Category Archives: Artist Profiles

Artist Profiles: Seckou Keita


Seckou Keita – Photo by Andy Morgan

Seckou Keita was born in 1977 in the green region of Casamance (south of Senegal),. He is a descendant of the Keita family of Kings from Mali.

Seckou’s lineage would normally not allow him to become a jeli (griot), but he was raised by his mother’s family, the Cissokho’s [also known as Sissoko], a well-established griot family in Senegal.

Although a kora player through the jeli tradition, his thirst for music has also made him an outstanding drummer and percussionist.

Seckou started to perform professionally at festivals in Senegal at the age of seven, supporting his famous uncle Solo Cissokho. By the age of 12, he had formed his own group, Coute Diomboulou and was performing throughout the country.

His international career took off in 1996 under the guidance of his uncle Solo Cissokho, living in Scandinavia.

Seckou performed at the Forde festival in Norway with musicians from Norway, India and Cuba. The group combined the traditional music from each of the countries represented to create a new musical style. This led to a tour for the group the following year at the Global Music Festival in India where they performed with Dr L. Subramanian, an internationally renowned violinist and composer.

In 1998, Seckou relocated to the UK where he became a member of Baka Beyond. He performed around Europe (the Czech Republic, Spain, France, Portugal, Greece and of course the UK) in festivals such as Womad and Glastonbury.

He became an indispensable element of most of the African festivals such as Drum Camp, Ace and Tribe of Doris. And has also been greatly in demand for private parties, weddings and first night openings of musicals such as the Lion King in Covent Garden.

In the middle of 2000, Seckou started recording his first album “Baiyo” (meaning Orphan). The album was finally released on June 20t, 2001. Baiyo represents Seckou’s journey from Africa to Europe via India.

He also participated in the ETE project, which released an album in November 2001 and led to a UK tour on March 2002.

In 2001, he impressed audiences as a solo performer at WOMAD Las Palmas (Spain), the Sacred Music Festival (Ireland) and at the Jazz Café (London) for the Africa night broadcasted by BBC Radio 3. This wassuch a success that he was nominated by the listeners of Radio 3 for the World Music Award 2001.

Seckou also created Jamoral, which was the first step to modernizing kora music with a groove dance approach. The band performed at different festivals such as WOMAD Reading, the Edinburgh Festival and the Epicuriales (France).

As a musicians family, the Cissokhos have always dreamt of being united to carry on the powerful tradition throughout the world and to introduce in its modern form. This dream was first mentioned by Solo the patriarch of the family Solo Cissokho and was called Jalikunda (the House of Griots).

In 2002, Seckou carried on this idea by inviting 4 members of his family to tour all over UK in renowned festivals such as Glastonbury (Jazz/World Stage), Womad festival and Window of the World where the band performed alongside Cheikh Lo and Papa Wemba.

This was such a success that Seckou decided to produce the first family album, <a

href=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00009AQMW/105-2850599-3152441?ie=UTF8&amp;tag=musidelmund-20&amp;linkCode=xm2&amp;camp=1789&amp;creativeASIN=B00009AQMW”>Lindiane</a>, which was released in February 2003.

In 2004, he began working with Juldeh Camara, the monocord fiddle or riti player from The Gambia who later hit the big time with Justin Adams and Robert Plant.

A new ‘quintet’ began to form around Seckou which included the bassist Davide Mantonvani, Seckou’s 17-year-old brother Surhata Susso and the classically-trained violinist Samy Bishai. Mandé, Arab, Indian, pan-African, jazzy – a wonderful mix of sounds was present on the group’s first album Tama Silo: Afro-Mandinka Soul, released in 2006. Seckou then took the quintet back home to showcase this new blend to family and friends in Senegal, where they were joined by his sister Binta Susso.

Their next album, The Silimbo Passage released in 2008. The Seckou Keita Quintet toured incessantly during this period, notching up more than 200 concerts in over 40 countries.

Seckou also became involved with the WOMAD festival as a performer and a workshop host, traveling to Singapore, Australia and the Canary Islands, and played at WOMAD UK with Catrin Finch in 2014.

