Category Archives: Artist Profiles

Artist Profiles: Mick Moloney

Mick Moloney

Mick Moloney, a native of County Limerick (Ireland) has been living in the United States since 1973. He holds a PhD in Folklore and Folklife from the University of Pennsylvania and currently teaches at New York University in the Irish Studies Program at Glucksman Ireland House.

Moloney has recorded and produced over fifty albums of traditional music and acted as advisor for scores of festivals and concerts all over the United States. Additionally, Moloney has hosted three nationally syndicated series on folk music for American Public Television; acted as a consultant and performer on the Irish Television special Bringing It All Back Home and was a participant, consultant and music arranger of the PBS documentary film, Out of Ireland.

In 1999 he was awarded the National Heritage Award from the National Endowment for the Arts and in 2002 authored Far From the Shamrock Shore: The Story of Irish American History Through Song.

His Compass Records release highlighting the songs of old New York, McNally’s Row of Flats, won the best traditional music album of the year award from The Irish Echo in 2006 and in 2007 was featured on NPR’s Fresh Air.

Discography

Mick Moloney with Eugene O’Donnell (Green Linnet, 1978)
Strings Attached (Green Linnet, 1980)
Uncommon Bonds (Green Linnet, 1984)
Green Fields of America: Live in Concert (Green Linnet, 1989)
Far from the Shamrock Shore (Shanachie, 2002)
McNally’s Row of Flats (Compass, 2006)
The Green Fields of America (Compass, 2009)
An Irish Christmas (Irish Arts Center, 2011)
Since Maggie Dooley Learned the Hooley Hooley, with The Washington Square Harp and Shamrock Orchestra (2011)
The Ecstasy of St. Cecilia, with Liz Hanley (2013)
Divil of a Noise, with Donie Carroll (Ducksy Records, 2013)

web sites: http://www.mickmoloney.com

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Artist Profiles: Mia Hsieh

Mia Hsieh

Mia Hsieh was born in a port city in Taiwan and now lives in Taipei city. She has been working in the art field and community development for many years. Her movement training includes modern dance, Tai Chi and Indian dance. She has also studied vocal training in traditional Nan-Kwan singing and contemporary vocal performance with Meredith Monk and Lynn Book in New York City, as part of her time there on a Fulbright scholarship.

Mia has developed her own performance style that she calls “singing body” physical theater. She has performed with renowned Taiwanese and international artists in dance, theater, music, visual art and film. She leads several different types of workshops rerlated to creativity and healing through movement and voice.

She is the lead vocalist for Taiwanese world music band A Moving Sound.

Discography:

A Moving Sound (Motema Music)

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Artist Profiles: Mezcla

Mezcla

Mezcla has been an integral part of the Cuban music scene for the past decades. They perform frequently at Havana’s premier jazz club La Zorra y el Cuervo and the Havana Jazz Festival (Jazz Plaza). The ensemble has constantly reinvented itself, highlighting its members’ musical strengths and interests. A multigenerational ensemble, Mezcla brings together several veteran masters with some the best of young jazz players on the scene today, united in their desire to play great music, mindful of their roots, ever looking forward and always joyful. They have a number of recordings under their belt including Akimba! (Khaeon, 2003) and I’ll See You in Cuba (Zoho, 2010).

Born in Oakland, California, Pablo “Mezcla” Menéndez is the son of blues and jazz singer Barbara Dane. Living in Cuba since 1966, he has been involved in many Cuban music projects over the past decades: the Nueva Trova movement (GES with Silvio Rodríguez and Pablo Milanés), the jazz world (Sonido Contemporáneo at the old Club Rio with Gonzalo Rubalcaba and others), Afro-rock and progressive rock group Síntesis (with Carlos and Ele Alfonso) and more.

On the basis of this rich experience, Pablo founded Mezcla in 1985 and has led Mezcla to the present day on countless gigs in Cuba, many international tours to Europe, Latin America and the United States, and on several critically acclaimed recordings.

Pablo has also released a solo project on Zoho Music titled Havana Blues Mambo and has led a United States-based Cuban All Star ensemble for performances at venues such as Regatta Bar in Boston and Yoshi’s in Oakland, California.

