Tag Archives: guitar

Artist profiles: Strunz & Farah

Strunz & Farah

Jorge Strunz and Ardeshir Farah, originally from Costa Rica and Iran respectively, have pioneered a new expression for the acoustic guitar. Bringing the cultural riches of their native lands to their highly virtuosic rhythmic and improvisation-rich original compositions these “fieras de la guitarra” (“wild animals of the guitar”) have profoundly influenced guitarists everywhere creating a new genre.

Jorge given his first guitar at age 6 grew up in a Caribbean environment, playing flamenco and classical guitar, incorporating jazz, Afro-Latin and Latin American folk forms. Ardeshir Farah was raised in Iran and England and also played guitar since childhood focusing on popular music and improvisation. Both began performing professionally in their early teens.

The travels of his diplomat father brought Jorge to the United States while Ardeshir arrived as a student of architecture. Fortune and music brought the two together when Ardeshir came to see Jorge perform with his Latin jazz-fusion group Caldera (which put out 4 albums on Capitol). When the two guitarists subsequently met it was instantly obvious that they were brothers of the guitar from opposite ends of the earth. They quickly prepared a repertoire began performing and recorded their first project ‘Mosaico’ in 1980.

Although record companies at that time were not yet ready for this exotic new music, jazz radio embraced it enthusiastically and the duo caught the attention of Milestone with whom they put out two CDs in the early 1980s ‘Frontera’ and ‘Guitarras’.

The intimate audiophile recording ‘Misterio’ was commissioned and recorded by Waterlily Acoustics in 1989. Following this came the phenomenally successful recordings ‘Primal Magic’ (1990) and ‘Americas’ (1992) on Mesa/Atlantic which won Billboard’s World Music Album of the Year and a Grammy nomination respectively.

The artists then started their own record company Selva as an artist-friendly alternative to the majors and put out ‘Heat of the Sun’ (top 1 Billboard World Music chart) and ‘Live’ the artists’ first live performance recording. Strunz & Farah received back the rights to ‘Primal Magic’ and ‘Americas’ which were re-released on Selva, an indepent label owned by the artists and distributed independently.

On Stringweave, Strunz and Farah are accompanied by guests such as Indian violin master Dr. L. Subramanian. Puerto Rican cuatro virtuoso Edwin Colón Zayas. Persian violinist Bijan Mortazevi and many others.

Discography:

Mosaico (1982, Reissued on Selva 1997)

Frontera (Milestone 1984)

Guitarras (Milestone 1985)

Misterio (AudioQuest 1989)

Primal Magic (1990, Reissued on Selva 1999)

Americas (1992 Reissued on Selva 1999)

Heat Of The Sun (Selva 1995)

Live (Selva 1997)

Wild Muse (Selva 1998)

Best of Strunz &Farah (Selva 2000)

Stringweave (Selva 2001)

Rio de Colores (Selva 2003)

Zona Torrida (Selva 2004)

Desert Guitars (Selva 2005)

Jungle Guitars (Selva 2006)

Fantaseo (Selva 2006)

Journey Around The Sun (Selva 2011)

Moods and Visions (Selva 2014)

DVD

In Performance (2003)

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Artist Profiles: Federico Ramos

Federico Ramos was born in the small town of 33 (Treinta y Tres) in Uruguay. He mastered the flamenco guitar at the Royal Conservatory of Madrid, Spain and hanging out with his “brothers” the gypsies of the southern Spanish coast.

Besides the guitar, Federico has mastered the saz, charango, oud and guimbri among other string instruments. Federico has played and colaborated with Jackson Browne, Milton Nascimento, Mark Isham, Strunz & Farah, and Yusef Lateef among other greats.

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Guitarists Jose Maria Bandera and Amir John Haddad to Celebrate Paco de Lucía’s Final Work

Canción Andaluza, the last album released by guitar maestro and Paco de Lucía will be presented live for the first time as a tribute led by two world class guitarists, Paco’s nephew José Maria Bandera (a regular member of Paco’s band) and Amir John Haddad (El Amir). The concert will take place at the IV Encuentro Internacional de Guitarra Paco de Lucía on July 18th, 2017 in Paco de Lucia’s birthplace, Algeciras (Spain).

