Continental Garden: Gilberto Gil, Mini-Jazz

Gilberto Gil’s song on the album Expresso 2222 ‘Qui Nem Jilo’, originally written by Luiz Gonzaga, sounds very similar to a certain Haitian mini jazz aesthetic: the songs of the group Les Ambassadeurs and of Les Fantaisistes from respectively the Bel Air and Carrefour areas of Port Au Prince.

Upbringing? Gilberto Gil and the Haitian mini jazz musicians are originally from black lower middle class to middle class origins – areas well known for having much less prejudice than other areas in their country. Gilberto Gil was born in the mythical Salvador de Bahia, well known for being much less prejudiced than other Brazilian cities. Carrefour was a neighborhood that hosted the living of dark skin Blacks in Haiti and so was Bel Air.

Politics? Gil and the Mini-Jazz musicians all faced similar political realities: bourgeoisie and dictatorship, despite the stark difference between the economies of Haiti and of Brazil. They all chose to respond to the times that they lived with music and perhaps it is why both “Qui Nem Jilo” and the Mini-Jazz from Carrefour play are so thrilling.

Globalization?? Religion?? All lived in a world shaped by mass media broadcasting the music of Americans and Europeans. There is certainly a heavy undercurrent of African diaspora religion music in both Gil’s and in Mini-Jazz songs from Carrefour and Bel Air.

The reason why might be frenzy: both parties committed their songs to expressing frenzy: their sentiments about absolute love and its urgency, whether if it was love of country or or a significant other.

Gilberto Gil - Expresso 2222
Gilberto Gil – Expresso 2222

Headline photo: Gilberto Gil – Photo by Priscila Azul


Suma Flamenca Festival 2016 Announces Second Week Schedule

Pedro el Granaino  - Photo by Leo Sánchez
Pedro el Granaino – Photo by Leo Sánchez

One of the most important events of the flamenco summit festival will take place during the second week of Suma Flamenca 2016. The festival, organized by the Madrid Regional government, will celebrate the Night of San Juan on June 24 with concerts in three spectacular gardens: Lazaro Galdiano Museum, Museum of Costumes and the Museo Casa de Lope de Vega in Madrid. the audiences will be able to enjoy performances in an itimate ssetting in these iconic locations.

Suma Flamenca 2016 includes workshops and music and dance lessons with the dancer Farruquito, at the Royal Theatre; saxophonist Jorge Pardo, guitarist El Entri, the cajoneros Lucky Losada and Piraña, at the Canal Dance Center. These activities are free to the public, prior registration online. In addition, there will be a conference on guitar given by José Manuel Gamboa in the Canal Theatre of Madrid.

‘La Noche Canalla’ (The Scoundrel Night) continues at Cafe Berlin with artists like Los Rubios and Jorge Pardo. In this series both locals and visitors can continue to enjoy “Flamenco Jam Sessions” one of the most innovative proposals for this edition.

Fiddler Paco Montalvo, singer Saúl Quirós, musicians Josemi Carmona and Javier Colina, Rancapino Chico and La Macanita Jesus Mendez, singer David Lagos and flutist Juan Parrilla complete the lineup for the second week of the festival.

The XI edition of Suma Flamenca festival started on June 15 and will end on July 3.

Farruquito, Master class
Monday, June 20, 17:00 h.
Teatro Real, rehearsal room (Madrid)
Free admission, pre-registration online

Josemi Carmona & Javier Colina, Close Up
Thursday, June 23, 20:00.
Sala Berlanga (Madrid)
Price: 8 €

Pedro El Granaino, Earth
Friday, June 24, 22:30 h.
Costume Museum (Madrid)
Free admission until seats are full

Saúl Quirós, Flamenco concert
Friday, June 24, 22:00 h.
Casa Museo Lope de Vega (Madrid)
Free admission prior advance booking (limited 30 seats)

Rancapino Chico & The Macanita, Flamenco concert
Friday, June 24, 21:00 h.
Lazaro Galdiano Museum (Madrid)
Free admission until seats are full

Jesus Mendez, Flamenco concert
Friday, June 24, 20:00.
Sala Berlanga (Madrid)
Price: 8 €

Los Rubios, Familia “Los Rubios de Madrid”
Friday, June 24, 23:00 h.
Café Berlin (Madrid)
Price: 12 €

José Manuel Gamboa, guitar Conference
Saturday, June 25, 10:00.
Teatros del Canal, Canal Dance Center (Madrid)
Free admission, pre-registration online

