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Artist Profiles: Tinariwen

Tinariwen

Tinariwen (originally Taghreft Tinariwen, or “edification of the lands”) became known for vocalizing the political plight of endangered nomads. Their music spoke to the Tuareg or Kel Tamashek, appealing for a political awakening of consciousness.

For a century, the tribes of the southern Sahara searched the barren landscape for every weapon available to maintain hope in the midst of ethnic cleansing and public executions. With the dawn of the 21st Century, the Kel Tamashek turned to the global circuit. Musicians are the modern warriors. And lyrics have changed to focus on suffering, love, and hope. A Tinariwen song claims, “If I could sing so that those in London could hear, then the whole world would hear my song.”

Although Tinariwen formed in 1982, they remained underground (Mali and Algeria banned the political lyrics) until the group moved to the Malian capital of Bamako in 1999. There, the ten members drew on a rebel rock sensibility, openly playing their passionate, trance-like Desert Blues. During the first eclipse (and first full moon) of the millennium, Tinariwen performed at The Festival in the Desert. Staged near the ancient ruins of Tamaradant, remote and distant from any visible life, the Festival was an effort to further goals of reconciliation, development, and international awareness.

Reporter Andy Morgan asserted that Tinariwen’s soulful music produced a magical effect on the crowd, causing “the young Tuaregs to stamp and dance with abandon in front of the stage. These men were heroes and mentors.” The ten band members are indeed the pride of the Tuareg people. Experiences in battle have created many legends. Kheddou is said to have received 17 bullet wounds after leading several raids, armed only with a guitar on his back and a Kalashnikov in his hands. Once, he was doused in gasoline, owing his life to a faulty lighter.

After witnessing his father’s murder at the hands of Malian soldiers, a drought forced Ibrahim to join a training camp in southern Libya, where Ghadaffi made promises to help the Tamashek cause. In between classes about revolution, Islamism, and guerrilla warfare, Ibrahim smoked cigarettes and played music with Hassan and Intayedan (who has since passed away). Upon hearing the music of Bob Marley, Bob Dylan, John Lennon, and Moroccan music for the first time, they discarded traditional instruments like the shepherd flute and tinde drum in favor of the electric guitar, bass, and drums. However, they continued the tradition of Assak, or the traditional male skills of poetic composition, and choral call-and-response. Soon they became musical revolutionaries, creating a new style of music called Tishoumaren, or simply guitar.

The songs of Tinariwen are petitions for political and cultural self-determination. They have become a point of identity for Tuareg youth. In a land void of laptops and TVs, cheap cassette recordings spread hope and resolve. Sick of the suffering caused by armed rebellion, the music of bands like Tinariwen is the new weapon of choice.

Discography:

Ténéré ‎(EMI, 1993)
The Radio Tisdas Sessions (Wayward Records/World Village, 2001)
Amassakoul (/World Village, 2003)
Aman Iman: Water Is Life (Independiente, 2006)
Imidiwan: Companions (World Village, 2009)
Tassili (V2, 2011)
Live At Bouffes Du Nord ‎(2011)
Emmaar (Anti-/Wedge, 2013)
Live In Paris (Anti-/Wedge, 2015)
Elwan (Epitaph, 2017)

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Artist Profiles: Balla Tounkara

Balla Tounkara

Balla Tounkara is a jeli (also known as griot by westerners) and master kora player from Mali, West Africa. He and his band, Groupe Spirit, have been bringing a spicy, eclectic blend of African, Latin, Funk, Reggae and Blues musical styles to enthusiastic audiences across the United States. The band regularly performs in Boston and New York City.

Balla has played with a host of world renowned musical artists, including: Youssou N’Dour, Salif Keita, Jimmy Cliff, Baba Maal, Super Rail Band with Djelimady Tounkara, Ali Farka Toure, Oumou Sangare, Ami Koita, Toumani Diabate, Kine Lam, Adboulaye Diabate, Kandia Kouyate, Habibe Koite, T.J. Wheeler, John Sinclair and others. He regularly speaks out on important, pressing social issues such as AIDS and violence.

In 2002 the band was nominated as Outstanding World Music Act at the Boston Music Awares, and had the track Le Monde est Fou from their CD Be Right included on Putumayo World Music’s compilation From Congo to Cuba.

