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: Super Uba y su Conjunto

Super Uba

Super Uba, a skilled vocalist from Santiago in the Dominican Republic, performs music that represents the island’s diverse musical culture. The band combines modern bachata guitar styles with classic son, bolero and merengue rhythms.

Ubaldo Cabrera was born to a farming family in the rural town of Guateque de la Isabela, near Puerto Plata. At age 19 he was drawn by his love for music to the city of Santiago, where he lived with an uncle who taught him to sing and play the guitar. Santiago is the heart of the Cibao, the northern region of the Dominican Republic which is the cradle of merengue. When Uba talks about the city as it was in the 1970s, he describes a culture where music thrived. “At that time, someone could go to an open air bar, or to a night club, and start playing, and if he was good, crowds would gather to listen to him.”

Uba supported himself playing all of the different styles of music which he sings on his CD; as a bass player with various groups playing bachata and merengue, and as a singer in a trio which played traditional bolero and son. Finally he arrived to New York in 1995, touring with bachata legend Leonardo Paniagua. He makes his home now in Brooklyn, New York.

Uba comes from a culture where the folkloric legacy is still cherished and he gives a unique flavor to his country’s music. He has a distinctly Afro-Caribbean vocal and compositional style. His original merengues, Tierra Lejana and Doña Inez, are excellent examples of this living tradition.

Uba’s singing is complemented by the virtuoso guitar playing of his longtime friend, Edilio Paredes. Edilio is a remarkable natural talent.

Discography:

Tierra Lejana ‎(Iaso Records, 2001)

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Artist profiles: Unspoken Tradition

Unspoken Tradition

Unspoken Tradition is a North Carolina bluegrass band inspired by traditional music and other influences. Their material is primarily original and mirrors the ever-changing culture of Western and Central North Carolina where they are based.

The band released an independent debut album, Simple Little Town (2013) that was well received. Their follow up recording was Miles Between (2015).

In 2015, Unspoken Tradition played the main stage at the historic MerleFest festival and has quickly grown a dedicated following in North Carolina and beyond.

The Unspoken Tradition lineup in 2018 included Audie McGinnis on guitar and vocals; Lee Shuford on bass and vocals; Zane McGinnis on banjo; Ty Gilpin on mandolin and vocals; and Tim Gardner on fiddle and vocals.

Discography:

Simple Little Town (2013)
Miles Between (2015)

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Artist Profiles: Michel Camilo

Michel Camilo

Michel Camilo was born into a musical family and played accordion before switching to piano at the age of nine. In 1979, he arrived to New York, where the self-taught student of American jazz, continued his studies and made his Carnegie Hall debut in 1985. After three years as a member of Paquito D’Rivera’s band, in 1988, Camilo released his self-titled Epic debut. The album became an instant success and held the top jazz album spot for eight consecutive weeks. His next recording, On Fire, was voted one of the top three Jazz Albums of the Year by Billboard and 1990s On the Other Hand was a top-ten jazz album.

In 2000, Camilo’s Verve release, Spain, with Spanish flamenco guitar maestro Tomatito, won Best Latin Jazz Album in the first-ever Latin Grammy Awards. Camilo also appeared on the soundtrack CD for the acclaimed Latin jazz film Calle 54, directed by the Oscar-winning Spaniard Fernando Trueba.

2002 marked a special year for the ever-versatile Camilo with the release of two albums, one classical and one Jazz. In February, Decca released his Concerto for Piano & Orchestra, Suite for Piano, Strings and Harp & Caribe, to celebrate his guest appearance with the NSO conducted by Leonard Slatkin at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., and in March Telarc released Triangulo.

August 2003 marked the Telarc release of Live at the Blue Note, featuring Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez on drums and Charles Flores on acoustic bass. This two-CD set captures the quintessential Camilo “sound” live for the first time. Camilo called upon drummer Horacio ‘El Negro’ Hernandez to bring his rich Cuban roots and spirit, which he expresses unlike any other drummer. The 1997 Grammy Award winner performed and recorded with legends such as McCoy Tyner, Carlos Santana, and as a member of renowned Latin ensembles like Tito Puente’s Tropi-Jazz All Stars, El Negro has earned a renowned reputation as one of the most powerful and versatile players in the current musical scene.

