World Music Expo (WOMEX) is seeking proposals for the 2016 edition, including the Showcase Festival, the DJ Summit, the Conference and Film programs. WOMEX 2016 will take place in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, October 19-23, 2016. The deadline to submit a proposal is Friday, April 15, 2016.
The final program selection is made by an international and independent jury.
Seems like a clear majority of releases coming my way nowadays are some kind of fusion music. It hasn’t been easy tearing myself away from specific genres I know and love, but this thing we call World Music is getting ever more, well, worldly, and being along for the sonic global ride can result in finding music that excites listeners as much as breathtaking sights thrill literal travelers.
You’d expect an album with a title like Planetary Coalition (Skol Productions, 2015) to be pretty far-reaching, and it is. Under the guidance of guitarist Alex Skolnick, a versatile axe man known mainly for dual identities as a thrash metal and jazz player, this sizable, ArtistShare-sponsored coalition shines on 75 minutes of sounds from many a corner of the world.
Skolnick’s string finesse trades off gracefully with the santoor of Max ZT on several tracks, matches the deft fire of Rodrigo y Gabriela on another, makes the textures of Yacouba Sissoko’s kora that much more heavenly, underpins Kiran Ahluwalia’s ghazal-influenced vocals with the proper mysticism and adds electricity to the tart tones of Adnan Joubran’s oud. And that’s barely marring the surface. There are Argentinian, Eastern European, Far Eastern and Latin Jazz ingredients here as well, and notable guest players aplenty. Yet this mainly instrumental set doesn’t overreach. It’s an ear feast that satisfyingly blends the familiar and the unexpected.
For the time being he’s put aside the Idan Raichel Project name and recording simply as Idan Raichel on At the Edge of the Beginning (Cumbancha, 2016). An Israeli keyboardist, composer, producer and arranger, Raichel has (apart from his acoustic albums with Mali’s Vieux Farka Toure) long blended Jewish, Arabic and African sounds with a worldly dance music sensibility. His new one finds him more introspective, starting off with a pair of chamber-like pieces that primarily showcase Raichel on piano.
Programmed rhythms fuel the tracks that follow but the feel stays rather whispery. The tracks are short and many have a lulling quality to them, reflective of Raichel’s recent identity as the father of two small children. Sparse instrumentation in the form of things like accordion, cello, saxophone and baglama stays on the supportive outer edges of the songs, which are delicate in their construction but have their own quiet strength. While not as groundbreaking as Raichel’s earlier material, his latest nevertheless gets to the heart of its matter by being touchingly low-key.
Karim Nagi has got a thing or two to say about Arabic culture and Detour Guide (Self-released, 2015) says it with percussion, spoken words, rap-like cadences and beat backdrops. Born in Egypt and presently based in Boston, Nagi is out to dispel myths, question stereotypes, recount history, impart truths and make both humorous and serious points about what it is to be of Arabic ethnicity nowadays.
He seamlessly mixes the cheeky with the sincere on titles like “What Arabs Do For Fun,” “Oriental Magic Carpet,” “Heart Full of Cairo” and “If I Were Hummus,” bringing so many observations to the table that you’ll have to listen to this disc multiple times to digest it all. It’s a kind of aural performance art that’s impossible to describe in any significant detail, but a rewarding listening and learning experience just the same.
A mashup of Balkan brass, stomping funk, Gypsy zest, punkish energy and Afrobeat syncopation, I Love You Madly by Washington DC’s Black Masala is a rousing fun burst of energy and true musical chops that’ll get you smiling and busting dance moves you didn’t think you had in you. While the music changes gears quite a bit, it does so rightly and tightly, such that the resulting songs are full of infectious instrumental and vocal passion rather than just one hot mess after another. Great stuff.
The musical connections between Moorish Spain, North Africa and the Middle East have been explored before, but seldom as grandly as the work of David Broza & The Andalusian Orchestra Ashkelon on Andalusian Love Song (Magenta, 2015). One of Israel’s most respected singer/songwriters, Broza here has a number of his tunes arranged for a 35-piece ensemble of strings (bowed, plucked and strummed), reeds, brass and percussion.
