Everywhere You Want to Be

Lucky Dube – The Other Side
Lucky Dube – The Other Side (Heartbeat 11661-7770-2, 2003)

Nasio – Living in the Positive (Higher Love Music, 2003)

Mounia Sahara – I’ve Got A Joy (Silver Globe Records SGRCD 001, 2003)

Various Artists – World Reggae (Putumayo PUT 221-2, 2004)

Reggae is about as “world” as music gets. The rhythm, style and ideology that infuse the classic Jamaican sound have influenced the work of reggae and non-reggae musicians across the globe. It’s a fact that bears no burden of proof on my part, so looking at these examples of reggae from beyond Jamaica can
simply serve as a reminder. Despite my deep love for African reggae, I haven’t been too fond of what South Africa’s Lucky
Dube
has done in the last decade or so. After the promising spark of his
late ’80s/early ’90s albums Slave and Prisoner
(released in the U.S on Shanachie), he seemed to slip into a rut. His Peter Tosh-type voice remained strong but his lyrical sentiments felt overly familiar or indifferently expressed. Plus, many of his songs relied on an overworked formula of wispy keyboards, busy drum fills and bass lines that simply weren’t heavy enough.

To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much when The Other Side, his first disc for the Heartbeat label, arrived at my door. Well, to hell with my expectations, because The Other Side is easily the best album Dube’s done in a dozen
years and quite possibly his best ever. The songs are insightful, the arrangements and overall sound invigorating, and the spark Dube showed back in the day has returned. Peaks include the title track, which sagely compares life in Jamaica with life in Soweto, the better-than-the-name-sounds “Ding Ding Licky Licky Licky Bong,” which catches hold with some highlife touches, contrasting looks at human potential such as “Soldier” and “Hero” and the wistfully witty “Julie! Julie!” If this really is the other side of Lucky Dube, I hope he’s crossed over for good.

Nasio Fontaine is a boyish-faced Rastafarian from Dominica who’s been putting out great reggae for some time. Vocally, he bears more than a fleeting resemblance to Bob Marley and has been accused in some circles of being too derivative of the late great. But Nasio (he usually goes without the surname these days) is a talent in his own right and Living in the Positive burns strong and solid. It’s an exceptionally well-produced album, with bass, drums, guitars, keyboards, percussion, horns and vocals grooving on an even keel and Nasio’s relaxed but urgent voice stating his case throughout the sort of anthemic songs that give reggae its familiar empowering vibe- “African Spirit,” “Where We Belong,” “Rise Up,” etc. Playing to the conscious and spiritual strengths always and forever at the core of reggae music, Nasio proves himself a mighty force within it.

She was born in Morocco and is presently based in Canada, and Mounia Sahara’s I’ve Got A Joy delivers genuine-sounding contemporary roots reggae full of spirit and substance. It’s not groundbreaking and doesn’t need to be, because these songs of faith, love and perseverance are straight from the heart and sung with humble sincerity. Versions of the title song in three different languages
show just how much joy Sahara has got, though many of the songs are slow and meditative. An impressive disc that definitely merits the attention of reggae fans worldwide.

The prolific and popular Putumayo label has put out previous reggae compilations covering Jamaica and the rest of the planet, so why a release along the lines of their new  World Reggae Simple- because they understand that reggae is one very deep and abundant well, and another trip to draw water from it ain’t a bad idea. Besides, the songs- by a mixture of reggae artists and others trying their hand at reggae -are great. Africans Alpha Blondy and Majek Fashek expertly display the groove influence of their Jamaican peers, Cape Verde’s Maria de Barros drops a distinct reggae feel into her Lusafrican gracefulness, Bernard Uedre gives a heartical pulse to the Kanak musical traditions of his native New Caledonia and India/U.K. artist Apache Indian grafts Hindu devotional chanting onto a drums-and-bass tug with truly mesmerizing results. And that’s not even the half of it. Samplings from Algeria, Cameroon, France, Brazil, Spain and French Guiana further enhance this deep and wide-ranging excursion, the best of its kind in a long time.