He is a regular performer in Do You Speak Djembe?, an ambitious percussion extravangaza series in France and Switzerland created by Sewabeats founder Doug Manuel, and French composer Philip Fournier, the lead conductor of the Lyons Symphony Orchestra.

His previous albums Miro and The Silimbo Passage hit No.1 in the European world music charts. The collaboration has since given over 130 performances throughout Europe, the US and Canada and garnered huge critical acclaim from fans and critics alike.

His solo album, 22 Strings, was released in May 2015.

In 2016, Seckou was invited to play with Damon Albarn’s African Express with the Orchestra of Syrian Musicians.

Seckou Keita and Catrin Finch

The second collaboration with Catrin Finch was SOAR, released in 2018.

In 2018, Keita formed AKA Trio, together with Italian guitarist Antonio Forcione and Brazilian percussionist Adriano Adewale. The group released an album titled Joy in 2018.

Discography:

Baka Beyond Presents Eté ‎(March Hare Music, 2001)
Mali (ARC Music, 2003)
Afro Mandinka Soul: Tama Silo (ARC Music, 2006)
The Silimbo Passage (World ArtVentures, 2009)
Miro (Astar Artes Recordings, 2012)
Clychau Dibon, with Catrin Finch (Astar Artes/Mwldan, 2013)
22 Strings – 22 Cordes (ARC Music, 2015)
Transparent Water, with Omar Sosa (Otá Records, 2017)
Soar, with Catrin Finch (Bendigedig, 2018)
Joy ( Bendigedig, 2018)

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Artist Profiles: Enya

Enya in 2015 – Photo by Simon Fowler

Eithne Patricia Ní Bhraonáin, better known as Enya, was born on May 17, 1961 in County Donegal, Ireland. She was brought up speaking Gaeilge (Irish). Her name, Enya is a transliteration of the Gaeilge pronunciation of Eithne. “Because of that, my alphabet pronunciation is different to that of someone who speaks English as a first language,” she explains. “I enjoy the sounds of language, it’s great to be able to sing in a very old language like Gaeilge but still be able to get the message across through the melody and performance.”

Enya studied classical music at Milford College. Her intention was to be involved in music but she didn’t know what direction she would take. After she left college, she was invited by sound engineer and producer Nicky Ryan and his partner, visual artist and lyricist Roma Ryan, who were then managing the group Clannad, to join the group on a temporary basis.

“I had come from studying classical music at boarding school and was fiercely independent,” remembers Enya. “I wasn’t really involved as a member of the group. Nicky wanted me as keyboard player and as another vocal texture in the band which I agreed to. I talked a lot about music with Nicky and this is when he had the idea of the choir of one (multi-tracked vocals by the same singer that sounds like a celestial choir). He was so into experimenting with all types of music.”

This all led to the creative partnership of Nicky, Enya and Roma in 1982. The first project the trio worked on was a soundtrack for David Puttnam’s 1984 film The Frog Prince. Two years later, Enya provided the entire soundtrack to the BBC television documentary series The Celts. “Initially they wanted one composer for each episode but then we put forward March Of The Celts – they came back saying we want to you to write all of them,” says Enya. “It was a big risk factor on their side, because I was just someone who had studied music – there was no guarantee what kind of music I was going to write.”

Enya in the 1980s

With songs performed both in English and Gaeilge, Enya produced a set of enchanting, ethereal pieces that would later be collected on her eponymous debut album, released in 1987.

While her debut album failed to hit the popularity charts, it attracted Warner Brothers’ chairman, Rob Dickins, who quickly signed Enya, much to the surprise of his colleagues who had little faith that Enya’s ethereal music would sell in a marketplace dominated by pop acts such as Kylie Minogue and Rick Astley. But Dickins said “Sometimes the company is there to make money, and sometimes it’s there to make music.”

Enya made her WEA (Warner/Elektra/Atlantic) debut in 1988 with the acclaimed album Watermark. “We and the record company were completely taken aback by the reaction to Watermark,” admits Enya. “How could you tell? There wasn’t any music like that out there in the late-Eighties.” Watermark would go on to sell in excess of 11 million copies, earn Enya two Brit Award nominations and delivered a UK number one single with Orinoco Flow. “Orinoco Flow” was a hit in every country in which it was released.