Discography:

Kelefaba: The Peacemaker – Traditional Songs For The Kora (2002)
Yayoroba (Balla Tounkara Music, 2004)

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Artist Profiles: Lloyd Parks

Lloyd Parks

Lloyd Parks is a reggae vocalist and bass player. He was born in Kingston, Jamaica on May 26, 1948. In the late 1960s, he performed with the Invincibles band (whose members also included Ansell Collins, Sly Dunbar and Ranchie McLean) before teaming up with Wentworth Vernal in The Termites. In 1967, they recorded their first single “Have Mercy Mr. Percy” and then an album “Do the Rocksteady” for Coxsone Dodd’s Studio One label.

After recording “RubUp Push Up” for the Dampa label, Parks and Vernal split up. Parks then briefly joined The Techniques as a replacement for Pat Kelly, recording tracks such as “Say You Love Me”, before embarking on a solo career and later starting his own label, Parks. His second single was the classic “Slaving”, a moving song about the struggles of a working man.

As a solo artist, he recorded a number of songs for Prince Tony Robinson, including “Trenchtown Girl” and “You Don’t Care”. Some of his best-known solo hits include “Officially”, “Mafia” (both 1974), “Girl In The Morning” and “Baby Hang Up The Phone” (both 1975). Parks was a studio bass player, backing many of the greatest reggae artists, including Justin Hinds on Duke Reid’s Treasure Isle label. He was a member of Skin Flesh and Bones along with Ansell Collins on keyboards, Tarzan on keyboards, and Ranchie MacLean on guitar. This group backed Al Brown on his hit “Here I am Baby”, and many other artists. When Skin Flesh and Bones started playing for the Channel One Studios, Parks renamed the band The Revolutionaries.

Parks was also a member of Joe Gibbs’ house band, The Professionals, performing hits such as Althea & Donna’s “Up Town Top Ranking”, and in the 1970s he backed artists including Dennis Brown, the Abyssinians, the Itals, The Gladiators, Culture and Prince Far I. In 1974, he founded the “We the People” Band.

Reggae Down Under captured Lloyd parks performing his greatest two hits – “Mafia” and “Officially” – Up close and personal during his tour of Australia with Dub Syndicate.

Discography:

Officially (Attack, 1974)
Girl In The Morning (Trojan, 1975)
Loving You (Trojan, 1976)
Meet the people (Parks, 1978)
Jeans, Jeans (Tad’s, 1985)
What More Can I Do (1983)
Time A Go Dread (Pressure Sounds)

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Artist Profiles: Eme Alfonso

Eme Alfonso

Eme Alfonso (also known as M) is a Cuban singer-songwriter that fuses Afro-Cuban roots music with electronic sounds, world percussion and rock and Afro-Cuban legends. M was born in 1986 in Havana Playa, Cuba.

Eme grew up in an environment surrounded by musicians. Her parents founded Sintesis, a seminal band that started as a progressive rock group and evolved into the finest Afro-cuban fusion band in Cuba. Eme’s mother, Ele Valdés is a vocalist and plays keyboards; her father Carlos Alfonso is also a vocalist, guitarist and bass player; and her brother X Alfonso is a multi-instrumentalist.

At 7, Eme started her piano and voice studies at Alejandro García-Caturla Conservatory. She made her professional debut at 14, playing with Síntesis.

Eme won the Cubadisco Award (Cuban Music Awards) with her two albums “Señales” and “Eme”. Her third album was produced by the Brazilian producer Alê Siqueira, recorded in Cuba and Brazil. This album will be released in fall 2018.

Eme has been part of important projects to promote the cultural diversity of Cuba like “Para Mestizar” sponsored by UNESCO. She is the Artistic Director of Havana World Music international festival, supported by the Cuban Ministry of Culture.

Discography:

Señales (2008)
Eme (2012)

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Artist Profiles: Frankie Gavin

Frankie Gavin

Frankie Gavin’s virtuosic and fiery fiddle playing has inspired and influenced players of traditional music throughout the world. He is equally compelling as a solo performer, with an accompanist or with an entire band. Gavin’s playing has been the backbone of De Dannan“>De Dannan since he founded the group in 1973 at the age of 17.

His unique style is evident in all their music and the arrangements of it. In his own words De Dannan’s music “highlights tightly percussive melody lines set against a flowing, contrapuntal background.”

A veteran in the studio, Frankie Gavin has recorded numerous albums with De Dannan and several solo albums. He has appeared as a guest on albums with the late jazz violinist Stephane Grappelli, American banjoist Earl Scruggs, Yehudi Menhuin, The Rolling Stones (Voodoo Lounge), and Keith Richards (Wingless Angels), and he arranged and recorded the original soundtrack for the television series The Irish R.M.

