Yellow Bird Indian Dancers (Apache and Plains) to Taiwan

Yellow Bird Indian Dancers

Albuquerque, USA – The Yellow Bird Indian Dancers will participate in the Cross-Year Celebrations of Taipei City “International Young Power Drum & Dance Festival”, January 6-11, 2004.  The group presents a repertoire of authentic Apache, Southwest and Northern Plains dances which are colorful yet educational. From the exciting Hoop Dance to the beautiful Apache Rainbow Dance, the presentations are enhanced by native sign language and flute music.

The Yellow Bird Dancers are all members of the Duncan family, headed by Ken Duncan, Sr., from the San Carlos Apache reservation in Arizona,  and Doreen Duncan, his wife, is from the Arikara, Hidatsa and Mandan Nations of the Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota.

Another member of the family is  a four-time World Champion Teen Hoop dancer. Ken is a graduate of the Institute of American Indian Arts and a recipient of the “Outstanding Young Men in America Award.”  Ken is an accomplished storyteller/lecturer,  has been featured in numerous children television programs and has lectured at Mayo Clinic, museums and universities.  He is also a flute player and traditional shieldmaker.

Doreen Duncan, Business Manager, is a graduate of Arizona State University and has extensive experience in Native American cultural interpretation. The group also provides Native craft demonstrations and a broad range of hands-on and interactive activities for children and adults.


Ladysmith Black Mambazo presents New Album and US Tour

Bloomington, Indiana, USA –

Ladysmith Black Mambazo
releases Raise Your Spirit Higher—Wenyukela
on Heads Up International (HUCD 3083) on January 27, 2004, in time for the ten-year
anniversary of the end of apartheid. In English, the word Wenyukela means “raise
your spirit higher
,” but the language of Joseph Shabalala’s stirring and
richly layered vocal compositions are universal. Raise Your Spirit Higher
is Ladysmith’s message of hope and unity to a troubled world.

Against a backdrop of political upheaval and personal tragedy, Joseph Shabalala
and the ten-member vocal group—now including four of his sons—have spent three
decades fusing the disparate but spiritually resonant traditions of Zulu and
Christian gospel music. They harness the unifying power of music to transcend
the dim places and raise their spirits higher. As survivors of South African
apartheid, the group’s Raise Your Spirit Higher reiterates this message
from Ladysmith’s earliest days while addressing many of the struggles that
persist around the world.And while the music is clearly rooted in African musical traditions, the message
speaks to all people whose ears and hearts are open, says Shabalala, a native of
South Africa’s Zulu people who converted to Christianity around the time of his
musical awakening in the late 1950s and early ’60s. To this day he is an active
minister in a township outside of Durban, where he gives sermons in Zulu. “Without
hearing the lyrics, this music gets into the blood, because it comes from the
,” he says. “It invokes enthusiasm and excitement, regardless of
what you follow spiritually

Shabalala’s spirituality underwent the supreme test during the making of this
record. In the spring of 2002, his wife of thirty years was murdered in a church
parking lot by a masked gunman. To date, no conviction has been made. Despite
the overwhelming grief that inevitably follows such a profound loss, Shabalala
chose the spiritual high road and has remained on it since. He keeps Nellie’s
memory and spirit alive in his heart and music, and his faith remains unshaken.
At the time that this happened, I tried to take my mind deep into the spirit,
because I know the truth is there
,” he says. “In my flesh, I might be
angry, I might cry, I might suspect somebody. But when I took my mind into the
spirit, the spirit told me to be calm and not to worry. Bad things happen, and
the only thing to do is to raise your spirit higher

He had help from his teenage grandsons, who express their love and support in
“Tribute,” a short but moving hip-hop track that closes out Raise Your Spirit
Higher. On the track, they urge their grandfather to be strong and not worry,
because their grandmother is in a better and happier place.