Bassist Charles Flores played and inspired the best, while continuing to challenge himself and his peers in new artistic directions. A graduate of Cuba’s prestigious Escuela Nacional de Arte, Flores has performed and recorded with Juan Pablo Torres, Steve Turre, Jane Bunnett and the BBC Orchestra in London masters. While in Cuba, Charles was recruited by one of the most important figures in the history of Cuban jazz, pianist Emiliano Salvador. In addition, Flores was also the bassist for the groundbreaking Cuban fusion group AfroCuba and for Salsa sensation Isaac Delgado.

Discography:

French Toast (Electric Bird, 1984)
Why Not? (Electric Bird, 1985)
Suntan/In Trio (Electric Bird, 1986)
Michel Camilo (CBS Portrait, 1988)
On Fire (Portrait, 1989)
On the Other Hand (Epic, 1990)
Amo Tu Cama Rica (1991?)
Rendezvous (Columbia, 1993)
One More Once (Columbia, 1994)
Two Much (1996)
Thru My Eyes (Columbia, 1997)
Spain (Verve, 1999)
Piano Concerto, Suite & Caribe (Decca, 2001)
Triangulo (Telarc, 2002)
Live at the Blue Note (Telarc, 2003)
Solo (Telarc, 2004)
Rhapsody in Blue (Telarc, 2006)
Spain Again (Emarcy, 2006)
Spirit of the Moment (Telarc, 2006)
Mano a Mano (Emarcy, 2011)
What’s Up? (Okeh, 2013)
Live in London (Redondo Music, 2015)
Spain Forever (Universal, 2016)

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Interview with Chano Dominguez

Pianist and composer Chano Dominguez, one of the essential innovators of flamenco jazz, and will be touring the West Coast of the United States in May and June. Chano discusses his music and the upcoming tour with World Music Central.

How did you come into contact with flamenco, rock and jazz?

Flamenco was played at my house in a pickup my dad had, rock came through my older brother who listened to groups like Emerson Lake and Palmer, Genesis, Yes and others, then the Beatles, and jazz came through the radio station at the US naval base in Rota.

What repertoire will you be performing during your upcoming American tour?

We will mainly play the repertoire of the album Flamenco Sketches, which are all Miles Davis songs adapted to flamenco rhythms, but with all the freedom that Miles was looking for in his music

What’s your current band lineup and how did you come into contact with the band members?

On this occasion I have the pleasure of having Alexis Cuadrado on the double bass, a Catalan musician who has lived in New York for more than 20 years, and on drums, the prodigious Henry Cole, a percussionist from Puerto Rico who has also been living in New York for more than a decade.

From Spain there is flamenco cantaor (singer) Blas Cordoba on vocals and palmas. He’s been my cantaor for more than 20 years in all my albums; and dancer Daniel Navarro, a virtuoso of foot percussion and a fantastic elegant dancer.

What do you consider as the essential elements of your music?

Improvisation.

Who can you quote as your main musical influences?

There are many but Paco de Lucía is my biggest influence along with Bill Evans.

Tell us about your first recordings and your musical evolution.

This year I book my 40 career as a music professional. It all started in 1978 with my first project the Andalusian rock group Cai.

I think since then I have been mixing flamenco rhythms with everything that has influenced me, rock, classical, jazz, etc.

You grew up and lived in Spain for many years. How did you end up in Seattle and now in New York City?

Especially to give my children an opportunity to get to know other cultures and to develop in another country since in my own it seems that the economic situation is not going to change and also to develop my work where the cradle of this music is located, I think it is important to spread this way of understanding jazz and flamenco together and here I have the opportunity to do it in schools and universities.

Are you still connected to the Spanish flamenco jazz scene?

Yes, in fact on June 10, I’ll play with my flamenco quartet at the flamenco festival in Madrid.

 

 

Although your main instrument is the piano, you started playing electronic keyboards. Do you still have electronic keyboards and do you plan to use them in the future?

Yes, I still have my keyboards and play them. A few years ago I recorded a project for Verve that was called NFS, new flamenco Sound. In that work I played keyboards too.
I still have interest in playing other instruments such as the guitar, the vibraphone or the drums.

If you could gather musicians or musical groups to collaborate with whom would that be?

I would love to have a good concert tour with my original trio with which we have worked for more than 15 years. To me they are part of this language that we have invented between these two cultures. Javier Colina and Guillermo MCgill are the musicians that I would put together for some good concerts.

Do you have any upcoming projects to share with us?

