Valle Son Returns to Canada

Canada – Cuban band Valle Son returns to Canada for an extensive summer tour. Valle Son (vah-yeh sohn) is a 7 piece group from the rural village of Viñales in the lush tobacco-growing highlands of Pinar del Rio, the westernmost province of Cuba, where most of them have been playing together for more than a decade.

In July 2000, Valle Son traveled to the Yukon for a month-long tour. There they recorded their CD Son de Cuba at Old Crow Studio in Whitehorse, released on their imprint, Caribou Records– home to the Undertakin’ Daddies, Kim Barlow, and Anne Louise Genest. Son de Cuba is rooted in the traditional son style, yet embodies a contemporary, hybrid sound. Driven by the clave rhythm, the music integrates elements of jazz and mambo to create a propulsive, vibrant groove.

Valle Son would have returned to Canada sooner, but a 2002 North American tour crumbled, with visa delays in the wake of 9/11. This year’s trip takes them through the US and into Canada this summer for a series of festival and concert dates, continuing in July after they record their second Caribou CD in Whitehorse.

July 4 – 6 Vancouver Island Music Festival, Comox
July 7 Butchart Gardens
July 8 – 9 Harrison Festival for the Arts
July 11 – 13 World Festival, Harbourfront, Toronto
July 12 Lula’s Lounge, Toronto
July 16 Beneath the Arches, Turner Valley, Alberta
July 17 Ironwood Grill, Calgary
July 18 – 20 South Country Fair, Fort Macleod, Alberta
July 24 WISE Hall, Vancouver
July 25 – 27 Mission Folk Festival
Aug 5 Art Space, Prince George, B.C.
Aug 6 Downstream Bar, Jasper, Alberta
Aug. 7-10 Edmonton Folk Music Festival

Media contact: Ellie O’Day, 604 731.3339,


Review for Crazy Rhythm Django Reinhardt

Django Reinhardt – Crazy Rhythm
Django Reinhardt

Crazy Rhythm, 2 CDs plus booklet (Iris Music 3001 864, 2003)

I’ve always been fascinated with musical prowess of guitarist Django Reinhardt. Normally, I wouldn’t consider putting a Reinhardt review on a world music site, his music is more aptly placed on a jazz site, but in doing some research after receiving a compilation from French label, Iris Music, I realized the origins of my fascination. That tight, neat guitar work that marked him as truly gifted was based upon his gypsy heritage.

Crazy Rhythm is a two-CD set with 48 tracks that will knock your socks off. With the likes of Stephane Grappelli, Coleman Hawkins, Dicky Wells, Benny Carter and Freddy Taylor playing and singing along makes it downright delightful.

Reinhardt was born in a gypsy camp in Belgium in 1910 and eventually ended up with his mother’s family in a makeshift camp in Paris. The tribe was known as the Manouches or French Gypsies. Django started out his young life playing violin and guitar with a gypsy troupe, and later touring dancehalls playing popular music. He was 18 when a fire raced through a caravan he was in, severely injuring a leg and destroying some of the use of the fingers on his left hand.

Django found himself forced to give up the violin. Being a self-taught musician, Reinhardt didn’t give up on the guitar and taught himself a new technique in fretwork for the frozen fingers on his left hand. Soon, Django turned from gypsy song and popular dance band music for the latest trend – jazz – and in 1934 The Quintet of the Hot Club was founded.

Crazy Rhythm features Django with The Quintet of the Hot Club, Coleman Hawkins & His All-Star Jam Band and Dick Wells & His Orchestra. The compilation contains such classics as “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love,” “After You’ve Gone,” “Georgia On My Mind” and “Solitude.” I have to admit that more than once I felt like I was trapped in Woody Allen movie. But pieces like “Miss Annabelle Lee” and “Lady Be Good” prove that Django never lost that bit of gypsy soul.

