All posts by Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music and progressive music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several 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 and electronic music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World, Lektronic Soundscapes, and Mindchild Records. Angel is currently based in Durham, North Carolina.

Artist Profiles: Alpha Blondy

Alpha Blondy

Alpha Blondy has become one of the world’s biggest reggae stars. Inspired musically by Jamaica, and specially Bob Marley, Blondy also sings about struggle, revolution, peace, love and corruption.

Alpha Blondy was born Sedou Kone in Dimbroko, Ivory Coast. He was raised by his grandmother, who imparted knowledge from the Koran as well as traditional Jula morality. It was she who gave him the nickname “Blondy”, a version of the Jula word [also spelled Dyula, Dyoula, Diula, Dioula, Djula] for “bandit”, after he was thrown out of school for forming his own band. He added the name “Alpha”, which means “beginning” or “first”, hence his name means “first bandit.” As a young man he spent two years studying English at Columbia University in New York, often performing reggae in the streets and at Harlem clubs. Leading Jamaican producer Clive Hunt heard him singing Bob Marley songs and recorded six tracks with him that were not released. An altercation with the Ivorian ambassador in New York led to his arrest when he returned home to the Ivory Coast. There, a fight with a policeman led to jail. He finally was released and launched his career in earnest.

His debut recording, released internationally as Jah Glory, featured “Brigadier Sabari”, an account of a street raid by Abidjan police in which Blondy was nearly beaten to death. It became a sensation as others marveled that he had the courage to voice anti-police sentiments. He formed the Solar System Band and signed to EMI, recording his anthemic “Cocody Rock” in 1984. He was now drawing big crowds in Paris as well as Abidjan. Alpha then made a pilgrimage to Jamaica to Tuff Gong studios where he recorded the monumental Jerusalem album with the Wailers. The title track features lyrics in English, Hebrew and Arabic, reflecting his pan-cultural perspective. Widespread international touring, including his first American tour in 1987, established Blondy as a truly global star; his 1992 album Masada was released in 50 countries.

Three years before, he was voted the number one artist by a Radio France international poll. Having celebrated his 20th Anniversary as a recording artist with the release of the sublime Merci, Alpha Blondy resumed touring the United States after a period of cancelled tours. The shows were powerful, high-energy affairs often lasting over two hours, which showed that Alpha still is one of the world’s greatest live reggae performers.

Alpha Blondy

The issues that plague The Ivory Coast and other African nations are prominent on Alpha Blondy’s 2005 CD, Elohim, a wide-ranging set of classic Marley-esque reggae that showcases Alpha to be as vital as ever. Some artists raise political and social issues in their songs but Alpha Blondy the most popular international reggae star since Bob Marley, confronts them in real life as well as his music. With his beloved homeland, The Ivory Coast shattered by civil war and facing potential disintegration at the time, Alpha attempted to act as an honest broker between various factions in the country. It was dangerous work but Alpha is driven to see peace and justice prevail. Despite the fact that he has been jailed before, he still chooses to uses his music as a vehicle for positive change. “Machine guns sing louder than me,” he has noted “but if we don’t find a quick solution now…we’ll be talking about a war that will last maybe twenty years or more.”

Discography:

Jah Glory! (Syllart Production, 1982
Cocody Rock!!! (Pathé Marconi EMI, 1984)
Apartheid Is Nazism (Pathé Marconi EMI, 1985)
Jérusalem (Pathé Marconi EMI, 1986)
Revolution (Pathé Marconi EMI, 1987)
The Prophets (Pathé Marconi EMI, 1989)
S.O.S Guerre Tribale (Jimmy’s International Production, 1991)
Masada (EMI France, 1992)
Live Au Zenith (EMI France, 1993)
Dieu (EMI France, 1994)
Paris Bercy (EMI France, 1995)
Grand Bassam Zion Rock (EMI, 1996)
Yitzhak Rabin (Une Musique, 1998)
Elohim (Deelie, 2000)
Merci (Shanachie, 2002)
Jah Victory (Mediacom, 2007)
Vision (Wagram Music, 2011)
Mystic Power (VP Records, 2013)
Positive Energy (Wagram Music, 2015)
Human Race (Wagram Music, 2018)

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Artist Profiles: Tenores di Bitti “Mialinu Pira”

Tenores di Bitti

Tenores di Bitti “Mialinu Pira” was formed in Sardinia and takes its name from the well-known anthropologist Michelangelo ‘Mialinu’ Pira from Bitti. All the members have been learning the traditional singing since they were children.

