Tag Archives: United States of America

Artist Profiles: Mawwal

Jim Matus

Mawwal is a collective based in the northeastern United States. The musician behind the project is composer and instrumentalist Jim Matus who plays various types of lutes.

Mawwal performs mostly original material by Matus inspired by various global traditions such as the music of India, North America and Eastern Europe and the rhythms of the Middle East and Africa. Matus is involved in numerous other projects.

Discography:

This Is All There Is There Is No Other Place (Ancient Records, 2008)

Sight Up (Ancient Records, 2011)

High Hills in the Creaving Road (Ancient Records, 2012)

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Artist Profiles: Dennis Cahill

Dennis Cahill

Dennis Cahill is a virtuoso guitarist versed as well in classical, blues and rock as he is in traditional Irish music. A native of Chicago, he studied at the city’s prestigious Music College before becoming an active member of the local music scene.

Cahill’s innovative accompaniment is acknowledged as being a major breakthrough for guitar in the Irish tradition. In addition to his recordings and live work with Martin Hayes Dennis has performed with such renowned fiddlers as Liz Carroll, Eileen Ivers and Kevin Burke.

Cahill and Hayes, along with singer Iarla Ó Lionáird, fiddler Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh and pianist Doveman, are the members of The Gloaming, an Irish-American supergroup

Discography:

The Lonesome Touch, with Martin Hayes (Green Linnet 1997)
Live in Seattle, with Martin Hayes (Green Linnet 1999)
Welcome Here Again, with Martin Hayes (Green Linnet 2008)
The Gloaming (Brassland Records, 2014)
The Gloaming 2 (Brassland Records, 2016)

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Artist Profiles: Los Cenzontles

Los Cenzontles

Cenzontle is the Aztec word for mockingbird the bird of a hundred voices. Like the cenzontle, Los Cenzontles interpret a variety of regional Mexican styles. Los Cenzontles approach their performances with joyous energy sincerity and depth. Among the styles that they have interpreted are alabanzas, rancheras, pirekuas, son jarocho, Banda Sinaloense, tropical songs and dances of Mexico and the Caribbean and much more.

Since 1990 Los Cenzontles has worked with performed for and received support from numerous celebrities such as Linda Ronstadt Anthony Quinn Los Lobos Cheech Marin Yolanda del Rio Flaco JimÉnez Santiago JimÉnez Jr. Lalo Guerrero Gary Soto and Isabel Allende.

Line-up: Hugo Arroyo – Voice, tololoche (string bass) guitarrón, jarana; Don Gardner – Clarinet saxophone; Julian Gonzalez – Voice violin zapateado; Tregar Otton – violin tololoche palmas; Cristian Rodríguez – zapateado pandero bongos; Eugene Rodriguez – guitar vihuela guitarra de son; Lucina Rodriguez – Voice, zapateado; Fabiola Trujillo – Voice

Discography:

Con Su Permiso Señores (Arhoolie CD 435 1995)

Volando en los Cafetales (Mockingbird Records 1999)

Hypnotizada (Mockingbird Records 1999)

Amor Paz y Sinceridad (Mockingbird Records 1999)

Cancionero (Mockingbird Records 2000)

De Una Bonita compilation (Arhoolie, 2000)

Cuatro Maestros with Santiago Jimenez Jr., Atilano Lopez, Julian Gonzalez and Andres Vega. (Mockingbird Records 2001)

Media Vida (Mockingbird Records 2002)

Plan de la Villa with Julian Gonzalez (Mockingbird Records 2002)

Huapango (Urtext Records 2007)

Songs of Wood & Steel (Los Cenzontles 2008)

Senn-Sont-Less (Los Cenzontles 2008)

American Horizon (Los Cenzontles 2009)

Raza De Oro (Los Cenzontles 2010)

Regeneration (South Central Music 2012)

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Artist Profiles: Liz Carroll

Liz Carroll – Photo by Knuff Photography

Born in Chicago to Irish parents Liz Carroll was a natural at the fiddle right from the start. At age 18 she amazed the Celtic music world by winning the All-Ireland Senior Championship. Raised in the close-knit South side Irish community she learned the fiddle from her father and other older Irish musicians tagging along with him to Irish,session” where such respected musicians as fiddler Johnny McGreevy and pianist Eleanor (Kane) Neary could be found. She wrote her first tune at age nine.

