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Indian Tabla Maestros Talavya Begin North American Tour

Talavya - Photo by Heena Patel
Indian tabla comes center stage in the hands of the young, highly trained musicians of Talavya, a quartet that revels in the tabla’s hidden potency as a rhythmic and melodic musical instrument capable of expressing just about anything. Touring North America in spring 2011, the ensemble, formerly known as Tabla Ecstasy, distills the age-old spirit and practice of tabla into a high-energy, highly accessible evening that reveals the instrument’s true joys. Dates include concerts in Atlanta, Albuquerque, San Jose, Portland and New York.

The ensemble will be joined by accomplished Kathak (North Indian classical) dancer Jin (JoungJin) Won, who is also a tabla player, storyteller, and teacher, for several performances, reflecting the deep unity of music and movement in Indian tradition.

Our only goal is to present Indian classical arts in a contemporary language that can be enjoyed by more people,” explains Rushi Vakil, performer and group leader. “The language of tabla is really graceful, full of different tempos, energies, and emotions. All the shades of music can be found in it.”

Talavya is the brainchild of Pandit Divyang Vakil, a tabla maestro and master teacher who gave up a successful performance career to dedicate himself to guiding students and composing music. The son of a philosopher and a Montessori-influenced teacher, Vakil, affectionately and respectfully known as “Guruji,” began playing tabla at age three and takes an unorthodox approach to his tradition and his teaching. In an unusual move, he studied with masters from gharana, or lineages, drawing on each in shaping his own direction.

This direction focuses on the demanding technical aspects of Indian classical performance-the precision required to evoke nuanced moods and ideas. To get to the requisite level, the group rehearses constantly, learning to feel each other’s phrasing within the precise rhythmic cycle of the classical tradition. In the world of Indian classical music, there’s no such thing as practicing too much.

Talavya - Photo by C. Gohil
As Guruji’s compositions blossomed, he and his students realized they needed to bring their tabla performance approaches under one name, Talavya. The ancient Sanskrit word embraces both the rhythmic cycle ( taal) and pulse or tempo (laya) vital to Indian classical music and dance.

Though tabla ensembles are a relatively new development, Talavya applies the same rigor to their performance as they would to a classical piece, insisting on split-second perfection and pitch-perfect tuning of their drums. Though they can play with the spark and passion of a rock drum solo, the accompanying harmonium and their honed rhythmic sense keeps their playing grounded in the cycle of beats their forbearers played in for millennia.

Yet within this technical excellence, Guruji also encourages each student to find a distinctive voice. This touch means the performers of Talavya let their personalities shine in concert. Mop-topped Sahil Patel rarely stops smiling and looks for the lighter side of the music, while the young Rahul Shrimali takes things more seriously. Rushi Vakil, Guruji’s son as well as his student, loves jazz, is a keyboardist and world music composer, while Kaumil Shah teaches djembe (and loves transferring Indian classical rhythms to the African drum). These broader horizons and varied influences keep the group’s perspective fresh and open to other musical possibilities.

Dancer Jin exemplifies this diversity. Korean-born, she came to India 15 years ago from a career in the theater, intrigued by the rigor of the Indian approach to expressive movement. After studying English for several months, she traveled the country. Jin fell in love with Kathak, the highly percussive classical form that emerged as dance-based storytelling which moved from Hindu temples to the Persian-influenced Muslim courts of the Moghuls.

Kathak dancer Jin of Talavya - Photo by Heena Patel
Kathak is not only based on storytelling, but also rhythm as the dancer complements and competes with the rhythm created by the accompanying tabla player. Not content with the basic understanding of rhythm and tabla imparted to dancers, Jin instead devoted herself to intensive engagement with the instrument, under Guruji’s guidance, making her a rare performer (few women play tabla, and few tabla players dance Kathak). Her dedication and skill have won her the admiration of classical choreographers and Indian audiences. (Jin eventually wrote a textbook on tabla).

The intensity and generosity of Talavya and Jin keep to the spirit of Indian classical art, which is about devotion and not entertainment, while expanding its palette and its audience. Each performance moves between rousing peaks and slower, smooth meditative passages not usually associated with percussion. It engages the pure sonic energy of Indian traditions, the narrative possibilities of drums and dance, and the wide-open spaces for improvisation, creativity, and personal expression Indian arts offer.

It’s not uncommon to catch audience members-from teenage hipsters to cosmopolitan professionals-bopping along to the pulse, or in tears or in awe after the hour-and-a-half-long journey through different tempos and timbres.

