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Artist Profiles: Niyaz

Niyaz – Photo by Olaf Heine

Vas vocalist Azam Ali; Axiom of Choice’s multi-instrumentalist Loga Ramin Torkian; and producer/remixer Carmen Rizzo joined forces to create a globe-spanning sound that the trio calls “folk music for the 21st century.” Known collectively as Niyaz, the trio represents the best of both traditional world music and electronic music.

With an ethereal beguiling sound that evokes centuries of women’s voices from medieval Europe to the modern Middle East , Azam Ali was half of the best-selling duo Vas (with percussionist Greg Ellis). Her singing has been heard in several major motion pictures including The Matrix: Revolutions and on many television programs such as Alias and The Agency.

Loga Ramin Torkian, whose band Axiom of Choice won much critical acclaim is deeply involved with the music of his homeland Iran. He is accomplished on the guitar the Turkish saz and electric guitarviol (a 14th century European bowed guitar) a traditional Persian lute as well as other Turkish and Kurdish instruments. Loga also uses the Persian classical repertoire known as the radif within his own compositions.

Carmen Rizzo has collaborated with a diverse range of artists including Seal, Alanis Morisette, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Khaled, Ekova and Cirque du Soleil as well as Paul Oakenfold, BT Esthero, Jem Alpha, Tiesto and Grant Lee Phillips.

For these three artists Niyaz represents a real departure from their usual avenues of artistic expression. Their first joint album weaves together ten beautiful mystical poems written by some of the greatest Sufi poets of all time with music accessible to a contemporary audience. Azam who was born in Iran but largely raised in India, sings in both Farsi (the Persian language) as well as in Urdu a language widely spoken in India and in Pakistan.

The music too represents cultural combinations of the highest order crossing back and forth over centuries of musical expression to combine ancient instruments rhythms and tonalities with brand new sounds. Mingling the textures of traditional acoustic music with new electronica Niyaz represents a finely-tuned balance that ushers in a new era of artistic possibilities for Iranian music.
Niyaz’s second CD, titled Nine Heavens came out in 2008. Nine Heavens was released as a double CD (featuring one disc of electronic and one disc of acoustic versions of the tracks).

Continuing to bridge the gap between traditional and modern world music Niyaz follows up 2005’s critically acclaimed and highly successful self-debut album with another recording of traditional sounds balanced tastefully with modern electronics.

Nine Heavens reveals a much more complex body of work featuring nine intricately carved original arrangements and compositions of traditional folk songs and mystical Sufi poems from Iran the Indian sub-continent and Turkey. With a strong emphasis on composition Niyaz centers on the deep interconnectedness between the music of Iran India and Turkey and delves further into the traditional melodies of these regions with outstanding performances by its core members as well as guest musicians of the highest caliber from these three traditions.

The lyrical framework for Nine Heavens once again features beautiful Persian and Urdu mystical poems by some of the greatest Sufi poets two original interpretations of traditional folk songs from Khorassan Iran and one soulful folk song from Maras Turkey. For the Iranian portion of the album Niyaz shift their focus from the beloved Sufi poet Rumi onto another great Iranian 13th century mystic/poet/musician Amir Khosrau Dehlavi who was born and raised in India and went on to become an iconic figure in the cultural history of the Indian sub-continent where he is revered to this day by thousands. ForNiyaz Dehlavi?s work embodies the very spirit of their music which focuses on the timeless exchange between these two cultures. For the Urdu portion of the album Niyaz features Ghazals and Rubaiyats by renowned 18th century Sufi poets Khwaja Mir Dard and Hali.

