Tag Archives: world fusion

Where World Music Intersects World Jazz

Omar Sosa and Seckou Keita – Transparent Water (Ota Records, 2017)

Music fans should settle in and enjoy the sumptuous ride that is Transparent Water. Co-creator Omar Sosa, the Cuban-born composer, bandleader and pianist, has such recordings as Eggun – The Afri-Lectric Experience, Jog, Ile and Calma under his belt, while Seckou Keita, the Senegalese kora master, has released albums like 22 Strings/Cordes, Afro-Mandinka Soul with his own Seckou Keita Quartet and Clychau Dibon. Joining forces under the Ota Records label, Transparent Water, set for release on February 24th, pairs Mr. Sosa’s Afro-Cuban and jazz sensibilities with the lush African traditions of Mr. Keita’s long musical legacy of his griot family.

Transparent Water is where world music meets world jazz, where tradition meets improvisation and where the lines of spiritual and earthy meet. The result is stunningly evocative.

With Mr. Sosa on piano, Fender Rhodes, sampling, microKorg and vocals and Mr. Keita firmly enticing listeners with his kora mastery, as well as talking drum, djembe, sabar and vocals, listeners are treated to the interplay between these two musicians and composers. But as luck would have it, Mr. Sosa and Mr. Keita turn the music on its ears with the additions of Chinese musician Wu Tong on sheng and bawu; Japanese koto master Mieko Miyazaki; Venezuelan percussionist Gustavo Ovalles on bata drums, culo’puya, maracas, guataca, calabaza and clave; Korean geojungo player E’Joung-Ju; and Rajasthani nagadi player Mosin Khan Kawa.

Cuban rhythms, African melodies and Asian influences pile up, separate and mesh together in an expansive musical tapestry where it’s impossible to pull at one musical thread and undo the lot.

Like water, Transparent Water flows easy from the jazzy opening track “Dary” into the delicately piano and kora interplay of “In the Forest.” Lush track flows into lush track with goodies like the sheng laced “Black Dream,” the catchy African influenced “Mining-Nah” with Mr. Keita’s vocals warming up the track and mysteriously moody “Another Prayer.”

Listeners can’t help but be charmed by tracks like sassy offering “Fatiliku,” the dreamy musical landscape of “Oni Yalorde” with Mr. Tong on the bawu or the piano lines of “Zululand.” Transparent Water is one of those recordings that requires listeners stop and really listen and it’s best if you just go with its flow.

Mr. Sosa, Mr. Keita and company have conjured up a truly brilliant collaboration on Transparent Water. Mesmerizing, evocative and sophisticated, Transparent Water begs for a listen.

Buy Transparent Water in the Americas

Buy Transparent Water in Europe


Ancient Rhythms Hooked on Modern Soundscapes

Jerry Leake – Crafty Hands (2017)

American percussionist Jerry Leake has recorded a superb album where he explores various musical genres. Leake is best known for his Cubist projects where he fused world music, rock and jazz-rock.

Crafty Hands is album dedicated to percussion and it’s a true delight. Jerry Leake uses an arsenal of percussion instruments drawn from many different global cultures, creating a rich and masterfully-crafted palette of rhythms. However, Leake is joined by other musicians, who enrich his work and take the fusion even further, incorporating jazz, rock, and ambient electronic music.

The opening piece, “Crafy Hands”, sets the tone with a traditional Ewe song where he uses a mix of instruments from three of Ghana’s ethnic groups, the Ewe, Dagomba and Ashanti. On top of this he layers Senegalese sabar beats, Moroccan frame drum and karkabas (metal castanets) and well as complex flamenco bulerias. Here, Leake is accompanied by guitars.

On the second piece, an original titled “Apprentice”the music turns electric and more jazz fusion-oriented, combining powerful drum set beats, electric bass, piano and guitar with harmonica along with various other percussion instruments. It’s based on a Dagomba rhythm and melody and showcases the talent of three students from Leake’s Berklee Global Jazz class.

“Time Hunt” is total jazz-rock fusion featuring fantastic synth solos that recall Joe Zawinul, electric guitars that echo Bill Frisell and Leake’s wide-range of percussion, ranging from marimba to tabla and drum set.

On Track 4, “Do you Think Your Thought” Leake invited DJ Mr. Rourke, who adds hip hop vocal samples that are combined with various drums.

“Blue Water” is a short shamanic composition with a flute that sounds Native American along with percussion, water sounds and resonator guitar.

Track 6 features a mesmerizing solo vibraphone performance titled “Alchemy.”

“String Theory” has some of the best electric guitar work on the album, with a soaring guitar that progresses beautifully accompanied by an assortment of irresistible rhythms.

The brief “Mr. Gong Prelude” highlights the gong accompanied by thunder tube. It leads into a traditional Dagombe song titled “Mr. Gong”, where Afro-roots fusion returns with rock-style guitar and outstanding percussion.

