Sara González with Intimate Songs CD

(Prensa Latina) Havana, Cuba – Cuban singer and composer Sara González is working on a new CD and plans to start recording in May and includes a selection of the best moments of outstanding authors and singers of the 20th Century in Cuba. Entitled Canciones Intimas, the album will offer songs by Maria Teresa Vera, Ernestina Lecuona, Isolina Carrillo, Rita del Prado, Miriam Ramos, Teresita Fernandez and Liuba Maria Hevia and others. The album will be produced by the Bis Music label. Gonzalez told Cumbancha she is very excited about the project, and working intensely on the preliminary phase. Among her immediate plans is a tour in the Dominican Republic, on the occasion of the International Book Fair dedicated to Cuba in May.

Sara González has shared the stage with Silvio Rodriguez, Pablo Milanes, Augusto Blanca, Joan Manuel Serrat, Chico Buarque, Mercedes Sosa, Soledad Bravo, Daniel Viglietti, Pete Seeger, Roy Brown, Pedro Guerra, Beth Carvalho, Liuba María Hevia, Anabell Lopez, Marta Campos and Heidi Igualada. She was a founder of the Nueva Trova Movement and one of its main exponents.

She also was a member of the Grupo de Experimentacion Sonora (GES) del ICAIC, led by Leo Brouwer, where she studied Composition, Harmony and Orchestration. She has produced music for films, television and radio, besides taking part in several collective albums with other figures of the Nueva Trova Movement and the GES.

Her discography includes titles such as: Versos sencillos de Jose Marti (1975); Cuatro Cosas (1982); Con un Poco de Amor (1987); Con Apuros y Paciencia (1991); Si Yo Fuera Mayo (1996) and Mirame (1999).

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Habano Cigar in Honor of Compay Segundo

(Prensa Latina) Havana, Cuba – Montecristo Compay 95 is the brand name of the new cigars in honor of Cuban musician Compay Segundo. The cigars have a label with the smiling face of the 95-year-old “King of Chan Chan”, who is still active in the music scene and has become one of the most famous Cuban musicians internationally. Compay Segundo, once member of “Matamoros” and the duet Los Compadres, was a cigar-maker by trade, self-taught musician and he is considered a living myth of Cuban traditional music.

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The Rough Guide to Ska

 The Rough Guide to Ska
The Rough Guide to Ska
San Francisco, USA – A source and inspiration for the future reggae explosion, ska developed in Jamaica in the early 1960s, helped by one of the pioneering producers of the time, Vincent ‘Randy’ Chin. The Rough Guide to Ska collects twenty cuts from those early days, a dozen of which are reissued for the first time in over thirty-five years.

Included are some of the great names associated with Jamaican music, such as the Skatalites and the Maytals.

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The Music Of The Balkans

Various Artists
The Rough Guide To The Music OfThe Balkans (RGNET 1127)

I’m always amazed when I receive cds from the Rough Guide series. They target an area of the planet and in 70 or so minutes present the diversity of a region in all its diversity.

This cd certainly covers a wide area. Music of the Balkans includes contributions from around 7 countries and is evidence of both unity and diversity. This is music which has endured divisive religious, political, linguistic and ethnic differences and conflicts. It continues to thrive. Here you will find plenty of brass bands, especially from those gypsies who traverse the region. There are several to recommend. Romania’s Fanfare Ciocarlia are a 12 piece band that merge Balkan folk roots with dazzling energetic improvisations.
Boban Markovic Orkestar hail from Serbia and feature Markovic’s mercurial trumpet .They sound a little like speeded -up reggae. There may be few solos but there are shades of jazz colouring native influences.If all this energetic blowing seems exhausting there is some respite in Angelite, a collection of some of the purest voices I’ve heard from Bulgaria. But if that doesn’t float your boat then there is some Balkan Ethnotrance. It comes from Kristi Stassinopoulou – a Greek Grace Slick. She paid her dues in some Jefferson Airplane – esque bands. Look out for her band’s ‘Echotropia’.