Canción Andaluza focused on popular Andalusian music known as copla. It received two 2 Latin Grammy awards in 2014 for Best Flamenco Album and Best Album of the Year.
The lineup for this special concert includes José María Bandera on guitar; El Amir on guitar and bouzouki; Josemi Garzón on double bass; and Israel Katumba on percussion. Celebrated flamenco singer Arcángel is scheduled to appear as special guest.

July 18th, 2017
Parque María Cristina, Algeciras
10:00 p.m.

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Artist profiles: Ian Carr

Ian Carr

Ian Carr is a Welsh guitarist known for his work with Kathryn Tickell, The Old Rope String Band, Simon Thoumire, Syncopace and has guested on recordings by John McCusker, Kate Rusby, Gordon Duncan and several others. He is a member of Anglo-Swedish band Swap and Alan Kelly Gang. He recorded two albums with accordionist Karen Tweed: Fyace and Shhh.

Discography:

Hootz! , with Simon Thoumire (Black Crow Records, 1990)
Shhh, with Karen Tweed (1995)
Fyace, with Karen Tweed (1997)
Swåp (Amigo, 1997)
Sic (Amigo, 1999)
Mosquito Hunter (Amigo, 2002)
Step on it!, with Niklas Roswall (Drone Music, 2003)
Du Da (2005)
Timber!, with Maria Jonsson and Mikael Marin (Nordic Tradition, 2007)
He Thinks He`s Invisible, with Simon Thoumire (Foot Stomping, 2013)

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Artist Profiles: Gerard Edery

Gerard Edery

Gerard Edery was born in Casablanca and raised in Paris and New York City, speaking several languages throughout his childhood as he absorbed a variety of musical traditions spanning three continents.

Trained as a classical baritone while earning his Masters Degree at the Manhattan School of Music, he has since sung more than thirty roles with opera companies around the United States.

Gerard is also a virtuoso guitarist: melding classical, flamenco, jazz and folk techniques, he brings an intricate, sophisticated personal style both to original compositions and to his elaborate, expressive arrangements of traditional songs – a world-girdling repertoire encompassing some dozen different languages.

His special passion is the rich heritage of French, Spanish and Judeo-Spanish melody. Considered one of the leading interpreters of Sephardic Song, he was honored with the 1997 Sephardic Musical Heritage Award. In 2, he was also awarded a Meet the Composer! grant to write original songs.

Gerard has performed in major concert halls and festivals throughout the world. Gerard offers many inspiring programs in collaboration with many artists, including ud virtuoso George Mgrdichian, storyteller Peninnah Schram, cantors Alberto Mizrahi and Aaron Bensoussan, soprano Nell Snaidas, percussionist Rex Benincasa, playwright/lyricist Adina Ruskin and composer Noa Ain.

Edery is a prolific recording artist and has released over ten CDs on the Sefarad Records label.

Discography:

Chansons d’Amour (Sefarad Records, 1998)

Linda Amiga (Sefarad Records, 1999)

Morena (Sefarad Records, 1999)

The Minstrel and the Storyteller (1999)

Oigo (Sefarad Records, 2000)

Sing to the Eternal (2002)

Romanzas Sefarditas (2002)

Guitar Give Me Your Song (2002)

Amid the Jasmine (Sefarad Records 2007)

Two Faiths One Voice (2008)

Dai de Cenar (Sefarad Records 2009)

Shiru Hakadosh: Sephardic Liturgical Songs (2012)

Edery Sings Yupanqui (2012)

www.gerardedery.com

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Flamencos from Hamburg

Selva Negra – Mar lleno

Selva Negra – Mar lleno (Trekel Records/ Selva Negra Music SNM003, 2016)

German duo Selva Negra (black forest in Spanish) draws its inspiration from Spanish flamenco, Latin American music and jazz. Selva Negra’s sound revolves around Björn Vollmer’s guitar and electric bass and Steffen Hanschmann’s percussion.

