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.

Charming Vocal Works by Shirish Korde


Shirish Korde – Ka

“Ka” (Svrasa Records, 2012) is a vocal work for soprano and chamber ensemble. Here, Indian vocal forms intersect western contemporary classical music. Shirish Korde is a United States-based composer who was born in Uganda to Indian parents.

The vocals are provided by neuroscientist and masterful Indian classical vocalist Deepti Navaratna. On two of the pieces, Deepti Navaratna is joined by Boston Music Viva ensemble.  On “Anuswara” we find Deepti interacting with Jan Müller-Szeraws’s versatile cello.

“Ka” has a deeply percussive feel, presenting Deepti on evocative vocals and konakol (Indian vocal percussion). This outstanding piece features Deepti on overdubbed vocals and tabla maestro Amit Kavthekar on konakol and tabla. The konakol interaction between the two musicians is truly fascinating.

“Pilu” is a solo vocal composition with spellbinding vocals overdubs and drone.

The Ka album is deeply satisfying and highly original.

Buy Ka

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Artist Profiles: Azarbe

Azarbe

Azarbe is a folk music group that was formed in Murcia in 1999 with a classic format of the traditional bands of the Spanish Southeast.

The majority of its members come from the traditional music scene, and they had experience performing in well-known groups such as Cuadrilla Maquilera, directed by Manuel Luna.

The group has a wide repertoire rooted in the strength of traditional Murcian tunes (aguilandos, jotas, malagueñas, marches, etc.) and original songs that incorporate influences from the entire Mediterranean musical arch.

Musicians:

Oscar Esteban: cajon, darbuka, drums, percussion.

Pedro J. López: Spanish guitar, acoustic guitar.

Carmen María: voice, tambourine, percussion.

Emilio Mateos: Spanish lute, classical guitar, flamenco guitar.

Eugenio M. Concepción: violin.

Paco Morales Nicolás: fretless bass, 5-string Spanish guitar, tenor guitar, percussion.

Discography:

Acuarela de mi tierra Producciones (Trenti, 2001)
Cuerdeando (B. Producciones, 2003)
De la huerta al noroeste (Sonopress, 2007)
Vengo de la romería (Discmedi, 2010)
Murcia por Navidad (Surefolk, 2012)
15 años de folk (El Sr. Guindilla Records, 2015)

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Artist Profiles: Atlántica

Atlántica

Atlántica was formed in 1988, months after Marcos Bárcena and Kate Gass met in France, at the Saint Chartier International Traditional Music Festival. After that, they worked in the field of traditional music, first as a duo and later as a quartet with percussionist Miguel Cobo and accordionist and keyboard player Ramón Bueno.

The band’s versatility was one of their principal assets. The sheer variety and quantity of the instruments Marcos Bárcena and Kate Gass played in their concerts was remarkable, because both musicians share a multi-instrumental approach and a knowledge of the music of Celtic roots from many countries.

Their first album, called simply Atlántica, appeared in 1996. While working together as a duo, Marcos Bárcena and Kate Gass also found time to be members of Luétiga, a group devoted to research, arrangement and interpretation of Cantabrian folk music (Cantabria is a region in the north of Spain located between Asturias and the Spanish Basque Country).

With Luétiga, Marcos Bárcena and Kate Gass recorded three albums: La Ultima Cajiga (1992), Nel el Vieju (1994) and Cernula (1996). They also took part in the Misa Popular Cántabra, a folk mass composed by Nobel Samano, which was performed by Luétiga with two choirs and a group of dancers.

In 1998 Marcos Bárcena and Kate Gass decided to leave Luétiga to follow their own musical direction and put all their energies into their own projects, mainly recording the second Atlántica album, Transitus and arranging a live repertoire as a quartet, combining Celtic pieces from Ireland, Scotland, Brittany and North America with music from Cantabria, Galicia and Asturias

Atlántica also performed concerts with conferences about Cantabrian folk music for senior citizens and high school students, they animated ceilidhs with the aid of two callers, and participated, together with the Markab Theatre Company, in La Leyenda de los Besos, a musical play based on a short story by Manuel Llano.

