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.

Artist Profiles: Fairport Convention

Fairport Convention in 2019

Fairport Convention is an influential English folk rock and electric folk band. The group was created in 1967 and is widely regarded as the most important act in the English folk rock movement.

The group was started by bassist Ashley Hutchings and guitarist Simon Nicol who played in the Ethnic Shuffle Orchestra. They started Fairport Convention along with Richard Thompson on guitar and Shaun Frater on drums. Frater was soon replaced by Martin Lamble. Judy Dyble became their lead singer.

Early lineup of Fairport Convention

Folk singer Sandy Denny, who had recorded with Strawbs, replaced Judy in 1968. She recorded three albums with Fairport Convention; What We Did on Our Holidays (1969), Unhalfbricking (1969), and Liege & Lief (1969). Sandy left the band in late 1969 although she returned in 1974 for another two years.

The essential Fairport Convention album Liege & Lief is considered to have launched the electric folk or English folk rock movement which provided a distinctively English identity to rock music and helped awaken much wider interest in traditional music in general.

The large number of musicians and singer-songwriters who have been part of the band are among the most highly regarded and influential musicians of their era and have gone on to participate in a large number of important bands or enjoyed important solo careers.

Since 1979 Fairport Convention has hosted the Cropredy Festival which is the largest such annual event in England.

Individually and collectively the members of Fairport Convention have received numerous awards recognizing their contribution to music and culture.

The group is still active and continues to record and tour.

The lineup in 2019 included Simon Nicol on guitar and vocals; Dave Pegg on bass; Chris Leslie on fiddle, mandolin and vocals; Ric Sanders on violin; and Gerry Conway on drums and percussion.

Discography

Fairport Convention (1968)
What We Did on Our Holidays (1969)
Unhalfbricking (1969)
Liege & Lief f (1969)
Full House (197)
Angel Delight (1971)
Babbacombe Lee (1971)
Rosie (1973)
Nine (1973)
Rising for the Moon (1975)
Gottle OGeer (1976)
The Bonny Bunch of Roses (1977)
Tipplers Tales (1978)
Gladys Leap (1985)
Expletive Delighted! (1986)
Red & Gold (1989)
The Five Seasons (1990)
Jewel in the Crown (1995)
Old New Borrowed Blue (1996)
Who Knows Where the Time Goes? (1997)
The Wood and the Wire (1999)
XXXV (2002)
Over the Next Hill (2004)
Sense of Occasion (2007)
Festival Bell (2011)
By Popular Request (2012)
Myths and Heroes (Matty Grooves, 2015)

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The Exceptionally Expressive and Futuristic Les Amazones d’Afrique

Les Amazones d’Afrique – Amazones Power (Real World Records Released 24 January 2020

Supergroup Les Amazones d’Afrique is back with another album highlighting leading female vocalists from West Africa. The expertly-crafted Amazones Power also showcases a modern and stylish vision of African music, combining edgy electronics, pop, reggae, funk, rock, infectious rhythms, and a new vision traditional music.

Les Amazones d’Afrique – Amazones Powe

The lineup this time includes Mamani Keita (Mali), Rokia Koné (Mali) and new generation artists Fafa Ruffino (Benin), Niaru (Guinea), Ami Yerewolo (Mali), Nacera Ouali Mesbah (Algeria), Kandy Guira (Ivory Coast). On the album’s last track, ‘Power,’ the collective grows to 16 multi-generational vocalists spanning Africa, Europe and Latin America.

Amazones Power is not only about great music. The women also sing about social justice with a focus on women’s rights.

The Amazons also invited young male vocalists: Douranne (Boy) Fall and Magueye Diouk (Jon Grace) from Paris-based band Nyoko Bokbae.

Buy Amazones Power

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Artist Profiles: Elba Ramalho

Elba Ramalho

Elba Ramalho was born on August 17, 1951 in Conceição, in the state of Paraíba, Brazil. Elba began to get involved with performing arts influenced by her father, a musician. Growing up in northeastern Brazil, she soon learned rhythms such as baião, maracatu, xote, frevo, pastoril, caboclinhos and forró, all very popular and traditional in that region.

Elba Ramalho began her musical career playing drums in the all-female ensemble “As Brasas.”

Elba is one of the greatest artists of Brazil. Her shows cover all audiences in large theaters, arenas, jazz festivals, forró festivals, carnivals, and rock festivals.

She has won various Latin Grammys and Awards of Brazilian Music.

