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: Mayte Martin

Mayte Martin

Mayte Martin is one of the most versatile cantaoras (flamenco singers) of her generation. She is capable of performing the most difficult styles of her repertoire with equal talent and without falling for the clichés linked to flamenco cante. She takes time to explore all of the possibilities for beauty and expression in each cante.

For her interpretive work is above all an exercise in ̶interior listening” a kind of mental composition that must later be re-created with the voice. Mayte controls the ̶micro-intervals”, the melismas that are interspersed between prolonged notes and that give her cante a fluidity and an unusual melodic elegance.

Mayte exudes an expressive and personal style founded on a classic base. Mayte recorded a boleros album with Tete Montoliú and wrote a handful of songs for string quintets before meeting the dancer Belén Maya. Their meeting resulted in the forging of one of the most important and unusual artistic unions in today’s flamenco.

Mayte’s recording, Querencia, with Drac-Virgin Records, provides an in-depth look at the essence of cante and Mayte’s own restlessness as an artist.

Querencia adds rhythmic emphasis without falling into festive clichés. It gives melodiousness to the most solemn of flamenco styles without loosing a speck of depth.

Translated by Rita Granda

Discography:

Muy Fragil (K Industria Cultural, 1994)
Free Boleros (K Industria Cultural, 1996)
Querencia (Virgin Records, 2000)
Tiempo de Amar (Virgin Records, 2002)
De fuego y de agua (KLM, 2008)
Al cantar a Manuel (Nuevos Medios, 2009)
Cosas de dos (2012)

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Artist Profiles: Maxi Priest

Maxi Priest

Maxi Priest (born Max Alfred Elliott on June 1, 196) is a favorite among reggae lovers. Of West Indian descent and the second youngest of nine children he was born in Lewisham, London. His musical journey began as a young child who listened to a variety of musical genres ranging from gospel to reggae and pop.

Priest gained entry into the music world in the mid-1980s when he was given the opportunity to sing over live dancehall sessions with artists like Smiley Culture. In 1984 he became well-known after co-producing Philip Levi’s ‘Mi God Mi King ‘ with Paul ‘Barry Boom’ Robinson which was the first UK reggae song to hit number one in Jamaica.

His 1988 album Maxi gained him worldwide recognition. Priest recorded the album in Jamaica and worked with legendary artists Sly Dunbar, Robbie Shakespeare and Willie London and was released in the United States by Virgin Records. Maxi gained his first U.S. smash hit with ‘Some Guys Have All the Luck,’ a cover of Cat Steven’s classic ‘Wild World.’

In 1990 Priest released Bonafide. It went gold and contained the single ‘Close To You’ that was number one on the Billboard Hot 100 singles and number two on the Hot R&B Singles chart.

1991 was a great year for Maxi Priest. He did collaborations with Roberta Flack, ‘Set The Night To Music’ and with Shabba Ranks. He ended the year with the release of a compilation CD titled Best of Me combining songs from his four previous albums.

In 1996 Maxi released Man with the Fun which contained ‘That Girl’ a duet with Shaggy that went on to become a Grammy Nominated track and the accompanying video, directed by Hype Williams became an MTV favorite.

CombiNation released in 1999 crossed multiple genres and had numerous artists and producers such as Sly & Robbie, Robert Livingston Simon Law, and Joe. The album even featured Red Rat and Degree in ‘She Wants to Dance ‘ which added a mix of dancehall flavor to the CD.

His album 2 the Max (2005) includes dancehall hits like ‘Full Hundred’ and ‘Sweat A Go Buss.’

Maxi Priest is one the most successful solo reggae artists in the world.

Discography:

You’re Safe (Charisma, 1985)
Intentions (EMI, 1986)
Maxi (Virgin, 1988)
Bonafide (Charisma, 1990)
Fe Real (Charisma, 1992)
Man with the Fun (Virgin, 1996)
CombiNation (Virgin, 1999)
2 the Max (Relentless, 2005)
Refused (Peppermint Jam, 2007)
Easy to Love (VP Record, 2014)

website: www.MaxiPriest.com

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Artist Profiles: Mawwal

Jim Matus

Mawwal is a collective based in the northeastern United States. The musician behind the project is composer and instrumentalist Jim Matus who plays various types of lutes.

Mawwal performs mostly original material by Matus inspired by various global traditions such as the music of India, North America and Eastern Europe and the rhythms of the Middle East and Africa. Matus is involved in numerous other projects.

Discography:

This Is All There Is There Is No Other Place (Ancient Records, 2008)

Sight Up (Ancient Records, 2011)

High Hills in the Creaving Road (Ancient Records, 2012)

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Uncovered Somali Tapes from Hargeisa

Various Artists – Sweet As Broken Dates: Lost Somali Tapes from the Horn of Africa (Ostinato Records, 2017)

Sweet As Broken Dates: Lost Somali Tapes from the Horn of Africa is a remarkable project compiled by Vik Sohonie & Nicolas Sheikholeslami. They combed through tapes rescued from Radio Hargeisa before it was destroyed during the Somali Civil War in the 1980s.