Their 2012 album Sumud expands on the theme of the music and identity of Iranians living in exile while adding their new experiences and worldviews learned during their heavy touring through the Middle East in the past seven years. “We have now travelled across the world and those experiences have affected the journey that we are on and the direction we’ve taken on this album,” Ali said from her new home in Montreal. “We’ve performed in the Kurdish parts of Turkey during times of major conflicts as well as other parts of the Middle East. Obviously that has affected this project. We wanted to focus on the ethnic and religious minority groups in these regions because they have really struggled to maintain their identity. It started from us wanting to tell our story and it has evolved into this humanitarian social message embracing regions around Iran.”

 

 

In 2013, Carmen Rizzo left the group.

Discography

Niyaz (Six Degrees, 2005)
Nine Heavens (Six Degrees, 2008)
Sumud (Six Degrees, 2012)
The Fourth Light (Six Degrees, 2015)

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Artist Profiles: Nightnoise

Nightnoise

Nightnoise began as a collaboration between American fiddler Billy Oskay and Irish singer and guitarist Micheal O Domhnaill. Together they released the album Nightnoise in 1984. The traditional Celtic music scene was become smaller in Europe and just beginning to take hold in the United States so attracted by the environment of Portland, Oregon O Domhnaill settled there in 1982. “I was tired of playing only traditional Irish music with is fairly well set,” said Micheal, “especially in the accompanist’s role playing guitar and I was ready to write my own music.”

Three years later Micheal’s sister, Irish pianist and vocalist Triona Ni Dhomhnaill, who had previously collaborated with her brother in Skara Brae, Relativity and The Bothy Band; and Irish-American flutist Brian Dunning, joined the original duo. Nightnoise the band was born.”When it came time to do the second record Something of Time in 1985,” O Domhnaill remembered, “we knew we needed additional players so I invited Triona from North Carolina and Brian from New York. They liked Portland so much they decided to stay as well.”

Something of Time, the quartet’s first album was released by Windham Hill in 1987. It would be followed by At the End of the Evening (1988), The Parting Tide (1990) and the compilation A Windham Hill Retrospective (1992). This would be the last album to feature Oskay’s playing and writing as he chose to leave the band to run his own recording studio, Big Red Studio.

Shadow of Time (1994), the fifth album of new Nightnoise music for Windham Hill Records marked the emergence of the band in a new alignment. With famed Celtic fiddler Johnny Cunningham joining, longtime members O Domhnaill Dunning and keyboardist and vocalist Triona Ni Domhnaill (pronounced Trina Nee Donnell) the direction for the group followed an unexpected and scenic detour. The band took on a much more Irish-centric sound while still retaining their own signature style.

Born in Scotland, Cunningham was known for his role as a founder of the legendary Celtic folk band Silly Wizard and for playing in numerous folk and rock settings with Bob Dylan, Warren Zevon, Don Henley, the Waterboys, Bill Morrissey and others. His membership brought a new sense of common heritage and musical unity to Nightnoise. “We’ve been playing with Johnny for years and years and years,” noted O Domhnaill, referring especially to a double sibling collaboration in the revered and wryly named Celtic “supergroup” Relativity featuring Micheal and his sister Triona and Johnny and his brother Phil Cunningham. “Relativity was almost exclusively a band that played jigs, reels, traditional folksongs, and ballads,” he continued “and Nightnoise is a band that composes its own material. That’s the biggest difference. But since Johnny’s a Celt himself, our sort of musical alliance allows a lot of things to go unsaid and makes us a more fluid cohesive unit.”

A Different Shore (1995) and the fan-favorite White Horse Sessions (1997), an album featuring live concert performances mixed in with in-studio live performances with their Windham Hill colleagues as their audience. The album also featured original material only available in this live format (the songs “Heartwood”, “Do We” and “Murdo of the Moon”) as well as a cover of Van Morrison’s classic “Moondance”. “The white Horse Sessions” marked the end of the band’s contractual obligations to Windham Hill and they decided to relocate to Ireland going on hiatus while the yeach focused on their own projects.