Track 10, “Tarang” is a tabla solo by Leake.

The remarkable sound of the talking drum opens “Dub Clef,” another traditional Dagombe tune that is reconstructed as a jazz-rock piece with electric and acoustic guitars and more masterful percussion structures. This piece has very close connections to the sound you’ll find on the Cubist albums.

The solo vibraphone reappears on track 12, “Quarks.”

Mr. Rourke returns with his turntables and samples on the last track, “Begin by Listening”. Spoken word and ethnic vocal samples sound much better than rap in the context of world music. Leake adds trance-like beats.

The lineup on Crafty Hands includes Jerry Leake on sabar, cajón, karkabas, vocals, bendir, gonkogui, atoké, shakers, floor tom, gender wayang, gung-gong, handclaps, lunga, cymbal, drum set, riq, yabla, daval, tar, triangle, marimba, cowbell, agogo, pandero, recorder flutes, water sounds, thunder tube, vibraphone, sogo, sabar, kidi, guiro, atoké, and clave; Randy Roos on nylon string, electric, baritone, MIDI and resonator guitars, bass; Steve Hunt on keyboards; Mr. Rourke on turntables and samples; Santiago Bosch on electric piano; Roni Eytan on harmonica; and Max Gerl on electric bass.

Buy Crafty Hands


Artist Profiles: elbicho


Elbicho was one of Spain’s leading jam bands. The group was forged on the streets in the heart of Madrid. Their rapidly growing and loyal fan base raved about their live performances and eagerly spread the word (along with their first demo recording), to such an extent that it wasn’t long before they received offers from industry giants.

Their live acts, both energetic and addictive, hardly gave a moment’s rest conjugating and fusing flamenco bulerias and tanguillos with an array of diverse styles such as progressive rock, rap, blues, African rhythms and a touch of jazz Based in Madrid. Well known in Spain, but with little exposure outside the country, El Bicho put together a captivating show, appealing to musicians and non-musicians alike, and always bringing the house to its feet.

elbicho live

The band traced its origin to a music workshop directed by Guillermo McGill at the Escuela Popular de Musica, where lead singer Miguel Campello from Elche (eastern Spain) met Victor Iniesta (guitar) and in turn Carlos Tato (bass), Toni Mangas (drums) and David Amores (percussion) join the group forming El Combo Flamenco.

After a year of gigs and composing they recorded their demo Bichos which became a major sell out at their concerts. In 2002 Juan Carlos Aracil (flute) and Pepe Aracil (trumpet) joined the group, elevating the music yet another step, and contributing to establish their definitive sound.

Elbicho’s debut album includes major names in Spain’s Flamenco scene, such as Jorge Pardo, Carles Benavent, Tino di Geraldo, Tomasito, Eva Duran and Javier Alvarez. The record was produced by Tino di Geraldo and Guillermo Quero.

The most recent line-up included Miguel Campello Garzón on vocals, Victor Iniesta Iglesias on guitar, Carlos Tato Moreno on bass, Antonio Mangas Ovide on drums, David Cobo Amores on percussion, Juan Carlos Aracil Sala on flute, Mario Díaz Bermejo on keyboards, and José Andreu Garzón on trumpet.

Several of El Bicho’s members had side projects such as world music and jazz fusion band Candelaria.

On May 16th of 2008, elbicho recorded a live album in Madrid that includes two music CDs and a DVD with live concert footage. De Imaginar contains passionate flamenco rooted songs that are popular with the public as well as extensive instrumental jams where elbicho blends high energy Andalusian rock with Afro-Latin beats, jazz fusion and much more. 

In June of 2010 the band announced that it was going to take a break and scheduled as farewell tour. As a farewell gift to the group’s fans, the DRO label released a boxed set To Junto that includes elbicho’s entire discography plus a bonus CD with demos and other unreleased material.


* Elbicho (Dro-East West, 2003)
* Elbicho II (Dro-East West, 2005)
* Elbicho VII (Dro-East West, 2007)
* Elbich8 De Imaginar (Dro-East West, 2009)
* To Junto (Dro-East West, 2010)


Artist Profiles: Arto Tunçboyaciyan

Arto Tunçboyaciyan

Arto Tuncboyaciyan was born in 1957, in Galataria, a town outside Constantinople. He is the youngest child of an Armenian family, with roots from Anatolia. Arto’s family had financial problems that were solved when the elder brother Onno, became a musician.

At the age of 11, Arto started his professional music career playing and recording throughout Turkey and Europe. One of his main influences was his brother Onno, who helped him not only as a brother, but also as a friend and fellow musician.

