Tejano and country music singer-songwriter and musician Emilio Navaira III passed away May 16, 2016 in New Braunfels, Texas. Emilio was also one of the few Tejano artists to have considerable success in both the United States and Mexico.
Emilio Navaira III was born August 23, 1962 in San Antonio, Texas to Mexican-American parents.
“Possessing one of the greatest voices in the history of Tejano music, Emilio Navaira was an icon in the genre. Both a GRAMMY and a Latin GRAMMY Award winner, he showcased his strong Texas roots in everything he did,” said Neil Portnow, President/CEO of The Recording Academy. “From his relentless touring schedule to his impressive lyrics and signature sound, Emilio was beloved by many, and helped to shape an entire genre of music. Our creative community has lost a uniquely gifted talent, and our deepest condolences go out to his family, friends, and all those who had the privilege and honor of working with him. He will be missed.”
American country and folk music singer-songwriter and musician Guy Clark passed away May 17, 2016 in Austin, Texas.
Guy Clark was born November 6, 1941 in Monahans, Texas. He moved to Nashville in 1971 and was one of the creators of progressive country and outlaw country.
“Guy Clark was truly gifted, both as a songwriter and folk musician. Having penned classics like “Desperados Waiting For A Train” and “L.A. Freeway,” Guy became one of the most admired figures in Nashville, and served as a songwriting mentor to many other talented musicians,” said Neil Portnow, President/CEO of The Recording Academy. “Guy’s songs were recorded by artists such as Johnny Cash, Kenny Chesney, Vince Gill, and Ricky Skaggs, with many reaching the upper echelon of the country songs chart. And his much-acclaimed album, My Favorite Picture Of You, earned him a GRAMMY Award for Best Folk Album for 2013. We have lost a cherished artist and our sincerest condolences go out to Guy’s family, friends, and collaborators.”
In 2004, Guy Clark was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. He received the Americana Music Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005, and in 2013, he received the Academy of Country Music’s Poet’s Award, along with Hank Williams.
Clark was a mentor to artists such as Steve Earle and Rodney Crowell and his songs have been covered by a multitude of artists, including Johnny Cash, Brad Paisley, David Allen Coe, Ricky Skaggs, Vince Gill, Alan Jackson, Kenny Chesney, Jimmy Buffet, Asleep At The Wheel and many others.
Photo credit: Guy Clark photo by Nashvilleportraits.com
Corinne Bailey Rae’s new album The Heart Speaks In Whispers belongs to a crop of what we may call artistry devoid of “collective era”; it does not belong to a particular genre or school that matches popular sentiment. It could be liberal or neo-liberal subculture art, where it exists to express the artist and that’s it. It’s true art: individual art without a grand obligation, at a time of polarized politics, and because of this, The Heart Speaks In Whispers may be fated to be quietly labeled as an uncompassionate album. If one can listen to the parts of a song, singing is often unclear because of its sincerity, coupled with abstract expressionist synth sounds, then you have found yourself a grand experience.
Which era do we belong to? Surely not one of immense prosperity. It’s an era of pain for most thus our politics and most musicians signed to well-known labels push the fact aside to sell great visuals and Belle Epoque. Others add in “profound: lyrics that empathize without expressing contemporary habits or survival culture. Some are so good at what they do that their songs, despite being divorced of popular sentiment, are very enjoyable. Bailey Rae belongs to this group of artists. She does not belong to any monikered era and her music is quite simply productions that are meant to be appreciated by listeners.
“Night” is a song with such sharp parts (sharp as in cheese) that one does not have a firm grasp on the whole at the songs end. The song’s parts are both acoustic and electronic music. Her singing is often unclear and we’re asked to feel much more we are asked to understand. It seems to be vehicle-ing faith in beauty and in feeling as opposed to faith in wording and perhaps it is an answer to living in modern societies full of lying politicians and lying media. It, however, is not clear enough to be such a song.
Most of the songs have familiar rhythms. They are either singer-songwriter songs, children of folk, are soulful R and B songs with both quiet and expansive songs. Some of the songs “Push On For The Dawn” is very good. It is a giant metaphor and sounds like a long epic poem put to song. “Horse Print Dress” doesn’t make sense at first listen nor will a listener want to make any sense of it. None of the songs are danceable nor do they have an understanding of how to dance others. All of them are groovy.
“Stop Where You Are” has an incredible beginning. It’s pure majesty and pure beauty. It speaks to our need for individual liberty. The rest of the song is less beautiful than the song’s beginning.
