Mahima (Riverboat Records/World Music Network TUGCD1029)
American acoustic guitarist Bob Brozman certainly has a knack for wonderfully unique collaborations. I’m not sure if he chooses the collaborators or they choose him, but everyone seems to emerge a winner when a Brozman team-up comes to pass. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Brozman is a master musician just as surely as are those he pairs with, but the real secret seems to be just the the right meshing of elements that work culturally as well as sonically. Brozman’s previous discs with Okinawan sanshin player Takashi Hirayasu and Reunion Island accordionist Rene Lacaille just sounded so indefinably right. They were fusions that seemed to presume nothing and thus succeeded at everything.
Now, Brozman has hooked up with Calcutta-born slide guitarist Debashish Bhattacharya to simultaneously pay respect to and shake up the richly complex tradition of Indian raga. Paring down the often epic-length aesthetic of raga into more conventional song structures while maintaining a sense of improvisation and adventurous use of ascending and descending scales, the two create pieces that dip, dance and shimmer with exquisite beauty. The guitars slide along like freshly sharpened skates on ice- deft one moment and drenched with emotion the next, playing through and around differences (and more importantly, similarities) in technique, packed with power but never indulgent.
Bhattacharya and Brozman clearly understand each others’ nuances, and the resulting conversant nature of their playing is a joy to hear. Joining in on percussion is Bhattacharya’s younger brother Subhashis, who likewise bends the rules to good effect by playing not only Indian tablas but a slew of African, Arabic and Celtic instruments.
Sister Sutapa Bhattacharya makes it even more of a family affair with richly celebratory vocals on some tracks, which, like the instrumentals, are reflective of specific aspects of Indian culture or its interactions with other lands on a musical level.
The word mahima translates loosely as “divine inspiration through artistic creation,” and Mahima the album is creative and inspired to the point where the title borders on understatement.
(Prensa Latina – Cumbancha) Havana, Cuba – Cuban musician Compay Segundo, who became a worldwide celebrity in his 90s, is now seriously ill, the office in charge of his affairs confirmed to Prensa Latina Tuesday. Less than a month ago this office acknowledge Compay’s ill health, although at that time, his son Salvador Repilado said it was nothing to be worried about and that his doctor recommended he take some rest. However, Compay’s kidney ailments intensified, and the artist had to cancel contracts and presentations abroad. Now he is in his home in Miramar, Havana, scented by the smell of tropical fruits and vegetables coming from the eastern region of Cuba, which he always has at his table.
In December 2002, a Prensa Latina reporter talked to him in Mexico City, where he spent a little time before heading to the Guadalajara International Book Fair. Later he went back to Mexico in February 2003 and had the National Auditorium at his feet, just as in every other place in the world where he has performed. Máximo Francisco Repilado Muñoz, the birth name of Compay Segundo, displayed his personal humor and the music he wrote on that occasion, and assured he had more songs ready to record in a new album, and that he expected to live for many years, “100 years at least, and then, ask for some extra time.” Maybe to get married again, and between jokes, he assured he was looking for a beautiful woman to seduce.
In his home in Miramar, he celebrated the triumph for the nomination of his CD Las Flores de la Vida to a Grammy Award in 2002, in the category of Best Tropical Album. He held that CD as particularly intimate, because it constituted a sort of tribute to himself. “Everybody has their special moments in life, but it is important to always be aware of them, so as not to lose them. For instance, mine came when I was in my 90’s.”
Born in the small mining town of Siboney, in the eastern Province of Santiago de Cuba, he has always preserved his faithfulness to customs and traditions from his birthplace. An addict of Creole dishes, he always celebrates New Year Eve with the traditional pork meat and green banana chips along with a good drink of “aguardiente” liquor and a cigar as a final touch.
