Category Archives: Artist Profiles

Artist Profiles: A Moving Sound

A Moving Sound
A Moving Sound

In the music of A Moving Sound traditional Taiwanese, Chinese and neighboring Asian music forms are fused in new original song compositions. Instruments such as the Chinese erhu (a vertically held, bowed instrument), the zhong ruan (Chinese guitar), an assortment of western instruments, and the transcendent vocals and dance of lead singer Mia Hsieh, transport listeners on a journey across various musical cultures.

A Moving Sound has attracted international attention for opening doors to the under explored territory that is Pan-Asian music. The group is intensely passionate about how it presents the use of traditional instruments in its contemporary sound. Their approach is to be holistic – combining art, spirituality, social awareness, and a universal love of humanity play key roles in the creative process.

A Moving Sound</a A Moving SoundA Moving Sound (Motema, 2012)

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Artist Profiles: A Filetta

A Filetta - Photo by Mara Bottoli
A Filetta – Photo by Mara Bottoli

Award-winning ensemble A Filetta was formed in 1978 in the northwestern city of Balagne in Corsica by adolescents united by their passion for Corsican polyphony. The group’s name means fern. The repertoire ranges from traditional to sacred and profane songs.

For a number of years, A Filetta has exported its polyphonies abroad.

Discography:

Machja n’avemu un altra (1981)
O’Vita (1982)
Cun tè (1984)
Sonnii Zitillini and In l’abbriu di e stagioni (1987)
A U Visu Di Tanti (1989)
Ab’eternu (1992)
Una Tarra Ci He (1994)
Passione (1997)
Intantu (2002)
Si Di Mè (2003)
Bracana (Harmonia Mundi, 2008)
Mistico Mediterraneo, with Paolo Fresu and Daniele di Bonaventura (ECM, 2011)
Di Corsica Riposu, Requiem pour deux regards, with Daniele di Bonaventura (2011)
Castelli (Harmonia Mundi/World Village, 2015)

DVDs:
A Filetta, voix corses” by Don Kent (Éditions Montparnasse, 2002)
“Trent’anni Pocu, Trent’anni Assai”, a documentary by Cathy Rocchi and a concert at the Oratoire de Calvi (Harmonia Mundi, 2009)

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Artist Profile: Mokoomba

Mokoomba
Mokoomba

World music act Mokoomba is based in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. The band’s six members, Mathias Muzaza (lead vocals), Ndaba Coster Moyo (drums, backing vocals), Trustworth Samende (lead guitar, backing vocals), Donald Moyo, (keyboards, backing vocals), Miti Mugande, (percussion & backing vocals) and Abundance Mutori (bass, backing vocals) grew up as friends in the Chinotimba township.

While the majority of Zimbabweans are part of the dominant Shona ethnic group or the large Ndebele minority, the members of Mokoomba hail from a variety of different ethnic groups represented in this border town, including the Luvale, Nyanja, and Tonga peoples; and it was the Tonga who gave mighty Victoria Falls, the world’s largest waterfall, its original name: “Mosi-oa-Tunya” (the smoke that thunders).

Living in a border city that attracts tourists from all over the world gave Mokoomba’s music an international perspective from the beginning, incorporating everything from soukous to ska and salsa along with local musical traditions.

The members of Mokoomba started playing music as teenagers, with the help of a local bandleader, the late Alfred Mijimba, who gave the young musicians the experience they needed by hiring them to play local concerts with his band. Even though he was never an international star, Mijimba was a respected local musician, and the members of Mokoomba gained substantial experience under his direction.

The group’s members began playing together in 2001, and Mokoomba was officially formed in 2008. Their first major success came that same year, when they won the Music Crossroads Inter-Regional Festival Competition in Malawi.

In 2009 Mokoomba recorded its first album, Kweseka — Drifting Ahead, produced by Dutch DJ Gregor Salto, as part of the Stand UP anti- poverty campaign funded by AfricaUnsigned. The album generated a local hit “Messe Messe”, and the group’s first European tour. Mokoomba recorded a second EP, Umvundla, with Salto in 2011. But their big break came in 2012, when the band released Rising Tide, produced by pioneering Ivoirian bassist Manou Gallo (Zap Mama, Kiyi M’Bock) for the Belgian label ZigZag World.

Mokoomba - Rising Tide
Mokoomba – Rising Tide

The success of Rising Tide led Mokoomba to tour over 40 countries worldwide in 2012, 2013 and 2014, including performances at Denmark’s Roskilde festival, the UK’s WOMAD festival, Belgium’s Couleur Cafe´ festival, and Morocco’s Gnawa festival.

