Jill Turner contributes to Songlines Magazine, World Music Central and is on the fRoots critics albums of the year panel. Her radio show GondwanaSound broadcasts on Sheffield Live! 93.2FM to the fourth largest city in the UK and is carried on both Radio Groovalizacion and African Internet Radio.
This week’s GondwanaSound Album of the Week is Mansana Blues from Diabel Cissokho and Ramon Goose, two young creatives bringing their own traditions together, seamlessly.
13th February was declared the Annual International Radio Day. Whilst the internet competes with print media as the primary source of news distribution and downloads are now more popular than CDs – for many communities, radio remains the most affordable, widest reaching and leveling of today’s media. GondwanaSound celebrated the day with Carlos Ramos, who had a successful career not only as a Fado singer but also as a broadcaster after originally pursuing a career in medicine. His track Vielas De Alfama is published on a new release from Arc Music, Legends of Fado.
Many artists owe a debt of gratitude to radio for giving them their career break and this gives me the opportunity to play a track from Esma Redezepova who won a radio talent contest. On the theme of talent contests and radio, we play a cut from Sandtracks the album by Tiris. The arts organization Sandblast who are both promoting and preserving Sarahawi culture, are raising money to build a radio station and recording studio to keep exiled communities in touch.
A tingle went down our spine when we played a cut from Tinariwen, who’s album, The Radio Tisdas Sessions was, as the title suggests, recorded in the local Tamashek radio station. They worked frantically between the hours of 7:00 pm and midnight, the only hours where electricity was available. Who would have thought that eleven years ago they would be destined to receive a Grammy for Best World Music Album. Also nominated in the category were Afrocubism and I needed no excuse to play one of my all time favorite tracks, Jarabi from their self titled album. The vocals from Kade Massy Diabate are just heaven sent.
The Grammys were bitter sweet, the sad loss of Whitney Houston yet the amazing success for Adele. With 6 Grammy’s she’s just gone stellar and as we’re quite partial to her album 21, here at GondwanaTowers, it’s all blues and this is how we opened February 13th’s broadcast. We finished with some unfettered playfulness from Dub Colossus whose Crazy in Dub makes us smile. Hope you hear something you enjoy.
The Album of the Week at GondwanaSound radio show is “Wona Baba Maraire” from a Seattle based Zimbabwean, Tendai Maraire. Whether it was writing hip hop rhymes for Shabazz Palaces, growing up with a Dad who has a passion for marimba bands and ethnomusicology or just listening to Prince in the back of the family car, Tendai pulls on all his influences. He has produced uplifting Shona music for the 21st century, for his family and the entire African Diaspora.
As the Sauti Za Busara festival prepares for lift off, GondwanaSound brings some top tunes from a few of the many artists creating a buzz, including Nneka, Bikidude, Chebli Msaidie who’s voice is something else and of course one of Tanzania’s best loved dance bands FM Academia. Chebli Msaidie released an album titled Halle last year and thanks to the festival, it’s one we’re going to play and play.
We open with the unstoppable Fatoumata Diawara whose album, Fatou has been at the top of the world music charts since its release. Plus we include tracks from the following new releases Sambasunda Quintent’s Java and Leni Stern’s Sabani.
The Album of the Week at GondwanaSound radio show is Rangarang, a two CD compilation of forgotten jewels from prerevolutionary Iran on the Vampisoul Label.
The Vampisoul boys and girls have done it again, a creative compilation full of fantastic tunes and an informative booklet from the archives of Iranian pop from the 60’s through to the revolution in 1979. As soon as I discovered it, it had to be our album of the week.
Forget what you see on the TV, these cats are very cool and the tunes aren’t bad either. Other highlights this week include another fascinating comp on the Honest Jon’s label, Delta Dandies, Balkan Tango with Alejandro and the Magic Tombelinos’s Full Attack with Sudden Defences, a Finnish Waltz by Lepisto and Lehti from the album Radio Moskova and Bonga is back with his thirtieth album, Hora Kota . That’s enough to fill up one of my shelves here at Gondwana Towers, what an achievement! And finally Kinshasa Succursale, with a remix from Baloji and co with guests including one of our favorites, Blitz the Ambassador
GondwanaSound broadcasts on Sheffield Live! 93.2FM to the fourth largest city in the UK and is carried on both Radio Groovalizacion and African Internet Radio.
All roads lead to Bridlington Spa this week as we gear up for the annual Musiport Festival, which will take place November 4-6, 2011. Musiport Festival is one of the friendliest and most intimate world music festivals and it promises us films, workshops, djay sessions, a free spectacular firework display as well as performances from top names in the world of global roots and grooves. The world will be converging on the East Yorkshire coastal town. Artists from Ethiopia, Gambia, Vietnam, DR Congo, New Zealand, Cuba, Portugal and South Africa just for starters.
