Polo Montañez\’s Group Presents New CD

(Prensa Latina – Cumbancha) Pinar del Río, Cuba – Polo Montañez’s group will
present their new CD, entitled Cuestión de Suerte, on the evenings of
December 31 and January 1, at the Jagua Hotel, in Cienfuegos. Recorded recently
in Colombia and not for sale yet, the CD contains 11 tracks, six of which were
chosen among the profuse unpublished work left by the ex leader of the septet
when he died.During the presentations at the Jagua Hotel, the group will also play new
songs included in their latest record, in an attempt to continue the art of the
countryside artist, who enjoyed great popularity. "Cuestión de Suerte" is
consequent with Polo Montañez’s wish to let the violin play in the foreground.
The violin is played by Silvio Manuel Duquesne, who also plays in the Cuban National
Symphonic Orchestra.


Happy New Year!

World Music Central wishes you a very Happy and Prosperous New Year.

And here is our Happy New Year wish in many of the world’s languages:

Afgani – Saale Nao Mubbarak
– Gelukkige nuwe jaar
– Gezuar Vitin e Ri Arabic – Antum salimun
– Shuvo Nabo Barsho
– Vesela Koleda i chestita nova godina
– Chu Shen Tan
– Pace e Salute
– Sretna Nova godina!
(Welsh) – Blwyddyn Newydd Dda

– Scastny Novy Rok
Danish – Godt Nytår
Dutch – Gelukkig Nieuwjaar!
Estonian – Head uut aastat
Filipino – Manigong Bagong Taon
Finnish – Onnellista Uutta Vuotta
French – Bonne Annee
Gaelic – Bliadhna mhath ur
German – Prosit Neujahr
Greek – Kenourios Chronos
Hawaiian – Hauoli Makahiki Hou
Hebrew – L’Shannah Tovah
Hindi – Nahi varsh ka shub kamna
Hungarian – Boldog £j vet k¡v nok!
Indonesian – Selamat Tahun Baru
Irish – Bliain nua fe mhaise dhuit
Italian – Felice anno nuovo
Khmer – Sua Sdei tfnam tmei
Laotian – Sabai dee pee mai
Nepalese – Nawa Barsha ko Shuvakamana
Norwegian – Godt Nyttår
Papua New Guinean – Nupela yia i go long yu
Polish – Szczesliwego Nowego Roku
Portuguese – Feliz Ano Novo
Punjabi – Nave sal di mubarak
Romanian – An Nou Fericit
Russian – S Novim Godom
Serbo-Croatian – Sretna nova godina
Slovak – A stastlivy Novy Rok
Somali – Iyo Sanad Cusub Oo Fiican
Spanish – Feliz Año Nuevo
Swahili – Heri Za Mwaka Mpya
Swedish – Gott Gott nytt år!
Sudanese – Warsa Enggal
Tamil – Eniya Puthandu Nalvazhthukkal
Telegu – Noothana samvatsara shubhakankshalu
Thai – Sawadee Pee Mai
Turkish – Yiliniz Kutlu Olsun
Ukrainian – Shchastlyvoho Novoho Roku
Urdu – Naya Saal Mubbarak Ho
Uzbek – Yangi Yil Bilan
Vietnamese – Chuc Mung Tan Nien


Bows and strings

N. Rajam  - Radiant
N. Rajam – Radiant
N. Rajam

Radiant (Sense World Music, 2002)

It isn’t often that I am able to review a woman classical Indian musician so I am quite pleased to share violinist N. Rajam’s Radiant  CD with you. I read in Rough Guides World Music (volume 2) that Indian women are not given the same musical opportunities as Indian men. While male musicians attend the various gharanas and have access to masters of various traditional instruments, their women counterparts are not given the same opportunities and usually study traditional singing. And in Southern India, women do study violin. However, the violin didn’t take the role of a solo instrument in India, until after the 1960’s when N. Rajam arrived on the scene.

She is responsible for introducing the Gayaki ang vocal style to the instrument. And you can hear N.
Rajam’s violin sing in a vocal style on this CD. In fact, it is uncanny how the slides and runs resemble the human voice, especially that of the Hindustani vocal traditions.N. Rajam hails from Southern India and her family boasts generations of talented violinists, including her brother T N Krishnan. She inherited her technique from her father Sr. Narayana Iyer who encouraged his daughter to
incorporate vocal music and the ancient veena into her playing.

