Culture Congress in Cuba

(Prensa Latina-Cumbancha) Havana, Cuba – The 3rd Culture and Development Congress, to take place in Cuba, will gather nearly 1,000 participants from Latin America, Europe, Asia and Africa from June 9-12 and will become an international space for reflection, stated Culture Vice-Minister Rafael Bernal.

During the Congress, famous personalities, experts and leaders will exchange ideas on the main problems of the relation between arts, development and preservation of the respective national identities. They will also debate issues related to fine arts, literature, theater, music, films, heritage, art teaching, participation in socio-cultural development and the new technologies used in culture.


Tumbao Habana, an Orchestra that Proved its Talent

(Prena Latina – Cumbancha) Havana, Cuba – Pascual Cabrejas Cambara is a daring musician who told popular Charanga Habanera salsa band director David Calzado that he had a new song for him and actually, when in fact he had nothing written. Calzado was looking for new themes and accepted the offer. After three days, he gave Calzado the song “Que te lleve otro,” which quickly climbed to the first notches of the national charts. “David and I have always been good friends. I used to attend every rehearsal of the Charanga Habanera and I tell you that I would have liked to have joined his orchestra,” says Pascual, who created his own band, Tumbao Habana that records on the Artex label. The band’s first concert took place at the famous Tropicana Night Club on December 29 1997. The repertoire includes international music but they prioritize Cuban son, bolero and rumba.

Born in Santiago but raised in Havana, Pascual Cabrejas has a degree in Musical Education. At the age of 10, his father Fausto Cabrejas registered him at the Guantanamo Popular Music School to study the guitar. He did not complete his studies but learned enough to play and compose his own songs. “I think that my father is a better musician than me, he even played with the Santiago Orpheus Chorus directed by Electo Silva, but preferred to be an engineer. I liked Mathematics, and look, I became a musician. I will invite my father to sing a bolero on the CD that I am recording with the Mexican JMI Music Company. This is very important for me and I am sure that he will like it.” The CD will be a surprise for many people because it mixes several rhythms such as son with rap, rap with reggae, and includes new versions of traditional songs.


Revised Fania Tour Dates

USA – Senegalese singer Fania will be touring the United States in June. Born in Senegal, but now living in France, Fania first sparked interest as a vocalist with the group Kaoma, who made the Lambada an international phenomenon. Her solo recording, Sopi, sung in Peulh, Wolof, Sarakhole and Manding, combines traditional instruments with an infusion of contemporary influences including Los Angeles hip hop.

The tour dates previously listed were not accurate. Please visit the Tinder Records Web site for the latest dates:


fresh sounds from today’s brazil

London, England – Manteca Records, in the UK, has released Nu Brazil – Fresh sounds from Today’s Brazil (MANTDCD217).

In the 21st century the music of Brazil has reached a major cusp in its development. This extensive and varied selection is music from today’s Brazil. From samba legends through modernist songwriters to full-on drum’n’bass.

Compilation & notes are by John Armstrong

















8 MORENO VELOSO + 2: DEUSA DO AMOR (Goddess Of Love)


In Search of Traditional Rumba Songs

(Prensa Latina – Cumbancha) Havana, Cuba – A meeting to recover unpublished rumbas is taking place at Martinez Villena Hall in the National Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba (UNEAC). Sponsored by the Casas de Cultura’s National Council, an institution promoting the “Luz a la rumba” (Light to the Rumba) project, the event will seek to contribute to the preservation and promotion of little known rumba songs.

It will highlight figures such as Gonzalo Hernández Kesel, author of “Consuélate como yo” (Comfort yourself as I am), and Argeliers León, researcher of the work started by prestigious ethnologist and musicologist Fernando Ortiz.

Among its aims are to inform on the current conditions of rumba and reflect the treatment that specialists and musicians give it. This framework will serve to enhance debate on “La Rumba”, included in the CD “Del canto y del tiempo, by León, and to pay homage to Gonzalo Asencio, nicknamed Tio Tom (Uncle Tom), and also popularly known as “El Rey del Guaguanco” (The King of Guaguanco).