After a careful preparation, the group began to perform the ancient melodies at many town squares, theaters and churches of Sardinia (Italy) and abroad, including many European countries, Dubai (United Arab Emirates) and Canada. In 2001, the group participated in the Christmas Concert for the Pope, with artists such as Hevia, Terence Trent-Darby, Cranberries, and Randy Crawford. The concert was broadcast by Canale 5. The tenores were also guests in the telecast Quelli che il calcio, on Italian national TV RAI Tre.

On September of 2003, the group collaborated with Hevia, the famous Spanish bagpiper from Asturias, who invited the Sardinian group to his concert in Avilés (Spain) to open his winter tour. In the same month, Tenores di Bitti “Mialinu Pira” received an award from the Maria Carta Foundation.

On November of 2003, the singers participated in the Festival Europalia as representatives of Italian popular music.

Tenores di Bitti “Mialinu Pira” works carefully to preserve Sardinian tradition by teaching courses at schools and merging this traditional form of singing with other musical genres, such as classical music.

The performances last an hour and the repertoire is made of profane and sacred tracks, preceded by an explanation about their origins and meaning. The group consists of five members who wear the traditional costume and sing a cappella (without instrumental accompaniment).

Discography:

Romanzesu (Amori, 1993)
Intonos (Robi Droli, 1994)
Ammentos (Robi Droli, 1996)
S’amore ‘E Mama (Real World Records, 1996)
Tenores di Bitti (Frorias, 1999)
The New Village (Il Manifesto, 2007)
Cunzertos (2013)

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Artist Profiles: Tenore “S. Gavino” Oniferi

Tenore “S. Gavino” Oniferi

The canto a tenore, typical from Barbagia region in the center of Sardinia, is a male polyphonic vocal style with a great charm, one of the highest expression of the vocal art in the Mediterranean area.

Immediately it sounds primitive and strong. It is not a chance that many scholars thought that this way of singing originated in the prehistoric ages by imitating the nature sounds: the four voices echo the ox bellows, the sheep bleating, the wind whistling and hissing. The origin is still mysterious, but for sure this is a millennia form of art.

Four are the voices: boghe (the soloist), mesa-oche, contra, bassu. The lead voice (boghe) sings the main melody and stands the song, while the other three voices are rhythmic accompaniment characterized by non-sense syllables. Performing this accompaniment the singers use a guttural emission of the voice, which surprisingly shows many analogies with the primitive vocal music of Oceania and Africa. Using this guttural timbre and particular tuning jumps, tenores can sing an enormous repertoire: muttos, ottave, battorinas, terzine, dances and improvised rhymes. The very peculiar harmony and poetic texts, the guttural voices and the characteristic tuning jumps make immediately recognizable this particular way of singing.

The Tenore “S. Gavino” from Oniferi is considered by music fans and ethno-musicologists the most prominent example of this vocal art. There are many points that make them so special: the canto a tenore is still well alive in Sardinia performed by many groups, most of them are old singers performing traditional texts. Their young age and the fact that three of them are brothers, is a first approach to notice how their sound, harsh and ancestral, is in fact very homogeneous. Their perfect tuning and their powerful sound is very rare today, because this skill needs years of practice and passion to be performed at its best. And in this sense Oniferi are the best young heir of the tradition and one of the very few promises for the future of this vocal marvel.

In the last years they’ve been touring extensively Europe (France in particular, where their CD Su Banzigu sold more than 2000 copies), the USA and Taiwan where they guested in a festival about traditional polyphony.

Another matter to be pointed is their accuracy in choosing lyrics this makes Onferi the foremost group in the new-traditional scene in Sardinia. Their texts are often oriented to contemporary arguments : social and working troubles, drug abuse, sex, today’s life difficulties, ironic and funny stories, some “philosophical” consideration about life…and sweet rhymes about love.

Both in dancing (lestru, dillu, passu torrau, ballu thoppu) and slow (boche seria, boch’e notte) forms, the lyrics, by famous poets such as Montanaru or from unknown contemporary authors, make the repertoire of Tenore S. Gavino an important vehicle of literary transmission. The oral transmission of poetry is another important point in Sardinian traditional culture from centuries, as well as the skill of improvising lyrics.

Discography:

E Prite Totto Custu (Felmay, 2006)
Su Banzigu

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Artist Profiles: Spaccanapoli

Spaccanapoli

Spaccanapoli comes from the streets of Naples, full of vibrant energy, impassioned vocals and wild abandon. The band sings modern protest songs from ancient roots. “One by one we die – all because of the bosses!”This defiant line isn’t sung at some socialist youth rally, but rather an informal gathering of automotive workers near Naples.

These age-old gatherings where people sing, perform street theater, tell stories and entertain their peers have been an outlet for the working people to express their troubles and ease their pain.