Discography

* Somos Hijos De La Mezcla (EGREM, 1988)
* Fronteras de Sueño (Intuition Records, 1990)
* Cantos, with Lázaro Ros (Intuition Records, 1992)
* ¡Rocason! (1997)
* Las Puertas Estan Abiertas (1999)
* Akimba (Khaeon)
* Havana Blues Mambo (Zoho, 2005)
* I’ll See You in Cuba (Zoho, 2010)
* Pure Mezcla (2015)

Web site http://www.cubamezcla.org

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Artist Profiles: Mercedes Sosa

Mercedes Sosa

Mercedes Sosa was born July 9, 1935, in San Miguel de Tucumán, Argentina. She was honored throughout the world as “The Voice of Latin America” and revered in her native Argentina as “a symbol of life and freedom,” Mercedes Sosa was a dynamic, inspiring figure, and one of the most versatile artists on the world music scene. Sosa was also widely known for her message of peace, international integration, defense of human rights and artistic and personal integrity.

After humble beginnings growing up in San Miguel de Tucuman, Mercedes Sosa spearheaded a traditional music and dance movement with her husband called Nuevo Cancionero which declared the materialization of protest music across Argentina and Chile. She served as a political figure of sorts by speaking out for the poor Argentines against military dictatorship and oppressive conditions.

In 1966, Sosa recorded Yo no canto por cantar, beginning a 33 year career with PolyGram Records while continuing to record political music banned from radio broadcasts. Viewed as a serious threat to Argentina’s military regime, Sosa was searched and arrested on stage at a concert in La Plata in 1979. After receiving a series of death threats she was forced into exile seeking refuge in Paris and Madrid, Spain, where she finally settled, but persisted touring the United States, Europe and Brazil.

Sosa made a triumphant return to Argentina in 1982, several months before the military regime collapsed as a result of the Malvines (Falklands) War, and gave a series of concerts at the Opera Theater in Buenos Aires. A live double album made up from these performances became an instant best seller.

In 2005 she released Corazon Libre, produced by renowned musician, vocalist and arranger “Chango” Farias Gómez with Jorge Giuliano (her long-time accompanist) contributing his talents along with leading folk guitarists Luis Salinas, Eduardo Falu, and Alberto Rojo.

Using only simple acoustic guitar arrangements to accompany her legendary vocal style, Sosa went back to her roots and captured the spirit and soul of her homeland. The album contains folk-repertoire classics like “Zamba de Argamonte” and “Tonada del viejo amor,” but focused mainly on contemporary songs by Argentine poets and songwriters, whose lyrical and melancholy verses express a great connection with nature. “Todo Cambia” (Everything Changes), a new version of one of her biggest hits, is a very brave and meaningful song that has turned into a Latin American hymn as voiced by Sosa.

The songs also told of the “suffering earth,” the “forgotten street children,” “lost love,” and the escape into music: “Sometimes I sing ‘Milongas’ when it seems like life won’t go on.” The cover art for the album continued the simplistic theme of the album. It was drawn by friend and fan Joan Baez who gave it to Mercedes Sosa as a gift in 1988.

Through the years she continued to impress fans and critics alike. Mercedes Sosa also won two Latin Grammy Awards in the Best Folk Album category: Misa Criolla (2000) and Acustico (2003).

Mercedes Sosa died October 4, 2009 in Buenos Aires of liver disease. She was 74.