The band had a show for kids called Atlántica con el Medio Ambiente, where they combined music with dances, games and stories about the environment. During the 1990s Atlántica was present in most folk festivals in Cantabria and the band played in many other places throughout Spain, as well as in Portugal and Wales.

Atlántica’s performances in more than sixty schools in Cantabria gave it extensive experience with kids.

Transitus includes dance tunes and songs from Cantabria and other Celtic regions, together with their own compositions in traditional style. By Transitus they meant to define a meeting point between the musical traditions of different places sharing common roots. It is a musical journey where they try to give their own vision of Celtic music, a global vision born out of their own experiences and contacts with this world. Transitus means a transit both through space, since they took the listener to the music of different countries, and through time, reflecting several periods, with a nod to the Iron Age men and a wish for the survival of traditional roots and the union of the nations.

The group disbanded in January of 2006. Ramón, Miguel and Jorge stayed together and formed another band named Garma.

Kate rested from music for 2 years for various reasons including the stress of working in a men’s world and being a single mother with 2 adolescents, and a sick mother. Marcos went on a spiritual adventure for a year and a half from which he returned in 2007 and later released an album of his own compositions, titled Marcos Barcena.

In May 2007 Kate took up her musical career again, this time as a solo artist working on a project called “Solistas Internacionales” with Paco Diez (Spain), Wafir (Sudan), Magali(Peru), Yoshie (Japan) and Laurent (France).

Discography:

Atlántica (Several Records, 1996)
Transitus (Resistencia, 1998)
La luz del iviernu Lugas (El Tripulante, 2000)
Lugas (El Tripulante, 2001)
En directo (RTVE Música, 2002)
Desde esta orilla (RTVE Música, 2004)

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Artist Profiles: Anxo Lorenzo

Anxo Lorenzo

Anxo Lorenzo was born in Moaña (Spain) in 1974. He commenced his musical life at the age of 5 and 3 years later he entered the Conservatorio Superior de Música in Vigo. His teachers were Patrick Mollard, Fred Morrison, Antón Corral and Moxenas among others.

From the age of 12 he has played in traditional music groups such as Xarabal, Duos Pontes, Semente Nova and Lembranzas Galegas. His experience covers such varied matters as music research, teaching, concerts and tours throughout Spain, Ireland, Scotland, England, France and the United States.

Anxo Lorenzo has managed to fuse the unadulterated natural sound of the gaita (Galician bagpipes) with a wide variety of alternative music styles such as: Flamenco Chillout (Chambao), SKA (Skape), (Poncho Ka), Rock (Los Feliz), Pop (Amistades Peligrosas) converting the gaita into an avant-garde instrument without giving-up his Celtic roots. As a musician, soloist and composer Anxo continues with his research into various fields of music.

Discography:

La Sombra Del Lobo, with Spiritu 986 (BMG España, 2000)
Tirán (2010)
Confuxon (Zouma Records, 2014)

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Artist Profiles: Arcángel

Arcángel

While in his early twenties, Arcángel became part of a select group of flamenco singers. He maintains this position because he wants to, because he can and because he knows how to do it.

Francisco José Arcángel Ramos, better known as Arcangel, was born in Huelva in 1977. His family was originally from the town of Alosno, known as the birthplace of fandango and the main source of the province’s rich folklore. At a mere 10 years of age, Arcángel demonstrated an unprecedented command of the local fandango when he took First Prize in a children’s competition organized by a flamenco association in Huelva called “La Orden” (“The Order”). This trophy was the prelude to a long series of honours that would eventually encourage Arcángel to dedicate himself professionally to his passion for singing flamenco.

Arcángel is capable of maintaining control of his singing technique, including compás, voice tuning and musical structure, while broadcasting an endless reverberation of perfectly rounded tones. That’s how you connect! And we’re not talking about his influence in the feminine arena, which we know nothing about, but to his amazing ability to present a cante (flamenco song) in one go, at a slow radiant pace while barely taking a breath.