Improvised interludes set the mood between the songs, which range in feel from aching to celebratory (much like the ups and downs of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict that often figures into Broza’s work). The vocals are richly emotive and the music, under the direction of conductor and arranger Tom Cohen, is unfailingly superb.
Avataar, a band led by Toronto-based saxophonist/flautist Sundar Viswanathan, achieves a crackling good mixture of Indian classical music, jazz and ambient frameworks on Petal (InSound Records, 2015).
Viswanathan’s reeds put forth the same sonic sweetness as Felicity Williams’ largely wordless vocals, and the expert support of Michael Occhipinti (guitars), Justin Gray (bass, mandolin), Ravi Naimpally (tabla, percussion) and Giampaolo Scatozza (drums) provides serpentine grooves, nimble melodies and unending pleasure. The music is intricate without being overbearing or showy, and the result is blissful.
British genre-spanning festival BoomTown Fair has announced the first set of headline artists for Chapter 8 of the annual event. The headliners include three acts that have been at the top of the BoomTown wish list since day one: popular UK ska band Madness, reggae star Damian ‘Jr Gong’ Marley and New Zealand 7-piece dub masters Fat Freddy’s Drop. BoomTown Fair will take place from Thursday, August 11 to Sunday August 14, 2016 at Matterley Estate in Winchester.
The festival will cover a wide musical spectrum across nine individually themed city districts.
The Old Mines
The Old Mines stage will showcase some of the best in folk, world and roots music, spearheaded by one of the most celebrated world fusion bands on the planet, Afro Celt Soundsystem, Shooglenifty, Dhol Foundation, Lau, the rockabilly-blues sounds of Irish vocalist Imelda May, UK folk favorite and 2005 Mercury Music Prize nominee Seth Lakeman. Other acts include reunited nine-piece Spanish collective Ojos de Brujo, Beans On Toast, Joe Driscoll & Sekou Kouyate, Los De Abajo, Mokoomba, Skinny Lister, Steve ‘N’ Seagulls and US group Nahko And Medicine For The People.
The Lion’s Den has become one of the UK’s biggest reggae stages and its Chapter 8 lineup includes an all-star selection of reggae, dub and dancehall artists. Performers include Damian ‘Jr Gong’ Marley, Fat Freddy’s Drop, dancehall act Tanya Stephens, Jamaican Rastafarian vocalists Junior Kelly and Tarrus Riley, Inner Circle, Morgan Heritage, Benny Page vs Ed Solo feat. Darrison, Channel One meets Mad Professor, Congo Natty feat. Congo Dubz, Tenor Fly and Iron Dread, The Heatwave presents Showtime, Kabaka Pyramid & The Bebble Rockers, Little Roy, Mungo’s Hi-Fi (Live), Solo Banton, Soom T, The Skints, and Zion Train.
Other stages will feature ska, electronic dance music, folk-rock, ambient and psychedelic trance music, hip hop and more.
Six Degrees Records’s release of Karsh Kale’s Up is a bit like being shoved off a cliff and reveling in an expansive freefall surrounded by a frenzy of tabla and percussion, sizzling guitar lines, moody electronica and soaring vocals. It is a glorious swan dive into musical imagination of producer and multi-intrumentalist Karsh Kale.
With recordings like Cinema (2011), Realize (2006), Liberation (2007) and Broken English (2006) to his credit, Mr. Kale had continued to dazzle fans with performances around the globe, including a stint at spinning records for the Obama White House, as well as opening for A.R. Rahman at the Hollywood Bowl and joining Alicia Keys, the Black Keys, Norah Jones and Gary Clark, Jr. for a tribute concert to George Harrison. He’s also collaborated with the likes of Imogen Heap and Anoushka Shankar.
Proving there’s no rest for the weary, Mr. Kale uses that frustration of balancing the demands of an artist on the go and the constant travel with fatherhood as part of the inspiration for Up.
Mr. Kale says of the experience, “When you’re always traveling you’re never really ready to go. I’d be a father in Brooklyn one moment then fly to India and go straight to a TV show or a festival.”
Squeezing every ounce of creative juice of that frustration, Mr. Kale’s Up rides on air of constant motion and movement wrapped in intricate rhythms, high flying guitars and keyboards, furthered along by way bansuri flute, sitar and electronica to conjure up an Indian inspired mix that downright heady.
