Tag Archives: Spain

Artist Profiles: Ojos de Brujo

Ojos de Brujo in 2002

Ojos de Brujo was a flamenco roots band based in Barcelona, Spain. The band caused a stir in international music circles in 2003-2004 with its flamenco fusion. The group whose name means ‘witch eyes’ created a popular mix of flamenco with funk, samba, reggae and other forms of world music. One of Spain’s most popular live musical acts at the time, the group was composed of musicians on flamenco guitar, bass and percussion; a DJ and a dancer and featured the captivating lead vocals of Marina Abad.

Said Xavi Turull the group’s percussionist: “We live in Barcelona and we live strong – always out in the streets so we’ve always lived rumba catalana and flamenco puro really strongly. But when Marina came into the group we became even more focused on flamenco. Our roots got stronger and we became more confident when we experimented with other styles. We became more solid – more of a band.”

The second album Bari took its name from a word in Caló – the Gypsy (Roma) dialect of Spain – that means roughly ‘finding the groove in life’ – the same way you do in music. Xavi Turull explained: “Bari is a word that Ramon, who’s Gypsy, picked up from his grandmother. It’s kind of like the feeling that everything in life is working right. That everything feels good.”

Techari came out in 2006 and was released in North America on February 2007 on Six Degrees Records. It is an ambitious self-produced journey recorded both abroad in Cuba and New York as well as in a studio at the foot of the Pyrenees Mountains close to the birthplace of Salvador Dali. “One of the pressures of success is to look for ways to stay true,” said Xavi Turull. “And we are really trying to find a way to be free. That’s why the new album is called Techari because it means ‘free’ in the gypsy language.”

Work on Techari started at the end of March 2005 and was completed at the end of October. In between the band did two international tours which stop-started the recording process. “Recording and touring at the same time was a little crazy but the result is amazing,” added Xavi. “We are finally at a point where the sound is exactly the way we want.”

Special guests included Faada Freddy from Senegalese hip hop collective Daara J, Asian Dub Foundation’s Prithpal Rajput and Nitin Sawhney, South Indian fusion artist and British TV star (who returned the favor after Ojos de Brujo collaborated on two tracks for his album Philtre).

Cuban pianist Roberto Carcasses also made an appearance alongside respected flamenco guitarist Pepe Habichuela and Cuban tres/flamenco guitar player Raul Rodriguez from Son de la Frontera.

Cuban drums were used in bulerias, funk was layered onto rumba catalana and dhol drums add an Eastern flavor to the mix. However the band was quick to point out that these collaborations were the result of new friendships and not any cynical marketing strategy.

The Techari bonus CD-ROM featured work from fourteen illustrators from around the world, each represent the individual nature of the fourteen tracks fifteen translations of lead singer Marina’s emotionally-charged lyrics and three full-length videos.

 

 

 

Lenacay, Calima, Marinah and Kejaleo are bands started by former Ojos de Brujo members.

Discography

Vengue (1999)
Bari (2002)
Bari: Remezclas de la Casa (2003)
Techari­ (2006)
Techari­ Live (2007) CD/DVD
Techari­ Remixes (2007)
Aocana (WEA Spain, 2009)
Corriente vital 10 años (WEA Spain, 2010)

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Artist Profiles: Pepe Habichuela

Pepe Habichuela

José Antonio Carmona Carmona, better known as Pepe Habichuela, was born in Granada (Spain) in 1944. The guitar has always been present in the Habichuela dynasty. Pepe Habichuela’s grandfather, Tio José Habichuela and father Juan Carmona Habichuela played the guitar and all his brothers are professional players. His son is Josemi Carmona, who along with Pepe’s nephews, founded innovative flamenco fusion group Ketama.

As many other guitarists Pepe Habichuela’s professional career started as accompanist to well-known cantaores (singers) like Camarón de la Isla. His collaboration with the great cantaor Enrique Morente meant a giant step for modern Flamenco. Pepe Habichuela participated in several of Morente’s superb albums: Se hace camino al andar, Homenaje a Don Antonio Chacon and Despegando.