Compay is a nickname taken from the popular greeting among the natives of the eastern part of Cuba, especially those living in Santiago de Cuba. He still keeps his eastern melodic accent with strong reminiscence of the vocabulary inherited from Spain. A tobacco roller himself, but with music still attracting him like a magnet, Compay worked with other famous Cuban musicians such as Ñico Saquito, with whom he formed a quintet, and Miguel Matamoros, who was “a striking mestizo with Carlos Gardel’s looks.” “Matamoros was the king of Cuban son -Compay said recently- and that’s why I joined his group.” In 1995, Compay recorded an anthology of his songs with Spanish producer Santiago Auserón, among them his hits “Macusa” and “Chan Chan.” Later, he took part in the Buena Vista Social Club project, sponsored by Cuban Juan de Marcos Gonzalez and US guitarist and record producer Ry Cooder. His charisma and the quality of songs did the rest. Compay Segundo is an idol, but more important than that, he has never lost his personal modesty.
Kentfield, California, USA – Sasa Music and Ritmo Artists announced today that the planned US performance dates for the traditional Cuban music group Sierra Maestra in June and July of 2003 have been cancelled.
“We are saddened to lose this tour and the wonderful opportunity to hear these great soneros” said David Flower of Sasa Music, the group’s UK-based management agency. “The musicians had their Immigration and Naturalization Service interviews months ago, all the paperwork was filed and in order and the INS was prepared to approve visas for the group. The only item pending was the required Federal Bureau of Investigation background check. For reasons we’re still trying to identify, the background check was not completed by the FBI in a timely manner so that the INS could process the visas required for the tour.” David Gaar of Ritmo Artists, the booking agency responsible for putting together the tour, added: “The group’s I-129 petition was approved by INS on April 9th yet, as of today, there has been no reply back from the FBI on the background checks that are now required due to post 9-11 security regulations…we had enlisted the help of multiple State Representatives who implored that the group’s file be expedited immediately. Those pleas, unfortunately, seem to have fallen upon deaf ears and have been met with no official reply from the FBI.”
However, representatives from Sasa and UK record label World Music Network confirmed that the group will proceed with their three Canadian dates: two performances at Canada Festival D’Ete International in Quebec City on July 8 and 9 and one at Canada Nuits D’Afrique in Montreal on July 10.
“In the post 9/11 climate, many other international artists have been forced to cancel US tours due to visa-related problems,” said Phil Stanton of the UK’s World Music Network. “Yet despite the inconvenience to the group, its many US fans and all those who laboured to bring Sierra Maestra to the US, we are encouraged by the fact that there was no conditional refusal by the INS for the US dates. We hope that Sierra Maestra will be able to complete the FBI background check and that a new round of dates in the US can be set for later this year or next.”
The tour would have been Sierra Maestra’s first in four years and their most extensive US run to date.
Sines, Portugal – The 5th edition of Festival Músicas do Mundo (World Music Festival) 2003, will take place in Sines’ Castle (Portugal) July 24-26. The festival, which takes place since 1999 inside the walls of the old castle, presents on July 26th (Saturday), the Kronos Quartet, the most famous string quartet in the world, commemorating its 30th birthday this year.
The group has been regarded as revolutionary because of the way it has bridged both the repertoires and audiences of classical and popular music (including jazz and world music). The Kronos Quartet opens the last of the FMM2003 evenings, followed by the French Kad Achouri and The Skatalites, the founders fathers of ska rhythm and of all contemporary Jamaican music. The Skatalites will end the Festival itself, as usual, under an uproar of dazzling fireworks.
The Festival begins the July 24th (Thursday) with Portugal and Cape Verde. The opening concert will be fulfilled with the harmonic games of Danças Ocultas quartet, which has decided to give a new character to diatonic accordion in the Portuguese modern music production. Simentera, Cape Verde’s most representative group in the international world music circuit nowadays, closes the first night.
he July 25th (Friday) program includes the performance of Mahwash & Ensemble Kabul (Afghanistan), 2003 winners for Asia / Pacific category in BBC Radio 3 World Music Awards. They will be followed by Mahotella Queens, the historic vocal trio from South Africa, and Totonho & Os Cabra, a Brazilian band that mixes the rural rhythms of “Nordeste” region with hip hop and electronics.
Festival Músicas do Mundo (World Music Festival) is organized by Sines’ City Hall. The Festival, in its past four years life, has already entertained inside the walls of the old Castle, believed to be the birthplace of navigator Vasco da Gama, more than 40,000 people.
