The album Né So by Malian singer-songwriter Rokia Traore is the number one album of the Transglobal World Music Chart in March 2016.
March 2016 Chart
1. Rokia Traoré – Né So (Nonesuch Records)
2. Baaba Maal – The Traveller (Marathon Artists / Palm Recordings)
3. Sidestepper – Supenatural Love (Real World Records)
4. Aziza Brahim – Abbar el Hamada (Glitterbeat Records)
5. Las Hermanas Caronni – Navega Mundos (Les Grands Fleuves)
6. Shye Ben Tzur, Jonny Greenwood & The Rajasthan Express – Junun (Nonesuch Records)
7. Bixiga 70 – III (Glitterbeat Records)
8. Divanhana – Zukva (ARC Music)
9. Vieux Farka Touré & Julia Easterlin – Touristes (Six Degrees Records)
10. Zulya and the Children of the Underground – On Love and Science (Zulya and the Children of the Underground)
11. Tęgie Chłopy – Dansing (Muzyka Odnaleziona)
12. Lura – Herança (Lusafrica)
13, Michael Messer’s Mitra – Call of the Blues (Knife Edge Records)
14. The Gloaming – 2 (Real World Records)
15. Dizu Plaatjies and Friends – Ubuntu-The Common String (Mountain Records)
16. Sam Lee & Friends – The Fade in Time (The Nest Collective)
17. Élage Diouf – Melokáane (Pump Up the World)
18. Bareto – Impredecible (World Village)
19. Čači Vorba – Šatrika (Oriente Musik)
20. Konono Nº1 meets Batida – Konono Nº1 meets Batida (Crammed Discs)
Lakou Mizik – Wa Di Yo (Cumbancha Discovery, 2016)
Wa Di Yo is the debut album from a fabulous multi-generational Haitian band called Lakou Mizik. This new act incorporates Haitian roots music to produce a fresh, irresistible sound.
Lakou Mizik use danceable vodou rhythms, call and response vocals, jazz lines, accordion melodies and the insistent energy of the roaring rara horns normally used during carnival season.
The band lineup on Wa Di Yo includes Steeve Valcourt on guitars and vocals; Jonas Attis on vocals; Louis Lesly Marcelin (aka Sanba Zao) on tambour (barrel drum), percussion and vocals; Nadine Remy on vocals; Lamarre Junior on bass and bass drum; Woulele Marcelin on tambour and percussion; Peterson “Ti Piti” Joseph on rara and percussion; James Carrier on rara and percussion; and Belony Beniste on accordion. Canadian musician and producer Chris Velan appears on guitar and banjo.
Wa Di Yo presents the joyous hip-shaking roots sound of Lakou Mizik, the finest group to have come out of Haiti in recent years.
Augustus Pablo’s classic reggae album Original Rockers, originally released in 1979, is now available as a reissue on digital, CD and vinyl. Augustus Pablo (1954-1999) was the master of melodica and one of the most appreciated talents in reggae music. The Original Rockers reissue from Greensleeves Records features remastered sound and a 16-page extended booklet.
Original Rockers showcases Pablo’s haunting melodica and includes flashes of his dub inspiration on standouts like “Rocker’s Dub” and “Tubby’s “Dub Song.” The album was recorded in the legendary studio of the great reggae producer King Tubby.
Augustus Pablo was born in St. Andrew, Jamaica as Horace Swab on June 21, 1954. Augustus Pablo was a roots reggae and dub record producer, melodica player and keyboardist, who got his start in the early 1970s. He popularized the use of the melodica in reggae music and released many hits with a variety of producers, including his close friend Clive Chin (which created his breakthrough hit “Java”), Gussie Clark, Bunny Lee, Lee Scratch Perry and more.
In The Light, a classic 1977 reggae album by Horace Andy is now available through 17 North Parade.
Originally released in 1977, In The Light is one of Horace Andy’s most significant recordings. In 1977, Horace Andy recorded this legendary album for Everton Dasilva. The two established a musical partnership, but it came to an abrupt end two years later when Dasilva was murdered in New York City. In 1995, the Blood & Fire label reissued this classic for the first time.