Without a doubt, he has an Olympic temperament, comparable to the bullfighter’s ability to ‘moderate, adjust and control’ a charging bull. One of Arcángel’s outstanding characteristics is the intelligent way that he updates the traditional styles from his homeland. He revives them by adding infinite melodic overtones and by minimizing constraints.

In 2012, along with Fahmi Alqhai, he received the Giraldillo for Best Music at the Flamenco Biennial of Seville for the show Las idas y las vueltas. In 2015 he released his album “Tablao”. In February 2017 he was awarded the Medal of Andalusia.

[Translated by Rita Granda]

Discography:

Arcángel (Virgin, 2001)
La Calle Perdía ‎(Ediciones Senador, 2004)
De Oscura Llama ‎(Anemos, 2009)
Quijote De Los Sueños (Sony Music, 2011)
Las Idas Y Las Vueltas ˙ Músicas Mestizas ‎(Alqhai&Alqhai, 2012)
Tablao ‎(Universal Music, 2015)
Al Este Del Cante (Universal Music, 2018)

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Artist Profiles: Amparo Sánchez

Amparo Sánchez

Amparo Mercedes Sánchez Pérez was born in Alcalá la Real (Jaén) on September 24, 1969. She grew up in Granada.

While in Granada, Amparo Sánchez joined her first band, the Correcaminos (Roadrunners) at 16.

In 1993 she moved to Madrid where she recorded her first album titled “Haces bien” (Fábrica Magnética). Later, she formed the group The Gang.

In 1995, accompanied by her guitar, she performed her own songs and some covers in Madrid’s famed Malasaña neighborhood. Together with La Vacazul, she formed a group called Ampáranos del blues, with which he toured parts of Spain and made her way to France.

Manu Chao and Radio Bemba were living in Malasaña at the time. Amparo married Manu Chao and they stayed married for several years.

Amparo served beer in a bar called Tio Vinagre, a place where musicians jammed on guitars, cajones and bongos. This led to the creation of Amparo’s celebrated mestizo music band Amparanoia.

Amparanoia’s 1997 debut album, El Poder de Machin, had deep Latin American influences.

In 2000, she discovered Mexico’s diverse art and its people: music, painting, Frida Kahlo, Chiapas and the revolutionary movement.

Amparanoia suffered a tragedy in 2004. On Saturday, October 9th, 2004, Amparanoia’s piano player, Caridad Borges, died in a car accident in Camaguey, Cuba. She was driving with her husband, Jose Alberto Varona, Amparanoia’s trumpet player, and her daughter Carirosa. Both Jose and Carirosa were critically injured and fighting for their lives.

In 2005, accompanied by her three musicians, she stayed for one month in the Zapatista community La Realidad. There, she recorded the song Somos viento.

In 2008, she disbanded Amparanoia and decided to continue her career as a soloist.

In 2010, Amparo released her first solo album, Tucson-Habana with an acoustic repertoire composed entirely by herself, with the exception of the song “La Parrandita de las Santas”, by the Cuban composer and singer Mane Ferret. It was recorded in two stages, one in 2007 in Tucson, Arizona and the other in 2009 in Havana, Cuba. The album includes a collaboration with Omara Portuondo.

In 2012 she released Alma de Cantaora, 13 songs that featured various high profile guests: Caléxico; Baby; De Pedro; Mane Ferret; Arianna Puello; Muerdo; Howe Gelb; and Charlat’58 and Bongo Botrako.

In 2014 she released the album Espíritu del sol. That same year Amparo published the book La niña y el lobo.

Amparo ractivated Amparanoia in 2017. The band released ‘
El Coro De Mi Gente ’, a reinterpretation of ‘El Poder de Machín’, the record she released exactly 20 years earlier, and was a landmark in the Spanish music scene of the 1990s.

