All posts by 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.

Remarkable Latin American and Bluegrass Alchemy

Che Apalache – Rearrange My Heart (Free Dirt Records, 2019)

Che Apalache is a fascinating band from Buenos Aires (Argentina) that brings together Argentine, Mexican, East Asian, Spanish, Gypsy swing, and American bluegrass influences.

The group is led by American vocalist, fiddler, musical instructor and global traveler Joe Troop, born and raised in North Carolina.

In Argentina, Troop came into contact with three outstanding musicians from Hispanic America, guitarist Franco Martino (Argentina), mandolinist Martin Bobrik (Argentina) and banjoist Pau Barjan (Mexico).

Rearrange My Heart was produced by the great banjo innovator Béla Fleck. “I love to work with music that intrigues, excites and inspires me,” Fleck says, “and that describes Che Apalache to a T! We first met at my Blue Ridge Banjo Camp last year. They had come from Buenos Aires and asked to play for me. I was blown away and they blew away the crowd a few days later. It’s been a blast to get to know them in the creative environment; together we’ve come up with what I believe is a truly striking album. I hope you’ll enjoy listening as much as I enjoyed producing.”

Che Apalache – Rearrange My Heart

The vocals are in English and Spanish, with Troop on lead vocals and his colleagues on Appalachian-style vocal harmonies. Troop’s lyrics reflect his social justice concerns: anti-immigrant rhetoric in the USA coming from the White House, the building of the border wall in the United States’ southern border with Mexico and the drama of the Dreamers (undocumented immigrants taken to the USA when they were young children).

Che Apalache is an exciting rising talent in the world music scene, an example of skillful hybridization and impeccable acoustic music craftsmanship.

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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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Captivating Latin Jazz Tribute to John Coltrane

Poncho Sanchez – Trane’s Delight (Concord Picante, 2019)

The great conguero (conga player) Poncho Sanchez, one of the masters of American Latin Jazz, has a new album titled Trane’s Delight, dedicated to iconic jazz musician John Coltrane. Trane’s Delight recreates Coltrane classics under a Latin Jazz perspective.

Poncho Sanchez – Trane’s Delight

I’ve always loved John Coltrane,” Sanchez says, “ever since I was a kid and first learned about jazz. I’ve recorded tributes to a lot of my heroes in life: Mongo Santamaria, Tito Puente, Cal Tjader – so I thought it was definitely time to do a tribute to the great John Coltrane.”

On Trane’s Delight, Poncho treats the listener to wonderful new versions of Coltrane standards that reappear as lively mambos, irresistible cha cha chás and passionate boleros. Naturally, throughout the album Poncho delivers various spectacular and tasty conga solos.

Trane’s Delight includes Poncho’s longtime collaborators, musical director Francisco Torres on trombone;  Ron Blake on trumpet and flugelhorn; Robert Hardt on saxophone; Andy Langham on piano; Rene Camacho and Ross Schodek on bass; and Joey DeLeon and Giancarlo Anderson on percussion.

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