In 1981, Arto moved to the United States to explore new musical directions. Since then he has recorded with Gerardo Núñez, Al DiMeola , Joe Zawinul, Bob Berg, Mike Manieri, Chet Baker, Marc Johnson, Dino Saluzzi, Omar Faruk Tekbilek, Eleftheria Arvanitaki and many others.

In 1985, Keytone released two solo CDs by Arto: “Virginland” and “Main Root. He then started a creative collaboration with the Armenian ud player Ara Dinkjian, with whom he recorded in duo Tears of Dignity and Onno for the Greek label Libra Music. Onno was in fact an homage to Arto’s beloved brother, who was killed tragically in a plane crash in 1996.

With Ara Dinkjian, Arto was a member of the group Night Ark and recorded Picture, Moments, Wonderland and Petals On Your Path. In 1998 he participated in the Italian project Triboh, conceived and co-led with the vocalist Maria Pia De Vito and the piano player Rita Marcotulli, recording the CD Triboh for the Italian label Polosud.

He is a member of the group Walking Fish together with Matthew Garrison, Jim Beard, Gene Lake and Bob Malach. His album with Paul Winter, Every Day is a New Life, was released by the Living Music label.

Currently, Arto is working with Armenian musicians with whom he founded his group The Armenian Navy Band, a small orchestra rooted in Armenian and Anatolian traditional music inspired by contemporary life. The project was conceived in 1998 after a meeting in Yerevan with young Armenian musicians from different musical backgrounds including ethnic and contemporary Armenian music. Since then, the idea to create a group to represent the sound of Armenia today was realized.

The two albums that represent the current aspects of Arto’s musical discovery are Aile Muhabbeti, a movie soundtrack composed by the artist, and Bzidik Zinvor.

Bzidik Zinvor was recorded in Armenia and is the result of the very first meeting with several musicians from Yerevan. Arto’s original compositions express the sounds of generations past alongside those of modern life: this is what he calls “avant-garde folk”. Of his music, Arto also says, “//Without losing your identity you extend your imagination//.”

During 2000 and 2001 The Armenian Navy Band toured Europe to great acclaim from public and press alike. This experience is reflected in the CD “New Apricot” recorded in Istanbul for the Turkish label Imaj Müzik.

Arto can be heard on various recordings including those of Chet Baker The Best Thing For You, Arthur Blythe Hipmotism and Night Song, Jim Pepper The Path, Marc Johnson Right Brain Patrol and Magic Labyrinth, Dino Saluzzi Mojotor, Al Di Meola World Sinfonia, Heart of the Immigrants and Kiss Me Axe, Bob Berg Virtual Reality and Riddles, Hank Roberts Little Motor People, Mike Mainieri An American Diary, Joe Zawinul Stories of the Danube and My People, Oregon Oregon 97, Paul Winter & The Earth Band Journey With The Sun, flamenco guitar master Gerardo Núñez Calima and many other great recordings.

In 2002 he formed Serart, a collaboration with System of a Down’s Serj Tankian. Serart released an album on Serjical Strike and Columbia Records on May 20, 2003.

It’s not a rock album, it’s not a band, it’s not a solo album for me,” sayd Serj Tankian. “It’s a collaboration that I was compelled to do with a very creative artist. It’s a very special type of album.”

It is important to note that Serart is not at all similar to a SOAD album – it’s a departure away from SOAD’s progressive-metal barrage. Serart finds these two, seemingly disparate, creative artists joining for a new vision. Serj describes the album best, “It’s really crazy world, jazz and experimental with some rock and hip-hop beats, dance beats, and electronic beats. Arto plays the Coke bottle, water droplets, an ancient flute, percussion of all sorts, little toys and shakers.”

The music on Serart is both “cross genre and cross cultural,” an exotic and eclectic blend of electronica, poetry, Middle Eastern melodies, Pan-African rhythms, classical motifs melded with volleys of percussion. In addition to the 16 musical tracks on the album, Serart comes with a DVD component, the 14 minute experimental film, “Sun Angle Calculator,” directed and edited by Matthew Amato. “The film is a visual collage,” says Serj. “The name, ‘Sun Angle Calculator,’ is a funny way of saying ‘let me help you see the light.‘”

The Armenian Navy Band’s 2004 album Sound of Our Life – Part One: Natural Seed is a nearly 50-minute-long composition in eleven parts, which is dedicated to nature. Natural Seeds takes the listener along part of the path of life that Arto Tuncboyaciyan and his musicians have traveled.

The recording equally represents the return to the origins of the musical ‘seed’ of The Armenian Navy Band; the tremendous joy and affection which the band?s musicians feel with and for each other in the here and now of their life together ? also outside the recording studios and stages; as well as the hopeful, self-confident view to the future. For Arto Tuncboyaciyan, the project Sound of Our Life is a never-ending musical documentation of the future.

When asked about the meaning of music, Arto replied: “Music is the sound of my life. I don’t pretend to lead anyone. I leave it up to one’s imagination. What I try to express is love, respect and the truth.”

