The legendary Siroco club in Madrid will present a reggae music special on Wednesday, May 25, 2016 at 21:00 (9:00 p.m.). The lineup includes Blueskank Trio, Razaguaya and rising star Nora Norman.
Blueskank, from Madrid, is one of the most effective acts in the Spanish black music scene. The group appears in both electric and acoustic formats, fusing reggae, soul, blues and Afrobeat. Blueskank has toured Spain, the UK, Portugal, Germany, France, Czech Republic, and Austria. The group released its first single “Peace on You” in 2009, the album “Taking Off” (Prod. Psicotrónicas & LaFamille Music, 2011), the live acoustic EP “The Wiser, the Better: From the Inside” (Prod. Psicotrónicas, 2013), and the album “A Thin Line” (Youkali Music, 2014)
Madrid-based Razaguaya returns after five years of silence with its second album, “Enséñame” (Teach me). The new recording is an indie self-release financed by supporters and features guest appearances by Blueskank and Dremen collaborations.
Razaguaya’s reggae style includes dub, rock, jazz, afrobeat and psychedelic music elements.
Nora Norman was born in the Barcelona suburb of Sabadell and is currently settled in Madrid. Nora Norman became popular in early 2013 thanks to her wonderful soul voice that appeared in several YouTube videos. caught the attention of festivals like Mulafest or newspaper El Pais, which included it in its event tribute to The Beatles.
In 2014 she performed at the 101 Sun Festival and was chosen as guest artist by Nick Waterhouse during his tour of Spain, among others. During 2015 she participated in major jam sessions in Madrid or initiatives such as Madtown Days. She recently released a neo soul EP.
Calle San Dimas 3. Madrid 28015
Metro stations: Noviciado / Tribunal
Seems like a clear majority of releases coming my way nowadays are some kind of fusion music. It hasn’t been easy tearing myself away from specific genres I know and love, but this thing we call World Music is getting ever more, well, worldly, and being along for the sonic global ride can result in finding music that excites listeners as much as breathtaking sights thrill literal travelers.
You’d expect an album with a title like Planetary Coalition (Skol Productions, 2015) to be pretty far-reaching, and it is. Under the guidance of guitarist Alex Skolnick, a versatile axe man known mainly for dual identities as a thrash metal and jazz player, this sizable, ArtistShare-sponsored coalition shines on 75 minutes of sounds from many a corner of the world.
Skolnick’s string finesse trades off gracefully with the santoor of Max ZT on several tracks, matches the deft fire of Rodrigo y Gabriela on another, makes the textures of Yacouba Sissoko’s kora that much more heavenly, underpins Kiran Ahluwalia’s ghazal-influenced vocals with the proper mysticism and adds electricity to the tart tones of Adnan Joubran’s oud. And that’s barely marring the surface. There are Argentinian, Eastern European, Far Eastern and Latin Jazz ingredients here as well, and notable guest players aplenty. Yet this mainly instrumental set doesn’t overreach. It’s an ear feast that satisfyingly blends the familiar and the unexpected.
For the time being he’s put aside the Idan Raichel Project name and recording simply as Idan Raichel on At the Edge of the Beginning (Cumbancha, 2016). An Israeli keyboardist, composer, producer and arranger, Raichel has (apart from his acoustic albums with Mali’s Vieux Farka Toure) long blended Jewish, Arabic and African sounds with a worldly dance music sensibility. His new one finds him more introspective, starting off with a pair of chamber-like pieces that primarily showcase Raichel on piano.
Programmed rhythms fuel the tracks that follow but the feel stays rather whispery. The tracks are short and many have a lulling quality to them, reflective of Raichel’s recent identity as the father of two small children. Sparse instrumentation in the form of things like accordion, cello, saxophone and baglama stays on the supportive outer edges of the songs, which are delicate in their construction but have their own quiet strength. While not as groundbreaking as Raichel’s earlier material, his latest nevertheless gets to the heart of its matter by being touchingly low-key.
Karim Nagi has got a thing or two to say about Arabic culture and Detour Guide (Self-released, 2015) says it with percussion, spoken words, rap-like cadences and beat backdrops. Born in Egypt and presently based in Boston, Nagi is out to dispel myths, question stereotypes, recount history, impart truths and make both humorous and serious points about what it is to be of Arabic ethnicity nowadays.
