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.

Steve Khan’s Splendid Mix of Jazz and Afro-Cuban Beats

Steve Khan – Patchwork – Medio Mezclado (Tone Center, 2019)

Virtuoso jazz guitarist Steve Khan continues his enchanting combinations of jazz and Afro-Cuban rhythms on Patchwork.  In this case, Khan has taken jazz classics and recreated them with harmonic and rhythmic modifications. The jazz artists chosen include Thelonious Monk, Ornette Coleman, Joe Henderson, Alan Jay Lerner, Keith Jarrett, and Bobby Hutcherson.

Khan has built one of the most formidable rhythm sections in contemporary American jazz, featuring an exquisite blend of Afro-Cuban rhythms; masterfully arranged and recorded.

Khan’s colleague, keyboardist, composer and arranger Rob Mounsey plays a bigger role on Patchwork with inspired string and brass arrangements as well as superb electric piano and synth work.

Steve Khan – Patchwork – Medio Mezclado

Highlights include the opening track, Thelonious Monk and Kenny Clarke’s “Epistrophy,” a high energy electric guitar piece with a creative rhythm section of drum set, Afro-Cuban drums and bass; and “Bouquet” by Ornette Coleman, with Khan acoustic guitar. This piece is turned into a lovely down tempo bolero with exquisite Spanish and Latin American-influenced guitar work, delicate drums and percussion, and beautiful orchestrations.

Other high points include Khan’s composition “Naan Issue,” a delicious bluesy cha cha cha; the lively “A Shade of Jade” (Joe Henderson) featuring a superb flugelhorn performance by Randy Brecker; the timeless Alan Jay Lerner and Burton Lane piece “Too Late Now” transformed into a bolero-paced ballad with outstanding guitar work, magnificent orchestrations and subtle rhythms; and the fusion-leaning “T. & T.,” where Khan turns this Ornette Coleman composition into high energy Latin jazz rooted in a Mozambique rhythm. 

Lastly, a tune that captivated me is the outstanding rendering of Keith Jarret’s “The Journey Home.” This is the longest track on the album, with various sections. It opens with a dreamy slow tempo segment with Khan back on acoustic guitar, delivering delicious interplay with the electric piano, and then moving forward to lively Afro-Cuban beats and electric guitar, beautiful wordless vocals. And then the music slows down and concludes with a truly excellent acoustic guitar and synthesizer duet over a layer of percussion and masterfully-crafted orchestrations.

The lineup on Patchwork includes Steve Khan on guitars and vocals; Rubén Rodríguez on baby bass and electric bass; Dennis Chambers on drums; Marc Quiñones on timbales, bongos, percussion; Bobby Allende on conga; Rob Mounsey on keyboards and orchestrations: Randy Brecker on flugelhorn; Bob Mintzer on tenor saxophone; Tatiana Parra on vocals; and Jorge Estrada on keyboards and arrangements.

Buy Patchwork

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Artist Profiles: Kristin Scott Benson

Kristin Scott Benson

Kristin Scott Benson grew up in South Carolina, surrounded by a musical family. After receiving a much-anticipated banjo for Christmas when she was thirteen, Kristin became enthralled with the instrument and spent her teen years studying the playing of all the banjo greats from Earl Scruggs to Bela Fleck.

After high school, she attended Nashville’s esteemed Belmont University, where she graduated Summa Cum Laude with a BBA in Marketing and a minor in Music Business.

She was a member of the Larry Stephenson Band for seven years. In 2008 she joined Nashville bluegrass band the Grascals, replacing Aaron McDaris.

After 13 years in Nashville, she relocated back to the Carolinas with her husband and young son. Her solo release, Second Season, features eight instrumentals (half of them originals) and four vocal performances. The album showcases her powerful banjo playing, while still appealing to fans that aren’t motivated solely by instrumental prowess.

is the four-time International Bluegrass Music Association’s Banjo Player of the Year (2008, 2009, 2010, 2011).

Kristin Scott Benson is the 2018 winner of the Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass. “My family and I are overwhelmed with gratefulness!” said Benson. “Getting to know my banjo heroes, many of whom are on the board, is prize enough, but Steve Martin’s graciousness is a huge blessing. We don’t know how to adequately say thank you for something like this!”