I just recorded a project for brass quintet, percussion and piano. It’s my compositions arranged by me for this project. I am lucky to have the best brass quintet from my country, Spanish Brass and we hope to tour the United States next year with this project.

For more information about Chano and his discography, go to artist-profiles-chano-dominguez

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Artist Profiles: Vedan Kolod

Vedan Kolod

Vedan Kolod is a family folk band from Siberia, Russia. Born at the foothills of the Krasnoyarsk mountains, future Vedan Kolod members started singing with their grandparents when they were only 4 years old so traditional music has always been a part of their life. Drawing on ancient and medieval Slavic folk traditions, Vedan Kolod has attracted an impressive global cult following and toured extensively throughout Russia and Europe.

Members: Tatiana Naryshkina (vocal, hurdy gurdy, flute, mandolin); Valery Naryshkin (vocal, bouzouki, jaw harp, scythian horn); and Daryana Antipova (vocal, drums, flute).

Band’s member Valery Naryshkin restores rare Slavic instruments such as the war horn, hornpipe, bagpipes, drums, gusli, hurdy gurdy and others. Vedan Kolod has wide experience of concerts and festivals in Russia and Europe.

Vedan Kolod released 8 albums in CD-format: “Tribes” 2005 / 2017; “The dance of the wood spirits” 2007 /2017; “Wolf’s path” 2008; “The curve of the road” 2010; “The Tale of Igor’s Campaign” 2011; “Gorodische” 2014; “Vedan Kolod live at Dom” 2016; and “Fiori della Mia vita” 2017) and three international compilations with folk bands.

The ensemble also released a few soundtracks for a cartoon “The Hotan Carpet Tale” (Russia), the exhibition of Italian fashion photographer Gian Paolo Barbieri “Fiori della mia vita” and American artist Branislav Jankic’s exhibitions and movies like “Letter to my mother” and “Fragmented body” (2017).

Awards & Highlights

Nominated for Russian World Music Awards 2017 “Authentic”
Nominated in FolkHerbst (Germany) in 2016
Nominated as The best Russian Folk band in NewsMuz charts 2015
Ustuu-Huree 2005 The Best Russian folk band”

Discography:

Plemena – Tribes” (2005 / 2017)

The dance of the wood spirits” (2007 /2017)

Wolf’s path” (2008)

The curve of the road” (2010)

The Tale of Igor’s Campaign” (Sketis, 2011)

Gorodische” (2014)

Vedan Kolod live at Dom” (2016)

Fiori della Mia vita” (2017)

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Hemdem, A Celebration of Innovative Turkish String Music

Sinan Cem Eroğlu and Muhlis Berberoğlu – Hemdem (Ahenk Müzik, 2018)

Hemdem is a remarkable album by two extraordinary Turkish multi-instrumentalists. The two virtuoso artists play a wide range of string instruments from Turkey and the West. Musically, Hemdem combines Turkish and Middle Eastern modes with western influences.

Throughout the album, Sinan Cem Eroğlu and Muhlis Berberoğlu tastefully interweave acoustic instruments and modern devices like the electric guitar and the mesmerizing electric baglama.

The lineup on the album includes Sinan Cem Eroğlu on fretless guitar, electric guitar, kaval, e-bow, and vocals and Muhlis Berberoğlu on electric baglama, tambura, and vocals.

Hemdem is an exquisite, masterfully-crafted album by two talented Turkish music innovators.

Buy Hemdem

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Artist Profiles: José Alberto “El Canario”

José Alberto “El Canario”

José Alberto “El Canario” is known as El Sonero del Pueblo (The people’s singer). Nicknamed after the trademark canary-like whistle with which he embellishes his improvisations, “El Canario” has an exceptional voice, with a unique style. He is also a master improviser.

José Alberto Justiniano was born December 22, 1958 in Villa Consuelo, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. El Canario’s family moved to Puerto Rico when he was just seven years old. In the enchanting island of Puerto Rico, he joined the Las Antillas Military Academy where he pursued his musical studies. His formidable performing abilities were a factor in opening doors for him.

A few years later, El Canario decided to take residence in New York City where he began to show the outstanding skills that make of him a star in tropical music. He became a distinguished figure in many popular orchestras of the time, earning profound reverence from the audience throughout the nation. The experience he accumulated made him a musical leader, and in 1983, he hired a well-known group of musicians and formed the José Alberto “El Canario” & Su Orquesta, a spectacular dance group in New York.