Most of ‘In The Light’ was recorded in Kingston and included a combination of new songs and updates of two old favorites, ‘Fever’ and ‘Problems’.
Also available is the dub version mixed by King “Lloyd James” Jammy titled companion In The Light Dub.
The new editions include newly commissioned liner notes.
Cuban vocalist, songwriter and tres player Reinaldo Hierrezuelo, better known as Rey Caney, died on Tuesday, February 23rd in Havana. Rey Caney was a highly influential figure in Cuban music.
Reinaldo Hierrezuelo, was born December 30, 1926 in Santiago de Cuba. In 1930 Rey Caney founded the seminal Cuban band Cuarteto Patria along with his cousin Francisco (Pancho) Cobas, Emilia Gracia and Rigoberto “Maduro” Echevarría. They performed traditional trova, boleros and música guajira (Cuban country music).
In 1952, Rey Caney formed the popular duo Los Compadres together with his brother Lorenzo. They accompanied celebrated singer-songwriter María Teresa Vera and Compay Segundo throughout the world.
He later joined Conjunto Caney, led by Benitico Yánes. Rey later joined other groups like Brisas de Nipe, Melodías del Sur and Orquesta de Lino Borbolla. In 1960 he traveled to New York with Miguelito Cuni and debuted with Arsenio Rodriguez.
During the 1960s, Rey Caney recorded with Sonora Matancera, sharing lead vocals with Celia Cruz and Celio González. He later joined the Sonora as a permanent member.
In 1994, Rey Caney co-founded the Vieja Trova Santiaguera with the intention of recording just one album. But the success of the ensemble was such, thanks to the support of Spanish record label Nubenegra, that they ended up recording more albums. This international success led to a renewed interest in traditional Cuban music and preceded the Buena Vista Social Club phenomenon.
In 1999, Rey Caney recorded a solo album for Virgin Records titled “Enamorado de la vida” (Love of Life).
In 2003, Rey Caney retired after releasing “El balcón del adiós” with Vieja Trova Santiaguera.
Some fusions between musical genres do not work, because they sound too forced. Other fusions fail because modern electronics drown out ancient instruments. But, the Mehmet Polat trio form a true union between Africa, Turkey and the Middle East. Nothing about their music sounds too pre-planned. It moves in cycles and is as hypnotic as Philip Glass’s minimalist works. The trio is of three virtuosos: Mehmet Polat from Turkey plays the oud, Sinan Arat also from Turkey plays the ney, an end-blown flute and a very ancient instrument, and Bao Sissoko from Senegal plays the kora, a 21 stringed instrument from West Africa that has as its base a carved out calabash. The trio performed in New York during the annual APAP (Association of Performing Arts Presenters) conference in January, which is where I heard them.
It was an intimate evening of instrumental music at the Chhandayan Center for Indian classical music in Manhattan, where both the Mehmet Polat trio and Sahba Motallebi (an Iranian-American musician) shared the stage. The room held an audience of about forty, sitting barefoot and some on meditation cushions. The trio sat alongside each other in a half circle. They performed without overt showmanship; no one musician sought to stand out above the others. Their simple, yet powerful unity was refreshing and provocative.
Their music was slow, gentle, simple. The elongated notes of the ney breathed into the air while the oud and kora danced together alongside the melody. This music rewards patience in a listener. It is not for fast paced and restless individuals. It tells you to slow down, take deep breaths as you listen, and it will calm you down. Yet, the languorous feel of the music demands your attention. And then you were introduced to a traditional West African song that was playful and light. The whole evening the three instruments spoke to each other gracefully. The sound was enchanting: the music was meditative.
Mehmet and Sinan both come from families who are Alevi, a Sufi Community in Turkey. Mehmet grew up in the city of Urfa, in South Eastern Turkey. Before the concert, he told me: “Urfa has a big musical tradition with roots in ancient times.” There, he says, he was surrounded by the voices of his parents singing Sufi songs. The music moved him as he was growing up. And he says, “I knew at the age of ten that I wanted to become a musician. When I was about 13, I began exploring Anatolian folk music. There is a huge diversity of music in Turkey.”
