Tag Archives: pop

Ive Mendes and the Bossa Nova Repertoire

Ive Mendes – Photo by Paulina Tendera

 

Music criticism does not derive from musical censorship; it is based on conventional rules. Ive Mendes performed in Krakow at a jazz festival; criticism, according to convention, is based on the fact that Ive does not sing a jazz; therefore, in accordance with the same neat convention, I assert that the organizers acted… unconventionally.

The world music scene, like many other spheres of culture and art, is created basically in one of two ways: bottom-up or top-down. The story of a typical bottom-up musician begins somewhere in the home, a school, a small town, a musical family, often poor and devoid of cultural roots; this is the story of many masters of jazz, as described in biographies and memoirs. The story of typical musicians whose careers are built top-down usually starts a little later, not in childhood but in early adulthood. Wherever a business, a manager, or ready-made material for a record appears, it’s only a question of finding someone to perform the material on stage.

About Ive Mendes, one thing can be stated with certainty: she is a typical product of the global policies of the music scene, the product of interventions by an entire staff of managers, arrangers, and other members of a “shadow cabinet” who stand proudly (not without reason!) behind her success. This time it was Kevin Armstrong, the producer of Mendes’s latest album, who was promoted to the head of this cabinet. Nothing like this is possible in the jazz field, where musicians make their choices strictly according to musical criteria, and a stage-managed career is an absolute contradiction in terms.

Ive possesses a powerfully crafted charm and grace in the visual sphere. It is precisely her superficiality that affirms the misleading conviction that she comes from Brazil, yet it is indeed difficult to perceive any connotations from the musical culture of the region from which she originated. The artist herself does not conceal her inspirations, mentioning a fairly wide range of essentially pop music styles: “… I learned that I have a natural facility for moving from bossa nova to smooth pop, drum & bass, and even alternative country. After all, I’m a farmer’s daughter.” [www.newsweek.pl]. Unfortunately, in the same breath she adds bossa nova to this eclectic mix. The problem is that even if we can (though we need not) think of smooth pop, drum & bass, or “alternative country”—whatever that is—as mere categories of arrangements, that is, for the creation of hybrid sound forms (as Ive basically has made use of these styles, though in a different way than, e.g., jazzmen do, using groovy or funk rhythms and R&B just for some kind of dance fun, likewise “ontic background” for improvisation, etc.), bossa nova itself cannot be treated so freely. Indeed, the concept of bossa nova encompasses a deeper philosophy. It is a unique combination of samba and jazz.

The self-proclaimed comparison of Ive to João Gilberto smacks—to put it politely—of immodesty. And indeed, if Ive actually had something in common with bossa nova—apart from “reciting” a few standards—it might salvage her image as an artist fit to share a stage with artists of improvisational music. This, however, is not the case. Ive, in essence, does not understand bossa nova at all.
These are not the only reasons why I state that Ive Mendes is largely a phenomenon of the modern music industry, in which vocal talent is exploited for the benefit of a mass audience. A mass audience at the Jazz Festival? This is, of course, possible, thanks to, among others, Ive. The boundaries of jazz in Poland are not clearly visible to a public which accepts a rather pop Kenny G performance, often with just as much satisfaction as it would Kenny Garret or Nigel Kennedy, and similar case with Ive Mendes vs Kurt Elling. The Polish, indeed European, and perhaps even global (in the era of globalization) mass audience, while occasionally needing to commune with elegance, is thoroughly democratic. And that is a shame, because democracy does not serve the cause of high art. Thus my criticism concerns not Ive Mendes herself, but her presence on a jazz stage.

As a vocal star, Ive obscures the musical potential of the songs with “literary” quality and linguistic content. I am not thinking here at all of the lyrics (which play a less essential role in jazz in any case) of the songs, but of her stage presence. That is, Ive greatly expands the entr’actes, I mean the never-ceasing patter between songs, which at times took the form of motivational coaching, gave the impression of being an integral part of the artistic performance, whereas the songs seemed merely to supplement her verbal tirades, which many of the ladies present in the hall received with blushes of embarrassment.

