London, England – A series of concerts centeted on international choral music, under the name of Worldvoice 2003, will take place at London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall in October of 2003. Two top Georgian vocal ensembles will perform in the British capital: Gori Women’s Choir and Rustavi Choir. William Robson, Artistic Director of the festival, describes the focus of the event: “Singing
in a group is an ancient human musical activity which unites societies profoundly – a song’s words contain the deepest beliefs of a society, and the occasions for singing are momentous: births, weddings, funerals and festivals.
In drawing together a festival of choral music from across the globe, I am drawn to the way that most peoples still use choral music for its most fundamental purpose: celebration. Choirs from all over the world have been invited to take part, and each one of them has been chosen because it represents the very best in its tradition.
OCTOBER 4th, 2003
7:00 pm Queen Elizabeth Hall
Gori Women’s Choir
From its foundations in Tbilisi in 1970, the choir has grown in size and scope to become a remarkable performer of contemporary Georgian music, representing the opposite pole to that of the Rustavi Choir, demonstrating the strength of the Georgian choral tradition. This is also their first visit to the U.K.
OCCTOBER 5th, 2003
7:00 pm Queen Elizabeth Hall
Songs and dances for both work and war have been noted by historians writing about the Georgian area for over two thousand years. The many foreign invaders seem not to have affected this significantly, for the unique style of polyphonic choral singing is still strong in all the regions of Georgia, and does not occur at all in any of its neighboring countries. Singers and dancers from all these
regions came together in 1968 to form the Rustavi Company, all contributing their local material and traditions. This gives the Rustavi Choir, for example (a part of the Rustavi Company) a huge repertoire of pieces, both sacred and secular, and the distinctive voices needed to perform them.
The robust work-songs, some of which may even predate the Christian era, are models of rhythmic precision. And the drinking songs have an enviable gusto – one which would make any team of sports fans proud. With their splendid costumes and full, rich voices, the Rustavi Choir is a sight and sound which no-one ever forgets.
There are many among us who can say that Navajo-Ute flautist R. Carlos Nakai is the first Native American musician they have heard. I discovered Nakai while listening to Rough Guides Native America. Nakai had teamed up with the Black Lodge Singers and their joint effort brought chills to my spine. Since that time, I have sampled a few of Nakai’s 20 or so recordings and each time, I listen to his lofty flute, I truly feel at peace with the world.
Nakai has influenced countless Native American and non-native musicians with his diverse and vast repertoire which can be found on Canyon Records and SilverWave Records. Nakai who recorded his first flute album in 1983, has performed with jazz artists, symphonies and other Native American performers.
He has collaborated with The Black Lodge Singers guitarist/luthier William Eaton, composer James DeMars, AmoChip Dabney, Mary Redhouse and others while employing diverse musical styles. Nakai has recorded flute melodies of various tribes including, Omaha, Zuni, Lakota, Kiowa, Cheyenne and others. He has performed in concert halls as well as, in outdoor settings.
Sanctuary’s 12 tracks were recorded on Native American land in the Rocky Mountains among glacial streams and alpine refuge. Nakai performs his original compositions on a bass cedar flute and a standard flute. He captures the tranquility of his sacred environment with every flutter or throaty note played on his wooden flute.
Nakai emits the confidence of a veteran musician and he allows his instrument to capture the spirit of his sacred environment. His listeners might be sitting in traffic listening to his whistful notes and yet, they will be transported to a rugged mountain setting. However, it is best to listen to Nakai when relaxing or meditating at home or taking a break from work.
And for those listeners who find themselves enraptured by Nakai’s flute, can delve into his prolific catalogue. With so many classical, jazz and traditional recordings to choose from, listeners can enjoy this diverse and universal performer’s repertoire.
Los Angeles based Chicano musician-producer Vick Silva offers 11 tracks of Aztec-influenced reggae on Roots Man Dance. The reggae for the most part resembles the Jamaican variety with the exception of lyrical themes that revolve around Aztec mythology and ancestral roots. And the use of Aztec instruments such as a jaguar gourd horn, Teponaztli, flutes and Kikiztli compliments of musician Michael Heralda add a unique spice to the mix. The tunes possess the right groove with a sunny message for Chicanos and other races in touch with their culture. And for those folks, who prefer the traditional reggae with wailing saxophone solos, call & response vocals, organ, guitar and a strong reggae beat will find this recording enjoyable.