Up proves potent with opening track “High” with vocalist Milan Xai, bassist Tony Grey, electric bansuri player Ajay Prasanna and Mr. Kale on keyboards, samples, tabla, drum programming and additional bass. Title track “Up” is just as lush with Warren Mendonsa on acoustic and electric guitars, Ravi Chary on sitar, Karan Joseph on keyboards and Benny Dayal’s vocals and Mr. Kale on tabla, keyboards, drum kit, as well as offering up some sleekly cool vocals. And, Up just get better with tracks like “Butterfly Effect” with vocals by Ankita Joshi and Sabir Khan on sarangi, the electronically airy “Thin Line of Blue” and the kick ass “Play” with vocals by Sa Dingding.
“Be Like Water” is a marvel of tabla, drum and bass programming and keyboards and a solo endeavor by Mr. Kale. Equally delicious is the razor sharp edged “Shiva” with its fiery guitar lines, the sultry moody “Snowflake” with vocals by Ranjit Arupurakal and Papon and the delicately lovely closing track “Shyam” with vocalist Monali Thakur, bassist Tony Grey, electric guitarist Warren Mendonsa, bansuri player Ajay Prasanna with Mr. Kale taking up keyboards, bass and drum programming.
Exhilarating and captivating, Up is a headlong leap into the exotic and the ride down is delicious.
The World Music Album of the Year nominees for the 2016 JUNO Awards were announced by The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS) at a press conference at The Phoenix Concert Theatre in Toronto on February 2, 2016. Juno Award winners will be announced during Juno Week in Calgary, March 28 – April 3, 2016.
The Souljazz Orchestra is a multicultural ensemble based in Ottawa, Ontario. The group combines soul, jazz, African, Latin American and Caribbean styles, using a brass section and a wide variety of percussion.
Resistance adds a French Caribbean and Francophone West African influences such as coupé-décalé, zouk, and ndombolo.
The Souljazz Orchestra’s discography includes Freedom No Go Die (2006) and Manifesto (2008) set the bar high. Rising Sun (2010), Solidarity (2012) and Inner Fire (2014).
The Lemon Bucket Orkestra
Toronto-based The Lemon Bucket Orkestra is described as Canada’s only Balkan-klezmer-gypsy-party-punk-superband. The group got started as a street busking band in 2010. The original quartet grew into a much larger ensemble that uses brass and bows. World tour followed.
Moorka was recorded in a friend’s barn in Waterloo right after their three month Canadian tour and was released in March 2015. It includes re-worked folk songs the band learned in Romania, Ukraine, Serbia and Macedonia from local musicians on their last European tour, each tune modified with a blend of funk, punk, psychedelia, blues and swing.
Gypsy Kumbia Orchestra
The Gypsy Kumbia Orchestra, from Montreal, fuses Afro-Colombian music and dance, with the brass and violin melodies of Eastern Europe. The group’s shows bring together live music, choreographed dance, circus, theatrical staging and dynamic audience interaction. Revuelta Danza Party is the Gypsy Kumbia Orchestra’s debut album.
Boogat is based in Quebec City, Quebec. He’s a Latin American vocalist, who continually reinvents himself with his plentiful discography. His style is described as a mix of worldbeat and tropical-bass. Some of his songs have attracted Hollywood, including placements in the TV series Homeland, and the film, The Forger, with John Travolta. Neo-Reconquista is his latest recording.
Vocalist Alex Cuba was born in Cuba and currently lives in British Columbia. His style has gradually changed from Cuban roots music and soul to pop. Healer is a pop and Spanish-language R&B album.
Senegalese artist Baaba Maal’s new album The Traveller is the number one album of the Transglobal World Music Chart in February 2016. The Traveller was recorded in both London and Senegal and was produced by Johan Hugo from The Very Best. The Traveller features Winston Marshall of Mumford & Sons, who met Baaba Maal at his annual music festival ‘Blues Du Fleuve’ in Fouta, northern Senegal. “Working with Johan, I feel we have achieved a new mix of sensibilities and sounds that can’t be put in a box,” says Baaba Maal about the new album. “The Traveller defines how I feel about the planet, that despite its many problems, there is a lot of inspiration, and hope and beauty.”