Treating Enya as very much a personal project, Dickins respected Enya’s desire for creative independence. “It was a condition of the signing that we would be creatively independent and for that reason we have never felt that we couldn’t do something and be different for the right reasons; because the music dictated it,” says Enya. “The only real pressure we get is when [Warner] ask if there will be an album out this year or not.”.

In 1991, Enya released the 12 million selling album Shepherd Moons which made its debut at the peak of the UK album chart and stayed on the US charts for 199 consecutive weeks. Shepherd Moons won Enya her first Grammy for Best New Age Album.

Four years later, in 1995, The Memory Of Trees earned another Grammy and had 9 million sales and her first No.1 record in Australia, Spain and Sweden.

A highly successful ‘Best Of’ collection titled “Paint The Sky With Stars” followed in 1997, featuring Top 20 hits such as ‘Orinoco Flow,’ ‘Caribbean Blue,’ ‘Book Of Days’ and ‘Anywhere Is’.

A Day Without Rain came out in 2000. Enya said, “The title refers to the mood on a particularly peaceful day on which there was no rain. We do get a lot of rain in Ireland in all seasons! We had had a run of days where it had done nothing but rain. Then one day the sun came out. It was then that I wrote the title track, so what else could I call it?

It took Enya and her colleagues 5 years to make A Day Without Rain. “As I do all the vocals and harmonies, and we do not sample, this obviously takes up a considerable amount of time,” she explained. “Also, as everything you hear on the album is played by me, that too becomes a very long process. Therefore, we are inclined to take much longer in the studio than other people.”

In 2001, film director Peter Jackson requested that Enya contribute two songs to the soundtrack of Lord Of The Rings – The Fellowship Of The Ring. The result was ‘May It Be” and “Aniron … (I Desire).” Enya, Nicky and Roma were all nominated for an Oscar and a Golden Globe for ‘May It Be’.

Enya’s sixth album was “Amarantine” (2005), recorded in Ireland. In addition to one song in Japanese, Enya sings three songs written in a customised language invented by Roma. Amarantine, released in 2005, was more classically shaded and less obviously pop influenced in its textures than its predecessors. It contained a number of songs with lyrics in Loxian, a language created by Roma Ryan, which she has written about in the book Water Shows The Hidden Heart.

And Winter Came was released in 2008. The album’s twelve songs are an atmospheric and enchanting evocation of the changing landscape of winter and the cheer that Christmas brings. Once again the album was recorded in their own studio and is the result of the longstanding creative triade that was formed back in 1982 with producer/arranger Nicky Ryan and lyricist Roma Ryan. Although “And Winter Came” was planned as a Christmas project, the album began to take shape a wider seasonal theme soon became evident. “I always wanted to do a Christmas album, but as we began recording I didn’t feel it was right to impose a Christmas theme on certain songs,” explains Enya.

Enya’s seventh studio album also contains two traditional Christmas songs, ‘O Come, O Come, Emmanuel’ and a new version of ‘Silent Night’ (Oíche Chiuín), a song Enya sang in Gaeilge that proved hugely popular over the years. “It was exciting to re-live Silent Night because I sung that twenty years ago,” enthused Enya. “It is re-released every year in America and it was so nice to go back and do something different with it.” The new version of Oíche Chiuín (Chorale) incorporates the “choir of one.”

“Dark Sky Island’ was released in 2015. “This album has a theme of journeys,” stated Enya. “Journeys to the island; through the length of a lifetime; through history, through emotions; and journeys across great oceans. So although it’s not a ‘themed’ album, as such, we nevertheless have an underlying connection between songs.”

Dark Sky Island refers to the island of Sark, one of the Channel Islands,” explained Roma. “It was the first island to be designated as a dark sky area. The community decided collectively to adjust their way of living in order to accommodate clear, unspoiled night-views of the heavens. There are no cars on the island and all of the lighting is designed so that it doesn’t interfere with the observation of the stars. So many stars can be seen that it can be difficult to pick out familiar constellations.”