Two new albums by Arto Tun?boyaciyan came out in January of 2005, Love Is Not in Your Mind (Heaven and Earth CD HE 19) and Artostan (Heaven and Earth CD HE 19).

Love Is Not in Your Mind is a duo project with the dazzling pianist and keyboardist of the Armenian Navy Band (Arto’s band) Vahagn Hayrapetyan. It features Tuncboyaciyan’s engaging vocal style and fiery percussion along with Hayrapetyan’s outstanding keyboard work. All songs on Love Is Not in Your Mind are never ending love stories. It is Tuncboyaciyan’s very personal declaration of love, dedicated his mother. “Taking care and sacrificing. That is what I have seen at my home and that is my mama. I never see her sleep before me or wake up after me. A ways feeling her love being there for you, making balance at home gives you great confidence and positive power. I am proud to have mama like you, and also my wife and my sister for being great mothers. When I lost my mother on May 17th 2003,1 was 46 years old. At that moment I realized that there is no age difference between a mother’s and a child’s love.”

Artostan is described as avant-garde folk and the description is pretty accurate. On Artostan, Tuncboyaciyan focuses on vocal experimentation, with his characteristic rhythmic vocal pieces as well as digitally manipulated vocals, accompanied by percussion solos and effects. He also plays a small lute called bular. The album is a trip to Arto Tuncboyaciyan’s philosophical homeland: Artostan. “Because of what’s going on in the world today with my human rights, dignity and power, I declare my own country in me. Artostan.”


* Virginland (Keytone, 1989)
* Main Root (Keytone, 1994)
* Tears Of Dignity (Libra, 1996)
* Onno (Libra, 1998)
* AVC1 (Imaj Müzik, 1998)
* Triboh (Polosud, 1998)
* Armenian Navy Band (Svota Music, 1999)
Bzdik Zinvor (Svota Music, 1999)
* Every Day is a New Life (Living Music / Earth Music Production, 2000)
* New Apricot (Imaj Müzik, 2001)
* Picture (RCA / Novus)
* Moments (RCA / Novus)
* In Wonderland (Polygram)
* Petals On Your Path (Universal Music)
* Serart (Serjical Strike/Columbia, 2003)
* Sound of Our Life – Part One: Natural Seeds (Heaven and Earth HE 14, 2004)
* Love Is Not in Your Mind (Heaven and Earth CD HE 19, 2005)
* Artostan (Heaven and Earth CD HE 19, 2005)
* How Much Is Yours? (Svota Music, 2005)
* Under Your Thoughts (Svota Music, 2009)


Artist Profiles: Ancient Future

Ancient Future in 1990

The music of Ancient Future is a fusion of rhythms and exotic sounds featuring virtuoso musicians from around the globe. Their music combines contemporary jazz and rock with the rhythms of Africa, Bali, India, the Middle East and South America, the rich harmonies of European classical music, and the melodic knowledge of the whole world.

Formed in 1978, Ancient Future is one of the first and longest running musical organization dedicated exclusively to the mission of creating world fusion music.

Two of the founding members, Matthew Montfort and Benjy Wertheimer, were childhood friends in Boulder, Colorado, who dreamed of forming a band together.

In the summer of 1977, Wertheimer and Montfort arrived to Northern California to study North Indian classical music at the Ali Akbar College of Music. There they met the members of the Diga Rhythm Band (an offshoot of the Grateful Dead featuring tabla master Zakir Hussain, Mickey Hart, and Jerry Garcia), moved into the house that the group rehearsed in, and formed a new band including Diga Rhythm Band members Tor Dietrichson, Jim Loveless, Ray Spiegel, and Arshad Syed.

The new band rehearsed at the Grateful Dead studio and performed a number of concerts before splitting up into two groups: a Latin band, and the world fusion music group Ancient Future. Ancient Future can therefore be thought of as having formed as an offshoot of an offshoot of an offshoot of the Grateful Dead.

The original members of Ancient Future studied with the master musicians of many world music traditions, from Balinese gamelan director Mad? Gerindem to North Indian sarod master Ali Akbar Khan. They used their knowledge of world music to create something new and uniquely their own that is respected by pundits from the cultures whose traditions are a part of the mix.

Over the years, Ancient Future has expanded its musical vision through collaborations with master musicians from more than two dozen countries, cultures, and musical traditions who are now an integral part of what is today more than just a band.

Ancient Future has grown to become a large multinational music ensemble with many smaller ensembles within it, enabling Ancient Future to realize its core mission of creating world fusion music.