In the booklet that comes with this CD it says that Scottish music is…a rich musical heritage rooted, not stuck, in the past…clearly a living tradition…which seems a fair claim to make. For example Emily Smith, who at the time of recording was still studying for a degree in Scottish music, melds a new tune with an old song, Fair Helen Of Kirkconnel. Equally, Deaf Shepherd draw on music from all over the country and join traditional with more contemporary material. They play with verve and invention and in some ways their music sounds timeless and quintessentially Scottish.
The spare beauty of the solo fiddle is almost caught in the work of Bob Hobkirk though it is, by virtue of technology, joined by accordion. He recorded his track in 1973 and I’m not sure why the second instrument was added. It sounds fine but I would have liked to hear the solo fiddle.
There are plenty of other instrumentals that are worth hearing, for example, Pete Clark’s stately Coilsfield House with formal and elegant fiddle and cello setting the melody in restrained surroundings. A superb example of a treatment which enhances the traditional tune. One instrumental outing that I can’t really recommend is a grisly mix of calypso rhythms and Scottish reel. I don’t mind fusions but this sounds like a horrible mistake.
There are a number of winsome ballads here too, my favourite being Fordell Ball sung by Jack Beck. It features a tune I’ve heard many times in both Irish and Scots music and is set to words by Jimmy Dunn. And for those who know Gaelic, Christine Primrose sings, accompanied by harp and whistle. Whether you know the language or not doesn’t matter, as it is still a moving and attractive sound.
Overall there is plenty to attract a newcomer to the music as well as pleasing anyone with an interest in it already. Just one question – how come there is nothing here by one of Scotland’s greatest singers, Dick Gaughan?
For much of the past year, while researching The Rough Guide to Internet Radio, I listened for hours every day to radio from around the world. With as many as 10,000 stations now online to choose from – samba from Brazil, Chinese folk music, Caribbean dance tracks and pretty much anything else you can imagine – I found myself drawn again and again to a handful of Arab-world stations.
At the top of my list is Radio Casablanca, whose musical programming is a sophisticated blend of traditional and contemporary, classical and popular. To even the most casual listener, much of it is beautiful and moving. The vocalists, singing in what is to me an unfamiliar language, always seem to be communicating with the greatest urgency: “Listen to this,” they seem to be saying. “This is important!” But there is no sense of strain, as the musical accompaniment is often reassuringly formal. The rhythms are as elaborate as the most refined of Indian classical music and as driving as those of Africa. There is often a solo instrument out in front, such as a violin that traces clean lines twining like vines through the music. It is meditative enough to let me play it while writing and energetic enough to keep me going. The Radio Casablanca DJs do a great job of maintaining a musical flow, often following a classical piece with one with a contemporary bass track, but always in such a way that it seems like a development rather than a departure. There is little talk to break the mood.
In my experience, it is one of the world’s best stations. The deep reservoir of Arab music, in which a multiplicity of traditions is continually replenished by countless streams of innovation, has become more accessible than ever. Including string quintets, desert folklore, pop genres and sub genres, electronica, village songs, band and vocals of infinitely subtle variation, the music of the Arab world is profoundly diverse, and it is often surprisingly accessible to the western-trained ear.
Thanks to the advent of high-speed modems, and especially DSL and other “always on” technologies, the Internet is now the easiest way to find out for yourself. If you have a computer connected to the Internet, browse to a radio station’s website, which is easy to find using almost any search
engine or the links provided here. Click on a button that says something like “listen live now.” Music should come rolling out your speakers, and the quality should resemble FM radio.
Some websites are in Arabic, but don’t let this faze you, because the button to click is usually fairly self-evident. For example, Emarat FMb, broadcasting from Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, may be puzzling for the non-Arabic speaker, but trial-and-error perseverance will have its rewards. There are six streams there, and while Emirates FM1 and FM2 carry pop music that you can find closer to home, the fifth stream, Sound of Music, is a not-to-be-missed channel emphasizing classical Arab music.