One of the greatest concerns from musicologists is to find new forms to revive the so-called intangible patrimony, that musically speaking, is made up by songs passing on from one generation to other.


CD Review: Sinikka Langeland

Sinikka Langeland – RunojaRunoja (Heilo HCD 7180, 2003)

There has been a great deal of interest in new music coming out of Norway, mostly in the field of jazz/ambient, so it is good to hear something which has its origins in older words and music. In this case it is rune songs, which are partly based on shamanic incantations. Since these don’t have melodies as such, Langeland has borrowed themes and tunes from Finland and Karelia.Runic incantation is often used for healing and protection and requires a powerfully emotive delivery. She certainly follows this tradition. Her voice is clear, intense and covers a wide range of expression. Of course, I don’t actually know what she is singing about but the power and purity are moving and transcendent. She fixes the listener’s attention as she shifts from near whispers to sustained vocal somersaults.

Although this is an older music there are contemporary presences here in the form of Arve Henriksen and his weird otherworldly trumpet, bassist Bjorn Kjellemyr and drummer Pal Thowsen. They are all skilled improvisers, an important concept in rune song, and they contribute varied settings, both sparse and rich, alongside her commanding voice. Henriksen’s vocal style of playing is a perfect foil to Langeland, especially on Ukko and Tirun Lirun. But look out for the rhythmic bass which drives Pakeneva.

Further instrumental colour is added by Langeland’s kantele, that ancient stringed instrument which produces cascades of ringing crystal notes that, alongside bowed bass and trumpet, enhance the haunting atmospheres of tracks like Vinterrune.

At times she displays a hard edged tone to her singing, a bit like Julie Tippetts. At others there’s a trace of Mari Boine Persen. But that apart I can’t readily think of any real comparisons. It is a refreshing sound and one that I would like to hear more of.


Cranky Crow World Music Celebrates Its First Birthday

Seattle, USA – The world music Web site run by one of World Music Central’s main collaborators is celebrating its first birthday.

Starting on a lark and fondness for world music, Patty-Lynne Herlevi will be celebrating the first anniversary of her homegrown world music site, Cranky Crow World Music June 2003. The celebration will feature CD giveaways (kindly donated by Real World/Narada, Tinder Records, White Swan Music, Naxos World and NorthSide), reviews of summer releases and features along with links to world music festivals around the globe.The site that was created to promote peace through the sharing of music has featured interviews with Axiom of Choice, Simon Emmerson, Johnny Kalsi, Lo’Jo as well as, numerous reviews of globe-trotting musicians. The site also features special sections on Scandinavian music, women musicians (Divas), a meditation room, African musicians (African Tour) and a multitude of links to other resources. Expect more concert reviews, more diversity and the inclusion of international indigenous musicians.

In the future, Patty-Lynne plans on relocating to Western Canada where she will join with others in starting the Rainbow Music Cooperative that will invite indigenous musicians from around the world to come together to share and create new musical hybrids. The coop will include a recording studio, rehearsal space and eventually lodging for the musicians while promoting a sustainable lifestyle (solar power, eco-friendly construction and organic farming).

For now, Cranky Crow World Music resides in Seattle where Patty-Lynne shares various musical acts with like-minded individuals and novices wishing to learn more about folk roots music. While she won’t take on the world, Patty-Lynne will bring the world to your computer. Go to Cranky Crow World Music and join the world music community.



Germany – The German American Song Festival on Tour – 2003 (DAFT-Tour) presents from June 26 – July 7 six song poets from Germany and the USA. Following opening concerts in Dresden and Berlin, one American and one German artist pair up together to go on separate tours through various German states.

The participating artists are Eric Hansen, Larry Hill, Rik Palieri from the USA and Manfred Maurenbrecher, Sandy Wolfrum, Wilfried Mengs from Germany. They will play in schools, at festivals, in pubs and other music venues. Prior to the tour, a nationwide songwriting contest will be conducted – supported by one of the countrys leading radio stations. The winners will share the stage with the six song poets at the opening event. The DAFT-Tour uses the power of music to bring people together and to promote mutual and peaceful understanding of diverse cultures. It presents the best of German and American songwriting traditions in a live concert format. Bringing the artists together on tour will allow for a unique collaboration on- and off-stage that benefits one and all.