Ancient Future has released seven full length studio CDs selling over 150,000 units: Visions of a Peaceful Planet, Natural Rhythms, Quiet Fire, Dreamchaser, World Without Walls, Asian Fusion, and Planet Passion. Over one million legal mp3 files from three of these releases on Ancient-Future.Com Records have been distributed commercially. This of course does not count files distributed illegally (Ancient Future’s leader, Matthew Montfort, was selected as the proposed Class Representative for Independent Musicians Against Napster due to the large number of Ancient Future files being traded illegally). Ancient Future has also recorded two live CDs and a video (for release on DVD) of a live concert featuring four different versions of the band.

Ancient Future has performed over a thousand shows worldwide, headlining such venues as Carnegie Recital Hall (New York City), Great American Music Hall (San Francisco), Hult Center for the Performing Arts (Eugene), Yoshi’s (Oakland), Sangeetha Indian Music Concert Series (St. Louis), and even a night club called Atlantis in Beirut, Lebanon, with a Piranha tank in the middle of the dance floor and a bar that doubles as an aquarium.

They have appeared at every type of festival imaginable including the Festival Internacional de la Guitarra (near Barcelona, Spain), Asian/Pacific Festival of Fortune, Northwest Regional Folklife Festival, Oregon Country Fair, Sand Harbor Jazz Festival, California WorldFest, Monterey World One, Sierra Nevada World Music Festival, San Luis Obispo Mozart Festival, and the Summer of Love 30th Anniversary in Golden Gate Park.

Dance versions of the band have pumped up dance crowds at techno/DJ events such as the Groove Garden and Harmony Festival’s Techno Tribal Dance with their 100% organic loop-free grooves.

Ancient Future in 2016


* Visions of a Peaceful Planet (1979, Ancient-Future.Com 2004)

* Natural Rhythms (Philo/Rounder 9006, 1984)

* Quiet Fire (Narada Lotus 1012, 1986)

* World Without Walls (Narada/Sona Gaia 163, 1990)

* Dreamchaser (Narada/Sona Gaia 154, 1998)

* Asian Fusion (Narada Equinox 63023, 1993)

* Music From the Tea Lands -Various Artists (Putumayo World Music Collection PUT180-2, 2000)

* Planet Passion (Ancient-Future.Com AF 2001, 2002)

* Putumayo Presents: Asian Lounge – Various Artists (Putumayo World Music Collection PUT 244-2, 2005)

* Yearning for the Wind (2014)

Web Site: www.ancient-future.com


Artist Profiles: AkashA


This Kuala Lumpur-based band was formed in 2008 solely for the Rainforest World Music Festival 2008. Their debut show received overwhelming response from festival goers. AkashA’s music is a mixture of fiery percussion with blazing piano and raging sitar and guitar solos. Tha band describes their music as a redefinition of Indian music laced with Malaysian and world influences.

In 2009 the band became a larger outfit by adding three more members to create a better music ensemble. Sivabalan Shanmuga Sundram plays mriddangam (mridangam), ganjeera (kanjira) and konnakol. Aside from Sivabalan, the original members of AkashA in 2008 were Kumar Karthigesu who plays sitar, Jamie Wilson on acoustic steel guitar and Vikneswaran Ramakrishnan on tabla and konnakol. In 2009, the band added Badar Fawzey Taleb who plays world percussion, Eric Li on digital piano, and Greg Henderson on acoustic bass guitar.

The encouraging response had also convinced AkashA to release its album entitled “into… AkashA” in 2009. The album consisted of a wide-range of genres played on traditional instruments with fusion elements.


into… AkashA (2009)

Karakoram Highway (2011)


Artist Profiles: Baka Beyond

Baka Beyond

For Baka Beyond, global fusion is a way of life. In 1992, Martin Cradick & Su Hart visited and played with the Baka people in the Cameroon rainforest. The resulting group pioneered the Afro-Celt groove, and five albums later (four for Joe Boyd’s Hannibal label), Baka Beyond is a collaborative music process, learned from the Baka people – ‘everyone to be listened to’.

Baka Beyond is an ever-evolving world music project involving musicians from five countries in West & Central Africa and Europe. The African players,, everyone an acknowledged virtuoso with a parallel career in their own right,, meet the Northern European traditions where Martin, Su, and Breton fiddle maestro Paddy Le Mercier learned their music. Over the years, they have got to know each other and each other’s way of working Baka Beyond live or in the studio is a living lesson in communication, in passing the energy round.

The relationship with the Baka themselves grows closer by the year. Regular return visits keep the inspiration strong, but have also kept Martin &Su in touch with what is needed for them to survive and preserve their culture. Royalties due for the gift of a rhythm or a tune are distributed among the musicians’ communities and for projects in association with charities such as the World Rainforest Movement. The group themselves are also heavily involved in cultural and environmental education in Britain.