Later, N Rajam would seek training in Benares, located on the banks of the Ganges River where she was tutored by the legendary singer, Omkarnath Thakur for 15 years. This intense vocal training would surface later in Rajam’s violin performances. She has incorporated various vocal styles into her playing including, khayal, thumri, tappa and bhajan. And her seamless performance makes a difficult task seem effortless. Her violin shudders, quavers and converses with itself while instilling longing and other moods into complex melodies. She alternates between slides and runs of a pentatonic or 5 note scale. According to the liner notes playing the pentatonic scale on a violin is a fete in itself. “Technically, it offers a particularly stiff challenge to violinists because it consists of only
five notes, and the gaps between the notes on the neck of the violin are sizable.”

Rajam performs the popular evening raga, Malkauns and tabla player Akram Khan provides the beats. The first track, Raga Malkauns starts out slow and eventually builds as it flows into Raga Malkauns (teental). Tracks 2 and 3 allow Akram Khan showcase his improvisational solos. There is some playful exchanges between instruments, but usually Rajam repeats a phrase a few times, while Khan ignites an explosion of beats. Their performance grows in intensity until it reaches a dynamic climax. Meanwhile, Rajam extracts amazing tones from her instrument and she rivals virtuoso violinists of the west. And in fact, she blows me away with her mesmerizing interpretation of the ragas.

Track 4, Raga Khamaj, Thumri moves into contemplative territory and is romantic in nature. Set to a 6 beat cycle, you can hear the violin mourning its broken heart. Next the performers flow into Raga Nilambari (ektaal) and they conclude with the melancholic Raga Bhairavi (an evening raga). And by the end of this recording, I am wondering why I haven’t heard of the talented Dr. N. Rajam until now. I look forward to hearing more of her recordings in the future and if I ever get the chance to see her perform in the Seattle, I will jump at the opportunity.

Compliments of Cranky Crow World Music.


Cascade Folk Trio Plays the sounds of the Armenian Diaspora

Cascade Folk Trio – Old Street

New York, USA – On their new CD, Old Street (Bandaz Records), the Cascade Folk Trio evokes a rebirth of Armenian folk music with a modern twist.

Folk music underwent a prior renaissance in the early 1900s thanks to renowned musicologist Komitas. His contribution was to articulate the true essence of Armenian music. Komitas penned over 3,000 compositions and nearly cracked the “code” of the khazer, a lost, ancient form of musical notation.

We always start with the melody line,” says Cascade Folk Trio’s Arman Aghajanyan. “The melody must be Armenian.” Many dispersed cultural groups struggle to maintain ties to their heritage. So this is no surprise considering the wave of genocide that forced millions of Armenians into exile in the early 1900s. But the Trio—one of the best in the Armenian Diaspora—was affected as much by more recent history.Armenia has struggled to survive as a viable independent nation for many years.

In 1988, an earthquake left 25,000 people dead and 500,000 homeless. When Armenia seceded from the Soviet Union in 1991, a war with Azerbaijan erupted in the East, while in the West, Turkey established a blockade, and from Georgia in the North, gas pipelines were cut off. The mid-’90s saw brutal winters with weeks without gas or electricity. Only in recent years has the economy finally
turned. Out of this setting a musical renaissance, differentiating the emerging nation’s soul from the outside powers that have dominated daily life for decades.

Early in the 20th century Armenia fell victim to a horrible genocide, brought on by a nationalist government in Turkey, bent on uniting the region under their newfound dictatorship. Artists, writers, and priests were the first targets.

After massacres in 1915 and the burning of almost all of his work, Komitas succumbed to mental distress and never recovered. Many Armenians fled their homes for safer cities like Beirut, Alexandria and Paris. In the late 1990s, nearly a century after this violence, vocalists Arman Aghajanyan (composer), Ohanna Mtghyan (lyricist), and Armen Papkiyan (vocal arranger) left for the United States in a new wave of dispersion.

The Cascade Folk Trio, which keeps one foot in this profound history and one foot on the pulse of the future, joined forces in New York City. Although inspired by the diverse rhythms of the city, the group found relief from their homesickness through Armenian music. In Armenia, they listened to the likes of Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and Earth, Wind and Fire, and each experienced
individual success as pop stars. They joined Artur Grigoryan’s State Theater of Song—which cultivates new music whose essence is Armenian.

Nine of the songs on Old Street are original, but all of the arrangements balance preservation and contemporary creation, many of which are credited to one of Armenia’s most acclaimed arrangers Karen Margaryan. The Trio pays tribute to the historic voice of their folk music, uniting it with the sounds of American R&B, Jazz, and other worldly voices.