Discography:

Straight Paths (Pinecastle, 2002)
Second Season (Pinecastle, 2009)
Life Finds A Way, with the Grascals (Mountain Home, 2012)
When I Get My Pay, with the Grascals (Mountain Home, 2013)
…and then there’s this, with the Grascals (Mountain Home, 2016)
Stringworks (Mountain Home, 2016)
Before Breakfast, with the Grascals (Mountain Home, 2017)

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Artist Profiles: Gilberto Santa Rosa

Gilberto Santa Rosa

Salsa star Gilberto Santa Rosa was born August 21, 1962 in Santurce, Puerto Rico. He made his first recordings for Combo Records, the label of El Gran Combo’s maestro Rafael Ithier. Starting in 1990 he began achieving enormous success with his great shows in San Juan, which would become his trademark.

In 1995, El Caballero de la salsa (the gentleman of salsa) signed with the Sony label and from that time many of his CDs became gold and platinum. Gilberto Santa Rosa is one of salsa music’s superstars and a popular bolero singer as well.

Discography:

Perspectiva (Discos International, 1991)
A Dos Tiempos De Un Tiempo (Sony Discos, 1992)
Nace Aquí (Columbia, 1993)
Tres Con Cache (Bronco, 1993)
De Cara Al Viento (Sony Tropical, 1994)
En Vivo Desde El Carnegie Hall (Sony Tropical, 1995)
Escencia (Epic Records, 1996)
…De Corazón (Sony Discos, 1997)
Salsa Sinfónica En Vivo Teatro Teresa Carreño Caracas (Sony Discos, 1998)
Expresión (Sony Discos, 1999)
Romántico (Sony Discos, 2000)
Intenso (Sony Music, 2001)
Viceversa (Sony Discos, 2002)
Solo Bolero (Sony, 2003)
Auténtico (Sony Discos, 2004)
Asi Es Nuestro Navidad (Sony, 2006)
Directo Al Corazón (Sony Discos, 2006)
Contraste (Sony Music, 2007)
Irrepetible (Sony Music Latin, 2010)
Gilberto Santa Rosa (Sony Music, 2012)
Necesito Un Bolero (Sony Music, 2014)

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Artist Profiles: Um Kulthum

Um Kulthum

Um Kulthum [also written Umm Kulthum, Oum Kolthoum, Oum Kalsoum, Omme Kolsoum, and Oum Kulthoom] was one of the greatest vocalists in Arabic music during the 20th century. She was born in 1904, in a small village in the south of Egypt.

In her singing, the highly influential Um Kulthum offered an authentic art, relevant and rooted in the life of her people. She created a new genre of Arabic singing, which was adopted by many artists. She emphasized the sacredness of the sung lyrics, as though the words were from the Koran or from Arab classic poetry.

In 1975 she died, endowing the world a rich repertoire and one of the greatest human voices.

Partial discography:

