Artist Profiles: ALMMA

ALMMA stood for A Free Association of Madeiran Musicians. In 1996, eleven Madeiran musicians coming from diverse musical backgrounds gathered together in a small village, Jardim do Mar, west of Funchal (Madeira’s capital) to record an experimental album that would create a new atmosphere for Madeiran traditional music.

The purpose of these musicians was to show the various developments in Madeiran traditional music during the last centuries. Madeira was an island colonized by Portuguese settlers in the XV century, but because of its geographical position in the Atlantic ocean it was a cosmopolitan port for all travelers, from Arabic pirates to African slaves, English businessmen, Italians, Dutch, Spaniards and Celtic peoples.

So, Madeiran traditional music, although dominated by northern Portuguese traditions, had other important influences. Of particular importance were Arabic chants and instruments, as well as the richness of African drums and oral stories.

Unfortunately, for many centuries historians and governments tried to hide those influences and, in the name of Portuguese unity, only taught the politically correct musical traditions. ALMMA was the opposite. In a contemporary way, it showed the richness of Madeiran music. The band blended African drums with Arabic flutes and chorus, all mixed with Portuguese fados and Celtic danceable tunes. It seems a very strange melting pot, but in the end it truly presents the variety of Madeiran culture, not only in music, but also in other ways, such as poetry, myths and costumes.

Musicians:

Nuno morna – vocals, percussion, samplers, duduk, shanai, hurdy-gurdy

Manuel rodriguez – acoustic and electric guitars, viola de arame, rajao, percussion, vocals

Tozé cardoso – keyboards, viola de arame, guitar, vocals, percussion

Marília Andrade – vocals, percussion

CarlosCruz – braguinha, mandolin, quatro, percussion

Mário Freitas – bass, sitar, percussion

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.

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