 

Ive Mendes – Photo by Paulina Tendera

 

Thus, Ive’s performance consists of, first and foremost, a kind of refined dance-calling; second, songs; and, in the background, arranging and musical potential, which usually remain strictly in the realm of the potential. For Ive, music seems to be effortless; it is not an area of great concern or creativity. Sounds, for her, are primarily a matter of a fixed esthetic framework of correctness in which her emotions occur (even if they are exploited extramusically). Ive sings safely within proven registers beyond which she consistently refuses to venture, avoids improvisation (or feigns it), while the band (and after all, Ive has a live band on stage: a smooth rhythm section, violin, cello, etc.), apart from the correct performance of sometimes arduously executed arrangements, is reduced to the role of a karaoke backing track.

There is no room here for improvisation and musical freedom; Ive does not play at all with her voice, with sounds, or with rhythm in the sense of musicality (as deeply understood). Instead, her show is reminiscent of harvest festivals, but obscured by a snobbish veil of supposedly higher culture, while deprived of the vibrancy and unpretentious naturalness of country bands. Ive’s performance is so smooth that she loses, in the correctness of the performances, a whole range of expressive musical possibilities, substituting non-musical stage theatricality, whereas the songs themselves, differing very little from studio recordings, are so safe that they sound like something played on a boombox in an adjoining room. I also have the compelling impression that Ive often sings out of tune, slightly below the correct note. Perhaps this is a question of wrong stage listening monitor setup, but the effect is permanent: she sings consistently sharp.

Ive, however, has several patented theatrical devices up her sleeve to exert a narcotic effect on the emotion-seeking audience. She possesses the ability to stimulate the emotions of a large crowd with two or three stage tricks. Undoubtedly, she also possesses an original voice, with a characteristically deep, rather low, vibrating, sensual color. There is a distant similarity to Sade, and, still more distant, to Cassandra Wilson, but without their musical consciousness, personality, or charisma. Other aspects which attract attention include her stage image, exotic beauty (probably the most authentic aspect of her Brazilian heritage), outfits, mysterious gestures, movements, dances, etc. This is essentially a good recipe for the conquest of the unsophisticated heart of a standardized, democratic listener.

In Krakow, the singer performed the repertoire from her latest album, Bossa Romantica, about which she says in one of many interviews: “This is music characterized by complex chords and rhythm guitar in a free samba rhythm. I made this music in the same way that João Gilberto created bossa nova: trying to create versions of American songs in a specific way, in a Brazilian atmosphere.” [www.polskatimes.pl]. The album was supposedly created under British (Ive recently obtained British citizenship) and Brazilian influence, which Mendes often mentions (although the comparison to Gilberto is lip service as well as an exaggeration) along with the musical inspiration of smooth jazz (or rather, perhaps, smooth pop), with which the singer is also identified. These were, I believe, her intentions, but their effect can be described simply as free eclecticism. Her album is not a very good example of World Music; no matter whether it draws from Brazil, England, or “smooth,” the esthetic and artistic effect of this album was a foregone conclusion before Ive entered the studio. It betrays her superficiality, the excessive esthetization of her style, idealized romanticism, and the renunciation of harsh or folk-derived elements.

Among other songs from the album Bossa Romantica, Ive performs covers like “The Girl from Ipanema.” This performance, however, blends in with the overall character of her music, blurring in places the expressive syncopation of bossa nova which we associate even with the singing of Astrud Gilberto. Freshness, lightness, and the aforementioned unpretentiousness are also lost. Another cover, “Killing Me Softly,” is played for no apparent reason, or, as already mentioned, as a sure-fire heartbreaker, completely devoid of expression or of any ideas.

