Carnegie Hall Announces Free World Music and Classical Concerts at Bryant Park in New York

Cha Wa

Carnegie Hall has announced a series of free concerts on Fridays at Bryant Park, July 12 – August 9, 2019. The five concerts will present outstanding artists in the areas of roots and classical music.

For more than four decades, Carnegie Hall has partnered with community organizations in all five boroughs, offering free performances by renowned mainstage artists and rising musical stars in New York City neighborhoods, bringing together local residents and people from all over to share in great music,” said Clive Gillinson, Carnegie Hall’s Executive and Artistic Director. “As part of this commitment to community, we are thrilled to return to Bryant Park this summer, presenting five fantastic concerts, kicking off next season’s Carnegie Hall Citywide series.”

This year’s concerts include renowned Canadian Quebecois act Le Vent du Nord (July 12); Ray and Vivian Chew’s Night of Inspiration, featuring Anthony Brown & group therAPy and The String Queens (July 19); funk-fueled New Orleans brass Cha Wa (July 26); classical music and dazzling virtuosity from Harlem Quartet (August 2); and, the finalé of the series, Carnegie Hall Citywide Night, with Matuto, Eileen Ivers, and Nathan & the Zydeco Cha Chas (August 9).

Bryant Park is situated behind the New York Public Library in midtown Manhattan, between 40th and 42nd Streets & Fifth and Sixth Avenues. Take the B, D, F, or M train to 42nd Street/Bryant Park; or, take the 7 train to 5th Avenue.

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Artist Profiles: Refugees for Refugees

Refugees for Refugees

Refugees for Refugees is a Belgium-based ensemble that includes musicians from Syria, Tibet, Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan and Belgium who are united by their aspiration to intertwine links between their music.  The group has developed an original repertoire that fuses various traditions.

Influences include Afghan, Tibetan, Arabic, Pakistani, and European music. Refugees for Refugees uses a wide range of musical instruments, including nomadic Tibetan chants, the South Asian sarod, Arabic ud and Middle Eastern percussion.

The lineup in 2019 included Asad Qizilbash on sarod (Pakistan), Aren Dolma on vocals (Tibet), Fakher Madallal on vocals, percussion (Syria), Kelsang Hula on dramyen, vocals (Tibet), Mohammad Aman Yusufi on dambura, vocals (Afghanistan), Simon Leleux on percussion (Belgium), Souhad Najem on qanun (Iraq), Tammam Al Ramadan on ney (Syria), Tareq Alsayed Yahya on ud (Syria) and Tristan Driessens on ud (Belgium).

Discography:

Amerli (Muziekpublique, 2016)
Amina (Muziekpublique, 2019)

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Artist Profiles: Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino

Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino

Renowned Italian band Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino was created by writer Rina Durante in 1975. It is one of Italy’s most reputable and longest-standing traditional music ensembles.

Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino comes from Puglia in the Salento, in southern Italy. The lineup consists of a seven member band and a dancer.

The ensemble recreates southern Italy’s Pizzica musical and dance traditions. The tradition pizzica tarantata is said to cure the taranta spider’s bite with its frenzied trance dances.

The group is led by fiddler and frame drummer Mauro Durante. The rest ofthe ensemble includes Emanuele Licci on bouzuki, classical guitar, vocals; Alessia Tondo on vocals; Silvia Perrone on dance; Giulio Bianco on harmonica, zampogna (Italian bagpipes), recorder; Massimiliano Morabito on diatonic accordion; and Giancarlo Paglialunga on tamburello, vocals.

Discography:

Canti di terra d’Otranto e della Grecia Salentina (Fonit Cetra, 1997)
Concerto 1 (1980)
Come farò a diventare un mito (Dunya, 1983)
Concerto 2 (1985)
Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino (1988)
Concerto 3 (1991)
Sutt’acqua e sutta ientu navegamu (1994)
Mamminieddhu Zuccaratu (1994)
Ni pizzicau lu core (1997)
Ballati tutti quanti ballati forte (Felmay, 1998)
Canti e pizziche d’amore (Salento Altra Musica, 2000)
carataranta (Salento Altra Musica, 2000)
Pizzica pizzica (Salento Altra Musica, 2001)
Alla Riva Del Mare (Salento Altra Musica, 2002)
Serenata (Salento Altra Musica, 2002)
Focu D’Amore (Ponderosa Music & Art, 2010)
Pizzica Indiabolata (Ponderosa Music & Art, 2012)
Quaranta (Ponderosa Music & Art, 2015)
Canzoniere (Ponderosa Music & Art, 2017)