With Stephane Grappelli’s violin singing sweetly on “In a Sentimental Mood” you can guess that Django and Stephane had a musical relationship that doesn’t come along very often. “Improvisation” is a marvel, especially if you’re reminded that Django was self-taught and lacked complete use of his fingers. The most amazing aspect is that all the recordings took place in between 1936 and 1939, proving that there are those capable of quantity and quality.

Django Reinhardt fans, Stephane Grapelli fans and fans of the early years of jazz are sure to enjoy this compilation. As an added bonus, the accompanying booklet, with both French and English translations, contains some interesting histories, observations and stories. The booklet also has some fabulous photographs of Django. Crazy Rhythm is a compilation that possesses a delightful opportunity for devoted Django fans to infect newer listeners.


The San Francisco World Music Festival 2003

SFWMFSan Francisco, USA – ­ The annual San Francisco World Music Festival  has officially announced the program for the 2003 edition of the festival. Coming to the San Francisco Bay Area from the mountains of Altay, the forests of Kamchatka, and the steppes of Tuva, some of the world’s most indigenous throat singers, folk dancers and musicians, and shaman spiritual elders of Central Asia and Siberia will unveil centuries-old folk rituals this September 12 & 14.  Additionally, Pandit Shivkumar Sharma, India’s most celebrated santur instrumentalist and vocalist, his gifted son Rahul Sharma and the acclaimed tabla player Ustaad Shafaat Ahmed Khan will perform the timeless music of North India on September 13.

These concerts are a sampling of Door Dog Music Productions 4th annual San Francisco World Music Festival, running September 4-18, 2003 at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, the Asian Art Museum, San Francisco State University, and the San Francisco Dance Center, featuring artists from Afghanistan, Altay, China, Eastern Europe, India, Kamchatka, Lebanon, Russia, and Tuva. ”By bringing
together acclaimed international and local world music artists for 2 weeks of dynamic concerts, master classes, documentary film screenings and youth showcases, our festival facilitates human understanding through artistic vulnerability among the world¹s cultures
,” states Executive Director &
Producer Michael Santoro.

New to this year¹s festival is a specially commissioned orchestral work with libretto by the internationally acclaimed Lebanese composer Marcel Khalife, set to premiere September 11 as an international music experiment and artistic statement for global peace.  This centerpiece will be performed by a select orchestra of locally based world music masters, including KITKA, an all women
Eastern European vocal ensemble, the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra as directed by Benjamin Simon, Chinese erhu virtuoso Zhang Xiao Feng, Chinese master percussionist Hai Pu, and a leading female Lebanese vocalist Omayma Al Khalil, and includes visual and lighting design by Matthew Antaky.  Co-produced with the San Francisco International Arts Festival, this opening concert will promote San
Francisco as a world center for arts and culture.

This concert is a metaphor for cultural understanding and communication,” notes Santoro. “All of the different compositional components – Western classical music, Chinese traditional music, Arabic music, Eastern European music, and all of the respective cultures uniting — is not an easy task and through this process, new territories will be explored, providing insight and enrichment.”  says Program Director Kutay Derin Kugay, “The San Francisco World Music Festival is going beyond traditional music with this commissioned composition by Lebanese composer Marcel Khalife.  And with over 200 strings of the Santur masters, father and son Shivkumars, the festival sets a new standard for world music presentation.”

Kicking off the festival this year on September 4th is a North Indian Master Class by the distinguished Vijay Kichlu.  Another highlight is the first annual Youth World Music Showcase on September 6, featuring elementary and high school students of world music masters in the San Francisco Bay Area — from Alice Fong Yu Chinese Orchestra & Percussion and Fremont Deaf Choir to the India Tabla Quartet and Korean Youth Orchestra.  “It¹s important to provide not only role models but opportunities for children in the Bay Area to experience world music,” explains Santoro, “to give them inspiration to pick up an instrument and learn about another culture¹s music.”  On September 18, Chinese Peking Opera artists Chen Tsai-Yen, Sun Ji-Hai, Guan Yi, and Zhang Ying-Chao
will hold a live lecture demonstration of scenes from “Farewell My Concubine

Comments Deborah Clearwaters, Manager of Public Programs at the Asian Art Museum, who has worked with Door Dog Music Productions to present a World Music Concert Series at the museum since March 2003, “The Asian Art Museum is proud to be part of the 2003 World Music Festival.  Many artifacts in our museum bear direct connections to musical traditions.  Presenting living masters of Asian music to San Francisco audiences helps build a better understanding of the diversity and richness of Asian culture.”

