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.

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.

Buy Trane’s Delight

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Chicha, The Psychedelic cumbia of Peru

Chicha pioneers Los Mirlos

In 1960s Peru, a new style of music was born: Peruvian cumbia, also known as “chicha”. Tropical genres such as Dominican merengue, Cuban guaracha and rumba, and Colombian cumbia mixed with 1960s psychedelic rock, while electric guitars reinterpreted folk melodies and traditions from the Andes and the Amazonian jungle, in a musical representation of the exodus from rural areas to Lima and other big cities in Peru.

La Sonora de Lucho Macedo

The roots of chicha go back to mid-1950s Peru. Mambo was gradually replaced by preferences for other rhythms like merengue, guaguancó, cha cha cha, joropo, guaracha, rumba and cumbia, which timidly started to sound during these years. In Lima, it was the golden age of great orchestras and music ensembles which were capable of playing swing and jazz, but especially the diverse tropical variants flooding the market. The most successful of all, La Sonora de Lucho Macedo, released in 1965 an LP consisting exclusively of cumbia.

Los Pacharacos

Around this time, the successful folklore group Los Pacharacos released the album “Los ídolos del pueblo”, which included a cumbia song in the middle of the medley of huaynos, waltzes and polkas. The marriage between folklore and cumbia had taken place.

Peruvian groups preserved the fusion of foxtrot and mambo rhythms along with huayno and cumbia in their music. That feeling would be the basis for the success of such unorthodox and unclassifiable songs as ‘La chichera’ or ‘Petipan’. The recording in 1965 of these two songs by Los Demonios del Mantaro on a seminal 45 rpm for the Sono Radio label was the jumping off point for the birth of cumbia andina, also called “chicha” precisely for this song, which is dedicated to a vendor of the well-known Andean beverage.

Los Shapis holding glasses of chicha

The electric shock of rock guitars entered the world of cumbia in 1968. The cause of such hybridization was Enrique Delgado Montes, regarded as the genre’s godfather. He did it, as part of his band Los Destellos, on a 45 r.p.m. (‘El avispón’ / ‘La malvada’) and an eponymous LP. His songs constituted the most surprising musical fusions and amalgams of the time: whether they merged Cuban music and psychedelia, explored the sounds of the Andes or Amazonian music, combined the amplified Creole guitar with huayno melodies or abused fuzz tones and distortion pedals with enormous strength.

Los Destellos

The metamorphosis of cumbia turned it into a genre that seemed to voraciously cannibalize acoustic traditions and modern technologies. There wasn’t an innovation that tropical guitarists didn’t add to their sound: delay, fuzz tone, overdrive, wah-wah, reverb, modulating effects typical of rock bands were assimilated into a stunning sonic cocktail.

In this context, cumbia reached the top of the charts in popularity. Cumbia replaced rock as the urban sound. The groups would slowly develop an ethnic sensibility inspired by native Shipibo (indigenous Amazonian tribe) motifs and an astonishing and bewitching sound that seemed to drink from all the mysteries, secrets and myths of the jungle.

Groups such as Los Hijos del Sol, Los Shapis, Los Mirlos and Los Destellos popularized chicha during the 1970s and 1980s. Although Colombian cumbia had a revival during the 1990s, chicha faded away until recently, when record collectors found Peruvian LPs that featured the familiar chicha formula, a mix of surf, psychedelia, Andean music and Afro-Caribbean beats.

Sonido Amazónico – Amazonian Chicha

In 2007, American record label Barbès Records released a 17-song compilation of psychedelic cumbia from Peru. That album, The Roots of Chicha, re-introduced chicha music to international audiences.

Los Wembler’s de Iquitos

Peruvian band Los Wembler’s de Iquitos, who formed in 1968 in the Amazonian city of Iquitos, was responsible for some of the first hits of the psychedelic cumbia genre – including “Sonido Amazonico” and “Danza del Petrolero.” Los Wembler’s became extensively popular in the Peruvian Amazon and for a dozen years they toured the region, with ventures into neighboring Brazil and Colombia. In the mid-1980’s, however, touring mostly came to a stop and the band remained in Iquitos, playing mostly parties and local events.

Los Wembler’s De Iquitos discography includes Al Ritmo De Los Wembler’s ‎(Odeon Del Peru, 1971); La Danza del Petrolero (Decibel, 1975), La Amenaza Verde ‎(Decibel, 1975), El Encanto de la Selva ‎(Decibel, 1976), Carapira ‎(Decibel, 1976), Fiesta en la Selva ‎(Sono Radio, 1977), Bailando Hasta el Amanecer ‎(Sono Radio, 1978), Fiebre en la Selva ‎(Sono Radio, 1978), El Sabor Tropical ‎(Sono Radio, 1979), Estos Son…Los Famosos Wembler’s de Iquitos ‎(Sono Radio, 1980), and Ikaro del Amor (Barbes Records, 2017).