Das DAFT-Tour, presented by Folker! one of the leading German music magazines for Folk, Song and World Music – promises to be an event for all lovers of songs and poetry, as well as curious novice listeners, that should not be missed. The artists, representing diverse musical and cultural backgrounds within their own countries, will join forces to offer beautiful songs, captivating arrangements and a wide mix of personal reflections of the world we live in.

With (quote Pete Seeger) and (quote Tom Paxton) two of the most prominent representatives of American folk music have endorsed the DAFT-Tour.

The DAFT-Tour will travel to various cities, such as Berlin, Hannover, Nürnberg, Rudolstadt, Weimar, Plauen and Leipzig. The complete and current tour schedule and more information about the tour can be seen at DAFT-Tour.

Several sponsors and partners have given support: Bayer Healthcare, C. F. Martin &Co. Inc., SmartWood, KART-a-BAG, Buckholz Wall Systems, Ingenieurbüro Förster, WorldStrings Promotion, and Laurarecords.

Management, Interviews, Contacts and other Information:

Wilfried Mengs: laurarecords,
Bernd Häber: WorldStrings Promotion,


32nd Annual NW Folklife Festival

32nd Annual Northwest Folklife Festival
Seattle Center, Seattle, Washington
Memorial Day Weekend 2003

It’s been a few years since I have attended the Northwest Folklife Festival and while attending the 32nd annual festival, my mind took a turn down memory lane. The festival has endured many changes over the years, but has maintained its free admission, even if various festival staff, board members and musicians give PBS pledge drive speeches in between the 100’s of performances. Festival staff expected 200,000 attendees over the course of the weekend and the center grounds definitely felt over-crowded as I inched my way across the center on route to the various performances I attended over the four-day event.

For those individuals who thrive on statistics, this year’s festival boasted 18 stages, 1,000 performances from 120 traditions performed by 5000 performers. And for those who only wanted to get a bite to eat or buy handmade crafts, could visit 35 booths scattered throughout the center grounds. However, as I travel down memory lane, I recall the first festival I attended back in 1987. At that time, vegetarianism thrived among a large hippie crowd dressed in tie-dyes and Birkenstock sandals, playing drums on the lawn and occasionally checking out a performance of Greek dancers, Scottish bagpipes or tossing spare change into a fiddler’s case.
Although Folklife has transformed into a folk-roots festival featuring a broader range of world music performers, you can still find droves of Birkenstock clad hippies toting a coffee cup in one hand and a festival program guide in the other waddling their way to a performance. Tofu burgers have been replaced by large chunks of meat seen on various plates throughout the festival and the folky-folk scene has been augmented with a world beat consciousness that would put a smile on Peter Gabriel’s face.

This year’s festival promoted a maritime theme while highlighting the lives of fisherman and other maritime folk of the eastern seaboard and the West Coast of North America. Seafarers and musicians from as far as Scandinavia and Portugal were also strewn throughout this year’s festival programming. And while this theme focused on theatrical, dance, spoken word and other types of performances, I focus only on the musical portion. I started off with a Scandinavian fiddle performance with Michaelson & Myers. The Scandia-American fiddling duo introduced traditional fiddle dance tunes from Norway and Sweden, but tossed in a cover by the Finnish fiddle group, JPP. The fiddling was laced with Scandinavian humor and technical prowess.

Next I headed to the Seattle Children’s Theatre to catch the Maritime Showcase. The Yupik Savoonga Comedy Players, a troupe of elder women comedians entertained a packed theatre with slapstick antics, Eskimo humor on traditional songs sung in the Yupik language. They ended their set with How Great Thou Art sung in Yupik and although the vocals were slightly off-key, the women’s charming demeanor garnered hearty applause. Daisy Nell and her husband, Captain Stan Collinson chipped in a short set of sea shanties that delighted all of the fishermen and women in the audience. Local folksinger and fisherman Knut Bell also delighted the same audience members with his baritone vocals and songs about romance and rough seas. I felt a bit seasick.