Except for the free firework display this year, there’ll be no need to worry about the weather as it all takes place indoors at the Bridlington Spa which will hosts film screenings to include Benda Bililli, Jupiters Dance and Tsotsi.
Workshops will take place throughout the weekend and of course there’s some great acts in the purpose built theater complete with plush velvet seats. In fact there’s so much to talk about its difficult to know where to start, apart perhaps from mentioning some of the acts we’re looking forward to like Geoff Berner on Friday, fresh from his Victory Party tour, part klezmer, part stand up comedian and raconteur, he’s built up a cult following.
Amongst the great women are Mercedes Peon, Marie Boine and please let Mary Coughlan perform her rendition of “Love Will Tear Us Apart”. There’s plenty of new discoveries with intriguing names, star of the Edinburgh Festival, Boy with Tape on his Face and quirky pop duo Changing Horses, catch our attention.
Dancers will jump for joy as veteran Congolese musician Kanda Bongo Man takes to the stage. Andy Kershaw, DJ, globetrotter, presenter of the recent Music Planet series and all round world music enthusiast will be talking about his autobiography, ” No Off Switch ” and no doubt singing copies, just in time for Christmas presents. The Tashi Lhunpo Monks will open proceeding on Sunday offering a spiritual start to the day which will be the perfect start after a big Saturday night with Hugh Masekela topping the bill.
Friday 4th November
Asere with students of Headlands School (Music4U), Amsterdam Klezmer Band, Sail Pattern, Sea Fret, East Riding Youth Dance, Geoff Berner, Blair Dunlop, Kath Canoville’s Global Meltdown, Flying Chilli Beats, Sambalada.
Saturday 5th November
Hugh Masekela, Mercedes Peon, Mary Coughlan, Andy Kershaw, Asere, Cigdem Aslan, Claudia Aurora, Huong Than, Krar Collective, Chris Wood, The Boat Band, Celtarabia, Natalie Duncan, Fran Smith, Brigid Kaelin, Jasdeep Singh Degun, Trumpets of Death, John Wedgwood Clark, Lester Allen, Randolph Matthews and Byron Johnston, Danto Aya, Faerd Dorge Becker Hjetland , Changing Horses.
Sunday 6th November
Mari Boine, Kanda Bongo Man, Julaba Kunda, Iain Matthews, Boy With Tape On His Face, Tashi Lhunpo Monks, The Third Policeman, Deglulen, Freya Abbott & Ferguson, Sura Susso, Jonny Kearney & Lucy Farrell, Soznak, Kim Richey, Zion, Whiskey Dogs, Joe Solo.
Can’t wait…..day tickets and session tickets are available and there may just maybe some full weekend tickets left. Ring 0845 373 2760 / 01947 605089 for all tickets and detail. book tickets online here: Full weekend tickets are £110 – day and session tickets are now available.
It was midday on Sunday, the third day of the WOMAD festival at Charlton Park and after a big Saturday night, there was already quite a crowd gathering at the Charlie Gillett stage. Its an architecturally pleasing structure, defined by its projecting canopy, which depending on your outlook, resembles either an upturned brim of a Stetson or a shark’s jaw looming out of the sea. It provides shelter from both rain showers and the sun’s strong rays and with fine acoustic properties, it’s perhaps the near perfect open air setting for a more intimate performance.
The audience had gathered early, in order to secure prime position in front of the stage. Here they stood, ten deep before giving ground to the trip hazards and impassable pathways created by those who prefer to drag their camping chairs around. They were all here to experience one of WOMAD’s strengths, the introduction to “music you don’t yet know” and all eagerly waiting for Sunday’s opening act, the Tori Ensemble, a group of four master musicians from Korea. Two men and two women all steeped in folkloric musical traditions and also the more classical court aristocratic chamber music of Korea.
Formed in 2007, under the leadership of the geomungo player, Heo Yoon-jeong, they are not afraid to reinvent the century old rule book by incorporating elements of jazz, improvisation and contemporary music. Although they have a number of performances in the United States under their belt, they have only played to small audience in the UK at London’s Korean Cultural Centre as part of February’s Great Full Moon Festival. WOMAD Charlton Park was effectively their UK debut.
In a similar manner to Qawaali singers, the group were seated on the floor of the stage, dressed in modest wrap round silk over tunics in co-ordinating colors of purple, grey and lime. From left to right were, Kang Kwon-Soon (vocals) Heo Yoon-Jeong (geomungo) Lee Suk-Joo (bamboo flute and bamboo oboe) and Min Young-Chi (percussion and Korean hourglass drum). As I had missed Kim Eun-Jung’s recital at the University of Sheffield and hadn’t yet explored to the Songlines special covermount CD, this was my first introduction to Korean music.