Discography:

Enya (BBC, 1987), re-released as The Celts (WEA/Reprise, 1992)
Watermark (WEA/Geffen, 1988)
Shepherd Moons (WEA/Reprise, 19921
The Memory of Trees (WEA/Reprise, 1995)
A Day Without Rain (WEA/Reprise, 2000)
Amarantine (Warner Bros./Reprise, 2005)
And Winter Came… (Warner Bros./Reprise, 2008)
Dark Sky Island (Warner Bros./Reprise, 2015)

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Artist Profiles: Adriano Adewale

Adriano Adewale

Brazilian percussionist and composer Adriano Adewale was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil. For many years he was known as Adriano Pinto, a colonial name he received at birth. After his visit to Africa (Nigeria and the Benin Republic), searching for his roots, he changed his name to Adriano Adewale Itauna, respectively from the Yoruba-Nigeria and Tupi Guarani-Brazil. Adewale means royal child who come back home and Itauna means black rock.

Music has always been part of Adriano’s life. His father, an aficionado percussionist, used to play drums during carnival, and drumming was also a big feature of family gatherings. Adriano’s maternal grandfather used to play clarinet, his uncle accordion and every weekend they would meet and play ‘Chorinho music’, a style also known as Brazilian Jazz.

Two uncles played a great influence on Adriano’s career; Claudio Silva, who was a virtuoso ‘pandeiro’ player, and Joao Nicanor, a singer-songwriter, guitarist and actor.

While working as an actor, Adriano took piano and percussion lessons, followed by a degree/BA in classical music-percussion at the University of Sao Paulo State. In April 2000, Adriano moved to the UK, quickly establishing himself as a respected percussionist, composer, educator and band leader.

In 2002, Adriano was introduced to Italian guitarist Antonio Forcione and soon became part of the Antonio Forcione Quartet.

 In 2004, Adriano went to Africa (Nigeria-Benin) in search for his roots and also to study music with great master percussion players. The trip deeply changed Adriano’s playing and understanding of his own culture in many aspects.

Upon his return, he went on to study further, this time a Masters course in Music/Performance at SOAS – School of Oriental and African Studies in London. His first UK band, Sambura, released the album: Cru in 2006.

In 2008, Adriano released his first solo album, the critically acclaimed Sementes (Segue records) produced by Gilad Atmov. It featured the ‘Adriano Adewale Group’, an international line up of musicians, including Australian born double bass player Nathan Riki Thomson, Senegalese Kora player Kadially Kouyate and Brazilian flutist and saxophonist Marcelo Andrade.

In 2012, he released The Vortex Sessions, a collaboration with the leading Brazilian piano player Benjamin Taubkin. This was followed by Raizes (Caboclos Records) in 2014, his second solo album with the ‘Adriano Adewale Group’, produced by Chris Kimsin (Rolling Stones, Jimmy Cliff).

Adewale is also the mentor behind Catapluf’s Musical Journey, a concert that introduces young audiences to Jazz, commissioned by the EFG London Jazz Festival. With one CD released,  Catapluf’s Musical Journey has toured many parts of Europe including Norway, Sweden, France and Scotland.

Adriano’s characteristic sounds come from organic materials, connected to nature. They are made out of wood, clay, metal, skins and the philosophy behind it is the connection with the four classic elements: water, earth, air and fire. Playing percussion is about making music.

Over the years, Adriano has worked as a curator and artistic director. From 2009-2010 Adriano was an artist in residence at the Lakeside Theatre, Colchester. He also curated ‘Festival Brasileiro’, which involved theater, dance, music and fine arts from Brazil, and challenged presiding conceptions of Brazilian culture. As part of the festival, he arranged for and conducted the Essex Youth Jazz Ensembles.

As a composer, Adriano has been commissioned by Bath Music Festival to write a new music piece for the opening of 2011 and 2012’s Bath festivals. He was also a composer/music director of dance-theatre piece Ballroom of Joys and Sorrows, a collaboration with Kate Flatt (original choreographer of Les Miserables). He has composed for dance companies, including Phoenix dance company 2016, with whom he wrote the score for ‘Undivided lovers’, a dance piece based on and celebrating Shakespeare’s 400 anniversary.

Education is part of Adriano’s life. He is often writing new music to collaborate with primary school pupils both singing and playing instruments.