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Tango ’til you’re sore

Various Artists

The Rough Guide to the Music of Argentina (World Music Network RGNET1119CD, 2004)

When it comes to Latin music, tango ranks number one for me. And if I had the money and good health to travel, a journey to Argentina would be at the top of my agenda. The story of tango is one of rags to riches or from working class to high society. This global music export found its humble and saucy beginnings in brothels and bars during the late nineteenth century. By the 1920s tango grew to
an international sensation while losing its seedy association. However, it hasn’t lost its sensuality or passion since tango still ranks there at the top of seductive dances as anyone that has witnessed tango dancers tangled in an embrace will attest.

Many of the early tango innovators and composers appear on The Rough Guide to the Music of Argentina as do pioneers such as Astor Piazzolla, the superstar Carlos Gardel and contemporary artists, La Chicana, Adriana Varela, Barbara Luna, Lorena Astudillo and Cuarto Almagro. Many vocalists sweep listeners off of their feet, and musicians perform music that sets passion loose in the bloodstream. And Hugo Diaz delivers a heartfelt Volver on his harmonica. However, other styles of music appear on this CD, including, Chacarera which is typically performed with guitar, vocals and the Argentine traditional drum, (bombo) and Chamame, one of Argentina’s popular folk styles, driven by wild accordion.

This compilation lays out a vast musical landscape by exploring the various facets of tango and Argentina’s other styles of traditional music. Jaime Torres, a master of the Andean string instrument, charango, Beatriz Pichi Malen who explores Argentina’s indigenous side with her love song, Poyenekayan, bombo virtuoso Domingo Cura, folkloric guitarist Alberto Rojo and Chamame accordion
virtuoso Chango Spasiuk (rancheras, polkas, jazz and waltzes) share the spotlight.

I am delighted with the music that appears on this compilation. Once again, Dan Rosenberg (Rough Guide to the Music of Canada) lends his talent as a compiler to the series. While I find myself enjoying all the tracks, my favorite is Astor Piazzolla’s iconoclastic Verano Porteño. He of course, deserves a CD all to himself and is responsible for introducing me to tango and Argentina. Many years ago, I discovered one of his CDs on a rainy day and one listen to that CD changed my life. And now as I listen to The Rough Guide to the Music of Argentina I am swept up in the whirl and madness, passion and melancholy. What more could anyone ask for?

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Sitar Maestro Vilayat Khan Dies in Mumbai

Mumbai, India – The Indian press announced today that sitar maestro Ustad Vilayat Khan died
Saturday night, March 13, of a prolonged illness at a hospital in Mumbai
(Bombay). He was 76.

Khan died at Jaslok Hospital of lung cancer. He was admitted to the hospital
on February 26 for treatment of diabetes, hypertension and lung cancer. He died
at 11:25 pm. Khan’s body was flown to Kolkata (Calcutta) where his last rites
were performed earlier today.His brother Imrat Khan was by his bedside and added some details: “At 11pm on Saturday evening in Mumbai, the great & legendary sitar
player, my brother Ustad Vilayat Khan passed away and went to his
heavenly abode, leaving his family, friends, and many admirers with
great great sadness, after his struggle of nearly a week with cancer
which had spread unexpectedly thru his system. During his illness I
was very fortunate to be present at his bed-side and got the
opportunity of knowing many of his last wishes and desires. Also, his
sons Shujaat and Hidayat, along with my sons Nishat and Irshad Khan,
were all present there to look after him. Finally, after his passing
away decisions were made to bring him from Mumbai to Kolkata to be
buried by the side of our father Ustad Inayat Khan-saheb
.”

Ustad Vilayat Khan
occupied an unsurpassed place in the world of Indian classical instrumental music. Recognized internationally as one of India’s greatest musicians, there were few to equal him in his mastery over the sitar.
Given the title “radiant star of the sitar” by Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed, the late
president of India, Khan was widely regarded as the greatest living sitar player. He revolutionized sitar performance through his introduction of the gayaki ang, or vocal style. His distinctive vocal approach is the most imitated
in the world.

Born in Gauripur, now in Bangladesh, in 1928, Vilayat Khan had begun to emerge as one of the most important sitar players in the 1940s. Khan traced his musical heritage back seven generations. His grandfather Imdad Khan
(1848-1920) and his father Inayat Khan (1894-1938) were important role models
for him. Vilayat Khan revolutionized contemporary sitar performance by furthering sitar techniques pioneered by his grandfather. In addition to performing internationally and recording extensively, Khan wrote film music for
Satyajit Ray and Merchant and Ivory productions.