There’s a nice balance between lively pieces and laid back material. Björn Vollmer’s guitar style is inspired by current Spanish guitarists and does a very good job at staying true to flamenco. Meanwhile, Steffen Hanschmann uses percussion that is typically found in modern flamenco: cajón and palmas.

Guests include Omar Calvo on double bass and Illian Garnet on violin.

Mar lleno showcases the talent of two young German musicians from northern Germany heavily inspired by flamenco.

Buy Mar lleno

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Remarkable Solo Celtic Guitar

Soïg Sibéril – Habask (Coop Breizh, 2017)

Virtuoso guitarist Soïg Sibéril has become of the finest performers in the Celtic guitar field. He’s been involved in countless musical projects with leading Breton and Celtic music artists.

Although he’s recorded solo albums before, Habask is truly a solo album, with no guests. It’s just Soïg and his guitar, playing acoustic music inspired by the traditional music of various Celtic cultures.

Habask features mesmerizing originals by Soïg Sibéril along with adaptations of traditional songs from Brittany and other parts of the Celtic music world.

Habask delivers exceptionally expressive acoustic guitar performances rooted in Celtic music.

Buy the digital download version of Habask. Or buy the CD from www.coop-breizh.fr

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Artist Profiles: Chet Atkins

Chet Atkins

Chet Atkins grew up in the Great Smoky Mountains. He was a disciple of the legendary guitarist Merle Travis (Chet named his daughter Merle). Together with Merle Travis and Doc Watson he made up the trinity of country guitar. Chet was able to record with his hero before his death.

Chester Burton Atkins was born June 2, 1924 on a farm near Luttrell eastern Tennessee about 2 miles northeast of Knoxville. Chet Atkins’ origins were humble. Suffering with asthma throughout his youth he was a sickly child who nonetheless had to face working his family’s farm when his parents separated. He was only 1 at that time. But his father was a music teacher and song-leader with a number of traveling evangelists and his brother Jimmy -13 years older than Chet- was himself an accomplished guitar player.

Chet’s first instrument was a ukulele strung with wire from a screen door which he was able to get music out of for only short periods of time before the soft steel strands broke. Chet moved to Georgia when he was 1 to live with his father hoping the climate would be easier on his asthma. By this time he was playing a Sears Silvertone guitar which inexpensive as it was at least did not rely upon scrap metal for strings.

He left high school at age 17 knowing he wanted to pursue a career in music. In fact he admits that his childhood adversity was a significant motivator in driving him to be “the greatest at what he did.”

A series of performance slots on a number of radio stations as well as the popular Old Dominion Barn Dance often ended in Chet’s dismissal largely because he was already a sophisticated well-versed musician working for employers who wanted nothing but simple twangy “hillbilly” guitar.

His big break came when a gig with the legendary Carter Family led him to the Grand Ole Opry where his talents were finally appreciated. Chet became a sought-after session player working on records by some of the great pioneers of both country and rock’n’roll including the Everly Brothers and a kid from Tupelo Mississippi named Presley.

When he became RCA Records’ Manager of Operations Chet convinced the label to build an office and studio on Music Row in Nashville spearheading the music industry’s migration to Music City.

He was the main architect of the “Nashville Sound “which saved commercial country by marrying the music to pop sensibilities. His legacy to the industry he helped found and the culture he defined is undeniable. Upon leaving RCA Chet continued his highly successful career as a recording artist when he signed with Columbia Records where he remained till his death.

Chet Atkins is country music. He has played with Maybelle Carter Homer &Jethro Hank Snow Elvis Presley Eddy Arnold Jerry Reed Les Paul Ray Charles Hank Williams Sr. Kitty Wells Faron Young Lester Flatt &Earl Scruggs the Louvin Brothers Ernest Tubb Marty Robbins Webb Pierce Johnnie &Jack George Morgan Wanda Jackson George Jones etc. He has produced albums by Patsy Cline the Everly Brothers Floyd Cramer Waylon Jennings Skeeter Davis Skeets McDonald Porter Wagoner Charlie Pride Charlie Rich Hank Locklin Roger Miller Roy Orbison Don Gibson Bobby Bare etc. As a talent scout Chet helped sign Willie Nelson Dolly Parton Guy Clark Steve Wariner Tom T. Hall Connie Smith Dottie West and countless others.