In jazz, performing standards makes some sense, if only in terms of musicians making use of familiar themes for further musical exploitation. Themes are only pretexts, or gateways to great adventures on the verge of beginning. With Ive, everything starts and ends with the theme. This would make sense, of course, if the artist proved the value of her contribution to the work, if the listener at least discovered individual hallmarks of musical expression. With Ive, this never happens. This is not another beautiful rendition, as we hear with Perry Como, Roberta Flack, or even the pop Fugees. Instead, Ive turns it into hack work, potboiler gig, potboiler gig, a number trotted out for shows like The X Factor.

 

 

Ive Mendes says that her voice works in many styles. Certainly the concert at Krakow’s ICE Arena was a good showcase of her vocal abilities and her typical stage esthetics. Her emotions are expressed primarily extramusically; they are naively feminine, romantic … which means that her repertoire appeals to the taste of many—but not to fans of jazz, improvised music, or (as widely understood) world music.

Ive Mendes deserves a much more favorable review, on the condition that we evaluate her in terms of pop music, though here I am not referring to great pop music artists such as Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, or female celebrities to which Mendes might be compared, such as Alicia Keys, Whitney Houston, the quasi-Latino Shakira, or even Lady Gaga. She is not in that league, but rather in a class with festivals of the Eurovision type, connoisseurs of soap operas … in Poland, Ive can also count on fans with a sentimental attachment to the old Brazilian serial feature A escrava Isaura [Isaura the Slave Girl], whose main heroine recalls Ive to mind.

In the press there are many extremely passionate positive opinions about the work of Ive Mendes; thus the present critical opinion, expressed here with the conviction of its justice, may serve as a badly-needed counterbalance in contemporary reflections on music.

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Wake Up

Jennifer Saran – Wake Up

Jennifer Saran – Wake Up (Tarpan Records, 2017)

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.

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Artist Profiles: Gingger

Gingger

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.

Discography:

Enlightenment, with L. Shankar, Zakir Hussain, Vikku Vinayakram (2003)
Anywhere But Here (2010)

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Artist Profiles: Pedro Aznar

Pedro Aznar

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.

Discography

* Serú Girán, with Seru Giran (1978)
* La grasa de las capitales, with Seru Giran (1979)
* Bicicleta, with Seru Giran (1980)
* Peperina with Seru Giran (1981)
* Pedro Aznar (1982)
* http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00005LNQI?ie=UTF8&tag=musidelmund-20&linkCode=xm2&camp=1789&creativeASIN=B00005LNQI | No llores por mi, Argentina with Seru Giran (1982)
* First circle, with Pat Metheny (1984)
* Contemplación (1985)
* The Falcon and the Snowman, with Pat Metheny (1985)
* Fotos de Tokyo (1986)
* Tango, with Charly Garcia (1986)
* Hombre mirando al sudeste (1987)
* Letter from Home, with Pat Metheny Group (Geffen, 1989)
* Ultimas imágenes del naufragio (1990)
* Tango 4, with Charly Garcia (1991)
* Radio Pinti, with Charly Garcia (Sony Music, 1991)
* Seru Giran ’92 with Seru Giran (1992)
* Seru Giran en vivo, with Seru Giran (1993)
* The Road to You, with Pat Metheny Group (Geffen, 1993)
* David y Goliath (1995)
* No te mueras sin decirme a donde vas (1995)
* Cuerpo y alma (1998)
* Caja de música (2000)
* Yo no quiero volverme tan loco, with Seru Giran (2000)
* Huellas en la luz (2001)
* Parte de volar (2002)
* Cuando la lluvia te bese los pies (2002)
* Pedro Aznar en vivo (2003)
* Mudras – canciones de dos a dos (2003)
* Aznar Canta Brasil (Tabriz DBN 51894, 2005)
* A Roar of Southern Clouds (O Plus music, 2006)
* Quebrado (Tabriz DBN 52013, 2008)
* Celebracion, with Eugenio Toussaint (2008)
* Quebrado Vivo (Tabriz DBN 52100, 2009)
* A solas con el mundo (2010)
* Ahora (2012)
* Puentes Amarillos – Aznar celebra la música de Spinetta (2012)
* Mil noches y un instante (2013)
* Contraluz (2016)

web site: http://www.pedroaznar.com.ar

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Artist Profiles: Niña Pastori

Niña Pastori

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.