In 1987, Latin music visionary Ralph Mercado chose José Alberto to inaugurate the Tropical catalog of the RMM label. Celia Cruz chose him as her colleague on stage and for years they became a remarkable combination. Since then, he has traveled the five continents and today El Canario is known as a stellar artist of the Tropical rhythm genre. His successful recording career includes countless Gold and Platinum records.

Discography:

Dance With Me (RMM, 1991)
Sueño Contigo (RMM, 1992)
Mis Amores (RMM, 1992)
De Pueblo y Con Clase (RMM, 1994)
On Time (RMM, 1996)
Back to the Mambo: Tribute to Machito (RMM, 1997)
Live from West Port (1999)
Herido (Ryko, 1999)
El Canario (Viva Discos International, 2001)
Diferente (Envidia, 2001)
Original (Los Canarios, 2011)
Intimamente Salsero Live (Los Canarios, 2012)
Romantico y Rumbero (Los Canarios, 2014)
No Quiero Llanto – Tributo a los Compadres, with Septeto Santiaguero (Los Canarios, 2015)

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Artist Profiles: Joaquin Diaz

Joaquin Diaz – Photo by Angel Romero

As a young boy, Joaquín played every night at the biggest hotels in Santo Domingo. He began his musical career as a street musician in the streets of San Domingo, Dominican Republic. “I was playing my music in the streets of Santo Domingo when I was nine years old. I was the oldest of seven children and we were very poor,” Joaquín offers with a knowing smile. “Music was more than just a love for me. It was survival.”

At the age of 12, this Dominican “king of accordion” was playing for guests at a local hotel, and by the time he was 17, he was performing at the Olympic Games, played for the president of the Dominican Republic at his presidential home, won first prize at the highly competitive Merengue Competition of Santo Domingo and appeared each week on the Sabro Show, a favorite variety program on Dominican TV. He also toured with the Folk Ballet of the Dominican Republic.

Díaz has performed at numerous venues and festivals around the world “This music is in my blood. It is everything to me. It is my destiny,” says Joaquín Díaz.

Now residing in Montreal, Canada, he continues to delight audiences wherever he goes. Since his arrival in Canada, Díaz has put together a band that has demonstrated the musical heritage of the Dominican Republic. In 1998, he and his group of extremely talented musicians received a grant to produce their first full-length CD Merengue Más Merengue, which showcases Díaz’s stellar accordion playing.

Discography:

Merengue Mas Merengue ‎(Magra Multi Média, 1998)
Merengue Alegre (Arhoolie, 2002)
Ola (Cinq Planètes, 2006)

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Artist Profiles: Chichí Peralta

Chichí Peralta

Chichí Peralta is a talented musician from the Dominican Republic He is a master percussionist and brilliant at fusing tropical rhythms. In his recordings, Peralta combines diverse rhythms and styles like jazz, merengue, guaguancó and even Dominican bachata and vallenato.

The tall Caribbean percussionist was born July 9 of 1966 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. His birth name is Pedro René Peralta, but everybody calls him Chichí and he likes to emphasize that the last i should be accented because Chichi plainly written doesn’t sound very good in Spanish.

His musical career began at the age of 4, when he built his first instrument, a tambora. Peralta’s main professional work was as percussionist of the renowned group 4-40, led by Juan Luis Guerra. For eight years, Chichí Peralta performed in front of thousand of people throughout the world.

His first solo CD, Pa’ Otro La’o, was released in 1997. Peralta was in charge of most of the production work. Without a doubt Chichí Peralta has proven to be one of the musicians and producers with a better sense of musical globalization, and on his second solo recording, De Vuelta al Barrio, he was able to perfect sounds, maturing, finding himself, evolving and fusing ‘son’ with jazz, merengue with guaguancó, pop music with African rhythms, bachata with Brazilian rhythms, plena with salsa, vallenato, Arabic rhythms with those of Africa and India.

On De Vuelta al Barrio, Chichí Peralta didn’t waste any time nor effort, spending inexhaustible hours of arduous work doing research, compiling and composing. All this led to a recording with the London Symphony at Abbey Road Studios, in Paris with the choirs of Luz Africa Light, with the special participation of Henri Dikongue, in United States to mix and in his own studio, Sterling Audio, in the Dominican Republic. The main vocals are by Cesar Olarte and Rene Geraldino.

