A Path of Light

Hevreh Ensemble – A Path of Light

Hevreh Ensemble – A Path of Light (Ansonica Records, 2019)

A Path of Light showcases the work of talented American world fusion quartet Hevreh Ensemble. The album features a lively instrumental mix of global melodies and rhythms, jazz and classical influences. One of the characteristic elements of the ensemble is the use of Native American Cherokee flutes, clarinets and oboe.

The lineup on A Path of Light includes Jeff Adler on bass clarinet, Native American flutes; Judith Dansker on oboe, Native American flute; Laurie Friedman on clarinet, Native American flute; and Adam Morrison on piano, keyboards.

Guests include string quartet Ethel: Ralph Farris on viola, voice and minimoog; Kip Jones on violin; Dorothy Lawson on cello; and Corin Lee on violin. Other guests include percussionist Shane Shanahan; George Rush on double bass, and Naren Budhkar on tabla.

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Jamaican Reggae singer Jah9 Releases Ma’at Single

Jah9 – Photo by Wade Rhoden

Jamaican vocalist and yogi Jah9 has released her new single “Ma’at (Each Man),” accompanied by a scenic visual directed by Samo Kush I. Jah9’s new track is the follow-up to her hit “Heaven (Ready Fi Di Feeling).”

“Ma’at (Each Man)” combines spoken word and melodies over a pulsating dub bassline.

The title “Ma’at” is derived from the ancient Kemetic (African) system of spiritual cultivation. The principles of truth, justice, balance, order and harmony govern all aspects of life and when these divine laws are put into practice it culminates in man’s evolution towards divinity. The chorus itself invites the listeners to “keep it light as a feather,” inspired by an analogy on how the dead would be judged based on how they live. Their hearts would be weighed against a feather on a scale to determine their ultimate resting place. These principles are a key part of Jah9’s life and yoga practice, which heavily feature Egyptian kemetic sequences.

I speak about the karmic cycle and its real implications for the individual relative to their actions. No actions go unnoticed, and I am ever reminded that what we pay, will be weighed, when we meet our judgement day. For I, it represents a coming of age, an initiation into the real meaning of social & personal responsibility, an understanding that fosters self-discipline and strength of will; the key tools for rising above karmic forces,” Jah9 explains.

Buy Ma’at

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Venezuelan Vocalist Nella Wins Latin GRAMMY for “Best New Artist”

Nella – Photo by Sanne Gault

New York-based Venezuelan vocalist Nella won the 2019 Latin GRAMMY Award in the “Best New Artist” category, the first nomination and first win for the artist. The awards took place at the MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas on November 14 and were broadcast live on the Univision television network.

Nella also made her performance debut on the Latin GRAMMYs when she joined Spanish pop superstar Alejandro Sanz on stage for a performance of his Latin Grammy Song of the Year “Mi persona favorita” together with two other Best New Artist nominees, Aitana and Greeicy.

Nella’s debut CD “Voy” was released on May 31 on Casalimón Records. The CD was a collaboration with multiple GRAMMY-winning producer, composer and musician Javier Limón, who composed all except one of the songs on the album.

Nella dedicated her Latin Grammy win to her native Venezuela and “all those who, like me, have come from another country and every day are fighting for an opportunity. You are my inspiration.

“I feel very proud of Nella,” said Limón. “I wrote the songs on this album with my heart but her voice took them over the moon. She is the best vocalist of a new generation of artists ready to change the world with music and love”.

Nella – Voy

Following her Latin GRAMMY win, Nella will perform live on Univision’s national morning show Despierta America! on Friday, November 22.

Born Marianella Rojas in Isla Margarita, Venezuela, Nella cites pop divas Mariah Carey, Christina Aguilera and Celine Dion as her earliest influences. She left Venezuela at 21 to study voice at Berklee College of Music in Boston.

In addition to her debut CD, Nella also performed “Fin de Fiesta” on Javier Limón’s soundtrack to the film Everybody Knows, directed by Asghar Farhadi and starring Javier Bardem and Penélope Cruz.

Nella will follow her Latin GRAMMY win with November concerts in Athens, Ohio; Chicago, Illinois; and Fort Lauderdale and Cutler Bay in Florida. Concert details are listed below.