Ya Karawan – O plover (1926)
Othkorene – Remember me (1939)
Kull al-ahabbah – All the friends (1941)
Raq il Habeeb – My beloved tendered back (1941)
Ana Fi Entezarak – I am waiting for you (1943)
Ghulubt asalih – Tired of forgiving (1946)
Yali Kan Yashqiq Anini – You who enjoyed my cries (1949)
Rubaiyat Al-Khayyam – Quatrains of Omar Khayyám maqam rast (1950)
Ya Zalemny – You who were unjust to me (1954)
Dalili Ehtar – I am lost (1955)
Dhikrayatun Qessat Hobbi or the story of my love – memories (1955)
Gharib’ Ala Bab erraja – Stranger at the door of hope (1955)
‘Awwidt ‘ayni – I accustomed my eyes (1957)
Arouh li Meen or Arook Lemeen – Whom should I go to (1958)
Hagartek or Hajartak – I left you EMI (1959)
Hobb Eih – Which love maqam bayyati (1960)
Howwa Sahih El-Hawa Ghallab – Is love really stronger? (1960)
Lessa Faker – You still remember (1960)
Ansak Ya Salam – Forget you? Come on! (1961)
Hayart Albi Ma’ak – You confused my heart maqam nahwand (1961)
Hasibak lil-zaman – I will leave you to time (1962)
Zalamna El Hob – We have sinned against love (1962)
Betfaker fi Meen – Who are you thinking of? (1963)
Toof we Shoof – Wander and wonder (1963)
Araka asiya al-dam – I see you refusing to cry (1964)
Enta Omri – Sono – You are the love of my life (1964)
Lel Sabr Hedod – Patience has limits (1964)
Sirat el Houb – Tale of love (1964)
Amal Hayati”; Sono – Hope of my life (1965)
Baeed Anak – Away From You maqam bayyati (1965)
Enta El Hobb – You are the love (1965)
Al Atlal – The Ruins (1966)
Fakarouni – They reminded me (1966)
Fit al-ma’ ad – It is too late” or “The rendez-vous is over (1967)
Hadeeth el Rouh – The talk of the soul (1967)
Hathehe Laylati – This is my night maqam bayyati (1968)
Alf Leila wa Leila – One thousand and one nights (1969)
Aqbal al-layl – Night has arrived (1969)
Es’al Rouhak – Ask yourself (1970)
Wi-darit il-ayyam – And time passed by (1970)
Aghadan alqak – Shall I see you tomorrow? (1971)
El Hobb Kolloh – All the love (1971)
Men Agl Aynayk – For your eyes (1972)
Rihab al-huda al-Thulathiyah al-Muqaddisah – The paths to repentance or the holy trinity (1972)
Ya Msaharny – You that keeps me awake at night (1972)
Hakam ‘alayna al-haw’a – Love has ordered me (1973)
Leilet Hobb – A night of love (1973)
La Diva (EMI Arabia, 1998)
La Diva II (EMI Arabia, 1998)
La Diva III (EMI Arabia, 1998)
La Diva IV (EMI Arabia, 1998)
La Diva V (EMI Arabia, 1998)
The Classics (EMI Arabia, 2001)


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Interview with Alexey Belkin of Russian Folk Band Otava Yo

Otava Yo is one of the rising acts in contemporary Russian folk music. The Saint Petersburg Russian-based band has an excellent new album available internationally titled “Do You Love

The lineup includes Alexey Belkin on vocals, bagpipes, gusli, zhaleika; Alexey Skosyrev on vocals, acoustic guitar; Dmitry Shikhardin on vocals, fiddle; Yulia Usova on vocals, violin; Petr Sergeev on bass drum and darbuka; and Timur Sigidin on bass.

Otava Yo’s leader Alexey Belkin talked to World Music Central about the band’s background and the new recording.

Q: How and when was Otava Yo formed?

On the streets of St. Petersburg in 2003, where we decided to busk for fun. The feedback from audience was so great, so we started to busk in St. Pete on regular basis. That time we were playing instrumental Celtic music. Only after 3 years of occasional street performing we made a first record and perceived our selves as a band.

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

We try to keep music live, in terms that we do not like to copy somebody’s ideas, we prefer to invent our own bicycle. If we see some great idea created by somebody else – it inspires us to make something too. Also we try to keep the main idea of folk songs and do not complicate them. If it is funny cheerful dance song we would not make from it jazzy lounge R&B.

Otava Yo – Photo by Daniil Moroz

Q: Who can you cite as your main musical influences?

I can talk only for myself. I used to listen to lots of Celtic artists – Chieftains, Carlos Nuñez, Silly Wizard, etc. and also Scandinavian bands like Hedningarna, Garmarna. I love Latvian band Iļģi. Penguin Cafe Orchestra, Michael Nyman. All of them could make influence on my musical taste.

Q: Tell us about your first recordings and your musical evolution.

The first recording with Otava Yo we made in 2006. After all those sessions on the streets we decide to make live album with everything we played for that time. So, it was instrumental album with just 1 song. Raw and live. No bass guitar and no even bass drum. Exactly how we played on the streets.

Three years later we made a new album full of Russian traditional songs, the most popular ones. And it was recorded with using all studio possibilities. We made nice arrangements and used more instruments then we can play live, invited some friends. So, it was fun to make that record and to see how good this music could be recorded.

The new album “Do you love” in 2018 took us a 6 months of work in studio. And I believe it is our most matured work for now.

Otava Yo – Do you Love

Q: Even though you live in a city, your music contains elements of Russian village music. How do you find traditional rural folk songs?