Discography:

With Amparanoia:

El Poder de Machín (Facedown, 1997)
Feria Furiosa (Facedown, 1999)
Somos Viento (EMI Hispavox, 2002)
Enchilao (EMI Hispavox, 2003)
La Vida Te Da (Via Lactea, 2005)
Seguire Caminando 1996-2006 (Via Lactea, 2008)
El Coro De Mi Gente (Warner Music/Calaverita Records, 2017)

Solo albums:

Tucson-Habana (Via Laceta, 2010)
Alma de Cantaora (Kasba Music, 2012)
Espiritu del Sol (World Village, 2014)

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Celtic Connections 2019 Opens January 17

Acclaimed music festival Celtic Connections begins this Thursday, January 17, 2019. The eclectic Celtic and world music event will feature around 100 young musicians from across Scotland and Showcase Scotland partner-country Galicia (Spain) taking to the stage of the Main Auditorium at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, together with some of the utmost well-respected Scottish musicians to have emerged since the festival first began in 1994.

folk orchestra SonDeSeu

Syne of the Times will star young musical talent from the 45 Fèisean (Scottish Gaelic Arts Youth Tuition Festivals) now held annually around Scotland, the Orcadian youth music project Hadhirgaan and Galician folk orchestra SonDeSeu. Artists including Julie Fowlis, Duncan Chisholm, Lauren MacColl, Michael McGoldrick, Donald Shaw, Aidan O’Rourke, Brighde Chaimbeul and recently crowned Trad Awards ‘Folk band of the Year’ Daimh will be among a set of other special guests performing as part of the Celtic Connections Opening Concert for 2019. This very special show will celebrate the passing on of the tradition through generations.  

It will be the first of over 300 events featuring more than 2,000 musicians from around the world, taking place in venues across Glasgow until Sunday, February 3rd.

The packed program features a host of concerts including one-off musical collaborations and special commissions alongside talks, workshops, film screenings, theater productions, ceilidhs, exhibitions, free events and late-night sessions.

In a program rich with Audio-Visual shows, highlights include the world premieres of Brave in Concert and The Bard’s Tale.

The immensely popular Disney movie Brave will be screened with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra performing the music from the film live, alongside solo performances from artists who appeared on the original soundtrack. The score was written by award winning Glasgow-born composer Patrick Doyle, who the festival will also be celebrating with a special one-off show to mark his 65th birthday.

Fiona Hunter

For the first time Gaelic culture and the gaming world collide with The Bard’s Tale. Featuring the uplifting voices of Kathleen MacInnes, Fiona Hunter, Eilidh Cormack, Kim Carnie and Mackenzie, Simple Minds bassist Ged Grimes, who has also composed all of the live music, will lead a stellar backing line-up of Gregor Philp, Ali Hutton, Innes White, Màiri Chaimbeul, Martin O’NeillEwen Henderson and Brian McAlpine. This show will be a virtual quest through 18th century Scotland incorporating synchronized video, gameplay, drama, and live music that was originally composed for the computer game The Bard’s Tale IV: Barrows Deep.

Experience a sonic encounter of voice, guitar, gamelan, percussion and strings in singer and composer Susheela Raman’s performance with contemporary Indonesian gamelan players, Ghost Gamelan.  Opening will be a creative new project by Tom Bancroft that focuses on the common ground between Scottish music, jazz, Indian music and electronica.  

Other world music highlights include Malian quartet Songhoy Blues and Fado star Mariza.

Sona Jobarteh at the Arts Center in Carrboro, 2018 – Photo by Angel Romero

Born into one of West Africa’s principal griot families, multi-talented Gambian/British artist Sona Jobarteh is the first woman of such lineage to attain virtuoso status on the kora, interrupting seven centuries of exclusively male tradition. Sona will play the Queen Margaret Union over the first weekend, with 2019 marking the first year the festival will be using the West End venue.