Vick works with a number of musicians and back up vocalists. All the musicians prove adept on their instruments and vocal abilities. The songs don’t miss a beat and the lyric ring out spiritual and cultural messages that are universal in scope. Vick and his musicians deliver reggae tunes at a moderate tempo with easy beats and suave vocals. However, I find that the songs flow all too well into one another and stripped down instrumentation, such as a track that features only voice, guitar and light percussion would have been a nice change of pace half way through the recording. I am thinking of Bob Marley who would throw in an acoustic ballad such as Redemption Song to add musical diversity.
However, for those reggae fans seeking catchy choruses and impassioned phrases, Quetzal Dragon, People of the Sun, Second Wind, Heaven n ‘ Earth, and Possibility should do the trick. “49” offers a respite from the wailing saxophones and We Are plays as a social anthem that incites Chicano pride. Vick slows things down a bit on Teotihuacan that falls into a sort of trance enhanced by haunting flute. Roots Man Dance proves to be a sincere effort from a group of musicians dedicated to keeping reggae and Aztec roots alive. For more information go to www.rhombus-records.com
Blues returning to its African roots can be heard in the Malian nomadic group, Tinariwen’s debut release, The
Radio Tisdas Sessions. And unlike many album titles that refer to intangible experiences, the title of
Tinariwen’s CD refers to actual recording sessions that took place at a Tamashek radio station between the
hours of 7 p.m. and midnight because that was when electricity was available. But then blues in any form has
never been about convenience or living a lush life. And in fact, the desert blues, a mixture of North African
music with American blues and sung in the Tamashek language, speaks of oppression of a maligned people
(read the CD liner notes). The music here is said to be inspired by Bob Dylan, Bob Marley and speaks out
against human injustice. Actually, I am just guessing since I do not understand the language in which the songs were written.
Tinariwen might be called a tribe rather than a band since ten musicians, including three women backup vocalists appear on this album. Heavy on guitar and vocals, imagine Dylan when he first went electric and you will come close to describing the music on this CD. The Radio Tisdas Sessions was produced by Justin Adams who has also produced Lo’Jo (the group that discovered Tinariwen on a trip to Mali) and also produced Natacha Atlas’ CD’s. The first track, Le Chant Des Fauves features a lilting melody with Ibraham on lead vocals and is embellished by a female trio. Imidiwaren sounds like good old fashion American blues if it weren’t for the Tamashek title and lyrics. Tin-Essako was recorded live at the debut Festival in the Desert that took place in Kidal, Mali January 2000.
If the French group Lo’Jo hadn’t met members of Tinariwen on a trip to Mali, the group might have not been
discovered. Well, there is always the chance that Ry Cooder might have met up with Tinariwen at some point, but… And with a large hunger for world music, it is refreshing to hear yet another style of music coming
out of Mali.
“We can’t take another war/we want world peace.” So sings Culture’s Joseph Hill on the title track of this album. An obviously simple sentiment perhaps, but it’s that sort of directness that has kept Culture among reggae’s most longstanding representatives of excellence for over 25 years. Along with Burning Spear, Israel Vibration and others, Culture has steadfastly refused to dilute their reggae with the dominant modern dancehall style, instead delivering their message of Africa as Zion, Marcus Garvey as prophet and common man as conquering hero in the same manner as always. That is, in the same true roots style that Bob Marley brought to the world and that many in the world still thankfully have a passion for.
Don’t get the impression that Culture is stuck in some kind of ’70s time trap, however. On this disc of all-new material for the Heartbeat label (most of whose previous Culture releases have been reissues), the sound is clean and modern but still right and tight. Real bass and drums and layers of bubbling keyboards, guitars, horns and percussion carry the day. Vocally, things are at maximum niceness as well, with Hill pleading for the likes of “Sweet Freedom” and “No Segregation” backed by an enhanced chorus of voices augmenting the group’s usual harmony trio configuration.
Culture continue their knack for remaking past songs, here giving their “Dog A Go Nyam Dog” a more aggressive bassline and a greater urgency. That urgency is echoed in many of the songs, but it’s the duality of the final two that really spells it out: “Babylon Falling” warns of the destruction that awaits the wicked, while “Holy Mount Zion” assures the righteous of the eternal abode to come. Both songs are built on a framework of spirited nyabinghi drumming, and are a fitting wrap-up to an album that delights in (and on all counts succeeds in) keeping the true reggae fire blazing.
There used to be a time when musical traditions were more defined, but today as I review folk roots groups from Scandinavian countries, Spain, France, Canada and the UK, those lines have grown blurry. Celtic music fuses with traditional Quebecois or Scandinavian fare while many musicians in their twenties and thirties take to this music, liked a parched earth drinking new drops of rain. The energetic Quebecois trio, Norouet is one such group and while they are not alone in stirring up the Quebecois musical community, they can also be mentioned in the same sentence as the British quartet, Flook and the Spanish Celtic group, Tejedor. All of these groups add spunk to traditional fare, with plenty of inventiveness, humor and a great deal of respect for folk roots.
