Tag Archives: France

Artist Profiles: Verd E Blu

Verd E Blu

Verd E Blu is a traditional Occitan from Gascony, France, formed in 1987. The group plays three hole whistle and string tambourine (ton-ton), bagpipes from the Landes (boha), diatonic accordions, brama-topin friction drum, tricanetas castanets and vocals.

For over twenty years they collected, learned, produced and spread the traditional music and dance of the Gascon province of France, in all its wealth and diversity.

Much of their time is spent training dancers and musicians.

Most of their repertoire is traditional but a third of the pieces are original. This mix corresponds to a choice: to intertwine tradition and modernism.

Band members include Joan-Francés Tisner on vocals, diatonic accordions, percussion; Crestian Josuèr on three hole whistle and string tambourine, diatonic accordions; and Marc Castanet on bagpipes and diatonic accordions.

Discography:

Musicas de Gasconha (Menestrèrs Gascons, 1991)
Musicas a dançar (Menestrèrs Gascons, 1993)
Ompra o só? (Menestrèrs Gascons, 1996)
Musicas a dançar: dus (Menestrèrs Gascons, 2001)
Baladas e danças (Menestrèrs Gascons, 2005)
Jòcs de Dança (Menestrèrs Gascons, 2010)

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Artist Profiles: Gotan Project

The three principle members of Gotan Project – Parisian Philippe Cohen Solal, Swiss-born Christophe Mueller and Argentine musician Eduardo Makaroff – came together in the late 1990s through a mutual passion for the combination of sound with image, but were equally driven by the desire to successfully mix electronic and acoustic music.

They then built on a foundation of house and dub production by adding some of the finest Argentine tango musicians. The result was a blend of Parisian production with Buenos Aires tradition.

Their debut album was La Revancha Del Tango. In early 2004, Philippe Cohen Solal compiled a mix album of new tracks and remixes on behalf of the band, Inspiracion Espiracion (XL Recordings). Philippe Cohen Solal explained some of the factors that led them to make this album, which was not exactly a new GoTan Project record, but a collection of new tracks, plus GoTan Project remixing tracks and people mixing GoTan Project tracks:

“We set ourselves the challenge of bringing together past influences and present aspirations for just one hour – the Ancients and the Moderns. Indeed, what difference is there between a 40s groove, a 70s groove, and a groove for tomorrow? There is a difference in the sound quality of the recordings, naturally, but that aside, Anibal Troilo grooves, Astor Piazzolla grooves, and Pepe Bradock grooves. One is an amazing arranger, one a songwriting genius, and the other an inspired producer. Calexico, Domingo Cura, Peter Kruder, Anibal Troilo, Anti Pop Consortium, GoTan Project, Pepe Bradock, Al Shid and the voices of those Argentinean women, legendary figures, stars or unknowns, with names like Evita, Cecilia and Rita.”

GoTan Project also had a visual component. The second disc that accompanied the album included a video by their longtime visual collaborator, Prisca Lobjoy. She is a video artist and was part of the GoTan Project world since the very beginning, from the design of their first single sleeves, to the album cover and, above all, the creation of the videos, which were projected during the live shows.

The group’s third recording, Lunatico, had a decidedly stronger emphasis on the more organic roots of tango. “We really wanted to explore both tango and folkloric music from Argentina a lot further than we had before,” said Philippe. “That’s why many of the tracks are classically tango-oriented, very traditional patterns that people like (Anibal) Troilo would use.”

Discography:

La Revancha del Tango (XL Recordings, 2001)
Lunático (XL Recordings, 2006)
Tango 3.0 (XL Recordings, 2010)

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Artist Profiles: Kali

Kali

Kali (Jean-Marc Mournerville) lives in the hills of Martinique and espouses a philosophy that parallels Rastafarianism. He is one of the most popular roots artists from the French Antilles, sharing musical idioms with greats like Jean Claude Naimro (Kassav) and has been credited to influencing Dedé Saint Prix as well as innovative newcomers like Chris Combette. His musical career has been dedicated to the revival of Antillean music and exploring the roots of Zouk.

Circa 1980, Kassav introduced a fresh new Zouk sound via Paris by replacing the down trodden cadence with the rock influence of guitarist and rounder Jacob Desvarieux still keeping true to the gwo ka based rhythm. At that time much of the local pop music of Martinique and Guadeloupe had been greatly influenced by electronics, focusing on keeping up with dance floor beats all the while allowing Haitian compas and cadence beats to dominate the more traditional aspect of the popular music scene. The success of Zouk and of African music in general in the 70’s and 80’s rekindled an interest in the African heritage that contributed to the “Africanized French music” from Martinique. This revival helped Kali to bring his roots-based music closer to center stage helping to life Zouk into the international circuit.