An original member of the group Cherish the Ladies Liz has performed with artists ranging from the late virtuoso violinist Yehudi Menuhin to rock musician Don Henley. She has also performed with the String Sisters (with fellow fiddlers Mairead Ni Mhaonaigh of Altan Natalie Mac Master Catriona MacDonald from Scotland Annbjørg Lien of Norway and American Liz Knowles). The National Endowment for the Arts awarded Liz the National Heritage Fellowship the country’s top honor for the traditional arts in 1994. In 1999 Chicago’s Mayor Richard M. Daley named September 19th,Liz Carroll Day, during the Chicago Celtic Festival.

Discography:

Kiss Me Kate with Tommy Maguire (Shanachie 3412, 1978)

Trian with with Trian (1992)

Liz Carroll (Green Linnet, 1993)

Trian II with with Trian (Green Linnet SIF-1159, 1995)

A Friend Indeed (Shanachie 3413, 1995)

Lost in The Loop (Green Linnet 1199, 2000)

Lake Effect (Green Linnet 8122, 2002)

In Play with John Doyle (2005)

Live with String Sisters (2007)

Double Play, with John Doyle (Compass Records, 2009)

On the Offbeat (2013)

website: www.lizcarroll.com

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Artist Profiles: Little Hatch

Little Hatch likely was the best harmonica player ever to make Kansas City home. He died on January 14, 2003 at 81 years-old.

Little Hatch was born Provine Hatch Jr. in Sledge, Mississippi in 1921. He picked up the blues harp [harmonica] when he was just 8 years-old. By his teens after his family had moved to Helena, Arkansas Hatch was under the direct spell of Sonny Boy Williamson II. The Blues and that harmonica overcame him.

‘I slept with it ate with it and everything else I could do with it ‘ Hatch said of his first harmonica in an APO Records interview.

The obsession turned into a profession for Hatch once he added vocals to his act.

The U.S. Navy drafted Hatch in 1942 and he served in World War II until 1946. On his way home to Arkansas, Hatch stopped in Kansas City. He liked the city’s feel Hatch told his family and after meeting a woman he decided to make his home there.

Hatch worked as a trash-hauler owning his own truck and accumulating 65 stops. He worked for Hallmark Cards for 32 years as a security guard and as a mailman earning a pension. But the Kansas City Mayor’s Office declared his birthday October 25th Little Hatch Day because of his Blues.

For more than 40 years Hatch was a Kansas City star. However Hatch’s fame and most of his gigs were limited to Kansas City. APO Records owner Chad Kassem couldn’t believe that Little Hatch wasn’t a recording star when he first saw him perform in the early 1980s. By the late 1990s Kassem had established Blue Heaven Studios and the Blues label APO in Salina, Kansas. He of course remembered Hatch and the two formed a relationship that produced 1998’s Goin Back (APO, 2007) and Rock With Me Baby.

Little Hatch died of natural causes at his home in El Dorado Springs, Missouri. He was 81 years old.

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Artist Profiles: Lhasa

Lhasa

Her story began in Big Indian, a tiny village perched among the Catskill Mountains of New York although she didn’t stay there long. Lhasa’s (full name Lhasa de Sela) idealistic and unconventional parents rejected routine and stability preferring to follow life wherever it might lead them.

For seven years the family would crisscross the United States and Mexico in a converted school bus Lhasa’s first chapter in a long experience of the road. Her father was a writer and teacher who would work in construction or picking fruit when he had to; her mother was a photographer.

Traveling with them and her three sisters it was her early contacts with books fairy tales radio drama and passing landscapes that shaped her imagination. Even at the time she knew how lucky she was to be spending her childhood as she was although the freedom entailed uncertainty as well.

The soundtrack to those years was a medley of the American and Mexican classics loved by her father and the Latin Arab Eastern European and Asian music her mother would listen to.

San Francisco mid 198s. At 13 Lhasa took to the stage of a Greek cafe to sing Billie Holliday ballads and Mexican tunes a cappella. There she gradually discovered the power of her voice to convey thoughts and emotions she was only beginning to experience herself.

Six years later the road led north to Montreal. It was there that she met guitarist and producer Yves Desrosiers. For close to five years they performed together in downtown bars a collaboration that evolved into original material that eventually took form in La Llorona an album that centered on the persona of a tearful siren of Aztec mythology who would bewitch men with her heartrending melodies.

Infused with a certain nostalgia, the album exuded the fragrances of Mexico and the colors of the Romany full of sensuality and striking instrumentation. Released in February 1997 the Spanish-language album was immediately recognized for its sparkling originality. Hundreds of thousands worldwide were transported by the even throaty voice that delivered such mysterious poetry above the rich arrangements heady like incense.

The first influence was in Quebec where Lhasa began to fill halls and ultimately win the “Felix” for Artiste Quebecois – musique de monde in 1997. Then followed the rest of Canada where she went platinum selling 11 albums and winning a Juno for Best Global Artist in 1998. Then came the U.S. and Europe especially France where La Llorona went triple disc d’or, with albums flying off the shelves.