Eternally optimistic, Shabalala is confident that his perseverance in the face
of personal tragedy is a powerful sign for the world to heed: “When the world
looks at you and finds the tears in your eyes, but you smile in spite of the
tears, then they discover that, ‘Oh, he’s right when he says you must be strong,
because many things have happened to him, and he still carries on with the
spirit of the music

Raise Your Spirit Higher -Wenyukela is the latest recording in the Heads
Up Africa series, celebrating cross-cultural exchange between Africa and America.

Ladysmith Black
Mambazo: Tour Schedule


02/06/2004, Fri

Cambridge, MA

Sanders Theatre

02/07/2004, Sat

Lebanon, NH

Lebanon Opera House

02/09/2004, Mon

Vienna, VA

The Barns at Wolf Trap

02/10/2004, Tue

Vienna, VA

The Barns @ Wolf Trap

02/12/2004, Thu

Grand Rapids, MI

Calvin College Fine Arts Center

02/13/2004, Fri

Akron, OH

Akron Civic Center

02/14/2004, Sat

Batavia, IL

Fermilab Arts Series

02/15/2004, Sun

St Louis, MO

Sheldon Concert Hall

02/16/2004, Mon

Madison, WI

Oscar Meyer Theatre

02/17/2004, Tue

Minneapolis, MN

Ted Mann Concert Hall

02/19/2004, Thu

Toronto, ON

Massey Hall

02/20/2004, Fri

Purchase, NY

SUNY / Purchase Arts Center

02/21/2004, Sat

Poughkeepsie, NY

Bardavon Opera House

02/22/2004, Sun

Troy, NY

Troy Savings Bank Music Hall

02/23/2004, Mon

Ottawa, ON

Ottawa Jazz Fest

02/25/2004, Wed

Annapolis, MD

Maryland Hall

02/26/2004, Thu

Storrs, CT

Jorgensen Center

02/27/2004, Fri

Long Branch, NJ

Pollack Theatre

02/28/2004, Sat

Glenside, PA

Keswick Theatre

03/01/2004, Mon

Greenville, NC

Wright Auditorium

03/02/2004, Tue

Durham, NC

Carolina Theatre

03/04/2004, Thu

Ashville, NC

The Orange Peel

03/05/2004, Fri

Cleveland, OH

Cleveland Museum of Art

03/06/2004, Sat

Nelsonville, Ohio

The Stuart Opera House

[Photo by R. Hoffman].


Los Van Van to Perform in Cuban National Celebrations

Los Van Van
Los Van Van
(Prensa Latina – Cumbancha) Havana, Cuba – The Cuban orchestra Los Van Van, directed by Juan Formell, and winner of the 2003 National Music Award, will be one of the renowned groups that will perform at the nationwide festivities on the 45th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution. The local media highlighted the festivities on the Revolution’s anniversary, which will be held in 171 spots throughout the island until January 10.

Los Van Van will perform on January 1 – on the Cuban Revolution’s holiday – at the Anti-imperialist Tribune, situated across from the US Interests Section in Havana. Other artists who will perform during the festivities are Omara Portuondo, the diva of the Buena Vista Social Club, the renowned Orquesta Aragón and salsa singer Isaac Delgado, among others. Not only salsa groups will perform during the festivities, which will be a showcase for other musical genres, including fusion, rock and hip-hop.


World\’s Longest \"Son\" Played in Holguín

(Prensa Latina – Cumbancha) Holguín, Cuba – The continuous performance of the
world’s longest "Son", lasted 110 hours. It began in Holguín on Saturday and
concluded today, on January 1, to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the Cuban
Revolution. The record performance opened with the orchestra Ases del Ritmo,
which was followed by renowned guest groups, including Cándido Fabré and his
band, Elito Revé and his Charangón, and Maravillas de Florida. Some 30 "son" groups and septets performed in an area close to the Major
General Calixto García Stadium, where thousands of dancers enjoyed the show,
which broke the current Guinness record of 104 hours set at La Tropical’s Salón
Rosado, in the Cuban capital, in 1991.


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 (
and 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 under the “news” tab for the upcoming program details.


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