Coupled with his solo career, Kali was one of the driving forces that inspired the band Pakatak that united a number of important musicians melting into the zouk kettle a heavy modern jazz influence. “Chouval Bwz 87” was an album that combined Latin Jazz and traditional percussionmembers included pianist Vasco and singers Timothy Herelle and Max Ramsay, along with Kali on his “magic banjo.” The success and vision of bands like Kassav and Pakatak helped to re-stimulate the local traditional music, thus igniting a spark that would later become a fire.

Kali’s discography mixes traditional chouval bwa and gwo ka rhythms with other Caribbean styles like biguine and reggae, as well as American funk and jazz. All these styles can be heard throughout “Francofaune” complimented with the trade mark sound of Kali’s banjo plunking out strong melody lines with style and finesse, never letting one influence wear out the other. He has grouped a wide range of dance-oriented styles to modernize traditional music creating a complex quality in his arrangements. His ability has been recognized by a wide range of international talent and is supported by performances with Manu Dibango, recordings with Rita Marley, and repeated invitations to perform at Peter Gabriel’s WOMAD Festival.

Over the years his lyrical content has always defended moral values consistently dealing with issues such as slavery, economic oppression, and racism. Still keeping true to the carnival feel of the traditional music, he never overlooks the predominant issues of social importance in Martinique and Guadeloupe.

Discography:

Racines I (Hibiscus Records, 1989)
Racines II (Hibiscus Records, 1990)
Kali Live Au New Morning (Epic, 1991)
Roots (Hibiscus Records, 1992)
Ile a Vendre (1993)
Lésé La Tè Tounen (Déclic, 1993)
Débranché ‎(Déclic, 1995)
Racines Noël III (1996)
Kali au New Morning (1998)
Franc-O-faune (Tinder Records, 1999)
Racines IV (Hibiscus Records, 2000)
Bèlè Boum (Bap, 2002)
Racines Caraibes Vol 5 ‎(Jean-Marc Monnerville, 2007)
Weapons of Mass Destruction (2007)
Le Trio (2010)

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Artist Profiles: Kabul Workshop

Kabul Workshop

Heavily influenced by Afghan and Indian music, the electro-world of Kabul Workshop was a workshop of musical research where the resulting melodies were a direct expression of the state of mind of their creators; a bridge between their different cultures. Franceso Russo and Khaled Arman met in 1998. The intellectual and spiritual complicity that united them nourished their artistic collaboration. Both musicians came from a classical background. Khaled Arman is an Afghan musician and Francesco Russo is from Naples (Italy). Their artistic journey, their curiosity nourished their Kabul Workshop compositions, electronic extension of the musicians’ projects.

Composers: Francesco Russo: electronic, piano; Khaled Arman: rubab, Afghan strings

Musicians: Massoud Raonaq (born in Kabul, Afghanistan): voices and harmonium; Francesco Russo (born in Naples, Italy): keyboards, piano, mix, sound structures; Ikram Khan (born in Jaipur, India): Sarangi; Mostafa Benhmad (born in Meknes, Morocco): ud and violin

Discography:

Trigana

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Artist Profiles: Kalakan

Kalakan – Photo by Bernard

Kalakan is a band from the northern Basque country (France) featuring Thierry Biscary, Jamixel Bereau and Xan Errotabehere. Its style consists of minimalist arrangements (vocals, percussion) of Basque traditional songs. After touring Europe with pianists Katia and Marielle Labèque, the trio became known to a larger audience when they collaborated with Madonna during The MDNA Tour.

Kalakan was formed in 2009 by Paxkal Indo and Thierry Biscary, a chalaparta duo. They invited percussionist Frédéric Chambon to join them to form a trio. Before initiating their first artist in residence program to prepare their first album, Chambon was replaced by vocalist and percussionist Jamixel Bereau.

The Kalakan album was recorded at Laguna Records in Biarritz and mixed in Paris in 2010.

Paxkal Indo was later replaced by vocalist and percussionist Xan Errotabehere. Kalakan won the song contest 2011 at the Transhumances musicales festival in Laàs.

During the summer of 2011, Kalakan were introduced to Madonna by Katia and Marielle Labèque during her vacation at their house on the coast of the northern Basque country. On Madonna’s 53rd birthday, August 16, 2011, Kalakan performed their version of Ravel’s Bolero and some of their songs. Madonna liked Kalakan and asked the trio to accompany her on tour in 2012. After a workshop in New York City in February 2012, participation of Kalakan in The MDNA Tour was confirmed.