Nella in concert.

Nella (voice), Gilad Barakan (guitar), Paulo Stagnaro (percussion), Daniel Torres (bass)

Nov 18 Athens, OH Ohio University Memorial Auditorium
Nov 20. Chicago, IL Old Town School of Folk Music
Nov 22. Miami, FL. live performance on Univision TV Despierta America!
droppable-1573841698212 Nov 22 Ft. Lauderdale, FL Broward Center for the Performing Arts / Amaturo Theater
Nov 23. Cutler Bay, FL South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Ctr

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Artist Profiles: Oleg Fesov

Oleg Fesov

Oleg Fesov is a musician from Tajikistan who composes and arranges his songs in addition to performing. Despite living as an immigrant, Fesov still feels strongly connected to his home country and his ancestors from the Pamir Mountains. His people are Badakhshani, an ethnic group of some 35 people who are divided by the Afghanistan-Tajikistan border.

Fesov had to leave his home country because of an ethnic war that had been raging there for several years. His studio and equipment were looted and Fesov had to flee to Moscow where he continues the job of preserving his country’s rich musical tradition.

The album Lalaiki Pamir presents the musical traditions and ideas of Badakhshan (Tajikistan) and the Pamir Mountains. The traditional eastern string and percussion instruments such as sitar, rubab, ud dombra, various drums and tablas play an important role in the music of Oleg Fesov combined with his intensive and emotion-loaded voice. All lyrics are in Tajik or Shugnan languages.

Oleg Fesov was discovered at the huge “Voice of Asia” festival in Alma Ata, Kazakhstan. His international exposure came when German label Blue Flame released a series of recordings with the top performers that participated in that festival. American audiences found out about Oleg Fesov in 1995 when one of his songs, “Marav,” was included in the three-CD world fusion boxed set titled Planet Soup (Ellipsis Arts CD 345) released by Ellipsis Arts and produced by world music producer and journalist Angel Romero.

Discography:

Lalaika Pamir (Blue Flame, 1993)
Lakatum ‎(Manas Records, 1997)

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Artist Profiles: Veronica Codesal

Ialma

Verónica Codesal was born on September 16, 1977 in Uccle, Belgium. She is a vocalist and pandeireta (Galician tambourine) player. Verónica grew up in Belgium in a Spanish immigrant family from Galicia. Although she’s explored a wide range of musical styles, her passion is Galician roots music.

In addition to being a member of the band Urban Trad, Veronica is also founder of the group Ialma. She also took part in Muziek Lod’s project La Maison des Petltes Musiques Cachees (led by Dick van der Harst), in the Zefira Toma project, Celtic band Camaxe and the In Kadrirs project La Paloma Negra.

She’s currently a member of Ialma.

Discography:

Palabras darei, with Ialma (Zoku, 2000)
Marmuladas, with Ialma (Zoku, 2002)
Nova Era, with Ialma (Kerua, 2006)
Simbiose, with Ialma (FOL Musica, 2011)
Camiño de Bruxelas a Santiago, with Ialma (Home Records, 2016)

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Artist Profiles: Sergiu Popa

Sergiu Popa

Born in Chisinau in 1981, Moldova, Sergiu Popa is a member of a well-known Roma (Gypsy) musical dynasty in his country. He, like several generations before him, is a virtuoso accordionist who plays not only traditional folk and Gypsy music of Eastern Europe, but is classically trained as well.

He studied at the Stefan Neaga College of Music in Chisinau (the capital of Moldova), and completed two years at the Conservatory of Chisinau before emigrating to Canada in 2002. His first musical performance in Canada was at the Drummondville Festival Mondial des Cultures, where he performed with Vatra, a Moldavian dance troupe.

In Canada, during the short time he has been here, he has been distinguishing himself as a unique, versatile and highly talented artist. He has continued to perform traditional Eastern European music with other distinguished musicians such as Sergei Trofanov, Carmen Piculeata (violinists), Romeo Vaduva (pan flutist), Vladimir Sidorov and Marin Nasturica (accordionists), while expanding his repertoire with renowned jazz singer Jeri Brown. He has accompanied Angele Dubeau’s La Pieta (performing at the Lanaudiere and Mont Tremblant Festivals in 2003 and 2004) and is sought after by the Cirque du Soleil for a possible future collaboration.

