Although Wake Up features celebrated South African ensemble Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Carlos Santana as guests, this new album by singer-songwriter Jennifer Saran is a pop effort, seeking a mass audience. It includes familiar songs, has sing along pop hooks and dance beats. The album wants to bring awareness to inequality and poverty throughout the globe.
The highlight of the album is Saran’s interplay with Ladysmith Black Mambazo.
Wake Up includes covers of pop hits by Patty Page, Doris Day, Bill Withers, and George Michael.
Funds from Jennifer Saran’s musical projects go to various entities, including the Kuldeep Saran Memorial Trust, the Hong Kong Women’s Choir and the Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation in South Africa.
Gingger, an extraordinary gifted virtuoso violinist, singer and songwriter, toured since 1996 as a member of the pop duo, “Shankar & Gingger”, and as a solo and guest performer in many shows, winning over fans and critics alike. She has also lent her voice, violin and compositions to several album projects.
Born in Los Angeles, Gingger spent her beginnings studying within one of India’s most acclaimed musical families. Her initial training began with her mother, an accomplished singer, who toured the world and won many awards as a classical star. She began teaching Gingger from the time she was a baby.
Between the coaching from her mother and grandfather (violin), and her extensive training in classical Indian violin, opera, western classical music, piano, pop and world music, Gingger has developed a musical style all her own, yet one that encompasses all of these genres and creative experiences.
Enlightenment, with L. Shankar, Zakir Hussain, Vikku Vinayakram (2003)
Anywhere But Here (2010)
Composer, arranger, producer, multi-instrumentalist and singer, Pedro Aznar is one of the most prestigious and respected artists to emerge from South America in recent times.
His far-reaching experience includes being a founding member of Seru Giran, one of the most influential rock (classic rock, progressive rock) groups in Argentina, and his three-time Grammy Award winning work with the internationally acclaimed Pat Metheny Group. He’s also a celebrated pop singer.
The writer of several movie scores, he has also published a book of poetry, Pruebas de Fuego Ordeals by Fire.
Pedro’s virtuoso bass playing and unmistakable vocal style, explores the roots of Argentine and South American music from a broad base, as respectful of old traditions as it is open to new directions.
On his 2006 recording, A Roar of Southern Clouds, Pedro Aznar led the listener on a journey through a rich musical tradition ranging across three continents: the ancestral song of the Andean peoples, the rhythmic legacy of Africa, and the European musical heritage, all seen through a contemporary prism with many facets.
Pedro worked with David Lebón in 2007, releasing an album titled Aznar-Lebón. That same year he was appointed as Musical Director of Estudio Urbano, the first institution to teach all things related to the music industry, with free of charge access to all courses and facilities. He also co-produced with Shakira two songs for the Love in the Time of Cholera soundtrack. The film is based on the novel by the same name by Gabriel García Márquez.
Also in 2007, Aznar performed “Canterurías”, by Chabuca Granda, for “Folklore por los chicos”, a benefit album for Garrahan Pediatric Hospital .
In 2008 Aznar recorded and co-produced with Roger Waters a song for the Alas Foundation, a not-for-profit organization created to improve education, nutrition and health programs for Latin American children. The recording also features Gustavo Cerati and various guest artists.
Aznar won the Gardel Award in 2008 the Sound Engineering category for the Aznar-Lebon album, with Ariel Lavigna and Andrés Mayo.
He formed a new band that same year with Federico Dannemann and Julián Semprini, and played a concert at Alas – The concert for children. The festival, which took place in Buenos Aires and Mexico City simultaneously, was heard live by over 400,000 people, and seen on TV by 200 million. The featured artists were, among others: Shakira, Alejandro Sanz, Gustavo Cerati, Ricky Martin, Calle 13, Fito Páez and Jorge Drexler.
Quebrado, a double album featuring new songs written by Aznar, came out in 2008 with pieces by Pedro and versions of songs by some of his favorite songwriters.
Aznar composed music for the film No mires para abajo (Don’t Look Down), by Eliseo Subiela.
He presented his book Pruebas de Fuego at the 2008 Santiago de Chile Book Fair, mixing poetry reading with songs.
In 2009 he records with Mercedes Sosa (who died later that year), Suna Rocha, Aca Seca, Power 3, Gabo Ferro, Cuban singer Haydée Milanés, Spanish Basque musician Kepa Junkera and Brazilian singer-songwriter Paulinho Moska.
Aznar won three Gardel Awards for his album Quebrado, in the categories Best Male Pop Singer, Production of the Year and Sound Engineering (the latter, with Ariel Lavigna and Andrés Mayo). The album also reached Gold Record status.
Quebrado Vivo, a live double album recorded at Teatro Coliseo, Buenos Aires, was released on CD and DVD.
Aznar published in 2009 his second book of poetry, Dos pasajes a la noche, presenting it at the Buenos Aires International Book Fair and the Santiago de Chile International Book Fair, alternating poetry reading with songs.
In Spain, she is known as La Niña Pastori, a much-beloved, superstar flamenco and crossover pop vocalist who has sold more than 1 million units over a stellar career since 1995.
