Tag Archives: world fusion

Artist Profiles: Jamshied Sharifi

Jamshied Sharifi in Lanzarote (Canary Islands, Spain) – Photo by Angel Romero

Jamshied Sharifi was born in Topeka, Kansas to an Iranian father and an American mother. At an early age Sharifi was exposed to jazz and Middle Eastern music by his father and to European classical and church music by his mother. He began to study classical piano at age five and quickly developed a thirst for musical instruction and a desire to improvise. At age nine he began studying guitar and drums and at age ten added flute.

After graduating from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a degree in humanities Sharifi wenton to further his musical education at Berklee College of Music in Boston. At Berklee he studied Jazz Piano and Composition as well as Film Scoring and in 1983 he received of the Outstanding Jazz Pianist award at the Collegiate Jazz Festival held at the University of Notre Dame. He studied with noted trumpeter and Charlie Parker sideman Herb Pomeroy and after graduation from Berklee Pomeroy asked Sharifi to lead the MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble a post Pomeroy had held for twenty-two years.

From 1985-1992 under Sharifi’s direction and leadership the group recorded two CDs performed twenty of his compositions and won the prestigious Notre Dame Collegiate Jazz Festival in 1991. During this time Sharifi also taught in the Music Synthesis and Ensemble Departments at Berklee.

In 1992 he left his teaching positions in Boston and moved to New York City in search of new musical endeavors and opportunities.

Sharifi began to focus his attention on film soundtracks. His foray into the world of film and television began as a keyboardist and orchestrator for Michael Gibbs. Together they scored three feature films and fifteen one-hour television shows. Sharifi went on to compose the soundtracks to many major studio and independent films including Muppets From Space Down To Earth Harriet the Spy and Clockstoppers and contributed to the scores of The Thomas Crown Affair and The Rugrats Movie.

Jamshied Sharifi

While Sharifi’s initial focus in music can be credited to American jazz it is his infusions of elements from the Middle East and Africa that make his music distinctive. He is an accomplished pianist and synthesizer player. Notably Sharifi holds the synthesizer to an ‘acoustic’ standard and aims to play it with the detail and richness of articulation that comes naturally to an acoustic instrumentalist. To achieve this sound he uses a controller which allows him to manipulate the synthesizer with his breath. He combines this technique with a ribbon controller that allows him to bend the pitch smoothly and continuously with his finger. According to Jamshied using both these techniques makes the instrument a “wind-driven fretless synthesizer”.

His Alula Records debut in 1998 A Prayer for the Soul of Layla (named in honor of his daughter) was voted Best Contemporary World Music Album in the first annual New Age Voice Music Awards. The widespread critical acclaim “Layla” received sent him and his group to São Paulo Brazil to perform at the Musica Mundial festival with artists such as Baaba Maal and Baka Beyond. “The album is a distillation of all these directions,” says Sharifi. “Because I’ve always had a lot of contact with acoustic instruments and players I have tried to hold the synthesizer up to an ‘acoustic’ standard in other words to try and play it with the depth detail and richness of articulation that come naturally to an acoustic instrumentalist.”

Sharifi’s second solo album One was released April 8th 2008.Drenched in world rhythms and instrumentation accented by contemporary Western influences. One invites the listener to journey to places off the map through its blending of cultures performers and sounds.

Sharifi invited internationally influential names to lend their voices to this momentous album. “I wanted to put together singers and musicians who wouldn’t normally perform together and see where that led” said Sharifi. “I was intentionally disrespectful of world music ‘boundaries’ hoping that the spirit of cooperation and mutual respect would prevail.”

On the opening track, “One” Sharifi orchestrates a stage of layered instrumentation for Tibetan songstress Yungchen Lhamo to weave intricate vocal melodies.”My thought was that this track would set the tone of the whole project” explains Sharifi. “By combining performances of Yungchen Lhamo and a West African singer it would define the space in which mi project would live.”

Yungchen who was encouraged directly by the Dalai Lama to share her inimitable voice to the world is joined by Malian vocalist
Abdoulaye Diabate. On the passionate “Darfur Is Burning, a response to our and the world’s inaction in the face of whatcan only be called genocide Diabate’s soulful vocals plead over the delicate kora playing of Mamadou Diabate.

Grammy Award winner Paula Cole lends her well-known voice to “My Grandfather The Tree” and “A Charlotte Sky” which Sharifi wrote for Cole’s daughter with Hassan Hakmoun who joins Cole on the track.

Hakmoun performs on two other songs including the album’s closing track “Requiem” which was written at the request of John Diliberto at Echoes soon after 9/11. Sharifi invited Irish whistle player Seamus Egan of the band Solas to play the melody and Hakmoun to sing the brief lament in the middle of the song. “It’s worth remembering that 9/11 has been for most Muslims a tragedy as well.”

Also appearing on the album are critically acclaimed vocalist Sussan Deyhim of Tehran and North Indian vocalist Vishal Vaid. Remarkably Vaid infuses his performances with the ancient technique of Ghazal singing creating the perfect counterpart to Sharifi’s compositions.