Frankie Gavin is honored to have been invited to play for numerous State officials including President John F. Kennedy French president Francois Mitterand and England’s Prince Charles. Of a special event in America, United States Ambassador to Ireland, Jean Kennedy Smith performance said “The best all ’round performance of the entire week at Kennedy Center was by De Dannan, who included the best of Gospel and Klezmer to their wonderful show.”

His Hibernian Rhapsody lineup featured guitarist Tim Edey, pianist Carl Hession, accordionist Derek Hickey, vocalist Michelle Lally and special guest Rick Epping on harmonica.

Frankie Gavin has recorded with Alec Finn, Andy Irvine, Elvis Costello, Stéphane Grappelli, The Rolling Stones, Arty McGlynn & Aidan Coffey, Sharon Shannon, Hibernian Rhapsody, Rick Epping & Jim Foley, and Paul Brock.

Selected discography:

Up and Away (1995)
Frankie Gavin (1997)
Frankie Goes to Town (Green Linnet, 1999)
Shamrocks & Holly: An Irish Christmas Celebration (1999)
Fierce Traditional (Tara Records, 2001)

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Artist Profiles: Andy Irvine

Andy Irvine – Photo by Shigeru Suzuki

Andy Irvine is one of the great Irish singers, his voice one of a handful of truly great ones that gets to the very soul of Ireland. He was a member of two other groundbreaking groups, Sweeney’s Men and Planxty, and has worked closely with Paul Brady.

In his two years with Sweeney’s Men, the group ignited an interest in traditional Irish music that survives to this day. Their successful singles, “Old Maid in the Garret” and “The Waxie’s Dargle” landed at the very top of the Irish Hit Parade.

Andy left the band in 1968, and made his first trip abroad, hitchhiking in Bulgaria, Romania and Yugoslavia, earning his living as a street musician and absorbing the musical traditions of the Balkans. Returning to Ireland, Irvine united with Christy Moore, Donal Lunny and Liam O’Flynn to form Planxty, fanning the flames of Irish Traditional Music well into the next generation.

Planxty took a break in 1976 and Irvine worked and recorded with Paul Brady, making the classic album Andy Irvine & Paul Brady. After a brief time with De Dannan, he rejoined the reunited Planxty from 1979 until its breakup in 1983. Andy’s his first solo album, Rainy Sundays…Windy Dreams, followed, as well as Parallel Lines, a duo album with the great Scottish troubadour, Dick Gaughan.

Never one to rest on his laurels, Andy formed Mosaic, a pan-European band that included Donal Lunny and Hungarian singer Marta Sebestyen. After one blissful summer traveling through Europe with this band, Andy returned to solo and duo work. This work soon grew into Patrick Street, featuring Kevin Burke (Bothy Band), Jackie Daly (De Dannan) and guitar maestro Arty McGlynn.

Patrick Street, originally billed as Legends of Irish Music, recorded three albums from 1987 to 1990. Andy then recorded his second solo album, Rude Awakening, and created the hugely influential Eastwind, an album of Balkan music, produced by Bill Whelan and featuring Davy Spillane on uilleann pipes. Patrick Street regrouped in 1993 with Kevin, Jackie, Andy, and Ged Foley. Patrick Street released eight recordings on the Green Linnet label.

Way Out Yonder came out in 2001. Early in 2002, Andy drafted some long-time musical friends and formed his dream band for a one-off tour of Australia. Calling themselves Mozaik, reminiscent of the earlier cross-genre group, Andy was joined by Donal Lunny, Dutch guitarist Rens van der Zalm, Hungarian bagpiper Nikola Parov and American fiddler Bruce Molsky.

October 2002 saw the release of Patrick Street’s Street Life.

In 2012, Sweeney’s Men, Mozaik, and Paul Brady got together to celebrate Andy Irvine’s 70th Birthday with a Concert at Vicar St, released in 2014 on CD and DVD as 70th Birthday Concert @ Vicar Street 2012.

Andy Irvine’s discography is quite extensive.He has recordings with Sweeney’s Men, Planxty, Patrick Street, Mozaik, Christy Moore, Paul Brady, Maddy Prior & June Tabor, Mick Hanly, Dick Gaughan, Peter Ratzenbeck, Davy Spillane, Marianne Green, Rens van der Zalm, Luke Plumb, Usher’s Island.