Albania hasn’t always been the most accessible region. How many Albanian bands can you name ? Still the unadorned voices of Ensemble Tirana are breath-taking and their polyphonic chorale is a brief but sublime closing piece.
This cd is another reminder that there is still plenty of world out there in which to go on making exciting discoveries.

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The Mahotella Queens

The Mahotella Queens

The Best Of – The Township Idols (Wrasse Records Wrasss. 098)

One of the things I most associate with the Queens, apart from their own impassioned vocals, is the coarse growl of Simon Nkabinde Mahlathini. So when I received this I was delighted to find an old favourite of mine, Jive Motella, included. It was lovely to hear the Lion of Soweto juxtaposed with the glorious three-part harmonies of the women.
He is featured on several tracks here in this celebration of their history and it provokes both sad and joyful feelings. Sad, because there will be no more such unions. But listening to Zibuyile Nonyaka or Thina Siyakhanyisa is as exciting an experience as you’re likely to find in the wide field of African music.

But before I forget, this is a review of the fabulous Queens. It spans the range of their albums, both with and without Mahlathini, and mixes the rhythms of South African tribal music with jazz and gospel influences. They call it mbaqanga, from the Zulu word for cooking pot. There is even a reggae influence on I’m In Love With A Rastaman which is full of swagger and bounce. Truly up-lifting. Equally buoyant is Kumnyama Endlini from their latest cd.

There are plenty of examples of the Queens’ close harmonies but one of the most memorable is the closing track Dilika Town Hall, a traditional song that features their unaccompanied voices. You can feel the purity and power that makes any other instrument redundant.

A couple of tracks don’t do them justice, like Women Of The World, which sounds diluted, bland even. But most of the album is great to hear again. They still sound as fresh as ever, keeping alive the sound and spirit of ‘the indestructible beat of Soweto’.

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WOMAD USA 2003 officially cancelled

WOMAD-logoCiting "insurmountable visa issues" caused by world events, organizers of WOMAD USA officially cancelled the festival for 2003.

"Given current world events, which is causing insurmountable visa issues, WOMAD USA will not be taking place at Marymoor Park or any other location in the United States in 2003," WOMAD artistic director Thomas Brooman said.

His statement was issued by The Workshop, a local company under contract to produce the world music festival in Redmond’s Marymoor Park, just east of Seattle.

WOMAD USA, the only WOMAD festival in North America, was also canceled last year because of visa problems, as well as the economic downtown, despite assurances by WOMAD officials that the festival would be an ongoing event. The festival was last held at Marymoor in 2001.

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Live Releases by Masters of Roots Reggae

Burning Spear- Live at Montreux Jazz Festival 2001 (Burning Music Productions BM 314, 2002)

Culture- Live in Africa (RASCD 3270, 2002)

Burning Spear and Culture are two of the most unwaveringly committed practitioners of Jamaican roots reggae the world has ever seen. Their continued global popularity is exemplified in numerous ways, including the strength of their live performances.Burning Spear (born Winston Rodney) has nearly 35 years of reggae stardom under his belt, and despite being rather gray in the dreadlocks these days, he shows no signs of throwing in the towel. From the start, his music has focused on the African repatriation philosophy of Marcus Garvey and the power of reggae as a uniting, healing force. Live at the Montreux Jazz Festival is a solid sampling of his mesmerizing, shaman-like onstage persona as he runs down a selection of mostly older material. As always, his backing band (including, crucially, a horn section) is top notch, deftly nailing the main body of each song as well as dropping into tight dub passages while Spear himself spaces out on percussion. The songs, including such classics as “Man in the Hills,” “Slavery Days” and “Columbus,” remain true to the intensity of the original recorded versions, though Spear frequently re-configures the vocals with scat spontaneity and chanted emphasis on key lyrics. He remains one of reggae’s greatest singers, laconic and understated at times, soaringly authoritative at others. Burning Spear has made several high quality live albums over the years, and this one easily assumes a place in his prolific and impressive body of work. (E-mail: burningspear@worldnetatt.net)

