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Jazz Bata 2, the Extension of an Inspired Journey

Chucho Valdés – Jazz Bata 2 (Mack Avenue Records, 2018)

Cuban pianist, bandleader, composer and arranger Chucho Valdés’s Jazz Bata 2 is a recording where everything is right and wonderful in the musicscape of Latin jazz.

Encompassing the eclectic, the electric and the elegant, Jazz Bata 2 is where the lyrical of Mr. Valdés’s extraordinary piano meets the meaty richness of batá drum and percussion. On this, his first release on the Mack Avenue Records label, released on November 16th, Mr. Valdés opens the floodgates to a glorious ebb and flow of jazz punctuated by delightful Cuban and African influences.

To trace the creative thread of Jazz Bata 2, one must go all the way back to 1972 and Mr. Valdés’s Cuban album Jazz Bata with bassist Carlos del Puerto and batá player Oscar Valdés, both who would become members of the group Irakere. Now, Mr. Valdés has teamed up with Cuban musicians Yaroldy Abreu Robles on percussion, Dreiser Durruthy Bombale on batás and vocals and Yelsy Heredia on double bass. Mr. Valdés notes that this continuation of his creative journey of Jazz Bata now comes, “with more resources, in every sense” and “with a wider panorama.” The results are extraordinary.

Opening with “Obatála,” Jazz Bata 2 unfolds as a mesmerizing puzzle of shards of Mr. Valdés’s prodigious talents on the piano, rounded curves of double bass, textures of vocals and architectural constructs of percussion and batá. “Obatála” easily incorporates the free sleekness of jazz, the sweet soulfulness of Cuba and the rich recesses of the Yoruba traditions with the batá drums.

“Son XXI” is no less extraordinary with delicious bass, piano and sultry Cuban rhythms. It should also be noted that the recording itself is fabulous and a listen to the lushness of “Luces” and “Ochun” is evidence of the expertise put into the recording. The sassy “Chucho’s Mood” is certainly a standout with bass and batá solos.

Jazz Bata 2 is also a bit of a tribute recording to Mr. Valdés’s father and teacher Ramón “Bebo” Valdés. In celebration of the centenary of Bebo Valdés’s birth, and interestingly enough Mr. Valdés’s 77th birthday as father and son share the same birthday, Jazz Bata 2 contains the track “100 Años de Bebo.” A charmer with Cuba writ all over it, it also features guest violinist Regina Carter who adds sweetness to the tribute.

“El Guije” opens with some catchy rhythms and vocals before giving way to some hypnotic rhythms and piano lines and finally lapsing into some wonderful drumming and call-and-response vocals.

Jazz Bata 2 closes with “The Clown.” As lushly worked as the rest, this track is the piano playground by Mr. Valdés and is where piano lines curve, bend and turn themselves inside out in the most wonderful of ways.

If Jazz Bata 2 is the continuation of a creative journey the ride is more than fine.

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Lustrous and Fresh Areas of High Traffic

Damien O’Kane – Areas of High Traffic (Pure Records, 2015)

Often the first impressions that come to mind when handed a Celtic CD are of ethereal throated songstresses full of sorrow and longing for lost loves or traditional rowdy romps that seem to run quick and fast as if chased by the light, so cozying up to a newfangled take on the Irish Celtic traditions is a true delight.

Putting a new voice to those traditions is vocalist and musician Damien O’Kane. Those in the know might recognize him from such recordings Avenging and Bright, Banjophony with Ron Block, The Mystery Inch with David Kosky and Summer Hill.

Corralling a collection of mostly traditional songs on Areas of High Traffic, Mr. O’Kane has clearly and decisively put his own stamp on the music, fashioning a sound that’s fresh and easy.
It’s plain from the opening tracks of “‘Til Next Market Day,” that the music matters. There’s not a delicate fairy voice, a brash drinking song or an angry Celtic rocker in sight on this recording, instead there’s electric guitars, keyboards, piano, synthesizers wrapped up with Mr. O’Kane’s vocals and his own guitar and banjo work.

Joined by percussionist Cormac Byrne, electric guitarist Steven Iveson and keyboardist, pianist and synth master Anthony Davis, Mr. O’Kane takes the traditional past folksy into a sophisticated brand of folk that takes subtle dips into rock and jazz with aplomb.

Shimmering guitar and banjo lines provided by guest musician Ron Block remake traditional song “The Blacksmith” a standout track, just as the underlying rock sensibilities take “The Maid of Seventeen” beyond the expected.