Fado singers Ana and Jose Vinagre, accompanied by Portuguese musicians, Jose Pedro Ramalho (guitar) and Alfredo Paredes (Portuguese guitar) ended the evening with a passionate set. Jose kicked off with songs by the infamous Amalia Rodrigues and other fados that sported maritime themes. Ana completed the second half of the set with a similar repertoire along with commentaries about Portugal, the maritime culture and her guru, Amalia Rodrigues. When she asked audience members to name their favorite fadistas, a few yelled out “Mariza,” much to Ana’s dismay. She explained that she respects Mariza’s talent, but that you could hardly compare her to the legendary Rodrigues. Yet, any recent interest in fado could be connected to Mariza’s newly acquired international success and she will certainly keep the tradition going for another generation or two and at the same time, it’s a pleasure to watch older fadistas preserving the fado tradition and maritime themes.

On Saturday, I attended the Fiddler Showcase featuring world-renowned Cape Breton fiddlers Buddy MacMaster and Jerry Holland along with Appalachian fiddlers, Carthy Cisco & friends, swing fiddler Paul Anastasio with emerging talent 13-year old Michael Frazier, Jacob Breitbach and an array of other fiddling talent. Buddy MacMaster, (the brother of Charlie MacMaster and uncle of Natalie MacMaster) packed the theatre with fiddle enthusiasts. And his short set with Jerry Holland and pianist Robert Deveaux delivered the goods while acquainting novices with Cape Breton’s fiddling tradition. Two young fiddlers charmed the audience. Teen fiddler Sara Comer from Arkansas displayed a budding talent when she wasn’t hiding behind her girlish grin. Canadian swing fiddler, Michael Frazier also stunned the audience with his boy wonder abilities and his poise. Keep your eyes out for these emerging talents.

After I learned that the Scandinavian Music Concert with members of Varttina and Gjallarhorn was cancelled, I headed to an outdoor stage just as giant clouds roamed across the sky. As I waiting for the Latin American ensemble, Grupo Condor (from Beaverton, Oregon) to begin their set, I watched a parade of samba drummers pass. Grupo Condor struggled with the wind that was kicking the stage canopy and with their sound, but once the trio settled into their performance, they delivered warm and inviting Andean music from Bolivia, Argentina, Peru and France. The music featured pan flute, congas, guitar and vocals played by veterans of the musical genre. The group has already released several CDs and has a strong following in Oregon where they perform at various festivals.

I attended the Senegalese Show on Sunday. Charismatic drummer Thione Diop (“Jo Jo”) with the group Yeke Yeke and two seductive Senegalese dancers led off the showcase with power beats, polyphonic rhythm and entranced dancing. Although the audience seemed enamored with Diop’s vibrant personality and drumming abilities, the two dancers stole the show with rubber hips and non-stop smiles. Meanwhile, a colleague took her basket through the audience collecting cash for the performers, as is the custom in Senegal and one that honors the musicians.

San Francisco-based griot musician, Henri-Pierre Koubaka followed with quiet, yet mesmerizing set. Accompanied only by his guitar, I had a difficult time hearing his gorgeous songs due to audience members who decided to hold conversations during the short set. While solo performers deal with this sort of audience attention deficit disorder on a regular basis, Henri is an expert at engaging us with his stories and humorous antics. And despite the few rude folks in the audience, Henri’s soaring vocals and innovative guitar left a favorable impression.

I headed outdoors and caught a performance by local performer Gina Sala and her ensemble that consisted of a tabla performer, double bassist and guitar player who doubled on other exotic instruments. Gina coined the phrase global vocal that she fused with groove and devotional music while singing in Hindi, Bulgarian and other languages. The end result was peaceful music with a capitol “P” and a good remedy for my strained nerves.