Well, we live in cities, but some of us used to stay in country side. I myself till 15 years old stayed in very small town in private house in suburb of St. Petersburg. I was able to go for a walk without seeing a single car, if I wanted I could make a campfire with my friends in my yard, so it was a happy childhood of small town boy. But there was no folklore in my life. It was USSR and communists did everything they could to steal folklore from Russian population and to replace it with fake academic folklore. But in spite of this the folk songs are all over, all you need just to wish to listen to them. The most of the song we sing we just know. Some of them we found in ethnographic recordings or books. But we never went to ethnographic expeditions.

Q: Otava Yo uses various traditional Russian instruments. Tell us about them and how common are they now?

The most common – electric guitar and bass, the rest are quite rare. Well, to be serious, it is a problem now with getting Russian traditional instruments. You are not able to buy them in store, the only way to get such instrument is only to order it directly from the maker and then wait for a few months. I ordered my new Russian village bagpipe in May and it is ready only now. But it is worth to wait. How common?… Well, not really.

Otava Yo – Photo by Timur Sigidin

Q: Who makes your traditional musical instruments?

Different makers. Some of them are from St. Petersburg, some from other cities. My zhaleikas mostly made by Anton Platonov and Dmitry Dyomin. Gusli by Alexander Teplov. The new Russian bagpipe by Vasiliy Ivanov. Also I am waiting for the new gaita chanter with keys from Moscow’s maker Alexander Anistratov. All of them you may find in Facebook.

Q: Otava Yo is also known for making captivating music videos. Tell us about the process of making videos and who is involved.

We make them in picaresque way. I have directed all the videos we made. As far as I didn’t study how to shoot video so I was not afraid to start to make them and just started to do it without understanding the details of the whole video production process. First two videos we even shot by ourselves, only starting from “Street cleaner” we have invited professional camera man.

The process – usually I start to think about the song for which I would like to shoot video. I listen to it more than hundred times. Then I come up with the main idea and start to work on script. Then with my partner Vsevolod together we write final script and plan all the shootings details including what kind of equipment we will use and where will rent it. Then we shoot 🙂

After shooting we edit it and make post-production.

Nothing special or unusual. The only important thing – I suppose if we would invite the professional director from the side the result would not be like what we have now, just because it is impossible to find so folklore involved and oriented director in Russia or outside of it. So, I had to invent everything especially for Otava Yo. I suppose it is a unique product we made in a single copy, it is very difficult to duplicate. So that’s the whole secret.

Q: How’s the current traditional and contemporary folk and world music scene in Saint Petersburg and other parts of Russia?

To be honest quite bad. The amount of folk groups which on regular basis can play the concerts is very little. The ones which could attract more than 100 listeners even less. We do not have infrastructure for world music. The quantity of world music festivals also is quite low. But I think it is changing a little bit and also with our help too.

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

Well, I like Hedningarna and Penguin cafe, I think we could make something interesting together. And Rammstein of course 🙂

Q: Do you have any upcoming projects to share with us?

We are getting ready for Christmas tour, which will happen in January 2020. Now we are in the middle of “Once upon a time” tour which is dedicated to 10 year anniversary of our second album “Once upon a time”. Ten more concerts to go.

We need to finish the new video clip, which we shot in August. I wanted to create an adventurous comedy video and I hope it will work out as I planned. We have some ideas for our youtube show “Zelyonka”, where we invite other musicians and play together. The last month we had a great guests from Sweden – Garmarna. We plan several other interesting acts within this show. And of course we are planning to work on new songs, and this is the most important thing for us now. The recent live video with new song “Zalivochka” which we just uploaded gathered more than 100K views just for 2 days; that means people look forward for new songs from us.

headline photo: Otava Yo by Maxim Drozdov

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Artist Profiles: V.G. Jog

V.G. Jog

Vishnu Gobind Jog (V.G. Jog) was a venerated elder statesman of the North Indian violin. A highly respected musician and educator, he toured throughout the world as a soloist and with many of India’s great instrumentalists. His distinctive style won him a special place among India’s great musicians, and his soulful music was praised by Westerners such as John Coltrane and Eric Clapton.

Born in Maharashtra in 1922, he studied with Sri Shankar Rao Athavela, Ganapat Rao Purohit, and Allauddin Khan.

Since 1999, Pandit Jog had been suffering from Parkinson’s disease. The disease had not only disabled the elderly musician by taking away the violin away from his hands, but was also taking away all his assets. Without music, his sole source of income, the high cost of health care became an unsustainable burden for the Jog family. Additionally, the unexpected death of his son added a misfortune to the indisposed violinist and his family. Various benefit concerts were held to provide him and his family with urgently needed financial aid.