When asked the meaning of Vuelta al Barrio, Chichí indicated: “It is a re-encounter with our roots, making reference to our place, to the place that we left, to our barrio (neighborhood), and without wanting to seem too local, how would the barrio of the Dominican Republic be, or Colombia’s, or Puerto Rico’s, it is rather the barrio of the world. To me, there is only one barrio that is divided by several languages and music has the purpose of uniting it, of intertwining it. Who in their own history in the barrio has not fallen in love?. Who hasn’t seen disappointment? A humorous history or those beautiful memories? The return to the barrio for me is something very emotional, it is a nostalgia of mine, very personal. To me it has been one of the places where I’ve had the best time.”

Discography

Pa’ Otro La’o (Caiman Music, 1997)
De Vuelta al Barrio (Caiman Music, 2000)
Más Que Suficiente (Universal Music Latino, 2005)
De Aquel La’o del Río (789 Music, 2009)
De Que Viene, Viene (789 Music, 2012)

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Interview with Valeria Matzner

Uruguayan jazz vocalist and songwriter Valeria Matzner has a new album recorded in Canada titled Anima. She incorporates exciting Brazilian and electronic music elements. Valeria discusses her work with World Music Central.

What do you consider as the essential elements of your music?

I always start my compositions with a melodic line. In my opinion, a good melodic line makes or breaks a song and if it is strong, it should be able to stand alone. Then comes the rhythmic idea and the harmony. Because of my background, I like rhythms that are syncopated. I also like harmonies that create tension and release and are somehow unpredictable.

Who can you cite as your main musical influences?

Too many artists have inspired me but I would say that my way of singing is definitely inspired by Brazilian singers like Elis Regina, Maria Rita and Joyce, among others. My compositions, however, are inspired by every inspiring musician and music I have ever heard from the Beatles to Piazzolla, from Gotan Project to Ruben Rada from Jorge Drexler to Radiohead from Jazzanova to Mercedes Sosa, Charly Garcia and from Fito Paez to Nirvana. I am a musical sponge, I absorb many styles and then come up with my own thing.

Uruguay has a great tango and candombe tradition, but you seem to be more influenced by Brazilian music. How did you come in contact with Brazilian music?

My mom loves Brazilian music so she would often play it at home. I love the way of singing: effortless, rhythmically challenging and so deceivingly simple. I also love the incredible composer from Brazil like Milton Nascimento, Chico Buarque, Joao Gilberto, Jobim, Lenine, etc, etc.

 

Valeria Matzner – Photo by Bryan Blair

 

You sing in various languages but when you sing in Spanish, it feels more natural. Will you continue singing in Spanish?

Absolutely, Spanish is my first language and I will always sing in it. But I also think that singing in different languages allows me the opportunity to communicate with a larger audience.

Tell us about your first recordings and your musical evolution.

I made my first recording when I was 19. I was the singer and composer of a grunge rock band fused with the native sounds of Ecuador and Peru. In 1994 my band was invited to play at the South By Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas, followed by a tour in the US.

Before all that, however, I studied classical guitar and was part of the Uruguayan national choir. Then I moved to Buenos Aires in the mid 1980s where I found myself in the middle of a musical movement that was sweeping the nation and taking over radio stations and venues. When I went back to Uruguay I started my own band and that was it until I moved to Canada.

In Vancouver I studied jazz and electronic music composition and it was there, at music school, that I started realizing the incredibly rich musical background of my native South America. I decided to fully embrace my musical background and a fusion of all my different influences was born.

 

 

How are you adapting to life in Canada?

It was very difficult at first. I felt like a “frog from a different pond” (como sapo de otro pozo) but I was slowly able to find my place and to learn to appreciate the Canadian ways of thinking and behaving. Canada is a country of immigrants and Canadians, for the most part, are very open to embracing different cultures. Toronto, specially, is a very multicultural city with people of all religious, cultural and musical backgrounds. I love that.

If you could gather any musicians or musical groups to collaborate with whom would that be?

Wow, too many to name but off the top of my head I would say Jorge Drexler and Bono for their lyrics and poetic way of looking at life, Milton Nascimento and Peter Gabriel for their musicality, Elis Regina for her phrasing, David Bowie for his edge, Radiohead for their creative force and any new and up and coming musician who I find interesting.

 

Valeria Matzner – Anima

 

Do you have any upcoming projects to share with us?

At the moment I am concentrating on promoting my album, Anima, putting a tour together and writing music for my next album.

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