Though they remain a harmony trio, Culture has become increasingly synonymous with lead vocalist and songwriter Joseph Hill. Hill also emphasizes the importance of Marcus Garvey and African roots, but where Burning Spear often comes across as a stern teacher, Hill is more like a lively Rastafarian street preacher. Recorded at a reggae festival in South Africa, Culture’s live disc scores high marks also, as much for including songs from all phases of their career as the hard-hitting strength with which they are delivered. Hill engages the audience like an old friend, giving shout-outs to Nelson Mandela and radiating good vibes at every turn. The sound is a little ragged at first, but by the time Culture launches into a fervent “Disobedient Children,” things are locked up tight and you’ll be in the spirit and in the groove just as surely as if you’d been there. Loose, energetic and full of fire, this is a mightly testament to the power of live reggae. (www.rasrecords.com)

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Mestre Ambrosio’s European Tour

Mestre Ambrosio
Mestre Ambrosio

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – Mestre Ambrosio, founders of Pernambuco’s new music groove will begin a spring European tour in April.

Mestre Ambrósio masters a breathtaking show mixing the finest musical performance with irresistible rhythms and outstanding dance steps.Mestre Ambrósio’s six members graduated in modern and classical music. They are: Siba (fiddle, guitar and voice), Helder Vasconcelos (fole, percussion and voice) Mazinho Lima (bass, triangle and voice) Sergio Cassiano (percussion and voice) Mauricio Alves and Eder Rocha (percussion).

Tour dates:

19.04 The Moods-Zurich (CH)
21.04 Alien Bar – Orleans (F)
23.04 Botanique-Brussels (B)
24.04 Melkweg-Amsterdam (NL)
26,27.04 Bordeaux (F) show + Masterclasses Maracatu & Cavalo Marinho
29.04 “Roda de Coco”; Favela Chic (Paris-F)
30.04 New Morning; Paris (F)
01.05 Orleans (F) Masterclasses Maracatu & Cavalo Marinho
02.05 Astrolabe; Toulouse (F)
04.05 Serpa (P)

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Instrumental Tangos Reissued and Remastered

Que Bonboncito
Que Bonboncito
Hamburg, Germany – Que Bonboncito is a recording of beautifully-restored tracks from 1929 to 1932. The album, released by Germany’s Danza y Movimento label, is a valuable asset to those who love the tango.

By the mid-1920s Buenos Aires was divided into two camps concerning the tango – traditionalists and the evolutionists.

Julio De Caro and Pedro Maffia defined the evolutionary style. In fact, the great classical composer Manual de Falla wrote at the time, “From what I have heard in Argentina, De Caro’s music is the most precious and points the way ahead.” These men enriched the tango, as it then existed, with exaggerated melodic phrasing, romantic treatment of the violins and the orchestrally-arranged individual parts.

De Caro’s group was formed in 1924 and lasting, through personnel changes, all the way up to 1952. Pedro Maffia was the bandoneon player in De Caro’s group until 1927 then founded his own orchestra around 1929. Today, the Orquesta Tipica Brunswick is relatively unknown. Like many other labels (RCA Victor, for example) Brunswick employed an in-house tango band. But Brunswick was done by 1932, so these recordings are rare indeed.

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Barahúnda – Al Sol de la Hierba

Barahúnda

Al Sol de la Hierba (Nufolk, 2002)

Barahúnda is part of a growing number of Madrid contemporary folk bands. The group draws most of its inspiration from various Spanish folk music traditions and the Sephardic diaspora. Barahúnda was initially led by singer Helena de Alfonso and stringed-instrument specialist Miguel Casado (he left the group after the recording). The all acoustic band features Helena de Alfonso’s outstanding Medieval, Sephardic and Spanish folk vocal stylings combined with various Spanish and Middle Eastern string instruments, along with superb zanfona (Spanish hurdy gurdy) work, all accompanied by Spanish, Middle Eastern and Indian percussion. The pieces included in this recording include original compositions as well as Medieval Galician-Portuguese cantigas, Arab Andalusian music, jotas from Zamora and Burgos, a Breton tune, and Sephardic lullabies and love songs.

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