Along with the Padma Bhushan, Jog also received the Sangeet Natak Akademi award, West Bengal government’s Rajya Natak award, the Kalidas Samman, the Bhuwalka Puraskar and the Hafiz Ali Khan award.

Jog had a long involvement with the All India Radio’s Kolkata center as music composer and producer, as well as being member of the AIR’s audition board.

V.G. Jog died on January 31, 2004.

Discography:

Bismillah Khan With V. G. Jog (His Master’s Voice, 1962)
Raga Kedara / Raga Chandrakauns (Odeon 1963)
Duets (His Master’s Voice, 1965)
Manik Varma ((His Master’s Voice, 1965)
Shenai & Violin (His Master’s Voice, 1968)
Shyam Kalyan / Raga Des / Dhun (His Master’s Voice, 1970)
Violin & Shehnai – Jugalbandi (His Master’s Voice, 1977)
The Distinctive Two, Violin & Flute Jugalbandi (His Master’s Voice, 1978)
Violin Recital (His Master’s Voice, 1982)
Ragas: Jogkaus Khamaj (Chhanda Dhara, 1983)
Jugalbandi Harmonium And Violin (His Master’s Voice, 1985)
Jugalbandi – Duet For Violin And Guitar – Raga Bageswari (Chhanda Dhara, 1988)
Violin (Moment Records, 1991)
Monsoon Raga Nataraj Music, 1993
Waves Of Ecstasy Vol. 2 (All India Radio, 1995)
Waves Of Ecstasy Vol. 3 (All India Radio, 1995)
Indian Classical Duets Vol 1 (ITC Limited, 2009)

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Artist Profiles: Hermeto Pascoal

Hermeto Pascoal

Hermeto Pascoal is a prominent Brazilian composer and multi-instrumentalist. His compositions appear on albums by Miles Davis and other jazz heavyweights.

He was born in 1936 in Lagoa da Canoa, a small town in northeastern Brazil. His reputation in Brazil is the result of a varied career. As a juvenile he learned to play the flute, appearing on a multitude of occasions. When his family moved to Recife in 1950 he spent the following six years as an accordion player for radio stations, ending as the director of a complete orchestra. Pascoal then moved on to Rio, stunned by the possibilities and musical opportunities arising for him.

In 1964 he joined Aito Moreira in a group called Trio Sambraza. Two years later, again with Airto, a first record was released in Brazil with the Quarteto Novo. When in 1969 the group broke up and Airto Moreira left for the States to play with Miles Davis, Hermeto stayed behind.

Pascoals’ international career began two years later. Airto called him to arrange his productions in New York. Miles Davis, who was fascinated by the wilfulness of Brazilian and especially Pascoal’s music gave him room for two compositions of his own on the album Live Evil. In the same year, 1972, Hermeto Pascoal’s first album, together with Flora Purim, Airto Moreira and Ron Carter was released; called Hermeto.

In 1964 he joined Aito Moreira in a group called Trio Sambraza. Two years later, again with Airto, a first record was released in Brazil with the Quarteto Novo. When in 1969 the group broke up and Airto Moreira left for the States to play with Miles Davis, Hermeto stayed behind. Pascoals’ international career began two years later. Airto called him to arrange his productions in New York. Miles Davis, who was fascinated by the wilfulness of Brazilian and especially Pascoal?s music gave him room fo two compositions of his own on the album Live Evil. In the same year 1972, Hermeto Pascoal?s first album, together with Flora Purim, Airto Moreira and Ron Carter was released; called Hermeto.

Due to the recognition Pascoal received in the United States, the Brazilian record industry’s interest grew rapidly. In 1973 he released an album called A Musica Livre De Hermeto Pascoal. It was due to his innovative power, his restlessness, his search for unconventional musical instruments: bottles, stones, water splashing, and almost everything else that could create sounds; that people started calling him “Bruxo”, the wizard.

His masterpiece, a milestone in the Brazilian music world, was the album Slaves Mass, released 1977. Many other releases followed after this breakthrough.

Hermeto Pascoal

His influence on Brazilian music extends well beyond his own remarkable output as a writer an multi-instrumentalist. As the father-figure for avant-garde Brazilian Jazz, Pascoal’s pioneering music has prepped a generation of musicians who are now having a great deal to say about the direction of the American music scene.