With the rediscovery of chicha, there was renewed interest in Los Wembler’s, both in and outside of Peru. Los Wembler’s collaborated with Peruvian electro cumbia group Dengue Dengue Dengue, have been covered by Chicha Libre, La Chamba, Xixa and Firewater, been part of a number of documentaries and TV shows and inspired new bands across the Americas and Europe.

In 2010, The Roots of Chicha 2 was released, highlighting 11 bands and 16 tracks recorded from 1968 to 1981. It focuses on some lesser-known bands, and broadened its view to include some of the early Cuban-influenced groups that would play such a crucial role in the elaboration of the chicha sound. It introduced some of the later bands, such as Los Shapis, who played in the more Andean style that would eventually define chicha.

The Roots of Chicha 2 included essential chicha acts such as Grupo Celeste, which had a tremendous influence on the emergence of Mexican cumbia; Chacalon, the legendary “bad boy” of chicha; Ranil, the independent folk hero from Iquito; Manzanita; and Los Destellos, whose had a seminal role in the evolution of chicha.

Secret Stash Records reissued Los Destellos’ album Constelación in 2011.

Chicha Spinoffs

Chicha Libre

In the United States, a band called Chicha Libre, gained notoriety with its mix of chicha, Latin rhythms and surf.

La Inédita

Peruvian band La Inédita, formed in 2010, created a new genre called chichamuffin, a mix of chicha with Jamaican beats, rock and electronica.

Xixa

American band Xixa, from Tucson (Arizona), combined chicha with psychedelic rock and border music. Xixa’s debut EP, Shift and Shadow , came out in 2015 on Barbès Records.

Members of Austin’s Grupo Fantasma and Brownout formed
Money Chicha. Their debut album, Echo En Mexico , came out in the United States in 2016 on the Vampisoul label.

Los Wembler’s returned in 2019 with Visión del Ayahuasca (Barbes Records).

Chicha Recordings

The Roots of Chicha: Psychedelic Cumbias From Peru ( Barbès Records, 2007)
Masters of Chicha 1 – Juaneco y Su Combo ( Barbès Records, 2007)
Chicha Libre – Sonido Amazonico! ( Barbès Records, 2008)
Cumbia Beat Vol. 1, Experimental Guitar-driven Tropical Sounds from Peru 1966-1976 (Vampisoul, 2010)
Chicha Libre – Canibalismo ( Barbès Records, 2012)
Xixa – Shift and Shadow ( Barbès Records, 2015)
Money Chicha – Echo En Mexico (Vampisoul, 2016)
Los Wembler’s De Iquitos – Visión del Ayahuasca (Barbès Records, 2019)

Sources: Vampisoul, Angel Romero (World Music Central), Manuel Carrasco and Barbes Records.

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Artist Profiles: hartyga

Khartyga

Khartyga or Hartyga, meaning hawk in the Tuvan language, is a band from the Republic of Tuva in Siberia, Russia.

Comprised of professional musicians, Hartyga has performed with the Republic of Tuva’s wind orchestra, the Tuva Folk Ensemble and the symphony orchestra.

Band members include Nachyn Choreve on throat singing, vocals, igil, doshpuluur; Albert Kuvezin on throat singing, vocals, guitar; Nayys Dulush on drums; Sergek Sandyk on saxophone; and Angyr-ool Ondar on bass.

Discography:

Agitator (Sketis Music, 2018)

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Artist Profiles: Sarband

Sarband

Sarband The group’s name Sarband stems from Persian and Arabic, and denotes an improvised coupling of two parts within a musical suite. Bulgarian musician Vladimir Ivanoff founded Ensemble Sarband in Germany, in 1986 and has been pursuing an archaeology of complex connections ever since.

Above all, Sarband endeavors to show all possible connections between European music, and Islamic and Jewish music-culture. Both sensitively and intensely, Sarband celebrates the symbiotic relationship between the Middle East and the West.

Discography

Mystères (Jaro Medien, 1989)
Cantico (Jaro Medien, 1990)
Music of the Emperors (Jaro Medien, 1992)
Llibre Vermell de Montserrat (Jaro Medien, 1994)
Sephardic Songs (Jaro Medien, 1995)
Sepharad (Deutsche Harmonia Mundi, 1996)
Fallen Women (Jaro Medien, 1998)
Danse Gothique (Jaro Medien, 2000)
Alla Turca Oriental Obsession (Jaro Medien, 2001)
Dream of the Orient (Jaro Medien, 2003)
Pilgrims of the Soul (Jaro Medien, 2003)
Sacred Bridges (Jaro Medien, 2005)
The Waltz (Archiv Produktion, 2005)
Satie En Orient (Doumtak, 2005)
Vox Feminae ( World of Sarband, 2006)
The Arabian Passion according to J. S. Bach (Jaro Medien, 2009)
All Roads lead Home – Christmas Compilation (The Muse Alliance, 2016)
What the World Needs Now (The Muse Alliance, 2018)

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