Chinese pipa master Gao Hong currently lives in Minnesota and gathered a lot of her American and international friends to celebrate string instruments.
On Pipa Potluck (potluck is a communal meal to which people bring food to share, sometimes representing various cultures) you’ll find original compositions (and two traditional bluegrass pieces) inspired by traditional and classical Chinese music along with bluegrass, Middle Eastern, and Hawaiian influences. Gao Hong’s friends are well known virtuoso instrumentalists in their respective genres so there is an abundance of mesmerizing interplay.
The lineup on Pipa Potluck includes Gao Hong on pipa, Alison Brown on banjo, Darol Anger on fiddle, Garry West on bass, George Kahumoku on Hawaiian slack key guitar, Yair Dalal on oud, Jeffrey Van on guitar, Matt Combs on fiddle, Bassam Saba on oud, Dror Sinai on percussion, and April Centrone on percussion.
Gao Hong started her career as a professional musician at age 12. She graduated from the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, where she studied with the illustrious Lin Shicheng. In both China and the United States, Gao has received frequent top awards and honors. She is the only musician in any genre to win four McKnight Fellowships for Performing Musicians and was the first musician to win a Bush Fellowship for Traditional and Folk Arts.
Gao has presented her music throughout Europe, Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, China, and the United States in solo concerts and with symphony orchestras, jazz musicians, and musicians from other cultures.
As a composer, Gao Hong has received commissions from the American Composers Forum, Walker Art Center, the Jerome Foundation, Zeitgeist, Ragamala, Theater Mu, Minneapolis Guitar Quartet, Lars Hannibal, and Twin Cities Public TV. She is currently on the music faculty of Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota where she teaches Chinese musical instruments and directs the Chinese music ensemble and is a Guest Professor at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing.
Pipa Potluck features impeccable performances and memorable musical moments by Gao Hong and her colleagues.
Influential world music showcase Babel Med Music revealed the 2016 selection. The 12° World Music Forum will take place March 17-19, 2016 in Marseilles, France.
The world music showcase, trade fair and conference attracts more than 2000 professionals from 5 continents and 15000 spectators expected to attend the 31 concerts of this buzzing forum. The event takes place in the monumental Dock des Suds.
Babel Med Music Selection
7SON@TO (Guadeloupe, France) – The revival of ancestral Guadeloupian Gwo Ka
Alejandra Ribera (Canada) – The charming vocals of globalist folk-music
Autostrad (Jordan) – The rock road of Jordanian indie pop
Baba Zula (Turkey) – Cult figures of Turkish Psychedelia
Bamba Wassoulou Groove (Mali) – Malian electric groove with African psychedelic rock flavor
Breabach (Scotland) – Modern Scottish folk sensation
Not content with her regular challenge of utilizing her good classical violin training to perform medieval Spanish and Sephardic music on a Swedish nyckelharpa (keyed fiddle), international award-winning Ana Alcaide goes outside her already-huge box to collaborate with Indonesian musicians here, commemorating a hypothetical fusion of elements into a musical “Pangea,” that being the name of a super-continent that existed before continental drift gave us the diverse world we live in today. This sort of goal would be far beyond the reach of most players, but Ms. Alcaide seems able to “cover her checks” on musical mergers and stretches. And hyphens.
The balance of rhythm and lead is not that to which most listeners are accustomed. She lightens simple percussion parts while heavying up the sympathetic resonance of nyckelharpa to create a solid foundation for intricate treble melodies. There is considerable resonance and ring throughout the release, using the studio mix as a crucial instrument or even section of its own. It works and is hypnotic.
There are traditional Indonesian flutes tuned outside the Western scale, and they hit the microtones that, as Muddy Waters put it, “fall between the cracks in the piano keyboard.” Thelonius Monk, a world music devotee, compensated for what he perceived as a gap in the musical scale by teaching himself to hit two adjoining piano keys lightly but in tandem. “Tales of Pangea” addresses the same issue with studio strategy.
It is a good record to have for vocal training, meditation, massage and preparation for spiritual and deeply intellectual pursuits.
Your Connection to traditional and contemporary World Music including folk, roots and various types of global fusion