And the goods just get better with the sweeping strains of “The Close of an Irish Day” or the dreamy moody sway of “The Banks of the Bann,” with additional vocals of Mr. O’Kane’s wife Kate Rusby.
Listeners get a dose of the inner musical workings of Mr. O’Kane by way of instrumentals “The Goddaughter Part 1” and “Interlude for Mama.”

The simply loveliness of “I Am A Youth” and “Erin’s Lovely Home” are as potent as they are soothing to the Irish soul. Areas of High Traffic closes out with a savvy version of “The Green Fields of America.”

Sleek and fresh, Areas of High Traffic is spectacularly rich and promises to break all the Celtic musical traditions it keeps.

Buy Areas of High Traffic in Europe

Buy Areas of High Traffic in the rest of the world

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Aritmia: Merima Ključo & Miroslav Tadić to Perform in New York City

World Music Institute will present two celebrated instrumentalists who share common roots and love of traditional Balkan and classical music. Accordionist Merima Ključo and guitarist Miroslav Tadić are set to perform on Saturday, November 17, 2018 at Leonard Nimoy Thalia at Peter Norton Symphony Space in New York City.

The duo performs original works and arrangements of Erik Satie, Manuel de Falla, and the mournful music of sevdah—sometimes called ‘Bosnian blues.

Bosnian-born Merima Ključo is one of the world’s finest concert accordionists. She is a frequent guest soloist with orchestras including the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra and Holland Symphonia, and has worked with internationally renowned artists and ensembles such as Theodore Bikel, MusikFabrik and the Schönberg Ensemble.

An acclaimed guitarist of Bosnian, Serbian and Croatian origins, Miroslav Tadić has performed and recorded with acclaimed artists such as Terry Riley, Plácido Domingo, Wadada Leo Smith, the London Symphony Orchestra and the Philharmonic Orchestra of Monte-Carlo. He has also recorded duo albums with guitarists Vlatko Stefanovski, Dusan Bogdanovic; vocalists Teofilovic brothers; and saxophonist Peter Epstein, and he is on the faculty of the Herb Alpert School of Music at CalArts.

Both musicians are currently based in Los Angeles.

Merima Ključo & Miroslav Tadić have an album titled Aritmia.

Saturday, November 17, 2018
Doors, 7:00 p.m. Show, 7:30 p.m.
Leonard Nimoy Thalia at Peter Norton Symphony Space
2537 Broadway, Manhattan
More at www.worldmusicinstitute.org

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Le Trio Joubran to Perform at Barbican in London 2019

Award-winning Palestinian oud ensemble Le Trio Joubran is set to perform on Sunday, February 3rd, 2019, at Barbican Hall in London.

The three musicians will present new material from their sixth album The Long March (Cooking Vinyl). The new recording includes collaborations from poet Mahmoud Darwish and Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters.

Le Trio Joubran features brothers Samir, Wissam and Adnan Joubran. They come from a well-known family with rich artistic heritage: their father is one of the world’s most acclaimed oud makers and their mother is a muwashahat singer.

The trio’s music is inspired by Arabic music, jazz and flamenco. Earlier recordings include Tamaas (2002), Randana (2005), Majâz (World Village, 2007), À l’ombre des mots (2008), Le Dernier VoL (2009), AsFâr (World Village, 2011) and The First Ten Years (2013) boxed set.

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Interview with Innovative Galician Piper Susana Seivane

Susana Seivane is an acclaimed Spanish bagpiper, part of a well-known family of Galician bagpipe makers. She’s a groundbreaking artist, who represents a generation of artists that defied norms and renovated Galician folk music. Her musical style is deeply influenced by the Galician “inland” bagpipe style.

Susana has a new album titled Fa and she discussed her musical career and the album with World Music Central in October 2018.

Susana Seivane, earlier in her career

How and when did you start working professionally in the music field?

I started playing the bagpipe at three, but in 2019 I’ll celebrate my 20 years as a professional.

What do you think are the fundamental elements of your music?

It is a fusion of our most representative instrument, the bagpipes, with other instruments that do not have to be traditional, such as drums or electric bass, adding modernity along with winks to other styles of music that I like, for example rock or funk.

How has your style evolved over the years?

My bagpipe playing style has been gaining technique but the essence is the same, that essence that we call “enxebre”, the one that remembers the old bagpipers that I liked from which I took bits and pieces in terms of playing [technique]. What has been changing is the instrumental accompaniment and the arrangements, adding new colors with instruments that provide much more energy, modernity and freshness to my music.

What does the title of your new album Fa mean?

It’s not because of the musical note or the deodorant brand as someone jokingly asked me 😉 These are the initials of my children: Fiz and Antón.