The cassettes were hidden away abroad to protect them from bombings. Part of this collection, has returned to its original location and are now part of the 10,000 cassette tape archive of the Red Sea in Somaliland’s capital, Hargeisa. The Ostinato Records producers digitized a large part of the archive and selected 15 songs that represent the diversity of Somali music.

You’ll find a joyful mix of genres where pop, soul, funk, jazz, blues, reggae and disco are mixed with traditional Somali, Ethiopian, Arabic, and other influences.

The artists featured include Nimco Jamaac, Aamina Camaari, Ali Nuur, Hibo Nuura, Gacaltooyo Band feat. Faduumina Hilowle, Iftiin Band feat. Mahmud Abdalla “Jerry” Hussen & Maryan Naasir, Xasan Diiriye, Dur Dur Band feat. Sahra Dawo, Sharaf Band feat. Xaawo Hiiraan, 4 Mars, Danan Hargeysa feat. Mohamed “Huro” Abdihashi, Sharero Band feat. Faadumo Qaasim, Waaberi Band (composed by Said Mohamed Harawo), Dur Dur Band feat. Muqtar Idi Ramadan, and Iftiin Band feat. Mahmud Abdalla “Jerry” Hussen.

The album cover (and the video below) shows a modern woman with an afro and earrings. It was a time were women were free to dress as they pleased, before the conservative clerics took over most of Somalia, forcing women into burkas, nikabs and hijabs.

 

 

 

Buy Sweet As Broken Dates: Lost Somali Tapes from the Horn of Africa in Europe

Buy Sweet As Broken Dates: Lost Somali Tapes from the Horn of Africa in the rest of the world

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Uho Vocal Wizardry

Tuuletar – Uho

Tuuletar – Uho (Bafe’s Factory, 2017)

Finnish vocal music wizards Tuuletar have anew single titled Uho. The four talented women once more perform all vocal and percussive sounds with their voices. The Uho disc features the new track “Uho” plus two tracks from a previous album. “Uho” mixes traditional forms with hiphop.

Tuuletar stand out when they mix regular vocals with their vocal effects. The rapping doesn’t add much value. In fact, song 2 “Tuu Keraa” from “Tules Maas Vedes Taivaal” is more attractive, where the quartet combines classic vocals with something tha sounds like electronic dance music performed with vocals.

Likewise, track 3, “Odotan,’ is excellent, combining traditional influences with modern beats.

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Artist Profiles: Matto Congrio

Matto Congrio

Matto Congrio was one of the most important modern Celtic bands in Galicia (Spain) in the early 1990s. Its only album Matto Congrio released in 1993 was an exciting combination of Galician Celtic music with Irish music, rock, salsa, samba and reggae. The album was recorded in Dublin and featured top Irish musicians as guests, including Paddy Moloney on the uilleann pipes.

The group’s founders Carlos Núñez, Santiago Cribeiro and Anxo Lois Pinto were all graduates of the Obradoiro Escola de Gaitas e Zanfonas de Vigo (Vigo School of Bagpipes and Hurdy Gurdies) the most important school in the development of new Galician musicians. After Matto Congrio disbanded Carlos Núñez went on to become one of the most sought after pipers and flautists in international Celtic music. In addition to touring worldwide with The Chieftains he has recorded solo albums for major labels and is a frequent guest in many recordings.

Former Matto Congrio members Santiago Cribeiro, Anxo Lois Pinto and Isaac Palacin formed a new group called Berrogüetto which became one of the top contemporary Galician folk music bands.

Musicians:

Santiago Cribeiro – accordion, piano, keyboards

Anxo Lois Pinto – violin, bagpipe, soprano sax

Diego Bouzon – Spanish and electric guitars

Isaac Palacin – drums percussion

Carlos Núñez – flutes and bagpipes

Pancho Alvarez – bass mandolin guitar

Discography:

Matto Congrio (Lyricon, 1993)

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Remarkable Folk-Rock Renaissance

Offa Rex – The Queen of Hearts (Nonesuch Records, 2017)

Offa Rex is a fascinating collaboration between English vocalist, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Olivia Chaney and multi-faceted American rock band The Decemberists. Their extraordinary debut album The Queen of Hearts and it is deeply inspired by the great English folk-rock wave of the 1970s. Offa Rex adds elements of psychedelia, folk-rock, Americana, contemporary folk music, progressive folk, and even hard rock, creating a sound that bridges the past and modernity.

The material used in Offa Rex is primarily traditional English, Irish and Scottish songs. You’ll find upbeat, sing along songs, together with mesmerizing songs such as “The Gardener,” highlighting the gifted vocals of Olivia Chaney.