The group’s name is from a district in the capital city of Yerevan, known as a meeting place for young lovers. “Cascade is one of our favorite areas. The falling water from the cascade fountain produces a certain breath and sound that creates its own melody” says Aghajanyan. “Falling in love is a significant theme in Armenian music” says Aghajanyan, as is evident on the CD.

“Gentle Boy, Graceful Girl” tells of two young people meeting and falling in love. “Lingering Return” finds the girl longing for her lover’s return. In “You are a Doe” the man yearns for the grace of his lover, and when he finds her, greets beauty with beauty, picking for her a bouquet in the song “Garden Flowers”—a song written in the style of the great troubadour Sayat Nova. Now known as the King of Songs, the music of this “peasant” born in 1712 became so influential that he negotiated a coalition between Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan against Persian domination. Never before has anyone attempted such a gospel-tinged arrangement of “Bad Days”—written by folk singer Djivani (1846-1909)—as is featured on this CD.

Complementing the deft use of their 5000-year-old language is the prominence of essential Armenian instruments. The duduk—one of the world’s oldest double-reed instruments—has been around for over 2000 years. Its melancholic sound came to prominence in America thanks to Peter Gabriel, Jivan Gasparyan, and the hit TV series Xena, Warrior Princess. With centuries of cross-cultural sharing in the region, the duduk is one of the only instruments to have truly Armenian origins.

Armenian duduk-makers use apricot wood to produce a tone that mimics the human voice, whereas elsewhere it is made to produce a nasal sound. Armenian weddings and celebrations are not complete without a duduk or the zurna—another instrument prominent on the CD, along with the sounds of the dhol, zarb, shvi, kyamancha, and kanun.

With Old Street, the Cascade Folk Trio keeps Armenian culture strong. Says Arman, “we want to provide descendants of Armenia with what they had forgotten about Armenian folk music.”


Celia Cruz in the House

Celia in the House
Celia in the House
Miami, USA – Celia in the House is a new dance music recording that features Celia Cruz‘s vocals remixed with dance beats for the club scene. The project was conceived by Miami producer Joe Granda. Several DJs were involved in the project: Guiseppe D, Dennis “D’Menace” Nieves, Mike “Da Mooch” Mucci and Al Camara.

The album is available from Angel Eyes Records/Universal Music Latino and it features several of Celia Cruz’s classic hits.

Celia Cruz, the most popular salsa singer, died from cancer in July of 2003.
She was known as the Guarachera de Cuba.

A native of Cuba, Cruz was the legendary queen of salsa. Her more than 50 CDs showcased her talent, intensity and determination. Cruz’s fans reach over four generations breaking down racial and cultural barriers. She collaborated with an eclectic group of musicians, ranging from Puerto Rican salsa and jazz celebrity Tito Puente to pop star David Byrne.

In a field so powerfully dominated by male singers and musicians alike, Celia Cruz won global recognition, numerous tributes, a Yale University doctorate, the admiration of her peers, a Hollywood star, a Grammy, a statue in the famous Hollywood wax museum, movie and theater appearances, the key to numerous cities, and the key to the hearts of music lovers everywhere.


Club Tropical

Los Angeles, USA – Club Tropical in Culver City, Los Angeles, has opened its
doors to a new jazz concert series on Monday nights, entitled “Jazz on a Monday
Vibe”. Programmed by two local jazz musicians (http://www.jonathandimond.com
and http://www.mastaneh.net) this series
aims to promote the highest quality Californian new jazz and world music.Club Tropical is located at 8641 W. Washington Blvd., Culver City, California
90232, one block east of Jazz Bakery. Call (310) 559-1127 or check out
sensoundmusic.com under the “news” tab for the upcoming program details.


Solidarity Concert at Almendares Amphitheater

(Prensa Latina – Cumbancha) Havana, Cuba – The solidarity concert America-Caribbean, Culture and Social Revolution, sponsored by the Almendares Vivo project, took place at Havana’s Metropolitan Park. The concert involved Gerardo Alfonso, Vicente Feliú, Alberto Tosca, Angel Quintero and Izquierdo Reservado, as well as Manguaré, Anónimo Consejo, Steel Band Havana and Café con leche, among others. Organizers said that the concert is held every three months and each version is dedicated to a different continent, in an effort to build a bridge to mutual knowledge and fraternal exchange among peoples.
On this occasion, the concert was a chant of brotherhood to America, stressed singer songwriter Gerardo Alfonso, the initiative’s promoter, who said that the previous concert was aimed at strengthening ties with Asia. The next concert, scheduled for April 2004, will be dedicated to Africa.