He seamlessly mixes the cheeky with the sincere on titles like “What Arabs Do For Fun,” “Oriental Magic Carpet,” “Heart Full of Cairo” and “If I Were Hummus,” bringing so many observations to the table that you’ll have to listen to this disc multiple times to digest it all. It’s a kind of aural performance art that’s impossible to describe in any significant detail, but a rewarding listening and learning experience just the same.
A mashup of Balkan brass, stomping funk, Gypsy zest, punkish energy and Afrobeat syncopation, I Love You Madly by Washington DC’s Black Masala is a rousing fun burst of energy and true musical chops that’ll get you smiling and busting dance moves you didn’t think you had in you. While the music changes gears quite a bit, it does so rightly and tightly, such that the resulting songs are full of infectious instrumental and vocal passion rather than just one hot mess after another. Great stuff.
The musical connections between Moorish Spain, North Africa and the Middle East have been explored before, but seldom as grandly as the work of David Broza & The Andalusian Orchestra Ashkelon on Andalusian Love Song (Magenta, 2015). One of Israel’s most respected singer/songwriters, Broza here has a number of his tunes arranged for a 35-piece ensemble of strings (bowed, plucked and strummed), reeds, brass and percussion.
Improvised interludes set the mood between the songs, which range in feel from aching to celebratory (much like the ups and downs of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict that often figures into Broza’s work). The vocals are richly emotive and the music, under the direction of conductor and arranger Tom Cohen, is unfailingly superb.
Avataar, a band led by Toronto-based saxophonist/flautist Sundar Viswanathan, achieves a crackling good mixture of Indian classical music, jazz and ambient frameworks on Petal (InSound Records, 2015).
Viswanathan’s reeds put forth the same sonic sweetness as Felicity Williams’ largely wordless vocals, and the expert support of Michael Occhipinti (guitars), Justin Gray (bass, mandolin), Ravi Naimpally (tabla, percussion) and Giampaolo Scatozza (drums) provides serpentine grooves, nimble melodies and unending pleasure. The music is intricate without being overbearing or showy, and the result is blissful.
The artists scheduled to perform in 2016 La Linea Festival, London’s annual Latin music fest, include:
Sunday 24 April at Koko
Criolo, One of Brazil’s most acclaimed songwriter/performers. He draws influence from his love of samba, afrobeat and reggae and takes lyrical inspiration from his beginnings in a favela in Sao Paulo.
Monday 25 April at Barbican
Calexico’s latest project draws fresh influence from Mexico City.
Wednesday 27 April at Electric Ballroom
Chico Trujillo, Chile’s leading cumbia band. Chico Trujillo mixes classic cumbia, Chilean traditional musical forms rock and ska.
Friday 22 April at Rich Mix
From Buenos Aires, La Yegros is a popular digital cumbia act.
Friday 29 January at Rich Mix
Bixiga 70 is a ten-piece band from Sao Paulo. They combine Brazilian percussion sounds with Afrobeat.
Afro-Spanish Spanish singer-songwriter and composer Buika developed Vivir sin miedo (To Live without Fear) in Miami, which is her current home. Buika is a do it yourself artist so she composed and played all the instruments in her original demos for the new album while she was in Miami, New York and Madrid.
Buika is known for venturing into different musical directions. In the past, she has recorded Afropop, flamenco, boleros, Cuban music, jazz and others genres. Vivir sin miedo presents another eclectic mix with a Caribbean flavor and smooth pop flavor, including reggae, dub, ragga, flamenco, R&B, afrobeat, pop and gospel, although the dub feel seems to permeate most of the album. Buika is also trying to appeal to a wider audience so she sings in a mix of Spanish and English.
With the support of Warner Music, Buika invited two well-known international artists Meshell Ndegeocello (bass) and Jason Mraz (vocals), as well as masterful flamenco singer Potito. The album was recorded in London, co-produced by Martin Terefe (Coldplay, James Blunt, KT Tunstall, Zaz), who played bass and guitars on Vivir sin miedo.
Vivir sin miedo is clearly an effort to expand Buika’s reach to English-language and bilingual pop fans as well as the reggae market.