Category Archives: Artist Profiles

Artist Profiles: La Negra

La Negra

Flamenco artist Amparo Velasco, better known as La Negra, was born and raised in Alicante (Spain).

La Negra Flamenco has worked with acclaimed flamenco artists José Mercé and Vicente Amigo. She mixes jazz, African beats and Latin groooves with flamenco roots.

In 2006 she released her self-titled debut album, “La negra”, produced by influential musician Javier Limón.

 

 

Discography:

La negra (Casa Limón, 2006)
La que nunca (El Volcán Música, 2012)
Colores (2016)

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Artist Profiles: Manzanita

Manzanita – Photo by Manuel Delgado Rojano

Singer-songwriter and guitarist José Ortega Manzanita, better known as Manzanita (Little Apple) was born in Alhaurín de la Torre (Malaga) and grew up surrounded by flamenco artists such as José Mercé, Camarón and Chiquetete, who shared friendship with his father, José Ortega Heredia “Manzanita”, from whom he inherited his name and talent.

Manzanita debuted with his father in 1998, participating in the album Por tu ausencia and since then has not left the stage.

In 2016 he presented his third album, Sombras y Sueños. Recorded in Cordoba, the album features José Marín, José Losada, Josué Ronkio, and David Axel Bao.

Discography:

Piel de manzana (2011)

Canciones Encontradas (2013)

Sombras y Sueños (2016)

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Artist Profiles: Lin Cortés

Lin Cortés

Singer-songwriter Lin Cortés was born in Andújar (Cordoba, Spain) in 1976. He grew up in a family of of artists. His uncle is acclaimed flamenco Singer ‘El Pele’.

His musical style defies genres. Cortés fuses Brazilian music, flamenco, funk, soul and rock. He’s worked with famed flamenco artists such as Enrique Morente, Vicente Amigo, Raimundo Amador, Rosario Flores, and Antonio Carmona as well as Buddy Miles.

In 2016, Lin Cortés released his first solo recording titled “Gipsy Evolution”. The album includes renowned flamenco artists such as Estrella Morente, Alba Molina, La Negra, Lya, Vicente Amigo, el Pele and Raimundo Amador.

Website: lincortes.com

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Artist Profiles: Dhafer Youssef

Dhafer Youssef
Dhafer Youssef

Dhafer Youssef is a creative ud (Arabic lute) player from Tunisia. He’s also an excellent vocalist and prolific composer. Youssef mixes traditional Sufi music, world music, and jazz influences with Arabic lyricism.

Dhafer Youssef was born November 19th, 1967 in Tebulba. The son of a modest family from this Tunisian fishing village, he comes from a
long line of muezzins. Although he received vocal training as a young boy, Dhafer became interested in the ud. He played it at the youth center in Tebulba, where he also discovered the electric bass and various rhythms.

Seeking new possibilities, Dhafer Youssef moved to Tunisia’s capital, Tunis. He enrolled in the musical conservatory at Nahj Zarkoun. Disappointed with his experience there, he moved to Austria to complete his musical training.

Vienna’s multicultural scene opened the door to new options. Dhafer studied musicology, but soon realized he was more interested in jazz and Indian music. He participated in numerous jam sessions and met Austrian percussionist Gerhard Reiter. The two musicians formed a band called Zeryab.

Dhafer Youssef - Photo by Wolfgang Gonaus
Dhafer Youssef – Photo by Wolfgang Gonaus

In 1996, Dhafer Youssef released his first album “Musafir” (The Traveler, in Arabic). This album was the result of an encounter with Anton Burger, Achim Tang, Jatinder Thakur and Otto Leichner. He presented this project at Porgy & Bess, the renowned Viennese club.

At Porgy & Bess he met Nguyen Lê, the French guitarist of Vietnamese origin and Italian trumpeter Paolo Fresu who invites him to several performances throughout Europe.

In 1998, Dhafer released “Malak” (Enja Records). Three years later he recorded “Electric Sufi” (Enja Records), an album that featured Wolfgang Muthspiel on guitar, Markus Stockhausen on trumpet, Deepak Ram on bansuri, Dieter Ilg on bass, Mino Cinelu on percussion, Rodericke Packe on electronics, Will Calhoun on drums and Doug Wimbish on bass.

In 2003, Dhafer Youssef recorded “Digital Prophecy,” a world jazz symbiosis between the ud and electric instruments. This time, the lineup featured Scandinavian musicians: Nils Petter Molvaer on trumpet, Bugge Wesseltoft on piano, Eivind Aarset on guitar, Auden Erlien on electric bass, and Rune Arnesen on drums.
“Divine Shadows” came out in 2005, followed by “Abu Nawas Rhapsody” (2010) where he was accompanied by pianist Tigran Hamasyan, drummer Mark Giuliana and double bass player Chris Jennings.

In 2011, Dhafer invited Turkish clarinetist Hüsnü Senlendirici and kanun player Aytaç Dogan to a performance in Ludwigsburg (Germany). Inspired by this meeting, Dhafer Youssef released “Birds Requiem” (2013).