Airto, had this to say about his mentor: “He is the most complete musician I ever met in my life. I consider him almost a genius.

Pascoal plays flutes, keyboards, guitar and bass with equal facility; and reads, writes and arranges without the benefit of any formal training.

Discography:

Conjunto Som 4, with Conjunto Som 4 (1961)
Em Som Maior, with Sambrasa Trio (1966)
Quarteto Novo, with Quarteto Novo (1967)
Brazilian Octopus, with Brazilian Octopus (1969)
Hermeto Pascoal, reissued on CD as Brazilian Adventure (1970)
A música livre de Hermeto Pascoal (Sinter, 1973)
Slaves Mass (Warner Bros. Records, 1976)
Trindade (1977)
Zabumbê-bum-á (Warner Bros. Records, 1979)
Ao vivo Montreux Jazz Festival (Atlantic, 1979)
Nova história da Música Popular Brasileira, compilation (1979)
Cérebro magnético (Atlantic, 1980)
Hermeto Pascoal & Grupo (1982)
Lagoa da Canoa, Município de Arapiraca (Happy Hour Music, 1984)
Brasil Universo (1986)
Só não toca quem não quer (Intuition, 1987)
Hermeto solo) por diferentes caminhos (Som Da Gente, 1988)
Festa dos deuses (1992)
Instrumental no CCBB, with Renato Borghetti (Tom Brasil, 1993)
Música! o melhor da música de Hermeto Pascoal, compilation (1998)
Eu e eles (Rádio Mec, 1999)
Mundo verde esperança (2002)
Chimarrão com rapadura, with Aline Morena (2006)
Bodas de Latão, with Aline Morena (2010)
The Monash Sessions (Jazzhead, 2013)
No Mundo dos Sons (SESC SP, 2017)
Viajando com o som (Far Out Recordings, 2017)
Natureza Universal (2017)
Palmares Fantasy (Far Out Recordings, 2018)
E Sua Visão Original Do Forró ‎(Scubidu Music, 2018)

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The Captivating Thaitronics of Apichat Pakwan

Apichat Pakwan – Esantronics

Apichat Pakwan – Esantronics (Animist Records, 2019)

Esantronics introduces a wonderful world of hybrid music where traditional Thai music meets European electronic music. Apichat Pakwan includes Thai musicians who perform music from the Northeast region of Thailand, also known as Esan, and Dutch composer and producer Olivier Schreuder.

The project got started when Olivier Schreuder became passionately interested in the music of Laos and Esan. While studying this music in the city of Khon Kaen in the region of Esan in Northeast Thailand he encountered a group of young and very fine musicians with whom he started playing and recording a mix of the traditional music with local instruments like the kaen (mouth organ), phin (stringed instrument), pi phu thai (flute), sor (fiddle), a wide range of percussion and analog and digital electronics.

Apichat Pakwan live at Amsterdam Roots Festival in July 2019

Apichat Pakwan is not a studio only project. The group has performed live throughout Asia and Europe. The lineup varies and there is always room for improvisation. Although the ensemble originally played instrumentals, vocalist and composer Anusara ‘Bee’ Deechaichana joined the project. She wrote the lyrics for the songs.

Apichat Pakwan live at Cinetol Amsterdam in 2019

Although Apichat Pakwan had released some recordings before, Esantronics is the debut full album. It was recorded at various locations in Thailand, as well as in Singapore, Amsterdam and Berlin.

Apichat Pakwan at Houtfestival in The Netherlands, 2019

The lineup includes Olivier Schreuder on percussion, drum programming, Fender Rhodes, kaen, electronics; Pumisakseri ‘Kwang’ Sasida on phin, kaen and sor esan; Angkanang ‘Num’ Pimwankum on percusssion; Anusara ‘Bee’ Deechaichana on vocals; Wimonmat ‘Wiw’ Kangjantha on vocals; Arthit Krajangsree on phin; Pongsapon Upani on kaen; and Chanawat ‘Smurf’ Jonhjoho on sor esan.

Esantronics is a superb album where fascinating, innovative Thai roots music meets masterfully-crafted electronica.