DJL: So how did you learn about all of this music?
MP: By listening. At 17, I started with the oud lessons from oud masters in Istanbul.
DJL: But why oud, did you see or hear it being played?
MP: I was visiting a poet in Istanbul with my brother. And I was curious about an instrument on the wall. What’s this instrument? It looked so interesting. I grabbed it and I lost myself for a few minutes in it. And the deepness of the sound, it touched me so much that I decided to learn. But it is not only the instrument, it is the culture of the instrument that drew me to it. It has roots in the Ottoman Empire, in Iran, in all the Arabic countries, among others, so I got a chance to learn something of those influences. Afterwards, I became interested in Balkan, Flamenco and Indian music.
DJL: Indian classical music has a strong spiritual component, for example, we know that the great Pandit Ravi Shankar saw playing his instrument as a way of connecting to God. Do you relate to what he said?
MP: Yes, I do connect with that. Music for me is a kind of language. When I play music, my intention is to bring sincere feelings from my heart and share them with the universe.
DJL: But in the Indian classical tradition, musicians spend years learning, it is a real apprenticeship. So did you spend a long time learning?
MP: Yes, I studied Indian classical music officially for two years at school, but my study is still ongoing. I also like Western genres, also jazz, Latin, grooves. The musician has to be both a revolutionary and a master of his instrument to have enough ability to convey his emotions. And a musician has to have a broad vision and good taste. Without good taste there is no music.
DJL: This music has a very meditative quality, so are you approaching it from a meditative place as a musician?
MP: Yes, that’s why it sounds peaceful. Sometimes before the concert if I see that it is needed, I will say to the audience, ‘close your eyes, open your heart, let the music come to you and let us be one.’
DJL: How did you first hear the kora?
MP: I heard the kora live when I first came to Holland in 2007. In Turkey, there were African musicians, but on hearing the kora live I was moved, and thought about making something beautiful with it in the future. In 2013, after some musical ideas became clearer in my mind, I contacted my friend, the kora player Zoumana Diarra. (Diarra was the group’s first kora player and continues to play with them from time to time). I was interested in how Balkan rhythms in 7 or 15 beats to the bar would work with some African rhythms. It’s like teaching an Italian cook Chinese cooking. Bao Sissoko joined us from Senegal, and he has played with the band for the past three months. He’s risen to the challenge, and he’s dedicated to the music.
DJL: Bao comes from a very strong Griot musical tradition in Senegal, West Africa. So, you went to the kora second, and then to the ney as the third instrument, right? The ney is one of the oldest instruments still played today. It is a flute dating back four to five thousand years. It has a unique and ethereal sound.
MP: Yes, the time difference from the kora to the ney was one hour. (He laughs.) In Turkish, we say, ‘breathing out through the ney’. It has the sound of soul, the sound of spirit. The ney is almost like a human voice sometimes. Sinan is a very good musician, a great improviser, and a master of his instrument. He is a poet with a big vocabulary, and so he has an opportunity to speak out.
DJL: All three of you are gifted musicians, and you work together so strongly.
MP: For me, it is not only the meeting of three unique instruments, but also the making of deep connections, keeping the ancient and authentic traditions, and combining them in a contemporary way. This music is eighty percent improvised, and that makes it very exciting for me.
DJL: Something else I noticed is that the tone of the three instruments is aligned.
MP: When I compose the music, I try to use the full capacity of the instruments, and to keep them in harmony with each other. I ask the ney musician, for example, to play a lot of low notes.
DJL: These instruments are not combined with any modern instrument such as drums or electronic guitar. Is that deliberate?
MP: Yes, sometimes when I have played with other larger groups with drums and bass, or as a guest musician with orchestras, I didn’t like it. Because they do not hear or listen what I played or perhaps don’t care. They may have me there as a picture or as an image. I do not want that.
DJL: You added two extra bass strings to the oud, so you provide your own bass?
MP: Yes, I do that.
DJL: Would you like to come back here to the US for another tour?
MP: Yes, we are planning it for the mid-August and the mid-September. Our hope is to reach more people and to learn more about traditional American music.
