Artist Profiles: Banda

Banda

Banda was founded in 2003 in Bratislava, Slovakia. The ensemble includes musicians with extensive experience in folk music performance as well as other genres. Banda is predominantly inspired by Slovak traditional music, incorporating innovative arrangements.

In addition to Slovak roots music, Banda incorporates blues, jazz, pop, earky music and the traditional music of other cultures as well, such as Moravian, Ruthenian, Polish, Romanian, Balkan, Celtic, and Spanish musical influences.

Banda showcased at the World Music Expo WOMEX in 2017.

The ensemble contributed music for the film Tanec medzi črepinami (Glass Splinters Dance) directed by Marek Ťapák (2012) and also a title song of the TV series called 1890 (2017).

Band members include Samo Smetana on lead vocals, violin, mandolin, bouzouki; Ivan Hanula on vocals, viol, mandolin, bouzouki; Alžbeta Lukáčová on cimbalom, vocals, accordion, percussion; Peter Obuch on double bass, vocals; Ajdži Szabo on percussion; and Eva Brunovská on vocals, keyboards.

Discography:

Jedna (2010)

HraBanda (Pavian Records, 2014)

Ľudová hudba Banda: Na Mijave na rínečku (2015)

Telegrafy (Pavian Records, 2018)

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Artist Profiles: Hrdza

Hrdza

Slovak band Hrdza have been making world fusion since the late 1990s. The ensemble is known for its original material rooted in Slovak traditional music, combining east European folk elements with modern musical influences.

Hrdza is a vibrant live act, featuring robust vocals and catchy melodies that engage the audience.

The 2018 album Neskrotený includes 11 original musical pieces predominantly written by the band’s frontman Slavomír Gibarti and 3 adapted very little-known traditional songs with vocals in Slovak, Rusyn and Ukrainian.

Band members in 2018 incldued Slavomír Gibarti on lead vocals, guitar; Susanna Jara on vocals, violin; Dominik Maniak on violin, vocals; Marak Szarvaš on percussion; Pavol Boleš on bass, vocals; and Matej Palidrab on accordion.

Discography:

Muzička (Hrdza, 2002)
Pod božími oknami (Universal Music, 2006)
Hajnajnanyja (Universal Music, 2009)
Hrdzavá osemnástka (Hrdza, 2016)
Neskrotený (Hrdza, 2018)

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Artist Profiles: Miriam Kaiser

Miriam Kaiser

Miriam Kaiser is a Slovak violinist, composer, and vocalist. Her musical pieces are rooted in folk traditions and poetry.

Music had a fundamental role in Miriam’s life from her early childhood. Her parents sent their children to learn music and urged them to perform in front of audiences.

Miriam studied at the Bratislava Conservatory. She presented her first musical piece, Prvá (First), when opened for famed Slovak musician Marián Varga.

Miriam’s first EP Isté veci (Certain things), reached number one in Radio 7 and Radio Lumen music charts, and was aired on the Slovak national radio and Radio Regina.

Her first album Deň dňu, was made in cooperation with Milan Adamec, Andrej Hruška, members of the Slovak National Theater Orchestra and the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra and other guests. It had a more modern sound and reached a wider audience.

In 2016, Miriam attracted the attention of Slovak music fans with her audiovisual project Colour Sounds in which she mixed rich orchestral arrangements, folk melodies and female vocals with an easygoing electronic sound. These elements have continued as essential elements of her compositions.

Tanec strún was released in 2018. It is dedicated to string instruments and is inspired by Slovak folk music, classical music and the poems of Naďa Mitanová.

Miriam Kaiser

Miriam’s band includes arranger Milan Adamec on violin and Júlia Veselá on cello.

Discography:

Isté Veci, EP (2010)

Deň Dňu ( Miriam Kaiser, 2014)

Color Sounds ( Miriam Kaiser, 2016)

Tanec strún ( Miriam Kaiser, 2018)

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Artist Profiles: Čendeš

Čendeš

Čendeš ensemble (formerly known as Rusín Čendeš Orchestra) has gathered an enthusiastic audience during its years of their existence with its modern arrangements of folk songs from Eastern Slovakia.