 

 

 

 

Offa Rex is touring this summer. Next dates:

8/08 — Vancouver, BC at Orpheum Theater*
8/09 — Calgary, AB at MacEwan Hall*
8/12 — Missoula, MT at Travelers’ Rest Festival
8/13 — Missoula, MT at Travelers’ Rest Festival
8/15 — Salt Lake City, UT at Red Butte Garden*
8/17 — Oakland, CA at Fox Theater*
8/19 — Jacksonville, OR at Britt Festival*

*Olivia Chaney opening for The Decemberists’ shows

Buy The Queen of Hearts

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Artist Profiles: Matlubeh

Matlubeh

Matlubeh is known as the turquoise of Uzbekistan. Her voice has such a large range that she is able to move freely from classical music shahsmaqam to folk music.

Originally from a Tajik village near Samarkand she sings in her native tongue as well as in Uzbek (a language closer to Turkish as opposed to Tajik which is more related to Persian. From the age of four she accompanied her mother who was later to become her first singing coach. “In my family music is in the blood,” she says. “My mother would take her dayera and sing with the accompaniment of her children at all sorts of occasions like wedding ceremonies etc ..). There were ten of us children and my mother hoped with all her heart that one of us would grow up to be a musician. When I was little I listened to the radio and imitated great classical singers. I wrote songs and sang them while we picked cotton. I owe all of my success to my mother and her advice. I think of her words before each concert: “You must sing so that your voice can reach its highest point and give its fullest strength.”

Matlubeh is a good example of how musical transmission operates in the Uzbek tradition. While her mother was a folk music singer in a village Matlubeh went on to become one of the greatest singers of classical and folk music in Uzbekistan. When Uzbek television featured a documentary on her life it did not fail to pay homage to her mother who at that time had already passed away but is considered one of the greatest representatives of the folk tradition.

After five years of music study at the Music University and conservatory of Tashkent the young singer began to perform with The Shashmaqam Ensemble of Radio Uzbekistan. She is now the soloist of this ensemble. When she is complimented on her vocal technique she is quick to praise her professors: “I owe everything to my mentors Aref Khan Haternov and Turgun Alimatov.”

Currently as she continues her engagement with radio she performs and records with Turgun Alimatov one of the last masters of classical music. After a private concert in his garden in Tashkent Turgun Alimatov pointed to Matlubeh and said: “I have tried to give everything I know to this student. She is my hope for the future.”

As a singer originally from the Samarkand and region who lives in Tashkent, Matlubeh sings both the classical and folk music of the two regions.

Discography:

Turquoise of Samarkand (Long Distance, 1996)
Yar Kelour (Iris Musique, 2000)

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Artist Profiles: Mary Youngblood

Mary Youngblood

Native American flute player Mary Youngblood was born on June 24, 1958 in Kirkland, Washington. Mary has Aleut and Seminole ancestry. She is one of the first Native women to record this sacred instrument, a role that has traditionally limited to men. Classically trained on several instruments Mary Youngblood has been playing the flute for over two decades.

Youngblood has a lifetime of musicianship behind her, starting with piano lessons at age six and guitar at ten; she is also a renowned classically trained flutist.

As an adult, when Youngblood received her first wooden Native flute she was compelled to pursue this ancient instrument traditionally played only by men. She has been honored with numerous awards and furthers her craft and knowledge of music and her Native traditions through teaching.

Her 5th album Dance with the Wind came out on May 23 2006 on Silver Wave Records. Inspired by the wisdom of nature Mary writes: “The trees have given a voice to me the voice that sings to you now.” Her eclectic musical style evokes feelings of freedom and gratitude for the blessings of life.

I am simply a vessel between Creator and this sacred instrument the Native American Flute. Listen with an open heart and you will hear the whispers of the Ancient Ones. May their timeless voices soothe your soul.”

Discography:

The Offering (Silver Wave Records, 1998)
Heart of the World (Silver Wave Records, 1999)
Beneath the Raven Moon (Silver Wave Records, 2002)
Feed the Fire (Silver Wave Records, 2004)
Dance with the Wind (Silver Wave Records, 2006)
Sacred Place: A Mary Youngblood Collection (Silver Wave Records, 2008)

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Artist Profiles: Mary Ann Kennedy

Mary Ann Kennedy

Mary Ann Kennedy, daughter of singer Kenna Campbell was born and brought up in Glasgow in a house where Gaelic was the language of the home and in a community where speaking two languages was the norm even if not everyone spoke the same second language.

Mary Ann trained as a classical musician alongside Radio Scotland ‘Grace Notes’ presenter Jamie MacDougall and remembers accompanying him on the clarsach on many occasions while he was still a sweet-voiced angelic boy soprano. Her first love though is the traditional music that has surrounded her all her life and after several years in the BBC newsrooms she has returned to freelance broadcasting and performing choosing to base herself in the Highland capital city of Inverness.

One of a select number of singers to have won both Gold Medals at the National Mod, she is also twice winner of the International Celtic Harp competition in Lorient Brittany. Mary Ann was given a Saltire Award for Lasair Dhe the finale of the 1999 Highland Festival involving Cliar and Gaelic choirs from all over the Highlands and Islands. She is a member of the band Cliar hailed as ‘one of the most beautiful sounds in 21st Century Scotland’ and is a partner in the Skye-based record label Macmeanmna (Gaelic for imagination).

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