In addition to creating his own albums and scoring films Sharifi has produced and arranged albums formany artists including Tibetan vocalist Yungchen Lhamo and Persian vocalist Mamak Khadem. He has also recorded four albums with world fusion band Mo Boma.

Discography

A Prayer for the Soul of Layla (Alula Records, 1998)
One (Ceres, 2000)

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Artist Profiles: Jai Uttal

Jai Uttal

Jai Uttal is a pioneer in the United States’ world music community. His eclectic east meets-west sound has put his music at the forefront of the world fusion movement. Jai Uttal’s musical roots embrace a rich variety of cultures and traditions that span the globe and the centuries. From the traditional music of the Appalachian Mountains to the passionate strains of Bengali street singers from the haunting rhythms and melodies of ancient India to contemporary electric rock sounds Jai’s music distills the essence of diverse musical forms.

As a child in New York City, Jai’s home was filled with music. He began studying classical piano at the age of seven and later learned to play old time banjo harmonica and guitar. His musical interests encompassed a wide variety of styles and over the years he experimented with many forms of musical expression.

Eventually this led him to the work of India’s National Living Treasure Ali Akbar Khan. At the age of 19 Jai moved to California to become a student of Khansahib for traditional voice training and to learn the sarod a 25-stringed Indian instrument. Later he traveled to India where he was deeply inspired by the Bauls the wandering street musicians of Bengal. Jai settled among them communicating only through music which ultimately helped establish his unique style.

During these early visits to India Jai also met his Guru Neem Karoli Baba and spent time with many great beings of both the Hindu and Buddhist traditions. He became deeply absorbed in the practice of kirtan the ancient yoga of chanting or singing to God. This form of prayer became the core of his musical and spiritual life.

When Jai returned to the United States his music had been transformed. He continued to study Indian music diligently while also performing in reggae, R&B, punk and blues bands. He also began leading kirtan groups all over the country. The combination of Jai’s exceptional vocals and exotic instrumentation produced a new and captivating sound.

In 1991 Triloka Records released his debut album Footprints featuring world music innovator Don Cherry and Indian vocalist Lakshmi Shankar. The album received critical acclaim and led Jai and his band the Pagan Love Orchestra to international prominence. By the time his second album Monkey was released in 1993 Jai and the Pagan Love Orchestra had an enormous fan base with a top ten record on the world music charts.

In 1994 Beggars and Saints was released a tribute to the Bauls of Bengal and again the album received international recognition solidifying Jai Uttal’s position as a world music visionary. During this time Jai also produced two CD’s for his teacher Ustad Ali Akbar Khan. Combining the brilliance of Khansahib’s playing and composing with Western orchestration Journey and Garden of Dreams became extremely popular in the Indian community.

Jai’s fourth release Shiva Station was another leap forward. Capturing the raw urgency of his live performances with the Pagan Love Orchestra and adding the mixing wizardry of veteran producer Bill Laswell Shiva Station presented traditional chants in a totally new way. The concerts at that time united the temple and the nightclub the sacred and the worldly; emphasizing the underlying theme that spirituality and devotion can pervade all aspects of life.

Meanwhile, with the rise of interest in Yoga, Jai was receiving more and more requests to lead kirtan workshops and concerts all over the world. In the last few years chanting has brought him to Israel Fiji Brazil Germany Switzerland and India. Jai released a live kirtan CD titled Nectar to begin to chronicle these powerful events.

Finally in February of 2002 Jai Uttal and the Pagan Love Orchestra released Mondo Rama on Narada Records. The product of several years of deep musical and self-exploration Mondo Rama combined Brazilian influences, Hebrew prayers, Appalachian Blues, Beatles psychedelia and of course Indian music and chants, Mondo Rama explodes from the speakers in celebration and rebirth. “I went through many difficult heart-wrenching transformations in the last year” says Jai, “and I decided to put it all into this CD. The anguish the pain the joy and the redemption. Mondo Rama means the World is Rama or Everything is God. This CD is an attempt to express that feeling and the sense of surrender and gratitude that I try to remember everyday“. Mondo Rama went on to be nominated for a Grammy as Best New Age Album of 2002.

Jai adds, “world music is music from everywhere. Music that creates bridges. Music that unites hearts and cultures. Music that brings peace.”

In recent years Uttal has drifted away from world music, focusing on music for the new age market.