For a perky mood, from Arab versions of teenybob to classier flamenco guitar and fast-pulsing synthesized dance tracks, try MBC. From Saudi Arabia the station’s signal reaches throughout the Arabian Gulf and the Levant – though the existence of the Internet makes a station’s geographical location less and less relevant.
Other sites offer on-demand digital “jukeboxes” instead of, or in addition to, live streams. Radio Cairo (available through the RealAudio button at www.sis.gov.eg) contains an extensive musical archive with sections offering classical and modern music and radio documentary programs about music. If you can’t decide where to begin exploring, start at the top and try your ear on Um Kulthum, still the greatest modern Egyptian vocalist more than a quarter-century after her death. The huge emotional response her music evokes to this day from Arabs everywhere speaks to the living power of music, to the strength of national feelings and to her power as a singer, which still comes through even to listeners who don’t understand the words.
Another superb jukebox is at Radio Méditerranée Internationale out of Tangiers, in French. Look under “musique,” and click away at hundreds of selections. You could spend months here without hearing the same thing twice.
Similarly, Egyptian Castle has a collection categorized under “The Masters,” “The New Generation” and “Great Oldies.” Particularly interesting is the “Bride and Groom” section, a collecti0n of traditional Egyptian wedding songs. But go here soon, as the site is up for sale and may close in the near future.
The broadcast-ranging jukebox collection is that of
National Radio of Tunis, which offers a broad introduction to the richly modal traditions of the uniquely Tunisian malouf tradition. (“Modes” are the various ways of selecting which notes will be used to form scales or chords: major and minor are the most familiar western modes. Western modes are assembled from among 12 semi-tones and Arab modes from 24 quarter-tones, so more modes are possible in Arab music.)
Radio Casablanca, too, has a “Sound Bank” with a dazzling array of contemporary rai, sharqi, amazigh and pop styles, including 14 live concerts ranging from those by solo vocalists to pop festivals to a folkloric concert featuring what sounds like a whole village clapping, singing and ululating to the loping accompaniment of a single drum.
Want more? Visit indexes of still more Internet radio stations – too many to list here – through your favorite search engine or links at www.heberlein.net. Feel free to e-mail me your comments on anything you hear. I’ll reply to you as soon as I turn down Radio Casablanca.
Poet and writer L.A. Heberlein is a lifelong fan of radio, the sometime host of a world-music radio program, founder of an early Internet software company and author of The Rough Guide to Internet Radio (Rough Guides, ISBN 1-85828-961-0). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Listening to the Holy Qur’an
The word qur’an means “recitation,” and a single, unaccompanied voice is the oldest means of communicating the Word of God as contained in the Qur’an. Reciters employ one of seven styles that have evolved over the 14 centuries since the coming of Islam, and the sublime beauty and power of their song-like recitations remain too little known among non-Muslims. You can hear the Qur’an recited at the Qur’an Radio Station, from Saudi Arabia, at www.kacst.edu.sa/en/stream.
[From the Saudi Aramco magazine November/December 2002 issue. Reproduced by courtesy of Saudi Aramco Magazine]
Buy a href=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1858289610?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creativeASIN=1858289610&linkCode=xm2&tag=musidelmund-20″>The Rough Guide to Internet Radio
New York, USA – One of the finest acts from Zimbabwe will be touring North America to present The Oliver Mtukudzi Collection – The Tuku Years, his new album.
The Oliver Mtukudzi Collection features some of the most enduring and appealing songs by this extraordinary artist from Zimbabwe. A legendary figure in contemporary African music, Oliver’s albums are consistent bestsellers in his native land, and his previous three acclaimed releases on Putumayo have helped catapult him to international recognition as one of the African continent’s most important artists.
A master songwriter with a gift for combining gripping melodies, captivating rhythms and potent lyrics, Oliver Mtukudzi uses music to entertain, heal and provoke listeners both at home and around the world.
Dates subject to change. Please verify with venue.