Discography:

Ave de prata (Epic, 1979)
Capim do vale (Epic, 1980)
Elba (Epic, 1981)
Alegria (Ariola, 1982)
Coração brasileiro (Ariola, 1983)
Fogo na mistura (Ariola, 1984)
Do jeito que a gente gosta (Ariola, 1985)
Remexer (Ariola, 1986)
Elba (Ariola, 1987)
Fruto (Ariola, 1988)
Popular brasileira (Ariola, 1989)
Ao vivo (Ariola, 1990)
Felicidade urgente (Ariola, 1991)
Encanto (Ariola, 1992)
Devora-me (Ariola, 1993)
Paisagem (BMG, 1995)
Leão do Norte (BMG, 1996)
Grande encontro (BMG, 1996)
Grande encontro 2 (BMG, 1997)
Baioque, RCA, 1997)
Flor da Paraíba (BMG, 1998)
Solar (BMG , 1999)
O grande encontro 3 (BMG, 2000)
Cirandeira (BMG, 2001)
Elba canta Luiz (BMG, 2002)
Elba ao vivo (BMG, 2003)
Elba e Dominguinhos ao vivo (BMG, 2005)
Qual o Assunto Que Mais Lhe Interessa? (Ramax, 2007)
Balaio de Amor (Biscoito Fino, 2009)
Marco Zero Ao Vivo (Biscoito Fino, 2010)
Vambora Lá Dançar ‎(Sala De Som Records, 2013)
Do Meu Olhar Pra Fora ‎(Coqueiro Verde, 2015)
Cordas, Gonzaga E Afins ‎(Coqueiro Verde, 2015)
O Grande Encontro 20 Anos (Sony Music, 2016)
O Ouro Do Pó Da Estrada (Deck, 2019)

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Artist Profiles: AfroCubism

Eliades Ochoa with Afrocubism in Raleigh, 2012 – photo by Angel Romero

AfroCubism was an ensemble of up to 14 master musicians from West Africa and Cuba brought together by the producer of Buena Vista Social Club.

The group included Eliades Ochoa (Cuba), guitarist and Buena Vista Social Club star; kora maestro Toumani Diabaté (Msali); legendary guitarist Djelimady Tounkara (Mali); balafon wizard Fode Lassana Diabaté (Guinea); ngoni virtuoso Bassekou Kouyate (Mali); José Ángel Martínez on acoustic bass (Cuba); Jorge Maturell (Cuba) on congas, bongos, cowbell; Onsel Odit (Cuba) on backing vocals and rhythm guitar; and Eglis Ochoa (Cuba) on maracas, güiro, backing vocals.

AfroCubism

The ensemble released the album AfroCubism in 2010 on World Circuit Records.

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The Splendid Kurdish Ensemble Nishtiman Project

Nishtiman Project ‎– Kobane (Accords Croisés AC 164, 2016), Collection Vox Populi

Nishtiman Project is an extraordinary ensemble that performs contemporary folk music deeply rooted in traditional Kurdish music. Their second album, Kobane, is dedicated to a city in the Kurdish region of Syria that suffered tremendously when jihadists tried to take over the area.

Nishtiman Project ‎– Kobane

Musical director, percussionist and ensemble founder Hussein Zahawy brought together master musicians from the greater Kurdistan region, from Iraq, Iran and Turkey. They play exquisite timelessly crafted musical pieces.

Nishtiman Project uses captivating traditional musical instruments from the region and solo and harmony vocals as well.

The lineup includes composer Sohrab Pournazeri on tanbur, kamanche and vocals; Hussein Zahawy on daf, dohol and bendir; Ertan Tekin on zorna, balaban and duduk; Donya Kamali on vocals; Mayar Toreihi on santur; and Robin Vassy on percussion.

The physical edition is beautifully packaged with a book-style hard cover and a booklet with information in English and French.

Buy Kobane

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The Independent Spirit of Highlander Music

Trebunie-Tutki i Quintet Urmuli – Duch Gór – The Spirit of the Mountains

Trebunie-Tutki i Quintet Urmuli – Duch Gór – The Spirit of the Mountains (Unzipped Fly Records, 2016)

“The Spirit of the Mountains” is an encounter of ancient musical traditions, envisioned by two ensembles highly acclaimed in their respective homelands: Trebunie-Tutki from Zakopane, Poland and Urmuli Quintet from Tbilisi, Georgia.

Using traditional shepherd instruments and polyphonic songs, the musicians tell stories of the highwayman way of life, love and death, and also bring back to life the spirits of their ancestors, the legendary heroes of the mountains.

Highlanders from Podhale, Poland, and Georgians from Kazbek have for centuries been free and independent shepherds, outlaws, and valiant warriors, running away from any authority and led by an internal instinct and a sense of justice, pride and honor. Their music and powerful male singing define this culture.

The artists featured include Krzysztof Trebunia-Tutka on vocals, violin, highlander bagpipe, highlander flutes, whistling, steep bells, wooden horn, double flute; Anna Trebunia-Wyrostek on vocals, highlander cello, highlander vocal glissando; Jan Trebunia-Tutka on viola and vocals; Andrzej Polak on violin and vocals; Kuba “Bobas” Wilk on acoustic bass; Nugzar Kavtaradze on vocals, panduri (lute), duduk; Shalva Abramashvili on vocals and chuniri (fiddle); David Ratiani on vocals, bass chonguri (lute); Tamaz Mamaladze on vocals, bass panduri, gudastviri (Georgian bagpipe); and Gela Tabashidze on vocals and salamuri (flute).