Buy Esantronics

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Interview with World Fusion Band Solana And Video Premiere

Solana is a world music fusion band originally founded in Valencia, Spain in 2012. Solana combines rhythmically complex and harmonically rich music inspired by folk traditions from around the world.

Solana’s sound is guided by flutes, violin, accordion and Spanish guitar, and takes influence from diverse celebrated artists like Tigran Hamasyan, Kíla, Paco de Lucía and Dhafer Youssef.

Band members include Tamsin Elliott on flute, whistles, accordion; Rowen Elliott on violin, effects; Elio Arauz de Marcos on drums, percussion, vocals; Henry Edmonds on electric and acoustic bass; and JP Wolfgang on Spanish guitar.

Solana’s Tamsin Elliott

Solana has a new video titled “Odd Elegy / Allegedly Odd.” Flute player Tamsin Elliott provides details about the video: “It includes a cover of Dhafer Youssef’s Odd Elegy and a string of my own tunes collectively called “Allegedly Odd”, which I composed in response to Youssef’s piece. The arrangement is by the collective brain of Solana. It feels like quite an achievement to finish this video after a year of quite serious health issues which turned my world upside down.”

Q – The band is currently based in the UK but it was started in Valencia, Spain. How did you guys come into contact with each other?

Siblings Tamsin and Rowan Elliott have played music together from a young age. In 2012 they both coincidentally moved to Valencia and reconnected musically, playing in small bars and social centers. They were joined by original guitarist Alex Dickinson and Valencian percussionist Elio Arauz de Marcos.

Solana rapidly gained a following in the city due to the appetite for Celtic and Eastern European folk music there. In the intervening years the band’s sound and line-up have evolved to the present five-piece.

Solana

Q – What’s the background of the musicians in Solana?

Tamsin (flutes/accordion) and Rowan (violin) Elliott were brought up on a diet of world, folk and reggae and spent family holidays at festivals such as WOMAD. This exposure to a large variety of music from around the world, as well as the Celtic sessions in the local pub, has influenced their music-making to this day.

Elio Arauz de Marcos learned percussion from the age of eleven and played various styles from reggae and ska to Latin and traditional Valencian bands. After a few years of mainly playing guitar he rediscovered his passion for drums through the music of Solana. He also fronts rumba, Latin, afrobeat project The Globo Collective on guitar and vocals.

Solana’s Elio Arauz de Marcos

After years of playing guitar, JP Wolfgang discovered and fell in love with the Flamenco tradition and moved to Madrid to study with El Entri in the famous Caño Roto Madrid.

Solana’s Rowen Elliott and JP Wolfgang

Henry Edmonds’ background in jazz and post rock has brought a gnarly edge to Solana’s sound. He enjoys the challenge of fusing different world grooves with more progressive arrangements, and the opportunity to play both upright and electric bass.

Solana

Q – You released an album in 2017. How was that experience and what exposure did you get?

Camino (2017) was recorded over four days -and four sleepless nights- at Henwood studios near London. This is our first album of wholly original compositions and it was with this recording that we began to find our own unique sound. We were lucky to count on the expertise and patience of our childhood friend and all-round musical genius Tom Excell who engineered and co-produced the album.

We received great reviews, with the album being described as “thoroughly invigorating” by Songlines, “A fervent and fertile form of world fusion” by Shire Folk, and our favorite from Folk Radio UK saying that “They make my spice shelf look boring… an accomplished and colorful album”.

Solana – Camino

Q – Are you working on a new album?

Yes, we have lots of new material and are really exited to get it on record. Tamsin is currently waiting for a major operation to sort out ongoing health problems, so touring is on hold until we have a date, but in the mean time lots of work is happening on new compositions and arrangements! Expect the next album to demonstrate a rich sonic tapestry, sometimes playful and often poignant, anchored by a deep respect for traditions. We’re looking forward to sharing something new and bold that goes beyond classic folk conventions.

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Interview with Spanish Stringed Instrument Master Juan José Robles

Juan José Robles

Spanish multi-instrumentalist Juan José Robles has a superb new album titled In-Quietud (Restlessness). Robles uses a wide range of stringed instruments from Spain and beyond. He discusses his career and new album with World Music Central.

How and when did you start working professionally in the music world?

I decided to make my own music after several years playing for others or being part of groups. Once I recorded my first album and saw that it had very good acceptance and reviews, that is when I decided to bet on this, even if it is a “spike and shovel” and the road is not easy.

