Preparations Advance for International Benny Moré Festival

beny_more-small(Prensa Latina – Cumbancha ) Santa Isabel de las Lajas, Cienfuegos.- All Las Lajas seems to be working on preparations for the 14th International Benny Moré Music Festival, to take place here September 11 through 14. Every two years, the people from Lajas, Cienfuegos and Cubans in general get ready to celebrate with a big party, the birth anniversary (this year 84th) of the late musician, rumba star and great improviser. More than 30 bands and singers will play in concert during the four days of the festival, and the scheduled performances include Los Van Van, Isaac Delgado, Equis Alfonso, Pupi y los que Son Son, Elíades Ochoa, Augusto Enriquez and his Mambo Band and the Varela Miranda Family. The performance of Omara Portuondo and her group, Elito Revé, Héctor Téllez, Arte Mixto, the Charanga Cienfueguera, Selección Latina, Los Moddys, Nueva Clave, Estilo Propio, Ecos and the Festival Orchestra is expected. The list of foreign acts announced include the Swedish Calixto Oviedo Band, and Calle Real, Puerto Ricans Manolo Rivera, Truco y Zaperoco and the Coabey Dancers, Aja from Barbados, the Japanese band Cachimba, and Claudia Acuña and La Timba Loca (US). The Festival will open on the morning of September 11, with the traditional pilgrimage to Benny’s tomb.

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From the Roots of Moravian Folklore 

Prague, Czech Republic – Czech label, Indies Records, has released a new album that focuses on the Moravian tradition.

Magic Playing…from the Roots of Moravian Folklore (Indies Records MAM 209) features 13 music bands that represent current day artists who draw from the Moravian folk tradition. They compose or perform their own versions of folk tunes, with new arrangement and thus preserve the creative
link between the musical past and future thereby strengthening the original and unique culture of the Czech lands.

Bands and individual artists with a long tradition, Hradišťan, Iva Bittová, Teagrass, Tomáš Kočko, appear on the CD along with young, beginning musicians (Maraca, Docuku, Benedikta) who still discover the beauty of folk songs.The focus of the album is not to survey the entire range of this musical branch so popular nowadays. It simply tries to give the listeners at home and abroad an idea about Moravian world music.

The booklet comes in 4 languages:  English, French, German, and Czech. An MP# is available at:
free MP3 – Muziga.. 

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Cast Your Nomination to the National Recording Registry Today

Washingon
DC, USA – There isn’t much time left and you’ll need to act quickly if you want the
chance to nominate your favorite recording to the National Recording Registry. 
The deadline is set for September 1, 2003. 

The National Recording Preservation Act of 2000 was a bill that created the
National Recording Registry, part of the Library of Congress.  This registry is
responsible for  the preservation of “sound recordings and collections of sound
recordings that are culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant, and
for other purposes” (Public Law 106-474; H.R.4846).”

Go to
http://www.loc.gov/rr/record/nrpb/
and follow the directions to check out
the rules and cast your nomination.  This site also features a link to view the
2002 list on the registry.
 

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Toi Toi by Thomas Mapfumo & The Blacks Unlimited

Thomas Mapfumo and the Blacks Unlimited – Toi Toi (Protest)
Thomas Mapfumo and the Blacks Unlimited

Toi Toi (Protest) (aNOnym ReCOrds, 2003)

With lyrics that encompass Mapfumo‘s strong sense of social activism and pleas for divine intervention, Toi Toi (Protest), released on aNOnym ReCOrds, is a musical journey through the sometimes desperate human landscape of Zimbabwe, all wrapped up in the rhythmic elegance of Africa.

Mapfumo, marked as a revolutionary hero in his native Zimbabwe, continues his social and political crusade on Toi Toi with songs such as “Pasi Inhaka” (This World), “Vechidiki” (Youngsters) and “Musha Wenyu” (Your Home) that speak of the suffering that continues there and the need for help.

Backing up Thomas Mapfumo with Lancelot Mapfumo, Christopher Muchabaiwa, Mavis Mapfumo and Firista Bisiwasi on vocals is the incomparable The Blacks Unlimited and Friends. Chaka Mhembere and Bezil Makombe are the group’s mbira players with Zivai Guveya taking electric and acoustic guitars, marimba, mbira and vocals.