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Radošov, Love and War

Prague, Czech Republic – Radošov has a new recording titled Láska a vojna
(Indies Records MAM224-2, 2004).
The song and dance choir originated in 1970 in Veseli nad Moravou
and in its long history many enthusiastic musicians, dancers, choreographs, and
the first violinist came on in place of others. Recently time the choir consists
of 20 members. The choir directors are Pavel Bártek (dance component) and Ing.
Petr Světlík (organization component) and the first violinist of cembalo music
is Radim Havlíček. Radim Havlíček prepared the thematic album Láska a vojna from preserved song material and
folk music tradition of the region of Moravské Slovácko. The music under the
first violinist Radim Havlicek leadership is very popular thanks to its
temperament, dynamic and exact play and virtuosity. Radošov has performed at
many festivals and won many awards. The band also recorded for Bavarian radio. Free full
mp3.

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Songs of the sea & beyond

Aaron English - All the Waters of the World
Aaron English – All the Waters of the World
Aaron English

All the Waters of the World (Independent release, 2004)

Seattle-based world traveler and musician Aaron English brings his life experiences and poetic talent to his 2002 debut CD, All the Waters of the World. Technically this is a rock album with a steady 4/4 beat for the most part, a drum kit, electric guitar, bass and programming. However, world beat instruments such as Hungarian-style violin, charango, flamenco guitar, accordion, didgeridoo, hurdy-gurdy, mbira, percussion and bouzouki do weave in and out of the mix, recalling such crossover acts as Afro-Celts (although Afro-Celts falls closer to world beat than rock music). It would be interesting to see Aaron explore traditional music further and in a more acoustic vein.Aaron English writes vibrant lyrics marry English romanticism with social-political commentaries. And he sings these lyrics in a raspy voice that recalls Peter Gabriel.

Some of the songs, such as, Sea of Nectar, Flower of Lebanon and Santiago travel to other places while others, travel deep into the human soul reminding us of the fragility of each moment. Aaron likes to play with words too which is evident on Animals like us, (in which words bounce off of each other, similar to a Kurt Vonnegut novel).

The Aaron English Band includes, Meredith Yayanos (violin), Miguel Mateus (electric bass), Don Gunn (drums, percussion, programming), Patrick Strole (guitars, hurdy-gurdy, bouzouki, percussion) and Aaron (vocals, piano, harpsichord, mbira, programming). Aaron and Patrick Strole produced all the
Waters of the World and it was recorded in an old barn located in South Seattle that was converted into a studio. A variety of Seattle’s world musicians embellish this debut recording. And in fact, for anyone wishing to delve into Seattle’s traditional music community might wish to pick up this disc.

Look for Aaron English Band on tour in New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey in mid-March.

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The Belgium/Brazil axis strikes again

Think of One

Chuva em po (LC MUSIC LCM100036 , 2004)

Think of One’s David Bovée, Eric Morel, Tomas de Smet & Tobe Wouters
traveled to Brazil to make their latest in a globe-trotting series of
challenging and engrossing world fusion recordings. They got together with a
number of musicians from Reçife, in the poverty-stricken north-east of the vast
South American country, notably percussionists Carrança, Roel Poriau and Lulu
Araújo. It’s the sort of eclectic, no-holds-barred type of recording we’re used
to hearing from this collective who, despite their fairly recent arrival on the
international scene, have made a number of interesting and arresting releases.
Opening with a sub-forró-style piece, entitled ‘Disciplinador’, the band launch
immediately into the kind of breakneck rhythm we’ve come to expect from their
previous, diversely-styled, albums. The percussion-heavy band rattle and scrape
through the chunky off-beat of ‘Caranguejo’ and the altogether more
Brazilian-sounding ‘Paletó’ & ‘Maconha do Brasil’, the former featuring a sexy,
sultry trombone solo from Mr Wouters, before launching themselves full-force
into the Zappa-esque cacophony, ‘Tubarão’, clattering drums and bass distortion
juxtaposing nicely with solo vocal in-and-outro. Of the dozen tracks here, the simple, funky, berimbau-driven ‘Maracatu
misterioso’ grabs the attention, as does ‘Côco medley’, featuring the child-like
vocal of the wonderful Dona Cila do Côco. The languorous song ‘Sideways swimmin’,
all slippery rhythm and appealing chorus hook is an initial favorite, as are the
pared-down ‘Pura gasolina’ (fuel being one of ToO’s favorite bêtes noire) and
the carnaval shuffle of ‘Greito Grande’. The whole album retains a very
live feel and smacks of successful collaboration between two culturally-diverse
groups of musicians. This release should definitely keep the band in the public
eye and their proposed follow-up, to be recorded with Inuit musicians in
northern Canada, is in the pipeline. Winners of a 2004 Radio 3 Award for World
Music, we predict that we’ll be seeing much more of this outfit in the future.