Discography:

Footprints (Triloka Records” 1991)

Monkey (Triloka Records 1993)

Beggars and Saints (Triloka Records 1994)

Shiva Station (Triloka Records 1997)

Nectar (Etherean 2000)

Mondo Rama (Narada Records 2002)

Kirtan (Sounds True 2004)

Music for Yoga and Other Joys with Ben Leinbach (Gemini Sun Records 2004)

Pranayama (2005)

Loveland – Music for Dreaming and Awakening with Ben Leinbach (Gemini Sun Records 2006)

Dial M for Mantra (Sounds True 2007)

Thunder Love (Nettwerk 2009)

Bhakti Bazaar (Sounds True 2010)

Queen of Hearts (Nutone 2011)

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Debashish Bhattacharya Meets Euro and American Jazz

Debashish Bhattacharya, Anders Lonne Gronseth, Kenny Wessel and Subhasis Bhattacharya – Bhattacharya – Grønseth – Wessel (Pling Music, 2017)

The prolific Indian slide guitar maestro Debashish Bhattacharya loves to collaborate with other musicians. He has released exquisite solo albums as well as remarkable collaborations with jazz and world music artists. On this occasion, Debashish and his brother Subhasis (tabla) team up with two acclaimed jazz musicians, Norwegian saxophone player Anders Lønne Grønseth and innovative American guitar player Kenny Wessel.

The East West fusion works perfectly, especially when the two totally different guitar styles interact with each other. Debashish uses his habitual mesmerizing resophonic guitars while Kenny Wessel uses the electric guitar and the interplay is exquisite.

Anders Lønne Grønseth’s saxophone also blends well with the guitars and tabla, especially when he uses the softer form of playing the sax, when it feels more like a whisper.

The lineup includes Debashish Bhattacharya on chaturangui and National resophonic guitars; Anders Lønne Grønseth on tenor and soprano saxophones; Kenny Wessel on electric guitar; and Subhasis Bhattacharya on tabla and percussion.

 

 

Buy Bhattacharya – Grønseth – Wessel

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Artist Profiles: Zakir Hussain

Zakir Hussain

 

Tabla maestro Zakir Hussain, son of the legendary Ustad Alla Rakha, has built a reputation as one of the finest tabla players in Indian classical music.

Zakir Hussain was born March 9 March, 1951 in Mumbai, India. He began performing as a child prodigy at age 8. In constant demand as an accompanist, he has performed with most of India’s greatest musicians and dancers. While he has few equals as a traditional tabla player, he has also been an innovator, bridging the Hindustani and Carnatic traditions by performing with both North and South Indian masters and presenting percussion concerts both as a soloist and with other drummers.

In addition to his dedication to the Indian classical music tradition, Zakir has been a pioneer in introducing the tabla to wider audiences in the West through his collaborations with jazz and rock musicians, and with percussionists from Latin America, Africa and Europe. As a member of the East-West fusion group Shakti, he won critical acclaim for his virtuosity.

Zakir’s father, Alla Rakha passed away in February of 2000, but his legacy continues with the Masters of Percussion tours that feature Zakir and two of his brothers (Fazal and Taufiq Qureshi).

Zakir Hussain’s 1986 ECM album Making Music was a major statement in the world music arena, with Jan Garbarek, John McLaughlin and bansuri flute genius Hariprasad Chaurasia as contributors.

Zakir Hussain has composed and performed music for various films. He arranged the opening music for the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta.

Hussain has also played on several ECM albums with violinist L. Shankar: Who’s to Know, Song for Everyone, Nobody Told Me, M.R.C.S., and Pancha Nadai Pallavi.

 

Zakir Hussain

 

He played with Tabla Beat Science whose high-volume clash of cultures incorporated an ever-shifting cast of percussionists and DJs around a core of Zakir, sarangi player Ustad Sultan Khan and bassist Bill Laswell. Zakir Hussain has also collaborated on music for ballet with Yo-Yo Ma.

In 2007, Zakir was chosen by the government of India to compose an anthem, “Jai Hind,” to celebrate India’s 60th year of independence.

Zakir has been the recipient of many awards and titles, including Padma Bhushan (2002); Padma Shri (1988); the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (1991); the 1999 National Heritage Fellowship, this country’s highest honor for achievement in the traditional arts; and Grammy Awards for Best World Music Album for Planet Drum (1992) and Global Drum Project (2009) with Mickey Hart, Sikiru Adepoju and Giovanni Hidalgo.

Discography

* Making Music (ECM 1349, 1987)
* Planet Drum, with Mickey Hart (1992)
* Tabla Duet, with Ustad Alla Rakha (Moment Records MR 1001)
* Zakir Hussain & The Rhythm Experience (Moment Records MR 1007, 1994)
* The Best of Shakti with John McLaughlin, L. Shankar and T.H. Vinayakram (Moment Records MR 1011)
* Masters of Percussion with Ustad Alla Rakha, Giovanni Hidalgo, Narada Michael Walden and others (Moment Records MR 1012)
* Magical Moments of Rhythm (1995)
* Essence of Rhythm (1998)
* Supralingua, with Mickey Hart (Rykodisc, 1998)
* The Believer, with Remember Shakti (Polygram, 2000)
* Tala Matrix, with Tabla Beat Science (Palm Pictures, 2000)
* Golden Strings of the Sarode, with Aashish Khan (2001)
* Saturday Night in Bombay, with Remember Shakti (Universal Records, 2001)
* Selects (Moment Records, 2002)
* Summit, with George Brooks (Earth Brothers Music, 2002)
* The Best of Mickey Hart: Over the Edge and Back (2002)
* Live in San Francisco at Stern Grove, with Tabla Beat Science (Palm Pictures, 2002)
* Ustad Mohammad Omar: Virtuoso from Afghanistan (2002)
* Energy (2003)
* Live at Miles Davis Hall, with Remember Shakti (2004)
* Live at 38th Montreux Jazz Festival, with Remember Shakti (2004)
* Punjabi Dhamar (2004)
* Raag Chandrakauns (2004)
* Sangam, with Charles Lloyd (ECM, 2006)
* Soukha (Naive, 2006)
* Rhythmic Impressions of Ustad Zakir Hussain (2006)
* Global Drum Project (Shout Factory, 2007)
* The Melody of Rhythm, with Bela Fleck and Edgar Meyer (eOne, 2009)
* Mysterium Tremendum, with Mickey Hart Band (2012)