Since 1980 Pepe Habichuela has been giving concerts as a soloist. Pepe Habichuela’s first solo album was a tribute to his grandfather.

Pepe has gone beyond traditional Flamenco guitar by adding bass, percussion and Jazz elements to his compositions. His interest in Jazz has led him to collaborations with jazzmen Don Cherry and David Holland. He has also explored the connections between flamenco and Indian music collaborating with Nithin Sawhney, Anoushka Shankar and The Bollywood Strings.

Discography:

Homenaje a D. Antonio Chacón, with Enrique Morente ((Hispavox, 1976)
Despegando (CBS, 1977)
A Mandeli (Nuevos Medios, 1983)
Habichuela en Rama (Nuevos Medios, 1997)
Yerbagüena, with The Bollywood Strings (Nuevos Medios NM15788, 2001)
Hands, with Dave Holland (Dare2 Records, 2010)

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Artist Profiles: Muxicas

Muxicas

Muxicas was one of the great innovators in Galician folk music. The group was formed in 1978 with the intention of developing and updating Galician roots music. In its first recording Muxicas combined traditional music with new tunes with a distinct Galician flavor. In 1986 Muxicas revolutionized Galician music combining for the first time bagpipes with different tunings hurdy gurdys and an amazing assortment of native percussion instruments. The vocals were added in 1987.

Even though Muxicas created new arrangements for many ancient songs it tried to stay away from imported modern arrangements.

Musicians:

Manolo Rin-Rin – drum, frame drum, sea shells
Xurxo Cabaleiro – tambourine, frame drum
Liao Figueroa – bagpipes, percussion
Xose Manuel Fernandez – pipes, flutes, zanfona (hurdy gurdy), percussion
Maria Xose Lopez – vocals, zanfona, pipes
Emilio O Sisto – drum, tambourines
Magoia Bodega – bagpipes, accordion

Discography:

Parolada (Edigal 1982)
Muxicas (Edigal 1986)
O Demo Fungon (Edigal 1988)
Desafinaturum (Edigal 1990)
Escoitando Medra-la Herba (Edigal 1992)
No Colo do Vento (Clave Records 1996)
Naturalmente (Clave Records)

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Artist Profiles: Milladoiro

Early lineup of Milladoiro

 

Combining Celtic melodies, medieval music jazz and contemporary music, Milladoiro modernized traditional Galician folk music and started a revival movement among young musicians. They are still its most renowned practitioners drawing huge crowds throughout Europe.

Milladoiro is the Galician name for the heaps of stones built by shepherds. The group was formed in Santiago de Compostela (Spain), the final stop on the historic Saint James pilgrimage route (Camino de Santiago) and today also a thriving college town. The seven group members met at the university bringing with them a variety of musical backgrounds.

Fernando “Nando” Casal, Ramón García Rei “Moncho” and Xosé Ferreiros played together in Faíscas do Xiabre, a traditional music band born on the banks of river Ulla in Catoira. They recorded a beautiful record titled In Memoriam. They played traditional Galician music as wandering minstrels in native costume at fiestas and traditional festivals gathering experience by listening to old ‘gaiteiros’ (bagpipers) and learning from other traditional bands like Os Campaneiros, Os Irmáns Garceiras, Os Areeiras, and Os Rosales.

Rodrigo Romani and Antón Seoane were students of medieval music traveling through Galicia seeking the craftsmen who still built the offspring of instruments from the middle age like the zanfona (hurdy-gurdy), the citola and the freixolé. Those were times of scarcity and enthusiasm was a testimony of a hard reality. As a fruit of their work the record Milladoiro was released in 1978.