The debut album titled “Best of” was released in 2015. The second album, titled Cossack Attack, combines Ruthenian, Balkan and Gypsy music with jazz and other musical genres.

The ensemble’s sound is characterized by robust male and female vocals, twin fiddles, guitar, bouncing cimbalom and double bass.

Band members include Zuzana Stračinová on vocals, cimbalom; René Bošeľa on vocals, viola, guitar; Andrej Turčin on vocals and violin; Peter Šipula on vocals and violin; Jakub Stračina con bass; and Robo Bošeľa on drums and percussion.

Discography:

Best of ( Môlča Records, 2015)
Cossack Atack (Môlča Records, 2019)

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Artist Profiles: Kwon Soon Kang

Kwon Soon Kang is a leading vocalist in traditional and contemporary music in Korea. She has dedicated herself to performing and perfecting both Korean traditional court vocal music (jeongga) and contemporary music.

She has performed widely throughout Korea and abroad, working with many composers, dancers and theater companies, ensembles and orchestras, including the National Orchestra, the Seoul Metropolitan Traditional Orchestra, the Kim Duksoo Samulnori Group, and the Nan Kye Traditional Ensemble.

Kwon Soon Kang has also appeared in performances directed by international art directors Ong Keng Sen, Jinhi Kim, and Chen Shi-Zeng, working with traditional and contemporary artists from around the world.

Ms. Kang released her first jeongga album, Sounds of Heaven, in 2004, and recorded with the Kim Duksoo Samulnori Group. She has also received prizes at the Dong-A Competition and the Seoul Traditional Music Festival sponsored by Korean Broadcasting System (KBS).

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Artist Profiles: Yoon Jeong Heo

Yoon Jeong Heo

Yoon Jeong Heo, the leader of Tori Ensemble, is an enthusiastic soloist who cuts across various musical genres, expanding the possibilities of geomungo and Korean music. Heo graduated from the National High School of Korean Traditional Music and received her B.A. and M.A. from Seoul National University.

In 1984, Yoon Jeong Heo initiated her study of geomungo sanjo, with the Living National Treasure Han Gap Duk, obtaining the significant master title “yisuja.”

Heo served as the deputy concertmaster of the Seoul Metropolitan Korean Music Orchestra from 1990 to 1994. She has performed with the German artist Stephan Micus, the San José Chamber Orchestra, and toured Europe, the US, China, and Japan. She was awarded a Ministry of Culture prize in 2008 in the field of Korean traditional music, as well as a fellowship from the Asian Cultural Council.

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Artist Profiles: Baraji

Baraji

Baraji is a Korean band known for its mystical shows featuring folkloric music, singing, dancing and costumes. Baraji presents exceptional improvisation.

In traditional Korean music, Sinawi, the word Baraji is often used to describe improvised singing in harmony. Baraji’s performances derive from a Korean shamanic tradition known as Jindo Ssitgim Gut. This ceremony is used to cleanse the spirit of a deceased person. Since ancient times, there is a Korean belief that when somebody dies, their body cannot enter the world of the dead because of the impurity of their spirit. The Ssitgim Gut washes away this impurity.

In 2018, the lineup included Han Seung-seok, Artistic Director; Kim Byung-keuk, Sound Director; Kang Min-su on percussion; Kim Tae-young on percussion; Cho Soung-jae on ajaeng; Jeong Kwang-yoon on daegeum; Kim Yul-hee on vocals; Oh Young-bin on piri; Kim Min-young on gayageum; and Won Na-kyungdlal ek on haegeum.

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Guo Gan Trio’s Stunning Collaboration

Guo Gan Trio – Gobi Desert

Guo Gan Trio – Gobi Desert (Felmay, 2019)

Musical collaborations hold a particular fascination for me. I assume that many start in the simplest ways with the questions from one musician to another, “Hey, wanna play some music?” Now I’m sure that there is the occasional “no” but really what self-respecting musician ever says no to a gig or to at least show off their latest riff? Music is this wonderful messy conglomeration of instruments,genres and styles that have crossed hills, mountains, rivers, regions and countries a million times over from the beginnings of the earliest flute or drum.