Discography

* Canciones con fundamento (Polygram/Universal, 1965)
* Yo no canto por cantar (Polygram/Universal, 1966)
* Hermano (Polygram/Universal, 1966)
* Para cantarle a mi gente (Polygram/Universal, 1967)
* Con sabor a Mercedes Sosa (Polygram/Universal, 1968)
* Mujeres argentinas (Polygram/Universal, 1969)
* Navidad con Mercedes Sosa (Polygram/Universal, 1970)
* El grito de la tierra (Polygram/Universal, 1970)
* Homenaje a Violeta Parra (Polygram/Universal, 1971)
* Hasta la victoria (Polygram/Universal, 1972)
* Cantata Sudamericana (Polygram/Universal, 1972)
* Traigo un pueblo en mi voz (Polygram/Universal, 1973)
* A que florezca mi pueblo (Polygram/Universal, 1975)
* En direccion del viento (Polygram/Universal, 1976)
* Mercedes Sosa interpreta a Atahualpa Yupanqui (Polygram/Universal, 1977)
* Serenata para la tierra de uno (Polygram/Universal, 1979)
* A quien doy (Polygram/Universal, 1980)
* Gravado ao vivo no Brasil (Polygram, 1980)
* Mercedes Sosa en Argentina (Polygram/Universal, 1982)
* Mercedes Sosa (Polygram/Universal, 1983)
* Como un pajaro libre (Polygram/Universal, 1983)
* Recital (Polygram/Universal, 1983)
* Sera Posible El Sur (Polygram/Universal, 1984)
* Vengo a Ofrecer Mi Corazon (Polygram/Universal, 1985)
* Mercedes Sosa ’86 (Polygram/Universal, 1986)
* Mercedes Sosa ’87 (Polygram/Universal, 1987)
* Amigos Mios (Polygram/Universal, 1988)
* En vivo en Europa (Polygram/Universal, 1990)
* De Mi (Polygram/Universal, 1991)
* 30 Años (Polygram/Verve, 1993)
* Sino (Polygram/Universal, 1993)
* Gestos de Amor (Polygram/Universal, 1994)
* Disco de Oro (Polygram/Universal, 1995)
* Escondido en Mi Pais (Polygram/Universal, 1996)
* Alta fidelidad (Mercury/Universal, 1997)
* Al Despertar (Mercury/Universal, 1998)
* Misa Criolla (2000)
* Acustico (Sony Discos, 2002)
* Corazon Libre (Philips/Edge Music/Deutsche Grammophon/Universal Classics, 2005)

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Artist Profiles: Mei Han

Mei Han

Mei Han is a zheng virtuoso. Presenting music deeply rooted in over two thousand years of Chinese culture, Han is transforming the zheng into a powerful tool for the contemporary international concert stage. She is a consummate performer, appeared with leading artists around the world in a multitude of musical genres from symphonic, chamber and New Music to traditional and World music, or from Creative Improvisation to electronic.

Han studied with China’s top zheng masters Zhang Yan and Gao Zicheng, and performed as a featured soloist for over ten years with the prestigious Beijing Zhan You Ensemble, the premiere ensemble of its type in China. Han went on to become a rare blend of performer and scholar with two Master’s degrees in ethnomusicology, from the Musical Researchb Institute of the Chinese Arts Academy in Beijing (1995), considered internationally the most prestigious institute for Chinese music studies, and from the University of British Columbia (2000).

Han wrote the zheng entry for the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, the premiere music reference book, and has published articles in numerous music journals in both English and Chinese. Han is the director of the Chinese Music Ensemble at the University of British Columbia, founded the Chinese Ensemble at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and has lectured on Chinese music in many universities and music institutes around the world.

A dynamic performer and innovator, Han has been exploring new directions for solo zheng and unique combinations of zheng with other instruments in a contemporary experimental aesthetic. Works written for, and premiered by, Han include the world’s first work for zheng and harpsichord by Janet Danielson performed at the Open Ears Festival 2005; the first work for zheng and string quartet by John Oliver, premiered at the Vancouver Chamber Music Festival 2004 with the Borealis String Quartet; and the first original zheng concerto by Dr. John Sharpley, performed with the China Philharmonic Orchestra in Beijing, 2003.

A commanding virtuoso, Han regularly performs challenging new works by contemporary international composers including compositions by Minoru Miki, Yuji Takahashi, and Barry Truax amongst others.

Han’s career spans Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe, and North America. Her performance highlights include the Kennedy Centre and the Smithsonian Institutions (with Orchid Ensemble). Together with Raine-Reusch, they toured to prestigious venues in Australia (WOMAD), China, Czech Republic, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore (WOMAD), and South Africa.

As an accomplished improviser, Han has performed at major international jazz and experimental music festivals, including the Vancouver International Jazz Festival, Atlantic Jazz Festival, International Festival de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville and the Vancouver New Music Festival.