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Artist Profiles: Sabir Khan

Sabir Khan

Sabir Khan, born in Jodhpur, Rajasthan (India), belongs to the Sikar gharana (school) of music that has introduced several influential figures to Indian classical music.

He is the ninth generation in his family to take up the sarangi and is considered to be one of the finest players of the younger generation. He began studying music when he was six years old with his grandfather, Ustad Gulab Khan, a renowned sarangi player and vocalist.

Soon afterwards, he began training with his father, the acclaimed sarangi player and vocalist Ustad Sultan Khan, and his late uncle Ustad Nasir Khan. With a technique displaying tonal, melodic and rhythmic prowess, he is proving a worthy successor to his proud lineage.

Discography:

The Sultan of Sarangi, with Ustad Sultan Khan (Dreams Entertainment, 1988)

The Legacy, with Ustad Sultan Khan (Worldwide Records, 2011)

Celestial Ragas (Aimrecs, 2013)

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Artist Profiles: Anita Katakkar

Anita Katakkar

 

Anita Katakkar is a Canadian percussionist who specializes in tabla. Her ancestry is Indian and Scottish. She grew up listening to Indian music through her grandmother.

Anita studied tabla with Ritesh Das in Canada and later in India with Pandit Swapan Chaudhuri. She spent 10 years as a member of the Toronto Tabla Ensemble.

In 2009 Anita formed Rakkatak in Toronto. It started as a solo project with Anita on her tabla, a laptop, and a sequencer to create a decidedly personal mix of classical Indian music and electronica. Rakkatak became a band with the addition of bassist Oriana Barbato and sitarist Rex Van der Spuy. Rakkatak’s style changed, concentrating on a less electronic form of Indian fusion.

 

Rakkatak

In addition to her Rakkatak work, Anita teaches tabla, collaborates with yoga instructors and frequently DJs for Yoga classes in Toronto-area studios. She created music to link breath to movement with her Yoga Trax project.

 

 

Discography:

Rakkatak (2010)
Open (2014)
Small Pieces (Rakkatak RA017, 2017)

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Different Threads of Indian Fusion

Rakkatak – Small Pieces (Rakkatak RA017, 2017)

Rakkatak is a Canadian duo led by tabla master Anita Katakkar and bassist Oriana Barbato. Their album Small Pieces came out this week. It’s a remarkable mix of percussive Indian classical music and western musical forms, including rock and jazz-rock fusion.

Small Pieces contains original pieces by Rakkatak along with some surprising versions of well-known songs. The most famous is “Norwegian Wood,” the Beatles’ song composed by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. The other unexpected song is Rush’s “YYZ.” Rush is one of Canada’s most famous rock bands and Anita Katakkar found connections in its rhythmic structure and odd time signatures.

In addition to the familiar tabla, Anita Katakkar adds other percussion instruments to her arsenal such as the western glockenspiel, creating an unpredictable partnership between the tabla and the bell sound of the glockenspiel.

On Small pieces Rakkatak is joined by sitar player Rex Van der Spuy as well as several other guests on Indian-style vocals and other instruments.

The last track on the album, “Riffing On 9,” takes Rakkatak in yet another direction, This timer it’s an example of the work Anita Katakkar did in the past, mixing Indian percussion with electronics, inspired by the Asian Underground movement.

The lineup on Small Pieces includes Anita Katakkar on tabla, cajón, glockenspiel and harmonium; Oriana Barbato on bass, shaker and cabasa; Rex Van der Spuy on sitar; Sina Bathaie on santur; Randolf Jiménez on drums; Samidha Joglekar on vocals; Joanna De Souza on manjira; Jessica Deutsche on violin; Steve Oda on sarod; Philippe Tasci on guitar; Reza Moghaddas on keyboard; and Joanna Mack on sitar.

The album is available from rakkatak.bandcamp.com/album/small-pieces

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Artist Profiles: Natacha Atlas

Natacha Atlas

 

Natacha Atlas was born in Belgium, the daughter of an Egyptian father and an English mother. Natacha grew up in the Moroccan suburbs of Brussels, becoming fluent in French, Spanish, Arabic and English, immersing herself in Arabic culture, Egyptian “shaabi” pop and learning from childhood the raks sharki (belly dance) techniques that she uses during her spectacular live performances.