Susana Seivane – Fa

Tell us a little about Fa.

Fa is a bag of feelings, good, bad, regular, is a bag of emotionalized music since I found out that I was pregnant with Fiz, until Anton’s first years. It’s a record dedicated to motherhood, to everything that means, and a disc dedicated to these two little creatures of mine that make me crazy with love and crazy with nerves too 🙂

Your last record before Fa came out 8 years ago. Why did you take so long to record again?

It has been a recording silence. During this time I have collaborated on other albums like Kepa Junkera’s. Fortunately, I never stopped working. We have toured every year except for the one when Anton was born in August. That summer we could not do it, that winter I had my pretty big belly! I have had two pregnancies, two deliveries, the corresponding times of maternity leave I never completed because I immediately started to perform concerts as soon as I had recovered because we already had signed contracts. So, in terms of taking a break, I never stopped, I never did, I had a lot of work 🙂

Your family, the Seivanes, is well known as bagpipe craftsmen. Apart from playing the bagpipes, do you make them too?

You can’t imagine how labor intensive it is to handcraft a bagpipe. I would know how to make certain parts of the bagpipes but not the whole one. There was a time before recording my first album when I did work in the family workshop (obradoiro) but when the album started, the tours, etc., I left it to dedicate myself to my passion since I was a child, playing the bagpipes and now I am lucky that it has become my profession. But being in the workshop was a super nice and enriching experience to learn more about my instrument.

Where can Seivane bagpipes be purchased?

Currently Seivane makes bagpipes for the whole world. Many people like to come to the obradoiro itself because they like the family atmosphere and friendly treatment that you find there. But you can also purchase and configure your bagpipe as you please on the website, seivane.es/es/tienda/config_gaita_0.html?

Has there been any evolution of the Galician bagpipe since your grandfather’s time?

A lot! Previously, the bagpipes were much more rustic and the bagpipers themselves had to come up with ways to use the “rare” fingers so that they tuned some notes when they played with other instruments like the clarinet for example. Nowadays, after many years of study and dedication, the bagpipe is at a point where its tuning allows instrumentalists to play with any instrument.

Susana Seivane

What bagpipes did you use before and which ones do you use now?

Bagpipes have been made for me as I have grown. When I started, on my fourth birthday, my uncle, my father and my grandfather gave me a bagpipe built by them, perfectly tuned but with very small dimensions so that I could play it because I could not play with a standard one, even though I already knew how to play. That bagpipe is at the top of our obradoiro where there is an exhibition of the most special bagpipes that have been made, and there she is, like a golden piece, with a blow stick (where we blow) that has dimensions of a pacifier 🙂

Who are the manufacturers of your bagpipes?

If I do not want to be disowned, it’s my family! My father, my uncle, my sister, my cousin … everyone who works in the family obradoiro.

Do you play bagpipes from other cultures, besides Galician ones?

I do not.

Have you ever used the electronic bagpipe and what do you think of it?

I think the term electronic bagpipe does not exist. A wind trigger would be more correct. The “bagpipe” is the bagpipe. That invention we can call “wind sounds trigger”; seems to me very good to compose, rehearse, etc., but I would never play it live, for example. I like the bagpipes as they are, it’s our tradition and culture and I love how it sounds. I’ve seen people cry with emotion when they hear it, people who do not have Galician ancestors or anything. The sound of our bagpipes is something magical and that stirs many emotions inside.

You are part of a pioneer generation of women bagpipers. Are you helping to train the new generations?

To the extent that I can, I go to many schools to be with the children, to teach them how the bagpipe works, I let them blow it, touch it, teach them traditional songs and sing them together. I think it’s something important to continue transmitting our culture as our elders did with us. And to bring our instrument and our culture to the youngest ones seems to me something so important that I even think it should be a compulsory subject in our schools.

Susana Seivane

What new generation pipers deserve the attention of lovers of Galician music or Celtic music in general?

I really like David Bellas, Pedro Lamas, Dani Bellon, Magoia Bodega; it is sublime to listen to them. Surely you do not know them, but not always the most famous are the best.

If you could gather the musicians or groups that fascinate you the most to record an album or collaborate live, who would you call?

My musical godfathers, Milladoiro; Rodrigo Romani, my guardian angel, co-founder of Milladoiro and producer of my first albums; Shooglenifty with whom I have also had the luck to collaborate in concerts and on the Scottish BBC; Dulce Pontes with which I also play; Kepa Junkera, SonDeSeu, Treixadura, Noitarega, whoa … many admired by me.

What music are you currently listening to?