Juan Parrilla, Presentation album Taxdirt
Saturday, June 25, 20:00.
Sala Berlanga (Madrid)
Price: 8 €

Jorge Pardo, Djinn Metaflamenco
Saturday, June 25, 23:00 h.
Café Berlin (Madrid)
Price: 12 €

Jorge Pardo, Master class
Saturday, June 25, 14:00.
Teatros del Canal, Canal Dance Center (Madrid)
Free admission, pre-registration online

The Entri, Master class
Saturday, June 25, 13:00.
Teatros del Canal, Canal Dance Center (Madrid)
Free admission, pre-registration online

Lucky Losada, Master class
Saturday, June 25, 12:00.
Teatros del Canal, Canal Dance Center (Madrid)
Free admission, pre-registration online

Piranha, Master class
Saturday, June 25, 11:00 am.
Teatros del Canal, Canal Dance Center (Madrid)
Free admission, pre-registration online

Paco Montalvo, Alma flamenco violin
Saturday, June 25, 20:00.
Real Coliseum Carlos III (San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Madrid)
Price: 11-16 €

David Lagos, flamenco concert
Sunday, June 26, 20:00.
Real Coliseum Carlos III (San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Madrid)
Price: 11-16 €


Formidable A Cappella Songs from South Africa

Various Artists - Best of African Mbube
Various Artists – Best of African Mbube

Insingizi, Black Umfolosi, Iyasa, Afrika Mamas, Amadaduzo and Blessings Nqo – Best of African Mbube (Arc Music EUCD 2643, 2016)

In the seminal text, “Tristes Tropiques,” Claude Lévi-Strauss argued that the “savage” mind has the same structures as the “civilized” mind and that human characteristics are the same everywhere. His thoughts have proven useful to anthropologists and sociologists for several decades now in dividing societies and communities into perspective-based subgroups for analysis. He is also a good ally for world music listeners, who require some interpretational basis that transcends unique cultures and different languages.

“Mbube” means “lion,” in Zulu. Zulu culture venerates hunting and fighting prowess, as opposed to agricultural skills. When 20th Century realities forced the sons and grandsons of revered warriors to seek livelihood in coal mines and industrial settings, they became strongly interested in retaining the core of their culture in song.

Poor men living in camps or semi-permanent hostels had few instrumental resources, but had one another’s voices, and so a musical form built on loud and powerful a cappella four part harmony, accompanied by dancing, evolved. When Solomon Linda improvised the first 15 notes of a song called “Mbube” during a 1939 recording session with the Evening Birds, the subgenre’s formal framework was defined.

Most listeners will not know exactly what the artists on “Best of African Mbube” are singing about on most of the release’s 20 selections, but will recognize that they are celebrating heroes and celebrating as heroes.

That upbeat attitude is something to seek, enjoy and share. This record and releases by the artists represented on it are very much worth adding to one’s music collection.

Buy Best of African Mbube


Africa Oyé Festival Begins Today at Liverpool’s Sefton Park

Africa Oye, the UK’s biggest free festival of music and culture from Africa and the Diaspora, will take place at Sefton Park on June 18th and 19th, from 12:30 p.m. until 9:30 p.m. both days.

The artists performing this year include D.R. Congo’s genre-bending Mbongwana Star; Ghanaian highlife legend, Pat Thomas & Kwashibu Area Band; and kora-playing pioneer, Sona Jobarteh.

Introduced for the first time at last year’s event, the ‘Oyé Introduces’ showcase will see local talent kick off both days of the festival, giving some of the area’s brightest artists the chance to share the stage with the ever-eclectic international Oyé line-up. This year’s chosen acts include Liverpool’s own jazz and soul star, XamVolo as well as Mamadou Diaw, a master drummer from Senegal now based in the city and Rimka, whose unique sabar beat dance music will kick off the festival in style on Saturday.

The main stage acts will be complemented by the usual eclectic ‘Oyé Village’ featuring an array of foods from across the globe, traders, DJs, dance classes, the Afrobeats tent, workshops in the Active Zone, as well as kids entertainment to keep Sefton Park buzzing throughout the festival weekend.

Africa Oyé is funded by Arts Council England & Liverpool City Council.