What do you think are the fundamental elements of your musical style?

Throughout my musical career, I have gone through traditional, classical, folk, blues, flamenco music … and all this has stayed with me. Perhaps that is why, those who listen to my music, think that I have generated my own language from that hodgepodge; and that is recognizable to hear it.

How has your musical expression evolved over the years?

Well, over the years my level of self-demand has grown, all my songs pass several listening filters until they definitely arrive at the studio, I carefully and meticulously select what I like and what I don’t, I eliminate it right away.

Juan José Robles – In-Quietud

What does the title of your In-Quietud album mean?

I have lived situations and moments where I have been too restless, altered, uneasy…., And those situations have led me to a hangover that has generated a pleasant stillness; in those two states is where all the songs on this album have appeared.

Tell us a little about In-Quietud .

It is a continuity of my previous album “Tiempo de espera” (2016), where new structures and elements appear that, as I said before, I have carefully selected. It is also a claim of instrumental music as a form of expression, with as much force as that which bears a voice. On the other hand, traditional music is one of the sources from which I drink, hence I wink at two pieces of my land, Murcia, which I really wanted.

Juan José Robles – Photo by Gerardo C. Saura

In your In-Quietud album you play several types of stringed instruments from the guitar and lute family. Tell us about the following instruments and their differences: octavilla, Valencian guitar, tenor guitar.

The octavilla is a 12-string instrument, with 6 courses, which is located in the area that borders Castilla La Mancha with the Valencian Community; is a mainly melodic instrument and its loudness is of medium-acute timbres. The Valencian guitar has 5 strings, which are usually made of nylon, and is used to rip with chords in traditional music, being its acute sound range. The tenor guitar has 10 strings, with 5 courses, and is widely used to accompany with chords in the traditional formations of the [Spanish] peninsular southeast, such as Murcia and Almeria, and its sound range is medium.

In addition to the instruments mentioned above, you also play guitars, bouzouki, bandurria and lute. How do you decide which instrument you will use in each track? Which one do you like the most?

These four instruments are those with which I usually compose almost everything and the decision is easy, since I usually respect the instrument with which I compose the subject. And regarding tastes for an instrument, let’s say it goes through times, I currently give more attention to the bouzouki and the lute, although I never stop playing the guitar and the mandolin.

Juan José Robles

Who manufactures your string instruments?

The lute is by Diego Gallego (Murcia), the bouzouki is by Carlos do Viso (Vigo), the mandolin and octave guitar by Tomás Leal (Casasimarro, Albacete), the bandurria by Javier Rojo (Madrid) and the guitar by Juan Azorín (Molina de Segura, Murcia).

Do you keep or collect stringed instruments?

I used to collect them, but then I decided to be pragmatic and I only keep the ones I use, which add up to 12.

Would you like to play some other stringed instrument from some other region of Spain or other cultures?

Yes, my pending subject is the zanfona [hurdy gurdy], which I already had one and played it some time ago; although I got rid of it to buy a flamenco guitar. So it may be my next goal.

Do you give classes or workshops?

Yes, I teach guitar, lute, bandurria and guitar classes permanently in a popular music school; and also music workshops and traditional Murcian song with Carmen María Martínez Salazar.

Which musicians of the new generations in your area deserve the attention of root music lovers in general?

The world of traditional music around the peninsular southeast, lately is closely related to meetings of traditional formations (crews, rounds, pandas, …). These have always been formed by older people, but today there are many young people and children paying close attention to this sociocultural movement and some with great talent, where great vocals and string players stand out.

If you could bring together the musicians or groups that fascinate you most to record a record or collaborate live, who would you call?

Of course I would stay with the band that accompanies me live: Enrique González and Óscar Esteban on percussion, Pablo Orenes on double bass, Tóbal Rentero on the laúd, guitarro and dulzaina, and José Antonio Aarnoutse and Constantino López on guitars; the latter also producer of the album. And I would call singers Carles Dènia and Rocío Márquez; cavaquinho player Luis Peixoto; Diego Galaz and Jorge Arribas (Fetén Fetén) to play violin and accordion and Efrén López on zanfona.

What other projects are you working on?

I am part of Mujeres con Raíz, a group of traditional Murcian music and I am still working on an upcoming job, which we must start from now.

More about Juan José Robles and his discography.

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