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: Hejira

Hejira features original compositions by Don Baragiano representing an eclectic musical blend which bridges diverse cultures from; Middle Eastern, Russian, African, Eastern European and other ethnic styles to classical and jazz … mix in a bit of blues, rock, and flamenco … all on top of a strong multinational earthy beat.

Instrumentation includes guitar, violin, balalaika, African Talking Drum, dumbek, jembe, zils, calabash (gourd), bass, keyboards, digital guitar synthesizer & more.

Don Baragiano’s musical influences include The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Frank Zappa, Leo Kottke, the Who, Ravi Shankar, etc. After many guitar lessons and high school music theory classes Don studied Classical/Jazz guitar at the University of Cincinnati’s College Conservatory of Music & at Northern Kentucky University’s Music Department. While working for the US Treasury Department in Saudi Arabia on a 2 year assignment he was granted a private audience with their top musician Hamzah Mohammed Al Bashir. Don’s musical training and life-love of ethnic cultures have resulted in this enticing World Music fusion project Hejira, founded in seattle in 2001. He later moved to the Ithaca, New York area.

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Artist profiles: Hazmat Modine

Hazmat Modine

Hazmat Modine is a band of unconventional musical instruments and cultural combinations that reflect the origins of the American musical soul. Their debut CD was Bahamut (Barbes Records 2006).

The band is led by two harmonica-players rounded out with tuba drums guitars and trumpet and recruits guests appearing on lesser-known instruments such as the claviola (an unusual free-reed instrument), cimbalom (a large hammered dulcimer of Eastern European origin), the contra-bass, saxophone and the sheng (Chinese mouth organ).

The band plays an unexpected mix that may include Blues, Rocksteady or Gypsy music. “If you want to be faithful to the music forms that made American music great,” says Hazmat leader Wade Schuman. “You have to be faithful to what made it great not to the music forms themselves. American music is by its essence music that comes out of the so-called melting pot of different cultures banging up against each other. And that was the creative aspect.”

Schuman explains that the first real Blues hit ‘St. Louis Blues’ by W.C. Handy included a minor-key tango section. “That is one of the things that makes the song what it is,” says Schuman. He points to the significant influence of Latin and Caribbean music in the 1930s and the huge influx of immigrants into New York City. “There were few studios in Trinidad ‘ explains the harmonica-player vocalist and guitarist. ‘Most Calypso musicians were recording in New York so many of the early Calypso recordings were related in some way to America. The point is that we live in a nostalgic commodified world where we believe that Rock and Roll or Bluegrass or Dixieland are rigid music forms not influenced by outside factors. But that is not the history of how American music happened. It’s really quite dynamic and based on a phenomenal cultural shift in the early part of the 20th century.”

At the same time Schuman recognizes that regions of the United States each had their own local flavor. “Without television and with limited national radio things didn’t homogenize as fast,” said Schuman. “Things would gestate in a lot of creative ways in different locations. Here in New York there are these individual music scenes full of incredible musicians. And I do try to tap into all these different spheres.”

Hazmat’s band members come out of many backgrounds. Guitarist Pete Smith will often give a song a Cuban or Brazilian spin. Veteran tuba player Joseph Daley not only brings a wealth of knowledge from his work as an improvising artist but is also respected as one of the United States’most creative ‘lower brass specialists.’ Drummer Richard Huntley hops from Latin and Jazz to Klezmer while Pamela Fleming uses her vibrant trumpet to bridge everything from the Swing era to soulful Reggae. Guitarist Michael Gomez who plays every style from finger-picking to Swing-Jazz to Rock and Roll also plays the Banjitar and the lap steel guitar. While Schuman’s harmonica repertoire evolved out of Pre-War Blues and roots Randy Weinstein draws on Chicago Blues Jazz and World Music.

The small diatonic harmonica was popularized in Germany as a folk instrument, almost a toy. It was sold in massive quantities and was affordable to American Southerners, both African-American and European-American. “They pulled from it things it was never meant to do,” explains Schuman. “Bending a note is an accident of physics creating that glissando blue note. An instrument designed for one thing is used in a different way and a new music form is invented for it.” The harmonica pictured on the cover of the debut CD Bahamut is a real instrument from Schuman’s collection and offers a visual metaphor for the band.

Discography

Bahamut (Barbès Records/JARO, 2006)
Cicada (Barbès Records/JARO, 2011)
Hazmat Modine Live (JARO, 2014)
Extra-Deluxe-Supreme (JARO, 2015)

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Artist profiles: Hazelius Hedin

Hazelius Hedin – Photo by Rickard Eriksson

Two of Sweden’s most established folk musicians make up the duo Hazelius Hedin. Esbjorn Hazelius and Johan Hedin both grew up in the south of Sweden where the traditional couple dance slangpolska is prevailing.

