Tribute to Benny Moré at Manzanillo Bay

(Prensa Latina – Cumbancha) Havana, Cuba – A statue dedicated to Benny Moré will be placed at the “malecón” (seawall) of Manzanillo city, facing the bay he made popular in one of his songs. The monument will be raised in the very spot where Benny last sang in 1962 during the carnival of the city in the province of Granma, a few months before he died in Havana.

The two-meter-high bronze statue will be a tribute to the “Sonero Mayor,” who in the song dedicated to this bay depicted the beauty of its coast.

A self-taught musician, More was a member of important bands such as those led by Miguel Matamoros, Dámaso Pérez Prado and Bebo Valdés, until he created his own, taking him to the top of fame.

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Luzmila Carpio’s Latest CD

Luzmila Carpio - Kuntur Mallku
Luzmila Carpio – Kuntur Mallku
Nicknamed “the Voice of the Andes,” Luzmila Carpio has gained international praise for her traditional Quechua songs, tunes that have brought indigenous Bolivian culture and history to the world.

Through her plaintive and penetrating voice, these chilling vocal pieces, accompanied by traditional instruments such as Andean flutes, evoke the natural elements of Bolivia; even the whistling wind is tangible.

With an interesting periodic resemblance to the music of North American Indians and a spirit that might occasionally bring to mind the musical styles of the East, these striking pieces are not to be missed by world music enthusiasts. Absolutely arresting and captivating.

Her latest CD “Kuntur Mallku – The Messenger” awarded by several music magazines in Europe is now available in the US.

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Cuban Country Music Festival and Contest

(Prensa Latina-Cumbancha) Havana, Cuba- Havana’s Antonio Maria Romeu Province Music Center will celebrate the 5th Country Music Festival and, within it, the First Country Composition Contest. The conditions of entry for the contest say every Cuban composer is able to take part, with a maximum of three unreleased works.

The jury will be conformed by prestigious Cuban music figures and their verdict will not be open to appeal. The composer will have the possibility of suggesting the artist to perform his/her music, who will be auditioned by a jury especially chosen for this purpose. The deadline to enter is June 30, 2003.

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Bonga, New CD Kaxexe

Bonga -  Kaxexe
Bonga – Kaxexe
Paris, France – Bonga’s new album Kaxexe was released in France at the end of April (distribution BMG). It was released a few days earlier in Holland (Coast to Coast) coinciding with Bonga’s forthcoming concert dates and television appearance there.

The album will also be distributed in Switzerland (Musikvertrieb), Austria (Hoanzl), Germany (Sunny Moon Music) and Portugal (Mega Musica).

Bonga sings of things such as unrequited love, social evils and the humiliation which is killing Africa with music that varies from melancholic to swinging.

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Pandit Shivkumar Sharma & Zakir Hussain

King Cat Theatre, Seattle, Washington–USA. May 3, 2003.

When I saw the mostly Indian audience dressed in their finest saris and suits crowd into the King Cat Theatre, I could feel the anticipation. Two of India’s most brilliant musicians, tabla player Zakir Hussain (the son of the legendary tabla master, Alla Rakha) and the world-renowned santoorist, Pandit Shivkumar Sharma would soon bless the audience with their musical presence. And as promised by a fateful invitation, Zakir and Shivkumar did indeed delight their devoted fans and novices such as myself with their sheer virtuosity. And novices to classical Indian music could easily be fooled into thinking that it was Zakir’s concert when in fact, Shivkumar was the featured performer. Every nod or gesture on Zakir’s part brought shudders and applause. Watching the musicians master their instruments or play off of each other’s energy ended in elation and wonderment. As did, focusing on the ripple of muscles under Zakir’s bright orange shirt while his rubber-like hands pounded out beats only he could invent.
The first set began with a Hindustani (North India) raga called Buriya Kalyan. Shivkumar flowed through the alap section, then introduced rhythm in the jor section that grew more complicated through the jhala section. This flowed into the composition and gats section in which, tabla beats were slowly added. It was at this point that the audience elation grew thus waxing and waning with slow rhythms and applauding after musical climaxes. The atmosphere created by the musicians fell somewhere between the sexual act and mathematics as the musicians continued through the rupak tal and ek-tal sections. An intermission came after an explosion of tabla beats and santoor rhythms. Both the musicians and audience members needed a breather.

Of course, the intermission lasted too long and concert goers were still drifting into the theatre and winding their way to their seats long after the raga of the second set, Mishra (mixed) Khmaj had begun. These were obviously people familiar with the slow and tedious alap and jor sections. They were waiting for the interplay between tabla and santoor that in time did occur this time adding playful elements and more complex rhythms with the introduction of folklore elements. Shivkumar had commented earlier that normally a vocalist would be added on this section. Yet the absence of a vocalist appeared to be the last thing on anyone’s mind. Ever so often, the musicians would wipe sweat off their foreheads and Zakir would hammer on his tablas, most likely to tune them. They worked their way through slow and fast 16 beat talas while teasing the audience with false endings. The real ending created uproar of applause and left the musicians legendary status intact.

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Nakaira’s Mediterranean Travels

Sicily, Italy – Melthemi is the title of Nakaira’s new CD and it is also name of a Mediterranean wind. It enabled the first people who discovered it to trace new routes in the Mediterranean Sea and to enhance the spreading of cultures and populations. This is the spirit that drove the band in the recording of its second CD: original and traditional music. A trip from Greece to Sephardic Spain, and to the outskirts of the Middle East, passing through Sicily, Nakaira’s native land.

Melthemi rides on the wings of a song in Sicilian dialect, whose text was been expressedly written for the album by Sicilian singer-songwriter Carlo Muratori based on an original Nakaira theme.