People don’t expect the feelings involved, perhaps because they don’t think rhythm can do the same things emotionally as melody,” explains accompanying artist Heena Patel. “As Guruji tells us, you smooth out the edges and perfect the contours, otherwise it’s just drumming. You have to make music out of the instruments.”

Full Tour Schedule

04/02/2011, Sat
Wayne, NJ
India Cultural Society
714 Preakness Society
Tickets: $10-$100, Doors Open: 6:00 pm, Show: 6:30 pm
Phone: 973.595.7117

04/08/2011, Fri
Macon, GA
Neva Langley Fickling Hall, McCorkle Music Building, Mercer University
Adams Street
Doors Open: 11:45 am, Show: 12:00 pm
Phone: 478.301.2748

04/10/2011, Sun
Macon, GA
Umiya Mataji Mandir
4770 Raley Road
Doors Open: 4:30 pm, Show: 5:00 pm
Phone: 478.476.9440

04/13/2011, Wed
Albuquerque, NM
The Historic El Rey Theater
620 Central Avenue Southwest
Tickets: $12-$27, Doors Open: 7:30 pm, Show: 8:00 pm
Phone: 505.242.2353

04/15/2011, Fri
Buena Park, CA
Jain Center of Southern California
8032 Commonwealth Avenue
Tickets: $20 and up,
Phone: 714.670.0890

04/17/2011, Sun
San Jose, CA
Menara Moroccan Restaurant
41 E. Gish Road
Doors Open: 5:00 pm, Show: 5:30 pm
Phone: 408.891.3479

04/22/2011, Fri
Portland, OR
Scottish Rite Center
709 SW 15th Ave
Tickets: $25, Doors Open: 7:30 pm, Show: 8:00 pm
Phone: 503.226.7827

04/23/2011, Sat
Rolling Meadows, IL
The Meadows Club
2950 W Golf Road
Phone: 847.640.3200

04/24/2011, Sun
Morrisville, NC
Hindu Society of North Carolina
309 Aviation Parkway
Tickets: $20, Doors Open: 6:00 pm, Show: 7:30 pm
Phone: 919.460.0412

04/29/2011, Fri
New York, NY
Leonard Nimoy Thalia at Peter Norton Symphony Space
2537 Broadway at 95th Street
Tickets: $15-$25, Doors Open: 7:00 pm, Show: 7:30 pm
Phone: 212.864.5400

04/30/2011, Sat
Edison, NJ
Shree Krishna Vrundavana Temple
215 May Street
Tickets: $5-$18, Doors Open: 5:30 pm, Show: 6:00 pm
Phone: 732.715.6549

05/01/2011, Sun
Loudonville, NY
Albany Hindu Temple
450 Shaker Road
Doors Open: 1 pm, Show: 1:30 pm
Phone: 518.522.4440

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Etran Finatawa United States Spring Tour 2011 Canceled

Etran Finatawa
The World Music Institute announced the cancellation of the Etran Finatawa spring tour of the United States. The band was originally scheduled for Friday, April 15th at Symphony Space.

Formed in 2004, Etran Finatawa, meaning the stars of tradition, are the only group in the world to combine the cultures of the Wodaabe (distinctive for their striking face paints) and Tuareg (renowned around the world as desert nomads) people from Niger.

The Wodaabe culture adds an incredible vibrancy to the music, with distinctive polyphonic singing and mesmerizing percussion adding another layer to the Tuareg traditions. Together, they draw on their shared experience as nomads of the Sahelian savannah to produce an explosion of desert blues, full of acoustic percussion and haunting melodies.

Their most recent album, Tarkat Tajje/Let’s Go was released on Riverboat Records in March 2010.

Etran Finatawa will perform across Canada and the United States over July and early August 2011.

Tour dates:

7th July : London, ON – Sunfest

8th July: London, ON – Sunfest

9th July : London, ON – Sunfest

10th July : London, ON – Sunfest

11th July : Hot Springs, BC – Harrison Folk Festival

12th July : Hot Springs, BC – Harrison Folk Festival

13th July : Hot Springs, BC – Harrison Folk Festival

14th July : Hot Springs, BC – Harrison Folk Festival

16th July : Dawson City – Dawson City Music Festival

17th July : Dawson City – Dawson City Music Festival

19th July : Montreal

20th July :Quebec City

21st July :Chicago – Millenium Stage

22nd July :Guelph, ON – Hillside Festival

23rd July : Guelph, ON – Hillside Festival

24th July : Guelph, ON – Hillside Festival

30th July :Canmore, BC – Canmore Folk Festival

31st July : Canmore, BC – Canmore Folk Festival

2nd August :Vancouver, BC – Whidby Island

4th August :Seattle

5th August : Edmonton – EMFM

6th August : Edmonton – EMFM

7th August : Regina – Regina Folk Festival

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World Music Fest WOMAD Abu Dhabi 2011 to Be Held April 7 to 8