Date: City & State: Venue:
7/5/03 Lugano, Switzerland Lugano Jazz Festival
7/10/03 Chicago, IL Putumayo 10th Anniversary Celebration @ Summerdance
7/11/03 Detroit, MI Concert of Colors Festival
7/12/03 Detroit, MI Wealthy Theater
7/13/03 Chicago, IL The Folk and Roots Festival
7/13/03 Chicago, IL HotHouse Cultural Center — Late Show
7/14/03 Cincinatti, OH TBC*
7/17/03 Trumansburg, NY Finger Lakes Grass Roots Festival
7/18/03 Providence, RI Waterplace Park Concert Series
7/19/03 Montreal, Canada Putumayo 10th Anniversary Celebration @
International Festival Nuits De Afrique.
7/20/03 Ottawa, Canada Ottawa International Jazz Festival
7/21/03 Toronto, Canada Phoenix Concert Theater
7/23/03 New York, NY SOB’s
7/24/03 Washington, DC Kennedy Center Millennium Stage
7/25/03 Atlantic City, NJ Kennedy Plaza
7/26/03 Brooklyn, NY Celebrate Brooklyn Festival
7/27/03 Schenectady, NY Central Park
7/29/03 Roseburg, OR Music On the Half Shell
7/30/03 Portland, OR Portland Zoo Amphitheatre
7/31/03 Albany, OR River Rhythms Concert Series 8/1/03 Piercy, CA Reggae On
8/2/03 Fallon, NV Churchill Arts Council
8/3/03 San Francisco, CA African Odyssey @ Stern Grove Festival
8/5/03 Santa Cruz, CA Moe’s Alley Nightclub
8/6/03 Los Angeles, CA TBC*
8/8/03 San Juan Capistrano, CA Music at the Library Cultural Arts Series
8/9/03 Sedona, AZ Putumayo 10th Anniversary Celebration @ Sedona Cultural
Los Angeles, USA – Quetzal, the groundbreaking band stemming from the barrios of Los Angeles is set for its worldwide release today, July 8th, titled Worksongs (Vanguard Records). The release also marks the band’s 10-year anniversary of creating real heartfelt Latin folk and roots-rock music. Worksongs, an 11-track collection of powerful songs collaborated on by the six band members, follows their critically acclaimed album Sing The Real released last year on Vanguard Records.
Quetzal’s grassroots approach to fusing the folk styles of Mexico and Cuba, including son and bolero, alongside tasteful elements of rock and blues, carves an inspiring path in the tiresome music industry. After the successful tours and concerts alongside the likes of Los Lobos, Aerosmith, Ozomatli, Taj Mahal and Michelle Shocked, Quetzal proved beyond doubt, their ability to play intimate clubs and large arenas alike without a hitch, gaining fans at every stop.
Produced by longtime Los Lobos saxophonist Steve Berlin, whose playing and production credits include Bonnie Raitt, John Lee Hooker, Sheryl Crow, Faith No More and Paul Simon, saw the working relationship a perfect fit. “It’s profound, there’s not enough articulation about what’s going on in East LA [Los Angeles],” he says. “Worksongs is not just a record; they are the voice of the culture. We’ve [Los Lobos] carried the torch long enough, and I think Quetzal is the next to step up and speak for the community.”
Quetzal is now performing music from Worksongs and is not only touring with Ziggy Marley, Taj Mahal and Little Feat, but will headline major concerts in Los Angeles (Ford Amphitheater), Cleveland (Night Town), and other major cities.
Quetzal is: Quetzal Flores, Martha Gonzalez, Edson Gianesi, Gabriel Gonzalez, Dante Pascuzzo, and Kiko Cornejo.
Floyd, Virginia, USA – The second annual Floydfest … Outta This World Music Festival, is set for Aug. 15-17 at a magnificent 80-acre site off the beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway in Floyd County.
This year the African Showboyz will join the Kusun, straight from the bush of Accra, Ghana, and take the stage alongside such greats as The David Grisman Quintet, Peter Rowan, Tony Rice, Nickel Creek, and many more, as well as a host of local talent. The event also celebrates the wealth of indigenous
artisanship in the area, including demo workshops, and dedicates a large space to showcasing the healing arts, with daily yoga and tai chi classes, as well as a variety of massage and body work.