During the summer of 2005, he led a full ensemble of musicians and dancers for an outdoor public performance at the Place des Arts concert series, Les Midis du Monde. The ensemble, named Sergiu Popa and Moldomania, performed traditional music from Moldova for an audience of several hundred people.

Sergiu was featured at the 1st edition of the Romani Yag Gypsy Festival in Montreal, where he gave a workshop in Gypsy style accordion, performed and participated in the premiere of a musical theatre production called Romano Drom. He was also featured as a solo performer in the 2005 edition of Printemps des Bretelles, an accordion festival in Montreal.

In 2006, Sergiu and his ensemble performed as part of the ?soir?e d?couvertes? at the 2006 edition of the ?Festival des Musiques et du Monde?, organized by Musique Multi-Montr?al. At the festival, he was nominated for the ?toiles Galaxie prize from Radio-Canada, for up-and-coming artists.

Sergiu established a reputation for developing creative, tasteful and innovative arrangements and accompaniment; this despite having been deprived of exposure to the work of great contemporary artists from the western world (until quite recently access to music from outside the former eastern bloc was highly restricted in Moldova). He believes that traditional music has its place in the future, and that young people will embrace it as long as it continues to evolve and reflect the spirit of a living culture.

His goals are to respectfully carry on the tradition which he has inherited from his father, and also to have the opportunity of collaborating with other gifted and progressive musicians who can help him expand the boundaries of that tradition, fusing with jazz, Latin and other international influences.

Discography:

Obsession Accordéon (2006)
Tous en Accord (2014)

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Artist Profiles: Los Titanes

Los Titanes

Los Titanes has been recognized as the most representative Colombian salsa orchestra in countries such as Venezuela, Ecuador, Panama, Mexico, US, Canada, and in Europe. Conducted by trombonist Alberto Barros under the label Discos Fuentes, Los Titanes came to life in 1982.

A native of Barranquilla, Alberto Barros, musical director, (former musical director of Grupo Niche) pursued his academic studies in the city’s music conservatory. He also participated in other successful orchestras, namely that of Adolfo Echeverria and Pacho Galan. During that same year’s edition of the Carnaval de Barranquilla’s Music Festival, Los Titanes was awarded a Congo de Oro.

1986 was the year in which this orchestra first began recording albums, success didn’t take long to come their way. In 1989, the single “Sobredosis” topped the Salsa charts and became the most listened song of the year. From their fourth album, the title “Por Retenerte”, by Quindio-born composer Pedro Neira, became a smash hit.

Oscar Quesada, joined Los Titanes as a vocalist in 1989. Born in Barrancabermeja, Quesada first took part in a trio, through which he accumulated a number of awards, he then left to put together his own band, and finally joined the ranks of Los Titanes.

Brigido Cheverra, aka Macondo, sings Alberto Barros’ “No me Vuelvo a Enamorar” and Isaac Villanueva M.’s “Desnuda”. Macondo, born in Turbo, Antioquia, began his artistic career singing Folk and African-American melodies. Later, he took part in other orchestras and finally became a member of Los Titanes.

In November of 1989, Los Titanes traveled to the US. Their sixth release came in 1991, along with a Peruvian award as best international orchestra. In 1993, after 11 years in the music industry, Los Titanes began to be recognized as the best salsa representative by audiences in US, Spain, France, Belgium, UK, Switzerland and Latin America. “Basto una Mirada”, “Loca Pasion”, and “Dame una Oporunidad” are always awaited with expectation during any concert. These and other hits have a special place in the hearts of Salsa fans.

Los Titanes, today considered the international ambassadors of Colombian salsa, have everything that is necessary to succeed in the world of Caribbean music, and succeed they have. With their blend of a trombone driven Salsa rhythm, romantic lyrics, and accomplished vocals that have characterized their artistic style since the late 1980s.