Percussion is rounded out with Lancelot Mapfumo, Christopher Muchabaiwa, Gilbert Zvamaida, Marven Sarutawa and Njwaki Batista Nyoni. Tsepo Makhaza plays bass; Banning Eyre on acoustic and electric guitar plays a couple of tracks; Gilbert Zvamaida is heard on the Zimbabwean sessions and Paul Prince plays guitar on Musha Wenyu. The brass section is rounded out with Brooks Barnett on trumpet; David Rhodes on tenor saxophone; Ohj Tavallai and Abel Chipango on trombone and Philip Mandizvidza Svosve on saxophone. Lancelot Mapfumo and Philip Domingo play keyboards.

Mapfumo fans will take quickly to upbeat “Timothy” and “Dande.” The charming ease of tracks “Komborera” (Bless) and “Ndateterera” (I Am Pleading) are musical proof that Mapfumo make even the most heartfelt appeal for change dignified and delightful at the same time.

Toi Toi opens the mind and the heart and hopefully makes change possible.

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Rough Guide Boxed Sets

Asian Beat Box
Asian Beat Box
San Francisco, USA – The producers of the Rough Guide series have compiled several of the individual CDs to create thematic boxed sets. Each box contains 4 titles. The first boxed sets are:

American Roots Box.

Included titles: 1) RGNET1028CD The Rough Guide To Cajun & Zydeco, 2) RGNET1059CD The Rough Guide To Bluegrass, 3) RGNET1087CD The Rough Guide To Delta Blues, 4) RGNET1090CD The Rough Guide To Gospel.

Arabic Beat Box. Included titles:

1) RGNET1064CD The Rough Guide To Sufi Music, 2) RGNET1085CD The Rough Guide To Bellydance, 3) RGNET1093CD The Rough Guide To Arabesque, 4) RGNET1100CD The Rough Guide To Rai.

Asian Beat Box. Included titles:

1) RGNET1054CD The Rough Guide To Bhangra, 2) RGNET1074CD The Rough Guide To Bollywood, 3) RGNET1091CD The Rough Guide To The Music Of India, 4) RGNET1096CD The Rough Guide To The Asian Underground.

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Japanese Guitarist Donates 25 Pianos to Cuba

(Prensa Latina – Cumbancha) Havana, Cuba – Antonio Koga, one of the best Japanese guitarists, in a gesture of love, human sensibility and solidarity, donated 25 Yamaha pianos to Cuban cultural education centers. The delivery ceremony was held at the Amadeo Roldan Theater Auditorium, where Koga, a Cuban music lover stated that the idea came from a visit he paid to Cuban Art Schools where he saw how instruments were needed to teach the children.

From that very moment he started collecting instruments with the help of some friends, to fix them and bring them to Cuba.”All I can do will be for children to learn music“, the Japanese guitarist said. All this have been done voluntarily by friends who responded to the call to help Cuba.

We collected and stored them and then the Japanese Foreign Affairs Ministry helped us to bring everything to the Havana port. We never thought how much could it cost, we simply did it for the love of Cuban children“, said Koga.

The pianos will go to the Higher Institute of Art (ISA) and to elementary and middle level schools, from where excellent musicians have emerged in the last few years. The Yamaha pianos have a presence and sound similar to the grand piano, and are often used in music classes for their excellent quality.

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Ghazal Astounds, Khan Makes Sweet Sounds.

Ghazal – The Rain
Ghazal – The Rain (ECM 1840, 2003)

Shujaat Husain Khan – Hawa Hawa (World Village 468022, 2003)

Ghazal, a duo comprised of Iranian kamancheh (spike fiddle) player Kayhan Kalhor and Indian sitarist Shujaat Husain Khan, have created nothing short of a masterpiece with The Rain. The two have put out some fine work previously, most notably 1998’s Moon Rise Over the Silk Road (Shanachie), but this live
recording taken from a 2001 performance in Bern, Switzerland captures all the nuance of their Persian/Indian fusion to near perfection.