Also taking place in the Queen Margaret Union will be Baile air Bhoil. Following previous joint promotions by Glasgow University, Ceòl ’s Craic and An Lòchran, Gaelic club night Baile air Bhoil makes its Celtic Connections debut, headlined by two of Gaelic music’s most innovative acts. Now expanded to a five piece, including Josie Duncan’s transcendent vocals, Inyal craft boldly panoramic soundscapes, alternately epic and ethereal, fusing fiddles, uilleann pipes, whistle and guitar with synth, electronics and drums. Singer and multi-instrumentalist Griogair’s current project sees him fusing original spoken-word poetry with hiphop production, also incorporating jazz, soul and African sounds. Special guests include inspirational Jamaican singer Brina, Malian percussionist and kora player Kalifa Kone and Skye DJ/producer Jamie Shaka.

Music created at song writing workshops run by Glasgow’s Vox Liminis Distant Voices organization, which brought together Scottish musicians with people affected by criminal justice issues and featured on the 2018 album Not Known at This Address, will be performed live by co-writers Kris Drever, C Duncan, Emma Pollock, Admiral Fallow, Rachel Sermanni, Pronto Mama, Fiskur and Donna Maciocia. The Distant Voices project will also be explored in a talk and discussion.

Musicians from Celtic Connections 2019 international partner, Galicia, will perform a series of shows, and music industry delegates will attend Showcase Scotland, which provides a platform for Scottish musicians to develop their careers.

11,000 school children will learn about, enjoy and be inspired by Celtic music through a series of free morning concerts and workshops as part of the Celtic Connections Education Programme.

Donald Shaw, Creative Producer for Celtic Connections, said: “With each new Celtic Connections we look to bring together artists, ideas and unique collaborations that create powerful and moving work that can be enjoyed by audiences and musicians alike. Each year we present a selection of the best music and musicians you can see anywhere in the world and through all this we remain true to our Celtic roots – roots that began with a journey of discovery by a nation that is always searching.  Celtic Connections will also once again be at its heart a celebration – a coming together of people from across the world to enjoy live music and, as always, it is that I am most looking forward to.”   

Councillor David McDonald, Chair of Glasgow Life, stated: “It’s time to banish the winter blues as we get set to embark on the incredible musical journey that is Celtic Connections. As a UNESCO City of Music Glasgow is the place to be for lovers of live music. This brilliant festival brings the best of our home grown talent and artists from across the world to stages across the city, with world leading musicianship and inspiration and shows that capture the unique spirit of Celtic Connections – a festival that unites artists and styles and cultures to create something truly new, truly special. We hope very much you can join us at Celtic Connections 2019.”

Alan Morrison, Head of Music, Creative Scotland expressed: “Since its launch in 1994, Celtic Connections has pushed back the boundaries of Scottish culture while never losing sight of the traditions at its core. In 2019, that’s as true of the young musicians filling the opening night stage for Syne Of The Times as it is of the videogame technology behind The Bard’s Tale concert. This is a finger-on-the-pulse festival where respect for Scotland’s heritage is woven through the program and artists are encouraged to collaborate and experiment, taking that heritage to the next level. Once again it’s time to throw our doors wide open so that musicians from near and far can come in and brighten our winter nights.”

To see the full program for Celtic Connections 2019 and buy tickets visit: www.celticconnections.com

Headline photo: Folk band of the Year Daimh

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Artist Profiles: Amalgama

Karnataka College of Percussion

Amalgama was the amazing result of the collaboration between Spanish Flamenco and Jazz musicians and the renowned Karnataka College of Percussion, from India.

The idea behind the project was to blend two cultures with a common background: Gypsy Flamenco (it is believed that Gypsies originally came from India) and Indian music. Flamenco vocals (which have some similarities with Indian vocals), rhythms (especially the palmas or hand clappings) and guitars were mixed with Indian vocals and percussion.

The musicians involved were: T.A.S. Mani (mridangam), Ramamani (Indian vocals, konakol), Sheshikumar (kanjira), Tunsi Beyer (ghatam, tabil), Xavi Turull (tabla, ghatam, berimbau), Juan Parrilla (flute), Jesús Losada (Flamenco guitar), Antonio Ramos (bass), Pau Martinez (congas) and Charo Manzano (Flamenco vocals).