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Fiery and Edgy Estonian Folk

Trad.Attack! – Kullakarva / Shimmer Gold

Trad.Attack! – Kullakarva / Shimmer Gold (Trad.Attack!, 2017)

Trad.Attack! is one of the leading acts in the current Estonian world music and contemporary folk scene.  The group combines Estonian traditions with powerful rock drums, intertwining fast-paced dance songs with dreamy, laid back musical pieces and mesmerizing ambient explorations.

The lineup includes Sandra Vabarna on Estonian bagpipe, jew’s harp, whistles, zither, vocals; Jalmar Vabarna on 12-string guitar and vocals; and Tõnu Tubli on drums, vocals, zither and glockenspiel. Actor Aivar Tommingas provides his on one of the tracks.

Buy Kullakarva / Shimmer Gold

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Artist Profiles: Verd E Blu

Verd E Blu

Verd E Blu is a traditional Occitan from Gascony, France, formed in 1987. The group plays three hole whistle and string tambourine (ton-ton), bagpipes from the Landes (boha), diatonic accordions, brama-topin friction drum, tricanetas castanets and vocals.

For over twenty years they collected, learned, produced and spread the traditional music and dance of the Gascon province of France, in all its wealth and diversity.

Much of their time is spent training dancers and musicians.

Most of their repertoire is traditional but a third of the pieces are original. This mix corresponds to a choice: to intertwine tradition and modernism.

Band members include Joan-Francés Tisner on vocals, diatonic accordions, percussion; Crestian Josuèr on three hole whistle and string tambourine, diatonic accordions; and Marc Castanet on bagpipes and diatonic accordions.

Discography:

Musicas de Gasconha (Menestrèrs Gascons, 1991)
Musicas a dançar (Menestrèrs Gascons, 1993)
Ompra o só? (Menestrèrs Gascons, 1996)
Musicas a dançar: dus (Menestrèrs Gascons, 2001)
Baladas e danças (Menestrèrs Gascons, 2005)
Jòcs de Dança (Menestrèrs Gascons, 2010)

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Artist Profiles: Catrin Finch

Catrin Finch – Photo by Rhys Frampton

Welsh harpist and composer Catrin Ana Finch was born in Llanon, Ceredigion, UK in 1960. She started learning the harp at six. By nine, she had passed her Grade VIII harp exam. She was a member of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain at the age of ten and became the youngest of its members to play at The Proms, a summer season classical music series in London.

Catrin studied harp with Elinor Bennett and later attended the Purcell School, an academic institution for children in Hertfordshire. She continued her music studies at the Royal Academy of Music in London where she studied harp with Skaila Kanga.

During the 1990s, Finch won several competitions for young harp players, including the Nansi Richards Prize and the Blue Riband at the National Eisteddfod of Wales.

She has performed with many of the world’s top orchestras. She has collaborated with numerous classical and world music acts, including Colombian group Cimarrón and Senegalese kora player Seckou Keita.

Catrin Finch and Seckou Keita

Catrin is devoted to promoting the harp and classical music in general to a new and broader audience, through her annual Academi Catrin Finch Academy Summer Harp School, an Annual Harp Fun Day and her ‘Classical Café’ evenings.

Discography:

Carnaval de Venise (Sain, 2001)
From Coast to Coast (Kissan Productions, 2002)
Crossing the Stone (Sony Music, 2003)
The Harpist (Sony Classical, 2004)
Barddoniaeth Daear / Poetry Of Earth, with Jeremy Huw Williams (Sain, 2005)
Live – Byw (Kissan Productions, 2006)
Unexpected Songs, with cellist Julian Lloyd Webber (2006)
String Theory (Kissan Productions, 2007)
Little Angels (Kissan Productions, 2007)
Bach: Goldberg Variations (Deutsche Grammophon, 2009)
Annwn ‎(Kissan Productions, 2011)
Blessing, with John Rutter (Deutsche Grammophon, 2012)
Clychau Dibon, with Seckou Keita (Astar Artes Recordings, 2013)
Lullabies (Deutsche Grammophon, 2013)
Tides (Kissan Productions, 2015)
Soar, with Seckou Keita (Bendigedig, 2018)

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Masterful Classical and Folk Guitar Melodies

David William Ross – Amor Fati (Ravello Records, 2019)

David William Ross – Amor Fati (Ravello Records, 2019)

Guitarist David William Ross has a background in classical music and as a jazz guitarist, although he ventures beyond, into other musical genres.

His album Amor Fati presents an impeccable set of folk lullabies, contemporary Argentine tango, and various other influences performed on the classical guitar, combining passionate works along with gentle and introspective pieces.

BuyAmor Fati

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