Even more remarkable than Natacha’s dance moves is her unmistakable voice, rich in nuance and grounded in Arabic music.

Natacha moved to England as a teenager and became Northampton’s first Arabic rock singer. Since then has involved herself in a wide variety of musical projects. Dividing her time between the UK and Brussels, she sang in a variety of Arabic and Turkish nightclubs, and spent a brief period in a Belgian salsa band called Mandanga. As she commuted between Northampton and Brussels, however, she began to attract the attention of the Balearic beat crew ¡Loca! and Jah Wobble, who was then assembling his Invaders of the Heart. Wobble was looking for an wide-ranging Middle Eastern singer and fell in love with her voice.

In 1991, both these projects became a reality. Timbal by ¡Loca! started out as a track on Nation Records’ Fuse Two compilation and became a massive dance club hit, while Wobble’s http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000007641/musidelmund-20/002-7906139-4219234?%5Fencoding=UTF8&camp=1789&link%5Fcode=xm2 | Rising Above Bedlam – five tracks which Natasha co-wrote – attracted much critical acclaim and a Mercury award nomination.

The success of Timbal consolidated Natacha’s relationship with the ground-breaking Nation Label, who introduced her to TransGlobal Underground (TGU), at that time enjoying Top 40 success with http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00000DEO0/musidelmund-20/002-7906139-4219234?%5Fencoding=UTF8&camp=1789&link%5Fcode=xm2 | Templehead.

First guesting with TransGlobal Underground in 1991, Natacha became two years later a member of the core quartet of TransGlobal Underground, as lead singer and belly-dancer. A couple of years later, it was TransGlobal Underground’s Tim Whelan, Hamid ManTu and Nick Page (a.k.a. Count Dubulah, who helped her to make her first solo album, Diaspora.

 

 

Diaspora came out in the summer of 1995 to critical acclaim. Natacha combined the dubby, rhythmic-driven global dance of her longtime associates Transglobal Underground, with the more traditional work of Arabic musicians like Tunisian singer-songwriter Walid Rouissi and Egyptian composer and ud master Essam Rashad. The result was a collection of songs of love and yearning that genuinely fused West and East.

On her second LP, Halim, Natacha explored further her deeply felt affinity with Arabic musical heritage.

In parallel with the success of her solo albums she remained a full-time Transglobal Underground member, and Transglobal Underground composed her backing band, until they left Nation Records in 1999, and they have remained allies throughout her subsequent career. Atlas has appeared on most TGU albums and its members are usually involved in the production of her solo albums.

 

Natacha Atlas

 

1997’s Halim followed, and then Gedida in 1999 , both creatively and naturally fusing Middle Eastern and European styles, and delighting an ever-increasing audience in both territories.

 

 

In 2000, Natacha released The Remix Collection, in which material from the first three albums was reworked by a variety of remixers, including Talvin Singh, Banco de Gaia, Youth, 16B, Klute, the Bullitnuts, TJ Rehmi, Spooky and Transglobal Underground.

Natacha’s fourth album Ayeshteni was released in 2001.

2002’s album, Natacha Atlas and Marc Eagleton Project’s Foretold in the Language of Dreams, was a considerable divergence. No beats; a calm recording, involving a slightly smaller group of musicians than normal, including Syrian qanun master Abdullah Chhadeh, whom Natacha married in 1999.

Aside from her own projects, Natacha remains very much in demand as a guest singer for the recordings and performances of a remarkably wide range of musicians, including Nitin Sawhney, Jocelyn Pook, the Indigo Girls, FunDaMental, Ghostland, Abdel Ali Slimani, Toires, !Loca, Musafir, Sawt El Atlas, Franco Battiato, Juno Reactor, Dhol Foundation, Jah Wobble, Jaz Coleman, Apache Indian (on his chart hit Arranged Marriage), Mick Karn, Jean-Michel Jarre’s Millennium Night spectacular at the Pyramids, Jonathan Demme’s film The Truth About Charlie, and David Arnold’s film scores including Stargate and Die Another Day.

Natacha Atlas spent a lot of time in her father’s homeland, Egypt. There, she worked with members of Transglobal Underground and Egyptian musicians. Her album, Ayeshteni, was recorded and composed there.

In 2003, she released Something Dangerous, a solo album of contrasts and collaborations, in which she injected Middle Eastern music into UK pop, pulling in dance music, rap, drum’n’bass, R&B, Hindi pop, film music and French chanson.

 

 

On Something Dangerous (2003), Atlas not only combined more styles than ever, but for the first time on an Atlas album it featured guest vocalists, and more singing in English than she did before. There is a collaboration with English composer Jocelyn Pook (who, among other things, created the score for Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut), it has Atlas’ Arabic vocal lushly surrounded by Pook’s western classical orchestration for the Prague Symphony Orchestra. Another guest is West Indian Princess Julianna, whom Atlas met when they were both guesting with Temple of Sound.