A historical meeting between Chet Atkins and Doc Watson two of the 20th century’s most influential American guitarists was documented in 1980. Released for the first time on CD Reflections was an artifact for the ages and should be inspiration for guitarists for generations to come.

Chet while humble about his place in the world of music and obviously at peace with both himself and his plans for the future made it clear that he and his guitar had a lasting romance that shows no signs of abating. “There may come a day when I can’t play anymore ” Chet said “but otherwise I’ll be playing as long as I live. I could never put the guitar down ” he concluded laughing. “It might forget who I was.”

Atkins recorded more than 75 albums. In the years before his death he collaborated with many artists representing diverse genres such as Mark Knopfler Paul McCartney Eric Johnson George Benson and Earl Klugh.

Chet Atkins died of cancer on Saturday June 3, 2001 at this home in Nashville. He was 77 years old.

There were rumors started just a few months after Chet’s passing about a collection of unreleased solo guitar recordings Chet had made in his home studio. Chet’s Grandson Jonathan his engineer Mike Poston and longtime friend and sideman Paul Yandell all went down into Chet’s home studio. What they found were 28 cuts of Chet playing solo guitar arrangements some newly arranged solo performances of some of Chet’s favorite songs some songs that had never been recorded in any form. It was a special solo project Chet had undertaken himself over a 10 year period beginning in 1982. The recordings became available in 2003 under the title: Chet Atkins: Solo Sessions.

Selected discography:

A Master and his Music (Sony Legacy)
Essential Chet Atkins (Sony Legacy)
Guitar Legend: The RCA Years (Sony Legacy)
19 Original Albums, 10 CD boxed set
8 Classic Albums (Real Gone Music)

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Artist Profiles: Shemekia Copeland

Shemekia Copeland – Photo by Carol Friedman

Charon Shemekia Copeland was born April 10, 1979 in Harlem, New York City. She is the daughter of famed blues guitarist and vocalist Johnny Copeland

At only 19, Shemekia Copeland released her debut recording, Turn the Heat Up! (1998). A year later, she appeared in the movie Three To Tango, while her song “I Always Get My Man, was featured in the film Broken Hearts Club.

Her second album, Wicked, released in 2000, received three Handy Awards (Song of the Year, Blues Album of the Year, Contemporary Female Artist of the Year) and a GRAMMY nomination. Two years later, New Orleans R&B legend Dr. John stepped in to produce her third recording, Talking To Strangers (2002). Afterwards, Copeland released The Soul Truth in 2005. The album was produced by celebrated Stax guitarist Steve Cropper (who also played on the CD), and featured a mix of blues, funk and Memphis-style soul.

Shemekia Copeland joined Telarc International for the February 2009 release of Never Going Back. This new chapter in the Shemekia Copeland story represents a crossroads on her ongoing artistic journey – a place where numerous new avenues are open to her. While she will always remain loyal to her blues roots, Never Going Back takes a more forward view of the blues, and in so doing points her music and her career in a new direction.

I’ve had success in my career, and I’m happy with that,” she said. “But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to continue to grow. In order for an artist to grow – and for a genre to grow – you have to do new things. I’m extremely proud to say I’m a blues singer, but that doesn’t mean that’s the only thing I’m capable of singing, or that’s the only style of music I’m capable of making.”

She added: “I want to keep growing. My main goal when I started this was that I was going to do something different with this music, so that this music could evolve and grow. I got that idea from my father. He didn’t do the typical one-four-five blues. He went to Africa and worked with musicians there. He was one of the first blues artists to do that. I want to be the same way. I want to be innovative with the blues.”