 

 

Discography:

* Entre Dos Puertos (1996)

* Eres Luz (1998)

* Cañaílla (2000)

* Maria (2002)

* No hay quinto malo (2004)

* Joyas Prestadas – Loaned jewel (Sony BMG Norte, 2006)

* Esperando verte (Sony, 2009)

* Caprichos de Mujer (2009), greatest hits, 2 CD + DVD

* La orilla de mi pelo – The edge of my hair (Sony, 2011)

* Raiz (Sony, 2014)

Web site: www.pastoriproducciones.com

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Artist Profiles: Gustavo Santaolalla

Gustavo Santaolalla

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.

Discography

Santaolalla (1982)
Gas (1995)
Ronroco (Nonesuch, 1998)
21 Grams, soundtrack (Varese Sarabande, 2003)
The Motorcycle Diaries: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Deutsche Grammophon, 2004)
Café de los Maestros (Universal, 2005)
Brokeback Mountain, soundtrack (Verve Forecast, 2005)
North country (Sony Music, 2005)
Babel (Concord Records, 2006)
I Come With The Rain (2009)
The Sun Behind the Clouds: Tibet’s Struggle for Freedom (2009)
Nanga Parbat (2010)
Biutiful (Relativity Music, 2010)
Dhobi Ghaat (2010)
On the Road (2012)
The Last of Us (Sony Masterworks, 2013)
August: Osage County (2013)
The Book of Life (Sony Masterworks, 2014)
Wild Tales (Quartet Records, 2014)
Camino (Sony Masterworks, 2014)
Making a Murderer (2015)
Borrowed Time (2015)
Before the Flood (2016)

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Artist profiles: David Byrne

David Byrne – Photo by Danny Clinch

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.

Discography

* Talking Heads ’77, with Talking Heads (1977)
* More Songs About Buildings and Food, with Talking Heads (1978)
* Fear of Music, with Talking Heads (1979)
* Remain in Light, with Talking Heads (1980)
* My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, with Brian Eno (1981)
* The Name of This Band is Talking Heads, with Talking Heads (1982)
* Speaking in Tongues, with Talking Heads (1983)
* Stop Making Sense, with Talking Heads (1984)
* Little Creatures, with Talking Heads (1985)
* True Stories, with Talking Heads (1986)
* Naked, with Talking Heads (1988)
* Rei Momo (1989)
* The Forest (1991)
* Popular Favorites: Sand In The Vaseline, with Talking Heads (1992)
* Uh-Oh (1992)
* David Byrne (1994)
* Feelings (1997)
* The Visible Man (1997)
* Stop Making Sense: Special New Edition, with Talking Heads (1999)
* Look Into The Eyeball (2001)
* Once in a Lifetime Boxed Set, with Talking Heads (2003)
* Grown Backwards (2004)
* Talking Heads Brick, with Talking Heads (Boxed Set, Dual Disc) (2005)
* Knee Plays (Nonesuch, 2007)
* Everything That Happens Will Happen Today (2008)
* Love This Giant, with St. Vincent (4AD, 2012)

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Kevin Bowers’ Nova

 Kevin Bowers - Nova

Kevin Bowers – Nova

Kevin Bowers – Nova (Machinery Music, 2016)

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.

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Middle Eastern and Pop Intersections

Brothers of the Baladi - Gravity of Love
Brothers of the Baladi – Gravity of Love

Brothers of the Baladi – Gravity of Love (Baladi Productions BLD12, 2016)

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.

Buy Gravity of Love

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Artist Profile: Abbi

Abbi
Abbi

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
Abbi

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.

Abbi - Indigo
Abbi – Indigo

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.

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