Adriano has performed with leading word musicians such as the great singer Bobby Macferrin, and pianist Joanna McGregor with whom he still works and play as duo, combining classical, jazz and contemporary classical music.

Adriano Adewale with AKA Trio at WOMEX – Photo by Quique Curbelo

In 2018, Adriano formed AKA Trio, together with Italian guitarist Antonio Forcione and Senegalese kora player Seckou Keita. The trio released an album titled Joy in 2018.

Discography:

Sementes (2008)
The Vortex Sessions (Adventure Music, 2012)
Raizes (Caboclos Records, 2014)
Joy (Bendigedig , 2018)

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Artist Profiles: The Quebe Sisters

The Quebe sisters

Grace, Sophia, and Hulda Quebe grew up in North Texas. Although they initially studied classical violin, in 1998 the sisters changed to western fiddle when they visited the North Texas State Fair in Denton, Texas. There, they first listened to Texas-style fiddling. Later, they met Joey and Sherry McKenzie, national fiddle champions and organizers of the Bob Wills Fiddle Festival & Contest in Greenville, Texas.

The Quebe sisters became students of the McKenzies and the Quebe family relocated to Burleson, Texas in Tarrant County. The sisters studied with the McKenzies for several years and Joey McKenzie became their arranger and a longtime member of their band.

In 2003, The Quebe Sisters released their first album, Texas Fiddlers, supported by Joey McKenzie on rhythm guitar, Mark Abbott on bass and steel guitarist Tom Morrell.

The Quebe Sisters in 2008

The Quebe Sisters are currently based in Dallas. The sisters and their band present a distinctive triple fiddle and three-part harmony mix of western swing, jazz-influenced swing, country, Texas-style fiddling, and Western music.

We differentiate our music as ‘Progressive Western Swing’ from simply ‘Western Swing’ because we aren’t trying to sound just like Bob Wills,” Grace Quebe explains. “Instead, we continue his vision, playing the style he pioneered in an authentic way by incorporating new genres and songs, interpreting them using our own unique voice through Country instrumentation.”

The band continues the traditions once found in Texas dance halls and honky-tonks. Grace adds, “To us, preserving the tradition of Western Swing isn’t about keeping something alive like a relic. Western Swing has always been about innovation.”

Discography:

Texas Fiddlers (2003)
Timeless (FiddleTone Records, 2007)
Every Which-A-Way (FiddleTone Records, 2014)
The Quebe Sisters (independent, 2019)

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Artist Profiles: Cristiana Águas

Cristiana Água

Cristiana Águas is one of the most influential voices of the new fado generation. A singer with an international career, she studied chant and vocal technique, as well as Portuguese guitar and accordion.

She won several prizes in different Fado contests throughout Portugal and she provided the voice for the character representing the iconic Fado singer Amália Rodrigues (as a 20-year old) in the film Amália Rodrigues, produced by Valentim de Carvalho, exhibited in 24 countries and festivals like Cannes Festival and Festival Do Rio, Rio de Janeiro.

She appeared in most well-known Fado houses in Lisbon, like Luso, Faia, Adega Machado and regularly sings in Clube de Fado in Lisbon. She has performed in different countries such as Brazil, Netherlands, United Kingdom, France and Russia. She was also the host of the Japanese TV show JIN in Portugal, promoting Portuguese culture in Japan.

In 2014, Cristiana released her first album, Cristiana Águas, produced by Pierre Aderne, recorded in Portugal and Brazil. The album includes a stellar cast of Portuguese musicians (Luís Guerreiro, Carlos Leitão, António Quintino, Henrique Leitão) and Brazilians (Jorge Helder, Ricardo Silveira, Jurim Moreira, Dadi, An Oak, Golden Nilson, Gustavo Roriz)

Discography:

Cristiana Águas (2014)

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Artist Profiles: Monika Njava

Monika Njava – Photo by Bir Images

Percussionist and vocalist Monika Njava grew up on the island of Madagascar in the southwest port of Morondava.

Celebrated across Madagascar as a national diva, Monika Njava was a lead singer in the award-winning group Njava, recording two critically acclaimed albums for EMI’s Hemispheres label.

She has recorded with best-selling act Deep Forest and continues to tour with the band. In 2012 she released a solo world pop album, Haizina, with musicians from three continents.