In Basque, Kalakan means “chatting”. The band members arrange Basque traditional songs to give them a contemporary sound, incorporating pop and rock structures. The percussion techniques used by the trio are inspired by world music bands as Dakha Brakha (Ukraine), Barbatuques (Brazil) and Berrogüetto (Spain).

Kalakan plays percussion instruments (pandereta, chalaparta, tobera, ttun-ttun, atabal), body percussion and handcrafted large drums.

Discography:

Kalakan (2010)
Elementuak (2015)

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Artist Profiles: Pawolka

Pawolka

Pawolka means the message of Ka, or Gwo-Ka, the traditional percussion music of Guadeloupe, although the group also uses voices and melodies from other Caribbean islands.

The group was born in 1985 as a result of the celebration that the francocaribeños students celebrated every year to commemorate the abolition of the slavery in the French colonies. Several students (Joël “Djo” Toussaint, and Maurice “Moy” Mayen), saw the opportunity to join and form a vocal and percussion group that they baptized as Gwo-Ka.

Later, the nucleus of the group wanted to broaden its objectives: to their common passion for rhythm, they added the desire to make music (and theater) as a way of expressing their ideals. The project immediately attracted two percussionists, Frank Kouby and Yannick “Yao” Loiuis and thus the second version of the group was born.

During the following four years, different musicians were in the orbit of this band and each of them contributed diverse influences. This explains the originality that has always marked the work of PWK but without ever losing the style of the group. They perform a musical style called “Afro Karayib Rifdim”, a powerful fusion of rhythms from the Caribbean Islands, from Africa and from the African-American world.

The music of PWK (Pawolka) draws from Gwo-Ka, the traditional music of Guadeloupe, freedom and spontaneity, two constants in all its repertoire. The peculiar style of the group is completed with the addition of soul, reggae, rock, jazz and African rhythms. Most of the lyrics are written in “Creyol”, a language widely used in the French Caribbean, although they also use English, French and Wolof (a Senegalese dialect).

Discography:

Wabe (Declic, 1998)

Pawolka

Ethiopik

Danse

Ticket Aller-Retour

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Artist Profiles: Kassav

Kassav

The brothers Pierre-Eduard and George Decimus, and Jacob Desvarieux created Kassav in Guadeloupe in 1979. During the following years, female singer Jocelyne Beroard, male singers Jean Philippe Martely and Patrick Saint Eloi and keyboard player Jean-Claude Maimro joined the band. These last four names, together with Jacob Desvarieux are still the driving force behind Kassav’. In 1991 George Decimus (co) author of many Kassav’ hits, quit the band and formed Voit Face, together with Jeff Joseph, the man behind the former and later restarted Gramacks.

In addition to a prolific recording career, Kassav dedicates a lot of attention to its spectacular live shows. The musicians manage to draw huge numbers of fans as never seen before, especially in France, the Caribbean and Africa. Their concerts in the Paris Zenith – capacity 8000 – are legendary. 1985 was a first time sell out for the group. Between that year and 1992 Kassav’ was able to have a full house for a record 45 times.

In 1998 the group recorded “Un toque Latino,” which included its biggest hits, sung in Spanish, with some Latin influences in the arrangements.

In 2000, the group received the Martinique Music Award for its anniversary concert, and Patrick Saint Eloi won the SACEM award for Best Artist from Guadeloupe.

Kassav’ continues to perform throughout the world. Its concerts at the Indoor Caribbean Festival in Europe are usually sold out.

Discography:

Love and kadance (1979)
Lagué mwen (1980)
Kassav n°3 (1981)
George Décimus with Kassav (1982)
Kassav (1983)
Kassav n°5 (1983)
Passeport (1983)
Ayé (1994)
An-ba-chen’n la (1985)
Vini pou (1987)
Majestik Zouk (1989)
Tékit izi (1992)
Difé (1995)
Cho (1996)
Un toque latino (1998)
Nou la (2000)
K Toz (2004)
All U Need Is Zouk (2007)
Sonjé (2013)

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Artist Profiles: Thierry Robin

Thierry Robin

Thierry “Titi” Robin was born August 26, 1957 in Rochefort Sur Loire, France. Titi Robin is a self-taught musician. He built his personal musical universe by borrowing instinctively from various musical sources, his two main sources of influence being the Gypsy and Silk Road cultures. These two communities welcomed him warmly, the French mainstream music world not understanding his approach at the time.

Community celebrations were a way for him to test the validity of his original approach of music, taking his inspiration from these strong traditions without ever simply copying them. His two main masters at the time were Spanish flamenco cantaor Camarón de la Isla and Iraqi ‘ud master Munir Bachir.

On March 2004, after a career spanning more than 20 years, with more than 600 live performances and 92.000 records sold, French label Naive presented Alezane, the definitive anthology of Thierry Robin with 35 tracks, including 11 unreleased tracks, presented in a luxurious 2 CD digipack with a full color 28p booklet richly illustrated with photos and original drawings by Eric Roux-Fontaine.

Alezane’s 2 CDs are a selection made over 12 years of recordings but actually derive from 25 years of composing music. “In my previous albums, I always tried to blend dancing themes and more intimate ones. Here, on the contrary, we have selected the tracks according to two categories : the rhythmic tunes (CD1 : Le jour / daytime) and the slower ones (CD2 : la nuit / night-time). The real challenge is to show the path I follow as a contemporary musician, inside an artistic system which imposed itself on me rather than being of my own choosing. I want to express pain and joy, the lonely words and the collective exchanges, all the colors and the perfumes that circle around me and penetrate me. I have invited Eric Roux-Fontaine to design this anthology. He is a painter and a photographer, who has been involved in Gypsy cultures for about ten years. He accepted to entirely create the package for this double album.”

Discography:

Duo Luth et Tablâ, with Hameed Khan (Playasound, 1986)
An Henchou Treuz, with Erik Marchand (Ocora, 1989)
An tri breur, with Trio Erik Marchand (Silex, 1993)
Gitans (Silex, 1993)
Le regard nu (Silex, 1996)
Payo michto (Silex, 1997)
Kali gadji (Silex, 1998)
Un ciel de cuivre (Naïve, 2000)
Rakhi (Naïve, 2002)
Alezane (Naïve, 2004)
Ces vagues que l’amour soulève (Naïve, 2005)
Olé (Naïve, 2005)
La Mentale (Naïve, 2006)
Anita (Naïve, 2006)
Kali Sultana (Naïve, 2009)
Jaadu, with Faiz Ali Faiz (Accords Croisés, 2009)
Les Rives (Naïve, 2011)
Taziri, with Mehdi Nassouli (2015)

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Artist Profiles: Soig Siberil

Soig Siberil

Soig Siberil was born February 1, 1955 in Paris, France. He is a name that keeps coming up in the Breton folk music scene. After recording with Sked, he founded Kornog together with Jamie McMenemy of the Battlefield band and two additional musicians.

Soig Siberil later became a member of Gwerz, another legendary Breton band. Since then he has toured and recorded with Pennou Skoulm, Orion, Les Ours du Scorff, Kemia, Den and Alain Pennec.

Solo Discography:

Digor (Gwerz Pladenn, 1993)
Entre Ardoise et Granit, Maen Glas… (Gwerz Pladenn, 1996)
Gwenojenn (Gwerz Pladenn, 1999)
Gitar (Naïve Records, 2001)
Du côté de chez Soïg! (Siam Production, 2003)
Lammat (Coop Breizh, 2006)
Tan Dehi, kan ha gitar, withc Lors Jouin (Coop Breizh, 2009)
Botcanou (Coop Breizh, 2009)
Red, with Nolwenn Korbell (Coop Breizh, 2007)
Noazh (Coop Breizh, 2010)
Dek (Coop Breizh, 2014)
Habask (Coop Breizh, 2017)

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Artist Profiles: Slonovski Bal

Slonovski Bal

Slonovski Bal plays the sounds of the central European Balkans, blending the music of the Gypsies with a unique mix of European, Slavic, Turkish and Mediterranean cultures, representing the fine tradition of the oriental brass band music. Slonovski bal means “the Elephant’s Ball” in Serbian.

Grooving with the roaring sounds of tubas, the water-flow of the accordion, the tender whisper of the clarinet or the blasting clamor of the trumpet, Slonovski Bal blasted onto the music scene.

Finding room for composition and improvisation Slonovski Bal have toured Europe with the energy of such dances as the Coceks, the Sa-Sa and the devilish Kolos played at the speed of light and thunder.

Discography:

Local Stereo (Bal Bazar Production, 1998)
Balkanska Rumba (Label Al Sur, 2001)
Balkan Merak (Bal Bazar Production, 2003)
Dzumbus (Bal Bazar Production, 2007)
Electric Combo (Bal Bazar Production, 2010)

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