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The Chieftains Go Further Down the Old Plank Road

The Chieftains - Further Down The Old Plank Road
The Chieftains – Further Down The Old Plank Road

The Chieftains

Further Down the Old Plank Road (Victor/BMG Music 82876-52897-2, 2003)

Imagine just for a moment that Paddy, Seán, Kevin, Matt or Derek called you up on the phone and asked if you wanted to get together and do a little something. The question is who, in their right mind, says ‘no’ to The Chieftains, right? And, it looks likes from their latest  Further Down the Old Plank Road CD, no one said ‘no.’ This CD features, just to name a few, Rosanne Cash, Emmylou Harris, Patty Loveless, Chet Atkins, John Hiatt, Nickel Creek, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band Ricky Skaggs, John Prine and Doc Watson. If that weren’t enough enticement, there’s also Paddy Moloney, Seán Keane, Kevin Conneff, Matt Molloy and Derek Bell – you know, those guys – The Chieftains, Celtic music’s version of a food group.

Not to be confused with their Grammy-Award nominated album of 2002 Down the Old Plank Road or the TV special and DVD, Further Down the Old Plank Road features songs from the special not on the first album, as well some fine additions. The liner notes explain it away as, “It’s an album so nice they made it twice.”

Rip roaring tracks like “The Raggle Taggle Gypsy” with Nickel Creek, “Jordan is a Hard Road to Travel” with John Hiatt and “The Squid Jiggin’ Ground/Larry O’Gaff with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band speak to the intent of the original project, exploring the link between the music of Ireland and America. Allison Moorer’s throaty vocals stand out on “Hick’s Farewell,” as does Rosanne Cash’s rendition of “The Lily of the West.” It’s Emmylou Harris’ “Lambs in the Greenfield” that speak of the best of both shores, without the sickeningly gooey sound that plagues so many Irish ballads. Doc Watson’s guitar shines on “Fisherman’s Hornpipe/The Devil’s Dream, as Chet Atkins cracks a joke before accompanying the Chieftains on “Chief O’Neill’s Hornpipe” Ricky Skaggs’ poignant rendition “Talk About Suffering” is delicately soothed by flute and harp, creating a landscape of both the Irish and American folk traditions.

Further Down the Old Plank Road brings together a bevy of talent and it shows. It’s poignant, delightful and fun. Who could say ‘no’ to that?

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Universi Sonori, Introduzioni all’etnomusicologia

Tullia Magrini has written a 342 book in Italian which
translates as Sound Universe, an introduction to ethnomusicology. The book’s
intention is to illustrate in which way world music cab be observed and studied
with the tools available ethnomusicologists. It analyzes the core research
methodology: field research, musical ethnography, transcriptions, the study or
lyrics, etc.

There are contributions by well known specialists,
including Simha Arom, John Blacking, Judith Lynne Hanna, Bruno Netti, Anthony
Seeger, Edwin Seroussi, Mark Slobin, Marcello Keller and Win Van Zanten.

Tullia Magrini is an ethnomusiciologist and musical
anthropology professor at the University of Bologna. She has published numerous
books, articles, CDs and CD ROMs. She is the founder of the study group
Anthropology of Music in Mediterranean Cultures of  the International Council of
Traditional Music (UNESCO).

Published by

Einaudi
(Italy) as part of its Piccola Biblioteca Einaudi, ISBN
88-06-16137-7.

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Mad Professor and Trumystic Announce Stand Up Tour!

Trumystic - Dub Power
Trumystic – Dub Power
New York, USA – The ‘Stand Up!’ Tour kicked off in New York City on Thursday, March 11th 2004, when Trumystic and Mad Professor shared the stage for the first time ever in support of their collaboration on Trumystic’s February release single ‘Stand Up!’ (TMG Records/Ariwa Sounds).