They search all over Sweden for their repertoire which includes everything from medieval ballads sailor songs love ballads and instrumental dance tunes. Moreover Hazelius and Hedin pass on the tradition through their own compositions. They arrange the music carefully often inspired by Esbjorn’s Irish tradition of music arranging and they constantly look for new instrumental harmonies.

Discography:

Om du ville människa heta (2011)
Sunnan (2014)

website: hazeliushedin.com

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Artist profiles: Haytham Safia

Haytham Safia

Haytham Safia, born in 1980, is an Arab-Israeli from Jerusalem. His passion for the Ud started at an early stage.

In 2001 he made his debut as a performer in The Netherlands where he acquired a firm position in the musical ensemble accompanying the Galili Dance Group; they toured throughout Europe.

In 2002 he graduated with distinction at the Academy of Music and Dance in Jerusalem. With Joshua Samson and Tony Overwater he performed at the Cultura Nova Festival in Heerlen September 2003. In February 24 he played as a soloist with the Holland Symphonia in the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam.

In November 2004 he participated in a workshop in the Rasa (Utrecht) for the Lute festival with another eight musicians from different nationalities.

Haytham Safia is in essence a classical Arabic musician but his compositions and music are influenced by other musical styles such as Persian, Balkan and jazz music.

He established his own group The Haytham Safia Quartet which consists of four musicians from different backgrounds: a Dutch, German and an African. The group performs Haytham’s original compositions that encompass both his performance experience and academic training while still true to his Arab roots.

Discography:

Fresh Moods

Kind of no blues

U’Duet

Hela Hela

No Complication

Lumen

Promises

Ya Dunya

Blossom

Farewell Shalabiye

DU’D

website: haythamsafia.com

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Artist profiles: Haydamaky

Haydamaky

The Haydamaky began their career in 1991 shortly after Ukraine declared its independence from the Soviet Union. At that time the band was known as Aktus and played mostly local gigs in the underground Kyiv (Kiev) music scene. In the absence of a fertile popular local music scene Aktus turned to the sounds of reggae, ska and punk music for a fresh alternative.
The group was also attracted to the political effect that these genres had on their society. The idea that through music significant social change is possible gave greater purpose to the performance of such musical styles. The discovery of these musical genres later became the key to their own realization of a specifically Ukrainian musical style. Haydamaky’s hope is to forge an inherently Ukrainian popular music style which looks back on its own heritage and traditions as a source for inspiration.

With the addition of sopilka-vocalist Olexandr Yarmola and accordionist Ivan Lenko, both well-known and respected in folk circles the band increasingly incorporated elements of Ukrainian folk music into their compositions.

Since the early 1990s Aktus had engaged in constant touring of Europe. Unlike most popular Ukrainian music groups who propagate Soviet style estrada or copies of Western and American styles Aktus sought to introduce elements of Ukrainian folk music through a cross-cultural mix including reggae and ska.

As of early 2003 the group was discovered in Kyiv (Kiev) by EMI International Records out of London England and was immediately signed contractually to their label. At that time the band realized it was time to establish an even firmer tie to their own culture and changed their name to Haydamaky in honor of the historical Haydamaky rebellion/revolution which took place in Ukraine in the 18th century. This rebellion was a reaction of Ukrainian peasants and serfs against repressive foreign occupation.

The band’s second album is Boguslav. This time the group searched even deeper into Ukrainian folk music for material ideas and textures. The ensemble invited violinist Vasyl Hekker perhaps the foremost authority on authentic Ukrainian folk violin style to collaborate on the project. Also bandurist-guitarist Jurij Fedynskyj of New York (USA) relocated to Kyiv to join the ensemble. Since the recording of the first album and till now Haydamaky collaborated with almost every well known Ukrainian folk music musician of older generations.

The music of Haydamaky is inspired by ethnic musics from various regions of Ukraine such as Polissya Bukovyna and Zakarpathia which includes the Gypsy and Jewish tradition along with pure Ukrainian. Other influences include the punk music of the early Pogues and by the reggae of such bands like Burning Spear and Black Uhuru.