Lhasa and her band toured relentlessly for several years throughout Europe and North America where her concerts were as acclaimed as the album had been. The demand for live appearances steadily increased. On the eve of the 21st Century Lhasa decided to take a break from touring and consider what might be next.

Realizing that she needed to distance herself from her life as a singer she decided to travel to France to fulfill her childhood dream of performing with her three sisters all circus performers. They met up in Bourgogne and created a show together which premiered in the summer of 1999. The contrast between the life of a touring musician who sees the world fly by with never the time to savor the places and people along the way and the circus life traveling in the company of family and friends sharing trailers and assembling and dismantling the big top and bleachers provided a welcome opportunity for the singer to replenish her inner resources.

When the circus tour had ended Lhasa arrived at a new chapter in her life: Marseilles the ancient port city where half the titles for her new album would be born. In 2002, back in Montreal, where her career had begun she re-united with Francois Lalonde drummer percussionist and sound engineer onLa Llorona and Jean Massicotte pianist who had also contributed to the mixing of her first release. They were to co-produce her second album The Living Road.

Where La Llorona revolves around a mythical siren The Living Road centers on the metaphor of life as a road. A gathering of original titles sung in Spanish, English and French the album bridges physical distances as it links the musical traditions of the present and the past. “That’s what inspires each of the songs on the album,” said Lhasa. “The mysterious force that doesn’t let us box ourselves in that compels us to keep changing. The road is alive we can’t freeze or stop it. And we know we can’t.”

The self-titled and self-produced Lhasa reveled in her eclectic sum of influences was released in 2009.

After battling breast cancer Lhasa passed away on Monday January 1st of 2010 at her home in Montreal Canada. She was 37.

Discography

La Llorona (1997)
The Living Road (2003)
Lhasa (2009)

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Artist Profiles: Lee Sexton

Lee Sexton

Lee Sexton is one of the most respected and revered traditional musicians in eastern Kentucky. A master of traditional banjo styles both two-finger picking and “drop-thumb” (clawhammer) Sexton has lived his whole life near his birthplace in Letcher County Kentucky.

Born in 1927 he grew up in an intensely musical family and community He worked for a week clearing a field to earn the dollar that bought him his first banjo a homemade wooden fretless model with a groundhog skin head that he acquired when he was eight years old With instruction from his father and uncles (one of whom was the legendary banjo player Morgan Sexton Sexton soon mastered the instrument and the fiddle as well He is also a powerful singer whose repertoire includes such classics as “Cumberland Gap” and “Little Birdie.” As a young man he would work all week in the mines and then play music all weekend at house parties, bean stringings and corn shuckings.

In his sixty-five year musical career Lee has been an essential figure in the musical life of his community and one of the foremost tradition bearers of Kentucky’s mountain music heritage He has played from front porches and community dances to radio stations national festivals and college campuses.

He is a regular at Appalshop’s annual Seedtime on the Cumberland festival and at Hindman Settlement School’s Family Folk Week. He was featured in Appalshop’s music video, Whoa Mule, shown on Country Music Television and The Nashville Network and garnered a brief scene in the 198 film Coal Miner’s Daughter based on the life of Loretta Lynn where he appears playing at a square dance. In 1999 he was presented with the Kentucky Governor’s Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts.

Discography:

Whoa Mule

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Artist Profiles: Ledward Ka’apana

Ledward Ka’apana

Ledward Ka’apana is a master of the art of Hawaiian slack-key guitar and widely regarded as one of its greatest innovators. He is also one of the Islands’ finest singers in the traditional falsetto style.

has recorded dozens of albums with his influential groups Hui Ohana and I Kona and with musicians ranging from Alison Krauss Ricky Skaggs and Sonny Landreth to his legendary Uncle Fred Punahoa.
One of the great ambassadors of Hawaiian music he has performed throughout the United States and Europe.

Ledward Ka’apana and Mike Kaawa joined forces to create one of the great collaborations in Hawaiian music.

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Artist Profiles: Larry Harlow

Larry Harlow

Larry Harlow is a legend in salsa music. As a classically trained musician he began to study music at the age of 5 following in his father’s footsteps. He has a multi-faceted musical education having studied at the most prestigious music schools including; The High School of Music and Art in N.Y. City; Brooklyn College B.A. in Music; The Institute of Audio Research; The New School For Social Research M.A.in Philosophy. His specialties include Jazz and Classical piano conducting composition orchestration and audio engineering. Besides the keyboards he also plays oboe English horn flute bass vibraphone and assorted percussion instruments.