Over the following two weeks, Dub and Reggae enthusiasts in select cities will have an opportunity to experience rare Live Dub performance in intimate settings. As each stage converts to virtual live studio, UK dub producer Mad Professor will provide
mixing background to live sets performed by Trumystic, covering new and classic
material from both performers. Trumystic, Brooklyn’s most devoted Dub Rockers, are coming out of their busiest year with over 100 performances in 2003 alone.

Before the end of the year, Trumystic recorded the single Stand Up, prelude to an upcoming Dub Power album, set to release May 15th. Most notably, the Stand Up single represents the first collaboration between Brooklyn’s new-school beat scientists and the most influential Dub producer of the last two decades, Mad Professor. Politically charged, the project is already gaining recognition as the next revolutionary incarnation of conscious dub and rock fusion, reminiscent of the legendary 70s collaboration between The Clash and Mad Professor’s
predecessor and mentor, Lee “Scratch” Perry.

The tour will also highlight sampling of over two decades of acclaimed releases
from Mad Professor, as well as showcase the material from the upcoming ‘Sly and
Robbie meet the Mad Professor’ release (Ras Records). Dub fans coming out for
Stand Up shows can expect Mad Professor to unleash a thinking spectrum of sound
in a live setting, where he likes to surprise the listener. Mad Professor is
expected to pull out tricks from live feeds and mix them up on the spot using
his virtual studio on stage, assuring that no two shows will ever be the same.

The goal of the Stand Up tour is to reach out to audiences, from town to town,
person to person, delivering conscious music reminiscent of the time when the
word communication was synonymous with the word sound (Nigerian word Ariwa). Mad
Professor and Trumystic want to show that music remains the most effective
avenue of communication where people from different cultures and backgrounds can
meet and openly connect with one another. “We’re not offering a self-help
program
“, explains Trumystic’s Reggie Hodges, “We are motivated by a
realization that we can move in a positive direction when we think globally and
act locally
“.

Fans interested in hearing a preview of the Stand Up single can visit
Trumystic’s website, trumystic.net.

STAND UP TOUR DATES INCLUDE
3/11/04 New York City, NY (S.O.B.s)
3/12/04 Kingston, NY (forum.)
3/13/04 Stratton, VT (Red Fox)
3/14/04 Portland, ME (Big Easy)
3/15/04 Boston, MA (Milky Way JP)
3/16/04 Ithaca, NY (Castaways)
3/17/04 Baltimore, MD (Funk Box)
3/18/04 Asheville, NC (Stella Blue)
3/19/04 Columbus, OH (High Five)
3/20/04 Waitsfield, VT (Eclipse Theater)
3/21/04 Northampton, MA (Pearl Street)
3/22/04 Worcester, MA (Lucky Dog)

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Sweet Angola

Bonga

Kaxexe (Europe: Lusafrica 627325 , 2003 / US: Times Square,
2004)

Since the early ‘70s,
Bonga
has been one of Angola’s biggest singing stars and a very popular international
musical ambassador, particularly through his many well-received US tours. He’s
managed that very difficult crossover which means that his music and,
specifically, his splendidly mellifluous voice has great appeal for lovers of
traditional and contemporary music alike. Singing in Portuguese, the lingua
franca of modern mood music, gives Bonga an instant advantage in the broad
appeal stakes but, over a 30+-year career he’s had his down moments as well as
the up. In fact, over the past 7 or so years his output has been sporadic in
terms of quality.

Thankfully, Kaxexe represents a break from that decline with a strong
set of ballad and mid-paced shufflers which are every bit as good as the best
moments from the unique-voiced singer’s three decades at the top. That voice is
hard to define, smooth yet gravelly, like the aural equivalent of a lick from a
cat’s tongue, strange and yet, oddly, pleasurable. If you’re unfamiliar with
Bonga’s style, then to say it approximates to

Cesaria Evora
’s musical brand known as morna should give the essence of the
sound – and Bonga’s vocal style is every bit as captivating as that of La Diva
Aux Pieds Nus. Whether you’ve heard his music before or not, this is the time to
pick up on what is possibly a career best to date. If you love melodic, romantic
music with honeyed sweetness but no saccharine don’t miss out.

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