Han’s first solo CD, Outside the Wall of traditional and contemporary works, received critical acclaim, with airplay on CBC (Canada), BBC (Great Britain), and ABC (Australia). Her collaboration with composer and multi-instrumentalist Randy Raine-Reusch on Distant Wind for zheng duet, and Road to Kashgar with the Orchid Ensemble were nominated for Juno Awards (Best Global).

Han recorded Ume with piano luminary Paul Plimley, creating a rich and original musical language in contemporary jazz aesthetic.

Mei Han was one of the members of Vancouver-based Chinagrass ensemble Red Chamber.

In 2016, Mei Han moved to Tennessee (USA) to direct the Center for Chinese Music and Culture at Middle Tennessee State University.

Discography:

Outside the Wall

Distant Wind, with Randy Raine-Reusch

Road to Kashgar, with the Orchid Ensemble

Ume, with Paul Plimley

Redgrass, with Red Chamber (Za Discs, 2009)

Gathering (Asza Discs ZAN17, 2014)

Classical & Contemporary Chinese Music (ARC Music, 2016)

Web site: www.mei-han.com

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Artist Profiles: May Nasr

May Nasr

A native of Lebanon, May Nasr has been influenced by the songs of the great Fairuz, Zaki Nassif, Ahmad Kaabour, Marcel Khalife, Julia Boutros.

In her early singing career, May was mentored by the renowned sound engineer Farid Abul Kheir, and trained by the great Lebanese singer Zaki Nassif as well as Badia Sabra Haddad, the former voice teacher of Fairuz.

A voice for freedom, justice, equality, humanity and love, May often focuses on the beauty of the Lebanese people in her music, using songs of peace, love and resilience to inspire positive change in local and global Arab communities. A strong voice for social justice as well, Nasr helps support local charities as well as global organizations through the proceeds of her many popular concerts.

She has performed to ecstatic audiences throughout the Middle East and the world. Her first CD, Lil Ghaly, was released in November 2008 and her second recording, Written in Water, with Lourdes Pérez, was released in 2010.

May sings with her guitar, her heart and the beautiful voice with which she has been blessed.” – Zaki Nassif

Discography

* Lil Ghaly (2008)
* Written in Water (2010)
* Te llamo (2012)

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Artist Profiles: Mathew Ngau Jau

Mathew Ngau Jau (right) with Lan-e Tuyang – Photo by Suchens.com for Sarawak Tourism Board

Mathew Ngau Jau is a proficient sape (Sarawakian lute) musician, who learned how to play the instrument during his childhood at Long Semiyang, Ulu Baram in Sarawak (Malaysia). After his school education, and having pursued a career in teaching, Ngau Jau came under the guidance of the late Tusau Padan, a master sape musician and artist.

Ngau Jau formed the traditional group Lan-e Tuyang (meaning among friends) together with his late uncle Uchau Bilung.

Since the death of Tusau Padan, Matthew has become the leading promoter of the art of sape music and also the art of painting Kenyah traditional motifs on bark. He is also an expert in the Orang-Ulu warrior dance and is a skilled blow-pipe exponent. Combining all these skills, Mathew is much sought after to promote the traditional arts of Sarawak.

With Lan-e Tuyang, Ngau Jau has performed at numerous venues throughout the globe as well as tourism promotions in Europe, Australia and Asia.

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Artist Profiles: Matthew Montfort

Matthew Montfort

The leader of the world fusion group Ancient Future, Matthew Montfort, released his first solo recording, ‘Seven Serenades for Scalloped Fretboard Guitar’ in 2009. He is a pioneer among guitarists who have had their fretboards scalloped in order to play various forms of world music that require intricate note-bending ornaments while still being able to play chords.

Montfort immersed himself in an intensive study with veena master K.S. Subramanian in order to fully apply the South Indian gamaka (note-bending) techniques to the guitar. The December 2009 Les Paul issue of Guitar Player Magazine includes a full page feature on Matthew Montfort with a corresponding GuitarPlayer.Com video and lesson entitled “The Music of Jimi Hendrix Applied to Indian Raga.”

