Tag Archives: Andalusian

Artist Profiles: Javier Ruibal

Javier Ruibal

Francisco Javier Ruibal de Flores Calero was born in Puerto de Santa Maria (Cadiz) in 1955. He is a self-taught musician, professional since 1978, whose compositions echo a range of cultures from both nearby in the distant past and far away in the present day. The strong presence of flamenco gives them a rich rhythm and harmony base on top of which there is an array of music styles from places such as: Istanbul, Alexandria, Granada, Cadiz, and the Caribbean, all together creating a new music.

Javier Ruibal writes all the lyrics. They tell of places and characters both imagined and real. He draws his inspiration from his love of life and beautiful women, resulting in lyrics dripping with fantastic tales and evocative Spanish poems of love. He sings about exotic Arabic gardens, lost souls who are inspired and saved by lovers, outbreaks of rage, the strong and the magical, bellydancers in Paris, flamencos in Manhattan, trains and boats, women and ports, African queens, sailors on the town, blue roses, the water and moon in Tangiers, all included in the same wide, unending landscape.

Ruibal acknowledges that he is not a Flamenco singer, even though he uses Flamenco forms. He defines himself as a songwriter who loves to perform live. A good opportunity to watch him live is on his 2005 release Lo que me dice tu boca, a CD+DVD, which includes 17 previously unreleased songs recorded live at Madrid’s venerable Galileo club, and a documentary, Lo que me dicen tus Ojos.

Javier Ruibal, José Guirao, Minister of Culture; King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia of Spain

In 2017, Javier Ruibal received the Premio Nacional de Músicas Actuales  (National Award for Current Music). The King and Queen of Spain presented the 2017 National Awards at the National Prado Museum. The awards bestowed by Spain’s Ministry of Culture and Sports honor personalities from the world of Arts and Culture.


Duna (Hispavox, 1983)
Cuerpo Celeste (Ariola, 1986)
La Piel De Sara (Ariola, 1989)
Pensión Triana (Lollipop, 1994)
Contrabando (PDI, 1997)
Las Damas Primero (18 Chulos, 2001)
Sáhara (World Music Network, 2003)
Lo Que Me Dice Tu Boca (18 Chulos, 2005)
Pensión Triana – Special Edition (18 Chulos, 2010)
Sueño (18 Chulos, 2011)
Quédate Conmigo (Lo Suyo, 2013)
Paraísos mejores (Nuba Records, 2018)


Artist Profiles: Aliara

Aliara at Folk Segovia

Aliara was formed in November 1978 with the aim of recovering and promoting the traditional folk music of the Valle de los Pedroches, a region north of the province of Córdoba, in the Sierra Morena. Due to its historical-geographical characteristic, the Pedroches has served as a crossroads and an obligatory passage between Castile, Andalusia and Extremadura, thus forming a peculiar autochthonous folklore with numerous influences.

Through constant research work since its inception in 1978, the experiences and the broad musical background of its members, a deep knowledge of Andalusian traditional music emerged. Aliara has a repertoire of more than 90 native songs, which can be configured different types of concerts, always trying to keep a balance between the musical development of traditional songs and its rigor and historical purity.

The name Aliara comes from a container made with a hollow bovine horn where you can transport the vinegar and oil to dress the meals.

Doroteo Amor Antoli – Voice, flutes and whistles; Javier Jaramillo Perez – Voice and guitar; Alberto – Percussion, voice and guitar; Maria Jose Luna Sanchez – Voice and Percussion; Susana Luna Sanchez – Voice and Percussion; Fernando Sanchez Fernandez – Laud, rabel and percussion; Bartolome Sanchez Fernandez – Bandurria, Guitar and percussion; and Rafael Sanchez Fernandez – Bass.


Don’t Nix the Mix

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.


Idan Raichel - At the Edge of the Beginning (Cumbancha, 2016)
Idan Raichel – At the Edge of the Beginning (Cumbancha, 2016)


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 - Detour Guide
Karim Nagi – Detour Guide


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.


Black Masala - I Love You Madly
Black Masala – I Love You Madly


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.


 David Broza & The Andalusian Orchestra Ashkelon - Andalucian Love Song

David Broza & The Andalusian Orchestra Ashkelon – Andalucian Love Song


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 - Petal
Avataar – Petal

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.