Norouet is comprised of Eric Beaudry (who performs double duty with La Bottine Souriante) on vocals, guitar, bouzouki, mandolin and feet, Stephanie Lepin (vocals and fiddle) and Patrick Graham (percussion). Norouet contributes a variety of traditional tunes on Spirale and also strike out with their own compositions written by Stephanie and Eric. And whether they are kicking their heels to a traditional jig and reel or inventing their own fun is always the main ingredient. Also worth noting, the recording was produced by Toronto’s musician extraordinaire Oliver Schroer who has put out prolific work of his own. Oliver’s violin virtuosity can be heard on La Complainte du Forgeron, Air d’autre Part and Gazon Bleu. Other guest musicians include, Christopher Layer (uilleann pipes, flute), Francois Marion (electric bass), David Woodhead (electric bass), Jean-Paul Loyer (banjo), Tess LeBlanc and Simon Beaudry (choral vocals). And listeners get a mixed bag of Scottish, Acadian, Breton, traditional Quebecois, bluegrass and a short experimental chamber piece.
Spirale takes flight on a traditional note with the call & response, Jetend le Moulin and then the trio steps into a reel entitled Vaut Ben Mieux that’s followed by Reel de la Pauvrete and Beaudoin-Boudreault, (also reels). The musicians offer a quick respite with a couple of ballads, en Passant par Paris and Marguerite. Then they move into the titular track, based on crooked Breton music and written by Stephanie. A few more highlights include la Complainte du Forgeron about a blacksmith that would rather forge peace then create instruments of war as well as, a seductive frolic, Mon Cher Amant that recalls the saying, when the cat’s away, the mice will play. And well, I can’t get away without mentioning the bluegrass Gazon Bleu composed on a $50 banjo at a kitchen table.
I’ve enjoyed several listens to Spirale and I think it will spend lots of time spinning in my boom box. I highly recommend this disc to fans of Celtic, Quebecois and new music. It’s not quite the music that our grandpas listened to, but when you’re kicking up your heels in a jig, you aren’t going to care, www.norouet.vizou.com.
The more I learn about traditional Quebecois music, the more diversity I find within this genre. The term Quebecois can be misleading since traditional Quebecois music can be found throughout Canada’s French-language speaking outposts. Hart Rouge (siblings from the Campagne family) hails from Willow Bunch, Saskatchewan, near the US border. The group took their name from the original name of the town where they grew up, Hart Rouge. From what I can gather from CD liner notes is that many Quebecers moved out to the prairies as homesteaders during the early 1900’s, but that they didn’t leave their French language or culture behind in Quebec. Therefore, you will find traditional Quebecois music on Une Histoire De Famille, along with an array of historical photographs. By the way, I am told that members of Hart Rouge currently make their home in Montreal.
Although Hart Rouge has performed pop-rock music on their albums along with traditional fare, Une Histoire De Famille, Suzanne, Michelle and Paul Campagne, Davy Gallant, Michel Dupire and guest musicians perform on mostly acoustic instruments and sing in French. Half of the songs fall under traditional arrangements and the other half were composed by band members. Along with uilleann pipes, accordion, violin, flute, feet, percussion, electric bass, acoustic/electric guitars, the Campagnes deliver gorgeous vocal harmonies, call & response and a cappella renderings. The tone here is often nostalgic and sober with a subtle urgency I can’t explain.
Smaragdos Margara by Carlos Martinez and Salvador Cardenal is a Spanish ballad sung in Spanish. Ce Matin Sans Hesiter (Bertrand Gosselin and Jim Corocan) marks a lively call & response song with lively 4-part a cappella harmonies and Vichten (Arthur Arsenault) follows a similar path with breathtaking harmonies. And if you haven’t guessed, this is another one of those albums that begs to be listened to several times.
The mystical facet of Islam known as Sufism has long regarded artistic expression as a path to greater connection with God. Sufi beliefs flourished alongside the greater expanding influence of Islam over the centuries, and the musical rituals of its followers ranged from highly esoteric and ecstatic to more restrained, sometimes merging with the folkloric traditions of the regions where Sufi ideology found favor.
The Morocco-based Ensemble Ibn Arabi recreate, in beautifully low-key fashion, the music that emerged from the zaouias (Sufi meeting places) in Spain back when that nation was a home to the cultures of Jews, Christians and Muslims. The tracks on this disc resonate with a richness that seems rooted in the distant past, though some of the viewpoints espoused in the lyrics (such as the unequivocal “I Believe in the Religion of Love”) would do well to take on new meaning nowadays.
