Tuareg Ensemble Tartit: US Tour

Bloomington, USA – Tuareg ensemble Tartit will begin its US tour March 29 in New York city. The members of Tartit play the instruments of their Tuareg—or Kel Tamashek, as they prefer to be called—heritage. The tinde, played exclusively by women, is made from a small wooden mortar that the women use to grind grains, and which is covered with a goatskin.

Only women of the noble or the vassal tribes were once permitted to play the imzad, the small one-stringed gourd-fiddle that is the symbol of Kel Tamashek society. Both instruments are easily disassembled for use in other daily activities. But their most important instrument is also the most portable one of all: the human voice.

Tour dates:03/29/2003, New York City, NY
04/01/2003, Boston, MA
04/05/2003, Stone Ridge, NY
04/07/2003, Washington, DC
04/11/2003, Chicago, IL
04/12/2003, Minneapolis, MN
04/14/2003, Oakland, CA
04/15/2003, Santa Cruz, CA
04/16/2003, Oakland, CA
04/17/2003, Palo Alto, CA
04/18/2003, Stanford, CA
04/26/2003, Seattle, WA

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Saharawi Nayim Alal Releases New CD

Madrid, Spain – Saharawi musician Nayim Alal will present his new CD, Nar, in Madrid. The event will take place Thursday, March 27 at 10 p.m. at the Sala Hebe, Calle Tomás García, 17.

Nayim plays fiery desert blues. It is epic, amorous, nostalgic, brave, and also witty and humorous.

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A Spirited Elegance

Catriona  McKay –  Untitled (Glimster Records. GLIMCD 01)

Fiddlers’ Bid –  Da Farder Ben Da Welcomer ( Greentrax. CDTRAX218)

When I first heard a fragment of Catriona McKay’s playing I thought it was Derek Bell, the great, and now sadly late, Belfast harpist. There was just something about the lightness of touch and the tune briefly reminded me of something by Turlough Carolan.  Well, I was wrong on both counts. It wasn’t Bell and the tune was, ‘The Swan LK243’, composed by McKay herself. It’s here on this, her first, CD along with various Shetland and other traditional tunes plus a couple more originals.  And it is one of those totally refreshing albums that combines harp, fiddle, double bass and percussion with such elegant simplicity that the tunes cannot help but speak and stay with you.

Take the aforementioned piece, ’The Swan’. This was written about a trip from Lerwick Harbour on the sail boat from which the tune takes its name. There is an open air, cool breezes in your face feel as the harp and fiddle glide through and embellish the melody as the bass firmly anchors it all. You can almost feel the decks rolling under your feet!!

But before I get carried away with that one there are many memorable tunes here. ‘The Forlorn Queen’, is taken from the Bunting Collection, published in 1797, and if the word ‘haunting’ wasn’t so over-used I’d be tempted. It is a melody for which no words have been traced and to be honest it is so eloquently written that I doubt if words could ever do it any justice. McKay allows the tune to unfold in a stately, unhurried manner and it is one of those that I keep replaying. Another one is ‘Maurice O’Connor’ and this time it is one of Carolan’s. McKay takes it solo and the grace and elegance that characterise some of the best of the blind harper’s tunes are evident here. Her own, ‘The Loon Mountain Moose’, is equally sprightly and buoyant, abetted by some restrained bass and percussion.

Of the traditional tunes, ‘The Bonfire’, which is three pieces in one, shows off both the fleet-fingered harping and the subtlety of the accompanists whilst ‘More Grog Comin’ brings together another three tunes, all from the Shetland repertoire. Chris Stout’s fiddle gets a chance to solo too as the harp adds its own understated textures.

The album ends with a love song ‘Castle O’Neill’, again without words and from the Bunting Collection. It is a delicate affair with just solo harp to deliver the lovely tune. It is a fitting end to a set that offers spirited revivals from the tradition alongside newer tunes which promise more to come.

If you like the sound of that then you’ll probably also enjoy the collective exuberance of Fiddlers’ Bid, a seven piece specialising in tunes from the Shetland Islands as well as their own compositions. Catriona McKay is a member along side several storming fiddles, guitar and bass guitar. They race through breakneck tunes, like ‘Zander The Sander’, another piece from that boat trip out of Lerwick, a place which also inspired one of their slow airs ‘Leaving Lerwick Harbour’. The latter exudes a melancholy grace as massed fiddles soar over the rippling harp. It is both poignant and effective.

The band’s Shetland roots are explored in traditional pieces such as, ‘Du’s Bun Lang Awa An A’m Tocht Ta See Dee’ or ‘You Have Been Long Away And I’ve Thought Long About Seeing You Again’, a tune that was played as part of a Shetland wedding. Music for wedding nights features again on ‘Da Farder Ben Da Welcomer’, a tune to do with ‘bedding the bride’, apparently. It’s all played with gusto and obvious pleasure. I bet they are a joy to witness on stage.

So to bring me back to where I started there is another harp tune, ‘Christine’ which is a simple and expressive showcase before McKay’s ‘The Swan’ closes the album, this time as a bigger band version which retains every bit of the tune’s delicacy. Currently favourite contender for my ‘tune of the year’ it wraps up a breath-taking set of vital playing that warms the spirit in these dark days of the new year.

Buy the recording:

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Najma’s Spectacular Return

Najma - Vivid
Najma – Vivid
Los Angeles, USA – Indian singer Najma has returned after a long silence with a sensational album. Titled “Vivid,” it combines Najma’s unique vocals with rich harmonies, electronic beats and trance-like atmospheres. The album is available from Mondo Melodia/Ark 21.

This is her 5th album.

