Same Sky, Talented International Artists Come Together Through Digital Platform

Various Artists – Volume One Same Sky

Various Artists – Volume One Same Sky (Beyond Music, 2019)

Beyond Music, the innovative digital platform designed to encourage and nurture international collaborations, has released Volume One Same Sky. The cross-genre album features 23 artists from 17 countries who collaborated using the system. The artists shared ideas and generated song demos via the online platform. Beyond collected 110 submissions, and 10 winning songs were chosen. Same Sky is the first volume in what will be an annual undertaking.

In terms of production ad arrangements, Volume One Same Sky is designed to be an easy listen, appealing to a wide audience. Even though many international artists are involved, this is not exactly a world music album. You’ll find mainstream pop, well-constructed neosoul, Americana, hip hop and then various captivating songs that are rooted in tradition.

The tracks that focus on world music are the ones that attracted my attention the most, including the excellent “Saat Al Rahman” where global music meets classical, featuring the fabulous Seville-based Israeli singer Mor Karbasi; the engaging Arabic fusion of “Egyptian”; and the edgy global electronica and Indian hybridization of “Our Colors.”

The producer of the album, Larry Klein put together a band featuring highly regarded session players: Dean Parks, Ed Harcourt, Adrian Utley, Manu Katché, Clive Deamer and Dan Lutz.

The international artists include Abdullah Alhussainy (Egypt); Beshar Al Azzawi (Iraq); Mariana Baraj (Argentina); Andreas Bernitt (Denmark); Heather Bond (USA); Moshe Elmakias (Israel); Danielle Eog Makedah (Cameroon); Brice Essomba (Cameroon); Sandro Friedrich (Switzerland); Sheryl Gambo (Congo); Jivan Gasparyan Jr. (Armenia); Eduard Glumov (Kazakhstan); Mor Karbasi (Israel); Max Keller (Switzerland); Elly Kellner (Netherlands); John Lumpkin II (USA); Syssi Mananga (Belgium/Congo); Kane Mathis (USA); Kate Northrop (USA/Switzerland); Bijayashree Samal (India); Sasha Shlain (Russia); Ingrid White (Cameroon); and Msafiri Zawose (Tanzania).

More about Beyond music.

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Garifuna Collective, Uplifting Musical Traditions and Resilience

The Garifuna Collective – ABAN

The Garifuna Collective – ABAN (Stonetree Records, 2019)

The Garifuna Collective delivers an album where Garifuna musical traditions are combined with modern musical forms such as dub and subtle cutting edge electronics. The irresistible songs feature call and response choruses, delightful electric guitars and hip-shaking rhythms.

The recording features musicians from Belize and Honduras, representing different generations. The lineup includes Marcela Aranda on vocals; Desiree Diego on vocals and maracas; Mohobub Flores on vocals and turtle shells; Sheldon Petillo on vocals; Emilio Thomas on vocals; Rolando “Chichiman” Sosa on vocals and percussion; Denmark Flores on Garifuna drums; Sam Harris on electric guitar and vocals; Guayo Cedeño on electric guitar; Eli Levinson on sampling and programming; Iván Durán on electric and acoustic guitars, bass; and Al Ovando on electric guitar, bass, percussion, claps.

ABAN presents well-constructed, uplifting songs illustrating the new trends in Garifuna rooted music.

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Global Chaos Theories from the The Souljazz Orchestra

The Souljazz Orchestra – Chaos Theories

The Souljazz Orchestra – Chaos Theories (Strut Records, 2019)

Canadian jazz collective The Souljazz Orchestra, led by songwriter and arranger Pierre Chrètien, combines a wide range of musical with sociopolitical messages. On the music side, The Souljazz Orchestra presents an extraordinary kaleidoscope of sound that includes Afro-Caribbean beats, jazz, disco, captivating Afrobeat, funk, reggae, and soul.

With insistent energy, the lyrics address issues that are close to band members: insincerity of modern day politics, police rough treatment and income inequality.

The Souljazz Orchestra will be touring North America and Europe in the next weeks.

