Jocelyn Medina – Common Ground (Running Tree Records, 2007)
Common Ground is Jocelyn Medina’s third album. She’s a talented jazz singer and composer who incorporates world music elements to her music, inspired by her travels to India, Brazil and Ghana. On Common Ground you’ll find a great set of original songs by Medina that mix contemporary jazz harmonies, Indian melodies and Ghanaian rhythms.
Medina is joined by a superb multinational cast of instrumentalists who have plenty of opportunities to showcase their talent. In addition to Jocelyn’s vocals, highlights include Steve Gorn’s bansuri work throughout the album, Samir Chatterjee’s dazzling tabla, the guitar lines delivered by Pete McCann and the delightful female/male vocal interplay between Jocelyn and Achyut Joshi on the opening track “Two But Not Two.”
The lineup on Common Ground includes Jocelyn Medina on vocals; Steve Gorn on bansuri (Indian flute); Hadar Noiberg on flute; Pete McCann on electric and acoustic guitar; Art Hirahara on piano and Rhodes; Evan Gregor on bass; Mark Ferber on drums; Samir Chatterjee on tabla; Robert Levin on percussion; and Achyut Joshi on vocals.
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.
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.
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.
Saudade is a collection of beautiful, poetic songs composed by some of Brazil’s greatest songwriters and performed by the remarkable voice of Renato Braz. The album combines Brazilian melodies and rhythms with Paul Winter’s global jazz sound as well as world music elements from Russia and other cultures.
Renato Braz has been an essential member of the Paul Winter Consort family in recent years. Even though he has made recordings in Brazil, Saudade is first release in the United States.
The lineup is quite impressive. His band includes the Paul Winter Consort, the Dmitri Pokrovsky Ensemble, Dori Caymmi, and Ivan Lins.
Saudade is beautifully packaged, featuring an extensive booklet with photos, lyrics and descriptions of the songs.
Omar Sosa and Seckou Keita’s album Transparent Water (Ota Records, 2017) is the Transglobal World Music Chart’s number one album for March 2017.
Transparent Water elegantly combines world music and jazz. The album features Omar Sosa (Cuba) on piano and Seckou Keita (Senegal) on kora along with traditional Chinese flute player Wu Tong, Venezuelan percussionist Gustavo Ovalles, and Japanese koto player Mieko Miyazaki.
Karl Seglem was born in 1961 in Årdalstangen in Sogn. He’s one of the most important contemporary tenor saxophonists in Norway.
With the group Sogn-A-Song, the trio Utla and the duo Isglem, Seglem has consistently broken through musical boundaries with his wide range of musical perceptions and daring improvisational style.
Seglem’s influences include Norway’s rich folk music traditions and jazz, combined with his own sense of expression make his music a modern soundscape that gives equal weight to improvisation and composition. His saxophone tone is innovative in its use of breath, resonance and syncopation.
He also plays the Norwegian ram’s horn. Seglem’s music has a wide scope, ranging from folk to free form and world beat, inspired by and invoking Nordic nature. In addition to his many CD releases, he has composed several major works and has performed them in public.
Seglem was awarded the Edvard prize in 1998 for his piece “Tya.”
Seglem has toured extensively throughout Norway and abroad.