Musically, things stay at the soothing, meditative end. Songs that often wax whimsically on the nature of love both human and divine float along a current of longing vocals, oud (lute), qanun (zither), ney (flute), violin and the echo of lightly rumbling frame drum. Improvised solo instrumental passages (known as taqsim) connect the songs in a manner reflective of the exchange of ideas so valued in the zawiyas of old, representing also the cooperative spirit shared by the ensemble as musicians and preservers of a tradition that they obviously treasure.
Sufism has found a greater niche in today’s world through the popularity of such forms as Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s ecstatic qawwali music and Hassan Hakmoun’s Gnawa trance tunes, but this softer side of Sufi also plentifully nourishes the desires of the soul.
Berlin, Germany – The House of World Cultures in Berlin, Germany, has announced the launch of its international artists online database. The new research tool for the international art and culture scene is calledculturebase.net.
This free service provides detailed portraits on artists from more than 150 countries and territories, from Afghanistan to Zanzibar. So far culturebase.net contains information on about 1,000artists who
work in the genres of visual arts, film, photography, design, theatre, dance and music, as well as literature and science.Profiles written by experts offer detailed information about the included artists. Additionally, audio and video files, images and texts enable the user to have direct insight into artists’ work. All information can be accessed in English and partly also in German, Danish and
Swedish in this initial phase.
Furthermore, there is a search method for so-called ‘crossroads’. An example of a ‘crossroad’ is a term like ‘Islam’, ‘Globalisation’ or ‘Deconstruction’. The list of results from a search like this
includes all artists who deal with such topics in their works—listed by relevance.
culturebase.net is the result of a strategic cooperation between four European partner institutions: The House of World Cultures in Berlin, The Danish Center for Culture and Development in Copenhagen, Intercult in Stockholm and Visiting Arts in London. The database is a tool for
collaboration, which has been initiated by the House of World Cultures. culturebase.net is funded by the European Union program Culture 2000.
(Prensa Latina – Cumbancha) Havana, Cuba – Just a year after it was founded and awarded by the popular vote as a Best New Orchestra 1999, the band Clave Cubana became the most attractive offer of Cuban salsa. Its name comes from all the music blowing in the Caribbean breezes and gave them a new cadence, magic and enticing, as if it revived the same instrument that marks the rhythm in Simons’ “El Manisero,” or Lecuona’s “Siboney.”
The birt place of the band’s style took place in Havana, rightfully called “the capital of the Americas.” Here a language known as the rhythm cell, rides on the strength of Cuban syncopation that invades with an unmistakable mark rumba, son, cha-cha-chá and every Cuban rhythm.
Clave Cubana has a dance repertory which takes us deep into music history and celebrates the work of people like Sindo Garay, Miguel Matamoros, Benny Moré, Arsenio Rodríguez and Adolfo Guzmán, many others.The orchestra was founded on May 2, 1999 when a group of young musicians, all graduates from Cuban music schools, set out to recreate the most authentic and varied values of the Cuban music genres, led by its young director Orlando Navarro Villar.
Since its creation, the band performs at the Havana’s top dance music spots. In 2001, it was chosen by Cuban Music Institute to participate in the 1st International “Caliente” Festival in Havana, organized by the Swiss Soundmanagers Company. They were also in hot demand by Cuban Radio and Television stations.
Clave Cubana is called “The youngest Son from Cuba” and the very year of its foundation, the band had such a big impact that some recording companies wanted to sign it and they recorded their first album, from a project backing up singer Carmen Flores, in a work of deep folkloric roots. The second album, a project similar to the first, dealt with the work by Alberto Cárdenas, where the band played along with top exponents of Cuban music.
The quality and professional touch of the latter production was praised by Frank Fernandez, one of the world’s greatest pianists. Both albums were produced by the Panamanian Ire Productions Inc. recording company, and were licensed by the US label Ahí Namá Music, from Hollywood, for its distribution in that country. The first album by Clave Cubana as a band, Dicen que el Son…, was released by Bis Music in the year 2002 and reports encouraging sales.
Although the Sami (also Saami or Sámi) are descendants of the original Finn (Finland), first discovered by the Romans around 10 AD, contemporary Sami people proves just as innovative and resourceful as their ancestors with a unique flare for modern technology. Both Sami art and music has flourished internationally. And the Sami people once tormented by the Christian church of the northern
climes and the so-called civilized Swedes, Norwegians and other arctic dwellers, have proven that they are here to stay, both in Europe and North America.