Africa Oyé 2016: Line-Up
(times subject to change)

Saturday, June 18th

RIMKA – 12:30 till 13:00
Xam Volo – 13:20 till 13:50
Kreative Kaos (Community Performance) – 13:55 til 14:05
Saidi Kanda & Mvulu Mandondo – 14:15 til 15:25
Wesli – 15:45 till 16:55
Akala – 17:15 till 18:25
Damily – 18:45 till 19:55
Pat Thomas & Kwashibu Area Band – 20:15 till 21:30

Sunday, June 19th

Mamadou & The Super Libidor Band – 12:30 till 13:00
Randy Valentine (with Sherii Ven Dyer) – 13:20 till 14:20
Katumba (Community Performance) – 14:20 till 14:30
Sona Jobarteh – 14:45 till 16:00
Bilan – 16:20 till 17:35
Baloji – 18:05 till 19:20
Mbongwana Star – 19:45 till 21:00

Main Stage DJs

DJ Edu
Esa Williams

Africa Oyé 2016
Sefton Park, Liverpool
Saturday 18th and Sunday 19th June 2016
12:30pm – 9:30pm both days / Admission: Free

For more information, please visit


British-Indian composer and musician, Baluji Shrivastav Receives OBE Award

Baluji Shrivastav - Photo by Simon Richardson
Baluji Shrivastav – Photo by Simon Richardson

Musician Dhanonday Shrivastav, also known as Baluji Shrivastav, has been awarded the Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2016 Birthday Honors List as “Musician, Instrumentalist and Founder, Inner Vision Orchestra. For services to Music.”

Baluji Shrivastav is a British-Indian multi-instrumentalist who overcame blindness from 8 months old to become one of the world’s leading sitar players. As a classical Indian multi-instrumentalist, Baluji Shrivastav has performed and recorded with some of the greatest tabla accompanists such as Anindo Chatterji and Ustad Fayaz Khan. Baluji has performed throughout the world recording albums with Stevie Wonder, Massive Attack, Annie Lennox, Noel Gallagher and Madness. In 2012 Baluji performed at the Closing Ceremony of the Paralympic Games alongside the British Paraorchestra and Coldplay.

Born in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh in 1959, Baluji undertook his first musical training at Ajmer’s Blind School on traditional instruments including the sitar, dilruba, surbahar, pakhavaj and tabla. From there, Baluji went on to graduate from University of Lucknow with a B.A. in Vocal Studies and Sitar. This was shortly followed by a further BA in Tabla and an MA in Sitar from Alahabad University.

Baluji moved to London in 1982 where he signed to world and folk music record label ARC Music and went on to release 8 albums including: ‘Classical Indian Sitar & Surbahar Ragas’, ‘Classical Indian Ragas – Shadow of the Lotus’ and ‘Baluji Shrivastav’s Re-Orient – Indian World Music Fusion – featuring Hossam Ramzy’.

Baluji Shrivastav - Photo by Simon Richardson
Baluji Shrivastav – Photo by Simon Richardson

Baluji Shrivastav’s compositions appear in a wide range of films, theatre and television, including a series of commissioned works such as ‘Portraits of the Dark’, ‘Sitar-Guitar Suites’, ‘Indian in London’ and the world’s only Urdu oration ‘Sohini and Mahival’ which he composed together with Oscar Winner Dario Marianelli. Baluji’s music has featured in Disney’s 2014 ‘Million Dollar Arm”, 20th Century Fox’s ‘New Girl’ as well as multiple episodes of NBC’s ‘Outsourced’.

By 2008, Baluji established the Baluji Music Foundation, a London based charity which, as stated on their website, aims to promote “the understanding and enjoyment of music and performing arts from the Indian Sub-Continent in all its traditional and evolving forms”. The Charity particularly welcomes the participation of disabled people in music, and has thus founded the Inner Vision Orchestra of blind and visually impaired musicians.

The Queen’s Birthday Honours List for 2016 recognizes the outstanding contributions of individuals across the UK’s many communities.


Hypnotically Captivating Infinite Hope

Amjad Ali Khan, Rahim AlHaj, Amaan Ali Khan and Ayaan Ali Khan – Infinite Hope (Ur Music, 2016)

Swimming in a plumy lushness, Infinite Hope, out on the Ur Music label, revisits the collaborative efforts of Indian sarod master and composer Amjad Ali Khan with Iraqi oud virtuoso and composer Rahim AlHaj. Following up on their Grammy-nominated 2010 recording Ancient Sounds, Mr. Khan and Mr. AlHaj are joined by Mr. Khan’s sons, also sarod players and composers in their own right, Amaan Ali Khan and Ayaan Ali Khan. Sharing composition duties, this quartet dazzles listeners on this potently expressive musical collaboration.

