Category Archives: Artist Profiles

Artist Profiles: Brian Dunning

Brian Dunning

Brian Dunning had been a professional flutist in Ireland, playing regular classical and jazz gigs, before coming to the U.S. in 1977 to study at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. “I remember hearing a flute solo on a tune by Them (with Van Morrison) when I was about 16.” Dunning recalls, “and it really used to send me. But jazz became my love.” So it’s not surprising that Dunning’s influences would include both classical master James Galway and jazz great Herbert Laws. But it was after hearing Micheal Ó Domhnaill and Kevin Burke playing duets at a music festival in Birmingham, Alabama that Dunning realized what direction his own music might take. “I jammed with Micheal there,” he says, “and that really made me want to write music that had on Irish flavor but with the freedom of jazz.”

From collaborating with bodhran player Tommy Hayes in a Celtic-tinged improvisational project called Puck Fair, Dunning and O Domhnaill settled into their long-term musical relationship in Nightnoise.

Dunning has also collaborated with keyboardist Jeff Johnson since the late 1980s, recording several albums together, including The Music of Celtic Legends – the Bard and the Warrior (1997), Byzantium (2000), and Patrick (2004).

His music appeared on the soundtrack to Gangs of New York, Windhorse, and The Outcasts.

Share

Artist Profiles: Markku Lepistö

Markku Lepistö – Photo by Tania Arcieri

Markku Lepistö, from southern Ostrobothnia, is one of Finland’s most dynamic accordionists, having been playing folk and dance music since age five.

A graduate of the Sibelius Academy Folk Music Department, where he studied kantele, woodwinds, double bass and fiddle, Markku was a member of the now defunct ensemble Pirnales, has played with the group Progmatics, more recently in a duo with Aldargaz mandolinist Petri Hakala and in the klezmer group Doina Klezmer. Markku joined Värttinä just before the Vihma recordings.

In 2011, Lepistö released an album titled Accordion Samurai along with four other accordion colleagues: Riccardo Tesi (Italy), Bruno Le Tron (France), Didier Laloy (Belgium) and David Munnelly (Ireland).

A follow-up Samurai album titled Te featured David Munnelly; Riccardo Tesi (Italy), Simone Bottasso (Italy) and Kepa Junkera (Spain).

Discography:

Silta (Aito Records, 2002)
Polku (2006)
Tupasoitto (2009)
Accordion Samurai (Homerecords, 2011)
Samurai Accordion – Te (Visage Music, 2017)

Share

Artist Profiles: Antonio Machin

Antonio Machín

One of the early legends of Cuban music, Antonio Machín led his own acoustic band in the 1920s, and eventually emigrated from the island, first to the United States, and finally to Madrid (Spain), just before World War II. Machín lived and recorded in the Spanish capital for several decades until his death in 1977.

Antonio Lugo Machín was born in 1900 in Sagua La Grande, in the province of Santa Clara, on the northern part of the island nation of Cuba. His mother was a colored Cuban and his father was European, a Spaniard from Galicia.

Machín’s early years were very difficult and he was forced to work at the age of eight to help pay some of his father’s numerous debts. One day, he was in the street by his house singing quietly. A priest that walked by heard him and immediately encouraged him to sing at a party. He sang Ave María by Schubert. From that day on Machín was determined to become a singer.

Machín’s ambition was to sing opera, but this was very difficult for a poor colored Cuban at the beginning of the 20th century. Thus, he focused on singing popular music.

At the age of twenty he had become the idol of the young women in his neighborhood. Machín would sing them serenades under the moonlight. He worked as a mason. Machín also traveled across Cuba as a singer. In 1926 he moved to Havana were he met a Spaniard named señor José, who helped him get a contract to sing at a small cafe in Havana.

Living in Havana, Machín was exposed to many kinds of music. He joined several quartets and sextets. One of the most important ones was Trío Luna, which he formed together with Enrique Peláez and Manuel Luna. In 1926 Machín formed a duo with the famous guitar player and singer Miguel Zaballa. They performed at various night clubs and live radio shows. Their fame was such that in 1927 Don Azpiazu, leader of Orquesta Habana, added the duo to the performances held at the Casino Nacional de La Habana.

At the age of 27 Machín became a vocalist at the Casino Nacional of Havana, the first singer of color ever to do so. The Casino Nacional was the place where you could find upper class Cuban and American land owners, movie stars, millionaires and diplomats, who danced and sought romance.

In 1929 Machín and his friend Daniel Sánchez founded a sextet that also included Alejandro “Mulatón” Rodríguez. They made several recordings. A year later, Machín toured the United States with the Casino Nacional orchestra. On April 26 the band played at the Palace Theater in New York. Machín sang El Manisero (The Peanut Vendor), the first Cuban song to become a national hit in the United States.