Ethnomusicologists, despite all the studies, scratched out records or archaeological evidence, are dependent on a fair amount of guesses or suppositions on the evolution of song or the origins of one single instrument. A disputed claim by two neighboring towns as the birthplace of a particular instrument can break out into a brawl if not monitored closely. In a weird way music is the big human collaboration.

When I come across these musical cross-pollination recordings, the first thing I want to ask is what was it about this other genre of music that fascinated you? I know what I hear after the collaboration is essentially complete, but what did you find that worked melding two different musical traditions and what didn’t work. My second questions is why must you print liner notes over photographs making it impossible to make out what’s in the liner notes.

There’s a wonderful collaboration out there available for a listen on Italy’s Felmay label called Gobi Desert by the Guo Gan Trio. Some music fans might have had a listen into the 2014 Guo Gan Trio recording called Jasmine Flower with Guo Gan on erhu with Rao Ying on zheng and Lai Long Han on dizi and xiao. Now the Guo Gan Trio is back with yet another trio and another sound. Teaming up with Turkish saz player Emre Gultekin and Turkish percussionist Levent Yildirim.

On the surface, to those without a little history under their belts, some might consider this an unlikely collaboration, but if you think about the Silk Road trade routes that stretched all the way from China through Turkey to its final reaches in southern Italy the musical sharing leap becomes easier. The Silk Road started around 114 BCE, so it’s not hard to imagine that collaborations like this went on longer and farther than we could have ever have guessed.

This collaboration is indeed a treat. Packed full of erhu, doholla, uc telli, bendir, baglama and tembur, Gobi Desert is a musical landscape that graces the lines of the elegance of Chinese musical traditions into the meaty, sinuous turns of Middle Eastern music, Guo Gan, Emre Gultekin and Levent Yildirim set up a collaborative musical space that is as entertaining as it is engaging.

Opening with the title track and Guo Gan composition “Gobi Desert,” the trio fashions a delicate hybrid that almost comes across as an elegant court music with picked out doholla in between lines of erhu and rippling uc telli. The effect is stunning. Equally exciting is the Emre Gultekin composition “Kogaoglan Pacarani” that blends erhu with baglama and tembur with some truly spectacular percussion by Mr. Yildirim so fans will not want to miss a moment of this.

Other treats include the erhu fronted “Chinese Bike,” the deliciously mysterious “Tera Kiya,” the vocal laced “Harput” and moving erhu solo of “Parting at Yang Guan Pass.” Wrapping up with “Biday derya” the Guo Gan Trio hooks listeners with the whirlwind of erhu, doholla, tembur and baglama with some additional guest help from Malabika Brahma on dubki and vocals.

This is a stunning collaboration and we just can’t wait to see what trio Guo Gan cooks up next.

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Down In Jamaica: 40 Years Of VP Records Boxed Set

Down In Jamaica: 40 Years Of VP Records

The boxed set Down In Jamaica: 40 Years Of VP Records is scheduled to be released October 25, 2019. The reggae and dancehall anthology includes 94-tracks. It is a multi-format limited edition (2,000 run) box with a 24-page booklet and art cards detailing the hits, the rarities, and the history of the world’s largest reggae label.

Down In Jamaica: 40 Years Of VP Records features 101 different artists. It tells the story in detail through a chronological survey of the key recordings that helped define the company, from early singles on obscure sublabels (Roots From The Yard, Jah Guidance, and Love) to the well-known VP Records brand that brought Beenie Man, Sean Paul, Wayne Wonder, and others into the international mainstream.

Compiled by DJ, writer, and VP Records Director of Catalog Development Carter Van Pelt, the set contains four 7-inch singles, four 12-inch singles, and four CDs, the first configuration of its kind for a box set package. The CDs include the chronology of hit songs, and the vinyl pieces bring back rare titles long out of print. The initial release is in the physical format only, with a digital release of the CD portion of the set on all streaming platforms in late November.