Solo discography:

Rainy Sundays… Windy Dreams (1980)
Rude Awakening (1991)
Rain on the Roof (1996)
Way Out Yonder (Appleseed, 2000)
Abocurragh (Claddagh, 2010)

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Artist Profiles: Musafir

Musafir – Photo by Francis Richard

 

Conceived in France 1995 by Hameed Khan, a tabla player, Musafir was composed of groups of musicians who in Rajasthan would not play together, but here created an exciting fusion. Hameed Khan’s background in jazz, Arabic music, North Indian Classical music, Breton music, and various crossover styles produced an eclectic aesthetic.

Hameed’s inspiration was to showcase Rajasthan in a “folkloric cabaret.” Musafir’s original compositions combined Rajasthani rural folk music with influences from Qawwali (Muslim devotional music), Indian film music, Arabic popular music, and Hindustani (North Indian Classical) music.

Musafir (“Traveler” in Farsi), from Rajasthan in northwest India, dazzled European audiences with its energetic hybrid versions of Indian folk and popular music, acrobatics, and feats of physical endurance. Musafir performed to enthusiastic crowds at hundreds of concerts and festivals all over Europe, such as WOMAD, Roskilde, Paleo, Sfinks, and Ritmos.

Musafir was featured on the CD “Gypsies of Rajasthan” (Blue Flame) and some members appeared in the film Latcho Drom, a staged documentary of Rom music. In “The Gypsy Caravan” a musical component of Musafir portrayed the symbolic and historical connection of the Roma (Gypsies) to northwest India.

The artists in Musafir were not the actual ancestors of contemporary European Roma but rather suggest some of the occupational and artistic niches that Roma might have occupied in Rajasthan. The term Gypsy was applied by the British to numerous nomadic groups in India who have no proven relationship to European Roma.

 

Musafir – Photo by Joel Cadiou

 

The band was composed of professional musicians who inhabit the Thar desert in northwest Rajasthan. They were members of the Langa, Manghaniyar, and Sapera groups.

The membership of the group was variable. In 2000 the band was formed by Bachu Khan Langa, Shayar Khan Langa, Barkat Khan Langa, Sayeri Sapera, and Sakur Manghaniyar.

In 2000 most of the key members of the group split to form another band called Maharaja.

Discography:

Gypsies Of Rajasthan ‎(Blue Flame, 1997)
Dhola Maru (Sounds True, 1999)
Barsaat (Blue Flame, 2005)

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Artist Profiles: Dr. Krishna Raghavendra

Dr. K. Raghavendra

Dr. Krishna Raghavendra is an international performing artist in the fields of traditional and contemporary music. He is also a composer, and a producer. Dr. Raghavendra also offers workshops at educational institutions and releases original recordings.

He is the founder of “Raga and Rhythm Ensemble”(RARE), primarily to promote and integrate Indian music with western and non-western forms of music. He is a master of Veena, a traditional plucked stringed instrument from South India. His veena is custom built as a detachable instrument out of red cedar wood by the late Narasinga Rao of Bangalore, India and modified by Mr. Steve Morrill, Boston who built the finger board, modified the bridge and worked on sound amplification. Dr. Raghavendra has developed a unique technique of playing veena which involves a combination of soft nuances, swift fingering and imaginative use of melodic and drone strings to produce harmonizing and vamping sounds as if coming from different instruments.

Dr. Raghavendra is a senior member of the Karnataka College of Percussion (KCP) and the founding member of the USA-based Ragha School of Music.

In addition to his work in Indian classical music, he has worked with several fusion groups. Raghavendra has performed and recorded internationally, and plays a new version of the vina which is portable but retains an excellent tonal quality.

Discography:

Rare Pulse (2001)
The Great Train Journey (2002)
Tryst with Destiny (2003)
Shades Of Love (2004)
Shiva Ganga (2006)
Sri Raghavendra Vishesha Kriti Mala (2006)
Sampradaya: Veena Tradition (2006)
Meditation (2007)
Nee Da Ma Da (2007)
Hindola-Malkauns (2008)
Utsava (Raghas Music, 2010)
Sindhu Bhairavi (Raghas Music, 2011)
Beyond Behag (Raghas Music, 2013)
Orchestral Aves (Raghas Music, 2015)

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Interview with Vallenato Singer Chabuco about his Brazilian Album

Colombian singer-songwriter and composer Chabuco has released fourth solo album titled “Encuentro” (Encounter), a superb mix of coastal Colombian Caribbean music and Brazilian music. The album is his first release for a major label, Sony Music.