Spaccanapoli grew out E Zezi, the original gruppo operaio (socialist workers collective) of automotive workers in their native Naples.

Formed in 1974, E Zezi has consisted of over 100 singers, musicians, and dancers set out to express the cruelties of capitalism and the insensitivity of their corrupt bosses.

What began as a group of dedicated locals making music of the people, by the people, and for the people has gradually mutated into an internationally renowned cultural troupe who have been in much demand on the festival circuit. An old street of Greek origin in the center of-Naples, “Spaccanapoli” (meaning “split Naples”) embodies the soul of their city – in spite of being reduced to a stop-off on the tourist trail, it still retains the vital, irrepressible spark of authentic folk expression.

On Lost Souls, Spaccanapoli perform songs about political protest, beautiful girls, spirits, goblins, carnival, magic, and the beloved Mt. Vesuvius – emblem of the region and its explosive soul.

Pulsing drums and impassioned vocals entwine with the wild dances of the “tarantella” (ancient solo dance of possession) and “tammurriata” (a dance performed in couples within a circle of people to the steady rhythm of the tammorra drum).

The lineup in 2000 featured Monica Pinto (lead vocals), Marcello Colasurdo (lead vocals, tammorra), Antonio Fraioli (violin, piano, percussion), Oscar Montalbano (acoustic guitar, bass), Emilio De Matteo (acoustic and electric guitars).

Discography:

Aneme Perze – Lost Souls (Real World Records, 2000)
Janus (2009)

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Artist Profiles: Radiodervish

Radiodervish

The music of the Radiodervish (from the Persian dar and wish: visitors of doors) was born from the meeting between Palestinian musician Nabil and Italian artist Michele. Two lives, two worlds that virtually are thousands and that relate mutually and do not fear to be contaminated. Nabil and Michele live on the frontier, seeking roads and bridges between the East and the West. They explore the no man’s land, the border and the space that unifies and separates at the same time. They tell the story of a world which exists and which is self-sufficient. They tell the story of interior journeys set out by men and women who belong to different spaces, cultures and times. They tell the story of hidden but always vital paths whose trails are symbols and myths that permeate the cultures which they belong to. Biblical and Sufi symbolism, earthly loves and mystic nostalgia sung in Italian, in Arabic, in English and in French with a marked sense of melody joined by the sonority that is rooted in both the Western culture and the Arabic tradition.

Michele and Nabil meet in the mid-1980s in the city of Bari (southern Italy) where they visited university circles, studying respectively Philosophy and Engineering. In June 1980 they founded the Al Darawish and immediately made a name for themselves as one of the most important groups on the Italian world music scene. They received a very good response from both the public and the critics. They produced two albums and played more than 300 concerts.

In 1997 Nabil and Michele bring to an end their experience with Al Darawish and founded the new Radiodervish. In 1998 they signed a record contract with Giovanni Lindo Ferretti &Massimo Zamboni’s I Dischi del Mulo. In July at the apartments of the Castello Episcopio in Grottaglie (South Italy) they produced their first album under Radiodervish: Lingua contro Lingua (Dischi del Mulo/PolyGram), in collaboration with the artistic production of Fabio Recupero and Mauro Andreolli. The album was presented at the Salone della Musica in Turin and won the Premio Ciampi as the best record debut of the year. In January of 1999 the Lingua contro Lingua tour began.

During this period, Radiodervish made many contacts with artists from the Middle East, like Rim Banna, Amal Morkus and Israeli singer Noa.

At the end of 1999 a new collaboration with Italian artist Lorenzo Cherubini (Jovanotti) began. For his music video Stella Cometa, Nabil was asked to translate into Arabic a part of the song and to sing it. In July 2000 a new Jovanotti’s single Dolcefareniente was published. It contained the medley version of the Stella Cometa sung by Nabil and Jovanotti and the Arabic version sung uniquely by Nabil.

The same year the friendship between Nabil and Noa became more solid and was made important by the delicate political situation in the Middle East. In July 2000 the town council of Melpignano (in the Province of Lecce) granted to both the singers the Honorary Citizenship for the common engagement for peace. In December they received from the United Nations an invitation to sing together in the Duomo of Monreale (Palermo) in front of the Heads of States. The orchestra that accompanied them was directed by Maestro Nicola Piovani (author of the R. Benigni’s soundtrack La Vita è bella).

In 2001 Radiodervish produced a new presentation in which for the first time they collected their repertoire in an “acoustic version”. The new album called In Acustico gave way to a tour linked to a particular project of raising funds for the international association Salaam Ragazzi dell’Olivo which operates for Palestinian children in the Al Fawwar refugee camp in Hebron – West Bank.