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Moving Songs of Peace and Justice

Various Artists – World Peac

Various Artists – World Peace (Putumayo, 2019)

Putumayo World Music releases today its compilation World Peace. The set contains stimulating songs by well-known artists in the world music, rock, jazz, blues, pop and other genres who advocate for a better world, respectful of all human kind. Two percent of the earnings from this album will benefit the National Peace Corps Association.

Dan Storper

Dan Storper, founder of Putumayo, selected the songs, inspired by President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. and other 1960s leaders who believed in peace and justice.

The artists featured include Jackson Browne  (USA), Nina Simone (USA), Keb’ Mo’ (USA), India.Arie (USA), Richard Bona (Cameroon), David Broza (Israel), Wyclef Jean (Haiti), Playing for Change (international collective), Michael Brecker (USA), Bongeziwe Mabandla (South Africa), Bholoja (Swaziland), Mira Awad (Palestine/Israel).

The extensive CD booklet includes an introduction by Dan Storper and details about each song and artists included in the album.

Buy World Peace

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Artist Profiles: Hama Sankaré

Hama Sankaré

Alpha Ousmane “Hama” Sankaré (also known as Pedro) is a western African legend. He was a fundamental member of the bands of many great artists of Mali: Ali Farka Toure, Afel Bocoum, le Troupe Regionale de Niafunké, l’Orchestre de Gao, Songhoy Allstars, and Mamadou Kelly’s BanKaiNa.

Hama’s percussion and vocals can be heard on many of Mali’s essential recordings. He is the master of contemporary calabash percussion as well as a highly influential composer, arranger and instrumentalist.

Discography:

Ballébé ‎(Clermont Music, 2018)
Niafunke (Clermont Music, 2019)

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Les Moncada Chats with Cuban batá Master and Conguero Román Diaz

Román Diaz

Batá drumming is getting more and more popular these days. With a lot of the masters who transmitted the tradition of batá drumming having passed away, the one living master today is Román Diaz, born in Cuba, now residing in New York City.

In Cuba, Román performed professionally with the Cuban legend of Afro Cuban folklore, female vocalist Mercerditas Valdés. She was known for her grand knowledge and recordings of Afro-Cuban folklore and Orisha songs. She recorded with the late master batalero Jesús Pérez. (batá master Francisco Aguabella’s dear friends from Cuba.)

Mercerditas Valdés

Merceditas Valdés is also renowned for having been a part of Pablo “Okilakpa” Roches Batá Ensemble in Havana, Cuba that included masters of masters, Pablo Roche, Trinidad Terregoza, Raúl Diaz and a young okónkolo player Francisco Aguabella. This ensemble was unsurpassable and not many bataleros or musicians can say that they performed with them.

In Havana, Cuba, Pablo “Okilakpa” Roche’s batá Ensemble with vocalist Merceditas Valdés, behind the bataleros, front left on bata, Trinidad Terregoza, middle Raul Diaz, and on the right on okonolo is Francisco Aguabella. Legendary ensemble of batá. Those who have performed with any of these musicians have become legends.

To perform with one of their members, as in Merceditas Valdés is in itself “without words.” Merceditas Valdés spread Afro-Cuban Folkloric history and knowledge, along with her vocals, lyrics, dance steps and drummers that performed and recorded with her.

Román Diaz was one of those drummers, relocating from Cuba to New York, to furthermore blossom his career and to spread the word, music, history and Afro-Cuban folklore to New York City and the world in its entirety.

Román has performed and directed many ensembles, too many to mention in this interview and has continued to perform and direct ensembles here in the United States, previously in Europe and now in New York City.

Román Diaz – L’ó dá fún Bàtá, Diaz’s latest album released in 2015

Let’s see what Román Diaz has to say about his life and times in Cuba, and times with Merceditas Valdés and his present movement in New York City.