Spirit of the Forest (Hannibal Records HNCD 1377, 1993)
The Meeting Pool (Hannibal Records HNCD 1388, 1995)
Journey Between (Hannibal Records HNCD 1415, 1998)
Sogo (Hannibal Records HNCD 145, 2)
East to West (March Hare Music MAHA CD18/USA: Narada 43725, 2003)
Rhythm Tree (2005)
Baka Live (2007)
Beyond the Forest (2009)
After the Tempest (2014)


Artist Profiles: TransGlobal Underground

TransGlobal Underground in the early 1990s

In the early 1990s, three men got together in an inadequate recording studio equipped with a Simon Harris break beat album, a cassette of chants recorded on a holiday to Tahiti, a sampler and some basic recording equipment. In the space of a few hours, Alex Kasiek, Tax D and Hamid Mantu had created the first version of what would become their biggest selling record and the beginning of a whole new life for them. The trio called the record Temple Head and themselves TransGlobal Underground.

After a couple of meetings with record labels it soon became apparent that this record was not easy for people to understand. You could dance to it but it was too slow to be house (electronic dance music genre). Apart from the sampled chorus of ‘na na na, na na na’, there were no lyrics and wasn’t seen as commercial enough to be a pop song – there seemed to be no place or genre for TransGlobal Underground.

That was until the Temple Head cassette fell into the hands of Nation Records, a label created specifically to fuse western dance music with Arabic music, Asian music, and African music. Straight away, it fitted in with what Nation had been doing on the two Fuse compilations, released around the same time. After a couple of days in a better studio and the addition of Inder Goldfinger on tablas, Terry Neale – The Human Cuica, and a rapper known as Sheriff, the single was finished and released on Nation in 1991. Straight away, it created a commotion among those looking for something new: DJs such as Rampling and Weatherall and clubs like Whirl-Y-Gig and Club Dog.

Gradually, the media caught up and ‘Temple Head’ became Melody Maker’s ‘Single Of The Week’: “the kind of record that makes you proud to be an Earthling.” Mixmag thrust it straight to No. 1 in their Buzz Chart. Kiss FM DJs were playing it during the day (at the wrong speed) Gary Davies was playing it during the day on Radio One (at the right speed). Magazines were climbing over themselves for interviews, everyone wanted to know who this band were. Wanting to stay anonymous, some press shots were quickly knocked together with the three of them wearing carved Nepalese temple guardians masks, and the foundations of the band’s ‘trans-global’ image were laid.

At this point, along came Deconstruction Records, quick to seize on anything going on the dance scene, with an offer to make an album for them. Quickly an assortment of friends, associates and distant relatives got thrown into a studio in Euston and recorded the fundamentals of what was to be TransGlobal Underground’s first album. Tuup, a very old ally, got involved at this point and Jalal from Loop Guru co-wrote one track. The sessions also marked the first appearance of vocalist Natacha Atlas, who had recently departed from Invaders of the Heart. She gave a performance that reduced the whole studio to tears, then capped it by belly dancing around the control room wearing a copy of the Daily Mirror. So she was in.

Everyone was delighted with the results except for Deconstruction, who couldn’t see the point of any of it. Like it or not, a momentum had started up and a live line-up was put together, consisting of ManTu, Dubulah, Natacha, Goldfinger and Kasiek, with Tuup as a floating extra member. Most British dance acts of the time consisted of one singer and two keyboard players in anoraks. Trans-Global Underground rapidly gained a reputation for flamboyant live performances, dramatic costumes, belly dancing, endless percussion and, of course, Nepalese temple guardians. They returned to their spiritual home at Nation and recorded a second single, “I, Voyager.” This marked the debut of beat poet and percussionist Neil Sparkes (who later formed Temple of Sound), who became a regular member of the live team.

By the time of the third single, “Shimmer,” a track from the Deconstruction sessions featuring Tuup, the word was spreading. At that time, Nation Records, with Fun-da-Mental and Loop Guru also getting serious media coverage, finally had the wherewithal to get an album out. Dream of 1 Nations basically consisted of the Deconstruction sessions plus “I, Voyager” and a couple of newer tracks. The combination of so many musical styles was something no one had gotten away with before and the live performances were getting ecstatic reactions. Dream of 1 Nations was acclaimed as one of the year’s best debuts, and when it got into the top fifty it was inevitable that another major company would start throwing its weight around. This time it turned out to be Sony, who financed the second album, International Times. By this time, the basic live line-up was Mantu, Dubulah, Natacha, Neil Sparkes and Attia Ahlan. This was soon augmented by rapper Coleridge and multi-instrumentalist Larry Whelan. This line-up began Trans-Global Underground’s adventures into Europe and when possible the show grew even bigger with the addition of percussionist Satin Singh.