Maria Rosa Garcia Garcia was born in San Fernando (Cadiz) in 1978. Taking her artistic name from her mother La Pastori (therefore, La Niña Pastori), the always passionate singer learned the art of flamenco from her mother as she accompanied her to shows around her hometown.
It was pop singer Alejandro Sanz and celebrated Spanish singer-songwriter and producer Paco Ortega who discovered Pastori and launched her career when she was 17 years old with her album Entre Dos Puertos (Between Two Ports). The album sold 100,000 units to a broad range of fans who have stuck with her ever since.
In 2002 Niña Pastori married flamenco percussionist and producer Julio Jiménez ‘Chaboli’.
In 2014, Niña Pastori recorded Raiz (Root), a collaborative album with Mexican-American vocalist Lila Downs and Argentine singer Soledad Pastorutti.
Gustavo Santaolalla has been a force in Latin American music since the 1960s. He is one of a small group of musicians who created the hugely popular “Argentine Rock” movement, which included very creative bands that played progressive rock, jazz fusion, and other genres, sometimes combined with Latin American melodies and rhythms.
Santaolalla’s professional music career started in 1967 at the age of 16, when he founded the seminal group Arco Iris, making history as the pioneer in the fusion of rock and Latin American folk. Santaolalla’s work as bandleader (Arco Iris, Soluna, Wet Picnic); solo artist (Santaolalla, GAS, Ronroco); and record producer (Cafe Tacuba, Kronos Quartet) showcases his expertise in a wide variety of other musical styles.
For a few years, Santaolla lived between Buenos Aires and Los Angeles. Eventually, he settled in Los Angeles in the 1980s.
He has since become the most important name in Latin Alternative music in North America, having won Grammy awardss for his work with Cafe Tacuba and Juanes and has also produced critical and commercial successes for million-selling Mexican group Molotov, as well as Julieta Venegas, Maldita Vecindad, Caifanes, Leon Gieco, Los Prisioneros and Divididos, amongst others.
After the launching of his label Surco, he also played a major role in producing music for his label’s roster of artists, including Bersuit, Erica Garcia, Arbol and La Vela Puerca. Gustavo later entered the world of film music by scoring the music and producing the soundtrack for the Oscar-nominated and Cannes Film Festival-winning film Amores Perros, and again teamed up with Amores Perros director Alejandro Gonzalez Izarritu to work on his film, 21 Grams. Since then, he has composed numerous scores for film, TV and video games.
Santaolalla is the producer of Carnabailito, by Gaby Kerpel, the third Nonesuch project with which he has been involved. Proving once again his versatility, Santaolalla co-produced Kronos Quartet’s Nuevo, which pays homage to the rich musical styles of Mexico.
Gustavo Santaolalla’s musical style fuses rock, soul, African rhythms, and Latin American folk.
Born May 14, 1952 in Dumbarton, Scotland and raised in Baltimore (Maryland, USA), David Byrne has come a long way from playing guitar in high school bands and solo performances on the ukulele in Providence, Rhode Island. Perhaps best known as the energetic front man for the new wave group Talking Heads, Byrne has cast a much larger net over art world as a photographer, film editor, author and solo artist.
Byrne teamed with Chris Frantz, Tina Weymouth and Jerry Harrison, formed the Talking Heads and released their first album, Talking Heads 77 in 1977. The group was to release 18 more albums with such critically acclaimed recordings as Speaking in Tongues, Stop Making Sense and Remain in Light. The band’s popularity has long outlived the group’s dissolution in 1988 with the latest release being a 2005 boxed set, Talking Heads Brick, of the group’s studio recordings.
The success of the group afforded Byrne the opportunity to cast his creative eye in other, maybe not so profitable, directions by scoring the Twyla Tharp ballet, The Catherine Wheel, directing music videos and recording My Life in the Bush of Ghosts with collaborator and Talking Heads’ producer Brian Eno. There was Byrne’s solo work in The Knee Plays, a theater piece of New Orleans based brass band and spoken word score directed by Robert Wilson. Jonathan Demme directed the film Stop Making Sense using the Talking Head’s 1983 tour.
In 1986 Byrne wrote, starred and directed the movie True Stories, and collaborated on the score for the movie The Last Emperor in 1987 with Bernardo Bertolucci. Byrne along with Ryuichi Sakamoto and Cong Su shared the Academy Award for The Last Emperor.
The Forest’s (1989) theatrical score and directing Ilé Aiyé: The House of Life 1989 documentary were two more projects bearing David Byrne’s creative mark.
In 1988, David Byrne founded the Luaka Bop record label devoted to Byrne’s love of world music. In 1989, Byrne worked with such greats as Ruben Blades, Celia Cruz, Tito Puente, Wilfredo Vargas and Brazil’s Os Paralamas do Sucesso and released Rei Momo. The recording sampled the rumba, the samba, the cumbia and the plena. The Luaka Bop label had produced such artists as Susana Baca, Tom Ze, Nouvelle Vague and Los Amigos Invisibles.
Byrne has continued to work, writing the music for the film Young Adam (2003) and recording in 2004 Grown Backwards, appearing on Nonesuch Records.
