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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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Artist Profiles: A Filetta

A Filetta – Photo by Mara Bottoli

A Filetta was formed in 1978 in the northwestern city of Balagne in Corsica by adolescents united by their passion for Corsican polyphony. The group’s name means fern.

The repertoire ranges from traditional to sacred and profane songs. The ensemble has released numerous recordings and soundtracks.

For a number of years, A Filetta has exported its polyphonies abroad.

Discography:

Machja n’avemu un altra (1981)
O’Vita (1982)
Cun tè (1984)
Sonnii Zitillini and In l’abbriu di e stagioni (1987)
A U Visu Di Tanti (1989)
Ab’eternu (1992)
Una Tarra Ci He (Olivi, 1994)
Passione (Olivi, 1997)
Soundtrack “Don Juan” by Jacques Weber (1998)
Soundtrack “Himalaya – l’enfance d’un chef” by Éric Valli (1999)
Soundtrack “Le libertin” by Jacques Weber (2000)
Soundtrack “Le Peuple migrateur” by Jacques Perrin (2001)
Intanttu (2002)
Si Di Me (2003)
Soundtrack “Liberata” (2005)
Medea (2006)
Bracana (Deda, 2008)
Mistico Mediterraneo, with Paolo Fresu and Daniele di Bonaventura (ECM, 2011)
Di Corsica Riposu (2011)
Castelli (World Village, 2015)

DVDs

“A Filetta, voix corses” by Don Kent (Éditions Montparnasse, 2002)
Trent’anni Pocu, Trent’anni Assai: a documentary by Cathy Rocchi and a concert at the Oratoire de Calvi (Harmonia Mundi, 2009)

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Berkeley World Music Festival 2018 on June 2

The 2018 edition of the Berkeley World Music Festival will take place June 2 at Ashkenaz.

The lineup includes Yaelisa of Caminos Flamencos, Mussell Rock clogging, Chhandam School of Kathak, Chinyakare Ensemble (Zimbabwe), and Wang Dang Doodle (Keith Terry and Linda Tillery).

Chinyakare Ensemble

Ashkenaz, 1317 San Pablo Avenue
Saturday, June 2, 2018
8:00 p.m. – 11:59 p.m
More details at: www.ashkenaz.com/eventcalendar/2018/6/2/berkeley-world-music-festival-special-free-event

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Artist Profiles: Amr Diab

Amr Diab

Amr Abd El-Basset Abd El-Azeez Diab, better known as Amr Diab, was born in Port Said, Egypt on October 11, 1961. He grew up in an artistic family headed by his father who possessed a fine singing voice. Amr was encouraged to sing and showed remarkable promise at an early age. One evening, when Amr was just 6 years old, his father took him to the July 23rd Festival at Port Said where he made his first singing appearance on Egyptian Radio performing the National Anthem Biladi, Biladi. The governor took note, and awarded him with a guitar as a prize.

Amr continued to pursue his dream and began his musical studies at the music faculty of the Cairo Academy of Art, from which he graduated in 1986. His first album Ya Tareeq followed shortly after graduation and was an instant success. He followed this early success with 16 other hit albums, making him the most famous Arabic singing star of his generation.

He was the first Arab artist to make a video clip and in a parallel career, has acted in several films including Dhahk We Laiab (Laughter & Fun), in which he plays opposite the world famous Egyptian actor Omar Sharif and Ice Cream, in which he played the lead.

Due to his unprecedented style and aplomb that quickly singled him out from his contemporaries, Amr Diab was given the nickname Rebellious. But this uniqueness was not just limited to his clothes but translated into his developing an entirely new genre of music called Mediterranean Music referring to its blend of Western and Arabic rhythms. His success and individuality led to his being named, by most satellite and TV stations, as the Best Singer in the Arab World throughout the nineties.

1996 was a breakthrough year for Amr Diab with the release of Nour El Ain. This album became a best selling album by an Arabic artist, selling well not only in the Middle East but throughout the entire world. The title track, and its English version Habibe, was an international phenomenon, becoming a massive crossover hit in countries as far a field as India, Argentina, Chile, France and South Africa. The song was remixed by several top European deejays, becoming a big hit on the dance floors of Europe. The video clip set a new standard with its lavish production values.

In 1997 Amr Diab won three Awards at the Annual Arabic Festival (for Best Video, Best Song and Artist of the Year). In the following year, he received a Triple Platinum Award for the sales of Nour El Ain, and received the Worldwide Music Award in Monaco on 6 May 1998. This award was the first of its kind for an Arabic artist, illustrating the international nature of his appeal, unlike the majority of his contemporaries.

He continues to follow up this meteoric rise to stardom with even bigger hit albums, including Awedony, Amarain, Tamaly Maek and Aktar Wahed Biyahibak, with each album surpassing the next in terms of both sales and artistic achievement. He continues to enjoy mixing styles and performing with other artists.

On Amarain he performed two duets with with the France based international Rai superstar, Khaled of Didi fame, and with the Greek diva, Angela Dimitrou, whose crossover smash Marguerites was a huge hit across the Middle East in 1998.

Discography:

“Ya Tareeq” (Sout Al Madina, 1983)
“Ghanny Mn Albak” (Delta Sound, 1985)
“Hala Hala” (Delta Sound, 1986)
“Khalseen” (Delta Sound, 1987)
“Mayyal” (Delta Sound, 1988)
“Shawwa’na” (Delta Sound, 1989)
“Matkhafeesh” (Delta Sound, 1990)
“Africa” (Delta Sound, 1991)
“Habiby” (Delta Sound, 1991)
“Ice Creem Fi Gleem” (Delta Sound, 1991)
“Ayyamna” (Delta Sound, 1992)
“Zekrayat” (Delta Sound, 1993)
“Ya Omrina” (Delta Sound, 1993)
“Weylomony” (Delta Sound, 1994)
“Rag’een” (Delta Sound, 1995)
“Nour El Ain” (Alam El Phan, 1996)
“Awedony” (Delta Sound, 1998)
Amarain” (Alam El Phan, 1999)
“Tamally Ma’ak” (Alam El Phan, 2000)
“Aktar Wahed” (Alam El Phan, 2001)
“Allem Alby” (Alam El Phan, 2003)
Leily Nahary” (Rotana, 2004)
Kammel Kalamak” (Rotana, 2005)
El Lilady” (Rotana, 2007)
“Wayah” (Rotana, 2009)
“Aslaha Betefre'” (Rotana, 2010)
“Banadeek Ta’ala” (Rotana, 2011)
El Leila” (Rotana, 2013)
“Shoft El Ayam” (Rotana, 2014)
Ahla W Ahla” (Nay, 2016)
“Meaddy El Nas” (Nay, 2017)

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