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Time to Change the World Music Grammy

Numerous world music artists are at a disadvantage in the competition for a Grammy Award. With the current system, there is only one Grammy award category for world music. This forces traditional and contemporary artists to compete with each other. Unfortunately, the better known contemporary artists are the ones that usually get selected because academy members are more familiar with them.

Other musical genres, such as Latin, Jazz, Country, and Blues, have multiple subcategories. Considering the broad musical spectrum of world music, it would make sense to create at least two world music subcategories. A group of world music professionals is trying to achieve this worthwhile goal. A letter campaign initiative has been started to lobby NARAS (the Recording Academy) to make such changes. Specifically, the creation of two subcategories. One for traditional world music and another for contemporary world music.

NARAS would be doing justice to the world music community by listening to its concerns. The creation of two world music subcategories would be a great first step.

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New Radio Tarifa Album

Radio Tarifa - Fiebre
Radio Tarifa – Fiebre
London, UK – Fiebre, a new album by Spanish world fusion band, Radio Tarifa, will be out soon in the form of a live album. Recorded during their 2002 tour, it will showcase the group’s unique musicianship in a live setting. A great live attraction, Radio Tarifa will tour again this year.

Radio Tarifa is the brainchild of Faín Dueñas, a former electric guitarist who realized that playing Anglo-Saxon rock wasn’t leading him anywhere. Instead, he sought new paths and learned about other kinds of music from foreign and southern Spanish musicians. Currently, he has become an specialist in African and Arabic percussion, as well as in string instruments from the lute family such as the Turkish cümbüs, the guimbri, sentir, ud; and Flamenco guitar.

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Hassan Hakmoun’s The Gift Wins Indie Award

Hassan Hakmoun - The Gift
Hassan Hakmoun – The Gift
Los Angeles, USA – Hassan Hakmoun’s latest album, The Gift, received the Association for Independent Music (AFIM) Indie Award for Best Contemporary World Music Recording this past Tuesday at the Annual Awards Luncheon in Orlando, Florida.

The Gift (Triloka 85228) teams Moroccan musician Hakmoun with American-born producer Fabian Alsultany. The two have tackled the landmark task of bridging Moroccan Gnawa sounds with Arabic music while maintaining a forward-looking sound. Alsultany recruited over a hundred musicians to fill out the sound with strings as is common in popular Arabic music.

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Cachao Receives a Star

Cachao
Cachao
Hollywood, USA – Cuban bass player Israel “Cachao” Lopez has been praised for his musical contributions with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles, California. The 84-year-old musician is best known as one of the creators of the mambo.

Lopez’s star ceremony was celebrated in front of the King King nightclub on March 14, 2003. Cachao’s star will be the 2,219th star on the reputed Walk of Fame.Attending the ceremony were actors Andy Garcia, who produced and directed a documentary on Lopez in 1993 and Edward James Olmos.

In 1939, Cachao along with his brother, Orestes Lopez, developed the mambo. The popularity of the mambo reached its heights during the 1950s with help from bandleader Damaso Perez Prado.

Since then, Lopez has been the recipient of Grammy Awards and international acclaim.

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Famed Neapolitan Singer Roberto Murolo Dies

Naples, Italy – Neapolitan singer and legend, Roberto Murolo, died Thursday, March 13, 2003 in Naples, Italy after an extended period of poor heath. Murolo, the 91-year-old voice of Neapolitan music, made famous the sounds of Italy with such songs like “O Sole Mio” and “Cu’umme.”

Murolo is credited for influencing many Italian musicians with his brand of Neapolitan song with its foundations based in traditional Italian folk music.

Celebrated as such a fixture of the county’s musical heritage, Murolo was honored with Italy’s highest order of merit in 1995.

Agenzia Giornalistica Italia(AGI) reported Naples’s mayor, Rosa Russo Jervolino saying, “This is a sad day for Naples.” The mayor was also quoted on new steps to honor Murolo. “His songs will be his memorial and will push ahead the project for a museum of Naples’s songs. I think Murolo would appreciate that more than a stone statue.”

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The Caribbean Festival in Antwerp

antilliaansefeesten_2003Antwerp, Belgium – Saturday, March 15 of 2003, will be the time to transform the Antwerp Sport Palace into a Caribbean dance palace. The event will feature a large stage. The whole arena will be a dance floor, with a suitable décor and non-stop music until the wee hours.The Caribbean Festival – Indoor Caribbean Festival continues with the very strong tradition of the summer festival. The program also lists the biggest names in salsa and merengue. Four top groups from the Caribbean region, from Havana, New York, Caracas and Guadeloupe will be responsible for an unforgettable tropical evening, where *censored*tails and an exotic cuisine will also constitute part of the magic.

Music And Artists:

The festival will host a forum of artists representing their various Caribbean origins and their musical diversity:

Zouk, Merengue, Salsa, Timba, Son, Bossa Nova, Soukous, Kaskawi, Cumbia.

In 2003 the four top groups alternating with DJ El Flaco are as follows:

20.00 hours: Bamboleo (Havana – Cuba ) – salsa and timba

22.00 hours: Mala Fe (NY – USA) – merengue

23.30 hours: Oscar D’Leon (Caracas- Venezuela) – salsa

01.30 hours: Kassav’ (Guadeloupe) – zouk

TICKET INFO:

Presale: 30 euros. Box office: 35 euros
Belgium: KBC Ticket Shop – +32 (0)78 155 151
Fnac – Sax Leuven 016 22 48 59 – Gelmel Hoogstraten 03 314 83 11
Presale Netherlands: Ticket Service Nederland (post offices)

Info: +32 3 314 37 32
lo@antilliaansefeesten.be

www.antilliaansefeesten.be

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Your Connection to traditional and contemporary World Music