In March 2001 in the La Vallisa, an Old Church in Bari, a live concert was held. Its songs and pictures became the material for a new CD-ROM.

Radiodervish played at the Fete de la Musique in Beirut on June 21st, 2001. They were accompanied by film director Marco Preti, who prepared a documentary about their days in Lebanon, and by a journalist, Massimo Zamboni who wrote about this experience on the Diario.

On January 5th, 2002, during the annual Epiphany Concert, in the Monastero Santa Chiara in Naples, Nabil sang with Noa the Centro del mundo, composed and written by Nabil and Michele. The event was broadcast by the National Italian TV (RAI).

In May of 2002 Radiodervish took part in the traditional Labor Day concert in Brussels dedicated to Middle Eastern peace development. On the same theme, the band performed that same month at the Coloseum’s concert in Rome “Centro del mundo” once again with Noa.

To promote its 2002 album, Radiodervish started a promotional tour in July, while at the same it worked on a special project with the Arab-Israeli Orchestra of Nazareth for the Negroamaro festival in south Italy: songs from Arabic traditional music performed on the same stage together with some of the most famous songs of the band.

Discography:

Lingua contro lingua (Dischi del Mulo/PolyGram), 1998)
In acustico (2001)
Centro Del Mundo ‎(Il Manifesto, 2002)
In Search Of Simurgh (Il Manifesto, 2004)
Amara Terra Mia (Radio Fandango, 2006)
L’Immagine Di Te ‎(Radio Fandango, 2007)
Beyond The Sea (Il Manifesto, 2009)
Bandervish (Il Manifesto, 2010)
Dal Pesce Alla Luna (Sony Music, 2012)
Human ‎(Sony Music, 2013)
Café Jerusalem (Cosmasola, 2015)
Il Sangre E Il Sal ‎(Cosmasola, 2018)

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The Best Ballads of The High Kings

Decade – The Best of The High Kings

Decade – The Best of The High Kings (Celtic Collections, 2017)

The High Kings, a well-liked Irish band that specializes in folk ballads released “Decade” – The Best of The High Kings’. The album contains the group’s most popular songs, a total of 18 tracks. Some of these include “Rocky Road to Dublin,” “Marie’s Wedding” and “Spancil Hill.”

The High Kings’ music cuts across generations, appealing to older music fans and younger people as well. Current band members include Finbarr Clancy, Brian Dunphy, Darren Holden and George Murphy.

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Artist Profiles: Eugenio Bennato

Eugenio Bennato

Eugenio Bennato was born on March 16, 1947 in Naples, Italy. He founded the seminal Nuova Compagnia di Canto Popolare in 1969. He later cofounded Musicanova in 1976. He is one of Italy’s most important champions of traditional music. Eugenio is the brother of Italian rock star Eduardo Bennato.

Eugenio Bennato also founded Taranta Power, a multi arts movement dedicated to pushing the boundaries of the Tarantella and other Calabrian folk traditions.

Discography

With Nuovo Canto Popolare:

Nuova Compagnia di Canto Popolare (Rare, 1971)
NCCP (EMI Italiana, 1973)
Li Sarracini adorano lu sole (EMI Italiana, 1974)
Tarantella ca nun va ‘bbona (EMI Italiana, 1975)

With Musicanova:

Garofano d’ammore (Philips, 1977)
Musicanova (Philips, 1978)
Quando turnammo a nascere (Philips, 1979)
Brigante se more (Philips, 1980)
Festa festa (Fonit Cetra, 1981)

Solo Albums:

Eugenio Bennato (CGD, 1983)
Dulcinea (CGD, 1984)
Eughenes (Bubble, 1986)
La stanza dello scirocco (1988)
Le città di mare (Bubble, 1989)
Novecento auf Wiedersehen (Lucky Planets, 1991)
Mille e una notte fa (Tring, 1997)
Taranta power (DFV, 1999)
Lezioni di tarantella (2000)
Che il Mediterraneo sia (Rai Trade, 2001)
Sponda Sud (Lucky Planets , 2007)
Grande Sud (Edel, 2008)
Questione meridionale (Artis Records, 2011)
Da Che Sud E’ Sud ‎(Fox Band, 2017)

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Artist Profiles: Furias

Furias

Fùrias has spent many years collecting the musical experiences of traditional musicians from Sardinia. The group’s intention is to research, safeguard and spread the musical culture of the island. Through its research and concerts, the group has managed to introduce many of the island’s ancient instruments to new audiences.

Although the musicians have been active for many years, Fùrias was founded in 1995, taking inspiration from one musical phrase of the repertoire of the launeddas.