Conjuring up a finely worked musical space crafted out of Middle Eastern and Indian musical traditions, Infinite Hope is masterful and elegantly sumptuous. Filling out Infinite Hope’s sound are tabla player Prashant Trivedi, percussionist Rakesh Bhardwaj, Chanda and djembe player Bubbi Negi, rhythm arranger and percussionist Parveen Sethi and rhythmic recitation singers Praveen Sethi and Rakesh Bhardwaj.

Opening with building percussion and rhythms and adding the lavish lines of sarod and oud, opening track “Virgin Earth” is a treat to the senses where the boundaries between Middle Eastern and Indian music wend together seamlessly as rhythmic recitation rounds out the track. Equally delicious is “Innocent River” composed by Ayaan Ali Khan and Rahim AlHaj as sarod and oud lines intertwine and break away.

The tracks of Infinite Hope offer up stringed mental maze where stringed oud and sarod of both musical traditions fashion a deeply hypnotic space. Equally delicious is the soothing track and one of the shortest at a mere four minutes and twenty-eight seconds, called “The Loving Mother.”

Infinite Hope takes off on a percussively rich journey on “Mystic Eternity” before gently coaxing listeners onto the meandering path of “Singing Soul.” Elegant lines and musical vocals that will raise the hairs on the back of your neck make up “Forgiving Planet” composed by Mr. AlHaj before Infinite Hope closes with the deeply luxuriant “Laughing Child.”

Infinite Hope is hypnotically captivating. It sets up a musical space by way of lengthy, lush tracks where time has no hope of interfering, because these masterful composers and musicians will take you where they want you to go in their own sweet time.

Buy Infinite Hope


In order to rear a beautiful child: Rhiannon Giddens, Mermaid Avenue

On the road to eternal rest, perhaps one of the greatest challenges that a person can face is how to raise a child. The answer is complex and layered but it surely includes listening to folk songs. Folk songs cultivate empathy. Rhiannon Giddens plays folk songs that will enthrall any contemporary soul. The Mermaid Avenue albums are collections of songs that do the same.

Folk songs perform magic. For one, they allow us to feel along with others in a grassroots sort of way – they delight not because of heavy marketing’s affect but because of genuine sentiment. Like all things that delight, they are not taught in school and are associated with the “wild” or the “reckless” to be consumed in humorous “doses.” It should not be the case. Listening to a great folk song is a communion with years of sentiment, interpretation, and expression. As a child learns of his or her world, it would be wise for that child to feel the world, the weight of it, by listening to folk songs. He or she will feel the soul of the times that came before his or her own and that will have shaped the times that he or she will live.

Rhiannon Giddens is mixed raced folk singer waist deep in the business of dwelling in the South, the same dwelling in the South that has often been horrific to African Americans. The public lynchings and other torture many African Americans suffered still hurt. The South has also been a great region for the production of American culture. The South has hosted folk courage beyond belief and its folk songs are products of this. Giddens plays with folk songs: sings them beautifully and always while committed to the grandeur that a song may have. By doing so, she sings us magnificence.

The Mermaid Avenue albums by Billy Bragg and Wilco reveal the twists and turns of American history. They sing Woody Guthrie’s collected songs along to well played instrumentation and never singing these songs in a way that will not thrill themselves.

It’s always wise to dance and sing along to songs that have gone from one singer to the other, as if a song that collected mounds of sincere nods about delight and detail. It’s even wise to do it with one’s child. Then, you will have raised a beautiful, comprehending, soul.

Headline photo: Rhiannon Giddens – Photo by Dan Winters


Senegalese M’balax Star Pape Cheikh Diouf Announces North American Tour 2016

Pape Cheikh Diouf
Pape Cheikh Diouf

Celebrated Senegalese artist Pape Cheikh Diouf wil be touring North America in July and August. He derives his music on his family’s guewel (griot) traditions to sing about love, life lessons and the Wolof ideal of “teranga” – mutual respect, acceptance and hospitality.

A member of the Lemzo Diamono Group, Pape Diouf made his solo recording debut in 1998, and, with the help of his band, la Gènèration Conciente, has revitalized Dakar’s classic m’balax sound ever since. His stirring songs, enthralling voice and charismatic stage presence have earned him a string of hits, including 2011’s “Bèguè”, which made him a superstar in West Africa.

His most recent album, Rakkaaju, was released to massive critical and popular acclaim in Senegal in 2014, reinforcing Diouf’s place as a leading artist in Dakar.