The Sami who once watched their shamans and drums burn during the inquisitions are back beating drums and performing yoiks (also joiks), a vocalization practice that is considered one of Europe’s oldest living traditions. And similar to the circle that appears on the Sami flag, Sami musicians include people from all cultures in their repertoire.
Today, you will find electric guitars, keyboards and drum machines embellishing yoiks or you will find award-winning joikers performing classic yoiks a cappella. Many yoikers such as Wimme (Finland), Inga Juusco (Norway), Marie Boine (Norway), Ailu Gaup (Norway) and Ulla Pirttijarvi (Finland) have garnered
an international following as well as, working with other well-known non-Sami musicians and producers. Wimme has worked with Hedningarna and Hector Zazou and Marie Boine has collaborated with Bill Laswell. And the popular Finnish group, Varttina has even featured yoiks on their recordings. I read an article awhile back about Sami musicians collaborating with Inuit musicians. This didn’t surprise me since both cultures practice throat-singing and derive from a nature-based religion tied in with the cycles of the Arctic Circle where they reside. And I read in an interview with Wimme Saari that when he first
discovered recordings of his uncles’ yoiks, he found a resemblance with Navajo chants.
The three recordings mentioned in this short article portray a unique versatility. Frozen Moments, a live recording marries flamenco, yoiks and classical Indian music. Orbina II takes a more ambient rock approach with Celtic coloring and Anders P. Bongo provides 50 classical yoiks in the traditional a
cappella format. All three recordings were released on the innovative Norwegian label, DAT that produces books and music featuring the Sami heritage. You will find contact information at the end of this article.
Frozen Moments featuresInga
Juuso (yoiks), Johan Sara Jr. (yoiks, guitar, producer), Erik Steen (flamenco guitar, producer), Rogelio De Badajoz Duran (flamenco vocals), and Jai Shankar Sahajpal (tabla and vocals) and as anyone might imagine, this collaboration offers plenty of virtuoso moments. This group of musicians pushes
both rhythmic and vocal boundaries. One could hardly call their performance a frozen moment since there is nothing icy or stagnate about this passionate music that leaps over borders and sets fire to false cultural perceptions. And the performers also set flame to any rules that pertain to their various musical disciplines.
For instance, the track Voices showcases yoiks, throat-singing, classical Indian vocals along with flamenco cante. The end result is the strangest and most beautiful a cappella composition my ears have ever witnessed. And all the tracks on this recording dole out similar surprises, sometimes leaving a listener yearning for words to describe the music. Inga performs a solo yoik on Harsh Spring, Petenera features a duet with Rogelio on voice and Erik on flamenco guitar while Jai’s tabla contributions are highlighted throughout the recording. Yet, the true musical power happens when these five musicians collaborate. Frozen Moments not only appeal to iconoclastic thinkers, but also to musicians wishing to explore other musical territories and to music lovers in general.
The Norwegian group, Orbina that is comprised of Inga Juuso (yoiks), Leif Isak Nilut (yoiks), Klemet Anders Buljo (yoiks, guitars), Bjorn Ole Rasch (keyboards) with Svein Schultz (bass), Rune Arnesen (drums) and Hans Fredrik Jakobsen (flute and bagpipes) offers ultra-modern yoiks. And in fact, the music that appears on Orbina II carries an ambient rock sensibility colored with Celtic overtones. On one hand, the music is similar to Wimme’s electronic yoiks, but then it also resembles Mari Boine’s jazz renderings. And the Celtic influence probably comes with Norway’s ancient ties to Scotland. Also for those readers familiar with Norwegian folks root music, will recognize Bjorn Ole Rasch as Norwegian violinist Annbjorn Lien’s musical partner.
Mortena Sàrà falls into light acid jazz while Jeagge-Jussà feels experimental. Boade features a duet with male and female yoiks and Gàisi carries Celtic influences complimented by a flute. Lemet Ante takes this approach further by introducing bagpipes and flute and highlighting a yoik by Anders P. Bongo.
And speaking of Anders P. Bongo, his second CD, Dolin released earlier this year, offers traditional yoiks sung a cappella. Anders performs 50 yoiks, all composed for those who have passed away. The yoiks are all under two minutes long and some of the yoiks feature double vocal tracks.
Anders hails from Kautokeino in Northern Norway and he is dedicated to keeping one of Europe’s oldest living traditions alive. His yoiks, like all yoiks are dedicated to people, a landscape or an animal, but in this case, he dedicates the yoiks to people who have died. Yet, the reindeer herder and award-winning yoiker won’t bring tears of despair to your eyes while honoring the dead. And he might even inspire musicians to learn more about the vibrant Sami culture.
For more information please visit the following labels and distributors: