Northwest Folklife Festival

Seattle, Washington, USA –
Memorial Day Weekend means two things in the Pacific Northwest–the beginning of summer and the annual Northwest Folklife Festival in Seattle. The Festival, an enormous celebration of folk traditions from every corner of the globe, is one of the largest in the country, bringing together more than 220,000 people every Memorial Day Weekend for a long weekend of jamming, dancing, and have-a-great-time participation. This year it will take place May 23-26, 2003.There are roughly 1,500 presentations on 21 stages over one weekend. There is participatory music and dancing, choral singing, storytelling; there are exhibits and workshops, films, panel discussions, poetry readings, craft sales and demonstrations and more throughout the weekend.

Music and dance performances focus on a variety of world cultures. Special events showcase the traditional music and dance of Korea, Senegal, and Southeast Asia. There are master classical musicians from north and south India, and an Arabic showcase featuring dance from Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, and Egypt; music performed on the oud, the nay, and the tabla; and Arab women’s poetry. Performers present the traditional sounds of Africa, Asia, Brazil, the Caribbean, Eastern Europe, Latin America, the Philippines, South America, Western Europe and more.

Information at www.nwfolklife.org

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Giramondu, New Corsican Band

Giramondu - A Nostra Accolta
Giramondu – A Nostra Accolta
Paris, France – Giramondu’s third album “A Nostra Accolta” was released in March by Inca Music and has already received good reviews from as far away as Argentina. The six-piece band got together in 1993 and includes members from the well-known Corsican world music groups I Muvrini and A Filetta.

The experience and influences of the group members are evident on the album where traditional Corsican lyrics are given a modern edge with vibrant rhythms. You can catch Giramondu on the 23rd of May playing a benefit concert at the Empire in Ajaccio, Corsica. Inca are currently looking for tour dates in Europe and licenses worldwide. Releases in Canada, Spain, Italy, the UK and Germany are being planned.

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Abdelli – Among Brothers

Abdelli

Among Brothers (Real World Records, 2003)

Algerian musician Abderrahmane Abdelli (known simply as Abdelli), presents songs of an artist in exile. Every note he sings quavers with longing for his homeland and those he left behind and the sound of Abdelli’s heart cracking can be heard in every beat. Do not be fooled by the poetic song titles, Amazine (Moonlight), Itij (The Sun) or Asiram (Hope) since moonlight often betrays, the sun often destroys and hope can disappear in the turn of a moment. And yet, it was the healing of Abdelli’s broken heart that gave birth to the magical CD, Among Brothers, in this case, the brothers refer to musicians Abdelli met on his travels and in turn created a musical passport to the world.

Among Brothers creates an out of the box mentality because it defies conventions. The album took three
years to record, most of the songs were recorded outdoors or in unusual settings and none of the musicians were aware of tracks that had been previously recorded. Abdelli and his producer Thierry Van Roy took many risks that would have driven most musicians insane and yet, the end result is miraculous. Abdelli and Belgian producer and companion Thierry traveled to Cape Verde where they befriended musicians who in turn recorded their tracks in caves on the island of Santiago. The tapes were put away and the entire recording process using just Abdelli’s recorded vocals and drum tracks began again in Baku, then Burkina Faso and at a castle in Belgium where Argentine guitarist Carlos Diaz, Chilean, Moroccan and Tunisian musicians contributed their musical talents. They also recorded in a forest in Canada and in a Baku desert. And when they couldn’t find a proper outdoor setting, they recorded in studios. The glue that held the songs together consisted of rhythm tracks, melodies and a tonal guide.

The songs are collages with a backdrop of exotic instruments including tar, bendir, mandola, cavaquino,
nagara, Iranian nay and other lesser known instruments from such diverse countries as Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Iran, Algeria, Morocco, Azerbaijan (Central Asia), Chile, Europe and Tunisia.

In some ways this is the quintessential world music CD since it includes flavors of various cultures and traditions. Coupled with Abdelli’s lyrics sung in the language of the Kabyl people of Algeria, Among Brothers encompasses a world without borders. For instance, Amazine sounds like it hails from Central Asia, Itij sounds Portuguese with the Portuguese guitar and cavaquino taking center stage and Tharguith (The Dream) could be mistaken for Israeli music.

Abdelli writes melodies that can be translated into any musical style or culture and his vocals sail through a tapestry of strings, wind and percussion instruments. And his emotions which betray his broken heart shatter any preexisting ideals of finding hope in exile. Abdelli sings on Ayema-yema (O My Mother), “My spirit has flown away from her. He is in her arms. He flies like a bird spellbound, naive and innocent.” And on The Sun, Adbelli laments, “Happy is my father who knew you by your art you have blessed him. When his heart was ill, your sweet voice healed him.”

Abdelli’s Among Brothers creates a beautiful landscape for the soul. It speaks of the Kabyl people who have suffered under a fundamental Islamic government that currently rules Algeria. Many Kabyl people, including Kabyl musicians living in Belgium, France and other countries. Kabyl musicians often sing about social injustice, sometimes landing in jail and similar to Rai musicians who sing of heady pleasures, these musical exiles populate the music of Morocco and Algeria. However, Among Brothers acts as a tribute to
musicianship and is best seen in that light. It’s a celebration of poetry, nature and music among friends.

Compliments of Cranky Crow World Music.

For more information about Abdelli and Among Brothers visit Abdelli and www.abdelli.com

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Barbican: Ethnic and Urban Music from the former Eastern Bloc

London, England – Barbican Centre will present X-Bloc Reunion, May 23-31. It is a revolutionary mix of ethnic and urban music from the former Eastern Bloc. From wild Gypsy Balkan brass, to seductive Silk Road vocals, from Tuvan punk and Russian ska to Bulgarian voices and Czech Electronica.Fri 23: Djivan Gasparyan / Alim Qasimov / Sergey Starostin
The musical gods of Armenia and Azerbaijan perform with Russia’s leading folk singer and musician Sergey Starostin.

Sat 24: Boban Markovic & Frank London / Laikó Félix
First UK appearance by Boban Markovic, leader of Serbia’s biggest and best Gypsy brass band, plus Klezmatics trumpeter Frank London. Hungarian violinist extraordinaire Laikó Félix
opens the evening.

Sun 25: Sui Vesan / Iva Bittova
The Czech Republic and Slovakia are reunited for one night in the performances of two extraoridary female artists.

Sun 25: Leningrad
Moscow’s hippest music export make their first ever trip to London, mixing elements of ska, punk, and jaz with a unique dissident edge.

Mon 26: Eastern Divas – Sainkho / Esma Redžepova / Sevara
A holy trinity of divas – ethereal seductive and surreal; Tuva’s Sainkho, Sereva, the new voice from Uzbekistan, and Queen of Gypsy singers Esma Redžepova.

Mon 26: Yat-Kha – Storm Over Asia
Tuvan punk band Yat-Kha perform a live film soundtrack to Vsevold Pudovkin’s 1928 silent masterpiece Storm Over Asia

Thu 29: Koutev Ensemble & Theodosii Spassov
Philip Koutev was the genius behinnd Le Mysèter Voix Bulgares and this group is the forerunner of that tradition and bearer of his name, today. A spectacular show performed with female choir, folk orchestra and innovative Kaval player Theodosii Spassov.

Fri 30: Mostar Sevdah Reunion & Ljiljana Buttler / Merita Halili
Representing the mulit-ethnic sould of Bosnia, Mostar Sevdah Reunion perform herer with veteran Gypsy sinder Ljiljana Buttler. The show is opened by Albanian star Merita Halili.

Fri 30: Anatoly Vapirov Quintet featuring Tomasz Stanko
Bulgaria-based Russian free-jazz saxophonist Anatoly Vapirov performs his imspired improsiations with his band, featuring the Polish trumpeter Tomasz Stanko.

Sat 31: Goran Bregović – Tolerant Heart
Sarajevo-born composer Goran Bregovic’s stunning new work features his Weddings and Funerals band, an Andaulz Orchestra from Morocco, Russian choir and singers Amnia from Tunsia and Dana International from Israel.

Plus talks, workshops, films & free music and dance featuring Kharkov Klezmer (Ukraine), Jony Iliev (Bulgaria), Szascsavas (Transylvania), Oi Va Voi (UK), Ecstacy of St Theresa, Pavel Fajt (Czech Republic), Stepandia (Siberia), Fanfare Ciocarlia (Romania), Coxless Pair (Siberia), Amina Sound System, Naming the Golem (Hungary), Chudobah (Poland), Orkestar Agusevi (Macedonia) and the Akhatamov Dance Group (Armenia).

Tickets for X-BLOC REUNION are on sale now from the Barbican Box Office 020 7638 8891. www.barbican.org.uk/xbloc

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Madama, New Galician Folk CD by Leilía

Leilia - Madama
Leilia – Madama
Coruña, Galicia, Spain – Leilía, the innovative Galician folk group has released a new recording titled Madama. Leilía is the old name given to traditional songs.

Leilía is a group of Galician women who are forerunners and makers of the mini-revolution of tambourine music which has spread all over Galicia. They got together in the summer of 1989 to recover songs and musical forms that were in danger of extinction. Leilía reproduced and learned it all from the elders they visited all over Galicia and surrounding regions, recovering traditions they thought lost.

The group is formed by Montse Rivera, Mercedes Rodríguez, Felisa Segade, Ana María Rodríguez and Patricia Segade.