* Poems for trio (NOR-CD HCRCD 49, 1988)
* Sogn-A-Song (NOR-CD 9101, 1991)
* Rom, with Isglem (NOR-CD 9102, 1991)
* To Steg, with Isglem (NOR-CD 9204, 1992)
* Utla (NOR-CD 9205, 1992)
* Juv, with Utla (NOR-CD 9309, 1993)
* Rit, with Sogn-A-Song (NOR-CD 9410, 1994)
* Brodd, with Utla (NOR-CD 9514, 1995)
* Null g, with Isglem (NOR-CD 9615, 1996)
* Prosa, with Jon Fosse (NOR-CD 9616, 1996)
* Tya, with Reidar Skår (NOR-CD 9717, 1997)
* Spir, with Sogn-A-Song (NOR-CD 9830, 1998)
* Dans, with Utla (NOR-CD 9935, 1999)
* Daa, with Henriksen, Seglem, Isungset (2000)
* Nye Nord (2002)
* Fire, with Isglem (2003)
* Song, with Utla (2003)
* Femstein (NorCD, 2004)
* Budda og reven Singie (NorCD, 2005)
* Reik (NorCD, 2005)
* Urbs (NorCD, 2006)
* Spelferd – a playful journey DVD (NorCD, 2008)
* NORSKjazz.no (NorCD, 2009)
* Skoddeheimen (NorCD, 2009)
* Draumkvedet (NorCD, 2009)
* Ossicles (NorCD, 2010)
* NyeSongar.no (Ozella Music, 2013)
* Som Spor (NorCD, 2014)
* Waves, with Christoph Stiefel (Challenge, 2015)
* Laerad The Tree (NorCD, 2015)
* Live In Germany (NorCD, 2015)
* WorldJazz (NorCD/Ozella, 2015)
* Nordic Balm (NorCD, 2016)
Born in Memphis, Tennessee, Jon Hassell grew up with ears alert to divergent aspects of the jazz tradition, one early influence including Maynard Ferguson’s “stratospheric” trumpeting with the Stan Kenton Orchestra. While studying at the Eastman School of Music, Hassell became increasingly interested in serial music and more experimental expressions of the new music avant-garde, in the mid-1960s traveling to Cologne to study with pioneering composer Karlheinz Stockhausen.
Returning to New York in 1967 he met and befriended Terry Riley. Hassell played on Riley’s landmark recording In C, and was introduced by Riley to La Monte Young with whose Dream House project he toured through the 1970s.
An encounter with the music of Indian singer Pandit Pran Nath was fundamental. Hassell studied extensively with Pran Nath, subsequently incorporating vocal techniques of raga into his trumpet playing, developing a new style for his instrument and his music as a whole.
Vernal Equinox (1977) laid down the essence of the idiosyncratic yet wide-open musical expression Hassell has continued to develop and redefine over the past decades: “My aim was to make a music that was vertically integrated in such a way that at any cross-sectional moment you were not able to pick a single element out as being from a particular country or genre of music.”
In 1986 Brian Eno, a frequent collaborator, would observe that “Jon Hassell is an inventor of new forms of music – of new ideas of what music could be and how it might be made. His work is drawn from his whole cultural experience without fear or prejudice. It is an optimistic, global vision that suggests not only possible musics but possible futures.” An enticing proposal for the most diverse musicians, Hassell’s collaborators over the years have ranged from Peter Gabriel to the Kronos Quartet, Ry Cooder and rock star Bono, and his trumpet performances have featured on recordings with Björk, Baaba Maal, Ibrahim Ferrer, Ani di Franco, David Sylvian, the Talking Heads and many others.
Additionally his playing and/or music has been heard in numerous films including The Last Temptation of Christ, Trespass, Wild Side, Greenwich Mean Time, Angel Eyes, Owning Mahowny, Million Dollar Hotel and more.
In April 2009, Jon Hassell and Brian Eno delivered their Conversation Piece at London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall. This “conversational remix”, an animated juxtaposing of philosophies of life, art and music, was premiered to acclaim at Norway’s Punkt Festival in 2008.
Glare of the Tiger is a series of remarkable world music jams performed by a superb collective of forward-thinking jazz musicians led by acclaimed composer and percussionist Adam Rudolph.
Throughout the album, the rhythm section lays out a solid foundation of creative percussion and bass over which you get a series of horn, electronic keyboard and guitar melodic evolutions and improvisations that mix jazz, jazz-rock and world music elements. You can hear influences from Ethiopian, Indian and Gnawa music at times, and from many other parts of the world.