Mokoomba has become one of Zimbabwe’s most popular bands, playing with such icons as Hugh Masekela and Baba Maal at Zimbabwe’s annual Harare International Festival of the Arts.

Mokoomba was the subject of a documentary called Mokoomba: From One River Bank to Another, by Frank Dalmat and Francis Ducat. The film tells the group’s story in the context of the relationship between culture and economic development in the global south.

In 2015 Mokoomba recorded its self-produced third album Luyando, a stripped down, mostly acoustic album that balances the group’s love of pan-African and international sounds with the local and traditional sounds they also grew up listening to.

Luyando translates as “Mother’s Love” and takes its inspiration from the Makishi masquerade ritual practiced in parts of Zimbabwe and nearby Zambia, which the members of Mokoomba participated in as boys.

The Makishi masquerade is performed at the end of the Mukanda, an initiation ritual for boys between the ages of eight and twelve, when young boys leave their homes and live for one to three months at a bush camp away from their villages. It’s a fundamental and often lonely time in a boy’s life, when they learn the self-assurance required of young men in their community, while still often yearning for the tenderness of their mother’s love. The end of the Mukanda is marked by a joyous graduation ceremony called Chilende, full of colorful masks, music and dancing.


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Artist Profiles: Acho Estol

Acho Estol
Acho Estol

Argentine musician Acho Estol started playing the guitar at eight and the electric guitar at ten, then he took up various instruments during the teenage years – he also plays flute, charango, bass, piano and percussion – but never losing focus on his main one.

He combines his work in film (assistant director and director of shorts, clips and CD-ROMs) with music and has been part of many rock and pop bands being a prolific composer in these styles, with always a touch of tango in his lyrics and melodies. He is one of the founders of tango group La Chicana.

Acho has traveled extensively around the world (United States of America, Canada, Brazil, Chile, England, France, Spain, South Africa, Senegal) playing his music and searching for different styles. In 1996 he studied tango arrangements with Ismael Spitalnik.

Acho has produced his own independent recordings, as well as music for TV, short films, choreography and commercials. He has also produced La Chicana’s releases: Ayer Hoy Era Mañana, Un Giro Extraño and Tango agazapado.

Discography

 

Ayer Hoy Era Mañana, with La Chicana
Ayer Hoy Era Mañana, with La Chicana

 

Un Giro Extraño, with La Chicana
Un Giro Extraño, with La Chicana

 

Tango agazapado, with La Chicana
Tango agazapado, with La Chicana

 

Acho Estol - Mi Pelicula (2007)
Acho Estol – Mi Pelicula (2007)

 

Acho Estol - Buenosaurios (Galileo Music GMC034, 2010)
Acho Estol – Buenosaurios (Galileo Music GMC034, 2010)

 

Lejos, with La Chicana
Lejos, with La Chicana

 

Canción llorada (2008)
Canción llorada (2008)

 

 Revolución o picnic (2011), double album with La Chicana
Revolución o picnic (2011), double album with La Chicana

 

Antihéroes y tumbas (2015), with La Chicana
Antihéroes y tumbas (2015), with La Chicana
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Artist Profiles: Ustad Mohammad Omar

Ustad Mohammad Omar
Ustad Mohammad Omar

Ustad Mohammad Omar, one of Afghanistan’s finest rabab players, became the first Afghan musician to teach in the United States of America when he arrived at the University of Washington in Seattle in 1974.

In 1979, Ustad Mohammad Omar appeared as a guest on the album Embryo’s Reise by German jazz-rock and world music band Embryo.

In 2002, Smithsonian Folkways released an album titled Ustad Mohammad Omar, Virtuoso from Afghanistan. This CD documents his only public performance in the United States of America.

Playing his rabab, a short-necked lute that is plucked with a plectrum called a shahbaz, and accompanied on the tabla by a young Zakir Hussain, Mohammad Omar shared Afghan traditional music with the West in this memorable and important concert. Hussain and Omar had never met before that day, nor did they speak a common language, but their musical voices intertwine magically on this classic recording. The music is steeped in the traditions of Afghanistan and that country’s own relationship to Indian and Pakistani musical influences, but this virtuoso performance stands alone as a triumph of Eastern music.

Ustad Mohammad Omar passed away in 1980.

Discography:

Music of Afghanistan (Smithsonian Folkways)

Embryo’s Reise (Schneeball 20, 1979)

Ustad Mohammad Omar, Virtuoso From Afghanistan (Smithsonian Folkways SFW CD 40439, 2002)

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