In New York, Machín proved to be a prolific artist, recording over 400 songs with the legendary Cuarteto Machín, comprised of claves, tres, guitar, and trumpet. Although the members of the band varied, Machín was frequently accompanied by his old friend, guitarist Daniel Sánchez, who sang duets with him on the majority of the recordings.

Machín is one of the finest Cuban bolero singers that ever lived. Several compilations of his work, covering various phases of Machín’s career are available from various Spanish and American labels.

Discography;

Las 50 Mejores Grabaciones de Antonio Machín en Discophon (1903-1977)
Tributo Al Bolero Cubano
Antonio Machín, Sus 20 Grandes Éxitos

Share

Artist Profiles: V.K. Raman

V.K. Raman

V.K. Raman, one of the leading flutists in the Carnatic style of Music, started learning flute at the age of 9. At the age of 15, he started giving full-fledged concerts. Since then Raman has performed in many prestigious organizations in India and abroad. Raman has had the privilege of performing flute duets along with his Guru, the great flute maestro Dr. N. Ramani on several occasions.

Enchanting and transcendent music flows from Raman’s flute as he has mastered superb blowing and fingering technique by which the tonal quality is at its peak. He plays the krithis in Gayaki (Vocal) style, combining it with the unique mind-boggling possibilities of his instrument. He has also performed Jugalbandhi, Fusion Concerts and has been very
successful as a Music Composer. He is a Grade I composer of All India Radio and Doordarshan. He has scored music for many Audio / Video Albums,CD’s and Dance/Theatre productions in India and abroad.

‘Surmani’ Raman , an ‘A’ Grade artiste of All India Radio has captivated the audiences in a number of India’s major music
festivals and toured widely in USA, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Sri Lanka and Japan.

Discography

Raman has released more than 50 albums,.

Mohana Rama
Swara Raga Sudha
Magic Bamboo
Divine Melodies
Sur Milan (Sagar Music, with Dr. Suma Sudhindra on the Veena)
Sur Sangam (Sagar Music, with Nanda Kishore Muley on Santoor)
Classical Indian Flute (Inner Splendor Media, 2007)
Classical Indian Flute & Violin With Virtuoso Brothers V.K. Raman and Mysore V. Srikanth (Inner Splendor Media, 2008)
Classical Indian Flute and Violin Vol. II With Virtuoso Brothers V.K. Raman and Mysore V. Srikanth (Inner Splendor Media, 2008)
Confluence (Felmay, 2009)
Navarasa – Eternal Emotions

Share

Artist Profiles: Gregory Isaacs

Gregory Isaacs

Gregory Isaacs ranked as one of the true superstars of reggae music, with a career that spanned three decades and legions of loyal fans worldwide. His humble upbringing began in Kingston, Jamaica where he was born in 1951.

Like many before him, he started his singing career in the early 1970s by working with a number of producers and entering various local talent competitions. His first records of notice were on Rupie Edwards’ Success label.

To gain artistic freedom and financial control of his own work, Isaacs started his own African Museum label and shop in Kingston in 1973 with singer Errol Dunkley. In order to finance his label, he continued to work with other producers such as Winton “Niney The Observer” Holness, Gussie Clark, Lloyd Campbell, and Alvin “GG” Ranglin for the rest of the 1970s.

His early recordings were responsible for the development of his singing style, love ballads with his cool relaxed nasal style, as well as his ease with songs about social protest. By 1980, Gregory had become one of the top stars in the reggae world, touring the UK and US extensively.

He signed with Virgin Records’ Frontline label and gained a considerable name for himself outside the reggae world. Isaacs continued recording singles on his African Museum label in Jamaica – ultimately those singles were gathered for the Virgin releases. His preeminence during this period was confirmed by the nickname of “Cool Ruler,” given to him by critics and fans after the title of one his albums.

By the mid 1980s, he had a number of personal and financial problems and ended up in a Jamaican prison for a short time. After his release, he began work recording for scores for different producers, which included some of his best material for King Jammys, Bobby Digital, and Steely and Clevie.

His 1988 landmark album, Red Rose for Gregory, and the single “Rumors” brought him to worldwide prominence again. Since then he has recorded a number of albums, scores of singles, and has continued to tour extensively worldwide.

Over the years, Gregory Isaacs worked hard to keep his legendary status and reputation in the reggae business second to none.

The Artists Only! label released Gregory Isaacs – Live at Maritime Hall in conjunction with 2B1 label the fall of 1998 to a great response.

Turn Down the Lights (1999) was produced by the legendary Lloyd “King Jammys”.

Come Take My Hand (2006) was produced by Emmanuel (Rude) Davies For Rude Productions. The 17-track set includes 14 vocal pieces and 3 bonus instrumental versions on CD, and 12 tracks on vinyl. Musicians on this album include Sly and Robbie, Carlton (Bubblers) Ogilvie, Earl (Broad Finger) Francis, Paul (Jazzwad) Yebuah, Jermaine (Ajang) Ford, to name a few.