Concertgoers at a previous edition of WOMAD AbuvDhabi
WOMAD Abu Dhabi 2011 will feature an exciting line-up of performers and a more diverse selection of activities for visitors of all ages as the United Aarab Emirates’ festival of festivals heads back to Abu Dhabi and Al Ain for the third year running.

The festival, organized by the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (ADACH) in collaboration with WOMAD (World of Music, Arts and Dance) Organisation in the UK, was a huge success last year; over 125,000 visitors attended the event that featured 30 international music artists. Expectations are again running high for this year’s event and organizers are confident that they have put together the perfect mix of performers, activities and even fireworks displays to satisfy the musical and artistic cravings of WOMAD-goers.

The open-air festival will be held at the Abu Dhabi Corniche from April 7 to 9, and at the Al Jahili Fort in Al Ain from April 7 to 8.

Abdullah Al Amri, Director of Arts and Culture Department at ADACH, said: “The Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage is thrilled to once again support one of the most highly anticipated multicultural festivals in the world. WOMAD Abu Dhabi has distinguished itself as the UAE’s festival of festivals as it provides an exclusive and unprecedented opportunity for ordinary people to enjoy the world’s many forms of music, arts and dances. It is a unique celebration that caters to a wide range of artistic preferences and diverse audiences, from performing arts professionals, to amateur performers and even entire families looking for a distinct entertainment experience and great educational value.”

Chris Smith, WOMAD Director, said: “Abu Dhabi is definitely one of the most fitting hosts of the WOMAD festival because of the uniquely diverse nationalities and cultures that live and coexist in the emirate and in the rest of the country. We are therefore excited that WOMAD is returning to Abu Dhabi and Al Ain for the third year running as it underlines the success of the festival as one of the most widely awaited music festivals in the country. We have put together an excellent show with an energizing, festive atmosphere that music lovers, arts aficionados and just about anybody can truly appreciate and enjoy.”

High-energy performances headlined by international artists from dozens of countries will again take centre stage at WOMAD Abu Dhabi. Many of the performing artists are likewise scheduled to serve as speakers of the nightly WOMAD Workshops for children and adults, which will provide exclusive insights into the different cultural influences, musical inspirations and the stories behind the music of leading artists.

WOMAD Abu Dhabi 2011 will also host the Taste The World in Abu Dhabi, where invited artists will conduct live cooking demonstrations of their favorite dish from their country of origin. Taste The World will also feature spontaneous musical performances, while the audience will have lots of opportunity to ask questions and sample a variety of featured dishes.

In the lead-up to the festival, artists from Egypt, Cameroon, South Africa, Jamaica, India, Guinea, Australia and UK will also be conducting a series of creative learning workshops as part of a program called WOMAD Beyond. The artists will share their music and visual arts with students in the outreach program that targets schools, colleges and universities in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain.

ADACH is the government institution that is in charge of looking after, conserving and promoting the heritage and culture of the emirate of Abu Dhabi. Established through an Emiri decree in 2005, ADACH’s main aim is to achieve an integrated approach to the promotion and enhancement of culture and heritage.

WOMAD (World of Music, Arts and Dance) held its first festival in the UK in 1982 and has since organized more than 160 festivals in 27 countries and islands worldwide. More than a thousand artists, representing the culture, arts and musical expression of more than 100 countries, have performed to a live audience of over 1 million people who have attended the different WOMAD Festivals.

More information at www.womadabudhabi.ae.

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International Songwriting Competition (ISC) Announces 2010 World Music Finalists and Semi-Finalists

International Songwriting Competition (ISC) announced the 2010 finalists and semi-finalists. This year, ISC received well over 15,000 entries from 115 countries throughout the world, representing all genres of contemporary music.