Xosé Méndez came from a jazz background and used to spend his time at musical libraries in cathedrals and old archive buildings. He was starting the core of what later would be the Grupo de Cámara da Universidade de Compostela. Milladoiro became six with the incorporation of Xosé A. Méndez. They just had to find a violinist, a nearly impossible task in Galicia in those times but emigration was generous and gave back to the country somebody who had left one day: Laura Quintillán, violinist in Milladoiro in 1979-1980. Later, Michel Canada who played in a pop band joined the band after Laura’s departure and played with Milladoiro until 1991. Antonio Seijo has been Milladoiro’s fiddler since then.

In the year 2000, Rodrigo Romaní left the group. At that time two musicians, harpist Roi Casal and guitar player Manu Conde joined the band.

The 2006 CD Unha estrela por guia is a tribute to poet Manuel Maria. It is Milladoiro’s first fully vocal CD. The songs are based on poems from Maria’s works: “Terra Che”, “Cancions do Lusco ao Fusco”, “As rias do vento ceibe”, “Soneto casa de Hortas”, “Cantigas” and “A Rosalia”. In addition to Milladoiro’s vocals there are several guests: Laura Amado, Leilia, actors Luis Tosar and Mabel Rivera.

The compilation XXV was released in 2005 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the band.

 

Milladoiro in 2013

 

The lineup in 2013 included Xosé V. Ferreirós on gaita (bagpipe), oboe, tin whistle, mandolin, uillean pipes, bouzouki, pandereta; Nando Casal on gaita, clarinet, tin whistle, pandereta; Moncho García on percussion; Xosé A. F. Méndez on flutes; Antón Seoane on accordion, zanfona, acoustic guitar, keyboards; Harry. C on fiddle; and Manú Conde on acoustic guitar and bouzouki.

 

Discography:

Milladoiro (Ruada 1978)
A Galicia de Maeloc (Ruada 1979)
O Berro Seco (Ruada 1980)
Milladoiro 3 (CBS 1982)
Solfafria (CBS 1984)
Galicia no Pais das Maravillas (CBS 1986)
Divinas Palabras ( ION 1987)
Castellum Honesti (Ariola/Green Linnet 1989)
Galicia no Tempo (Discmedi/Green Linnet 1991)
A Via Lactea (Cormoran 1993)
A Xeometria da alma (Cormoran 1993)
Iacobus Magnus (Discmedi 1994)
Gallaecia Fulget (Cormoran 1995)
As Fadas de Estraño Nome (Discmedi 1995)
No Confin dos Verdes Castros (1999)
Auga De Maio (Discmedi 1999)
Cabana de Bergantiños (1999)
O Niño do Sol (2002)
Adobrica Suite (2002)
XXV (2005)
Unha estrela por guia (2006)
A quinta das lagrimas (2008)
Milladoiro en Ortigueira (2016)

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Artist Profiles: Mestisay

Olga Cerpa (Mestisay)

Mestisay is a popular group in Spain’s Canary Islands. They were innovative experimental and eclectic while maintaining a strong connection to their folk traditions. Their lyrics were evocative of life’s special quality on these islands steeped in a unique mix of Spanish and transatlantic with a flavor of Africa borne on the dry wind that comes in from the East.

The album La Rosa de los Vientos (the rose of the winds) is like a kaleidoscope of all those traditions that have influenced the culture of the Canary Islands: among others Portuguese fado African percussion and Cuban bolero. Through their songs Mestisay gives homage to such artists as Ellis Regina Astor Piazzolla and Mercedes Sosa.

La Rosa de los Vientos features the track Sangueo an original from Equatorial Guinea which was translated with the help of “Hijas Del Sol” (The Daughters of the Sun) Piruchi and Paloma.

In some of their albums the group explores the strong ties of the Canary Islands with countries in the Americas with a large number of immigrants from tghe Carty Island such as Venezuela and Cuba.

The group is led by renowned vocalist Olga Cerpa.