Beyond the live shows, TGU were also busy remixing and producing. They captured a unique little niche by specializing in remixing industrial bands such as Grotus and Headbutt. Their biggest task, however, was producing Natacha’s debut album for Beggars Banquet Records, Diaspora, which was more or less an unofficial Trans-Global Underground album, in that it was based around the live line-up of the time. Diaspora was Natacha’s first serious attempt at coming to grips with her mixed Arabic heritage. Her second album, Halim, released in 1997, moved away from the Trans-Global Underground sound in a more purely Arabic direction; however the Trans-Global Underground produced single, “Amulet,” was the track that did the most to get her taken seriously by Arabic audiences.

As for Trans-Global Underground themselves, in 1996 Psychic Karaoke, their third official album, was released. Probably the group’s most polished album, it took the line-up of the time about as far as it could go, so, after a lengthy spell of touring, it disbanded. Neil Sparkes and Dubulah went on to form Temple of Sound with Terry Neale, whose album, Black Orchid, was released late 98. Larry Whelan went on to work with Banco de Gaia and Natacha, who, while concentrating on her solo career, continued to appear live with Trans-Global Underground.

Once again, Trans-Global Underground was a floating, indefinable venture. For a while it was more of a club than a group, utilizing the services of North London clubland legends DJ Nelson Dilation and VJ Sheikh Ad Helik. The reputation of the live act continued to hold up, aided by the introduction of Johnny Kalsi, percussionist and leader of Indian drumming troupe the Dhol Foundation.

Trans-Global Underground traveled into Eastern Europe and Turkey, and made their first appearances in the USA. The album that followed these adventures, was Rejoice Rejoice.

For the tour around Rejoice Rejoice, Tuup reappeared onstage for the first time in a few years, along with sitarist Sheema Mukherjee who had played on the album. Trans-Global Underground ended 1998 with their biggest and most unexpected tour to date, supporting Jimmy Page and Robert Plant on a series of massive European shows, gaining a new audience.

By 1999 Natacha and Johnny’s own projects were taking up too much of their time to continue playing with Trans-Global Underground, but Natacha’s third album, Gedida, was largely Trans-Global Underground produced, notably the single ‘Mon Amie La Rose’ which was a big hit in France, and the band still worked with her on recording projects.

Around the same time, Trans-Global Underground parted company with Nation Records. Two more of the cast of Rejoice Rejoice came onboard fulltime, Punjabi percussionist Gurjit Sihra and Zulu vocalist Doreen Thobekile, who had worked with Hamid before on the Xangbetos project for Nation. With a new burst of energy, Trans-Global Underground started traveling further outwards, touring in India, Tunisia, Turkey, South Africa and playing regularly around Eastern Europe. A lot of time was also spent in Egypt working with various Egyptian artists including Hakim, Riko, Mika Sabet and of course Natacha Atlas.

The new material put together over this period became the album Yes Boss Food Corner, which was half finished when the band signed up to Ark21 Records new label, Mondo Rhythmica. The album was released in 21 but the relationship was shortlived, although the touring stepped up, with the band visiting Kazakhstan, Sri Lanka, Venezuela and an endless list of others. “With this album, ‘Yes Boss Food Corner‘ we’ve got closer to the spirit of our live performances than before and we’re very proud of it…but ultimately nothing beats the live vibe. We’re hoping for technology that could send us into people’s houses as holograms or something.”

The group’s current sound is less electronic, but it still blends acoustic and electronic instruments. “We always used a lot of real instrumentation. The mixture was part of the whole concept at the beginning. The difference is that the balance has changed.”

Hamid Man Tu describes the group’s approach to sampling: “One important thing is that the technology has developed a long way since we started and ‘sampling’ was new and exciting. Most forms of digital technology – which are what most people record with these days – are basically a form of sampling, so the division between sampling and live recording has become blurred, especially with people like us who were never too sure which was which.” For those who believe Trans Global Underground samples from CDs, Tu adds: “We sample ourselves a lot, then we play over the samples, then we sample over the recording…er…then we start getting confused. Somehow or other a record comes out of the whole thing.”

TransGlobal Underground have been there and done that. They’ve been built up by the press and knocked down by the press. They’ve played to huge crowds in almost every country in the world, released four albums and numerous singles, six of which were awarded Single of The Week by NME and Melody Maker, they’ve executed remixes for Pop Will Eat Itself, Dodgy, Grotus and Les Baxter (to name a few), signed deals with both BMG and then Sony (neither worked out) and handed over “Temple Head” to Coca-Cola for their ad campaign preceding the 1996 Olympics

Over the last years, the band’s line-up has changed frequently, from album to album, satisfying the band’s hunger for new sounds and ideas, always keeping their sound fresh. There are sounds from all over – India, Africa, Egypt, Israel, Europe. They use traditional instruments such as tabla, dhol, conga, violin, kalimba, jembe, piano, shenai, tons of percussion, tons of bass, all fused with the sounds of 9’s dance culture – hip-hop, house, techno – the list goes on and on.

