live with Toss the Feathers (1994)
The Next Round with Toss the Feathers (Magnetic Music, 1995)
Flook! Live! with Flook (Small, 1996)
Morning Rory (Aughgrim Records, 1996)
Lunasa, with Lunasa (1997)
Otherworld with Lunasa (Green Linnet GLCD12 (1999)
Fused (Vertical Records, 2000)
At First Light, with John McSherry (Vertical Records, 2001)
Wired (Vertical Records, 2005)
Aurora (Vertical Records, 2010)
Future Trad Collective (Vertical Records, 2011)
Live, with John McCusker & John Doyle (Vertical Records 2012)

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Artist Profiles: Michael Bazibu

Michael Bazibu

Michael Bazibu is a Ugandan multi-instrumentalist and virtuoso adungu performer based in Kampala. He’s one of the lead musicians of the Ndere Troupe a cultural development organization that performs a repertoire of authentic Ugandan dances and songs accompanied by various indigenous percussive stringed and wind instruments.

Discography:

The Nile Project – Aswan (2013)

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Artist Profiles: Mestisay

Olga Cerpa (Mestisay)

Mestisay is a popular group in Spain’s Canary Islands. They were innovative experimental and eclectic while maintaining a strong connection to their folk traditions. Their lyrics were evocative of life’s special quality on these islands steeped in a unique mix of Spanish and transatlantic with a flavor of Africa borne on the dry wind that comes in from the East.

The album La Rosa de los Vientos (the rose of the winds) is like a kaleidoscope of all those traditions that have influenced the culture of the Canary Islands: among others Portuguese fado African percussion and Cuban bolero. Through their songs Mestisay gives homage to such artists as Ellis Regina Astor Piazzolla and Mercedes Sosa.

La Rosa de los Vientos features the track Sangueo an original from Equatorial Guinea which was translated with the help of “Hijas Del Sol” (The Daughters of the Sun) Piruchi and Paloma.

In some of their albums the group explores the strong ties of the Canary Islands with countries in the Americas with a large number of immigrants from tghe Carty Island such as Venezuela and Cuba.

The group is led by renowned vocalist Olga Cerpa.

Discography:

Canciones de las dos orillas (CCPC, 1989)

El cantar viene de viejo (Manzana, 1992)

Querido Néstor (CCPC, 1994)

La Rosa de los vientos (Nubenegra, 1996)

Viento de la isla (EMI-Odeon, 1998)

Mestisay (Sintonia, 2001)

Canciones del Sur (Ibermemory, 2003)

Toda una vida (2005)

Poeta en la isla (Factoria Autor, 2006)

Querido Néstor II (2006)

El Cabaret del Capitan Varela (La Central, 2008)

Pequeño fado y otras canciones de amor (La Central, 2009)

Atlantico Radio (Mestisay, 2012)

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Artist Profiles: Mercedes Peón

Mercedes Peón

Mercedes Peón who was born in La Coruña (Galicia, Spain) in 1967 has dedicated many years to recovering traditional music in her native Galicia and to teaching it in town schools and cultural associations. She has pioneered the formation of various female groups of singers and tambourine players.

Peón has also fronted several prestigious musical bands in Galicia and hosted a section about early Galician music on the local TV show Luar (Homeland).

As a music researcher, she published a book by installments titled Raiceiras (Roots women) that contains part of her field work in collecting songs. Peón has lectured on Galician folk music throughout the world and has received numerous awards for her teaching and her dedication to preserving the Galician tradition. “Ever since I was fortunate enough to fall In love with the songs of the people of Imense (a small town on the Galician “Death Coast”) I have spent years searching for those tunes that only the eldest among us can still remember because much as we may regret it over these last generations the oral transmission chain has been broken both here and In most of the world.”

The multitalented artist runs a record label called Discotrompo that promotes Galician traditional and folk music. Peón has also organized several festivals among them the traditional music festival for the Federation of European Cultural Associations and another called “Galicia Terra Unica”.

As a performer, as well as an accomplished singer, she is also a master of Galician bagpipes and of several traditional percussion instruments. Peón was awarded the special jury award in the Cídade Vella festival in Santiago de Compostela, the prize tobest singer and bagpipe performer at the Santiago de Compostela Folk Days and the Macallan award for Galician pipers at Lorient’s Festival Interceltique.