Their music demanded my full attention, it was as if every note and the spaces in between were planned, purposeful and each with their own meaning. The time spent waiting to secure a place at the front part of the audience paid dividends. Theirs was not the type of music to appreciate from a distance. The musicians were wearing their hearts on their sleeves, their faces full of passion, their bodies completely engaged with their instruments. My senses were firing on all four cylinders.
Many of the performance pieces started with Kang Kwon-soon singing unaccompanied. She demonstrated an amazing array of techniques that had me totally captivated. In western music, vocals seem to occupy one space and dimension but with Kwon–soon there was more at work.here, including feint elements of overtone singing but that doesn’t accurately describe the range of tones and sounds. There was precision in the way she held the notes, sometimes with a breath so long that many deep sea divers would have already been forced to the surface.
For the most part I was glued to the geomungo playing of Ms Heo, which was full of elements of grace, poise and strength. The six stringed instrument, a relative of the zither which dates back to the 4th century, was central to the group’s sound. Yoong – jeong would initially play it in a low key, quiet fashion, to accent and contrast with the vocals of Kang Kwon-Soon, before breaking out into a more robust freestyle solo movement. Her right hand would press down on the twisted silk strings, pushing them firmly against the frets before leaving the strings in a graceful circular movement before once more touching down. There was no sliding up and down on the strings in this repertoire. In her left hand, held firmly between her thumb and index finger was a suldae, a small bamboo stick used to pick and strike at the strings. When used forcefully, it created a robust and intense bass sound, capable of startling and rattling my body.
It was organic, exciting and mesmerizing, none more so than when it was just the geomungo and the hour glass drum playing on stage. The sound was a driving drum and bass that any innovative club dj looking for new sounds would be incapable of recreating electronically and thus I would imagine insanely jealous of. The geomungo and the janguu, competing, teasing and chasing each other, building momentum before subsiding a little but working the crowd at every moment. They were going crazy. I was reminded of my times in jazz clubs where the audience would spontaneously applaud intricate musicianship or seamless handover of rhythms. I wonder if this would ever have happened in Korean Aristocratic society from whence some of the vocals originated.
The icing on the cake was a phenomenal drum solo, rooted in the shamanistic tradition, it showed just how Young-chi had mastered the notoriously difficult techniques of the janguu. He used to be one of the janguu players in the Korean super group Puri and now also works as the musical director of Reimei a traditional Korean arts group in Japan. In the video clip below I am reminded of a story I was told when I was young, about a tiger, who ran around a palm tree so fast and so many times, he melted.
Perhaps less easy on western ears was the piri, a bamboo oboe, played by Lee Suk-joo. However, I had to marvel at the intense sound he managed to produce from something so small, a sound that sits somewhere between the drone sound of Northumbrian pipes and the depth of the ritual horns used by Buddhist monks. Born into a musical family with both shamanic and pansori backgrounds, Suk-jon has been playing the piri since the age of 13. Taking a look into his pedigree, one gets the impression that the Tori Ensemble is his side project, the way this guy relaxes and has fun when he is not busy as the director at the Chungang Korean Traditional Orchestra. Somewhat akin to UNESCO conferring the status of Artist for Peace on musicians, Suk – joo has been nominated as Important Intangible Cultural Treasure No 72 by the Korean government for his work with preserving culture and tradition but more specifically, the shamanic ritual ceremony of the Ssitgim gut from his hometown on Jindo Island.
It was fitting that the Tori Ensemble should be on the Charlie Gillett stage as he visited Korea shortly before he died and was an avowed fan of Korean music and played Yoon-jeong’s cd on his show Sound of the World. The name Tori comes from the word saturi, meaning dialect. It is a musical term used to denote “local style” in Korean traditional music. In the program it said that the group “aims to seek a new sound that can internalize a variety of tori in traditional music, as well as harmonize with other toris in world music..” After being part of their performance I understand it now.
Never in million years did I expect to be so rewarded, so challenged and indeed so switched on after a performance of Korean music, that I’m off to discover a whole lot more.
Welcome to another GondwanaSound round the world music adventure fasten your seatbelts and prepare for contrasting sounds as we travel to Jamaica, India, Sarawak, Senegal and the grasslands of China. We have a very special album of the week, the The Magical Light of Saba (Honest Jon’s) from a true Rasta band led by experimental saxophonist Cedric Im Brooks.