The group only recorded one album titled Encuentro.

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Deeply Intense Indian Fusion

 “Playing With Fire” (7D Media, 2918) by Deep Energy Orchestra is a great example of electric fusion, where Indian classical, progressive rock and jazz find a common ground. The Deep Energy Orchestra is characterized by the mesmerizing sounds of the Warr guitar, exquisite electric violin and masterful tabla.

The Deep Energy Orchestra lineup includes bassist and composer Jason Everett (Mister E), progressive rock virtuoso Trey Gunn (King Crimson), Indian percussion maestro Selvaganesh (John McLaughlin, Masters of Percussion), 7-string violin wonder Radhika Iyer and a Seattle-based classical string ensemble featuring Rachel Nesvig on violin, Aleida Gehrels on viola and Phil Hirschi on cello.

“Playing With Fire” is cutting edge, forward-thinking fusion at its best.

Buy Playing With Fire

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Artist Profiles: Aljibe


Aljibe

Aljibe plays contemporary folk based on the traditional music of Castile, La Mancha and other parts of Spain.

Aljibe has been working since 1985, investigating and reworking traditional songs to make them attractive to all types of audiences.

This veteran group has the classical instrumentation of the Castilian groups, supported by contemporary instruments and influences from other cultures as well. The style has evolved over the years, pure compilation to developing new material based on traditional forms such as seguidillas, fandangos, torrás.

Musicians:

Juan Rodríguez Tembleco: Solo voice, accordion, bagpipes, charro bagpipes, saxophone, bandurria and lute. Founder of Azada y Aljibe. He has collaborated with Paco Díez and La Bazanca. He also participated in other groups such as the Captain Street Big Band and the Municipal Band Joaquín Rodrigo de Aranjuez.

Luis Ramón Martín: Bandurria, lute and Spanish guitar. He began with the group La Picota de Yepes and later joined Aljibe. He is one of the best plectrum musicians of Castilian music.

José Manuel Rodríguez Tembleco: Voice, bandurria, lute, electric bass and percussion. A member of Aljibe since the very beginning, he stands out for his enormous rhythmic capacity in Spanish and Arabic percussion. Sound technician of the group.

Domingo Martínez: Spanish and acoustic guitar, manchego guitar. Started in music in the Orquesta de Plectro y Púa Vicente Aleixandre. He has performed with several jazz, classical, and country acts always as a string player, playing lute and banjo.

Luis Miguel Novas: Flutes, clarinet, dulzaina and bagpipes. He completed the recorder flute degree with Professor Álvaro Marías at the Royal Conservatory of Music of Madrid, obtaining an graduated with honorable mention. He has worked and collaborated in bands such as the Real Capilla de Madrid and La Bazanca.

Manuel Marcos: Voice, piano, keyboards, guitar and percussion. He studied piano at the Royal Conservatory of Music of Madrid with José Luis Fajardo. He has been a member of the Dioptrías Blues Band, and the group Algarabía. He has collaborated in recordings such as Mañana de Navidad, with the group La Berza.

Teodomiro Rodríguez: Electric bass, flutes and percussion. Founder of the Nueva Castilla group and later, of Aljibe, he left the group twice to work in Warsaw and Prague at the Cervantes Institute.

Teresa García: Voice, violin and percussion. Classically-trained, she collaborated with several Galician bands before joining Aljibe.

Discography:

Temas Infantiles Tradicionales de la Comunidad de Madrid (Saga, 1987)
Surco arriba, surco abajo (Saga, 1987)
Felices Nusotros (Tecnosaga, 1989)
Gañanes, gancheros y otras faenas (Several Records, 1991)
La Marca del Oricuerno (Several Records, 1997)
El Motín de Aranjuez (Several Records, 1998)
Penas y Alegrías (Sonifolk, 2002)
Al lado del Mediodía (Galileo, 2002)
Enea (self-released, 2011)
Agua. Músicas Tradicionales de la cuenca del Tajo (Doce Calles, 2018)

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