In addition to music there will be live radio performances, master classes at San Francisco State
University, San Francisco Dance Center and the Asian Art Museum, and a documentary film screening at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Screening Room.

Founded in 2000 by Executive Director Michael Santoro and Program Director Kutay Derin Kugay, the San Francisco World Music Festival  uniquely showcases the musical diversity from the Bay Area and around the globe by presenting high quality world music performances by master artists both locally and overseas, and from traditional to contemporary explorations.  

Tickets: Yerba Buena Box Office, Phone: +1 415-978-2787.


Unwilling Accomplices

Famed journalist Edward R. Murrow once said, “No one can terrorize a whole nation, unless we are all his accomplices.”  I began to wonder if the same couldn’t be said of a single corporation.  Can a corporation terrorize a whole nation without all of us being its accomplices?

Are the quiet complicity and the indifferent ignorance of consumers the makings for a tyrannical corporation or are they the plot details of the success story tales told by defenders of the so-called “free market?”  And if this is the recipe for tyranny, do we really care?

The media behemoth currently ruling the American airwaves is Clear Channel Radio. It dictates music playlists and politics to over 1200 radio stations in the U.S. It boasts of over 110 million listeners and has captured a good 20% of radio’s advertising dollars.

Conservative talk radio hosts Rush Limbaugh and Dr. Laura Schlessinger are just two of the numerous celebrities featured by Clear Channel’s Premiere Radio Network productions, the likes of which are syndicated to more than 7,800 stations across the country. In addition, Clear Channel own 37 television stations, 700,000 billboards, 130 concert venues and plans are in the works for Music Guide Live!, a magazine for the summer concert season.

Right about now you might be asking yourself, ‘So, what’s wrong with that?‘ The problem lies in the business practices of Clear Channel.

After Natalie Mains of the Dixie Chicks expressed shame over President Bush’s willingness towards war, Clear Channel stations across the country stopped playing songs by the group. Clear Channel officials denied a company-wide mandate had been issued, but they didn’t demand that the Dixie Chicks be placed back on the playlist in an effort to prove that narrow kind of political culture
didn’t existed within the company.

Then, there’s homogenization of playlists. Clear Channel is reported to control roughly 60% of rock music programming, so how hard do you think it might be for a local band to get airplay on a Clear Channel station?

There are accusations of pulling popular syndicated programs from radio stations in favor of Clear Channel competing stations, encouraging devoted listeners to switch to Clear Channel stations. Local programming has fallen by the wayside as Clear Channel sets up region-wide “cyber-jocking” to save the cash on local DJ jobs.

Adding to their naughty reputation, Representative Anthony Weiner, a Democrat from New York, asked the Department of Justice for an investigation of Clear Channel Radio’s business practices. Competing stations have accused Clear Channel of operating shell radio stations through front companies while Clear Channel remains the key player when it comes to control.

Let’s face it, Clear Channel doesn’t get any brownie points for inspiring a website called, dedicated to bringing to light the company’s dirty little habits. And finally, when was the last time you heard anything here on World Music Central played on a Clear Channel station?

I don’t know if a company like Clear Channel Radio is tyrannical or not. I do know that listeners are getting short changed with the same playlists being played over and over again. I also know local bands, concert tours, world music musicians and fair business practices take a hit when this kind of corporate rule comes to prominence.

But the question remains, are we Clear Channels’ accomplices? We might be. Recently, someone sent me an email saying that Americans love complacency and I wondered if it might be true. Finally, I decided that while we’re quick to jump on the bandwagon, we’re equally quick to jump off. I don’t think we’re as enamored with complacency as some people might think. The key is finding the
moral outrage – finding our inner rebel.