For some years, the group has brought back the concept of the Sardinian dance, which had been relegated to peasant festivities.

Members: Orlando Mascia – accordion, vocals, guitar, trunfa (scacciapensieri); Paolo Zicca – Launeddas-sulitu (zufolo dei pastori); Bruno Camedda – accordion, cello; Gianni Atzori – Erbekofono; and Cosimo Lampis – drums, percussion.

Discography:

Etnomusica

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Artist Profiles: Lucilla Galeazzi

Lucilla Galeazzi

Lucilla Galeazzi is a singer, writer and researcher of folk music. She was born in Terni, in the central Italian region of Umbria. Galeazzi began singing at the age of 15 with a pop group formed together with friends, only becoming interested in folk music a little later on, when she worked alongside researcher Valentino Paparelli, an expert on the musical traditions of Umbria, and in particular the area of Valnerina.

In 1977 Giovanna Marini, impressed by her voice, asked her to be part of her up-and-coming Quartetto Vocale (vocal quartet), an ensemble which reached popularity both at home and abroad in the space of a few years. With the Quartetto Lucilla performed in some of the most important theatres of Europe; furthermore, singing the original and complex music of Marini helped Lucilla develop an impressive technique and refined musical sensitivity.

During this period she also worked with several jazz musicians and composers, with whom she made some interesting recordings (Anninnia and Per Devozione).

From 1986 onwards she sang in some of the works of the great Roberto De Simone (who inspired Neapolitan movements such as the Nuova Compagnia di Canto Popolare): for example, ?Stabat Mater?, ?Carmina Vivianee? (1987), Mistero e Processo di Giovanna D’Arco, Requiem per Pier Paolo Pasolini (1990).

In 1987 she completed a long tour of France as part of the company of Tango, memoria di Buenos Aires, which saw the participation of some of the most important Argentine musicians.

In 2002 she studied song with the soprano Michiko Hirayama and bass Gianni Socci.

She possesses a warm, beautiful voice, rich in the typical elements of Italian folk, she is without doubt one of the most interesting singers to have come out of the Italian folk music revival scene in the last few years.

Since 2002, she’s been part of Christina Pluhar’s Baroque project L’Arpeggiata, providing vocals in two award-winning albums and performing throughout the world. She’s also played with Trio Rouge with Michel Godard and Vincent Courtois.

In 2010 she founded the vocal ensemble Levocidoro, which featured other six female vocalists, focused on polyphonic Italian music.

Lucilla has collaborated with Moroccan female vocal ensemble B’net Houariyat since 2012, bringing together five singers and percussionists from Marrakesh and a quintet of Italian female artists.

In 2014, she wrote and developed two major theatrical-musical shows dedicated to the First World War: “Doppio Fronte. Oratorio per la Grande Guerra”, with the well-known actor and performer Moni Ovadia, and “Il fronte delle donne” which debuted in Rome for the Centenary of WWI War celebration, sponsored by the Italian Government.

On April 25, 2015, Lucilla released the album “Bella Ciao.” is released. The following year she wrote the show “La nave a vapore“, dedicated to the history of the great Italian migratory movements.

Discography:

Correvano coi carri (Alabianca, 1977)
La grande madre impazzita (Alabianca, 1978)
Cantate pour tous les jours 1 (Le Chant du monde, 1980)
Cantate pour tous les jours 2 (Le Chant du monde, 1982)
Pour Pier Paolo Pasolini (Le Chant du monde, 1984)
Anninnia (Nueva, 1984)
Il paese con le ali (Nord/Sud, 1986)
Per Devozione (Ismez/Polis IP, 1987)
Cantata profana (Naive, 1990)
Il Trillo (Thelonious, 1992)
Giofà il servo del re (BMG, 1993)
La vita al di sopra e al di sotto dei 1000 metri (Naive, 1994)
Invito (BMG, 1995)
Rock’s Airs de la lune (Naive, 1995)
Mammas (BMG France, 1996)
Cuore di terra (1997)
Suono e terra (Finisterre, 1997)
La Banda (Enja, 1997)
La via dei Romei (BMG, 1997)
Honig und Asche (Enja, 1998)
Ali d’oro (Enja, 1999)
Lunario (C.N.I., 2001)
Vaffatica’ (Alfa Music, 2001)
Vent’anni e più (Manifesto, 2002)
La Tarantella (Alpha, 2002)
2002 Renaissance (Naive, 2002)
… è nato l’anno de’ li du’mila (Circolo Gianni Bosio, 2003)
Siriopolis (Sirius M41, 2004)
All’improvviso (Alpha, 2004)
Trio Rouge (Intuition, 2004)
Stagioni (Buda Musique, 2005)
Passio et Resurrectio (Naxos, 2005)
Amore e Acciaio (Zonedimusica, 2006)
Sacra Concert (Fandango, 2006)
Passaggi (Fandango, 2007)
Migrare (Folkclub Etnosuoni, 2007)
Capoverde, terra d’amore (Sony, 2009)
Sopra i tetti di Firenze (Manifesto, 2010)
Ancora Bella Ciao (Helikonia, 2010)
Zahr (Taquin Records, 2011)
La Valnerina ternana (2011)
Los Pájaros Perdidos (Virgin Music, 2011)
Festa italiana (Helikonia, 2013)
Bella ciao (Visage Music, 2015)