He and his musicians introduced African percussion and instrumentation to Jamaica. His days in Philadelphia with Sun Ra can be heard in his approach as can his fascination with Ethiopian music. Yet all the while the rasta rythms and the nyabinghi drumming are never far away. But we start where we left off with the track we cut short causing complaints….so here they are Yaaba Funk and Nyash e go bite you
Silks, turbans, tablas and electric guitars. With roots in the Punjab, “Trippin’ the life fantastic!” is possibly the perfect rock crossover album. All the vim and vigour of Bhangra music combined with prog rock stadium vocals in a Phil Collins does Bollywood style and that’s not all, this album contains a fair few twists and surprises that will energize and keep you on your toes. ‘Trippin’ the Life Fantastic’ is the first full album for British based Kissmet lovingly produced and mixed in their own studios.
The album is the long awaited realization of Singh brothers, Buzz and Ron, who grew up with their mother singing Elvis songs and a childhood watching endless screenings of classic Indian films in their family owned cinema. During their school years they absorbed the sounds on the radio, Genesis, The Police, Pink Floyd and The Stranglers to name but a few on heavy rotation, filling the airwaves.
For the Singh brothers, it all fitted in seamlessly with the rows and rows of bhangra tapes in their local shops and their relative’s homes. Tapes from the likes of Alaap and Heera sold by the bucket loads and it wasn’t long before first generation British Asians were the eighties inspired rock guitar riffs and taking Bhangra music to the next level.
“We used to go to relatives homes and it was row upon row of bhangra tapes. No rock music but when they heard our music it was like wow man….this is great, it sounds Indian bits its not Indian” says lead singer Ron Singh.
It’s therefore a natural conclusion and a perfect marriage, to hear their thoroughly entertaining, ‘A Whole Lotta Nachna’, Kissmet’s take on that famous Led Zep cut. Guitar riffs cranked up and combined with a dhol backbeat are essential ingredients to keep the audience wired and the mosh pit full to bursting. You get a real sense of their live stage presence, as the brothers skilfully mix in live recordings with studio takes. Its an energy which is carried over into the next track ‘Why Oi!!!’ and indeed, right across the album.
Classic rock fans can’t fail to appreciate ‘Channa’ in which Cream’s Sunshine of Your Love is fused with Chan Kithe, the famous Punjabi song. Typical of Kissmet’s style, it has more screams and longer tongues than both Kali and American rockers Kiss, ( from whom they parody their name) and just when you thought the speaker stack may well collapse, recovery comes in the form of two love songs. ‘Rainbow’s Gold’ and ‘I Need Your Love’ with lyrics courtesy of Ron Singh a man with so much love it hurts.
Underpinned by gentle tabla playing we get a glimpse of the musical prowess of the other brother, Max, who also excels in the psychedelic ambient track ‘Dodge the Rain’. “Tripping the Life Fantastic” has been put together like the perfect live set, you can almost smell the mud, incense and sweat of the festival crowds, where Kissmet have a forged an unrivaled live reputation.
In the week when Aung San Suu Kyi was released from house arrest in Burma, Ireland came to the brink of Bankruptcy and a Royal Engagement was announced over here, we cannot hope to come up with any news on this scale ….however, we do have something to share with you, although not strictly music, it is cultural of sorts….
Whilst in London we found a bilingual cash machine with instructions in English and Cockney…I kid you not. The machine asks you to put in your Bladder and Lard in order to get your Sausage and Mash. Well you may be familiar with your monkies, ponies and your bags of sand but to preserve our overdraft we only withdrew speckled hens and the odd horn of plenty.. what a laugh..
Friday December 3rd the Frozac collective are throwing one of their renowned parties at Penelope’s. This time they’ll be raising funds for Sheffield Live and I’ll be there playing a tail shaking, foot moving tropical disco mix…hope to see you there, more details to be posted on the website over the weekend. Continue reading GondwanaSound Report, November 23rd, 2010→
Musicport World Music festival is round the corner taking place from 22nd – 24th October in Bridlington. Angelique Kidjo apologized for having to pull out, apparently she has a date with Bill Clinton. She is to be replaced by the equally brilliant Dobet Gnahore as the Saturday night headline act.
Leaving behind, his rifle bearing band of brothers who accompanied him on his last album, the African, Tiken Jah Fakoly rides out alone. Like a messenger at a time of unrest he rides out on horseback to give notice and to continue his message. With ‘African Revolution‘, there’s a less cluttered sound and a more intimate soulful approach. Fakoly opens the album singing in English, declaring change will come as a result of education. “Go to school brothers…intelligent revolution is African education.” Continue reading Intelligent Revolution→
Your Connection to traditional and contemporary World Music including folk, roots and various types of global fusion