The Heart Speaks In Whispers should be listened to as a the music of an artist’s personality and tastes. As such it is divorced from popular sentiment and collective living. It wants to impose itself on collective living.
The second concert of the last season of ‘The Flame Series’ will feature Spanish flamenco fusion guitarist Alberto Carrión. The concert will take place next Saturday, May 21st at Cornelia St Café. This performance is produced by World Music Boutique Productions in collaboration with Cornelia St Café and Spain Culture NY (Consulate General of Spain in New York).
‘The Flame’ showcases performances of artists that combine jazz, Flamenco and other forms. Alberto Carrión, based in Toledo, Spain, was born in a small town in the outskirts of Toledo, Spain and began playing guitar at the age of 12 taught by his father who was himself a guitarist.
Homeschooled at first, Alberto soon found the need to expand his musical knowledge and started studying music at local academies and afterwards in Madrid, at the prestigious ‘Ateneo Jazz’.
The last three years of his studies he focused heavily in the study of harmony applied to flamenco. With a very refreshing approach to the flamenco guitar, his compositions reflect all of his musical influences, from Jazz to Latin to pop but, trying to maintain the roots of flamenco but infusing it with ‘a little something extra’.
Alberto Carrión has worked, as a studio musician and as a sideman for live performances, with musicians from all musical genres. Alberto has shown to be a very prolific composer for theater, dance school and TV commercials. His latest album is ‘Poesia en pentagrama’ (‘Poetry on a pentagram’) which brings a soft combination of classical guitar, Latin, Jazz music and Flamenco.
The concert will take place from 6:00-7:30PM at the downstairs of Cornelia St Café, 29 Cornelia St, Greenwich Village, NY. 212 989 9319.
During my recent stay in Evora, Portugal, for the 2016 Ibero-American Music Expo (EXIB), I had the opportunity to visit some of the monuments in and around Evora.
Evora is a UNESCO world Heritage site. It’s a walled city that includes dozens of monuments ranging from a Roman Empire-era temple and aqueduct to a cathedral, numerous churches, public squares and other historic buildings.
The city is visited by hundreds of tourists daily. Some of the most popular shops for tourists sell dozens of items made out of cork, such as purses, wallets, hats, floor mats and lots of other items. The cork comes from the cork oaks found in southern Portugal and Spain.
Here’s a photo report of my visit to Evora.
On May 7th, local sponsors organized a trip to Convento do Espinheiro in the outskirts of Evora. The 15th-century convent is now an upscale hotel and spa, about 5 km from downtown Evora.
EXIB delegates were welcomed by local officials and this was followed by a fascinating performance by Brazilian multi-instrumentalist Carlos Malta, playing wind instruments in the chapel. Following that, we were scheduled to go to the adega Herdade das Servas wine cellar in Estremoz, for a wine tasting, but it turned out to be too far away so the trip was cut short and we returned to Evora.
The Iberoamerican Music Expo 2016 turned out to be a great opportunity to catch up with Portuguese music and some of the album releases from neighboring Spain and Latin America.
The EXIB trade show area was smaller than WOMEX, but there was a pretty good representation of booking agencies, festivals, institutions and record labels/producers.
One of the most fascinating exhibitors was Tradisom Producoes Culturais. This record company puts together fabulous boxed sets, books with CD, hard cover CDs, and regular CDs focusing on traditional and contemporary Portuguese folk music. Some of the goodies exhibited included a mammoth hard cover 552-page book accompanied by 4 CDs titled A Origem fo Fado (the origin of fado).
Tradisom also had a boxed set with the entre discography by one of the greatest Portuguese folk bands in the late 20th century, Brigada Victor Jara. There were also fado boxed sets, a Julio Pereira (cavaquinho master) hard cover book+CD and much more. This label is a goldmine for Portuguese music.
Several of the exhibitors represented some of the artists that showcased throughout EXIB 2016. I managed to get a pretty decent amount of CDs and memory sticks with press kits so we will be reviewing some of this material in the next weeks.
In this era of digital everything, it was great to see a new print magazine made in London. La Tundra is a free Spanish language culture and arts magazine published and designed by Silvia Demetilla. The magazine features CD and book reviews, the theater scene, urban radar (reviews of recommended places in London neighborhoods), urban spaces, travel articles, interviews and environmental consciousness reports.
Iberoamerica Musical is the umbrella organization that supports EXIB. The organization runs several other initiatives such as the upcoming Revista Digital Pura Mestiza, a quarterly magazine targeting Ibero-American music industry professionals.
