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.


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.


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.



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.


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.


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)]


French Band Ziline Presents New Recordings

Paris, France – French world music band has a new album available titled Ziline. The group’s official website ziline.com allows the listener to download and listen to samples from the album on MP3 format.

Ziline is a world-music band from southern France. The group’s current line-up is: Pascal Buffin: composer, bass, sitar and programming; Jean-Claude Garcin: drums, percussion and background vocals; Victoria Faccioli: lead vocals and background vocals; and Stephane Mas: keyboards, background.


Japan for Sale

Japan for Sale, Volume 3
Japan for Sale, Volume 3
Various Artists

Japan for Sale, Volume 3 (Sony Music, 2003)

The Japan for Sale series showcases various current music styles produced in Japan. Most of the music on this album is too poppy for me, but there are some interesting discoveries among the bubble gum pop and post punk material.

The first great discovery is Goku, who combines jazz riffs with great electronic grooves and rapping. DJ Krush mixes electronic beats and scratching with sampled voices.

Loop Junktion creates a great concoction of funky jazz grooves with hip hop. And Kyoto Jazz Massive has developed a hybrid sound that combines exciting electronic beats with funk jazz.


A Reggae Great Gets His Due

Jackie Mittoo – Champion In The Arena 1976-1977
Jackie Mittoo

Champion In The Arena 1976-1977 (Blood and Fire BAFCD 042, 2003)

Jackie Mittoo is hardly the first name that comes to mind when you think of reggae, but the importance of the man in the history of Jamaican music cannot be overstated. A piano whiz from a very young age, he was in his mid-teens when he became the musical director at Clement Dodd’s famed Studio One in 1963.

His unmatched skills as a keyboard player and arranger, as well as his ability to turn bare-bones ideas into fully developed songs, led to his being a founding member of the legendary Skatalites as well. When the original Skatalites disbanded in 1965, Mittoo continued as an essential part of Studio One’s house band, playing with and providing guidance for some of the brightest stars in reggae.

From the late ’60s on, he divided his time between Canada (where he made his name recording easy listening music, of all things), Jamaica and England, eventually branching out into producing works by such artists as Musical Youth. But it was as a keyboard player that his brilliance was most evident, whether jamming in a smoky Kingston studio or a boozy British pub.
Champion in the Arena 1976-1977 collects tracks cut in Jamaica for producer Bunny Lee, and though it’s firmly within the realm of instrumental reggae with touches of dub, the versatility of Mittoo’s playing is evident throughout.

Over a foundation of riddims played by the likes of Sly Dunbar (drums), Robbie Shakespeare (bass) and Chinna Smith (guitar), Mittoo lays out intricate solos, organ sweeps suggestive of gospel and soul music, murky riffing that accentuates the steadfast reggae pulse and cool jazz-like passages.

It’s atmospheric, rawly ambient beautiful stuff, and it grooves like nobody’s business. Jackie Mittoo’s death at the age of 42 was a tremendous loss to reggae, and the consistently excellent Blood and Fire reissue label has done lovers of the classic Jamaican style a great service with this crucial release.

Buy Champion In The Arena 1976-1977


British Tradition

Kate Rusby - Underneath The Stars
Kate Rusby – Underneath The Stars
Kate Rusby

Underneath The Stars (Pure Records. PRcD012, 2003)

British folk/traditional music doesn’t come much better than at the hands of Rusby and her crew of excellent musicians. The last CD celebrated her career to date and this new one sees her consolidating her place in the music. She revives songs from the tradition whilst developing her own songwriting skills. So we hear her once again putting superb tunes to the words of some well, and lesser, known lyrics. And as ever she is surrounded by arrangements that include fiddles, accordions, whistles and guitars.

The Good Man, which opens the CD tells a tale of wifely deception and a puzzled husband while lost love and press-ganging come together in Cruel. On Let Me Be, a girl wishes that men would leave her alone, except of course the man she wants who is ignoring her ! The course of true love and all that.One of the most beautiful melodies on a CD that’s overflowing with them has to be The White Cockade, another well known story of a young girl’s separation from her love who’s gone to serve the King. She delivers it flawlessly with some excellent accompaniment from John McCusker’s cittern in particular.

There are also a couple of collaborations. For example she mixes a Phil Cunningham tune with parts of a song from Newcastle, The Waters Of The Tyne, re-working the words in her own style. Bring Me A Boat is the result of this meeting and features a subtle brass quartet along with some fine nyckleharpa. There are several self-penned songs too which draw on the tradition and also her own life, as in the autobiographical, ‘Falling’.

Let’s face it, Rusby and band cannot put a foot wrong in their interpretation of British traditional music and the more contemporary material. Long may it continue.


Tango Siempre’s Nocturno

Tango Siempre

Nocturno (ARC Music, 2003)

Tango Siempre’s Nocturno, found on ARC Music, is ripe with all the sharp twists and turns and gentle caresses of the tango itself. Lush and sexy, Nocturno is the musical incantation of Pete Rosser on accordion/bandoneón, Ros Stephen on violin, Kylie Davies on double bass and Johnathan Taylor on piano. These four musicians extract the juice from every piece on this enchanting CD.

Tango fans are sure to enjoy “Silueta Porteña,” “Nocturno Tango” and “Invierno Porteña.” The classical and contemporary study of these fine musicians shines through on such pieces as “La Ultima Curda” and “Basslineloss.” “Pa’que Te Oigan, Bandoneon” speaks of the virtuosity and power of their extraordinary musicianship.

Tango Siempre’s Nocturno penetrates the soul and calls out the inner dancer.


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.


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