Jazz Session Festival Closes

(Prensa Latina – Cumbancha) Matanzas, Cuba – After several performances in which folkloric and popular music blended with jazz, and Master Chucho Valdés showed his talent, the International Jazz Session Festival closed in western Matanzas province. The festival, held in the beach resort of Varadero, closed with a concert by Irakere, which celebrated its 30th anniversary, Paulo FG and his Elite, and David Calzado and Charanga Habanera, at Plaza del Viaducto, in the city of Matanzas. Chucho Valdés said that the festival can alternate with the Jazz Plaza Festival, which is held every two years in Havana, taking into account that Matanzas and Varadero are very significant places in Cuban cultureThe 1st Jazz Session Festival was attended by internationally renowned musicians, including Steve Thurre and John Benitez, from the United States, and Argentinean guitarist Luis Salinas, as well as Cuban groups and musicians.


DJ Cheb i Sabbah Files a Copyright Infringement Action

Los Angeles, USA – DJ Cheb i Sabbah filed a copyright infringement action
December 18 of 2003 in Federal Court in Los Angeles. According to Cheb i Sabbah,
his legendary classic hit song “Kese Kese” from his best selling album Shri
(1999) has been used in the upcoming Bollywood Indian movie soundtrack,
Plan, without his consent. In addition to the music being used unlawfully,
Cheb i Sabbah was not credited for the hit song. Among the defendants are Eros
Entertainment and T-Series music. The film is intended to be released by White
Feather Films, a joint venture production company of Sanjay Dutt, Sanjay Gupta
and Bobby Anand, which also produced Kaante. Entertainment Attorney Anthony Kornarens, a United States based attorney, has
been retained by Cheb i Sabbah to handle the matter involving the copyright
infringement. The lawsuit alleges Eros Entertainment, T-Series, and subsidiary
distributors are in violation of United States Copyright Act of 1976 (17 U.S.C.
§101, et seq.), which gives Cheb i Sabbah exclusive rights to control the use of
his work. Cheb i Sabbah is seeking a court order stopping the distribution of
the film and its soundtrack.

The defendants’ alleged infringement of Kese Kese has been widely distributed in
India, U.S., U.K., and Canada. Plan is expected to be one of the top ten
Bollywood Blockbusters of 2004 according to the IndiaTimes.com. In addition to
the soundtrack, the film will be shown in theaters worldwide, followed by a DVD
release. Despite the popularity of the original “Kese Kese,” Cheb i Sabbah was
never contacted by the film’s producers or music directors for permission to use
his work. Plan’s soundtrack, produced by music director Anand Raj Anand,
uses vocals from the popular Pakistani artist Adnan Sami along with Sunidhi

Cheb i Sabbah comments, “I am shocked and dismayed to see my work used
without permission. Fortunately for artists who are taken advantage of,
traditional copyright laws offer protection for our creative works from
violations from large corporations

Shri Durga, a best seller at Six Degrees Records,  featured some of
the greatest singers and instrumentalists in the Northern Indian classical music
tradition including the legendary Ustad Salamat Ali Khan, – a musical giant of
an ancient tradition who recorded specifically for Cheb i Sabbah’s project. Even
before Shri Durga was officially released, word got out to DJs around the
world, which lead to danceable “Kese Kese” remixes produced by the hottest
remixers from London for Cheb i Sabbah’s following album MahaMaya. The
trilogy of albums was completed with the success of Krishna Lila, hailed
as “one of the year’s best albums” by BBC Music in 2002. Together, the mythical
albums have designated Cheb i Sabbah as a hallmark of post-modern musical
spirituality and brought him international cult status in the world music genre
throughout the world. His latest album, As Far As – A DJ Mix, has reached
the Billboard top ten of World Music Albums.


Grammy Nominee Says Elio Revé Was a Creator

(Prensa Latina – Cumbancha) Guantánamo, Cuba.- The former member of Los Van Van orchestra, José Luis Quintana (Changuito), 1999 Latin Grammy nominee for “Ritmo Candela”, said that kettledrummer and orchestra director Elio Revé (1930-1997) was a creator in his instrument and his music. Changuito pointed out that the so-called “King of Changüí” (a controversial Cuban musical rhythm that some experts say it preceded “Son”) “created the five-note scale in the kettledrum”. Generally, kettledrummers play more than six notes when playing “Son”, but Revé was interested in playing five to guarantee the presence of Changüí in everything he played.


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