Discography:

Canciones de las dos orillas (CCPC, 1989)

El cantar viene de viejo (Manzana, 1992)

Querido Néstor (CCPC, 1994)

La Rosa de los vientos (Nubenegra, 1996)

Viento de la isla (EMI-Odeon, 1998)

Mestisay (Sintonia, 2001)

Canciones del Sur (Ibermemory, 2003)

Toda una vida (2005)

Poeta en la isla (Factoria Autor, 2006)

Querido Néstor II (2006)

El Cabaret del Capitan Varela (La Central, 2008)

Pequeño fado y otras canciones de amor (La Central, 2009)

Atlantico Radio (Mestisay, 2012)

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Artist Profiles: Mercedes Peón

Mercedes Peón

Mercedes Peón who was born in La Coruña (Galicia, Spain) in 1967 has dedicated many years to recovering traditional music in her native Galicia and to teaching it in town schools and cultural associations. She has pioneered the formation of various female groups of singers and tambourine players.

Peón has also fronted several prestigious musical bands in Galicia and hosted a section about early Galician music on the local TV show Luar (Homeland).

As a music researcher, she published a book by installments titled Raiceiras (Roots women) that contains part of her field work in collecting songs. Peón has lectured on Galician folk music throughout the world and has received numerous awards for her teaching and her dedication to preserving the Galician tradition. “Ever since I was fortunate enough to fall In love with the songs of the people of Imense (a small town on the Galician “Death Coast”) I have spent years searching for those tunes that only the eldest among us can still remember because much as we may regret it over these last generations the oral transmission chain has been broken both here and In most of the world.”

The multitalented artist runs a record label called Discotrompo that promotes Galician traditional and folk music. Peón has also organized several festivals among them the traditional music festival for the Federation of European Cultural Associations and another called “Galicia Terra Unica”.

As a performer, as well as an accomplished singer, she is also a master of Galician bagpipes and of several traditional percussion instruments. Peón was awarded the special jury award in the Cídade Vella festival in Santiago de Compostela, the prize tobest singer and bagpipe performer at the Santiago de Compostela Folk Days and the Macallan award for Galician pipers at Lorient’s Festival Interceltique.

Peón has performed at many festivals throughout the world and she appeared as a guest on recordings and in live performances by artists such as Xosé Manuel Budiño, Manu Chao and Carlos Núñez.
Isué was her first solo album split between arrangements of traditional pieces and her own multicultural original compositions featuring a wide array of traditional Galician and international musical instruments combined with modern instruments. “… these years have witnessed the birth of a new phenomenon more commercial than cultural called “Celtism” which has assimilated apart from tunes from the Northern territories the pieces that were being composed by new Galician artists who took our traditional music as a springboard.

The fact is that by chance or design during this time I have had the pleasure to discover music from other ethnic groups especially from North Africa and find in them so many affinities both in rhythm and expression with our melodies that I have good reason hr wanting to look further south (or North if we refer to Africa) for musical connection and communion. Nevertheless I plead “not guilty” if this new album is wrongly categorized (though everybody is free to pigeonhole it as they wish).

That said I myself must face the ever-complicated task of defining what this new venture into the realms of music means for me. I humbly consider that this record made with all my loving care expresses many of the things I have learned and my knowledge of the Galician oral tradition (no doubt my understanding of it and my means of expression are the channel for these feelings I let fly from deep within me to whoever wishes to share them).

I should also stress that in order to place it stylistically it could be defined as fusion music for as I said before current trends move in that direction mixing modernity with the oldest sounds and creating somewhat paradoxically totally innovative sounds with intimate harmonies that do not leave aside the frenzied rhythm of Galician traditional patterns such as “ribeiranas” and “empunadas”.

To cut it short these are sincere and complicated melodies matching oldness with modernity and so on. But above all the work is infused with passion and love. My advice therefore is that you listen to ‘it and then say what you will.”