The northern India Mughal period in which Hindustani and Persian music most closely influenced each other is long past, but the imprint remains indelible and the music of Ghazal brings it richly to life. Through three gorgeously extended tracks, the kamancheh and sitar pave the way for each other, taking
turns leading the way along a sonically scenic improvised path and frequently merging and melding with astounding intricacy that never puts showing off ahead of making beautiful music (though there is some well-deserved razzle dazzle toward the end). Joining in on tabla is Sandeep Das, and the elegant gallop of his playing adds a rhythmic rise and fall that compliments to just the right degree. Khan’s occasional vocal passages provide a kind of soothing narration, reflective of the inner peace and refreshment that the music sparks.

Don’t put off obtaining this disc for too long, because believe me, you’ll want it in your
collection. In addition to his work with Ghazal, Shujaat Khan has his current work, Hawa Hawa, due to be released September 9th.

While it won’t thrill every cell in your body like the Ghazal release, there’s still much to love about it. Khan presents his roots–the folk traditions of north India–in the form of these songs
celebrating love, longing and everyday life. The sitar work sparkles with warmth and power in this folk setting, achieving an intimacy that sitar in its more familiar classical setting often keeps at arm’s length. Khan’s singing is likewise down to earth, sounding like equal parts wise storyteller, gypsy
troubadour and Sufi mystic.

A foundation of swaying percussion drives the songs gently forward, punctuating the vocals and sitar in accordingly elegant fashion. The vibe is mellow from beginning to end, but thanks to Khan’s humble passion and inherent talent (he comes from a long line of master musicians), it never gets tiresome.

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Recording Industry Group Versus ‘Nycfashiongirl’

Washington, D.C., USA – – With hundreds of lawsuits in the works against online file sharers and up to a $150,000 fine for each song illegally downloaded, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is fighting it out in the courts against an unlikely opponent known only as ‘nycfashiongirl.’ The RIAA is pursuing a copyright subpoena in order to force Verizon Internet Services Inc. to identify ‘nycfashiongirl’ for allegedly sharing more than 900 songs over the Internet.

Brooklyn’s ‘nycfashiongirl,’ through attorney Daniel N. Ballard of California, has argued that identifying her is an infringement of her constitutionally guaranteed right to privacy and the freedom of anonymous association. ‘Nycfashiongirl’ claims the songs on her computer were from legally purchased CDs.

The RIAA isn’t buying it and suggested it has proof. Industry investigators revealed the practice of using digital fingerprints or “hashes” that can single out MP3 files downloaded from the Internet. These fingerprints are believed to be able to differentiate between purchased CDs and illegally downloaded song files.

The RIAA also revealed another means of detecting pirated music known as “metadata” tags that embed bits information on MP3 files.

The legal wrangling is expected to continue with 1,300 subpoenas issued to Internet providers to identify suspected file sharers. A pledge for hearings on the copyright subpoenas by Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman, the chairman of the Senate Governmental Affairs’ Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, used to hunt down music file sharers is sure to complicate the legal fight.

 

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TJ Nelson is also a fiction writer. Check out her latest book, Chasing
Athena’s Shadow
<http://www2.xlibris.com/bookstore/bookdisplay.asp?bookid=34163>. Set in
Pineboro, North Carolina, Chasing Athena’s Shadow follows the adventures
of Grace, an adult literacy teacher, as she seeks to solve a long
forgotten family mystery.  Her charmingly dysfunctional family is of
little help in her quest.  Along with her best friends, an attractive
Mexican teacher and an amiable gay chef, Grace must find the one fading
memory that holds the key to why Grace’s great-grandmother, Athena, shot
her husband on the courthouse steps in 1931. Traversing the line between
the Old South and New South, Grace will have to dig into the past to
uncover Athena’s true crime.

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New Book Traces Reggae’s Roots

Reggae Heritage: Jamaica's Music Culture and Politics
Reggae Heritage: Jamaica’s Music Culture and Politics
Kingston, Jamaica – First time author and former disc jockey of New York station WNWK, Lou Gooden has put reggae’s past on paper with the release of his book, Reggae Heritage: Jamaica’s Music Culture and Politics. Gooden chose self-publisher First Books.com to offer the book electronically through the Internet with printed copies available in weeks.