Tour dates:

Sep 20 – Ottawa, ON – Babylon
Sep 27 – Montpellier, FR – Rockstore
Sep 28 – Rambouillet, FR – Usine à Chapeaux
Sep 29 – Chelles, FR – Les Cuizines
Sep 30 – Paris, FR – New Morning
Oct 01 – Gent, BE – Vooruit Balzaal
Oct 02 – Madrid, ES – Café Berlín
Oct 04 – Granada ES – Planta Baja
Oct 05 – Zaragoza ES – Las Armas
Oct 06 – Barcelona ES – La Nau
Oct 09 – Dusseldorf DE – Zakk
Oct 10 – Mainz DE – KUZ
Oct 11 – Athens GR – Gagarin 205
Oct 12 – Thessaloniki GR – WE Complex
Oct 13 – Berlin DE – Gretchen
Oct 14 – Dresden DE – Tonne
Oct 16 – London UK – Jazz Cafe
Oct 17 – Dublin IE – Sugar Club
Oct 18 – Épinay-sur-Seine – PMO
Oct 19 – Nancy FR – Nancy Jazz Pulsations
Nov 16 – Gatineau QC – Le Petit Chicago
Nov 21 – Sherbrooke QC – La Petite Boîte Noire
Nov 22 – Montréal QC – Groove Nation
Nov 23 – Québec QC – L’Anti
Nov 28 – Waterloo ON – Starlight
Nov 29 – Hamilton ON – This Ain’t Hollywood
Nov 30 – Toronto ON – Velvet Underground

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Artist Profiles: Brian Dunning

Brian Dunning

Brian Dunning had been a professional flutist in Ireland, playing regular classical and jazz gigs, before coming to the U.S. in 1977 to study at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. “I remember hearing a flute solo on a tune by Them (with Van Morrison) when I was about 16.” Dunning recalls, “and it really used to send me. But jazz became my love.” So it’s not surprising that Dunning’s influences would include both classical master James Galway and jazz great Herbert Laws. But it was after hearing Micheal Ó Domhnaill and Kevin Burke playing duets at a music festival in Birmingham, Alabama that Dunning realized what direction his own music might take. “I jammed with Micheal there,” he says, “and that really made me want to write music that had on Irish flavor but with the freedom of jazz.”

From collaborating with bodhran player Tommy Hayes in a Celtic-tinged improvisational project called Puck Fair, Dunning and O Domhnaill settled into their long-term musical relationship in Nightnoise.

Dunning has also collaborated with keyboardist Jeff Johnson since the late 1980s, recording several albums together, including The Music of Celtic Legends – the Bard and the Warrior (1997), Byzantium (2000), and Patrick (2004).

His music appeared on the soundtrack to Gangs of New York, Windhorse, and The Outcasts.

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Artist Profiles: Markku Lepistö

Markku Lepistö – Photo by Tania Arcieri

Markku Lepistö, from southern Ostrobothnia, is one of Finland’s most dynamic accordionists, having been playing folk and dance music since age five.

A graduate of the Sibelius Academy Folk Music Department, where he studied kantele, woodwinds, double bass and fiddle, Markku was a member of the now defunct ensemble Pirnales, has played with the group Progmatics, more recently in a duo with Aldargaz mandolinist Petri Hakala and in the klezmer group Doina Klezmer. Markku joined Värttinä just before the Vihma recordings.

In 2011, Lepistö released an album titled Accordion Samurai along with four other accordion colleagues: Riccardo Tesi (Italy), Bruno Le Tron (France), Didier Laloy (Belgium) and David Munnelly (Ireland).

A follow-up Samurai album titled Te featured David Munnelly; Riccardo Tesi (Italy), Simone Bottasso (Italy) and Kepa Junkera (Spain).

Discography:

Silta (Aito Records, 2002)
Polku (2006)
Tupasoitto (2009)
Accordion Samurai (Homerecords, 2011)
Samurai Accordion – Te (Visage Music, 2017)

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Artist Profiles: Antonio Machin

Antonio Machín

One of the early legends of Cuban music, Antonio Machín led his own acoustic band in the 1920s, and eventually emigrated from the island, first to the United States, and finally to Madrid (Spain), just before World War II. Machín lived and recorded in the Spanish capital for several decades until his death in 1977.

Antonio Lugo Machín was born in 1900 in Sagua La Grande, in the province of Santa Clara, on the northern part of the island nation of Cuba. His mother was a colored Cuban and his father was European, a Spaniard from Galicia.