Discography:

Isué (Resistencia RESCD106, 2000)
Arjú (Discmedi DM 838-02, 2003)
Sihá (Discmedi DM 4325-02, 2007)
Sós (Do Fol, 2010)

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Jerez Celebrates the 50th Fiesta de La Bulería Flamenco Festival

Jerez de la Frontera, one of the cradles of flamenco, is celebrating the 50th edition of its renowned flamenco festival Fiesta de La Bulería de Jerez. The shows begin today, August 24th and will run until August 26th. Performances take place at the Alcázar de Jerez. This year’s festival is dedicated to Juan de la Plata.

Today, the Festival of the Festival de la Bulería Joven (the young buleria festival) is titled ‘Bodas de Oro,’ directed by Pedro Garrido ‘Niño de la Fragua.’ The show will honor the most outstanding flamenco vocalists, dancers and guitarists that have performed at Festival of the Bulería in its 50 years. The second part ‘Canta Jerez’ (Jerez Sings) will showcase the current young flamenco cantaores (male singers) and cantaoras (female singers) along with more experienced artists.

On Friday, August 25, the Fiesta de la Bulería again opens its borders to other sister municipalities, including a show dedicated to iconic singer Camarón de la Isla, titled ‘Jerez, Cádiz and the Ports, to Camarón’, directed by Diego Magallanes. The show is a province of Cadiz tribute to José Monge Cruz (Camarón).

On Saturday, August 26, the week of the Festival of the Bulería will culminate with the grand final show that, under the title ‘La tierra y el cante’ (the earth and song) with Pepe del Morao as artistic director and Juan Alfonso Romero as executive producer.

Throughout the festival, flamenco dance and guitar workshops will be available.

The festival held a flamenco dance flashmob on August 21.

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Artist Profiles: Mayte Martin

Mayte Martin

Mayte Martin is one of the most versatile cantaoras (flamenco singers) of her generation. She is capable of performing the most difficult styles of her repertoire with equal talent and without falling for the clichés linked to flamenco cante. She takes time to explore all of the possibilities for beauty and expression in each cante.

For her interpretive work is above all an exercise in ̶interior listening” a kind of mental composition that must later be re-created with the voice. Mayte controls the ̶micro-intervals”, the melismas that are interspersed between prolonged notes and that give her cante a fluidity and an unusual melodic elegance.

Mayte exudes an expressive and personal style founded on a classic base. Mayte recorded a boleros album with Tete Montoliú and wrote a handful of songs for string quintets before meeting the dancer Belén Maya. Their meeting resulted in the forging of one of the most important and unusual artistic unions in today’s flamenco.

Mayte’s recording, Querencia, with Drac-Virgin Records, provides an in-depth look at the essence of cante and Mayte’s own restlessness as an artist.

Querencia adds rhythmic emphasis without falling into festive clichés. It gives melodiousness to the most solemn of flamenco styles without loosing a speck of depth.

Translated by Rita Granda

Discography:

Muy Fragil (K Industria Cultural, 1994)
Free Boleros (K Industria Cultural, 1996)
Querencia (Virgin Records, 2000)
Tiempo de Amar (Virgin Records, 2002)
De fuego y de agua (KLM, 2008)
Al cantar a Manuel (Nuevos Medios, 2009)
Cosas de dos (2012)

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Artist Profiles: Matto Congrio

Matto Congrio

Matto Congrio was one of the most important modern Celtic bands in Galicia (Spain) in the early 1990s. Its only album Matto Congrio released in 1993 was an exciting combination of Galician Celtic music with Irish music, rock, salsa, samba and reggae. The album was recorded in Dublin and featured top Irish musicians as guests, including Paddy Moloney on the uilleann pipes.

The group’s founders Carlos Núñez, Santiago Cribeiro and Anxo Lois Pinto were all graduates of the Obradoiro Escola de Gaitas e Zanfonas de Vigo (Vigo School of Bagpipes and Hurdy Gurdies) the most important school in the development of new Galician musicians. After Matto Congrio disbanded Carlos Núñez went on to become one of the most sought after pipers and flautists in international Celtic music. In addition to touring worldwide with The Chieftains he has recorded solo albums for major labels and is a frequent guest in many recordings.