The Haydamaky at present are:

Olexandr Jarmola – vocal sopilka
Ivan Leno – accordion zimbaly keyboards
Ruslan Trochinskyj – trombone
Olexandr Dem-anenko – guitars mandolin
Wolodymyr Sherstiuk – bass drymba
Ruslan Ovras – drums percussion
Eugen Goryslawskyj – trumpet
Wlad Grymalskyj – sound engineer live dub mixing

Additional musicians:

Natalka Sebina – vocals
Maria Firsowa – vocals
Jurij Fedynskyj – bandura
Wasyl Gecker – violin

Discography:

Haydamaky (EMI)
Boguslav (EMI)
No More Peace (2013)

www.haydamaky.com

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Artist profiles: Hasu Patel

Hasu Patel

Hasu Patel, a disciple of sitar legend Ustad Vilayat Khan Saheb is one of the few distinguished female artists performing today Classical Music on sitar, the most popular string instrument of India. As a performer, composer, and a teacher, she has dedicated her life to preserving and propagating in its pristine purity the fascinating, highly evolved Classical Music of ancient India.

Born in the culturally rich city of Baroda, India, she began her musical studies in early childhood. Her father was her mentor who instilled the love and discipline needed to become a musician. At the age of 1″, she made her first public appearance. And after many years of rigorous training under her illustrious Gurus Prof. N.B. Kikani and Ustad Anwar Khan Saheb”, she became the first woman to receive a music degree with Gold medal in the 75 years history of the Faculty of Fine Arts Baroda”, India. She has received many awards” scholarships and fellowships including at the age of 21, the first prize winner in the State of Gujarat for the stringed instrument competition held by All India Radio.

Shortly thereafter, she emigrated to the United States, and has pursued music ceaselessly for over two decades. Hasu plays the sitar in a very special style known as ‘Gayaki Ang’ (Singing Style)”, where the sitar replicates fluidity and subtle nuances of the human voice which she learned from her Guru Ustad Vilayat Khan Saheb of Imdad Khani Gharana, whose innovative technique of Gayaki Ang is his most significant contribution to music inheritance.

She has performed the Classical Music of India known as ‘Raga Sangeet’ (scientific” precise, subtle and aesthetic system of melodic notes accompanied with rhythm of tremendous vitality on Tabla”, a pair of two drums) at various Performing Art Centers” Music Conferences, World/Jazz/Country music festivals such as Woodstock’s 30th anniversary and Chicago Jazz festival, universities, radio, television stations, churches, temples, and meditation centers around the country. She has conducted duets with Western Classical and Jazz musicians, many residences, workshops, lecture demonstrations in schools and colleges, and has offered her unique talent to terminally ill patients in hospitals as a music therapy. She has also performed as a musician in Indian Classical dance ensembles.

Hasu is affiliated with Ohio Arts Council (Ohio Artists on Tour 2003-2004), Greater Columbus Arts Council”, Mid-America Arts Alliance and International Alliance of Women in Music. Hasu teaches sitar, tabla, and vocal music to many area students at her Sursangam School of Music as well as credit hours course at Conservatory of Music at Oberlin College of Ohio.

Discography:

Gayaki Sitar (1997)

website: www.hasupatel.com

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Thrilling Oumou Sangaré with a Modern Twist

Oumou Sangaré – Mogoya (No Format!, 2017)

After nearly 10 years since she recorded her last album, the great world music star Oumou Sangaré has a new album titled Mogoya. Oumou is Mali’s finest female and a leading figure in African and world music. She’s also a songwriter who writes most of her material.

Mogoya is a fabulous recording that combines Malian tradition with western trip hop modernity along with some good humor.

Oumou invited trailblazing Nigerian drummer Tony Allen, one of the pioneers of Afrobeat, who adds his memorable signature drum style on “Yere Faga,” a song that provides support to individuals suffering from depression.

 

 

The lineup includes Oumou Sangaré on vocals; Toni Allen on drums; Kandy Guira on backing vocals; Guimba Kouyaté on guitar; Benogo Diakité on kamele ngoni; and French production collective A.L.B.E.R.T. (Vincent Taurelle, Ludovic Bruni and Vincent Taeger), who added cutting edge electronic keyboards and other instruments tastefully.

 

 

Mogoya is an excellent, beautifully-crafted album by Oumou Sangaré, one of the greatest vocalists in Africa. It was well worth the wait.

Buy Mogoya

Buy Mogoya in Europe

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Artist Profiles: Hanneke Cassel

Hanneke Cassel

Raised on the Oregon Coast, Hanneke Cassel began playing violin at eight years-old, but a local fiddle competition inspired her to take up traditional fiddling. A few years later, at fourteen years old, she entered a Scottish fiddle contest, winning the national title. Years later, after numerous trips to Scotland, and studies with the great fiddlers Alasdair Fraser and Buddy MacMaster, she moved to Boston and enrolled at the Berklee College of Music. Going to Berklee in the early days of their groundbreaking strings program, Hanneke has since been at the forefront of a national fiddling revival, helping define the instrument for a new generation.