Lately, the sound TransGlobal Underground seems less Arabic and more Indian. “The Arabic influence was largely due to Natacha Atlas‘ voice and since we’re still working with her solo projects and doing various production work for other Middle Eastern artists, a lot of our interests in that style are satisfied elsewhere (sounds like we’re eating a great big bucket of couscous doesn’t it). The main new Indian element is that we now have Sheema Mukherjee playing sitar, which involves a more melodic influence over the usual bhangra drum frenzy we like to indulge in.”

Even though many fans think of TransGlobal Underground as a club band, the group plays more and more in larger venues. “As there’s now seven of us, we don’t often fit into dance clubs. We seem to do 5% small sweaty venues and 5% big spacious festivals, which is a good combination.”

The group continues to work with Natacha Atlas on various projects although she has not participated in TransGlobal Underground’s latest recordings. “Natacha sometimes turns up backstage and makes us some excellent mint tea. As I mentioned, we’re all over her new album and she survived the experience so yeah, we’ll be working together when we can.”

In 2003 Coleridge opened a dance record business of his own and TransGlobal Underground and Doreen Thobekile began work on a solo project of hers. A whole nation of members of the tribe have come and gone; original male vocalist Tuup came and went at irregular intervals, reappearing unexpectedly in different parts of the world. At various times the line-up has included South African solo artist Doreen Thobekile, Johnny Kalsi from the Dhol Foundation, and still includes Great Britain’s greatest sitarist, Sheema Mukherjee.

TransGlobal Underground in 2005

Trans-Global Underground have diversified even further over the years. Producers/DJs Hamid ManTu (Drums, programming, DIY choirs and choruses) and Tim Whelan (keyboards, guitars, programming, production) relocated in Cairo for a brief period at the end of the 9s, working for artists like Hakim, Khaled and Kazem El Sahar before the release of the 5th album. Yes Boss Food Corner sent Trans-Global Underground on a worldwide journey that lasted 3 years and took them through to the 6th album, Impossible Broadcasting, with which they came home most of them anyway to the UK and set up their own label, Mule Satellite.

In 2007, Moonshout came out to the best reception they’d had since the Nation Records days, the album’s energy and ambition perhaps bolstered by the group being once again totally independent and plotting their own course. This was the climax of a busy period back in the studio which found them contributing music to the forthcoming Arabic/English language film Whatever Lola Wants and the Imagine Village project on Real World.


Dream of 100 Nations (Nations Records NR 21 CD, 1993)

International Times (Nations Records NATCD 38 CD, 1994)

Interplanetary Meltdown (Nations Records NATCD 57 CD, 1995)

Psychic Karaoke (1996)

Rejoice Rejoice (Nations Records NR CD 167, 1998)

Backpacking On The Graves Of Our Ancestors (Nations Records NR CD 185, 1998)

Yes Boss Food Corner (Ark 21/Mondo Rhythmica, 2001)

Impossible Broadcasting (Europe: Mule Satellite Records MUL1, 24 / US: Triloka Records TRI-CD-82)

Moonshout (2007)

A Gathering of Strangers (2010)

The Stone Turntable (Mule Satellite Records, 2011)

Kabatronics (World Village, 2013)

Website: http://transglobalunderground.net


Nakai’s Southwestern Jams

R. Carlos Nakai Quartet – What Lies Beyond (Canyon Records CR-7211, 2016)

Acclaimed Navajo-Ute flutist R. Carlos Nakai has numerous projects that range from traditional American Indian flute music to contemporary sounds rooted in Native traditions. The R. Carlos Nakai Quartet is an avenue to fuse Native American melodies with jazz and global beats.

The highlights of the album are the flute performances backed by the creative rhythm patterns and keyboards.

The lineup includes R. Carlos Nakai on Native American flute; AmoChip Dabney on saxophone, keyboards, guitar; Will Clipman on drums and ethnic percussion; and Johnny Walker on bass.

What Lies Beyond is a beautifully-crafted album that showcases the talent of a musician who is taking American Indian/Native American music to exciting new territories.

Buy R. Carlos Nakai Quartet – What Lies Beyond


Ancient Future to Perform at Trinity Chapel

Ancient Future
Ancient Future

Pioneering world fusion act Ancient Future is set to perform on Saturday, February 11, 2017 at Trinity Chapel in Berkeley. The concert will feature guitarist Matthew Montfort, tabla master Vishal Nagar, and Mariah Parker on piano and santur.

Ancient Future combines world music traditions such as flamenco and Indian ragas with modern jazz and rock. The trio will perform new musical pieces along with favorites from the band’s eight recordings. The band’s discography includes Quiet Fire, Asian Fusion, Dreamchaser, Yearning for the Wind, Planet Passion, and World Without Walls.

Trinity Chamber Concerts
Trinity Chapel
2320 Dana Street between Bancroft Way & Durant Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94704
Information and reservations: 510-778-1719