Artist Profiles: Sylvestre Randafison

Sylvestre Randafison

Valiha maestro Benjamin Sylvestre Randafison was born in Madafascar in 1928. In addition to playing and promoting the usea of the valiha, Sylvestre Randafison also made high quality bamboo valihas with different tunings.

Throughout the 1950s and 60s, Sylvestre Randafison and his trio, Ny Antsaly, toured extensively outside Madagascar.

In addition to his work as a musician and instrument maker, Sylvestre Randafison also worked as a folklorist for the Madagascan Ministry of Cultural Affairs, traveling throughout Madagascar to collect more than 1,000 pieces of traditional music.

Sylvestre Randafison died on July 12, 2003.

Discography:

Valiha De Madagascar Vol.1, with Jean-Baptiste Ramaronandrasana (Pied Rouge, 1987)
The Art Of Rakoto Frah & Randafison Sylvestre – Madagascar (JVC, 1989)
L’Art De La Valiha – The Art Of The Valiha ‎(Arion, 2000)

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Artist Profiles: Rakotozafy

Rakotozafy

Rakotozafy was born in 1933. He was one of the best valiha players in Madagasca. His version of the valiha featured a total of 24 strings in the two sets, each set tuned to a different scale.

Rakotozafy made his first recordings in the 1960s for DiscoMad, released as singles and 45 EPs.

British record label GlobeStylemade sa trip in 1985 and colected some of Rakotozafy’s recordings. The label released a compilation titled Valiha Malaza in 1988.

Rakotozafy died in 1974.

Discography:

Valiha Malaza – Famous Valiha (Globe Style, 1988)

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SIU2, Hong Kong’s Creative East-West Musical Fusion

SIU2 – Sonic Traveler

SIU2 – Sonic Traveler (Flower Music, 2008)

One of the thrills of my CD review stack is that I often don’t know what musical adventure I’m about to take. This week’s thrill would have to be the wild ride of SIU2’s Sonic Traveler out on the Flower Music label. Based in Hong Kong SIU2 is one of those creative inventions that proves potent not just for their inventiveness but through their own musical skills.

On the surface, Sonic Traveler might come across as quirky, playful and flirty, but a skillfully crafted musical meld of East and West emerges and the smart, savvy musicals skills make the journey worth while. Need a little quirky, need some international getaway music for your ride into work or just want to take a musical tumble into a dramatic, jazzy, rocking slice of fusion? Then look no further than Sonic Traveler.

From the jump, Sonic Traveler defies any preconceived expectations. Crafting a fusion sound by way of composer, sheng player and electric organist Ng Cheuk Yin, zheng player Jason Lau, sanxian player Cass Lam, pianist Peter Fan, bass guitarist Siuming Chan and drummer Lawrence Tsui, Sonic Traveler propels listeners on a raucous roller coast of a ride that’s part high octane jazz, part quirky movie chase music, part hard driving rock all threaded through with Asian sensibilities. With two previous recordings, Open Door (2008) and KonFusion (2010), including a part of Open Door as part of a movie soundtrack, under their belts, SIU2 determinedly puts their own stamp on East/West musical fusion.

SIU2 launches the journey with the frenetic title track “Sonic Traveler,” a bold, jazzy melange of piano, crashing drums, organ and bass with flashes of zheng, sheng and sanxian. Sonic Traveler is a clever walk on the wild side of East meets West with the addition of the zippy zany turns of “Lights Up” and the hard rocking edged “Haunted House.”

“Gondola” proves to be a lovely respite in the frenetic groove, with its elegant piano and sanxian lines, as does the extraordinarily dreamy solo piano piece “Icy Night.”

“Drifting Ice” is just as exotically drawn as if possessed by a kind of musical anticipation threaded through with some wonderful chunky bass and the occasional rhythm driven outburst.

Sonic Traveler closes with “Gliding” that rides high on a “Mission Impossible” theme that runs through the track. It’s quirky and fun.

Buy the digital download version of Sonic Traveler from amazon or the CD from Flower Music

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Mongolian and Persian Hybridization at Rainforest World Music Festival 2019

Sedaa – Photo by Angel Romero

Sedaa is a Germany-based quartet featuring three Mongolian musicians and one Iranian instrumentalist. Together they make a remarkable mix of Mongolian, Middle Eastern and global music influences. The ensemble performed on Sunday, July 14, 2019 at the Rainforest World Music Festivals’ Theatre Stage.

The four musicians delivered an exquisite set of pieces that included masterful instrumental performances along with mesmerizing throat singing.

Sedaa – Photo by Angel Romero

Sedaa’s discography Mongolian Meets Oriental (2009), Letter from Mongolia (2011), New Ways (2012) and East West (2018).

The lineup includes Naranbaatar Purevdorj on kargyraa (undertone singing), khuumii (overtone singing), ikh kuur (two-string double bass), and morin khuur (horse head fiddle); Nasanjargal Ganbold on throat singing, kargyraa, morin khuur, bishguur (Mongolian oboe) and dombra (two-string plucked instrument); Omid Bahadori on cajon, guitars, vocals, percussion, kargyraa, and frame drum; and Ganzorig Davaakhuu on yoochin (Mongolian hammered dulcimer).