Román, can you tell me a little about your past, where you were born.

I was born in the City of Havana, Municipality of Central Havana in the Barrio “La Victoria”.

Ekpe/Abakua encounter, Brooklyn, NY 2001. Left to right: David Oquendo, Román Díaz, José “Pepe” Hernández (Ísue of Efori Nandibá Mosongo), Vicente Sanchez.

Can you tell me if any of your family members had a musical history or were musicians?

I had an uncle that was a percussionist/drummer and my grandfather a trovador (troubadour).

Right to left: Chekere: Luis Medina; next: “Kikirito”; José Fernando Almendares “Pito el Gago”, Román Díaz – Havana, Cuba, 1984
Díaz on quinto, participating in a Havana comparsa during carnival 1983 with the group los Marqueses de Atares, who are the subject of a film by Gloria Rolando.

Román, can you tell me how you started to drum or become a drummer in Cuba?

I used to go to the comparsas (groups of musicians and costumed dancers that participate in parades and celebrations) and play bell. It was a friend from school, that motivated me to play in the comparsas. He lived in Solar de Africa, his name was Conrado Lam.

With Yoruba Andabo in Colombia, early ’90s. Román is in the middle on Iya. At right is Mario Garcia Arango.
Román Diaz with Melvis Santa & Ashedi

I would like to ask you about the vocalist whom you used to perform with in Cuba, legendary female Afro-Cuban Folkloric Vocalist, Merceditas Valdés.

Well, it was always a dream for me to play with Merceditas. As a young kid I would dream, just to play with her (Merceditas).

Yoruba Andabo (an Afro-Cuban Folkloric Group) that I was performing with, she came to our group to sing. Yoruba Andabo was already formed, it was formed in the 1960’s. I was given this opportunity to perform with her. (since she was in our group).

Cuban master rumba players performing in New York City, playing Abakua. Left to right: ‘Goyo’ Hernandez, Román Díaz on bonko, ‘Maximino’, Pedrito Martinez, Miguel Chappotin, Juan de Dios (Director of Raices Profundas)

Who first started you on batá?

I learned with Humberto La Pelicula. He lives in Italy. When we lived in Cuba I used to go to Mariano #110, 10 de Octubre (October), that is where I learned.

What does the future bring for Román Diaz?

At the moment, I try to play in the best position that I can perform in, to keep studying music (drumming), because there may be something that I could learn.

The above video is Juan De Dios, filmed by the late Jerry Shiligi, courtesy of Michael Pluznick who also went to Cuba. This was from the year 1985. I, Les Moncada, along with other San Francisco Bay Area musicians sponsored the Cuba trip. This was at the cabaret inside Hotel Cabri, Salon Rojo (in the Red Salon). Román Diaz is playing tumbadora (conga) , he is the drummer in the middle.

Musical Credits for Román Diaz

Percussionist, Cuba:

La comparsa Los Marqueses de Atarés. La Habana. 1983-86.

La comparsa Componedores de Batea. La Habana. 1983-86.

Escuela Nacional de Instructores de Arte. La Habana. 1983-86.

Grupo Raíces Profundas. La Habana. 1984-86. Juan de Díos, director.

Grupo “T con E”. La Habana. 1986-88. Lázaro Valdés, director.
Concerts in Panamá; Madrid and Barajas (Spain); Peru.

Orquesta Sublime. La Habana. 1988-89.

Grupo Yoruba Andabo. La Habana. 1989-1995.
Performances in Bogota, Colombia; Toronto, Canadá.

Grupo Añakí. La Habana. 1995. “Pancho Quinto,” director.

Percussionist, Europe:

Zurich, Switzerland.
Escuela de percusión de Zurich de Billy ‘Cotún’. 1995.

Paris, France.
Private percussion school. 1995.

Ekpe-Abakuá encuentro en Paris, 2007. Musée Quai Branly.

Percussionist, United States of America:

“Domingos de Rumba,” Esquina Habanera, Union City, New Jersey. 1999-2003
David Oquendo, director.

Collaboration with the Horacio ‘El Negro’ Hernández album, New York City, 2000.