The finalists in the World Music category are Seckou Keita (Nottingham, England), Eric Hester, Lale Labuko (Valencia, CA, USA / Jinka, Ethiopia), Chris McKhool, Kevin Laliberte – Sultans of String (Toronto, ON, Canada), Fely Tchaco (San Francisco, CA, USA), Prashant Michael John, Prakash Sontakke – Lehera (Richmond, BC, Canada), Amirah Ali (Chicago, IL, USA), Sikiru Adepoju, Douglas Serrant, Bola Abimbola – Afrika Heartbeat (Oakland, CA, USA), Jacco Muller – Jacco Muller and Victor Ghannam (Amsterdam, The Netherlands), Richard Layton Gannaway, Jay Oliver, Miriam Stockley – AOMUSIC (Asheville, NC, USA), Alejandro Escallon, William Tappan, Maria Angelica Duque – Jaranatambo (Bogota, Colombia), and George Mutinda Wambua – Mutinda (Nairobi, Kenya).

The ISC listening committee narrowed the entries down to 323 finalists in 22 categories. These finalists hail from 33 countries from all corners of the world, from Uruguay to Armenia, from Moldova to Hungary, from Zaire to the Ukraine, and everywhere in between. Reflecting the international scope of the competition, over 58% of all finalists and semi-finalists come from outside the USA.

Winners will be selected from the group of finalists by ISC judges Peter Gabriel, Tom Waits, Rihanna, Ben Harper, Baaba Maal, Toots Hibbert (Toots & The Maytals) Jeff Beck, McCoy Tyner, and many more.

Winners will be announced in late April, 2011. Prizes include over $150,000 in cash, merchandise, and services – including a Grand Prize of $25,000 cash and $20,000 in additional prizes.

The ISC finalists’ songs are currently posted on the ISC website as part of the 2010 People’s Voice – an online voting contest that allows the public to listen to and vote for their favorite ISC finalist. The winner of the People’s Voice is selected solely by public vote and is in addition to, and completely separate from, the regular winners who will be selected by the prestigious ISC judging panel. To listen to the finalists’ songs and to cast your vote (you be the judge!), visit: sonicbids.com/voting

ISC sponsors include: Martin Guitar, Berklee College Of Music, Disc Makers, D’Addario, Shure, Westone, Thayers, Onlinegigs, ASCAP, SongU.com, Grooveshark, TuneCore, Aspen Brownie Works, The Music Business Registry, Independent Mastering, Indie Venue Bible, Tanager, George Stein, Esq., Celebrity Access, Sonicbids, Taxi, music Submit, and Alphabet Arm Design

ISC is now accepting entries for 2011. For more information and an entry form, go to http://www.songwritingcompetition.com.

Go to http://www.songwritingcompetition.com/winners to see the complete list.

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Porto Musical 2011 Full Conference & Festival Program Announced

Luísa Maita, one of the artists showcasing at Porto Musical 2011
The international music & IT convention Porto Musical, taking place in Recife (Brazil), 23-26 February of 2011, has announced the full conference and festival program.

The conferences are defined in three platforms of discussion – Go Brazil!, Go Digital! and Go International! – offering insight into the local, South American and international music markets and today’s tools for music creation, production and marketing. Over 30 speakers from 9 countries will be holding 26 sessions in 3 days.

Speakers include: Deborah Sztajnberg, Marcelo Goldenstein, Charles Gavin, Siba and Lirinha, Benjamin Taubkin, all from Brazil, plus Bill Bragin (USA), Juan Paz (Colombia/UK), Francois Pachet (France), Christine Semba (France), Bettina Schasse de Araujo (Germany), Cees de Bever (The Netherlands), Johannes Theurer (Germany), Danny Kapilian (USA), Victor Ponieman (Argentina), Frank Hessing (Germany), Bryn Ormrod (UK), Tristan Jehan (USA), Rémy Kolpa Kopoul (France), and many more.

This year’s showcase program will present the best acts from the thriving local and national scene as well as artists from outside Brazil – 15 acts from Brazil, USA, La Réunion, Germany and France: Wassab, Treminhão, DJ 440, Fim de Feira, Pouca Chinfra, Catarina Dee Jah, Do Amor, Orquestra Brasileira de Música Jamaicana, DJ Tudo e sua Gente de Todo Lugar, Lucas Santtana, Luisa Maita, all from Brazil, plus Lindigo (La Réunion), DJ Rémy Kopoul (France), DJ Kosta Kostov (Bulgaria/Germany) and DJ Acidophilus/GlobeSonic Sound System (USA).

The festival is open to the general public.

Porto Musical 2011 will be held in the old town of Recife – Recife Antigo. The event takes place just before the lavish Recife carnival, drawing fans from all across the globe.