Always exploring new musical territory, in 2014 she recorded Island Jazz with bass virtuoso Linley Marthe. Island Jazz mixes traditional Malagasy music and contemporary jazz.

Monika sings in several Malagasy dialects. She draws on folktales and everyday village life for her lyrics. She also addresses contemporary themes affecting her country, such as corruption, environmental devastation, and the empowerment of women.

She is a member of the highly-respected supergroup Toko Telo. Her colleagues are two of Madagascar’s finest musicians: D’Gary and Régis Gizavo.

Discography:

From South Madagascar, with Njava (Sushi Records, 1997)
Vetse , with Njava (EMI Hemisphere, 1999)
Source, with Njava (EMI Hemisphere, 2001)
Haizina ( Anio Records, 2012)
Island Jazz ( Anio Records, 2014)
Toy Raha Toy, with Toko Telo (Anio Records, 2017)
Diavola, with Toko Telo (Anio Records, 2018)

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Artist Profiles: Carlos Malta

Carlos Malta at EXIB 2016 in Portugal – Photo by Angel Romero

Carlos Malta was born February 25, 1960 in Brazil. A master of flutes and other wind instruments, he has been described as The Wind Sculptor. Carlos plays piccolo, flute, fife, indigenous flutes, clarinet, and saxophone, among others.

He began playing professionally at the age of eighteen, performing with musicians such as Johnny Alf, Antonio Carlos & Jocáfi and Maria Creuza. In 1981 he joined Hermeto Pascoal, collaborating with him until 1993, when he began his solo career.

Carlos also performed with Egberto Gismonti, Pat Metheny, Gil Evans, Marcus Miller, Charlie Haden, Wagner Tiso, Laércio de Freitas and Nico Assumpção.

Carlos Malta at EXIB 2016 in Portugal – Photo by Angel Romero

He frequently acts as a studio musician, having participated in albums by Guinga, Lenine, Sergio Ricardo, Leila Pinheiro, Marcus Suzano, Paralamas do Sucesso, Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil (on the album São João Vivo, 2001).

In 1993, he teamed up with Swiss cellist Daniel Pezzotti to record the album “Rainbow”, competing for the 1995 Sharp Award.

He has participated as an instructor in festivals in Brazil and abroad since 1994. That year, he founded the groups Coreto Urbano (varied formation) and Pife Muderno (Carlos Malta, Andrea Ernest Dias, Marcos Suzano, Oscar Bolão and Durval Pereira).

In 1998 he released his first solo CD called “The Wind Sculptor”. The following year, the album “Carlos Malta and Pife Muderno” (1999) came out.

Carlos Malta at EXIB 2016 in Portugal – Photo by Angel Romero

In 2003 participated in the CD Os Bambas da Flauta, released by Kuarup.

Discography:

Hermeto Pascoal e Grupo, with Hermeto Pascoal (Som da Gente, 1982)
Lagoa da Canoa, with Hermeto Pascoal (Som da Gente, 1984)
Brasil Universo, with Hermeto Pascoal (Som da Gente, 1986)
Só não toca quem não quer, with Hermeto Pascoal (Som da Gente, 1987)
Festa dos Deuses, with Hermeto Pascoal (Polygram, 1992)
Instrumental no CCBB, with Laércio de Freitas (1993)
Rainbow, with Daniel Pezzoti (1993)
O Escultor do Vento (1998)
Carlos Malta e Pife Muderno (Rob Digital, 1999)
Pixinguinha – Alma e Corpo (2000)
Pimenta (500 Anos De Som, 2000)
Mapa (Tratore, 2005)
Wonderland (Edge Music, 2006)
After The Carnaval (Stunt Records, 2009)
Na Paleta do Pintor (Tratore, 2009)
Leve o Que Quiser (Tratore, 2015)
Samba Noir (Tratore, 2015)
O Mar Amor – Canções de Caymmi (Deckdisc, 2016)
Dreamland (Stunt Records, 2017)
Besouros (Deckdisc, 2017)
Alabê Ketujazz (Tratore, 2018)
Sertão do Mar (Madame Bobage production, 2019)

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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.

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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)

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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

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