Dhafer returned to New York City in 2016, a city where he lived for a few years. There, he recorded “Diwan of Beauty and Odd” with New York jazz scene musicians: Aaron Parks on piano, Ben Williams on bass, Mark Guiliana on the drums and Ambrose Akinmusire on trumpet.

Discography:

Musafir (1996)
Malak (Enja, 1999)
Electric Sufi (Enja, 2001)
Digital Prophecy (Justin Time, 2003)
Exile, with Gilad Atzmon & The Orient House Ensemble (Enja, 2003)
Odem, with Wolfgang Puschnig and Jatinder Thakur) (EmArcy, 2005)
Divine Shadows (Jazzland, 2006)
Homescape, with Nguyên Lê and Paolo Fresu (ACT, 2006)
Glow, with Wolfgang Muthspiel (Material, 2007)
Jo & Co, with Anna Maria Jopek (Universal Music Poland, 2008)
Latitudini – Omaggio Alla World Music, with Paolo Fresu and Eivind Aarset (Casa Del Jazz, 2008)
Abu Nawas Rhapsody (EmArcy, 2010)
Birds Requiem (Okeh, 2013)
Diwan of Beauty and Odd (Okeh, 2016)

website: dhaferyoussef.com

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Artist Profiles: Venupuri Srinivas

Venupuri Srinivas
Venupuri Srinivas

M.R. Venupuri Srinivas started as a child prodigy, playing kanjira when he was only one year and eight months old, in Tirupathi. He gave his first concert in All India Radio when he was merely three years old.

Srinivas learned mridangam under legends Ramanathapuram C.S. Murugaboopathi and Trivandrum Mahadeva Iyer. He studied in Madras Music College under Thanjavur Srinivasan obtaining his master degree with distinction and a gold medal. He is an “A” grade artist from the Indian National Radio (All India Radio). He was honored with the respectable asthana vidwan of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam.

Venupuri Srinivas has accompanied renowned artists like M.S. Subbulakshmi, M.L. Vasanthakumari, Madurai Somasundaram, Dr. Balamuralikrishna, Veenai Balachander, T.K. Govinda Rao, Maharajapuram Santhanam, T.N. Seshagopalan, Ravi Kiran, U. Srinivas, Neyveli Santhanagopalan, Hydrabad Brothers, T.N. Krishnan, N. Ramani and many more acclaimed artists.

Srinivas is in a fusion group with Louis Banks, Shankar Mahadevan, and Shiva Mani. In addition to mridangam, he plays other percussion instruments such as kanjira, ghatam, thavil, tabla, dholak and western instruments. He also performs konnakol.

Srinivas lives in Tampa, Florida and directs an institution called Navarasa Academy of Performing Arts

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Artist Profiles: Arun Ramamurthy

Arun Ramamurthy
Arun Ramamurthy

Arun Ramamurthy is a multi-talented violinist who is making his mark in Indian Classical and World music. Trained in Carnatic (south Indian classical) music initially by the distinguished violinist Anantha Krishnan, and then later by the celebrated violin brothers, Dr. Mysore Manjunath & Sri Mysore Nagaraj, Arun has become one of the most in-demand violinists in the United States.

Arun performs traditional Carnatic and Hindustani music as well as fusion music.

Arun has performed with leading Indian Classical artists such as Padma Vibushan Dr. M. Balamuralikrishna, Padmabushan Sudha Ragunathan, Sri T.N. Seshagopalan, Pandit Anindo Chatterjee, Ustad Mashkoor Ali Khan, Subhankar Banerjee and more.

Discography:

Jazz Carnatica (2014)

arunramamurthy.com

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Artist Profiles: Abhik Mukherjee

Abhik Mukherjee
Abhik Mukherjee

Abhik Mukherjee, born in Kolkata, is a sitar player of the Etawah-Imdadkhani gharana (school). He started his sitar training at the age of six by his father, Sri Tarit Mukherjee, and Sri Bimal Chatterjee, while at the same time receiving vocal instruction from Sri Kaylan Bose. He has since received training from Pandit Arvind Parikh and Pandit Kashinath Mukherjee, themselves disciples of the renowned Ustad Vilayat Khan.

Abhik Mukherjee is a gold medalist in musicology from Rabindra Bharati University, Kolkata, and has also received a scholarship from the Ministry of Culture, India.

Abhik’s first public concert was at the age of 9 at the Governor’s House, Kolkata. Since then, he has performed in ten countries on four continents.
Abhik currently lives in New York City and is a founding member of Brooklyn Raga Massive, an Indian classical music artists’ collective.

Discography:

Waves of Emotion
Brooklyn Raga Massive Compilation Vol 1
Liberation

Website: abhikmukherjee.com

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Artist Profiles: Ismail Lumanovski

Ismail Lumanovski
Ismail Lumanovski

Ismail Lumanovski, well-known for his lively virtuosity, was born in Bitola, Macedonia and started playing the clarinet at age eight. He has performed throughout the United States, Europe, the Middle East, and China to critical acclaim. Lumanovski participated in the New York début of the Carter Clarinet Concerto with musicians from the New Juilliard Ensemble and the Lucerne Festival Academy with composer Pierre Boulez.