He has performed concerts worldwide, from the Festival Internacional de la Guitarra on the golden coast of Spain to the Festival of India in Mumbai. He has worked with many world music legends, including tabla phenomenon Zakir Hussain and Chinese zither master Zhao Hui.

Montfort wrote the book “Ancient Traditions – Future Possibilities: Rhythmic Training Through the Traditions of Africa, Bali, and India,” which has been used by many musicians to improve their rhythm skills.

Discography

* Visions of a Peaceful Planet (1979, Ancient-Future.Com 2004)
* Natural Rhythms (Philo/Rounder 9006, 1984)
* Quiet Fire (Narada Lotus 1012, 1986)
* World Without Walls (Narada/Sona Gaia 163, 1990)
* Dreamchaser (Narada/Sona Gaia 154, 1998)
* Asian Fusion (Narada Equinox 63023, 1993)
* Planet Passion (Ancient-Future.Com AF 2001, 2002)
* Seven Serenades for Scalloped Fretboard Guitar (Ancient-Future, 2009)

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Artist Profiles: Matt Flinner

Matt Flinner

Multi-instrumentalist Matt Flinner was born March 14, 1969 in Pueblo, Colorado. He started out as a banjo prodigy who performed at bluegrass festivals before he entered his teens. Flinner later learned mandolin, won the banjo contest at Winfield, Kansas, in 1990, and received the mandolin award there the following year.

Flinner’s decision to focus on eight-stringed instruments, especially the mandolin, was fundamentaly a result of opportunity. He explains, “I was getting more work on the mandolin.” Sugarbeat, an eclectic quartet that also featured banjoist Tony Furtado, lead vocalist and guitarist Ben Demerath, and bassist Sally Truitt allowed him the opportunity to master the mandolin in a contemporary folk and bluegrass context.

Flinner is now generally considered one of the finest mandolin players on the American acoustic music scene. He tours regularly with the Matt Flinner Trio, as a member of the ‘new acoustic’ trio Phillips, Grier & Flinner, as a member of Darrell Scott’s band, and with guitarist Frank Vignola (David Grisman Quintet). Flinner also special guests on banjo with Leftover Salmon and in the fall of 2008 was a featured soloist with Trey Anastasio and Carlo Aonzo during Orchestra Nashville’s performance of “Concertino” (Don Hart). He also appeared on comedian Steve Martin’s recording The Crow and the Vignola Collectives’ March 2009 release, Gypsy Grass.

Discography

* The View from Here (Compass Records, 1998)

* Phillips, Grier & Flinner, by Todd Phillips, David Grier & Matt Flinner (Compass Records, 1999)

* Latitude (Compass Records, 2001)

* Walking on the Moon (Compass Records, 2003)

* All Star Bluegrass Jam-Along for Mandolin, book + CD (Homespun, 2007)

* Music du Jour (Compass Records, 2009)

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Artist Profiles: Marzoug

Marzoug

Marzoug combines Arab and African cultures. The musical family settled in the El Alia district of Biskra, in southern Algeria. Marzoug is led by the distinguished bagpipe master, Soudani Djelloul, who carries on the traditions of the music of his area. The music of Marzoug must be seen against the background of the Sahara Desert – the large region that includes most of North Africa up to the Mediterranean Sea that separates and at the same time joins North Africa and Southern Mediterranean Europe. The band’s music invites the listener into the immensity of the desert through their integrated program of music, song and dance.

The group has a great rapport with the public that owes a lot to their integration of traditional instruments such as the chekwa bagpipe, the karkabas (iron castanet) and the North African tabla (darbuka).

One of the great inovations of the Marzoug family is that they made the bagpipe a solo instrument of its own in the Magreb, and not only an instrument used to accompany the singer, as can be found in other areas.

The Soudani-Marzoug family has been composed of noteworthy musicians for generations, some players of chekwa (bagpipe), of tabla and karkabas, along with the Arab African chants of a singer. The songs of this band can be of profane or religious (medh or praise) inspiration. However it is undoubtedly the profane and love repertoire that remains the most outstanding. It is on various occasions or for celebrations (wedding, baptism, circumcision etc.), in various boroughs, towns or villages that the Marzoug band is invited to play on a regular basis.

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