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Bill Frisell – The Intercontinentals

Bill Frisell – The Intercontinentals
Bill Frisell

The Intercontinentals (Nonesuch 79661, 2003)

Bill Frisell certainly took the road less traveled with his latest offering, The Intercontinentals on Nonesuch Records. He didn’t take the road alone either. Traveling down the road with him are Greg Leisz, Sidiki Camara, Vinicius Cantuária, Christos Govetas and Jenny Scheinman. And Bill knows how to pick them all right, because each of them possesses extraordinary talent and inspires the listener to take a global path. The group debuted in the fall of 2001 in Seattle at the Earshot Jazz Festival. With the new CD, they are sure to lure in many more fans.

The musical landscape of The Intercontinentals is hauntingly familiar and strangely unexpected at the same time. Incorporating American folk, African rhythms, blues, jazz and a dash of electronic gives the road some surprising twists and turns. Greek-Macedonian, oud player Christos Govetas, along with percussionist Sidiki Camara from Mali, Greg Leisz on Asher lap steel and Frisell on electric guitar turn the listener inside out with the very first track “Boubacar.” Camara’s vocals and percussion on the track “Baba Drame” combined with Jenny Scheinman on violin, Govetas on oud, Leisz on pedal steel guitar, Frisell on electric guitar and Cantuária on snare drum and bass drum make for a fabulous trip.

Brazilian composer/ singer/percussionist/singer Vinicius Cantuária balances out the quieter pieces with the energizing “Procissão” on electric guitar and vocals. Close your eyes and let the mind’s eye gaze out the window on “We Are Everywhere” and let it take you on an international road trip and you won’t be disappointed.

Thanks to fine musicianship and an international meeting of the minds, The Intercontinentals is worth the ride and will take the listener down lesser traveled roads.

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Eight Seasons by Marie Boine

Marie Boine – Eight Seasons
Marie Boine

Eight Seasons (Northside Records, 2003)

Similar to Wimme, Norwegian born Sami vocalist Mari Boine also joiks over a backdrop of modern technology. She, however, provides an English translation of the Sami poetry she sings, allowing listeners to get a feel for Sami life. Boine’s vocal performance comes off as cooler than Wimme’s but as emotional.

When she sings of the Sami way, you can hear her heart shattering underneath her unwavering vocals. Her songs range from the fun loving celebratory Sarahka’s Wine (a song celebrating the birth of a child) to love songs, (I Come From the Other Side and In a Blanket of Warmth) to songs about psychic protection (Soul Medicine). However, the bulk of songs on this CD proudly honor the Sami path. The lyrics to Sarahka’s Wine is an example of this, “My child now, when it’s your turn to wander the old Sami
paths. Now that you hurry hurry do keep on moving
.”

Let Silver Protect, You Never Know, Butterfly and By the Source of Aurora B also draw pictures of Sami life, that is if you read the lyrics included with the CD since most of the songs are sung in a Sami dialect.

Eight Seasons (CD) proves to be an enjoyable and accessible listen with immaculate vocals and vocal textures set to sax, drum, guitar and synth. Although the music appears moody and ambient, it could never be mistaken for New Age. Although it is deeply spiritual, it is also extremely imaginative and innovative with a powerful Nordic sensibility.

In the past, Boine only hinted at Sami traditions in her music, performing a joik along other musical styles such as jazz so Eight Seasons comes as a unique musical journey for the Sami performer, entirely devoted to a way of life, including artwork that appears on the CD cover and Sami poetry. A riveting live performer, Boine released her CD’s Eallin (1996 live album) and Gula Gula which was remixed and released on Real World. She was also featured on an international TV music presentation around the same time of her Real World release. No, doubt this talented performer will reach a wider audience in the not too distant future.

Eight Seasons only solidifies Boine’s much needed presence as a premiere Sami joiker. And if the chance to see her perform in concert arises, jump at the opportunity.

Buy Eight Seasons

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Sierra Maestra 2003 US Tour Confirmed Dates

San Francisco, USA – One of Cuba’s most legendary bands, Sierra Maestra, will be touring the United States. Here are Sierra Maestra’s confirmed tour dates for 2003. All dates subject to change or cancellation

6/27/03 Providence, RI Waterplace Park
7/6/03 New York, NY Central Park Summer Stage
7/11/03 Cleveland, OH Cleveland Museum of Art
7/13/03 Chicago, IL Chicago Folk and Roots Festival
7/15/03 Milwaukee, WI Marcus Center
7/18/03 Los Angeles, CA Grand Performances
7/19/03 Los Angeles, CA Hollywood Park Casino

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Celtic Fusion Festival in Northern Ireland

Down, Northern Ireland – The annual Celtic Fusion International Music Festival will be taking place August 7-10, 2003.

This year there will be a special opener, Celtic Ceili with Pipes in Ballynahinch on Thursday 7 August, featuring Robert Watt, world champion piper and friends. Michael McGoldrick and Band in concert on Friday 8 August in Castlewellan. On Saturday 9 August, the Main Festival Stage in Castlewellan Forest Park will play host to a number of highly regarded and talented international musicians including:

· La Bottine Souriante (Quebec, Canada)
· Altan (Ireland)
· Dougie MacLean (Scotland)
· Sharon Shannon (Ireland)
· Shooglenifty (Scotland).

Danu live in concert on Sunday 10 August in Newcastle.

Ticket prices for the main festival stage performance on Saturday 9 August in Castlewellan Forest Park are £20.00 (Under five’s go free). A limited number of family tickets will be available for this main event at a special price of £50.00 for two adults and three children.

Tickets are £10 each for the Michael McGoldrick and Band concert on Friday 8 August and for Danu on Sunday 10 August.

Tickets for the festival will be going on sale May 8th from Ticketmaster and usual outlets. See website for details: celticfusion.co.uk

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