In the car, I have my latest album. I am very satisfied with how it came out and I listen to it a lot. Then, at home, the truth is that I listen to about everything. I’m quite eclectic in terms of musical tastes, I like jazz, funk, rock, classical music, etc.

What do you like to do during your free time?

Playing paddle tennis, I’m in a team where I play in the Galician league and the national series. I was hooked from the beginning. I also like bowling, I was also asked to join a team but I do not have any more time! I have been away from paddle for a while because I have knee injuries but I’ll be back!

What other projects do you have in hand?

We are preparing a very special concert for our 20th anniversary next year. An extraordinary concert that will give a lot to talk about and that we will record live with many collaborations from friends of all these 20 years.

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Sans Tops the September 2018 Transglobal World Music Chart

Kulku, the album by Sans, a collaboration between Finnish and British musicians, is the number 1 album this month on the Transglobal World Music Chart.

2. Vigüela – A Tiempo Real – ARC Music
3. Bixiga 70 – Quebra Cabeça – Glitterbeat
4. Gaye Su Akyol – İstikrarlı Hayal Hakikattir – Glitterbeat
5. Bokanté + Metropole Orkest – What Heat – Real World
6. Minyeshu – Daa Dee – ARC Music
7. Damily – Valimbilo – Les Disques Bongo Joe
8. Baul Meets Saz – Namaz – Seyir Muzik
9. Dur-Dur Band – Dur-Dur of Somalia: Volume 1, Volume 2 & Previously Unreleased Tracks – Analog Africa
10. Doctor Nativo – Guatemaya – Stonetree

11. Afro Celt Sound System – Flight – ECC Records
12. Ammar 808 – Maghreb United – Glitterbeat
13. Cimbalom Brothers – Testvériség / Brotherhood – Fonó Budai Zeneház
14. Grupo Mono Blanco – ¡Fandango! Sones Jarochos de Veracruz – Smithsonian Folkways
15. Lemma – Lemma – Buda Musique
16. Stella Chiweshe – Kasahwa: Early Singles – Glitterbeat
17. Dawda Jobarteh – I Met Her by the River – Sterns Music
18. Tautumeitas – Tautumeitas – CPL-Music
19. Moonlight Benjamin – Siltane – Ma Case
20. Danças Ocultas – Dentro desse Mar – Danças Ocultas

More about the chart: www.transglobalwmc.com

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Una Noche Con Rubén Blades, An Exquisitely-Crafted Mix of Salsa and Jazz Swing

Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis featuring Rubén Blades – Una Noche Con Rubén Blades (Blue Engine Records, 2018)

Salsa and jazz swing come together in a superb collaboration between the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis and salsa star Rubén Blades, plus additional musicians on Afro-Cuban percussion and backing vocals.

Rubén Blades demonstrates why he’s been one of the top salsa singers for years. Not surprisingly, he also shows great talent as a jazz crooner. The repertoire on the album combines various Rubén Blades salsa hits such as “Pedro Navaja,” “Patria,” and “El Cantante,”along with jazz standards like “Too Close for Comfort” and “Begin the Beguine.”

The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra in this occasion was led by bassist Carlos Henriquez, one of the rising stars of Latin jazz. He grew up listening to Rubén Blades. “His albums, and the sound and the warmth they generated, filled my family’s apartment at 146th and Brook Avenue in the Bronx, and his music was one of my earliest influences.”

Although Rubén Blades stands out throughout the album, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra’s musicians contribute remarkable solos on trumpet, trombone, flute, piano and percussion.

The musicians on the album include:

Reeds: Sherman Irby on alto saxophone and soprano saxophones; Ted Nash on alto saxophone, flute, piccolo; Victor Goines on tenor and soprano saxophones, clarinet; Walter Blanding on tenor saxophone; and Paul Nedzela on baritone saxophone.

Trumpets: Ryan Kisor, Kenny Rampton, Marcus Printup, and Wynton Marsalis.

Trombones: Vincent Gardner, Chris Crenshaw and Elliot Mason.

Rhythm Section: Dan Nimmer on piano; Carlos Henriquez on bass; and Ali Jackson on drums.

Lead vocals and maracas: Rubén Blades.

Special Guests: Eddie Rosado on backing vocals; Bobby Allende on congas, backing vocals; Marc Quiñones on timbales, backing vocals; Carlos Padron on bongos, cowbell; and Seneca Black on trumpet.

Buy Una Noche Con Rubén Blades

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The Return of Pioneering Welsh Folk Band Ar Log

Saith – VII (Sain Records, 2018)

Ar Log is Wales’ most veteran professional folk group. Saith VII is Ar log’s first album in 22 years. To celebrate its 40th anniversary, in 2017, the ensemble went on an international tour. One year later Ar log recorded Saith VII.