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Music for Hispanic Heritage Month 2018

Throughout September and October, the Spanish-speaking nations and Hispanic residents in the United States celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15-Oct. 15) in the United States. Other countries celebrate the Dia de la Hispanidad (Hispanic Heritage Day).

During the monthlong Hispanic Heritage Month celebration, the United States honors the culture and traditions of U.S. residents who trace their roots to Spain, Mexico and the Spanish-speaking nations of Central America, South America and the Caribbean. World Music Central has put together a list of recent recordings that showcase the diversity of Hispanic music.

Old-School Revolution is an irresistible album by the Hip Spanic Allstars, a new supergroup that brings together members of iconic bands Santana, Tower of Power, Spearhead, and Los Mocosos.

The multinational band celebrates and updates the exciting music made in the 1970s where Spanish Caribbean salsa and Latin jazz met rock and African American soul and funk.

 

One of the most exciting artists out of Cuba is Eme Alfonso, a talented artist that grew up in a family of groundbreaking musicians, Grupo Sintesis. Her album discography includes Eme (Colibrí) and Voy. Eme has been releasing a series of mesmerizing videos with her latest songs, including:

 

Cuba is also a land of extraordinary pianists. This is year there has been a wave of albums by some of Cuba’s finest, who combine jazz and Cuban roots music: Alfredo Rodríguez – The Little Dream ‎(Mack Avenue MAC1130, 2018), Dayramir González – The Grand Concourse (Machat Records, 2018), and Un Día Cualquiera by Harold López-Nussa (Mack Avenue).

 

Alfredo Rodríguez – The Little Dream

 

 

Dayramir González – The Grand Concourse

 

 

Harold López-Nussa – Un Día Cualquiera

 

 

Omar Sosa and Yilian Cañizares – Aguas

Cuban pianist and composer Omar Sosa has a new album with fellow Cuban vocalist and violinist Yilian Cañizares titled Aguas, scheduled for release on OTA Records on October 5, 2018. Afro-Cuban roots meet Western classical music, and jazz.

 

Eliades Ochoa and Alejandro Almenares – Dos Gigantes de Música Cubana

The legendary Cuban guitarist, vocalist and songwriter Eliades Ochoa (of Buena Vista Social Club fame) has released a delightful instrumental album with Cuban guitarist Alejandro Almenares – Dos Gigantes de Música Cubana (Tumi Music, 2018).

One of the iconic Cuban albums of the 1990s, A toda Cuba le gusta (World Circuit) by Afro-Cuban All Stars has been remastered and reissued on vinyl.

Canada-based Cuban musicians Okan (Elizabeth Rodriguez and Magdelys Savigne) have a debut EP titled Laberinto, scheduled for release October 19, 2018. Okan mixes fusion jazz, traditional Cuban music, Mexican influences and jazz swing.

 

 

Mariachi Herencia de México – Herencia de la Tierra Mía

 

With 127 million residents, Mexico is the largest Spanish-speaking country. The Mexican diaspora has brought mariachi music, norteño and son jarocho to the United States. Mariachi Herencia de México, formed by students from Chicago’s Mexican-American neighborhoods has a new album titled Herencia de la Tierra Mía (Heritage of My Land).

The charming self-released album features iconic Mexican American world music artist Lila Downs, Mexican mariachi star Aida Cuevas and Mexican harp virtuoso Ivan Velasco Herencia de la Tierra Mía includes sones, passionate boleros and a delightful jarocho medley. It was produced by acclaimed Spanish producer Javier Limón, director of the Mediterranean Music Institute at the Berklee College of Music in Boston.

 

Magos Herrera – Dreamers

Mexican vocalist Magos Herrera (currently based in New York) celebrates Ibero-American (the music of Spanish and Portuguese countries) culture on her new album Dreamers (Sony Music Masterworks). Magos Herrera collaborates with the string quartet Brooklyn Rider. This is not a chamber jazz album, but rather a cross-genre recording where Magos Herrera and Brooklyn Rider invited guest percussionists on flamenco and global percussion, and flamenco star Miguel Poveda.