Grupo “Omi Odara.” ‘Román Díaz, director. Lecture demonstration with Dr. Ivor Miller. Amherst College, Amherst, MA. April 2002. Funded by the Georges Lurcy Lecture Series Fund and the Willis D. Wood Fund, Amherst College.

Grupo “Omi Odara.” ‘Román Díaz, director. Lecture demonstration with Dr. Ivor Miller. The Bildner Center for Cuban Studies, CUNY Graduate Center, New York City. March 2002.

Grupo “Omi Odara.” ‘Román Díaz, director. Lecture demonstration with Dr. Ivor Miller. African Studies, Columbia University, New York City. February 2002.

Collaboration with Juan-Carlos Formell. New York City, 2003. “Misión Cubana.” Club Jazz Standard, Manhattan.

Grupo “Omi Odara.” ‘Román Díaz, director. Lecture demonstration with Dr. Ivor Miller. A multi-disciplinary conference. April 2003. DePaul University, Chicago. Sponsored by the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs.

Lecture demonstration conwith Dr. Ivor Miller. Román Díaz, singer. Black Studies: Methodology, Pedagogy, and Research. Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. New York Public Library, February 2003.

International Festival of Yoruba Culture. San Salvador de Bahia, Brazil. 2004.

International Ekpe Festival. Calabar, Nigeria. December 2004. Collaboration with Dr. Ivor Miller. Sponsored by the Department of Tourism of Cross River State. Donald Duke, Governor.

Collaboration with Oriente López, pianista. Garden City, New Jersey. 2004.

Collaboration with percussionist Giovanni Hidalgo, singer Marlon Simón, saxophonist Paquito D’Rivera. Philadelphia, 2004.

Collaboration with Paquito D’Rivera, director. “Obra Panamericana.” 2004. New York City; Newark, NJ.

Grupo “Omi Odara.” Lincoln Center, New York City. Román Díaz, director. August 2003. August 2005.

Latin Percussion representative. 2001. 2005.

“Noches Cubanas.” World Music Institute, New York University. April 2005. With Candido Camero, ‘Chocolate’ Armenteros; Orlando ‘Punilla’ Ríos.

Recordings:

Espíritu de la Habana, with Jane Burnett. Toronto, Canada. Won Juno award in 1992.

El callejón de los rumberos with Yoruba Andabo, Havana: (PM Records, 1993).

Aché IV with Mercedita Valdés, Havana (Egrem, 1995).

Aché V with Mercedita Valdés, Havana (Egrem 1996).

Del Yoruba al son with Yoruba Andabo, Havana (Magic Music/ Universal, 1997)

Montvale Rumba, New Jersey. (LP Productions, 2001)

Wemilere. Román Díaz, director. Recorded in 1996, Habana. Produced in 2002, Paris.

“Calle 54,” a 2000 documentary film and CD about Latin jazz by Spanish director Fernando Trueba.

Ay! que rico” with José Conde (2005)

Habana with Gema y Pavel (2006)

(R)evolucion” with José Conde (2007)
In Case Your Missed It, with Marlon Simon and the Nagual Spirits (2007)

Ye-dé-gbé – The Afro Caribbean Legacy with Yosvany Terry (2008)

Yo Se Que Te Gusta with Grupo Irék (2008)

Time Travel. With Raphael Cruz (2008)

Hot House: Cuban Tribute To Charlie Parker with Steve Gluzband (2008)

Herencia Judia with Benjamín Lapidus (2008)

Fiesta Percusiva with Victor Rendón (2008)

Across the Divide with Omar Sosa (2009)

Rumbos de la rumba with Pedrito Martínez, New York (2009)

Okobio Enyenisón with Proyecto Enyenisón Enkama (2009)

I would like to thank the Maestro Román Diaz for his patience & time he spent for this interview, Román is from Cuba and speaks Spanish. Therefore, I translated the interview as in many cases. Gracias Román for his preservation of the batá and Afro-Cuban folklore.

Me gustaría agradecer al Maestro Román Díaz por el tiempo que dedicó a esta entrevista y gracias por la preservación del batá y el folklore afrocubano.