In just 4 editions the event has become a central meeting point for music and IT professionals from Brazil and abroad and a gateway to South America. The last event saw 440 delegates from 8 countries, 15 showcases and 27 conference sessions.

Porto Musical is carried out by Fina Produção and Astronave Iniciativas Culturais in cooperation with WOMEX and Porto Digital. It is supported by Prefeitura do Recife, Governo de Pernambuco, BNDES the National Bank of Social Economical Development, and the Ministry of Culture, through the National Culture Fund.

Find further information at http://www.portomusical.com

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A call to the musical Soul

Chandrika Krishnamurthy Tandon - Soul Call
Chandrika Krishnamurthy Tandon

Om Namo Narayanaya: Soul call (Soul Chants Music, 2010)

Chandrika Krishnamurthy Tandon’s silky smooth vocals on her release Om Namo Narayanaya: Om Namo Narayanaya: Soul call prove to be a potent siren’s call and impossible to resist with sarod master Tejendra Narayan Majumdar’s arrangements on this Grammy-nominated recording.

Dipping into a whole host of classical Indian and western instrumentation, Soul Call is a full-bodied revelry of an eight-syllable chant that traces its origins back some six thousand years. Elegant and richly worked, Soul call shimmers with Ms. Tandon’s crystalline vocals and her unique take on the Indian raga.
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Native American Music Awards 2010 Winners Announced

The winners of the 12th Annual Native American Music Awards were announced on Friday, November 12, 2010. The event took place at the Seneca Niagara Hotel & Casino, in Niagara Falls, New York.

The Native American Music Awards, also known as Nammys, celebrate the rich cultural heritage of the American Indian nations.

Artist of the Year
Joseph FireCrow – Face The Music

Record of the Year
Breakin’ Free by Jan Michael Looking Wolf Band
Continue reading Native American Music Awards 2010 Winners Announced

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World Music, Bluegrass and Classical Masters to Perform at Savannah Music Festival 2011

Salif Keita
Savannah Music Festival (SMF) announced the lineup for its 2011 season, an expansive city-wide, multi-venue program showcasing a wide array of internationally acclaimed artists in over one hundred productions from March 24 to April 9.

Held annually in historic downtown Savannah, this 22nd season of Georgia’s largest festival features two premieres, numerous festival debuts, and the return of several audience favorites from the realms of world music, classical, jazz, and Americana. In addition to a wealth of concert programming, SMF gives attendees a chance to hit the dance floor with four dance parties featuring Cuban, Cajun, Funk, and Zydeco music scheduled throughout the festival.
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Latin Rock Timbalero Rudy Regalado Dies at 67

Timbalero, band leader and composer (Hector) Rudy Regalado passed away on November 4th, 2010, in Las Vegas, Nevada at the age of 67. Born in Venezuela, Regalado was one of the top Latin Rock timbaleros based in East Los Angeles, California area during the 1970s. Regalado played with the Latin Rock band El Chicano which surfaced during the Santana and Malo Latin Rock era.

El Chicano recorded 7 albums for MCA and had a series of hits, including the song“Tell Her She’s Lovely”, included in their 1973 self-titled LP, El Chicano, that also went Gold for the group. El Chicano also composed the theme song for the 1970s television series “Baretta.”

El Chicano included Bobby Espinosa on Hammond B3 organ, Freddie Sanchez on bass, Mickey Lespron on guitar, and the fiery rhythm foundation of Andre Baeza on congas, Rudy Regalado on timbales, and John De Luna on drums. Freddie Sanchez and Bobby Espinosa rejoined forces in the 1990s to work on new music, including two other original members, Rudy Regalado and Jerry Salas. El Chicano continues to be active with a combination of original and new members.
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America’s Music Legacy Series to Be Released on DVD December 7 of 2010

Quantum Leap and MVD Visual will release the “America’s Music Legacy” series On DVD on December 7, 2010.

The America’s Music Legacy series was recorded 1983-85 and produced by 20TH Century Home Entertainment. It showcases the musical legends performing the songs that continue to attract and entice the whole world, because they truly are the best of all that is the United States of America. The second set of four titles is set to be released on December 7: Blues, Dixieland Jazz, Folk, and Soul.

America’s Music Legacy: Blues – Blues can be subdivided into several subgenres ranging from country to urban blues that were more or less popular during different periods of the 20th century.
Continue reading America’s Music Legacy Series to Be Released on DVD December 7 of 2010

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