Throughout the years, Lumanovski has performed with many significant musicians and orchestras, including Die Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie, the Berklee Middle Eastern Fusion Ensemble, the World Youth Symphony Orchestra, the Palestine Youth Orchestra, the Macedonian Philharmonic Orchestra, Marcel Khalife, Al Di Meola, and Husnu Senlendirici.

A skilled improviser and performer of Macedonian, Turkish and Gypsy music, he has toured with the New York Gypsy All-Stars and is also one of the founders of The Secret Trio.

Ismail Lumanovski is the winner of numerous competitions, including the 23rd, 24th and 25th Clarinet Competition of Macedonia, the Juilliard Clarinet Concerto Competition, the International Young Artist Competition in Bulgaria, the National Folk Music Competition in Macedonia and the Andreas Makris Clarinet Competition in Colorado.

Furthermore, Lumanovski received the “Fine Arts Award” twice at the Interlochen Arts Academy, and 1st prize at the Arriaga Chamber Music Competition. He holds a Bachelor of Music degree and Master of Music degree from the Juilliard School of Music. He studied with Charles Neidich and Ayako Oshima.

Discography:

Soundscapes, with The Secret Trio (Traditional Crossroads, 2012)

Dromomania, with New York Gypsy All Stars (New York Gypsy All-Stars, 2015)

Three of Us, with The Secret Trio (Traditional Crossroads, 2015).

Website: www.ismaillumanovski.com

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Artist Profiles: Bulgarika

Bulgarika
Bulgarika

Traditional Bulgarian music ensemble Bulgarika is led by gadulka (traditional Bulgarian bowed string instrument) master Nikolay Kolev; internationally prominent singer Donka Koleva; kaval (end-blown flute) maestro Temelko Ivanov; and tambura (long-necked, two-course fretted lute) player Nikolay Kodzhabashev.

Nikolay Kolev and his wife Donka Koleva are currently based in New York. The rest of the ensemble is based in Bulgaria.

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Artist Profiles: Derek Gripper

Derek Gripper - Photo by Svend Withfelt
Derek Gripper – Photo by Svend Withfelt

South African guitar maestro and violinist Derek Gripper was born November 14, 1977 in Cape Town, South Africa.

Gripper began his musical training at the age of six on the violin. After studying classical music in Cape Town for the following 13 years, he began to look abroad for musical inspiration. This exploration took him to India where he studied South Indian music.

On his return home, Gripper started to focus on the guitar, trying to find a new direction for the instrument. He was attracted to the use of multiple layers in the music of Olivier Messiaen and the African-influenced structures of Steve Reich, as well as guitar arrangements of the music of Johann Sebastian Bach.

After a series of groundbreaking albums that redefined South African music, Gripper began to integrate the music of other composers in his performances. His long-time attraction to the music of Brazilian composer Egberto Gismonti led to a project to transcribe this musician’s guitar music recorded together with his own compositions on The Sound of Water (2012).

Derek Gripper’s investigation of Malian music has created a new form of classical guitar music, formed out of one of Africa’s most fertile musical traditions. His ninth album, One Night on Earth: Music from the Strings of Mali was recorded in a single all-night session and released in late 2012. The album interprets the kora compositions of Malian virtuoso Toumani Diabaté on solo guitar.

Gripper’s most recent works includes transcriptions and improvisations focused on the work of African composer/performers such as Madosini of South Africa, Ali Farka Touré, Ballaké Sissoko, Salif Keita and Fanta Sacko from Mali, and Amadu Bansang Jobarteh from the Gambia, as well as his own original compositions based on the music of the Western Cape of South Africa and beyond.

Derek Gripper’s album, Libraries on Fire, demonstrates his ability to speak the language of the jelis (oral historians / praise singers).

Discography:

Sagtevlei, with Alex van Heerden (open record, 2002)
Blomdoorns, eight string guitar (open record, 2003)
Kai Kai, compositions for solo guitar (2009)
Prayers And Dances II, Bach, solo guitar (2009)
Ayo, compositions for solo guitar (2009)
Songs for the Swans Left Behind, Frankfurt, vinyl release (2009)
Ale!X, with Alex van Heerden and Brydon Bolton (2009)
Rising, with Udai Mazumdar (2010)
The Sound Of Water, music by Derek Gripper and Egberto Gismonti (2011)
One Night On Earth: Music from the Strings of Mali, music by Toumani Diabaté, Ballaké Sissoko, Vincent Segal, Ali Farka Touré (New Cape Records, 2012)
Libraries On Fire, music by Toumani Diabate, Sidiki Diabate, Amadou Bansang Jobarteh, Sekou Batourou Kouyate (New Cape Records, 2015)

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