Hailed as one of the first books about reggae ‘written by an insider,’ Gooden, an avid proponent of early reggae and having recently returned to Jamaica, traces the roots of reggae back to the 1940s and the heavy influence of American jazz, R&B and the later the 1960’s ska movement that made their mark on the music. Gooden admits some areas of the book need further tightening due to his rush to get the 370-page book completed, but admirers suggest that Gooden has included some of the aspects of reggae that other authors have so far ignored.

Known as a long time supporter of reggae and disc jockey at the famous Negril Beach Village during the 1970s, Gooden has finally finished the 10-year book project with the hopes of turning the book into another addition.

Lou Gooden is a native Jamaican, who attended Crescent College located in Kingston, Jamaica. He has worked as a DJ in Jamaica and the United States.

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Sister Act – Les Nubians Take One Step Foward

Les Nubians
Celia and Helene Faussart are genuine multicultural amalgams. Daughters of a Cameroonian mother and a French father, they were raised both in France and in the central African country of Chad.

With so many diverse cultural influences in their lives, the sisters credit their own mixed musical style to a number of factors. “We’re Afro-peans ”, says Celia, “so our music comes from everywhere. From our father we heard classical music and French singers like Edith Piaf and Charles Aznavour. Our mother introduced us to Celia Cruz, Harry Belafonte and traditional African music. Our aunties exposed us to Aretha Franklin and Otis Redding, and through our cousins we heard Herbie Hancock, Public Enemy, the beginnings of hip-hop, and AC/DC!

”Originally performing as an a cappella duo, Les Nubians began their own careers in local French clubs. “We were presenting Black music as a tree, going from the roots to the leaves”, says Faussart. “We were
doing traditional African music, then gospel, jazz covers, soul, reggae, calypso, hip-hop, a bit of everything
.”  

Les Nubians were spotted early by Virgin Records, who released the sisters’ debut album Princesses Nubiennes in ’98. A sophisticated, yet funky blend of soulful, jazzy grooves combined with a streetwise attitude, their hip Sade-meets-Zap Mama sound found an audience not only in France, but also somewhat surprisingly in America, where it was picked up by the college radio stations and sold over 400,000 copies.  

We were surprised”, says Celia. “At first we thought it was just the French-speaking people in the United States who were buying it. But then we were told that the stations there kept getting requests
for the single ‘Makeda’. It was comforting response for us, an affirmation of human nature. Music is its own language, and it showed that people are sometimes more open than you think they are
.” 

So with such a successful debut, why has it taken the Faussart sisters five years to record One Step Forward, their just-released second album? “Oh, we’ve been busy” explains Celia. “It took us a while to promote and perform the first album around the world. In between albums we also had kids and organised our own music company. We produced a spoken word poetry project as well, which hasn’t been released yet. Also we wanted to go back to real life, because living in hotel rooms doesn’t give you the true flavour of life. We needed to go back to our own lives and get inspiration from real people and places.”

One Step Foward features contributions from reggae group Morgan Heritage, African veterans Manu Dibango, Ray Lema and Richard Bona, with Brooklyn MC Talib Kweli and UK hip-hop producer I G Culture. There are also considerably more tracks sung in English on the new album. 

It came really naturally for us to use more English this time because with our tours to America and the recording work that we’ve done in London, we’ve gotten used to speaking a lot more English in the past few years”, says Faussart. “And we tried to mix generations too, bringing in some of the older players, along with some of the best new poet/rappers who are pushing away some of the musical barriers. That’s what we were searching to do on this album.” 

Sharing a United States tour earlier this year with their Afropean vocal heroines Zap Mama, one might have expected some nationalistic Americans to take these French-speaking women to task over recent US/French disagreements on the Iraqi war. Les Nubians’ new song ‘La Guerre (The War)’
could also have been seen as fanning the controversial flames. But Faussart indicates that that wasn’t the case. 

We didn’t really experience any negativity. We were touring there when the war started, but the people who came to our shows weren’t in that state of mind. But the subject was definitely in the air and we had to talk about it. We’re just saying in the song that we’re the creators of our own reality. If we as humans want to create war, then we’re very good at doing that, but if we want instead to create a peaceful world, it’s also possible to give it a try for a change. My sister and I experienced war ourselves when we were growing up in Chad, and we don’t wish that on anybody. We were just trying to
make people think about it and that can’t be a bad thing
.” 

[This article originally appeared in “Rhythms” magazine (Australia)]

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