After a trip to Spain, American drummer Kevin Bowers composed his new album Nova. Even though he was heavily deeply inspired by the music, people, art, and food of Spain, he’s always had a passion for Brazilian percussion so Nova showcases his Brazilian rhythmic influences.
Nova features loungy bossa nova, Latin jazz and pop songs with English vocals (although he also includes a French-language version of one of the songs) along with highly percussive tracks where he develops the sound of a large batucada ensemble. On the instrumental “Imagination Voodoo” he ventures a little deeper into world music with a mixture of Arabic, Spanish and Latin American influences delivered in a spaghetti westerns style.
On Nova Bowers uses a wide range of Brazilian musical instruments, including surdo, repinique, tamborim, chocalhos (Brazilian shakers), as well as other percussion instruments from the Cuban tradition like timbales, bongos, and congas.
The musicians on Nova include Kevin Bowers on drums, percussion, and acoustic guitar; Michael Aguirre on vocals; Kevin Bachmann on electric bass; Zebadiah Briskovich on upright and electric bass; Paige Brubeck on vocals; Erminie Cannon on vocals; Aaron Chandler on trombone; Andy Coco on vocals; Dave Grelle on piano, electric piano, keyboards, vocals; Jimmy Griffin on vocals, electric and acoustic guitar, 12-string electric guitar; Jordan Heimburger on nylon-string guitar, electric and acoustic guitar; Nathan Hershey on vocals; Adam Hucke on trumpet, piccolo trumpet, French Horn; Ben Reece, flute, tenor sax, clarinet, baritone sax, recorder; and Andy Shadburne on vocals.
Nova is an easy to listen to collection of lounge and romantic songs with a Brazilian and Latin flavor.
World music with a Middle Eastern edge, rock and pop intersect in the new album by American band Brothers of the Baladi. The group is celebrating its 40th anniversary with this new recording featuring rock instrumentation such as electric guitar, bass and drum kit along with a wide-range of world music instruments from the Middle East, South America, and Europe.
While many world fusion ensembles lean towards instrumental music, the Oregon-based Brothers of the Baladi features English-language vocals that bring the songs closer to a pop and rock audience. One of the songs has a Spanish language title, ¿Dónde están ahora? (where are they now?) and the group is known for also using other languages like Arabic, Turkish, Farsi, French, and Armenian.
Gravity of Love is the first album where Brothers of the Baladi has used electronic sounds and programming. The intention this time is to appeal to a pop audience, adding pop hooks and rhythms.
The lineup includes Michael Beach on lead vocals, dumbek, zarb, Eddie Kirkjan dumbeg, mizmar, zurna, midjwiz, nay, riq, tar, davul, and percussion; J. Michael Kearsey on vocals, Fender Jazz bass, percussion, and islik sesi; Clark Salisbury on vocals, oud, saz, guitar, dobro, charango, fretless bass, electronics and programming; Charles Pike on vocals, percussion, and drum kit. The guests are: Daniel Eshoo on kanoon (qanun) and Paul Beck on cymbalon.
Gravity of Love contains well-crafted instrumental performances within songs that will appeal to the mainstream.
Abbi is one of Kenya’s finest Afro-fusionist. With roots in Kenyan people’s traditional instruments and tunes, he fuses contemporary instruments from the world today, such as West African jembe, kora along with piano, violin, sax, flute, bass, guitars and drums.
Abbi takes his Kenyan beats into a newness, experimenting with other genres as salsa, jazz, reggae, and pop. Furthermore, he likes mixing different languages and sings in both English, Swahili, Luhya (his mother-tongue), French, Luo and Maasai. His music has taken him on tours and festival-performances several times such as the North Sea Jazz and Mundial festival.
Abbi began his musical career in 1993 as an a cappella singer, and ventured into Afro-fusion some years later. His first solo-album came out in 2003 titled Mudunia. This album lead to two Kisima-awards for Best Male Artist and Most Promising Artist. He released his second album Indigo in August 2007.
In 2008, Abbi opened a recording studio to produce other Kenyan artists in Nairobi, like Mutinda, Nina Ogot, Joy Shambula and the late Arnavah [Nathan Krystall] .
In 2014 Abbi created a partnership with Claus Seest and started Fluffy Studios in Nairobi.
Southern Arizona-based band Xixa performs a mix of pop and rock inspired by chicha and even Tuareg desert blues. Most of their Bloodline album features pop-rock songs with retro 1960s surf guitars and early psychedelic music along with cumbia beats (Peruvian chicha is a psychedelic offshoot of Colombian cumbia). A perfect soundtrack for Quentin Tarantino’s movies.
The guitars and drums get more modern and interesting on “Down From the Sky,” featuring a heavy rock beat, Arabic guitar lines and hard rock riffs. Meanwhile, on “Pressures of Mankind” the group plays a zany type of Gypsy ska punk rock.
“All the Latin beats and rhythms are in your brain your whole life, so they make a lot of sense when you start playing them,” says Brian Lopez. “Latin music is part of Tucson’s sonic landscape.”
Xixa’s musicians include Brian Lopez, Gabriel Sullivan, Winston Watson, Geoff Hidalgo, Jason Urman and Efrén Cruz Chavez.