Saith – VII features beautifully-crafted new arrangements of traditional Welsh folk tunes and songs.

The current lineup includes Dave Burns pn lead vocals, guitar, and mandolin; Geraint Cynan on piano, organ, harmonium, keyboards and backing vocals; Geraint Glynne Davies on lead vocals and guitar; Iolo Jones on fiddle; Graham Pritchard on fiddle, mandolin and vocals; Dafydd Roberts on triple harp, flute, whistles and backing vocals; and Gwyndaf Roberts on knee harp, clarsach and backing vocals.

Ar Log’s discography includes Ar Log (1978), Ar Log II (1980), Ar Log III (1981), Yma O Hyd (1983), Meillionen (1983), Pedwar (1984),
Ar Log V (1988), Ar log VI (1996).

Saith – VII is an album of exceptionally expressive, timeless Welsh folk Songs.

Buy Saith – VII in Europe

Buy Saith – VII in the rest of the world

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The Fantastical Musical Journey of Ozan

Ozan Aksoy – Ozan (2018)

The prodigious talents of Alevi Kurdish musician, singer and composer Ozan Aksoy is apparent from the opening strains of his upcoming November 2nd release of Ozan. Earning his chops early with saz lessons from father and later on with a spot in the group Kardeş Türküler, Mr. Aksoy soon found himself in New York pursuing a degree in ethnomusicology and whole new set of musical collaborators. On this lushly elegant recording charms out the riches of Kurdish, Turkish and Armenian musical traditions by way of folk tunes, love songs, laments and lullabies, carefully snagging western influences, Turkish Anatolian pop tunes and even flamenco riffs.

Mr. Aksoy remarks, “As an Alevi Kurdish musician playing the saz, and as an immigrant musician in the US, I was surrounded by many constraints including my cultural baggage. That burden is why I couldn’t make a solo album until now. But the time came. I wanted to share what I’ve been doing the past few years with the public. But I didn’t want to limit the sound of the album to a traditional box. I wanted to have collaborations with musicians from different parts of the world, who play jazz or other styles. It’s my way of being a Kurdish musician in New York.”

Luring listeners with vocals, bass guitar, ukulele, lavta (lute), saz (long-necked lute), kaval (flute), frame drums, percussion and keyboard, Mr. Aksoy furthers his sound on Ozan with guest musicians violinist Jeremy Brown, teff and claps by Ramzi El-Edlibi, pianist Tamara Kacheimeier, cellist Ani Kalayjian, classical guitarist Richard Miller, sarangi Shyam Nepali, vocalist Leah Shaw, drummer Jonathan Vergara and electric guitarist Luke Vichnis. Ozam is where Mr. Aksoy and company conjure up a musical landscape that bridges east and west, the traditional and the modern and where one music speaks to another.

 

Ozan Aksoy

 

This is a snapshot of where I am as an artist. I’m putting all these traditions together in an era of hatred and separation. I didn’t want to shy away from that. Ultimately, these songs speak to our political climate, in the U.S. and in Turkey. They are about immigration, human experience, universal sensations,” Aksoy notes. “This is my current mood. As I grow older, I want to turn attention to those essential emotions that are overlooked in modern life, the nostalgia, pain, suffering. And the hope; there is hope in there, too.”

Opening with “Rhythms of Loneliness,” Ozan takes off on a fantastical journey that is steeped in exotic strings and piano laced with ethereal vocals before giving way to the smooth and easy “Hope” laced with bold dashes of sarangi.

Equally delicious are tracks like the Mediterranean flavored and framed drum edged “Rinde,” the richly worked “Kanchum Em Ari Ari” with its soulful vocals and cello lines and the love song “Leyla.” Additionally, there are goodies like the Armeno-Turkish lament “Derzor Colleri” and the darkly plummy closing track “Dandini.”

Ozan is a remarkably rich musicscape and we can’t wait to find out what Mr. Aksoy has in store for us in the future.

Buy the Ozan digital version

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Cape Verdean Music Star Lura Releases New EP Alguem di Alguem

Portuguese-Cape Verdean vocalist Lura has a new EP titled “Alguem di Alguem.” The recording features funaná, a vigorous, cheerful dance rhythm, as well as a duet with Gaël Faye. It’s a cover of the Teofilo Chantre song “Crepuscular Solidão”, a tribute to Cesaria Evora that the two artists performed for the first time in public at the 2018 Sakifo Festival on Reunion Island.

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