Three influential music journalists, Gabriel Plaza (Argentina), Enrique Blanc (Mexico), and Humphrey Inzillo (Argentina) gave a presentation about the network of Ibero-American music journalists.
Inzillo, Plaza and Blanc also introduced some of the most interesting sounds coming from Latin America, like various forms of cumbia, including electronic cumbia produced by companies like tropical futurism label ZZK Records; the new tango scene in Argentina, featuring new tango orchestras and bands with a new attitude such as Orquesta Típica Fernández Fierro, El Arranque, Buenos Aires Negro, Melingo and La Chicana.
Enrique Blanc explained that Mexico has four main music production areas: Mexico City, Tijuana, Monterrey and Guadalajara. Mexico City is a huge city that produces all music genres; Tijuana has an interesting electronic scene and is heavily influenced by its northern neighbor, the USA; Monterrey (near Laredo and Brownsville in Texas) focuses on conjunto and norteño sounds.
Guadalajara, meanwhile, is considered the cultural capital of Mexico. Enrique introduced Guadalajara acts like indie rock band Porter, showcasing their video Huitzil; and Hoppo! a new band featuring Chilean and Mexican artists, including Café Tacvba vocalist Rubén Albarrán.
Festival programmers met for the 2nd Encounter of Ibero-American Music Festivals. The first session was a networking and strategizing section open to festivals only. The second part was open to artist managers and agents as well as musicians.
Brazilian wind instrument virtuoso Carlos Malta gave a masterclass and conference at Evora University, and then there were numerous micro-conferences presenting books, events, new media platforms, music guides and more within the EXIB trade show space. Lastly, the expo featured an Ibero-American music documentary series.
My impression this year is that EXIB has grown. Naturally, this year the Portuguese presence was much larger, which made the event very attractive for those unfamiliar with the Portuguese music scene. I also saw some media colleagues from beyond Ibero America: musician and writer Andrew Cronshaw (UK), Simon Broughton of Songlines magazine (UK) and Drago Vovk from Radio Sraka in Slovenia.
Plans for EXIB 2017 have not been finalized yet, but it looks like Cordoba in Spain might be the next location for this unique music expo.
Rising world music act DakhaBrakha is set to perform two shows at Pace University’s Michael Schimmel Center. The Ukranian band will present two completely different programs on Friday, May 20, and Saturday, May 21.
On the first night, (May 20) the group will present music from DhakaBrakha’s critically acclaimed recorded catalog, including their 2014 CD, Na Mezhi and their more recent digital release Light, as well as new music not previously performed in New York City.
Band members include of drummer and vocalist Olena Tsybulska; keyboardist, percussionist and vocalist Iryna Kovalenko; cellist and vocalist Nina Garenetska; and multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Marko Halanevych.
DakhaBrakha, which means “give and take” in old Ukrainian, combines soulful folk and ritual songs with Balkan, African, Brazilian, experimental jazz, pop and R&B, performed with vocals, accordion, bass drum, keyboard, mouth harp and cello to create hypnotic textures.
The second evening (May 21) DakhaBrakha will provide the live musical score to a screening of the legendary 1930 Ukrainian silent film masterpiece, Earth. Directed by Oleksandr Dovzhenko, Earth-which captures a moment in time when traditional rural life in Ukraine was about to undergo massive upheaval as a result of overwhelming political forces-was named one of the top 10 greatest films of all time by the International Film Critics Symposium.
“Two Nights with DakhaBrakha”
DakhaBrakha in Concert
Fri May 20, 2016 at 7:30pm
Film Screening of “Earth” with new live score performed by DakhaBrakha (NY debut)
Canyon Records announced that recording engineer Jack Miller has passed away. Mr. Miller was a well-known sound engineer in Arizona, who recorded numerous American Indian music productions for Canyon Records. Additional details concerning his passing are not yet known.
Jack Miller was born in Chicago and settled with his family on the west side of Phoenix, Arizona, in 1953 when Jack was 19 years old. Miller first worked in the music business starting a record section in the variety store his family owned. He later went to work for Dawson Music, which was a combination music store, record label and recording studio in Phoenix until he got a job at Ramsey’s Recording studio right after “The Fool” by Sanford Clark became a big Hit and brought national attention to Phoenix, Arizona.