Discography:

Los Titanes y Sus Invitados (1981)
Los Titanes (1982)
Llegaron los Titanes (1985)
Furor Bailable (1986)
Apriétala (1988)
Sobredosis de Amor y Salsa (1989)
Amor y Salsa (1990)
Tentación (1991)
En Su Salsa (1993)
Bastó Una Mirada (1993)
6a. Avenida (1994)
El Titán de la Salsa (1995)
Grandes Éxitos de Salsa (1995)
Rompiendo Esquemas (1996)
Salsa al Máximo Voltaje (1998)
Tributo a Héctor Lavoe “La Voz” (1999)
Salsa Magic (2001)
Tremenda Salsa (2001)
Salsa Super Power (2003)
Heavy Salsa (2003)
Mano a Mano (2008)
Tributo a la Salsa Colombiana Vol. 3 (2010)
Essential de Tributo a la Salsa Colombiana (2011)
Tributo a la Salsa Colombiana Vol. 4 (2012)
Tributo a la Salsa Colombiana Vol. 5 (2013)

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Artist Profiles: Jeremy Dutcher

Jeremy Dutcher

Jeremy Dutcher is a Canadian vocalist and musicologist. He is well-known for his album Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa, that was a shortlisted finalist for the 2018 Polaris Music Prize.

A Wolastoqiyik (Maliseet) member of the Tobique First Nation in New Brunswick, Dutcher studied music and anthropology at Dalhousie University in Halifax. He recorded Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa after researching old archival recordings of traditional Maliseet songs at the Canadian Museum of Civilization, many of which are no longer being passed down to contemporary Maliseet youth. Many of the album’s songs also include samples of the original recordings as part of the backing tracks.

Discography:

Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa (2018)

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Artist Profiles: Carmen González

Carmen González

By the time her first album came out in 1984, Carmen González Kelz was busy touring throughout South America with extended stays in France. In 1989, she returned to Ecuador and began her study of the Afro-Ecuadorian traditions of Esmeraldas.

In 1992, her group Koral y Esmeralda had its first performance. She formed the group to promote these African rooted traditions from Ecuador’s Pacific coast. The group recorded Andarele in 1994 with the help of Cuban pianist and producer, Omar Sosa and recording engineer, Alcino ‘Kiko’ Donadel.

Rather than using an anonymous air-conditioned studio, Carmen and her colleagues decided to go to the source of the music which inspired them.

The idea behind Andarele was to integrate the traditions, the sound, the feel and the spirit of Esmeraldas with that of contemporary Afro-Latin music. And in so doing, to expose Esmeraldas to the world. Local musicians, local singers, local dancers, worked alongside top professionals specially brought to the “storehouse by the sea.” All were wined, dined and generally inspired to lay down some of the best tracks of their lives.

By 1995, Carmen González was back in France, working, singing, researching, followed by trips to Cuba and Quito, Ecuador.

Discography:

Andarele (Triple Earth, 1994)
Caramba (Network, 2000)

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Interview with Composer and Bassist Dawn Drake

Dawn Drake

American composer and multi-instrumentalist Dawn Drake and her band ZapOte have a new album titled Nightshade. She discusses her background and the new recording with World Music Central.

What are your fondest musical memories?

My fondest musical memories are of playing for crowds of dancers whether they are school children, sambistas, late night dance party-goers at Bembe in Brooklyn, for salsa dancers at Brooklyn Academy of Music Cafe or the Kimmel Center’s “La Noche” Latin Music Series.

What was the first tune you learned?

I learned the “Boogie Woogie” also known as “In the Mood” by Glen Miller on piano when I was five.

What do you consider as the essential elements of your music?

Essential elements are polyrhythmic percussion and heavy bass.

Dawn Drake

How did your musical ideas evolve throughout the years from your debut album to your latest recordings?

My musical ideas have become more composition and arrangement-oriented and less “singer-songwriter” based, though I still intend to put out more music with electronic production that may return to even simpler formats.

Your band ZapOte is named after a fruit found in Mexico and the Caribbean. I know this fruit as mamey. What led you to name your band ZapOte?

I see ZapOte as a very feminine fruit. It’s also delicious. The first song I ever wrote as an adult is the chorus of my song “Zapote” which was recorded on my previous album “Everythinglessness”. The song came to me after my first or second visit to Santiago de Cuba, a place that has inspired me greatly with its music, dance and culture over the years. Santiago de Cuba is the first place that I encountered the zapote fruit and I liked it instantly as well as the word itself.