1997’s Sessions remains the last Nightnoise album. Cunningham left the band following its release and was replaced by Irish fiddler John Fitzpatrick. In a 1999 interview Micheal O Domhnaill stated that Nightnoise had not broken up and that the band would be getting together again shortly. The band has recorded new material since then
(both original compositions and covers of classic songs) but they’ve all been made for albums others than their own.

Johnny Cunningham died on December 15, 2003 from a heart attack. He was 46 years old. Micheal O Domhnaill died in July 2006 at his home in Dublin, Ireland at the age of 54.

Discography

Nightnoise (Windham Hill Records, 1984)
Something of Time (Windham Hill Records, 1987)
At the End of the Evening (Windham Hill Records, 1988)
The Parting Tide (Windham Hill Records, 1990)
Shadow of Time (Windham Hill Records, 1993)
A Different Shore (Windham Hill Records, 1995)
The White Horse Sessions (Windham Hill Records, 1997)

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Artist Profiles: Nickel Creek

Nickel Creek

Nickel Creek was one of the hottest acts on the acoustic circuit in the early 2000s. They toured with Lyle Lovett, backed Dolly Parton and had two hit videos on CMT.

Their traditionally flavored pop-folk lyrics and acoustic licks performed by guitarist Sean Watkins, his violinist sister Sara and mandolinist Chris Thile reflected an eclectic mix of influences that included bluegrass, classical, jazz and rock. The trio made acoustic roots music relevant for a new generation.

The band members met through music when their parents took them to hear the Southern California band Bluegrass Etc. at their regular weekly show at the local pizza place.

Nickel Creek formed with Chris’s father bassist Scott Thile when a bluegrass promoter thought it would be cute to have a kid’s band which resulted in the group touring festivals for a decade. Scott Thile left the group and sent the young adults on their way when the debut album hit the streets.

As individual musicians they were always discovering new ways to hone their craft. “Musically this band never stays the same ” said Thile. “We love to grow. There are moments on stage where I look over and think ‘This is why I’ve been in this band since I was eight’… It’s so comfortable and yet we’re all focused on bettering ourselves on a solo level. Sean and I are writing and pushing each other to come up with better stuff.” Sean and Chris were the primary composers and writers for the group.

Nickel Creek disbanded in 2007, but returned in 2014 with a new album and 25th anniversary tour.

Discography

Little Cowpoke (Choo Choo Records, 1993)
Here to There (1997)
Nickel Creek (Sugar Hill Records, 2000)
This Side (Sugar Hill Records, 2002)
Why Should the Fire Die? (Sugar Hill Records, 2005)
A Dotted Line (Nonesuch Records, 2014)

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Artist Profiles: Newpoli

Newpoli

Newpoli is a group of skilled musicians who specialize in southern Italian folk music, primarily from the regions of Campania and Puglia. Their music crosses through time culture and musical styles. The South of Italy has a multicolored past with influences from northern Africa, the Middle East and ancient Greece. These influences can still be heard in the traditional melodies and rhythms of the pizzica, tarantella and other musical genres of the South.

The group was founded in 2003 by directors Carmen Marsico, Angela Rossi and Björn Wennås. Newpoli is an eight-piece ensemble that has performed throughout the United States. In 2008 Newpoli made its European debut at Diacetum Festival in Tuscany, Italy.

Newpoli released its self-titled debut album Newpoli in 2008. In 2012 the band issued Musica di Natale, a recording of traditional Italian Christmas music. Its third album Tempo Antico came out in 2013. Nun te vutà came out in 2015.

Members Include:

Carmen Marsico – lead vocals
Angela Rossi – lead vocals
Björn Wennås – chitarra battente, mandola & classical guitar
Fabio Pirozzolo – tamburello & vocals
Jussi Reijonen – oud, mandola & classical guitar
Daniel Meyers – zampogna, ciaramella & recorders
Karen Burciaga – violin
Jeff McAuliffe – bass

Discography:

Newpoli (Beartones Records 2008)
Musica di Natale (2012)
Tempo Antico (2013)
Nun te vutà (2015)

website: http://www.newpolimusic.com

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Artist Profiles: Mollie O’Brien

Mollie O’Brien

Mollie O’Brien was born October 25, 1952 in Wheeling, West Virginia.