During the late 1950s he was so fascinated by the Latin rhythms that he traveled to Cuba to live and study the real Afro-Cuban sounds that became known as Salsa. As an expert Salsa artist he returned to New York to develop his own style and orchestra and later to help create the internationally famous Fania All-Stars group. While a member and producer of the Fania All-Stars for fifteen years Larry Harlow was not only a recording star with various solo albums and 15 with the All-Stars but also produced over 16 recordings for other artists. Harlow became a Santeria Priest (Ochun-Oni) and speaks English Spanish German and Lucumi.

He has received six gold records and has been recipient of Record World and Billboards’ Awards in the following categories: Latin Producer of the Year; Pianist of the Year; Arranger of the Year; Concert of the Year; and Salsa Orchestra of the Year. Harlow is a former Governor of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. He was the primary force in attaining recognition for Latin Artists thoughout the world by instituting the first Grammy for Latin music. He himself has been nominated for a Grammy for his album “La Raza Latina” a Salsa Suite. He created and composed the first Salsa opera “Hommy” which he orchestrated and conducted at Carnegie Hall and repeated in San Juan Puerto Rico to rave reviews. Harlow produced and recorded the first Latin Quadraphonic album and the first Latin Digital album.

He was the associate producer and co-starred in two feature films “Our Latin Thing” and “Salsa”.

Larry Harlow tours internationally with his unique Latin sounds taking it to Europe Central and South America Finland Africa and Japan as well as all the major markets in the U.S. Harlow is a former owner of two state-of-the-art recording studios in New York. He is currently playing producing recordings and directing videos for major artists in the U.S. and Europe. This past year Harlow formed the Latin Legends Band who are recording and touring the globe. Harlow is listed in the first edition of “Who’s Who in Entertainment”.

Discography:

Heavy Smokin’ (Fania, 1965)
Bajándote: Gettin’ Off (Fania, 1966)
El Exigente (Fania, 1967)
Me and My Monkey (Fania, 1969)
Ambergris! (Gatefold, 1970)
Electric Harlow (Fania, 1970)
Abran Paso! (Fania, 1971)
Orchestra Harlow Presenta an Ismael Miranda (Fania, 1971)
Tribute To Arsenio Rodríguez (Fania, 1971)
Opportunidad (Fania, 1972)
Harlow’s Harem (Fania, 1972)
Hommy: A Latin Opera (Fania, 1973)
Salsa (Fania, 1974)
Live in Quad (Fania, 1974)
El Judío Maravilloso (Fania, 1975)
Con Mi Viejo Amigo (Fania, 1976)
El Jardinero del Amor (Fania, 1976)
La Raza Latina: A Salsa Suite (Fania, 1977)
El Albino Divino (Fania, 1978)
Latin Fever (Fania, 1978)
Rumbambola (Fania, 1978)
La Responsabilidad (Fania, 1979)
El Dulce Aroma del Éxito (Fania, 1980)
Our Latin Feeling – Nuestro Sentimiento (Fania, 1980)
Así Soy Yo (Coco, 1981)
Yo Soy Latino (Fania, 1983)
Señor Salsa (Tropical Budda, 1984)
The Latin Legends Band (Sony, 1998)
Romance En Salsa (Caimán, 1999)
¡Sofrito! (Rainart, 2000)
Live at Birdland (Latin Cool, 2003)

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Artist Profiles: Keola Beamer

Keola Beamer

Keola Beamer was born January 18, 1951 in Oahu, Honolulu County, Hawaii. Keola’s ‘ohana (family) was well equipped to nurture his musical interests. One of Hawaii’s best known musical clans the Beamers trace their roots back to the 15th century. Ancient ancestors include Big Island Queen Ahiakumai Ki’eki’e and Ho’olulu one of the kapu (sacred) twins born of Kame’eiamoku favored wife of Kamehameha Nui. More recent family members include composer and hula exponent Helen Desha Beamer (Keola’s great-grandmother) composer Pono Beamer (his grandfather) master teacher Louise LeiomAlama Beamer (his grandmother) falsetto singer and pianist Mahi Beamer (his cousin) and chanter and teacher Winona Beamer (his mother). Keola cites his family as his primary musical influence and consciously seeks to maintain its legacy.

Hawaiian society has always placed a high value on sound which has led to a strong commitment to preserving traditional musical forms and an equally powerful interest in the music of other cultures. Reflecting this duality Keola has crafted his style with elements of the ancient and the modern the indigenous and the introduced. On the one hand he actively champions Hawaiian forms that predate contact with Europeans. As illustrated by the pieces The Beauty of Mauna Kea and Pele Trilogy he loves the chant form and plays traditional instruments such as ‘ohe hano ihu (bamboo nose flute) and ‘ili’ili (lava stone castanets). Says Keola “For me as for most Hawaiians hula and chant connect the generations.”