On the Arabic side, Atlas used Abdullah Chhadeh and one of Egypt’s finest shaabi trumpet players, the late Sami El Babli (deceased in a car crash shortly after the recording), to whom the track is dedicated. Atlas and Sinead O’Connor, who last recorded together on John Reynolds’, Justin Adams’ and Caroline Dale’s 2002 Ghostland album, trade aphorisms in ‘Simple Heart”.

With Mish Maoul (MNTCD 1038), released in April 2006, Atlas’ career came full circle to touch base with her roots.

The new album returned to the music she grew up hearing in the Moroccan suburb of Brussels, particularly when the Golden Sound Studio Orchestra of Cairo makes its entrance. It also reunited her again with Temple of Sound’s Nick Page (aka Count Dubulah), with whom she first worked in Transglobal Underground and who helped produce her very first solo album Diaspora.

 

Discography

Diaspora (Beggars Banquet/MCA, 1995)
Halim (Beggars Banquet, 1998)
Gedida (Mantra/Beggars Banquet, 1999)
The Remix Collection (Mantra/Beggars Banquet, 2000)
Ayeshteni (Mantra/Beggars Banquet, 2001)
Foretold in the Language of Dreams (2002)
Something Dangerous (Mantra/Beggars Banquet, 2003)
Best of Natacha Atlas (Mantra/Beggars Banquet, 2003)
Mish Maoul (Mantra/Beggars Banquet MNTCD 1038, 2006)
Ana Hina (World Village, 2008)
Mounqaliba, In a State of Reversal (Six Degrees 657036 1170 2 0, 2010)
Mounqaliba – Rising: The Remixes (Six Degrees Records, 2011)
Expressions: Live in Toulouse (Mazeeka Music, 2013)
Myriad Road (Decca, 2015)

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Artist Profiles: Nguyên Lê

Nguyên Lê

Born in Paris to Vietnamese parents, the self-taught Nguyên Lê began to play drums at the age of 15, followed by guitar and electric bass. After graduating in Visual Arts, he majored in Philosophy, writing a thesis on Exoticism. Then he devoted to music, creating Ultramarine (1983), a multi-ethnic band whose CD “http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000FIHFB4?ie=UTF8&tag=musidelmund-20&linkCode=xm2&camp=1789&creativeASIN=B000FIHFB4 |Dé” was considered “1989’s best World Music album by Philippe Conrath of Libération. Lê easily slides from rock, jazz, and funk to Vietnamese, Indian, and North African music.

Nguyên Le is a self-taught musician, with a wide scope of interests: rock & funk (Jim Cuomo, Madagascar tour 84), jazz standards & contemporary Jazz (bass player with Marc Ducret, guitar player with Eric Barret), Improvised Music (Yves Robert), singers (Ray Charles), Contemporary Music (André Almuro, Tona Scherchen, Marius Constant, Mauricio Kagel), Ethnic Music: African & Caribbean with Ultramarine, Algerian with Safy Boutella & Cheb Mami, Indian with Kakoli, Turkish with Kudsi Erguner, Vietnamese with his “Dan Bau” (traditional one-stringed instrument) teacher Truong Tang.

In September 1987 he was chosen by director Antoine Hervé to play with the O. N. J. (French National Jazz Orchestra). Within this big band, he played with such musicians as Johnny Griffin, Louis Sclavis, Didier Lockwood, Carla Bley, Steve Swallow, Randy Brecker, Toots Thielemans, Courtney Pine, Steve Lacy, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Gil Evans, Quincy Jones. Nguyên Le’s work also deals with programming synthesizers, effects & computers as well as writing orchestral pieces : “Processor” composed, arranged & recorded on CD O.N.J. 87 & Lunik II” co-arranged with Dominique Borker & performed by the O.N.J. 1989.

In September 1989 he recorded Ultramarine’s 2nd album De &, in May 90, his first album as a leader Miracles, recorded in the U.S.A. with Art Lande, Marc Johnson & Peter Erskine. At the same time he worked with such musicians as Michel Portal, Miroslav Vitous, Trilok Gurtu, J. F. Jenny Clarke, Aldo Romano, Daniel Humair, Dewey Redman, Andy Emler, Jon Christensen, Nana Vasconcelos, Glenn Ferris, Christof Lauer, Paolo Fresu, Kenny Wheeler, and John Taylor.

In May of 1992, after a one month tour with Paul McCandless on winds, Art Lande (piano), Dean Johnson (bass) & Joël Allouche (drums), he recorded his 2nd album Zanzibar, which got the prestigious Télérama « ffff » award. In January 1993 he recorded “INIT”, a trio with André Ceccarelli, François Moutin & guest Bob Berg, while setting up a new band on the music of Jimi Hendrix, with Corin Curschellas (vocals), Steve Argüelles (drums), Richard Bona (bass).

Since January 93 he’s been a frequent guest soloist of Cologne’sd WDR Big band, especially with composer/director Vince Mendoza. Nguyên Lê plays on three of his projects: Jazzpaña, Sketches with Dave Liebman, Charlie Mariano, Peter Erskine, & “Downtown”, with Russell Ferrante.