In the mid-1970s she moved to Colorado, where she performed with a number of local jazz and R&B groups. Mollie formed her own band in the early 1990s.

With brother Tim O’Brien she released three duet albums to widespread acclaim. Her first Sugar Hill solo album Tell It True stayed in the Top 10 of Gavin’s Americana Chart for six weeks-astounding bluegrass fans and reacquainting her with R&B fans.

She’s appeared at the leading acoustic music festivals and venues in the US and has toured the UK, Europe and South America.

Discography:

I Never Move Too Soon (Resounding Records 1987)
Take Me Back with Tim O’Brien (Sugar Hill 3766 1988)
Live At The Alvada Center with The Mother Folkers (Propinquity 1989)
Every Night In The Week (Resounding Records 1990)
Remember Me with Tim O’Brien (Sugar Hill 384 1992)
Away Out On The Mountain with Tim O’Brien (Sugar Hill 3825 1994)
Tell It True (Sugar Hill 3846 1996)
True Life Blues with various artists (Sugar Hill 1996)
Big Red Sun (Sugar Hill 3885 1998)
9 Baseline with Rich Moore (2007)
Things I Gave Away (2000)
Saints and Sinners, with Rich Moore (2010)
Love Runner, with Rich Moore (2014)

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Artist Profiles: Mike Marshall

Mike Marshall at WOMEX 2008 – Photo by Angel Romero

Mike Marshall grew up in Central Florida, where he developed his career playing traditional American music. His interest in many musicals styles however eventually led him to the San Francisco Bay Area to join the original David Grisman Quintet in 1978 at age 19. This band toured and recorded with the legendary jazz violinist Stephan Grappelli, Mark O’Connor and guitarist Tony Rice. They performed on the popular American TV program Johnny Carson Show that same year and toured Europe and Japan and helped set a new standard for American stringband music.

Since then Mike has continued pushing the boundaries of acoustic music and can be heard on hundreds of recordings as a composer featured artist sideman and producer.

Mike is one of the most accomplished and versatile string instrumentalists in American music today. A master on mandolin, guitar, mandocello and violin he has created adventurous instrumental music for over 30 years.

As a teacher, Mike founded a one week mandolin camp for in 2002 with his colleague David Grisman. The Mandolin Symposium takes place the last week of June at U.C. Santa Cruz with over 15 mandolinists and some of of the greatest players/teachers in the world.

Discography:

Gator Strut (Rounder 1987)
Chiaroscuro with Darol Anger (Windham Hill 1990)
Brasil: Duets (Rhino 1996)
Midnight Clear (Acorn 1998)
Short Trip Home with Joshua Bell (Sony 1999)
Wine Country (Menus and Music 2001)
At Home and On the Range (Compass 2002)
Into the Cauldron with Chris Thile (Sugar Hill 2003)
Serenata (Adventure Music 2003)
Mike Marshall & Choro Famoso (Adventure Music 2004)
The Duo with Darol Anger (Rounder Select 2005)
Brazil Duets (Adventure Music 2005)
Live: Duets with Chris Thile (Sugar Hill 2006)
New Words [Novas Palavras] (Adventure Music 2006)
Mike Marshall and Darol Anger with Vasen (Adventure Music 2007)
Woodshop with Darol Anger (Adventure Music 2007)
Mike Marshall’s Big Trio with Alex Hargreaves and Paul Kowert (Adventure Music 2009)
Caterina Lichtenberg and Mike Marshall (Adventure Music 2010)
An Adventure 1999-2009 (Adventure Music 2010)
Mike Marshall & The Turtle Island Quartet (Adventure Music 2014)

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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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