DJL: And you are now working on a second album. Do you see a development from the first?
MP: The second album will be more about developing the music. I would like it to include a more spontaneous feeling, more of a sense of oneness as musicians, uniting our energies. In the end, music is not just for entertainment, it can connect us to a more sincere spiritual world.
Casualties of Cool is a fascinating project by Canadian singer-songwriter, guitarist and composer Devin Townsend. Up to now, I wasn’t very interested in Townsend’s heavy metal music so it was a great surprise when I listened to Casualties of Cool and watched one of their videos. This band features a mixture of North American roots music along with electronic ambiance and effects.
This recording is a three disc set with two audio albums and a DVD with video. Disc 1 was intended to be the main disc and disc 2 is the B-sides. However, the B-sides are just as god as disc 1.
The music on Casualties of Cool includes galloping country rhythms, memorable blues guitar echoing solos, folk-rock passages and beautiful ballads along with exquisitely crafted electronic music soundscapes and vocal effects such as reverb and drifting delays. Townsend provides some of the mesmerizing lead vocals, but he is also joined by the gorgeous voice of Ché Aimee Dorval.
“The idea is to take a typical folky aesthetic and wrap it in a moody, kind of haunted David Lynch type aura. It’s great fun and Che is brilliant,” says Townsend.
The bonus live DVD was shot at London’s beautiful Union Chapel and also includes an interview and two music videos.
Live version of ‘Daddy’ taken from the Live DVD:
Casualties of Cool is an absorbing ambient folk album that showcases the talent of Devin Townsend.
Although reggae remains very popular, a lot of modern reggae has too much pop or R&B. Taj Weekes & Adowa, on the other hand, play roots reggae that is founded in tradition and still sounds fresh and modern.
The latest album by the band, Love Herb & Reggae, features seductive reggae beats combined with funk, blues, rock, jazz and a little dub. Message-wise, Taj Weekes & Adowa focuses on social issues like consumerism, the condemnation of homophobia, poverty, violence, an appeal for love, and the ongoing debate about the legalization of marijuana.
The bandleader, singer-songwriter and guitarist Taj Weekes, from the island of St. Lucia, is a committed Rastafarian seeking a better world: “The Rasta philosophy helped shape me. I’ve always spoken for what’s right, but in my songs I held back a bit. Now I want to shout it out for everyone to hear. No more Taj the person and Taj the musician – after all, they are one.”
Weekes’ social commitment goes beyond music lyrics. He founded a charity organization, They Often Cry Outreach (TOCO), and also serves as UNICEF Champion for Children in St. Lucia.
The lineup on Love Herb & Reggae includes Taj Weekes on lead vocals, rhythm and acoustic guitar; Radss Desiree on bass; Adoni Xavier on lead guitar; Baldwin Brown on drums and vocals; Aya Kato on keyboards and melodica; John Hewitt on keyboards; and Valerie Kelley on vocals.
Two great music traditions come together on ‘Call of the Blues’: American blues and Indian classical music. It’s a combination in the skilled hands of Michael Messer’s Mitra. The trio includes British blues modernizer, vocalist and slide guitarist, Michael Messer; Hindustani mohan veena (slide guitar) master Manish Pingle (Mumbai, India), and London-based tabla player, Gurdain Singh Rayatt.
‘Call of the Blues’ combines traditional form rural blues songs with Indian ragas and opportunities for improvisation, showcasing the talent of the musicians. It’s fascinating combination of slide guitar styles from different parts of the globe that flows very nicely.
Michael Messer met Manish Pingle during a trip to Mumbai in 2013. They ended up jamming on two mohan veena’s at Pingle’s home. The two musicians enjoyed the experience and vowed to work together again. Six months later, Manish traveled to London where he played a concert with Messer. They invited tabla maestro Gurdain Rayatt to join them on stage and the trio was formed.
In 2015, Michael Messer’s Mitra toured the UK and recorded their first album, ‘Call of the Blues’.
Call of the Blues is a remarkable fusion of country blues with Hindustani music showcasing the splendor of the slide guitar and the talent of three extraordinary musicians.