Pape Cheikh Diouf 2016 North American Tour Dates:

Sunday, July 9th: The Cultural Building, Harlem, NY
Sunday, July 10th: The Music Haven Concert Series, Schenectady, NY
Friday, July 15th: Detroit, MI — TBA
Saturday, July 16th: Chicago, IL — TBA
Sunday, July 17th: Festival Fete de Marquette, Madison, WI
Monday, July 18th: The Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis, MN
Friday, July 22nd: Cincinnati, OH — TBA
Saturday, July 23rd, Atlanta, GA — TBA
Friday, July 23rd: RI — TBA
Saturday, July 30th: Washington, DC
Saturday, August 6th: Montreal, QC
Sunday, August 7th: ACANA Festival, Philadelphia, PA


Dreamy Harp Samba

Cristina Braga & Brandenburger Symphoniker – Whisper (Enja Records, 2016)

Brazilian samba and bossa nova appear in a conventional format, bringing together harp, a samba jazz quintet and a symphony orchestra in a captivating intercontinental collaboration.

At the forefront is harp player and vocalist Cristina Braga. She’s a virtuoso harpist with a soft and seductive singing style, where she nearly whispers accompanied by her harp. The result is truly mesmerizing.

Whisper contains a mix of laid back dreamy bossa nova pieces along with a couple of lively songs where there is plenty of room for the jazz quintet and orchestra.

On some songs Cristina sings duets with special guest Dado Vila-Lobos on vocals and guitar. Although most of the songs are in Portuguese, Braga shifts to English on two track.

This concert was recorded at the Great Hall of the Brandenburger Theatre in Germany. Cristina Braga was joined by the Modern Samba Quintet and the Brandenburger Symphoniker Orchestra.

Lineup on Whisper:

Cristina Braga on vocals and harp.

Modern Samba Quintet featuring Jesse Sadoc on trumpet; Arthur Dutra on vibraphone; Ricardo Medeiros on bass; Claudio Wilner on percussion; Mauro Martins on drums; and Marcelo Costa on additional percussion.

Brandenburger Symphoniker conducted by Tobias Volkman:

Andreas Preisser on violin; Chidori Sokooshi on violin; Klaus Hoyer on violin; Till Handrick on violin; Olivia Kucharska on violin; Katja Kulesza on violin; Uwe Kinderick on violin; Ralf Wittman on violin; Giulia Bellingeri on violin; Izabela Powichrowska on violin; Matthias Erbe on violin; Franca Rudolph on violin; Ralf Damming on violin; Ruth Gerner on violin; Friederike Dietz on violin; Meike Schirling on violin; Auret Botoi on violin.

Nikolai Nikolov on viola; Markeljan Kocibeli on viola; Geraldo Brandigi on viola; Demna Gigova on viola; Andreas Posch on viola.

Robert Friedrich on cello; Ute Doring on cello; Joachim Kohler on cello; Stefan Immel on cello.

Fabio Caggese on bass; Josif Schmuschkowitsch on bass; Rudiger Dierks on bass.

Susanne Pietrowski on flute; Martin Bosse-Platiere on flute.

Anje Thierbach on oboe; Benjamin Kahleyss on oboe.

Rico Wolff on clarinet; Marco Dommus on clarinet.

Sebastian Pietsch on bassoon; Rainer Walenta on bassoon.

Richard Mosthaf on horn; Henrik Moderegger on horn.

Frank Tietze on trumpet; Andreas Weitzer on trumpet; Martin Sander on trumpet.

Burkhard Gotze on trombone and Sören Fries on trombone.

Special guest: Dado Villa-Lobos on vocals and guitar.

Whisper is an album with immediate appeal, featuring tranquil and ear friendly Brazilian tropical music.


Celebrated Salsa Composer and Pianist José Lugo Dies of Cancer

José Lugo
José Lugo

Acclaimed Puerto Rican composer, arranger and pianist José Lugo passed away June 12.

In a joint press release Neil Portnow, President/CEO of The Recording Academy and Gabriel Abaroa, President/CEO of The Latin Recording Academy said: “We are saddened to learn of the death of two-time GRAMMY and two-time Latin GRAMMY winner José Lugo. A talented pianist, arranger, and conductor, he was recognized for his innovative work in the salsa, merengue, and tropical music genres.

As the director of Guasábara Combo, he worked side by side with other greats such as Gilberto Santa Rosa, Isaac Delgado, and Bobby Valentín.

We join the Puerto Rican music community in mourning the loss of this brilliant artist and extend our deepest condolences to his family and friends.”


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