Peón has performed at many festivals throughout the world and she appeared as a guest on recordings and in live performances by artists such as Xosé Manuel Budiño, Manu Chao and Carlos Núñez.
Isué was her first solo album split between arrangements of traditional pieces and her own multicultural original compositions featuring a wide array of traditional Galician and international musical instruments combined with modern instruments. “… these years have witnessed the birth of a new phenomenon more commercial than cultural called “Celtism” which has assimilated apart from tunes from the Northern territories the pieces that were being composed by new Galician artists who took our traditional music as a springboard.

The fact is that by chance or design during this time I have had the pleasure to discover music from other ethnic groups especially from North Africa and find in them so many affinities both in rhythm and expression with our melodies that I have good reason hr wanting to look further south (or North if we refer to Africa) for musical connection and communion. Nevertheless I plead “not guilty” if this new album is wrongly categorized (though everybody is free to pigeonhole it as they wish).

That said I myself must face the ever-complicated task of defining what this new venture into the realms of music means for me. I humbly consider that this record made with all my loving care expresses many of the things I have learned and my knowledge of the Galician oral tradition (no doubt my understanding of it and my means of expression are the channel for these feelings I let fly from deep within me to whoever wishes to share them).

I should also stress that in order to place it stylistically it could be defined as fusion music for as I said before current trends move in that direction mixing modernity with the oldest sounds and creating somewhat paradoxically totally innovative sounds with intimate harmonies that do not leave aside the frenzied rhythm of Galician traditional patterns such as “ribeiranas” and “empunadas”.

To cut it short these are sincere and complicated melodies matching oldness with modernity and so on. But above all the work is infused with passion and love. My advice therefore is that you listen to ‘it and then say what you will.”

Discography:

Isué (Resistencia RESCD106, 2000)
Arjú (Discmedi DM 838-02, 2003)
Sihá (Discmedi DM 4325-02, 2007)
Sós (Do Fol, 2010)

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Nordic Klezmer

Louisa Lyne & Di Yiddishe Kapelye – A Farblondzhete Blondinke

Louisa Lyne & Di Yiddishe Kapelye – A Farblondzhete Blondinke (Maestro Music MMCD004, 2015)

Malmö-based vocalist and composer Louisa Lyne has focused most of her career on Yiddish songs and their history. Her album A Farblondzhete Blondinke (A Blonde Astray) features traditional and original songs and instrumental compositions. She performs with her regular band, Di Yiddishe Kapelye. The musical arrangements are closer to chamber classical music than klezmer folk music featuring strings, grand piano and accordion.

Louisa Lyne has a fascinating vocal style that goes with the exquisite fiddles, guitar and piano instrumentation.

The lineup on A Farblondzhete Blondinke includes Louisa Lyne on vocals; Edin Bahtijaragic on accordion, cajón, vibraphone, glockenspiel; Robin Lyne on guitar and backing vocals; Irina Binger on violin; Martin Eriksson on double bass; Anders Thorén on grand piano; Anna Thorstensson on cello and backing vocals.

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Shams: Tajik Jazz

Baraka – Shams

Baraka – Shams (Sketis Music, 2015)

Shams is a 2-CD set by Latvian band Baraka. They describe their music ethno jazz, a term used in Eastern Europe to describe fusions of jazz and world music. Baraka’s sound is rooted in Tajik traditions as well as jazz. Most of the material on Shams are smooth jazz songs featuring vocals by Devika Evsikova spiced up with acoustic musical instruments from Tajikistan, India and other parts of the world.

The highlights of the album are the Tajik funk sections along with the tasty electric piano, sitar and rubob solos.

The lineup includes Devika Evsikova on vocals, bass; Dmitry Evsikov on all percussion, arrangements; Artem Sarvi on piano, keyboards, arrangement; Deniss Pashkevich on flute, sax, bass clarinet, Egor Kovaikov on guitar, sitar, rubob, setor, dutor, vocal; Madars Kalninš on piano, keyboards; Viktor Ritov piano, keyboards; Raivo Stašans on saxophone; Valery Korotkov on piano, synths, arrangements; Omed Dost on vocals; Normund Piesis on flugelhorn, trumpet; Sergey Gasanov on saz, dilruba, duduk, vocals; Zigmund Žukovsky on bass; Alijon Boynazarov on rap; Govinda Tiwari on vocals; Alex Suris on accordion; Basel Wehbe on vocala; and Vilnis Kundrats on saxophone.