Gregory Isaacs died October 25, 2010 in London, England, UK.

Share

Artist Profiles: hartyga

Khartyga

Khartyga or Hartyga, meaning hawk in the Tuvan language, is a band from the Republic of Tuva in Siberia, Russia.

Comprised of professional musicians, Hartyga has performed with the Republic of Tuva’s wind orchestra, the Tuva Folk Ensemble and the symphony orchestra.

Band members include Nachyn Choreve on throat singing, vocals, igil, doshpuluur; Albert Kuvezin on throat singing, vocals, guitar; Nayys Dulush on drums; Sergek Sandyk on saxophone; and Angyr-ool Ondar on bass.

Discography:

Agitator (Sketis Music, 2018)

Share

Artist Profiles: Sarband

Sarband

Sarband The group’s name Sarband stems from Persian and Arabic, and denotes an improvised coupling of two parts within a musical suite. Bulgarian musician Vladimir Ivanoff founded Ensemble Sarband in Germany, in 1986 and has been pursuing an archaeology of complex connections ever since.

Above all, Sarband endeavors to show all possible connections between European music, and Islamic and Jewish music-culture. Both sensitively and intensely, Sarband celebrates the symbiotic relationship between the Middle East and the West.

Discography

Mystères (Jaro Medien, 1989)
Cantico (Jaro Medien, 1990)
Music of the Emperors (Jaro Medien, 1992)
Llibre Vermell de Montserrat (Jaro Medien, 1994)
Sephardic Songs (Jaro Medien, 1995)
Sepharad (Deutsche Harmonia Mundi, 1996)
Fallen Women (Jaro Medien, 1998)
Danse Gothique (Jaro Medien, 2000)
Alla Turca Oriental Obsession (Jaro Medien, 2001)
Dream of the Orient (Jaro Medien, 2003)
Pilgrims of the Soul (Jaro Medien, 2003)
Sacred Bridges (Jaro Medien, 2005)
The Waltz (Archiv Produktion, 2005)
Satie En Orient (Doumtak, 2005)
Vox Feminae ( World of Sarband, 2006)
The Arabian Passion according to J. S. Bach (Jaro Medien, 2009)
All Roads lead Home – Christmas Compilation (The Muse Alliance, 2016)
What the World Needs Now (The Muse Alliance, 2018)

Share

Artist Profiles: Savina Yannatou

Savina Yannatou – Photo by Maarit Kytoharju

Savina Yanatou was born on March 16, 1959 in Athens, Greece. She studied song with G. Georgilopoulou at the National Conservatory and with S. Sakkas at the “Workshop of Vocal Art”, in Athens. She attended postgraduate studies (Performance and Communication Skills) at Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London, with a scholarship awarded by the Mousigetis Foundation.

Her professional career as a singer started while still a student, when she sang for the very successful and until today highly respected daily program of the Greek National Radio 3 Lillipoupoli under the direction of the famous composer Manos Hadjidakis.

After that, she performed entechno (artful) Greek songs, collaborating with well-known Greek composers and also covered contemporary opera and music. Later, she focused on medieval, renaissance and Baroque music.

In the early nineties she started experimenting with different vocal techniques in free improvisation. Parallel to that, she started a collaboration with a number of Thessaloniki-based musicians, who at that occasion founded the group Primavera en Salonico, under the direction of Kostas Vomvolos.

Savina Yannatou

With Primavera en Salonico, Savina recorded – and later performed – “Primavera en Salonico”-Sephardic Folk Songs from Salonica-, “Songs from the Mediterranean” , the “Virgin Maries of the World” and “Terra Nostra” (all released by Lyra-Musurgia Graeca). The “Virgin Maries of the World” was released in the USA by Sounds True under the name Mediterranea. ECM released Terra Nostra.

Savina Yannatou has also composed her own music and songs (a.o. “Rosa das Rosas” and “Dreams of the mermaid” both released by Musurgia Graeca), as well as music for theater (Medea, performed in 1997 by the National Greek Theatre), video art and dance theater. She has released and/or participated in numerous albums.

Savina Yannatou – photo by Marco de Luca

Savina has also been involved with theater and dance as a co-producer and singer-actor in dance-theater plays that include traditional songs, myths and fairy tales of the Mediterranean.

Savina Yannatou and Primavera en Salonico have been giving concerts all over the world since 1996. This includes the whole of Europe, the United States, Israel and Taiwan, at some of the most prestigious venues.