Dawn Drake and ZapOte

Tell us about your new album, Nightshade.

The album is a culmination of various sessions played by a lot of New York’s finest musicians and audio wizards. Please refer to this description for more… It goes into detail about the overall darker mood of the album, the use of the iconography of the Yoruba orisha Oya as it coincides with the seasons and this particular season of darkness and the Day of the Dead, the homage to the ancestors who came before us and the hardships they went through, and how through making art and music come alive; when we make something out of nothing, we can heal the pains of the past and in the process bring people together and create community that may not have existed otherwise.

Dawn Drake and ZapOte – Nightshade

Who plays on Nightshade? Who are the musicians you are currently working with?

I am currently working with Mara Rosenbloom on keys, Eliane Amherd on guitar and vocals, Alicyn Yaffee on guitar, Jackie Coleman on trumpet (for over a decade now), Paula Winter (also for a decade!), Lynn Ligammari on tenor sax, and Beza Gebre on drums. For the album release, Patrick Hall has joined us on trombone and Karen Joseph on flute as well as my long time colleagues Buffy Drysdale and Elizabeth Sayre on batá drums.

Although I liked Nightshade overall, the electronics on the futuristic “Oya de Zarija” track really caught my attention. Will you be making more music in this direction?

Yes, that is my intention, to produce more tracks in that style in the future. Glad you like it!

In the press release you mentioned the bass chose you. What do you mean by that?

I meant that one day I went to a guitar store intending to buy a guitar and impulsively bought a bass instead which the store owner kindly told me came with a “gig bag”. I had never played the bass before and I certainly didn’t intend to get any “gigs” with it but after playing in my living room for a year, I ended up in the bass chair with Geoff Mann (Herbie Mann’s son) on drums, Viva Deconcini and Matt Moon (all from the New School of Jazz) in a band called Buttershack. From there, I have played hundreds of gigs on the bass.

Mainstream media does not provide an outlet for world music. In what ways are you promoting your music?

I promote through Youtube, Spotify, Apple, my email list and my live shows. It is not easy and I am looking for new avenues to promote my music. I would love to land a licensing deal and/or find other ways to get more listenership.

Dawn Drake and ZapOte live at the Shrine

What advice would you give to beginners, especially young women, who want to make music out of the pop and hip hop mainstream?

I would say, study and practice very hard to be the best you can be at your craft whether that is playing your instrument, singing and/or writing. It seems also that it pays off to get very good at learning how to promote yourself on Instagram. This is something I am really trying to improve at. I would also say that tenacity and risk taking are key. I personally have gained a lot from reading and doing the exercises in The Artist Way by Julia Cameron.

If you could gather any additional musicians, or bands, to collaborate with, whom would that be?

I would love to collaborate with Captain Planet, Antibalas and/or perhaps a producer who I don’t know yet who is interested in my work! One of my dream is to record a tune with musicians from Alexander Abreu and Havana d’ Primera in Cuba and possibly another upcoming artist in Cuba “Cimafunk”.

I recently went to Senegal this year to further my understanding of sabar drumming and mbalax music and I would love to collaborate with Thiat Seck and other Senegalese mbalax singers and musicians. I want to continue collaborating with international artists and it remains one of my main goals to continue to expand outward and do more projects with musicians abroad.

Aside from the release of Nightshade, do you have any additional upcoming projects to share with us?

We have several shows coming up in New York City, namely Bembe in Brooklyn (81 South 6th st.) November 17th at 11 pm and Shrine World Music (Adam Clayton Powell jr. Blvd between 133rd and 134th streets) in Harlem on December 21st at 10 pm.

I have also been selected to participate and present my music in a seminar sponsored by the US State Department called “Art, Culture and Transforming Conflict” in Santa Fe, New Mexico December 10-14. We hope to do more State Department sponsored tours abroad in the coming years.

In the meantime we also have a regular Tuesday night show called “Mardi Gras Fat Tuesdays” at Club 33 Lafayette in Brooklyn on 33 Lafayette Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11217, every Tuesday 8-11 pm starting November 12.

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