The set comes nicely packaged in a hard cover sleeve with a CD booklet that includes illustrations and credits.

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Stambeli through a Jazz Perspective

Nasheet Waits, Vincent Ségal, and Yacine Boularès – Abu Sadiya

Nasheet Waits, Vincent Ségal, and Yacine Boularès – Abu Sadiya (Accords Croisés, 2017)

Abu Sadiya is a jazz album inspired by Stambeli, a type of healing trance music from Tunisia that was developed by Sub-Saharan slaves. This international collaboration features musicians from Tunisia, France and the United States. Abu Sadiya recreates the traditional Tunisian sounds through an avant-garde jazz prism. You’ll find jazz improvisation along with rhythms similar to the gnawa.

The lineup includes Yacine Boularès on saxophones, clarinet; Vincent Segal on cello; and Nasheet Waits on drums.

The hard cover album includes a mini-book with photos, illustrations and liner notes in English and French.

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Melodic Kora Designs

Kane Mathis – Counterpoints

Kane Mathis – Counterpoints (2017)

American composer and multi-instrumentalist Kane Mathis has been a student and player of the West African kora for many years. On Counterpoints he delivers a set of 6 musical pieces played on a Mandinka Magic kora, crafted by luthier Jeffrey Bodony.

Counterpoints includes 4 traditional Mandinka melodies along with two original compositions, “Mamaandi” and “Sila Mesengo” by Mathis.

Counterpoints is a remarkable collection of solo pieces on the 21-string West African harp known as kora.

The album is available from kanemathis.bandcamp.com

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Artist Profiles: Mercan Dede

Mercan Dede

 

World Beat musician and producer Arkin Ilicali, better known as Mercan Dede, cleverly fuses the Eastern spiritual traditions of Sufi music with the contemporary sounds of ambient and chill out music to create a mix of old and new, East and West. An adherent of mystical Sufi spirituality, Turkish-born and Montreal-based Mercan Dede brings his holistic understanding of sound and the rhythms of nature to his interpretations of traditional Sufi music as well as his original compositions.

Mercan Dede believes that when you put digital electronic sounds together with hand-made human ones, you can create universal language capable of uniting old and young, ancient and modern. ‘Those things are not really separate ‘ says Dede. ‘The essence of Sufism is counterpoint. Everything exists with its opposite. On one side I am doing electronic music. The other side of that is this really acoustic traditional music.’

Raised poor in a Turkish village in the 197s Dede recalls the moment when listening to the radio as a six-year-old he fell in love with the sound of the ney. But even when he moved to Istanbul to study journalism he could not afford an instrument so he made his first one from a length of plastic plumbing pipe. Although he eventually found a ney teacher Dede did not pursue music as a career. He was more deeply involved with photography and by chance an official at the Saskatoon Public Library in Canada saw some of his work and invited him to come and do an exhibition.

Dede wound up studying multimedia in Saskatoon and he worked in a bar to earn rent money. That was where he first encountered the art of deejaying. One day the bar’s deejay couldn’t make it and Dede stepped in. The techno revolution was just beginning and Dede was getting in on the ground floor.

By the mid-1980s he was traveling to do ‘technotribalhouse’ deejay gigs under the name Arkin Allen. He debuted as Mercan Dede in 1996 when he released his first album Sufi Dreams recorded for Golden Horn Records in San Francisco. The album was a minimalist techno project featuring the ney flute and it earned impressive reviews.

A few years later, Dede moved to Montreal where he first studied then taught at Concordia College moving ever more forcefully into the growing techno scene. Recordings he made under the name Mercan Dede got noticed in Istanbul and a festival invited him to perform expecting an older gentleman as Dede means ‘grandfather’ in Turkish. When people saw a young band mixing techno and tradition they were exhilarated and Dede has stuck with this adapted name ever since.