Machín’s early years were very difficult and he was forced to work at the age of eight to help pay some of his father’s numerous debts. One day, he was in the street by his house singing quietly. A priest that walked by heard him and immediately encouraged him to sing at a party. He sang Ave María by Schubert. From that day on Machín was determined to become a singer.

Machín’s ambition was to sing opera, but this was very difficult for a poor colored Cuban at the beginning of the 20th century. Thus, he focused on singing popular music.

At the age of twenty he had become the idol of the young women in his neighborhood. Machín would sing them serenades under the moonlight. He worked as a mason. Machín also traveled across Cuba as a singer. In 1926 he moved to Havana were he met a Spaniard named señor José, who helped him get a contract to sing at a small cafe in Havana.

Living in Havana, Machín was exposed to many kinds of music. He joined several quartets and sextets. One of the most important ones was Trío Luna, which he formed together with Enrique Peláez and Manuel Luna. In 1926 Machín formed a duo with the famous guitar player and singer Miguel Zaballa. They performed at various night clubs and live radio shows. Their fame was such that in 1927 Don Azpiazu, leader of Orquesta Habana, added the duo to the performances held at the Casino Nacional de La Habana.

At the age of 27 Machín became a vocalist at the Casino Nacional of Havana, the first singer of color ever to do so. The Casino Nacional was the place where you could find upper class Cuban and American land owners, movie stars, millionaires and diplomats, who danced and sought romance.

In 1929 Machín and his friend Daniel Sánchez founded a sextet that also included Alejandro “Mulatón” Rodríguez. They made several recordings. A year later, Machín toured the United States with the Casino Nacional orchestra. On April 26 the band played at the Palace Theater in New York. Machín sang El Manisero (The Peanut Vendor), the first Cuban song to become a national hit in the United States.

In New York, Machín proved to be a prolific artist, recording over 400 songs with the legendary Cuarteto Machín, comprised of claves, tres, guitar, and trumpet. Although the members of the band varied, Machín was frequently accompanied by his old friend, guitarist Daniel Sánchez, who sang duets with him on the majority of the recordings.

Machín is one of the finest Cuban bolero singers that ever lived. Several compilations of his work, covering various phases of Machín’s career are available from various Spanish and American labels.

Discography;

Las 50 Mejores Grabaciones de Antonio Machín en Discophon (1903-1977)
Tributo Al Bolero Cubano
Antonio Machín, Sus 20 Grandes Éxitos

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Artist Profiles: V.K. Raman

V.K. Raman

V.K. Raman, one of the leading flutists in the Carnatic style of Music, started learning flute at the age of 9. At the age of 15, he started giving full-fledged concerts. Since then Raman has performed in many prestigious organizations in India and abroad. Raman has had the privilege of performing flute duets along with his Guru, the great flute maestro Dr. N. Ramani on several occasions.

Enchanting and transcendent music flows from Raman’s flute as he has mastered superb blowing and fingering technique by which the tonal quality is at its peak. He plays the krithis in Gayaki (Vocal) style, combining it with the unique mind-boggling possibilities of his instrument. He has also performed Jugalbandhi, Fusion Concerts and has been very
successful as a Music Composer. He is a Grade I composer of All India Radio and Doordarshan. He has scored music for many Audio / Video Albums,CD’s and Dance/Theatre productions in India and abroad.

‘Surmani’ Raman , an ‘A’ Grade artiste of All India Radio has captivated the audiences in a number of India’s major music
festivals and toured widely in USA, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Sri Lanka and Japan.

Discography

Raman has released more than 50 albums,.

Mohana Rama
Swara Raga Sudha
Magic Bamboo
Divine Melodies
Sur Milan (Sagar Music, with Dr. Suma Sudhindra on the Veena)
Sur Sangam (Sagar Music, with Nanda Kishore Muley on Santoor)
Classical Indian Flute (Inner Splendor Media, 2007)
Classical Indian Flute & Violin With Virtuoso Brothers V.K. Raman and Mysore V. Srikanth (Inner Splendor Media, 2008)
Classical Indian Flute and Violin Vol. II With Virtuoso Brothers V.K. Raman and Mysore V. Srikanth (Inner Splendor Media, 2008)
Confluence (Felmay, 2009)
Navarasa – Eternal Emotions

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Artist Profiles: Gregory Isaacs

Gregory Isaacs

Gregory Isaacs ranked as one of the true superstars of reggae music, with a career that spanned three decades and legions of loyal fans worldwide. His humble upbringing began in Kingston, Jamaica where he was born in 1951.