Adam Rudolph plays a wide range of percussion instruments, including a drum set composed of hand drums from different traditions: Haitian kongos, West African jembe and Moroccan tarija (small frame drum).
The state of the art recording of Glare of the Tiger was made at Bill Laswell’s Orange Music Studio with James Dellatacoma as head engineer.
The lineup on Moving Pictures includes Adam Rudolph on handrum set, sintir, cajón, itótele, glockenspiel, gongs, additional percussion; Alexis Marcelo on Fender Rhodes, electric keyboards & Hammond B3; Damon Banks on electric bass; Graham Haynes on cornet, flugelhorn, electronics; Hamid Drake on drum set, percussion; James Hurt on sogo and kidi drums, oghene bell, okónkolo, Fender Rhodes, smart phone synthesizer module and sound design; Kenny Wessel on electric guitar, electronics; and Ralph M. Jones on c flute, alto flute, bass clarinet, soprano and tenor saxophones, husli and bamboo flutes.
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.
World music band Baraka remixed traditional Pamir music recorded by folk band Samo and the result is Samo Remix. While Samo provided vocals and traditional acoustic instruments from the Pamir Mountains in Tajikistan, Baraka added electronic keyboards, electric guitars, bass and additional percussion.
Although this a remix, it’s not an electronic dance music recreation. Instead, Baraka inject contemporary jazz and trip hop. The remix also includes three rappers on a handful of pieces. I usually find rapping extremely annoying in world music albums. Thankfully, the rapping by Mister Ruslan is essentially spoken word, which fits much better with the world jazz arrangements.
Baraka is based in the Baltic nation of Latvia. They are known for performing world music with a jazz edge, combining Central Asian music with jazz improvisation and electronics. The Samo Remix project came about when Baraka ensemble leader Dmitry Yevsikov traveled to Tajikistan in 2015. There, Samo played a home concert for him and Baraka was given a CD with Samo’s music and made a promise to respond to it. Samo Remix is the answer, a European tribute to the sounds of the Pamir.
“We decided to preserve the original vocal line in most compositions in its entirety,” explains Dmitry Yevsikov. “If possible, not to cut vocals into bits, so that even in the new arrangement those who speak the language could hear the Sufi message that comes through the ages.”
The Baraka musicians who created Samo Remix include Dmitry Yevsikov on mridangam, ghatam, darbuka, tabla, congas, bongos; Devika Yevsikova, his daughter, on vocals, Chapman stick, fretless bass, and bass guitar; Viktor Rytov and Artem Savry on Rhodes piano; Yegor Kovaykov on guitar and badakshani setor; Artur Kutepov on guitar; Denis Pashkevich on tenor saxophone; and Raivo Stasans on soprano saxophone.
Samo means “sky”. It’s a group of musicians from the Pamir, who started performing together in 2006. Their permanent headquarters is the Gurminj Museum of Musical Instruments in the city of Dushanbe, Tajikistan. There, instruments are on display, Samo’s rehearsals are held, and recordings are made. Samo perform in the museum regularly and at other venues. They toured in Germany in 2008 and the United States in 2009.
Samo perform the ancient music of the Pamir, based on the verse of the classical Persian poets: Rumi, Hafiz, Sherazi, and Khayyam. Their lyrics’ often focus on the spiritual path, described in metaphors and symbols. Their performances are mystic in nature and both musicians and the audience might slip into a trance-like state during the live shows. The Samo Group lineup includes Shavqmamad Pulodov on setar, rubab and vocals; Faizmamad Nazariev on rubab, tanbur and vocals; Shanbe Mamadgaminov on ghijjak, nay and vocals; Daler Pallaev on daf, tablak and vocals; and Qurbonhaseyn Alishaev on daf, tablak and vocals.
The rappers are Mister Ruslan, Imomdod Orifov, and Alijon Boynazarov
Samo Remix is a fascinating international collaboration featuring European musicians, a Tajik folk ensemble and rappers, released by a Russian record label.