The singles format was the dominant vehicle for Jamaican music from its inception, and the collection tells the company’s story almost entirely from singles, taking its name from Red Fox and Naturalee’s 1989 hit.

“The goal is to tell the story of a continually owned and operated family business at the heart of the global growth of reggae, dancehall, and Caribbean music” said Van Pelt. “As a distributor and manufacturer, the company has brought some of reggae and dancehall’s most recognizable hits to the public over 40 years. This set ties that story together with some lost treasures in the form of vinyl rarities.”

Founded by Vincent and Patricia Chin as the US distribution arm of Randy’s Records from Kingston, Jamaica, Randy’s had been at the center of the Jamaican music industry since its inception. The VP chapter began in New York as reggae was on the verge of a major transition from Bob Marley’s era to the dancehall era of Yellowman, Chaka Demus, Shabba Ranks, Ninja Man, Beenie Man, and Bounty Killer.

Highlights from the set include Sean Paul & Sasha’s “I’m Still In Love With You,” Wayne Wonder’s “No Letting Go,” Beenie Man’s “Who Am I” and classics from Yellowman, Barrington Levy, Gregory Isaacs, and Dennis Brown and dozens of others. The vinyl selections include rare sides by Echo Minott, Freddie McKay, Junior Reid, Tenor Saw, and others, most available for the first time since their original pressings.

“We’re excited about the box set and the re-telling of our story,” said Randy Chin, President of VP Records, “It’s a great way to complete our 40th anniversary celebrations.”

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Duplessy & The Violins of the World’s Extraordinary Musical Landscape

Duplessy & The Violins of the World – Crazy Horse

Duplessy & The Violins of the World – Crazy Horse (Absilone/Op Conseil, 2016)

Feeling a little hemmed in … a little harassed … a little hounded? Looking to step out into the untamed wilderness and run with wild without leaving the comfort of your headphones? Then I have the perfect CD for you. It’s the 2016 Absilone/Op Conseil release (yeah, I don’t know how this one got past us either) of Mathias Duplessy & The Violins of the World’s Crazy Horse. This extraordinary musical landscape is just the cure for what ails you. Crazy Horse has got guitar, Chinese erhu, horsehead fiddle, nychelharpa, sarangi, violin and throat singing. Who can resist throat singing?

Crazy Horse is the collaboration of French guitarist Mathias Duplessy, Chinese erhu master Guo Gan, Mongolia’s horsehead fiddler extraordinaire and throat singer Naraa Puredorj, French nychelharpa player Aliocha Regnard with Mongolian overtone singer and horsehead fiddle player Enkhjargal Dandarvaanchig, Indian sarangi player Sabir Khan and Tunisian violinist and composer Zied Zouari thrown in for good measure. With Mr. Duplessy composing most of the music for Crazy Horse, listeners get a dose of Maurice Ravel on “Pavane Pour Une Infante Defunte” and a composition by Mr. Dandarvaanchig.

Opening with horse galloping sounds, title track “Crazy Horse” takes off across the steppes at breakneck speed with horsehead fiddles and guitar with a little throat singing tossed in. I’ll admit that it kinda comes off as if Spaghetti Western music composer Ennio Morricone took a wrong turn east, but it quirky enthusiasm and fiddle playing is worth it.

Crazy Horse just veers off the beaten path with the East/West combo with Mr. Duplessy and Mr. Regnard providing the flourishes against some catchy percussion, before giving way to the elegant lines of “Montagnes” with Mr. Gan, Mr. Dandarvaanchig and Mr. Khan in this sweeping musicscape.

There’s some truly lovely tracks like “Pavane Pour Une Infante Defunte,” “Le Vol du Heron” and “Lac Dans La Brume.” “Petards Chinois” written by Mr. Guo is deliciously catchy and Indian laced “Baiao of Mumbai” with Mr. Gan, Mr. Dandarvaanchig and Mr. Khan is equally captivating. Closing with “Chevauchee Celeste” listeners get another dramatic dose of a Morricone drama that’s just a good as the first track.

Whether it’s the raucous ride across the steppes or the slow amble next to a lazy stream, Crazy Horse has your musical escape covered.

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