Magos Hererera performs songs with lyrics by renowned songwriters and poets and writers, including Octavio Paz, Rubén Darío, and Federico García Lorca. It’s a fascinating production with exquisite arrangements.

 

Radio Jarocho and Zenen Zeferino – Rios de Norte y Sur

 

Son jarocho, with its captivating guitars and poetic lyrics combines the basic roots of Veracruz’s Mexican musical culture: Spanish guitars and poetry, indigenous rhythms and Afro-Caribbean influence. New York-based Radio Jarocho and acclaimed Veracruz musician Zenen Zeferino have released Rios de Norte y Sur.

 

 

Wu Man & Son de San Diego – Fingertip Carnival

A different take on son jarocho is the remarkable Fingertip Carnival, a collaboration between Chinese pipa (lute) maestra Wu Man and son jarocho ensemble Son de San Diego.

 

Mariachi Reyna de Los Angeles – Mariachi Reyna de Los Angeles

Smithsonian Folkways Recordings has released the self-titled album Mariachi Reyna de Los Angeles. This groundbreaking all-female ensemble has served as a role model for Hispanic women in music. This is classic spirited mariachi at its best. The album includes a 44-page booklet with notes in English and Spanish.

 

. Mexico – The Best Boleros from the Costa Chica

The highly romantic boleros are very popular across the Spanish-speaking nations. A form of rootsy guitar-based bolero has developed in Mexico’s Costa Chica region bordering the Pacific Ocean.

Mexico – The Best Boleros from the Costa Chica (ARC Music) features some of the finest acts from the region, including Pedro Torres, Fidela Peláez, Chogo Prudente, Los Tres Amuzgos, and Las Hermanas García.

 

Grupo Mono Blanco – ¡Fandango! Sones Jarochos de Veracruz por Grupo Mono Blanco

¡Fandango! Sones Jarochos de Veracruz por Grupo Mono Blanco (Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, 2028) is the new album from one of son jarocho’s leading acts Mono Blanco, a group created in the late 1970s by Gilberto Gutierrez Silva.

 

Plena Libre – Amores en el Camino

Gary Nuñez & Plena Libre have been touring extensively with their explosive mix of Puerto Rican plen and bomba, salsa and jazz. Amores en el Camino (Love’s Journey) is their 2018 album. The album was originally scheduled for release in 2017, but it was moved to February 2018 due to Hurricane Maria and the subsequent disaster in Puerto Rico.

 

Miguel Zenón – Yo soy la Tradición

Puerto Rican saxophonist and composer Miguel Zenón has released Yo soy la Tradición, his eleventh album. Yo soy la Tradición was commissioned by the David and Reva Logan Center for the Arts and the Hyde Park Jazz Festival. It is a set of 8 chamber compositions for alto saxophone and string quartet that include Zenón and the Chicago-based Spektral Quartet.

 

Zemog El Gallo Bueno – YoYouMeTú Volume 3

Puerto Rican-Peruvian act Zemog El Gallo Bueno (Abraham Gómez-Delgado) has combined three of his releases on YoYouMeTú Volume 3. Zemog El Gallo Bueno makes an eclectic cocktail of sounds that includes cha cha ch, salsa, guaracha, rock, funk and electronics. The album will be available November 9, 2018.

 


Dengue Dengue Dengue – Semillero

Peruvian band Dengue Dengue Dengue has a new mini-LP titled Semillero released September 2018 by On The Corner Records. The 6-track recording includes a mix of electronic music with Afro-Peruvian coastal rhythms and healing chants from the Huni Kuin people of the Amazon River.

 

Susana Seivane – Fa

Galicia in northwestern Spain is a land of pipers, traditionally male. The trailblazing Susana Seivane is one of the finest bagpipe players of her generation. She has just released her fifth album titled Fa.

 

Sondeseu – Beiralua

Also from Galicia is the grand folk orchestra called SondeSeu, an orchestra featuring folk music instruments such as zanfonas (hurdy gurdies), bagpipes, flutes, drums, fiddles and vocalists. The new album Beiralua features special guests on vocals and bagpipes.

Galician experimentalist and multi-instrumentalist Mercedes Peón reconstructs tradition with a mix of electronics, rock, traditional acoustic instruments, sampled sounds, and fascinating vocal experimentation on her new album titled Deixaas.

Argentine pianist Juan Carlos Cambas has been living in Galicia since 2002. He has released “Almas en el viento / Música Argentina de raíz“. Juan Carlos Csambos has been exploring the music of countries where large numbers of Galicians emigrated to: Argentina, Cuba, Venezuela, Brazil and Uruguay.

