Marzoug combines Arab and African cultures. The musical family settled in the El Alia district of Biskra, in southern Algeria. Marzoug is led by the distinguished bagpipe master, Soudani Djelloul, who carries on the traditions of the music of his area. The music of Marzoug must be seen against the background of the Sahara Desert – the large region that includes most of North Africa up to the Mediterranean Sea that separates and at the same time joins North Africa and Southern Mediterranean Europe. The band’s music invites the listener into the immensity of the desert through their integrated program of music, song and dance.
The group has a great rapport with the public that owes a lot to their integration of traditional instruments such as the chekwa bagpipe, the karkabas (iron castanet) and the North African tabla (darbuka).
One of the great inovations of the Marzoug family is that they made the bagpipe a solo instrument of its own in the Magreb, and not only an instrument used to accompany the singer, as can be found in other areas.
The Soudani-Marzoug family has been composed of noteworthy musicians for generations, some players of chekwa (bagpipe), of tabla and karkabas, along with the Arab African chants of a singer. The songs of this band can be of profane or religious (medh or praise) inspiration. However it is undoubtedly the profane and love repertoire that remains the most outstanding. It is on various occasions or for celebrations (wedding, baptism, circumcision etc.), in various boroughs, towns or villages that the Marzoug band is invited to play on a regular basis.
Päre is a Finnish band that has recovered the Finnish bagpipe tradition. On the band’s album Hausjärvi Beat the bagpipe, called säkkipilli in Finnish, is used to perform a mix of traditional and modern Finnish folk music.
Piper Petri Prauda uses bagpipes made by Yrjänä Ermala. The Finnish bagpipe has a beautiful warm sound, closer to uilleann pipe than a Scottish highland pipe.
The ensemble includes Petri Prauda on säkkipilli (Finnish bagpipes); Piia Kleemola on fiddle, octave fiddle, 15-string kantele; Jarmo Romppanen, on 10-string mandola; Oskari Lehtonen on percussion; and Tapani Varis on folk clarinet, jew’s harp and overtone flute.
Hausjärvi Beat delivers mesmerizing bagpipe music inspire by ancient Nordic folk traditions.
Cristina Pato was one of the youngest bagpipers that came out of the new wave of Spanish bagpipers in the late 1990s. At the age of 18, the young Galician piper recorded her first solo album. Her modern grungy look with dyed green and red hair was quite a contrast to the look of traditional bagpipers with folksy costumes.
Born in Ourense in 1980, Pato picked up a bagpipe for the first time at the age of 4. Her parents had her take bagpipe lessons at a local school. At the age of 6, she was admitted to the conservatory, where she also learned piano.
Despite her young age, Pato was an experienced musician. She toured Europe and North America with a famous bagpipe band from Galicia, the Banda de Gaitas de Ourense. She also recorded several albums with her band Mutenrohi.
Pato has two parallel music careers, one as a bagpiper and another a concert pianist. studied piano at the Barcelona conservatory. “With a piano it is easier to express yourself. It is an instrument with many resources. However, with a bagpipe you can only play a melody. Playing a bagpipe is a matter of performance rather than instrumentation, you have to have something special.”
For the recording of her first solo album, Tolemia (1998), Pato was able to recruit very well known musicians from the Spanish folk music scene, including Carlos Castro (Fia Na Roca’s percussionist), Paco Juncal (Berroguetto’s former violinist) as well as members from her former band Mutenrohi. Pato ventured into world music by fusing Galician Celtic music with African and southern Spanish sounds.
On her second album, Xilento, Pato wanted to explore the connections between Galicia and Portugal, its neighbor to the south. The recording features José Peixoto of the legendary Portuguese band Madredeus, Javier Vargas (Vargas Blues Band), Charlie MacKerron (Capercaillie), Carlos Beceiro and Diego Galaz (La Musgaña).
Cristina Pato has collaborated in international tours with bands such as The Chieftains, Hevia, Royal Pipe Band, Tenerife Symphony Orchestra, Galicia Symphony Orchestra and in numerous recordings as a guest artist, including Yo-Yo Ma and Friends’ Songs of Joy and Peace (Sony Masterworks 2008), From Russia to Brazil (2006), Sete with Mutenrohi (2008), Andrés Duende’s “Astral Moon” (2008), Benito Cabrera’s “Puente del Sur” (2005), Fasero’s Mar de Mares (2000), and several recordings with the bagpipe band Real Banda de Gaitas: Cantigas do Mar (2003), “Gran Rapsodia de Aires Populares (2005), Gallaecia, Ano Santo , Adelita and Solistas da Real Banda.
Cristina Pato is a Doctor of Musical Arts in Collaborative Piano from the Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University (New Jersey). She was awarded with the Edna Mason Scholarship and the Irene Alm Memorial Prize for excellence in scholarly research and performance (May 2008). She holds both a Master of Music Degree in Piano Performance (with honors) and a Master of Music Degree in Music Theory and Chamber Music (with honors) from the Conservatorio de Musica del Liceu (Barcelona). There she studied with Luiz de Moura Castro, Carmen Martínez and Lourdes Pérez Molina.