I’m a great believer in finding solutions to problems. For example, I complained bitterly for weeks and months over a woman in the neighborhood who used her obnoxious leaf blower on at all hours of the day and night. Solution: Sneak over in the middle of the night with a bunch of leaves and a bottle of industrial-strength glue and glue leaves to driveway. Now before you start calling the police, I didn’t actually do it, but it was a comfort to have a real solution.

But what is the solution in this case? Is it time we take Clear Channel to task by calling or writing Clear Channel advertisers expressing our disgust? Is it time to call up our congressmen to demand an in-depth investigation? Is it the time to stand up to corporate bullies like Clear Channel Radio and say, ‘Pretty is as pretty does and bring the paperwork to prove it?’ Of course, you could just sit back and do nothing, but you don’t really want to be an accomplice, do you?


The Hidden Gate – Jewish Music Around the World

The Hidden Gate - Jewish Music Around the World
Boston, USA – The Hidden Gate – Jewish Music Around the World on Rounder Records was released this week.

From Biblical beginnings, Jewish culture and music are found in over 100 countries spanning six continents. While sharing a strong common history, each geographical region has developed its own distinct identity.

The Hidden Gate samples this vast musical heritage, featuring Hebrew, Yiddish, Ladino and Judeo-Arabic songs from Israeli legends (Chava Alberstein, Ofra Haza) and captivating Sephardic singers (Savina Yannatou, Yasmin Levy) to the little heard music of African and Asian Jews, and the klezmer innovators of Eastern Europe and the New World (The Klezmatics, The Klezmer Conservatory Band).


Music Industry to Take File-Sharers to Court

Durham, NC, USA – Last Thursday the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) announced a change in tactics in its battle against Internet file trading by filing lawsuits against large-scale file-sharers. The RIAA, the association behind the five biggest labels, plans to ferret out Internet offenders they see as violating copyright laws, and file civil and/or criminal lawsuits. As early as August, file sharers could be facing $150,000 fines.

Long seen as one of the causes for sharply declining sales, Internet file-sharing in the past forced the music industry to mount legal actions against Napster and will now turn its attention to the pursuit of individual users of Kazaa, Grokster and iMesh, all popular software packages for file sharers. The RIAA recently won a court battle which will be used to force Verizon to identify the culprits. Reasoning that file-sharing damages all artists, the RIAA has stepped up measures against what it sees as common theft.

The threat seems to have worked in the short term. The announcement and a full-page ad in the New York Times, signed by various music industry trade groups and associations, coincided with a 16% drop in the number of users of Kazaa, the most popular file-sharing software. Of course this drop meant that only 3.8 million users instead of the usual 4.4 million users.

The battle hasn’t been won yet. Fears remain for the music industry as technology enthusiasts shift gears to invent newer software with the ability to cloak users’ identities. The RIAA has been warned by some that it will have to walk a fine line in order to boost industry-run file-sharing software and not further alienate music fans.


Viking Ice And Epic Sagas

Steindór Andersen - Rimur - Icelandic chants
Steindór Andersen – Rimur – Icelandic chants
Steindór Andersen

Rimur – Icelandic chants (Naxos World, 76031-2, 2003)

Predating Christianity in the Nordic countries, the Vikings practiced a pantheistic religion and various myths and tales came from this period. Similar to the Greeks with their epic tales, The Odyssey and The Iliad, Norse legends also existed around this time and have survived through the ages, despite suppression from monotheistic religions.

The Icelandic chant or rima (plural rimur) which are epic songs can in part be traced back to Eddic and Skaldic poetry of the Viking Age. This epic poetry relies heavily on complex metaphors, rhyming meter and are often times constructed into cryptic crossword. The rimur that appear on Steindór Andersen’s collection mostly come from the 1700’s to the early 1900’s featuring exerts of epic poems by Jon Sigurosson (1853-1922), Jon S. Bergmann (1874-1927), Sigurour Breidfjord (1798-1846), The Reverend Hannes Bjarnason (1776-1838) and others.