 

Pedro H. da Silva and Daniel Binelli – Tango Fado Duo

Argentine tango and Portuguese fado come together on Tango Fado Duo (Sorel Classics). The album features Portuguese guitar virtuoso, Pedro H. da Silva and bandoneon maestro Daniel Binelli. Together, they delve into two of the most passionate musical genres in the Hispanic and Lusophone world.

 

Stu Mindeman – Woven Threads

American keyboardist Stu Mindeman collaborates with Chilean musicians on the exquisite Woven Threads, mixing jazz, Chilean music and global rhythms.

 

Aljibe – Agua, Músicas tradicionales de la Cuenca del Tajo

 

Folk music band Aljibe, from Central Spain, explores the music of the Rio Tajo (Tagus River) basin on Agua. The band presents reconstructed traditional music from Castile and other regions. The CD is housed in a beautifully-packaged hard cover 144-page book with vintage photos and lots of details about the songs selected.

 

Vigüela – A Tiempo Real – A New Take on Spanish Tradition

 

A Tiempo Real – A New Take on Spanish Tradition is a double set of Castilian folk music songs performed by the rising stars of Spanish folk music, Vigüela.

 

Chano Dominguez – Chano & Colina

Chano Dominguez started as a progressive rock keyboardist with Andalusian rock band Cai and has become one of the leading flamenco jazz pianists. His most recent album is a collaboration with Spanish jazz bassist Javier Colina: Chano & Colina (Sunnyside, 2018)

 

Marta Gómez – La alegría y el canto

 

Colombian singer-songwriter Marta Gómez released La alegría y el canto (Aluna Music), an album featuring well-known musicians from South America, Cuba and Spain.

 

Chabuco – Encuentro

 

Brazilian music is the focus of Colombian singer-songwriter Chabuco’s 2018 album Encuentro. It’s a nicely-crafted encounter between the tropical music of Colombia and Brazilian music, featuring Brazilian musicians.

 

Spanglish Fly – Ay Que Boogaloo!

 

One of the hottest musical styles in New York’s Hispanic community was bugalú (boogaloo), a hybridization of Latin Caribbean music and African American influences. New York City-based band Spanglish Fly has renovated boogaloo and released Ay Que Boogaloo! (Chaco World Music) earlier this year. This time Spanglish Fly ventured beyond boogaloo, adding bolero, New Orleans funk, swing jazz, Arabic chants, and other innovations.

 

Los Texmaniacs – Cruzando Borders

Los Texmaniacs plays the border music of Tejas (Texas), Tejano music. Their latest album Cruzando Borders (Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, 2018) brings together Spanish, Mexican and American country music roots. Guest includes Lyle Lovett and country singer Rick Treviño.

 

Orquesta Akokán – Featuring José “Pepito” Gómez (Daptone Records) is an encounter between a big band collective of Havana’s finest musicians and musicians from New York’s Latin music scene with mouthwatering mambo as the common language.

 

Various Artists – Strunk Nad Oslavou – Strings over the Oslava River 2016

Various string instrument masters appeared live at a festival in the Czech Republic and recorded Strunk Nad Oslavou – Strings over the Oslava River 2016 (Indies Scope, 2017). The lineup included Germán López, one of the finest timple (a small Spanish guitar from the Canary Islands) players in the Canary Islands, Spain; along with Italian guitarist Antonio Forcione; Senegalese kora master Seckou Keita; and Czech mandolin virtuoso Martin Krajíček.

 

Makrú – Tu Mission

Makrú, a band from the Mission District in San Francisco combines skillfully Colombian and Caribbean music, flamenco, rock, Middle Eastern flavors and much more on – Tu Mission (Makru Music, 2018)

 

Ron Korb – World Café

Canadian flute virtuoso Ron Korb celebrates the music of Latin America and Spain on World Café, featuring Cuban and Canadian musicians with a mix of melodic jazz, tango, rumba flamenco and other influences.

 

StringShot – Blues and Latin

Paraguayan harp player Carlos Reyes collaborates with Brazilian guitarist and vocalist Badi Assad and American blues guitarist on Blues & Latin, a combination of blues, smooth jazz and South American sounds.

Books

Los Romeros: Royal Family of the Spanish Guitar

Los Romeros: Royal Family of the Spanish Guitar by Walter Aaron Clark (University of Illinois Press, 2018) is an depth look at the leading Spanish guitar family in the United States, the Romeros. The family tradition was started by Spaniard Celedonio Romero who emigrated to the United States in the 1950s.

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