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Salif Keita to Receive La Mar de Musicas Award

Salif Keita – Photo by Thomas Dorn

Malian world music star Salif Keita is the winner of La Mar de Musicas Award. La Mar de Musicas is a highly respected world music festival held in Spain.

The festival gave the award to Salif Keita for “having overcome all kinds of prejudices inside and outside Africa in his defense of the population with albinism and those who sing without belonging to the griot caste, and for the inspiration of his powerful voice, having managed to mix the deep tradition of his region with global sounds.”

Keita will receive his award tomorrow, Monday, July 22, 2019.

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The Rarely Heard Himalayan Folk Music of Bhutan

Druk Folk Musician

It is uncommon to come across music from Bhutan at a world music festival, as the Himalayan nation was isolated for many years. The Rainforest World Music Festival 2019 presented Druk Folk Musician on July 13, 2019.

The concert featured three musicians who introduced the rarely heard singular folk sounds and musical instruments of Bhutan. The ensemble includes Sonam Dorji on drangyen (long lute with a curved neck); Ugyen Panday on vocals; and multi-instrumentalist Nvin Kharel.

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Reggae on the Mountain Music & Camping Festival 2019

Reggae on the Mountain Music & Camping Festival will take place August 17 & 18, 2019 at King Gillette Ranch in Malibu, California. Headliners this year include Steel Pulse, Julian Marley, Matisyahu, Third World, and Pato Banton.

Saturday, August 17:
Steel Pulse, Julian Marley, Pato Banton, Anuhea, Arise Roots, Ital Vibes, Better Chemistry, Dread Kennedy

Sunday, August 18:
Matisyahu, Third World, Hirie, Mike Love, Gondwana, Makua Rothman, Cisco Adler, Quitno Sol, Pachamama, Synrgy, Prime Livity.

More at: www.reggaeonthemountain.com

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Artist Profiles: Mdou Moctar

Mdou Moctar

Tuareg musician Mdou Moctar was born in 1986 in Niger. Mdou Moctar comes from a small village in central Niger in a remote region.

Growing up in an area where secular music was nearly banned, he taught himself to play on a homemade guitar made out of wood parts. Many years later he found a real guitar and taught himself to play in secret. He immediately became a star among the village youth. In a surprising change, his songs began to win over local religious leaders with their lyrics of respect, honor, and tradition.

In 2008 he traveled to Nigeria to record his first album “Anar.” A psychedelic remake of the Tuareg sound, the electronic tracks featured innovative pitch bending synthesizers, drum machines, and autotune.

In 2010, he collaborated with the label and collective Sahel Sounds, releasing his first international album, “Afelan.”

In 2015, he co-wrote and starred in the first ever Tuareg-language film, “Rain the Color Blue with a Little Red In It,” a Saharan remake of Prince’s “Purple Rain.”

In 2017, he changed his sound once more with “Sousoume Tamachek,” a recording evoking the calm desert soundscape, tackling religion, spirituality, and love.

His album Ilana is an ambitious recording pushing Tuareg guitar into an ever louder, rock-oriented direction.

Discography:

Anar (2008)
Afelan (Sahel Sounds, 2013)
Akounak Tedalat Taha Tazoughai, soundtrack (Sahel Sounds, 2015)
Sousoume Tamachek (Sahel Sounds, 2017)
Ilana – The Creator (Sahel Sounds, 2019)

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Artist Profiles: La Cuneta Son Machín

La Cuneta Son Machin

Nicaraguan group La Cuneta Son Machin was formed in 2009. The band combines the traditional music of Nicaragua and Latin America with rock, ska, hip hop and funk.

The third album, Mondongo, was produced by American musician and producer Greg Landau.

Their 2017 album, Cañambuco, recorded at Jingle Town studios in Oakland, also produced by Greg Landau and mixed by Carlos Álvarez, represents a continuation of the deep experimental work with traditional Nicaraguan music started with Mondongo.

Band members include Carlos Luis Mejía, Omar Suazo, Carlos Guillén Mejía, Ernesto López y Augusto Mejía.


Discography:

El Zafarrancho

Amor Fritanguero

Mondongo (2015)

Cañambuco (2017)

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Artist Profiles: 47Soul

47Soul

47Soul is an Electro Arabic Dabke (Shamstep) band formed in Amman, Jordan, in 2013. The members families come from the Levant area (Bilad Al-Sham), including Amman, the Galilee, Ramallah and the rest of the Palestinian Diaspora.

The group takes ancient Arabic rhythms and mix them with analog synthesizers, mesmerizing guitar lines, and verses from the four singers. Every show concludes with relentless dance and trance from all individuals involved.

47Soul’s lyrics mix Arabic and English. The songs call for celebration and freedom in the struggle for equality, inside Bilad Al Sham and throughout the world.

The 2016 lineup included Z the People on vocals & synthesizers; El Far3i on darbuka, MC/Vocals; Walaa Sbeit on percussion, MC/vocals; and El Jehaz on guitar & vocals.

Discography:

Shamstep (2015)
Balfron Promise (Cooking Vinyl, 2018)

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