Dede formed his first group in 1997 and created more recordings, Journeys of a Dervish (Golden Horn 1999), Seyahatname (Doublemoon 2001) and Nar (Doublemoon 2002). From the start, the group was more an idea than a set lineup. ‘I always get different musicians ‘ says Dede ‘all the time. When I do a European tour each country I choose a guest musician from that country. This is the essence of the group.’ The Canadian TV station Bravo filmed and aired Dede’s concert with Turkish master kemence (Persian violin) player Ihsan Ozgen at the Canadian Museum of Civilization in the Fall of 1998. German television producers Saarlandischer Rundfunk were so attracted by Dede’s music that they traveled to Canada to feature him in their documentary about Sufi Music. While filming Dede at work in Montreal and Toronto in February of 1998 the producers requested that Dede create the soundtrack for this project. Mercan Dede’s album Seyahatname includes pieces composed for a dance theater project directed and choreographed by Beyhan Murphy for the Turkish State Modern Dance Troupe.

 

Mercan Dede

 

In July 2001 Mercan Dede performed at the highly acclaimed Montreal Jazz Festivals sharing the General Motors Big Event stage with Burhan Ocal and Jamaaladeen Tacuma in a concert called ‘East Meets the West’ before an audience of more than 15 people. On that same evening, right after his concert, he appeared at Spectrum this time performing with his project Montreal Tribal Trio again as part of the festival program. In 2002 the group electrified the World Music Expo (WOMEX) world music trade fair in Essen Germany and also the International Transmusicales Festival in Rennes.

The group’s 2004 U.S. debut took place at Joe’s Pub in New York in January 24 as part of the city’s groundbreaking world music marathon GlobalFest. Mercan Dede also provided music for Pina Bausch’s “Istanbul”’ performed in the city it was named for in the spring of 2003.

Mercan Dede was invited to play at GlobalFest (APAP Conference) in New York in January 2004 where 16 different bands from 5 continents play. He was commissioned by the Turkish Ministry of Culture as the music director of the Goldestan Project. The project is destined to represent Turkish Culture and Arts all around the Globe.

 

Mercan Dede

 

Combining the artist’s first two albums on Doublemoon (‘Seyahatname’ and ‘Nar’) ‘Sufi Traveler’ was the first Mercan Dede widely distributed release in USA. The double album followed a North American tour in the summer 2004 including the 27th annual Vancouver Folk Festival (Canada), Stern Grove Festival (San Francisco), Grand Performances (Los Angeles), Joe’s Pub at the Public Theatre Celebrate Brooklyn.

UNESCO announced 2007 as World Mevlana Year during which Mercan Dede released 800, an album in homage to Rumi’s 800th birthday. After a six year hiatus, his album Earth was released to critical acclaim featuring guest vocals by Azam, Ali Sabahat Akkiraz and a sample of Gandhi’s first and only speech recorded in 1923.

 

 

Discography:

Sufi Dreams (Golden Horn, 1998)

Journeys of a Dervish (Golden Horn, 1999)

Nar (Doublemoon, 2002)

Seyahatname (Doublemoon, 2002)

Sufi Traveler (High Times Records, 2004)

Su (RH Pozitif Muzik 2004/Escondida Music, 2005)

Breath (White Swan, 2007)

800 (2007)

Dunya (2013)

Website: www.mercandede.com

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Timelessly Crafted Welsh Songs

Gwyneth Glyn – Tro (bendigedig BENDI1, 2017)

Tro is the first release on a new label called bendigedig which is dedicated to Welsh music talent. The first album is by rising talent Gwyneth Glyn. On Tro, songwriter, poet and musician Gwyneth Glyn delivers a set of original, intimate acoustic songs sung in Welsh and English. It’s a fascinating mix of Welsh traditions with world music elements from India and Africa. Acclaimed kora player Seckou Keita makes a guest appearance on the album.

The lineup on Tro includes Gwyneth Glyn on vocals and guitar; Rowan Rheingans on banjo, bansitar, violin, vocals; Seckou Keita on kora; Patrick Rimes on violins; Gillian Stevens on viol, crwth; Jordan Price Williams on double bass; Mark O’Connor on drums, percussion; Dylan Fowler on guitar, mandocello, dobro, kantele, tabwrdd, mbira, electric bass; and Dan Lawrence on shruti.

Tro is an impeccable example of open minded folk music craftsmanship.

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