Ramsey’s became Audio Recorders and in 1958, Miller made music history by recording the “Twang” Heard Around The World,” on the single “Rebel Rouser” by Duane Eddy which sold over a million copies. According to Mr. Miller, “the sound was in producer Lee Hazlewood’s head. He knew what he wanted to hear and we figured out how to make it happen.” Hazlewood and Ramsey found a 2500-gallon (9463 liters) water tank and Jack positioned a speaker at one end and a microphone at the other to create that famous echo chamber that created a gut-vibrating thrum that turned Duane Eddy into a homegrown superstar.
In the early 1960s, Miller left Phoenix to work at the RCA studios in Los Angeles. He recorded Henry Mancini, The Rolling Stones, The Limelighters and The Monkees. Jack wasn’t happy in Los Angeles so he moved back to Arizona and returned to Audio Recorders. In 1978, Miller left the studio and started Jack Miller Productions.
Since the early 1980s Canyon Records worked closely with Jack Miller. The engineer was influential in creating the “Nakai” Native American flute sound that fascinated millions of listeners and brrought cutting edge audio production to Canyon Records.
Through the years Jack recorded over 4,000 albums, embodying every musical style imaginable.
Jack was awarded a Grammy for engineering Canyon Records’ “Bless the People” which was best Native American Music Album. He also received two Gold Records (500,000 units sold in the U.S.) for Canyon Records’ albums Earth Spirit by R. Carlos Nakai and Canyon Trilogy. In 2013 he was inducted into the Arizona Broadcasters Association’s Hall of Fame.
It struck me at the time of their first recording Faya (2014) that you couldn’t come across a more unlikely collaboration, but guitarist and vocalist Joe Driscoll and kora player and vocalist Sekou Kouyate seemed to effortlessly incinerate any cultural backgrounds, musical styles and language barriers on that first recording out on the Cumbancha Discovery label. Well, Mr. Driscoll and Mr. Kouyate have done it once again with their latest Monistic Theory set for release on May 13th on the Cumbancha label. The result is just as captivating and as a pleasurable ride as Faya.
Mr. Driscoll explains the collaboration, “Our styles are totally different but complementary. It’s like putting baking soda and vinegar together.”
That bubbling over of styles of Mr. Driscoll’s catchy folk, funk and hip-hop blend and guitar expertise against the Guinean roots of Mr. Kouyate’s charmed vocals and utterly magical kora playing seems to be just the point of Monistic Theory in that “the concept that reality is a unified whole and that all existing things can be ascribed to or described by a single concept or system.”
Mr. Driscoll and Mr. Kouyate blaze through that commonality of music without ever losing their own musical identity. It’s impossible not to fall victim to the fiery blend Mr. Driscoll’s razor edged vocals and the flurry of Mr. Kouyate’s kora lines.
Monistic Theory sets up a wide open, infectious groove with instrumental opening “Tamala,” before giving way to the meaty “Just Live” and the breezy feel of “Tokira.”
Keeping the feel clean, without lapsing into over production, Monistic Theory relies on collaborators bassist John Railton, drummer James Breen and percussionist Tim Short to fill out the sound.
Title track “Monistic Theory,” pairing a smooth groove with a kickass rap is delicious, as are the offerings of “Batafa” and “Wama.” Listeners get a treat with “Master Blaster,” a live performance track that simply sums up the extraordinariness of this duo.
The collaboration between Mr. Driscoll and Mr. Kouyate comes across as easy and why shouldn’t it when as Mr. Driscoll recounts, “I met Sekou, and I said, ‘Hey man, let’s work on this for a while.’ It was one of those ‘follow the river’ things, and I went with it.”
If only all collaborations could be that easy and that damn good.
Canada-based South African singer and JUNO award-winning artist Lorraine Klaasen has a new album out titled Nouvelle Journée, or New Day, (Justin Time Records). It’s a collection of songs sung in Tsonga, Sotho, IsiZulu and Xhosa, as well as English and French, that have a slight political tone, infused with hip-shaking, toe-tapping rhythms.
Based in Montreal for more than 35 years, Klaasen creates an enticing mix of South African sounds, strongly seasoned with West Indian flavors.
The album features Congolese drummer Noel Mpiaza and Haitian musician Medad Ernest, who contributes his jazz and gospel groove on the accordion and keyboards. Local musicians completing the roster are Assane Seck, the most in-demand Senegalese artist in Montreal, brothers André and Ross Whitman (of the famed West Indian Soca band Jab Jab), as well as Quebec’s double-bassist master Cédric Dind-Lavoie, who has become a fixture on the local world music scene; and a trio of young backing vocalists: Anne Metellus, Melissa Gresseau, and Cynthia Binette.
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