Former Matto Congrio members Santiago Cribeiro, Anxo Lois Pinto and Isaac Palacin formed a new group called Berrogüetto which became one of the top contemporary Galician folk music bands.

Musicians:

Santiago Cribeiro – accordion, piano, keyboards

Anxo Lois Pinto – violin, bagpipe, soprano sax

Diego Bouzon – Spanish and electric guitars

Isaac Palacin – drums percussion

Carlos Núñez – flutes and bagpipes

Pancho Alvarez – bass mandolin guitar

Discography:

Matto Congrio (Lyricon, 1993)

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Artist Profiles: María Salgado

María Salgado

María Salgado was born in Toro in the province of Zamora, Spain. From the beginning she assimilated and became familiar with the basis and sources of traditional folk music. In Segovia, the great master of Castilian music Agapito Marazuela revealed to her the essence of genuine traditional interpretation. In fact, on the basis of his teachings she made a great recording of songs taken from the “Cancionero de Castilla” which Marazuela painstakingly recovered at the beginning of the 20th century. In Canciones De Amor y Trabajo, María Salgado rearranged old melodies and included the most modern musical instruments. This she did in such a way that these vigorous songs lose none of their true spirit.

With her other tutor, Joaquín Díaz, she came to realize the importance of knowing and loving the recent past and she learned to re-discover it from a different angle from a more human and wiser view point. She took part in and collaborated in numerous recordings with Joaquín. Together they worked with other folk musicians such as Raíces, Candeal and Angel Carril on El Calendario Del Pueblo a project made up of several volumes.

These early beginnings give us a better understanding of María Salgado´s full and artistic development. Several solo recordings and many collaborations and joint recordings prove this her constant search for originality but always starting from the very depths of things from the essence of artistic being no matter what this may be or wherever it may be found.

There are few back-ups as essential as poetry and María has sung verses by Luis López Alvarez (her version of the Romance De La Reina Juana always seems different in each performance), works by Luís Díaz Viana of which she has made two mono recordings – Recuerdo and Profecía Por España ( a disc with Lorca echoes and one of Jesús Quintero’ s most frequently performed in “El Loco de la Colina”) and “La Ultima Dama”. She has also taken part in the recording made in honor of the Cuban composer María Teresa Vera together with Martirio, Omara Portuondo and Pablo Guerrero.

Poetry in the words, a fine sensibility in the interpretation variety in the themes –these are some of the ingredients used by María Salgado over the last years to create a widely recognized and tremendously coherent career. She can claim that thanks to her recording Mirándote it is clear that there are Habaneras from inland, away from the coast, which are just as beautiful and mysterious as those from the Mediterranean. In a recording made with Sudanese singer Rasha and Galician singer “La Sal de la Vida” she has clearly shown that the language of music as the language of art in general terms is the most powerful way to unite peoples and cultures.

In her recording “Siete Modos de Guisar las Berenjenas” (Seven Ways to Cook eggplant) she grouped together songs from a wide variety of origins and their only common factor is their beauty. Nostalgic Sephardic melodies taken from Greece live comfortably alongside new songs by Juan Pablo Silvestre and traditional Spanish songs from the plains and Andalusia.

Discography:

Recuerdo y profecia por España (1977)

El calendario del Pueblo (2 volumes 1977 and 1978)

Canciones de boda (1979)

Canciones de amor y de trabajo (1980)

La última dama (1981)

Siemprevivas (1992)

Mirandote (1993 and 1998)

A Maria Teresa Vera (1995)

La sal de la vida (Nubenegra, 1997)

Siete modos de guisar las berenjenas (Nubenegra, 1998)

Abrecaminos (2006)

Amor a Cuba (RTVE, 2008)

Abrazo-abraso (2011)

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