 

 

The album was recorded in São Paulo, produced by acclaimed Brazilian musician, arranger, composer and producer Swami Jr. The musicians that participated in the Encuentro include Brazilian pianist Zé Godoy, Puerto Rican percussionist Richie Flores, the arranger, composer and instrumentalist Milton Mori, percussionist Douglas Alonso and bassist Marcelo Mariano (Djavan). Encuentro also features two special guests: Spanish star Alejandro Sanz who delivers a diet with Chabuco and renowned Dominican singer-songwriter, Vicente García.

 

 

We talked to Chabuco about his background and the new album.

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

I’ve always been connected to music, but my foray into stages and records and tours was with the group Los Pelaos.

What do you think are the fundamental elements of your music?

One of the fundamental elements of the music that I make is that of my roots, henceforth the different genres that I fuse.

How has your style evolved?

The learning from these encounters with different genres has been fundamental to mature as a musician. That is evolution.

Your album “Encuentro” you mix Brazilian music with jazz, Colombian music and other styles. When did you discover Brazilian music?

I listened to Brazilian music since I was a child because of the adults around me, Tom Jobim, Gilberto Gil, Toquiño, Djavan and others. Therefore, my interest in combining my Vallenato folklore with the music of Brazil.

How was the experience of recording in Brazil?

The best thing that happened to me was recording in São Paulo Brazil, because of the love for music, the respect and union that they give you, made the work more pleasant. I would repeat it again!

What does the Colombian public think about your Brazilian sound?

Everyone likes Brazilian music; well, nearly everyone! But what I do is to dress vallenato with other folklore styles, so what my audience likes is what I come up with and how vallenato sounds from another musical perspective without losing its essence.

 

 

Are you going to continue exploring the Brazilian side?

Well, if I could do it again, I would do it a thousand times, but I like to find different sounds all over the world.

Besides being a singer, you are also an instrumentalist. What instruments do you play and which one do you like the most?

I like to accompany myself with my guitar. Aside from that, I have the soul of percussionist, and I play the accordion.

If you could gather the musicians or groups that fascinate you the most to record an album or collaborate live, who would you call?

I would call to play live Richie Flores, Horacio Negro Hernandez, Kike Purizaga and Diego Valdes.

What music are you listening to currently?

I listen to boleros, funk, timba, classic vallenato, salsa, pop, and African music that is the mother of all.

What do you like to do during your free time?

Listen to music and get together to sing with my friends.

What country or countries would you like to visit?

African countries, Poland, and return to Berlin, because I am in love with Germany.

What other projects do you have in hand?

Continue traveling through many places where you can find music, and also leave everything documented. Many places are missing.

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Artist Profiles: Alain Genty

Alain Genty with Tony McManus

Alain Genty is an extraordinary and innovative bass player who has played with some of the best Breton bands including Gwerz, Den and Barzaz. He is a skilled musician, arranger and composer.

Even though he is identified with the Breton music scene, Genty was not born in Brittany. He was born on September 22, 1958 in Nogent-sur-Seine, in Champagne and moved to Brittany in the 1980s. Genty lived there for several years, studying Breton music and playing with local musicians. During his early years he player progressive rock and later he drifted towards Celtic influenced music Genty lives in Paris nowadays, but he travels to Brittany frequently to play with his old friends.

His current music style combines Breton and Scottish music with jazz and rock elements. Genty’s bands have have included prominent Breton musicians such as Jackie Molard (violin), Patrick Molard (bagpipes) and Jean-Michel Veillon (flutes) as well as guitarist Tony McManus, from Scotland. His masterpiece is the 5 piece bagad (bagpipe band) that he includes in his major festival shows.

Discography

Barzaz, Ec’honder, with Barzaz (Escalibur, 1989)
Barzaz, An den Kozh Dall, with Barzaz (Keltia Musique, 1992)
Gwerz, Live (Gwerz Pladenn, 1993)
La Couleur du Milieu (Gwerz Pladenn, 1994)
Le Grand Encrier (Keltia Musique, 1998)
Barzaz (Keltia Musique, 2003)
Une Petite lanterne (Keltia Musique, 2004)
Toud’Sames, Toud’Sames (2004)
To the Bobs, with Patrick Molard (Keltia Musique, 2004)
Singing Sands, with Tony McManus (Greentrax Recordings, 2005)
Eternal Tides, with Joanne McIver (Buda Musique, 2017)

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