In April 1994 he was the guest soloist of “The New Yorker”, a suite by Bob Brookmeyer, with Dieter Ilg (bass) & Danny Gottlieb (drums). With these two musicians he set his first trio, and recorded Million Waves in December of 1994.

In the meantime, he was playing in trio with Michel Benita (bass) & Peter Erskine, recording on Michel Portal’s new album with Ralph Towner (guitar), & working with Ornette Coleman on one of his contemporary music pieces, “Freedom Statue”.

In June 95 he was invited by WDR BigBand in “Azure Moon”, with the Yellowjackets & Vince Mendoza. In July 1995, in Stuttgart Festival, he was one of the guest guitar players to celebrate the “Universe of Jimi Hendrix”, besides Trilok Gurtu, Terry Bozzio, Cassandra Wilson, Jack Bruce, Vernon Reid, David Torn, Victor Bailey, Pharoah Sanders.

In April 1996, Nguyên Lê created Tales From Vietnam, a project on Vietnamese music, with a 8-piece band blending jazz & traditional musicians. With stage director P. J. San Bartolomé, he started ” Of the Moon & the Wind “, a complete show where traditional & contemporary Vietnamese dancers are integrated to the “Tales from Viêt-Nam” orchestra. The CD Tales From Vietnam received a great welcoming from international critics : Diapason d’Or, Choc du Monde de la Musique, Choc of Year 1996 Jazzman, 2nd best CD 96 for Jazzthing (Germany), Best CD 96 on radio TRS 2 (CH), “a minor masterpiece” Jazztimes (USA).

On April 1997 Nguyên Lê released his 5th CD, Three Trios, with Marc Johnson/ Peter Erskine; Dieter Ilg/ Danny Gottlieb; & Renaud Garçia Fons/ Mino Cinelu.
He recorded 2 CDs with Paolo Fresu’s quartet: Angel (February 1998) & Metamorfosi (April 1999). On May 1998, the 6th record came out: Maghreb & Friends, an exploration of Maghreb musical traditions & a deep collaboration with Algerian musicians.

Nguyên Lê produced the 1st CD of Huong Thanh, Moon & Wind , entirely done in his home studio. His CD Bakida, based on his regular trio with Renaud Garçia Fons (bass) and Spanish percussionist Tino di Geraldo (percussion, drums) plus guests from all over the world like Kudsi Erguner, Chris Potter, Carlos Benavent.

In September of 2002, the Huong Thanh CD came out, titled Dragonfly. In June of that year he was invited by the Metropole Orchestra (Netherlands) to play his music arranged by Vince Mendoza.
Purple: Celebrating Jimi Hendrix, an album celebrating Jimi Hendrix was released in September of 2002. Up to now, it is Lê’s most successful album, with 20,500 CD sales & non stop touring all over the world.

Mangustao, Huong Thanh’s 3rd album, released in January 2004, was awarded as “Choc de la Musique” by French magazine Le Monde de la Musique.
In March of 2005 Walking on the Tiger’s Tail was released. This was a new album with his great friends Art Lande, Paul McCandless & Jamey Haddad.

Several projects were carried out in 2006 : the score writing of “Le Sheitan”, a movie by Kim Chapiron with Vincent Cassel, & Homescape a very electronic, improvised & mystical recording in duo with Paolo Fresu & Dhafer Youssef, all done at home. There was also the score for the Vietnamese movie “Saigon Eclipse” by Othello Khanh; the recording of “Mozart” last Uri Caine’s album; a 13-gig tour in the USA with “Tiger’s Tail” quartet, thanks to a CMA/FACE grant; two “classical” compositions commissioned by the Ahn Trio & the Laguna Beach Fest in Los Angeles. In addition, Nguyên Lê was unanimously awarded the guitar “Django d’Or” 2006.

In 2007, after tours in US & China, he released Fragile Beauty, the 4th album with Huong Thanh.

In 2008 he recorded Othello Syndrome for Uri Caine, Blauklang for Vince Mendoza’s & also Dream Flight, a new ELB (Erskine, Lê and Benita) album, with guest Stéphane Guillaume on sax.

His 2009 project, Saiyuki, borught together Japanese koto and shamisen player Mieko Miyazaki and Indian tabla player Prabhu Edouard. It draws on a renowned Chinese 16th century novel. The story’s epic excursion from China to India becomes a metaphor for the three players’ musical journeys, real or imagined. The CD features Mieko Miyazaki (koto) & Prabhu Edouard (tabla) and special guest Hariprasad Chaurasia (flute).

As a sound engineer he mixed Dhafer’s Youssef album Abu Nawas Rhapsody.

In 2011, Nguyên Lê released Songs of Freedom, an album with cover versions of pop song hits from the 1970s.

My language is Jazz, but I have chosen to open it & to feed it with other essential cultures that fascinate me & remind me of my origins,” says Lê.