I headed to the Mercer Arena on Sunday to watch the Arabic Show. Again, even though the showcases featured dancers, poets and musicians, I choose to focus on the musical portion of the show. Writer-musician Hanna Eady sent shudders through the audience with his haunting vocals and oud performance, but he kept apologizing for being on stage again. He had appeared earlier along side a trio of Arab women poets. Of course, no apologies were necessary since it seemed that everyone with the exception of the wailing baby (whose cries echoed throughout the concrete auditorium) seemed to be enjoying them selves. David McGrath introduced the ney (an end-blown flute from the Silk Road) with a performance laced with historical commentary. Soon a drummer joined David and the two musicians launched into traditional Arab dance songs. Master oud player Maurice Rouman also cited ancient history of his instrument, but his broken English proved difficult to comprehend. However, his passionate execution on the oud didn’t need any translation and was absolutely breathtaking. Rouman’s son-in-law and son assisted the frail octogenarian oud master onto the stage and also accompanied on traditional drums. Frailty, old age and Rouman’s small frame did not stop him from unleashing the oud’s hidden powers and secrets.

Finally, I capped off the long weekend with a solo kora performance by Seattle musician, Kane Mathis. Although I always enjoy hearing this West African harp, I would have enjoyed Kane’s presentation and comments more if the theatre ushers had the decency to lower their voices when showing latecomers to their seats and not shine their flashlights in our faces. On that note I will conclude my review, realizing that human behavior does play a big role in any festival environment. And that people come to the Northwest Folklife Festival for a variety of reasons, including people watching, networking, getting stoned, learning about new cultures and supporting local performers and colleagues. I went for the music and witnessed many dynamic events by musicians of the Pacific Northwest and beyond.

Many of the artists have released recordings and will be performing throughout the Pacific Northwest and beyond this summer. For more information on the artists, please visit the NW Folklife Festival web site–directory of artists.


Classic Dub Reissues Strip Reggae to the Roots

Augustus Pablo – Rockers Meets King Tubbys in a Fire House
Augustus Pablo – Rockers Meets King Tubbys in a Fire House (Shanachie SH 45055, 2003)

Ja-Man All Stars – In the Dub Zone (Blood and Fire BAF CD 041, 2003)

The practice of dubbing reggae music- breaking it down and reconstructing it via studio tweaking and remixing -has become an inseparable component of reggae. In dub, the inner core of bass and drums is left intact, with other instruments and effects sliced and diced to accentuate the rhythm and blow your mind to varying degrees. Sounds come, go and come again, and an expert dub mixer can create a “version” of a reggae track that brims with spiritual depth, mischievous fun, empathetic musical vibes, or any number of other sonic sensations.

Augustus Pablo, who died in 1999, was a master of dub and instrumental reggae who created mystical music unlike any other. An accomplished keyboard player, his signature instrument was the melodica, a wind/keyboard hybrid often regarded as a child’s toy. Pablo’s melding of the melodica’s reedy etherealness with the pulsating rhythms of reggae was nothing short of pure genius.

His 1980 release Rockers Meets King Tubbys in a Fire House (so named because dub pioneer King Tubby had a sizable hand in the mixing) was one of many landmark albums he recorded, and it’s been re-released with 4 additional tracks. These are dubs of songs by Pablo himself and other artists he produced, and it’s mesmerizing from start to finish. Highlights include the time signature-bending title track and the mildly Spanish-sounding “Dub in a Matthews Lane Arena,” but the whole disc is highly recommended.

Ja-Man All Stars – In the Dub Zone
One of the many strengths of England’s Blood and Fire label is tracking down and re-releasing golden age reggae and dub that may otherwise have been in danger of fading into obscurity. Dudley “Manzie” Swaby was a Jamaican producer who did some fine but often overlooked work in the last half of the ’70s. In the Dub Zonecompiles two of his dub albums on one CD.

The roots and culture slant predominant in reggae at the time is reflected in the sparse, urgent sound of these dubs, though there’s a snappy brightness that surfaces often enough. In his own liner notes, Manzie states that the disc is all about the love for the music felt by those who created it. It shows. These are crucial dubs laid down by some of the finest Jamaican players, including drummer Sly Dunbar, who is heard on many tracks on the latter half of the collection experimenting with the emerging syndrum sound he would later use to great effect with Black Uhuru. If you’re already familiar with the very high quality of Blood and Fire’s output, you’ll need no convincing that this is an essential dub release. If not, buy it and enjoy convincing yourself.

Buy the albums:

Augustus Pablo – Rockers Meets King Tubbys in a Fire House

Ja-Man All Stars – In the Dub Zone


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