On the other hand Keola was one of the first slack key masters to experiment with electronic effects multi-track recording complex chord progressions even innovative guitar construction. Keola attributes the controversy this sometimes causes to healthy aesthetic and generational differences. “I remember at fifteen sitting at the feet of Aunty Alice Namakelua and hearing her call Gabby Pahinui a radical,” related Keola. “Now he’s considered traditional. For me that’s the beauty of slack key. Who wants to be in an art form with no room for expression left in it?

In the 196s Keola studied at the Kamehameha Schools in Honolulu a hotbed of the emerging “Hawaiian Renaissance.” He also gained valuable experience performing with his mother who remains his favorite collaborator. Their most recent project a CD of stories and slack key entitled The Golden Lehua Tree (Starscape Music 96112) brings Hawaiian folklore to children and adults around the world.

In 1973 Keola released his groundbreaking solo album Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar in the Real Old Style (Music of Polynesia) and published the first slack key instruction book. In the 1970s Keola and his brother Kapono also formed The Beamer Brothers bringing slack key to the rock generation. Their mix of Hawaiiana and pop produced many Island standards including Keola’s best known original Honolulu City Lights. Through the 198s Keola continued his solo exploration of new musical territory while gaining inspiration from traditional music.

Keola’s first album on Dancing Cat Wooden Boat was released in 1994. Each of his Dancing Cat albums focuses on a different aspect of his art and is characterized by keen intelligence instrumental virtuosity and deep sensitivity to nature. “I’m pretty much a nature person,” Keola said. “Wherever we go my wife and I always pause and listen to the environment: the wind blowing through the hala leaves the water the birds. I get a lot of inspiration from those moments.” One such moment inspired Keola’s fourth album for Dancing Cat Kolonahe which centers on images of ka makani (the wind). Several songs in this recording make direct references to wind an important image in Hawaiian music while others incorporate subtle musical allusions to it.

In Hawai’i the creative impulse usually stems from a pleasurable experience. The concept for Kolonahe came to Keola one afternoon on Maui. “I was out in a distant valley sitting under some hau trees enjoying the space the quiet when all of a sudden the most beautiful refreshing breeze came through. It caressed everything in its path: the trees the grass the stones. It changed the whole complexion of that day. At a time like that how can you feel anything other than peace in your heart? Music is like that too. You can’t see the kolonahe but you can feel its presence. It brings something beautiful into our lives.”

In high school and college Beamer studied classical guitar and later when he began to teach guitar he published the first method book for his instrument. Around the same time in 1972 he recorded his first landmark solo album Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar in the Real Old Style filled with the nahenahe (soft and sweet) sound of this Hawaiian tradition. To this day this album continues to influence many guitarists.

Mutual fans of one another’s musical careers Keola Beamer and R. Carlos Nakai met when Nakai was organizing a workshop at Kalani Honua in Hawaii. Nakai wanted to include Hawaiian culture in the workshop and Beamer offered his services. Nakai who has brought the traditional Native American flute into new musical genres including jazz new age and classical constantly seeks new collaborators and new musical worlds to explore. Therefore it was natural that he would approach Beamer to see if he would be interested in doing a musical collaboration mixing disparate cultures. The result isOur Beloved Land.

Our Beloved Land features the sound of the Native American flute accompanied by the harmonies of the slack key guitar. Several songs also feature Beamer’s soulful vocal renditions of original and traditional Hawaiian songs.

Discography

Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar in the Real Old Style (1972)
Keola and Kapono Beamer (1976)
Honolulu City Lights (1978)
Sweet Maui Moon (1989)
Wooden Boat (1994)
Moe’uhane Kika – Tales from the Dream Guitar (Dancing Cat Records, 1995)
The Golden Lehua Tree (narrated by Nona Beamer) (1996)
Mauna Kea – White Mountain Journal (1997)
Kolohane – From the Gentle Wind (1999)
Island Born (2001)
Ka Leo O Loko – Soliloquy (Dancing Cat Records, 2002)
Mohala Hou – Music of the Hawaiian Renaissance (2003)
Ki Ho’alu (Loosen the Key) DVD (2003)
Our Beloved Land (with R. Carlos Nakai) (2005)
Keola Beamer & Raiatea (2010)
Kahikina O Ka Hau (The Coming of the Snow) (2011)
Malama Ko Aloha (Keep Your Love) (2012)

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