This year’s Flodfest also will be remembering its friend Babatunde Olatunji, who recently passed away not long after taking an active role in helping bring African Showboyz from the northern bush of Ghana to the festival for their first visit to United States.
When Babatunde Olatunji mailed a handwritten letter to musician and promoter Kris Hodges, little did he know that the music from his homeland of Africa, a music he was working to preserve by showcasing unknown African bands to a US audience, would be making a debut performance in the US in the rural Virignia mountain town of Floyd.
The Kusun Ensemble, a troupe of musicians from Accra, Ghana led by Nii Tettey Tetteh, is slated for an opening performance Friday morning. But the Kusun has already found a second home in Floyd, Virginiaa, USA. In the two months prior to the festival, Hodges has scheduled the group to lead drum and dance workshops in the area and perform at universities and local venues. On a warm July evening they give an impromptu performance at a community potluck, singing and drumming on a makeshift stage and taking turns leading the audience in the provocative movements of African dance. They’re lodging a few miles out of the one-stoplight town of Floyd, a left off of Route 8 and another onto ‘Milky Way’, and into High Flowing, one of Floyd’s many alternative communities.
When Hodges when to Africa to study African drumming, he and Tettey made a spiritual connection. The two deplored the plight of Africa, a continent wasting for lack of an economy and the knowledge necessary to create a viable infrastructure. They discussed global politics, and how fear and greed create the illusion of separateness. They spent their time playing music, reaffirming the idea that music and culture are unifying forces, which transcend social boundaries. Hodges invited Tettey to come to America, to Floyd, to experience his community and to play at a festival he was planning; the Floyd World Music Festival.
Stop by on any given weekday during the summer and you’re likely to hear the unlikely sound of an accordion, played by German-born hostess and bohemian artist Starroot, behind the complex beat of traditional African drums and percussion. On and around the low-slung porch of the main house a colorful group dances, sings, and plays music, as the smells of a fish fry drift through the open windows.
In the southwest Virginia mountain town of Floyd, an eclectic blend of cultures are living a harmonious existence. Floyd is home to some of the finest bluegrass and old-time musicians around; and they all come together every Friday night for a jamboree at the old Country Store downtown. Simultaneously there exists a deeply-rooted counterculture, established in the early 1970s, exemplified by the existence of a thriving health food’s coop, a hip vegetarian restaurant, and the New Mountain Mercantile, which does a brisk tourist business selling locally made crafts including pottery, candles, stained glass, clothing, sculpture and jewelry. Outside an office atop the mercantile, a lighted movie-style marquee sign reads: “Across-the-Way Productions, headquarters of the Floyd World Music Festival.”
Chico, USA – The 2003 edition of WorldFest will take place July 17-20 in the fairgrounds of Grass Valley, California. The festival includes concerts, workshops (vocal, instrumental and percussion), a complete children’s program, and great food. This is the line-up so far:
John Cowan Band ~ Vocal super band
Tommy Emmanuel ~ Guitar Wizard
Perla Batalla ~ Mesamerican Chanteuse
Alasdair Fraser ~ Scottish Fiddle
Waifs ~ Australian Pop
Obo Addy ~ Ghana Superstar
Laura Love Duo with Jen Todd ~ Afro Celtic
Juan L. Sanchez Ensemble ~ Cosmopolitan Sounds of Spain
Mamadou Diabate Ensemble~ Village tunes of Mali
Vishten ~ Red Hot Acadian Fiddle & Dance
the bluehouse ~ Sassy pop & harmony
Balkan Cabaret ~ Old World Standards
Incendio ~ Latin Guitar Fusion
Joaquin Diaz ~ Caribbean Merengue
Xavier Rudd ~ Didgeridoo Wildman
Paul Kamm & Eleanore MacDonald ~ Contemporary Folk
Plus, Troika Folk Dance and Sid Lewis’ Acoustic College
For more information, go to: www.worldfest.net
Your Connection to traditional and contemporary World Music including folk, roots and various types of global fusion