The rimur were recorded in the Icelandic language and at varying settings including a church, the Salurinn Concert Hall and a small household using portable state of the art equipment. This allowed Steindor and Oscar-nominated Composer and Producer Hilmar Orn Hilmarsson to record the rimur in settings similar to the original settings in which rimur were performed. In the distant past, rimur were performed outside in fields and in sleeping lofts. And rimur proved to be a popular form of entertainment during the Middle Ages and contemporary times despite the Christian church’s ban on these epic tales. Yet, this didn’t stop Icelanders from leaving church service early to hear rimur nor did it stop Reverend Hannes Bjarnason from composing and performing these so-called work of the devil.

Today a resurgence of rimur has attracted Icelandic youth to discover their Viking roots. This is due in part to the society IDUNN which formed in Reykjavik in 1929 and has preserved the tradition to this day. However, Steindor’s recording marks the first non field recording and features a couple contemporary fixturings. A didgeridoo or another chanter accompany Steindor on tracks 13, 15 and 17 and an Irish harp appears on tracks 16 and 18. Normally, rimur are performed a capella because they represent stories being sung instead of narrated. Listeners unfamiliar with the Icelandic language will enjoy the chants’ aesthetics in the same vein as enjoying Tibetan or Gregorian chants, but will miss out on the rich nuances provided by metaphors and rhyming meter. As it is, brief synopses of the stories are included.

Buy Rimur – Icelandic chants


020 Tangorock Band

Buenos Aires, Argentina – 020 (zero2zero) has released its debut album, End of Illusions, on Constitution Music Records. The band, based in Buenos Aires is formed by Maxx (vocals), Diego Velázquez (guitar), Hernan Padro (bass), Marcelo Ferrari (piano), Leadron Lijan (drums) and special guest Daniel Rugeiro (bandoneon). The new album is a blend of different musical cultures. For more information go to:


Yaya Diallo’s Upcoming Album "Live at Club Soda"

Yaya Diallo - Live at Club Soda
Yaya Diallo – Live at Club Soda
Canada – Yaya Diallo’s upcoming album Live at Club Soda with his band Kanza is reminiscent of 1950’s rock-n-roll and blues. It features saxophone, electric violin, bass and lead guitars, drum set, vocals and traditional African drums. Asked if he was influenced by the music of the 50s era, Yaya responded that the saxophone and electric violin players in his band grew up with rock-n-roll, blues and jazz.

A favorite track on the Live at Club Soda album, “Samba The Trucker,” is a song about a fellow with little or no education, crude manners and worse behavior, particularly when it comes to the ladies. The album contains an a capella child’s lullaby. When asked how this song fits on the album Yaya responded that music is for everyone, so it is fitting to have something for the children.

Live at Club Soda was recorded at Club Soda, Montreal, Canada, 1989. The song “Samba The Trucker” can now be listened to on New Music Canada.


La Ruta de los Foramontanos by Balbarda

Balbarda - La Ruta de los Foramontanos
Balbarda – La Ruta de los Foramontanos

La Ruta de los Foramontanos (self produced, 2002)

Madrid has become a hot spot for world music and contemporary folk bands. Balbarda is yet another group to add to the list. The band plays mainly instrumental music. Balbarda is proof of what good things can happen when you combine several musical traditions in the Spanish capital’s melting pot. Most of the fascinating melodies are based on Castillian folk music, with contemporary arragements. But there are also thrilling Celtic influences, flamenco rhythms and jazz elements.Four musicians, including three multi-instrumentalists form the band: Xurxo Ordóñez plays various types of Spanish bagpipes and flutes. Jota Martínez is an outstanding hurdy-gurdy player who also plays sings and plays percussion. Javier Monteagudo plays guitars, ud, and percussion. Ana Alcaide plays fiddle.

Since this is a truly independent release, the best way to find out how to purchase a copy of the album is to contact the bandat their Web site:


Your Connection to traditional and contemporary World Music including folk, roots and various types of global fusion