Like many before him, he started his singing career in the early 1970s by working with a number of producers and entering various local talent competitions. His first records of notice were on Rupie Edwards’ Success label.

To gain artistic freedom and financial control of his own work, Isaacs started his own African Museum label and shop in Kingston in 1973 with singer Errol Dunkley. In order to finance his label, he continued to work with other producers such as Winton “Niney The Observer” Holness, Gussie Clark, Lloyd Campbell, and Alvin “GG” Ranglin for the rest of the 1970s.

His early recordings were responsible for the development of his singing style, love ballads with his cool relaxed nasal style, as well as his ease with songs about social protest. By 1980, Gregory had become one of the top stars in the reggae world, touring the UK and US extensively.

He signed with Virgin Records’ Frontline label and gained a considerable name for himself outside the reggae world. Isaacs continued recording singles on his African Museum label in Jamaica – ultimately those singles were gathered for the Virgin releases. His preeminence during this period was confirmed by the nickname of “Cool Ruler,” given to him by critics and fans after the title of one his albums.

By the mid 1980s, he had a number of personal and financial problems and ended up in a Jamaican prison for a short time. After his release, he began work recording for scores for different producers, which included some of his best material for King Jammys, Bobby Digital, and Steely and Clevie.

His 1988 landmark album, Red Rose for Gregory, and the single “Rumors” brought him to worldwide prominence again. Since then he has recorded a number of albums, scores of singles, and has continued to tour extensively worldwide.

Over the years, Gregory Isaacs worked hard to keep his legendary status and reputation in the reggae business second to none.

The Artists Only! label released Gregory Isaacs – Live at Maritime Hall in conjunction with 2B1 label the fall of 1998 to a great response.

Turn Down the Lights (1999) was produced by the legendary Lloyd “King Jammys”.

Come Take My Hand (2006) was produced by Emmanuel (Rude) Davies For Rude Productions. The 17-track set includes 14 vocal pieces and 3 bonus instrumental versions on CD, and 12 tracks on vinyl. Musicians on this album include Sly and Robbie, Carlton (Bubblers) Ogilvie, Earl (Broad Finger) Francis, Paul (Jazzwad) Yebuah, Jermaine (Ajang) Ford, to name a few.

Gregory Isaacs died October 25, 2010 in London, England, UK.

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Egyptian Percussion Master Hossam Ramzy Dies at 65

Hossam Ramzy

ARC Music announced today that Egyptian percussionist and composer Hossam Ramzy passed away on Tuesday, September 10th September 2019. He was 65. Hossam was undergoing treatment for a heart condition in Brazil, though the condition was very advanced.

Known as Egypt’s Ambassador of Rhythm, Hossam succeeded in injecting Egyptian rhythms into multiple projects. Hossam Ramzy worked with Jimmy Page & Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin), Shakira, Ricky Martin and A.R. Rahman, appeared on recordings by Peter Gabriel and Jay-Z, and composed music for numerous films.

Throughout the last three decades, Hossam traveled the world, educating in the art of true Egyptian dance. His concepts of dance and rhythm helped tens-of-thousands of dancers and percussionists perfect their techniques. During this time, he also found the time to release over thirty albums of Egyptian dance and world music, and produce countless more for artists from all around the world.

More about Hossam Ramzy .

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Karim Dabo’s Path to Peace

Karim Dabo

One day, I stumbled across Karim Dabo’s music online and I was transfixed. His vocals are soft and sensitive.

Even though you may not understand the lyrics as he sings in Wolof (a West African language), as a listener you are soothed and comforted by their gentleness. The vocals invite you into an atmosphere of peace, even relaxation. Karim is a good percussionist, but it is his singing that holds you in an embrace. In January 2014, his debut album “Sama Yone” came out. The sound is very spare, light, and acoustic with only drums, guitar, bass, kora and percussion accompanying his voice. Yet there is power in the simplicity. It sounds like folk music. Out of curiosity and wanting to learn more, I reached out to Karim for an interview and he responded.

Karim grew up in a household of music. His Senegalese father is a percussionist who loved traditional Senegalese music and the Mande music of West Africa. When asked about his father, he says, “My father’s story is important. When he was young he wanted to play music, but in our culture, it was forbidden to him, because it was not supposed to be part of our family. This was a family that was known for their work in business. Music is a genre reserved for the griots in West Africa. When my dad emigrated to France in his twenties, he played music, but in his head it was forbidden.”