Discography:

Σαμποτάζ – Sabotage (Lyra, 1981)
’62 (Lyra, 1983)
Η Ηχώ Και Τα Λάθη Της – The Echo And The Mistakes (Sirius, 1985)
Οδυσσέας Στο Ποτάμι – Ulysses In The River (Sirius, 1985)
Ζει Ο Βασιλιάς Αλέξανδρος; – Is King Alexander Living? (Lyra, 1986)
Μίλα Μου Για Μήλα – Talk to Me Apples (Sirius, 1986)
Νέα Εκδρομή – New Excursion (Lyra, 1986)
Μαρία Ντολόρες Παρελθόν (Sirius, 1990)
Ερωτική Πρόβα – Erotic Rehearsal (Columbia, 1991)
Spring In Thessaloniki (Folk Songs) – Primavera En Salonico (Lyra, 1994)
Masko (Chmantpon, 1994)
Anapnoes – Breath (Lyra, 1997)
Virgin Maries of the World (Lyra, 1999)
Mediterranea: Songs of the Mediterranean (Sounds True, 2000)
Pao Na Po Sto Sinefo (Kinesis Inc., 2002)
Terra Nostra (Lyra, 2003)
Rosa das Rosas (Lyra, 2003)
Traditional Lullabies (Nanourismata, 2003)
Sumiglia (Lyra, 2005)
Tutti Baci (EGE / Warner Music, 2006)
Songs of an Other (ECM, 2008)
Songs of Thessaloniki (ECM, 2015)

Share

Artist Profiles: Wajde Ayub

Wajde Ayub

Wajde Ayub started to sing and play the oud at an early age. He worked for more than 25 years with many of the finest musicians of Aleppo.

A classically trained Syrian mutrib (main vocalist), Wajde Ayub is much-admired for his delightful and impressive renderings of the repertory of Aleppo, one of the eminent cultural centers of the Middle East. This includes wasla, a musical suite that integrates composed and improvised parts; and muwashahat, sung poetry.

Since migrating to the United States in 2017, he has been a leading advocate of Syrian vocal music in his new home. He is enthusiastic about maintaining the ancient musical traditions of Syria – traditions that have been put in danger by the civil war that has ravaged the country.

His performances include layali (melismatic vocalizations) and mawwal (unmetered song). They are suggestive of those of his mentor, the great Sabah Fakhri, and resonate with the musical elation known as tarab, a heightened state of emotion similar to duende in flamenco. His ensemble is composed of a chorus and instrumentalists on ud (lute), violins, cello, nay (flute), qanun (zither), bass, and percussion who are highly respected in the field of Middle Eastern music in the United States.

In addition to performing in the Middle East, he has toured Europe, Latin America and the United States. Ayub was tutored to memorize dozens of classic Arabic compositions, which he performs and improvises during a concert.

Share

Artist Profiles: Guillermo Anderson

Guillermo Anderson

Guillermo Anderson was born February 26, 1962. He was Honduras’s best-known world music artist along with Garifuna musician Aurelio Martinez.

Guillermo was based in the lively Caribbean port of La Ceiba. His band Ceibana infused Afro-Caribbean percussion with contemporary sounds, local rhythms, and the folklore of Honduras’ coastal regions. Performances wee spiced with the merging of Honduran Garífuna rhythms such as “parranda” and “punta” with better-known reggae, salsa and other Caribbean styles.

His concerts celebrated love, nature and everyday life in this part of the Caribbean. As an artist Guillermo played an important role in Honduras bringing awareness on important issues like the protection of the environment, health and literacy. His song “En Mi País” became an alternative national anthem in Honduras. His concert “La Fiesta En El Bosque” The Party In the Forest”, a recording aimed at familiarizing children with rainforest species in danger of extinction gained him a wide children’s audience in Honduras.

Guillermo Anderson and his band Ceibana gained wide recognition and acclaim through their concert performances throughout North, Central and South America, Europe, Taiwan, and Japan.

Guillermo Anderson died on August 6, 2016.

Discography:

Para Los Chiquitos (1986)
En mi país (Colectivartes, 1987)
Retratos (Colectivartes, 1989)
La Fuerza Que Tenés (Colectivartes/Comunica, 1992)
La Fiesta En El Bosque (Colectivartes/Guaymuras, 1994)
En El Patio De Mi Casa (Colectivartes/Comunica, 1995)
Para los Chiquitos (Costa Norte Records, 1995)
Rumor de Mar 1995 (Colectivartes, )
Guillermo Anderson Acústico 1997 (Costa Norte Records, 1997)
Todos Unidos (Costa Norte Records/UNESCO, 2001)
Encarguitos del caribe (2005)
Costa y Calor (2005)
Pobre marinero (2005)
El tesoro que tienes (2006)
Desde el fondo de el mar (2006)
Mujer canción mujer (2006)
Del tiempo y del tropico (2007)
Para los chiquitos, reissue (2008)
El tesoro que tenes (2009)
Lluvia con sol (2012)

Books

Del Tiempo y El Tropico – Honduras Of Time and the Tropics (Koninklijk Instituut Voor De tropen )

Share