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Newly Discovered Music by Bob Marley

Bob Marley
Jamaica – Family members of famed reggae singer Bob Marley have reportedly discovered a number of eight-track recordings by the late singer. The previously unheard songs, slated to be turned to an upcoming album, are sure to surprise and delight devoted fans.

Marley’s son, Ziggy, hopes to remaster the 1970s recordings, adding his own vocals and inviting contributions by artists like Carlos Santana.

The Marley family has approached Universal Music with the project with aspirations for release some time next year.

Ziggy Marley recently released his own solo CD, Dragonfly, on Private Music/RCA. The rock-based CD marks his first venture without the Melody Makers, his backup group featuring other Marley family members.

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New Recording by Serj Tankian & Arto Tunçboyaciyan

USA – Serart is a collaboration between System of a Down’s Serj Tankian and world class multi-instrumentalist Arto Tunçboyaciyan. Serart will be released by Serjical Strike and Columbia Records on May 20.

“It’s not a rock album, it’s not a band, it’s not a solo album for me,” says Serj Tankian. “It’s a collaboration that I was compelled to do with a very creative artist. It’s a very special type of album.” It is important to note that Serart is not at all similar to a SOAD album – it’s a departure away from SOAD’s progressive-metal barrage. Serart finds these two, seemingly disparate, creative artists joining for a new vision. Serj describes the album best, “It’s really crazy world, jazz and experimental with some rock and hip-hop beats, dance beats, and electronic beats. Arto plays the Coke bottle, water droplets, an ancient flute, percussion of all sorts, little toys and shakers.”

The music on Serart is both “cross genre and cross cultural,” an exotic and eclectic blend of electronica, poetry, Middle Eastern melodies, Pan-African rhythms, classical motifs melded with volleys of percussion. In addition to the 16 musical tracks on the album, Serart comes with a DVD component, the 14 minute experimental film, “Sun Angle Calculator,” directed and edited by Matthew Amato. “The film is a visual collage,” says Serj. “The name, ‘Sun Angle Calculator,’ is a funny way of saying ‘let me help you see the light.'”

[Buy

Serart
].

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Guem, Percussion Virtuoso on Tour with his New Album

Guem - Rose des Sables
Guem – Rose des Sables
Paris, France – Algerian, of Nigerian origin, Guem, is one of the major percussionists on the scene at the moment. The master of a multitude of instruments has just released his new album Rose des Sables in the UK, Germany, Switzerland, Benelux and Italy.

This month will see it hit the shops in Spain, Portugal, Scandinavia, Japan and Canada. Guem has been touring around France and in Belgium and is taking part in the “Master of Percussion” tour, with Tambours de Brazza and guest artists, until mid-June.

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Cubadisco Returns to Pabexpo

(Prensa Latina – Cumbancha) Havana, Cuba – The most important event for the Cuban record industry returns to it former venue in Pabexpo, on the west side of Havana, after having taken place in the Morro Cabaña park facility last year. This edition pays homage to Tomás Luis de Victoria Award musician Harold Gramatges; Adalberto Alvarez, Sergio Vitier, Carlos Varela, and Manolito Simonet and his group.

Cubadisco 2003 Award winners in the different categories will be revealed Tuesday May 13 during the gala event, where Cesar Portillo de la Luz, Buena Fe, Paulo FG, Ernan Lopez Nussa, Free Hole Negro and Liana Fernandez will perform. Album and catalogue releases will take place as part of the Fair, as well as lectures on the perils of record piracy and copyrights.

Sociedad General de Autores (SGAE) President Eduardo Teddy Bautista will attend with a large delegation of the organization he leads. An important aspect of the Cubadisco Fair will be the symposium The Music Industry in the 21st Century, in which experts from Italy, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Chile, Spain, Germany and Cuba will take part.

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Val Ramos Flamenco Ensemble

Val Ramos - Por Mi Camino
Val Ramos – Por Mi Camino
Val Ramos Flamenco Ensemble

Por Mi Camino (Piram)

The sounds of nuevo flamenco in Europe and Latin America have created roots in the American Latin community. The Connecticut-based Val Ramos Flamenco Ensemble has played hot flamenco guitar in cold New York and New England for many years, developing a dedicated following.

After a trip to Spain in 2001, his popularity soared with big sales in Spain where American Flamenco artists are encouraged and followed closely. The ten original songs plus a bonus cut of the title track on this third album of his are full of life. They skirt the flamenco borders of jazz, Latin and American music with precision and wit.

The guitars of brothers Val and Jose Ramon Ramos support a closely knit ensemble of a percussion section including Carlos Hernández Chávez (bass), Jose Berrios (bongos), David Calderon (congas), Carlos Revollar (cajon), and the thrilling flamenco singer Jose de Santos. Highly recommended on either side of the ocean.

– Brian Grosjean

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