Les Moncada

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Artist Profiles: Diego Del Morao

Diego Del Morao

Diego Moreno Jiménez, better known as , was born September 20, 1978 in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain.

He grew up as a member of the renowned dynasty of the Morao. Diego is the eldest son of Moraito Chico and he trained at home under the watchful eye of his father, although he also received training at the Carbonero school.

He appeared on stage at 14, accompanying artists at different clubs and festivals. Soon his guitar attracted the attention of flamenco stars such as José Mercé. Enrique Morente, Diego el Cigala, la Niña Pastori, Miguel Poveda, Pansequito, Diego Carrasco, Montse Cortés, Marina Heredia, and others.

Discography:

Del Manzanares Al Guadalquivir, with Israel Paz El Moñi ‎(Alía Discos, 1999)
Orate (Warner Music Spain, 2010)
Vuelve El Flamenco, with Diego El Cigala (Cigala Music, 2014)
Antonio Reyes / Diego Del Morao – Directo En El Círculo Flamenco De Madrid ‎(El Flamenco Vive, 2016)

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Artist Profiles: Rosario Lazo Montoya “Reina Gitana”

Rosario Lazo Montoya “Reina Gitana”

Flamenco pianist Rosario Lazo Montoya “Reina Gitana” was born in Jerez de la Frontera on April 29, 1974.

The Reina Gitana (Gypsy Queen) grew up in a gypsy family full of artists. Her father is Antonio “El Pescaero”, owner of a flamenco fan club in Jerez that bears his name. Her maternal grandfather was a great guitarist and so is her uncle. Her aunt Rosario Montoya was a singer that toured the world with her own company. Her grandmother Pilar Montoya was also a great dancer.

Rosario studied at the Royal Conservatory Manuel de Falla in Cádiz, where she obtained the first prize for composition.

She is the first gypsy woman in Spain that received a degree as piano teacher and instrumentalist.

She has performed at major venues throughout Spain and also appeared on various TV and radio networks, such as Televisión Española, Canal Sur, Canal 2 Andalucía and Onda Jerez.

Rosario is passionate about pure, traditional flamenco.

Discography:

Muchelumbre ‎(Satélite K, 2017)

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Artist Profiles: Pedro El Granaino

Pedro El Granaino – Photo by Leo Sánchez

Gypsy singer Pedro Heredia Reyes, better known as Pedro El Granaino, was born in Granada, Spain in 1973. Singing was part of his life from the day he was born.

He has worked with great flamenco artists such as Los Farruco, Vicente Amigo, Tomatito and Enrique Morente, among others.

In 2012 he began his solo career. Since then, he has won praise for his singing and his deep knowledge of the flamenco tradition. Pedro El Granaino is considered one of the best singers of the current scene.

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Artist Profiles: Antonio Reyes Montoya

Antonio Reyes Montoya

Antonio Reyes Montoya was born in Chiclana de la Frontera, Spain in 1975. He grew up in a family with deep flamenco roots. His maternal grandfather is Antonio Montoya and his uncle Roque Montoya “Jarrito.” Antonio Reyes is also related to José Cortés Jiménez, “Pansequito”.

He appeared on stage for the first time when he was 7 years old, at the Fiesta de la Parpuja de Chiclana. In 1984, he performed at the bullring in Jerez, on Flamenco Thursdays, organized by the guitarist Manuel Morao. At 10, he won the first prize in Fuengirola, in the youth category.

In 1988, at the age of 13, he was a finalist in the Mairena del Alcor competition and traveled throughout the United States with the Gitanos de Jerez Company directed by Manuel Morao and later in Europe with the Misa Flamenca show.

In 2009 he recorded his first album “Viento del Sur”. In 2014, he won the “Giraldillo al cante” of the Flamenco Biennial of Seville, as the jury appreciated “for incorporating his personality into the legacy of the great masters” and in 2015 he recorded his second album with guitarist Diego del Morao.

Discography:

Viento del Sur (Bujio, 2009)
Antonio Reyes / Diego Del Morao – Directo en el Círculo Flamenco de Madrid ‎(El Flamenco Vive, 2016)

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Your Connection to traditional and contemporary World Music including folk, roots and various types of global fusion