Was music also forbidden to you?

No, nobody forbid me to play, because I grew up in France, I was not directly confronted with these concerns. When I returned home to Senegal with my music, my family were very open-minded. We started learning percussion as children with the jembe and dundun (Karim has five brothers and one sister). My mother is French; she is a teacher of African dance. Together, we played percussion to accompany her dancing lessons.”

Karim came of age in Annecy, France, a small mountainous town near to Geneva. He said “there is a spirit of peace in the mountains,” but felt it was too quiet to remain there. He was drawn to the possibility of moving to Montreal, Canada. Unexpectedly, he met Mafé, a Haitian-Québécoise singer based in Montreal who was visiting France. They began to make music together, and it was after meeting her that he moved in July 2013 to Montreal.

Yours is an incredible voice, when did you start to sing?

“I always sang when I was young, but only in my room. The kind of singing I am doing on this album, I started three years ago. Before I played a lot of percussion, but then I decided I wanted to try to create my own sound with guitar and singing.”

Karim Dabo

Why did you want to make your own sound?

I just wanted to discover the guitar, a new instrument for me. Also, one of my brothers, Sebastian Pintiaux, is a good guitarist and he sings. His music inspired me and he helped me to record and make the arrangements for this album.”

The music on the album is very spare and simple: is that deliberate?

“Yes, I wanted to keep the instrumentals quiet, basic, to give space for the voice.

Can you tell me about the track Africa? I ask, its cyclical music flows in the back of my head. An upbeat sound, the word Africa is pronounced many times as a chant throughout the song. The gentle strumming of an acoustic guitar, drums and light ripple of percussion accompany the steady vocal.

I am saying to African people we can make a choice for our development. It is not necessary to take a path in the same direction as Europe and America. We can make our own way. I believe this message is important, because when I go to Dakar, Senegal, I see a paradox in the people. I see a lot of people who want to live the same life as Americans or Europeans, but they are not being authentic to Africa.

This song is about how we can have our own way of life without being influenced by the West. The track was also inspired by the African musician Tiken Jah Fakoly, whose music often communicates directly and strongly with African people. I am saying we can build an authentic Africa, with an African spirit. Africa is beautiful and I think we can do a lot of things in Africa. In this song there is a little bit of revolution because I want to see African people strong and proud.”

Karim Dabo – Sama Yone

Your vocals carry the sound forward, because they are from the heart. Your singing sounds thoughtful. Your voice reminds me a lot of Geoffrey Oryema’s vocals. He has a very calming, steady, almost hypnotic sound. He is from Uganda.

“Yes, I know him. The track Diorme which means give me, is in the same spirit of Geoffrey Oryema. Even if you cannot understand him, you can tell the message is deep. But he is a great singer and I am a bit nervous to be compared to him.”

Yes, his vocals are haunting. They stay with you. But your vocals also have a haunting quality.

“There is a meditative aspect to my music. I want to convey peace. My singing is a reflection of what is going on inside me, a sense of introspection.

Karim Dabo

The track Jamm has that spiritual sense in it. Jamm is a gentle, meditative song with a steady rhythm. The same words are repeated, but the repetition is calming, not boring. The sound is restful.

“Yes, Jamm means peace in Wolof. In this song, I am talking about how a sense of peace comes from the sky and inspires me, but how peace may also inspire another person.”

So, is peace important to you?

“I am also a Social Worker, I work with people who are in difficulty. I’ve worked with disabled people and troubled youth. I’ve also learned to understand people by the way they play music. Through this experience I learned peace and self-control.

Karim has used music in his Social Work practice as a way to connect with others and to enable clients to express emotions or difficulties that they may carry inside.

Because you have to remain calm to do Social Work?

“Yes, and that’s why I decided to create music with a spirit of peace and love for humanity. A lot of people do not understand the vocals because they are in Wolof, but they can feel this calm in the music. And to make a world of peace, we have to do a lot of work inside ourselves. That’s why on this album, I am starting from within. Other people have taught me a lot, I want to offer them peace through music in exchange.

To find out more about Karim Dabo, you can visit his website at www.karim-dabo.com

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