As a fiddler, Hanneke’s sound is a blend of Scottish and Cape Breton traditions, as well as some early roots in Texas fiddling. But she also draws heavily on experiences working with street kids in Kenya (many of the songs were commissions for them), her numerous trips to China (she lived and taught in Shanghai for a while), and her friends and relationships built around the scene in Boston.

In 214 she released Dot the Dragon’s Eyes, where she is joined by cellist Rushad Eggleston fiddler/violist Jeremy Kittel, cellist Mike Block (her husband), and New England guitarist Keith Murphy. The album also includes vocals from Aoife O’Donovan.

In addition to her solo act, Hanneke tours regularly with Baroque/Celtic group Ensemble Galilei, and has performed with the Cathie Ryan Band, Cherish the Ladies, Alasdair Fraser, and Matt Glaser and the Wayfaring Strangers. She is an active member of Boston-based band Childsplay (featuring over 2 fiddles made by Bob Childs) and co-founder (with Laura Cortese and Lissa Schneckenburger) of Celtic female band Halali.

She teaches regularly at Alasdair Fraser’s Valley of the Moon and Sierra Fiddle Camps, Boston Harbor Fiddle Camp, and the Club Passim School of Music.

Hanneke’s awards include1992 and 1994 U.S. National Jr. Scottish Champion, 1996 Berklee U.S. Scholarship Tour Award, 1996 Oregon State Texas-style Grand Champion 1997 U.S. National Scottish Fiddle Champion, 1998 Berklee College of Music Strings Award, and 28 USA Songwriting Contest (1st place Instrumental and 3rd place Overall).

Discography

The Wee Hours: Future of Scottish Fiddling in America (Gargoyle Records, 1998)
Diary of a Fiddler, with Darol Anger (Compass Records, 1999)
My Joy (Cassel Records, 2001)
Many Happy Returns (Cassel Records, 2003)
Halali, with Halali (Footprint Records, 2003)
Some Melodious Sonnet (Cassel Records, 2004)
The Farthest Wave, with Cathie Ryan (Shanachie, 2005)
Silver (Cassel Records, 2006)
In the Moment, with Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas (Culburnie Records, 2007)
From the Edge of the World, with Ensemble Galilei (2007)
Calm the Raging Sea, with Christopher Lewis (Cassel Records, 2007)
Notes From Across The Sea, with Ensemble Galilei (Ann Mayo Muir, 2009)
Waiting for the Dawn, with Childsplay (Childsplay Records, 2009)
For Reasons Unseen (Cassel Records, 2009)
Dot the Dragon’s Eyes (Cassel Records, 2013)

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Artist Profiles: Groupa

Groupa in 1999

Groupa plays its own brand of modern Swedish folk music. Since 1980, the band has been in the vanguard of the Nordic roots music scene: deeply rooted in tradition, yet always embracing modern instrumentation and improvisation. In the music of Groupa, you find a composed picture of the traditions of yesterday, the whims of today, and the possibilities of tomorrow.

Groupa’s music emanates from the band’s three personalities’ innermost passions. Groupa draw much of their musical inspiration from ‘hallingar’ (a specialty of the Nordic folk song form that could be called a celebratory holler) as well as waltzes and polskas, both traditional and newly-composed. All these elements contribute to the rhythmic drive that gives their music its own tone and color.

Over the years, many important figures in the Nordic music scene have worked with Groupa, including Ale Moller and Lena Willemark from Frifot and the Nordan Project, Hallbus Totte Mattsson from Hedningarna, and Gustav Hylen from Hoven Droven.

In 1991 they were awarded the top Swedish music award for their album Manskratt. The jury’s verdict read: “For pulling the old woolly feeling off folk music with a curious smile!”

In 1992, the band’s founder, Mats Eden, was appointed the Composer of the Year at the “Musik vid Siljan” festival. The band won its second Swedish award (equivalent to the Grammy in the US) in 1996 for their album Imeland.

In 1998, NorthSide marked the band’s achievements with Fifteen Years, a 7-minute collection of some of their finest moments and their first North American record release.

Their blending of old folk melodies, contemporary improvisational style and creative instrumentation has influenced a whole generation of musicians.

Groupa are: Mats Eden on fiddles and accordion; Jonas Simonson on flutes and bass saxophone; and Terje Isungset on percussion.

Discography:

Av Bara Farten (Amigo Music, 1983)
Vildhonung (Amigo Music, 1985)
Utan Sans (Amigo Music AMCD 721, 1988)
Manskratt, with Lena Willemark (Amigo Music AMCD 725, 1990)
Imeland (Amigo AMCD 73, 1995)
Fifteen Years (NorthSide NSD615, 1997), retrospective compilation
Lavalek (Europe: Xource/ North America: NorthSide NSD63, 1999)
Fjalar (Xource 134, 2002)
Frost (Footprint FRCD4, 2008)

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