Discography

* Programme Jungle, with Ultramarine (Bloomdido BL 001)
* , with Ultramarine (Musidisc, 1989). Reissued in 2005 (Universal 983 883-0}
* Esimala, with Ultramarine (Musidisc , 1991) Reissued in 2005 (Universal 983 883-1)
* Miracles (Musidisc, 1989). Reissued in 2005 (Universal 983 881-9)
* http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000FIHFAU?ie=UTF8&tag=musidelmund-20&linkCode=xm2&camp=1789&creativeASIN=B000FIHFAU | Zanzibar (Musidisc, 1992). Reissued in 2005 (Universal 983 882-0)
* http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000024HU8?ie=UTF8&tag=musidelmund-20&linkCode=xm2&camp=1789&creativeASIN=B000024HU8 | Million Waves (ACT 9221-2, 1995)
* http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000001YKE?ie=UTF8&tag=musidelmund-20&linkCode=xm2&camp=1789&creativeASIN=B000001YKE | Tales From Vietnam (ACT 9225-2, 1996)
* http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000001YKJ?ie=UTF8&tag=musidelmund-20&linkCode=xm2&camp=1789&creativeASIN=B000001YKJ | 3 Trios (ACT 9245-2, 1997)
* http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000024CBA?ie=UTF8&tag=musidelmund-20&linkCode=xm2&camp=1789&creativeASIN=B000024CBA | Maghreb & Friends (ACT 9261-2, 1998)
* http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0000089Z0?ie=UTF8&tag=musidelmund-20&linkCode=xm2&camp=1789&creativeASIN=B0000089Z0 | Angel, with Paolo Fresu’s quartet (RCA Victor, 1998)
* http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000028E6W?ie=UTF8&tag=musidelmund-20&linkCode=xm2&camp=1789&creativeASIN=B000028E6W | Metamorfosi, with Paolo Fresu’s quartet (BMG, 1999)
* http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000042ORG?ie=UTF8&tag=musidelmund-20&linkCode=xm2&camp=1789&creativeASIN=B000042ORG | Bakida (ACT 9275-2, 2000)
* http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00009QG7I?ie=UTF8&tag=musidelmund-20&linkCode=xm2&camp=1789&creativeASIN=B00009QG7I | Purple Celebrating Jimi Hendrix (ACT 9410-2, 2002)
* http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0007R8E7C?ie=UTF8&tag=musidelmund-20&linkCode=xm2&camp=1789&creativeASIN=B0007R8E7C | Walking On the Tiger’s Tail (ACT 9432-2, 2005)
* http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000EGCEBS?ie=UTF8&tag=musidelmund-20&linkCode=xm2&camp=1789&creativeASIN=B000EGCEBS | Homescape (ACT 9444-2, 2006)
* http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002OC9ZYE?ie=UTF8&tag=musidelmund-20&linkCode=xm2&camp=1789&creativeASIN=B002OC9ZYE | Saiyuki (ACT 9483-2, 2009)
* Songs Of Freedom (ACT, 2011)
* Purple (ACT, 2012)
* Celebrating Dark Side Of The Moon (ACT, 2014)
* Hà Nội Duo, with Paolo Fresu (ACT, 2017)

====== web site ======

http://www.nguyen-le.com

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The Band Beyond Borders, A Remarkable Gathering of World Musicians

Amine & Hamza – The Band Beyond Borders – Fertile Paradoxes (ARC Music EUCD2704, 2017)

A popular comedian recently remarked that President Trump’s planned wall between the United States and Mexico is the sort of thing that will dissuade advanced alien life forms from contacting Earth. “Fertile Paradoxes” provides convincing counterpoint to this argument. Multiple cultures peacefully and productively interact throughout this wonderful release. Meaning no disrespect to the outstanding talents and contributions of any other artists on ARC or any other label, Amine and Hamza M’raihi and Band Beyond Borders are in a different class of world musicians.

“Fertile Paradoxes” essentially narrates a global musical ecosystem rather than demonstrating any one culture’s interaction with the rest of the world. One cannot listen to this release and pinpoint the artists’ place of origin (Tunisia, though they currently reside in Switzerland), so versed and versatile are they with the rhythms, tunings and instrumentations of diverse ethnic forms.

Perhaps the real paradox on the release is that there is no conflict where one would expect to find it. Instruments from cultures with no common borders or in historical conflict blend beautifully here. To quote the label’s press release, “kanun meets saxophone, cajón meets cello and musical borders are thrown to an adventurous wind, the south Indian kanjira frame drum and percussive Nigerian water jug ‘udu’ blend with accordion, and The Band Beyond Borders is joined by a full chamber orchestra on ‘Spleen’ and the sparky ‘Lullaby for Leo.’”

The players on this record represent a gifted and perceptive inner circle that was early to recognize the M’raihis’ vision and contribute their own talents and quirks to its development and, now, presentation to the rest of us.

“Fertile Paradoxes” will be equally at home in private music collections and public and independent radio station playlists, and the best musicians’ listening queues. This is an exciting treasure of a world music release, setting the bar higher for the entire field and providing a subtle, lovely, joyous example of creative interaction for us all.

Buy Fertile Paradoxes in the Americas and rest of the world

Buy Fertile Paradoxes in Europe

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