All posts by Brian_Grosjean

Val Ramos Flamenco Ensemble

Val Ramos - Por Mi Camino
Val Ramos – Por Mi Camino
Val Ramos Flamenco Ensemble

Por Mi Camino (Piram)

The sounds of nuevo flamenco in Europe and Latin America have created roots in the American Latin community. The Connecticut-based Val Ramos Flamenco Ensemble has played hot flamenco guitar in cold New York and New England for many years, developing a dedicated following.

After a trip to Spain in 2001, his popularity soared with big sales in Spain where American Flamenco artists are encouraged and followed closely. The ten original songs plus a bonus cut of the title track on this third album of his are full of life. They skirt the flamenco borders of jazz, Latin and American music with precision and wit.

The guitars of brothers Val and Jose Ramon Ramos support a closely knit ensemble of a percussion section including Carlos Hernández Chávez (bass), Jose Berrios (bongos), David Calderon (congas), Carlos Revollar (cajon), and the thrilling flamenco singer Jose de Santos. Highly recommended on either side of the ocean.

– Brian Grosjean

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Various Artists – Peregrina Records

Various Artists - Peregrina’s Dreamworld
Various Artists – Peregrina’s Dreamworld
Various Artists

Peregrina’s Dreamworld (Peregrina Music)

The German label Peregrina has issued this sampler to acquaint you with their artists from across Europe. Included are selections from George Theodorakis, Rosanna & Zelia, Totem Trio, Maria Farantouri, Sema & Taksim, Penguin Café Orchestra and others. Mostly oriented toward singer-songwriter folk and light jazz vocals with interesting accompaniment, these artists show European style and polish. Brazilian, Turkish and Greek rhythms prevail.

Ambient backgrounds predominate in tracks like George Theodorakis’ Alientation and Sambiente by PAmagieRA. Especially interesting is the Piccola Orchestra Avion Travel which bridges several genres in its view of Mediterranean music. Every time you settle into a groove, the music takes new twists and turns. Liner notes in German and English include detailed information on each artist, their albums, musicians, and a press review.

This album will delight you and head you off to find more from Peregrina’s artists.

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Pizzimenti, Antonio Paolo

Antonio Paolo Pizzimenti

Atlante – Musiche dai Teatri (Dunya Records)

The variety of themes, influences and musical arrangements is astounding in this collection of pieces written for the theatrical production Codice Atlantico by the Italian composer and arranger Antonio Paolo Pizzimenti.

Pizzimenti is well known for his work in Italian advertising, radio, TV, and soundtracks. Working mostly behind the scenes as a sound engineer for the Italian star Eugenio Finaldi, ane The Memphis Horns, he has also added his musicianship to albums by Roberto Vecchioni and Banda Isiris.

Lead mostly by keyboards and percussion, and using everything in his repertoire from bagpipes, organs, and heavy drums each piece is very unique and enjoyable. Even without seeing the theater piece, one can appreciate the complexity and density of this music. Drawing on Celtic, African, Italian folk music, Middle Eastern and Latin themes, the music is arranged to draw the listener in, dance and sing, and then go on with life – such is the ideal of life in Italy.

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Yat-Kha

Yat-Kha - Aldyn Dashka - The Golden Cup
Yat-Kha – Aldyn Dashka – The Golden Cup
Yat-Kha

Aldyn Dashka – The Golden Cup (Yat-Kha Records)

Yat-Kha is the latest project of Albert Kuvezin from Tuva, Siberia, who started his career in music by playing electric guitar along with his Deep Purple records during the Soviet era. As a hint of the format of this album, Albert appears on the cover wearing his electric guitar over his heavy Siberian coat.

A diversion from the folk music of Tuva seen in so many places – on recent European rock albums, throat singing is used to evoke a raw energy. The Bulgarian Choir Angelite sang with members of Huun Huur Tu. But this album goes the next step, getting away from the uniqueness of the style and featuring great songwriting, superb musicianship and a real sense of humor. On a few songs, Albert is joined by Sailyk Omnum, who sings in the bluesy Tuvan women’s style. Band members include the venerable Aldyn-ool Sevek, who toured for many years with the Sayani Ensemble, Tuva’s Official Folk Singing and Dancing Group. This is the next chapter in Tuvan music.

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Triny Gipsy Streams

Triny - Gipsy Streams
Triny – Gipsy Streams
Triny

Gipsy Streams (Supraphon)

Iveta Kováĉová, Dagmar Podkonická and Jana Ryšerová met at the Prague Conservatory, all interested in Roma (gypsy) musical heritage. According to Iveta, they explored their roots together at her home, and found much to sing about. Their sound compares well with the Scandinavian vocal group Varttina in their range and accomplished vocal quality. Harmonies are not as complex and close as the Bulgarian Women’s Choirs or as simple as some Caribbean ditty, but find their own center in each song.

Their arrangements sensibly feature the wonderful timbre of the three voices. No one singer dominates, but each carries a unique sound, identifiable, and, after a while, you’ll be listening for your favorite. And when blended together, they sound sweet.

What makes this album super smart is their top notch band who coax rhythm and meaning out of every beat. Using a truckful of folk and electric instruments, they keep the songs lively, modern and fun, even when the lyrics are repetitious or nonsense. Very fun music to listen to on your way anywhere.

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