She also holds also a Master of Fine Arts Degree in Digital Arts (Computer Music) from the Universidad Pompeu Fabra (Barcelona). Her final project, a multi-media piece entitled Ansiedad, has been exhibited at the international exhibition BAC03 (Barcelona Arte Contemporáneo) and at the Auditorio de Galicia (Premio Jóvenes Artistas 2003).
During recent seasons Pato has performed several world premieres of pieces such as From Air to Air (by Osvaldo Golijov) with the Silk Road Ensemble and Yo-Yo Ma (Carnegie Hall, New York, September 2006); the chamber opera The Outlaw and the King (by Mark Zuckerman) at Rutgers University (New Jersey, December 2006); Norte dedicated to Pato (by Montserrat Torras) at the New England Conservatory (Boston, April 2007); Trio Guernica (by Octavio Vazquez) at the Via Stellae festival (Santiago de Compostela, Spain 2007, national premiere), the Piano Concerto (by Octavio Vazquez) at the Palacio de la Opera with Orquesta Sinfonica de Galicia (Coruña, Spain, November 2007); and the symphonic work Rose of the Winds (by Osvaldo Golijov) with Yo-Yo Ma and Chicago Symphony Orchestra (Symphony Hall, Chicago, April 2007). All served to quickly bring her talents as both bagpiper and pianist into the spotlight.
In 2006 Pato produced, composed and performed the soundtrack of the Spanish film El Hombre de Arena, which premiered in November 2007.
The Galician Connection was realized over the course of five years, with recording sessions taking place in New York, Madrid, Galicia and Lisbon. On the self-produced 12-track album—which includes five works composed or arranged by Ms. Pato—the artist collaborates with accordionist Victor Prieto and his trio, Javier Cedron’s string quartet, bouzouki player Carlos Beceiro and band members Laura Amado, David G. Outumuro, Xan Padron and Raquel Pato. The album also displays Pato’s gift as a collaborative pianist, a skill for which she received a Doctorate in Musical Arts from Rutgers University.
In 2016 she participated in Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble’s Sing Me Home (Sony Music Masterworks).
“Skeud” (shadow, reflection) is the fifth album by one of the best-known bands from Brittany. The group combines traditional dances and tunes from Brittany with rock, jazz, Celtic influences from Ireland and even a bit of funk.
The sound of Startijenn is characterized by the sounds of traditional Breton instruments, biniou (bagpipe) and bombard (reed instrument) supported by guitar, accordion and a solid rhythm section of electric bass and percussion.
The captivating Breton folk music styles featured on “Skeud” include an dro (circle dance), rond de Loudia (a dance from the Loudia region), valse, ridée (a dance from the Vannes region) and various other traditional forms.
The lineup on “Skeud” includes Tangi Oillo on guitars; Youenn Roue on bombards; Lionel Le Page on biniou and uilleann-pipes; Kaou Gwenn on percussion; Tangi Le Gall-Carré on button accordion; and Julien Stévenin on bass.
Startijenn was founded in Brest in 1997. Since then, the band has grown to be one of the leading acts in the Breton folk music scene and they have toured internationally, taking the Breton music they are passionate about. Startijenn’s earlier recordings include Startijenn (Coop Breizh, 2006), Pakit Holl! (Paker Prod / Coop Breizh, 2008), Kreiz da Fas! (Paker Prod / Coop Breizh, 2010), and Startijenn – El Taqa Live (Paker Prod / Coop Breizh, 2013).
“Skeud” is a powerful forward thinking album by one of Brittany’s most significant contemporary folk music artists.
I had previously written about Galician music for World Music Central and a few of the Galician artists ended up on my favorites list for 2009 including Uxia. Since Galicia, along with Asturias, Spain make up a Celtic region of the world, you would expect to find some kind of bagpipes, and the smaller gaita reigns in Galicia. Galician pianist and piper Cristina Pato isn’t new to my ears. I previously heard samples of her music and have noticed her associations with Yo-Yo Ma and Osvaldo Golijov. She’s collaborated with Cuban expat Paquito D’Rivera, among other notables of Galician and international musicians.
The Galician Connection features the gaita in various guises from traditional Galician folk send-ups such as on the opener, to jazz, to chamber ensemble to passionate ballads. Unfortunately, with so many musical avenues presented on this album, it’s easy for a listener to lose footing. Although each musical selection is beautiful in its own way there doesn’t seem to be a strong enough theme to tie all the music together and the result feels like a sampler album, though still impressive.
Fellow Galician Rose Cedrón delivers powerful vocals throughout and also impressive are the tracks featuring the Victor Prieto trio. But what’s most amazing is the verve and style in which Pato performs both on piano and bagpipes. Sometimes she takes center stage and other times her performances support the vocalist such as on Truman Capote’s A Sleepin’ Bee in which Pato leads off on pipes than switches to jazz piano. The ballads, ‘The Golden Dove’ with Laura Amado on vocals, ‘My Mother Moon’, and ‘Black Carnation’ with Cedrón on vocals certainly grabbed my attention. Pato delivers haunting flamenco piano on ‘Black Carnation’ that resonates in my ears for several moments afterward. These ballads resonate more strongly with each listen.
Pato shows off her versatility as a pianist, composer, piper, and arranger on The Galician Connection. And now that she resides in New York and has connected to notable international musicians, she will bring Galician music into the American spotlight. Here’s hoping anyway.