Discography:

* Turn the Heat Up! (Alligator Records, 1998)
* Wicked (Alligator Records, 2000)
* Talking To Strangers (Alligator Records, 2002)
* The Soul Truth (Alligator Records, 2005)
* Never Going Back (Telarc International, 2009)
* Shemekia Copeland – Deluxe Edition (Alligator Records, 2011)
* 33 1/3 (Telarc, 2012)
* Outskirts of Love (Alligator Records, 2015)

Web sites: www.shemekiacopeland.com

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Artist Profiles: Ry Cooder

Ry Cooder

Ryland Peter Cooder (Ry Cooder) was born in Los Angeles, California, on March 15, 1947. He is a guitarist well-known for his slide guitar style.

Ry Cooder first attracted attention in the 1960s, playing with bluesman Taj Mahal in The Rising Sons, The Seeds, and Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band.

Cooder played a role in the new appreciation for traditional Cuban music thanks to his collaboration as producer in the Buena Vista Social Club (1997) recording that became a worldwide hit.

German filmmaker Wim Wenders directed a documentary film of the Cuban musicians involved, titled Buena Vista Social Club (1999) that was nominated for an Academy Award in 2000. Cooder also produced Ibrahim Ferrer’s Buenos Hermanos, and Mambo Sinuendo, all Grammy winners.

Ry Cooder’s solo work has been an eclectic mix on american roots music, including dustbowl folk music, tex-mex, soul, gospel, rock and other genrese. He has collaborated with many influential musicians, including the Rolling Stones, Little Feat, the Chieftains, John Lee Hooker, Hawaiian master Gabby Pahinui, and the late Ali Farka Toure. Cooder also formed the Little Village supergroup with Nick Lowe, John Hiatt and Jim Keltner.

 

 

Cooder’s 1978 album Bop Till You Drop was the first popular music album to be recorded digitally.

Ry Cooder’s Chávez Ravine, released in 2005 is a tribute to the long-gone Los Angeles Mexican-American enclave known as Chávez Ravine. Using real and imagined historical characters, Cooder and friends created an album that recollects various aspects of the poor but vibrant hillside Chicano community that was razed by developers in the 1950s in the interest of “progress.” The Dodgers Stadium (The Dodgers are a famous American professional baseball team) eventually was built on the spot. Cooder said at the time, “Here is some music for a place you don’t know, up a road you don’t go. Chávez Ravine, where the sidewalk ends.”

Chávez Ravine features various musical genres found in Los Angeles, including conjunto, corrido, R&B, Latin pop, and jazz. The 15-track album is sung in Spanish and English/ Cooder is joined by East Los Angeles legends like Chicano music patriarch Lalo Guerrero, Pachuco boogie king Don Tosti, Thee Midniters front man Little Willie G., and Ersi Arvizu of The Sisters and El Chicano.

Los Angeles was paved over, malled up, high-rised, and urban-renewed, as fortunes were made, power was concentrated, and everything got faster and bigger,” explained Cooder. “But there is a lot I miss now. The texture of certain older neighborhoods, like Bunker Hill, a rural feel in urban places, like Chávez Ravine and the timbre of life there, and just peace and quiet,” he said.

Chavez Ravine was the first recording of a California trilogy. The second volume was 2007’s My Name Is Buddy.

 

Ry Cooder – Photo by Susan Titelman

 

The last recording of the California trilogy is I, Flathead, an album of music by the fictional musician Kash Buk and his band the Klowns, characters in Cooder’s 95-page tale. The album and novella were released together on June 24, 2008, by Nonesuch / Perro Verde Records.

The novella tells the story of Kash Buk and his friend Shakey the alien, together with various friends, lovers, enemies, and associates in a long-gone California filled with deserts, salt-flat racing, Native Americans, seedy dance halls, amusement parks, and sinister plots. The album includes fourteen songs by Buk, a hard-edged salt flat racer and roadhouse musician. With the story and the music, Cooder creates a world where “strange people are the norm,” inspired by country western music, Popular Mechanics magazines, and science fiction movies.

Flathead reflects change and disruption in a young, post-war, do-it-yourself culture of outsiders obsessed with racing cars fashioned from military surplus parts and flathead engines. As Kash Buk explains, “You got your hard times, your good times, a dog story for you animal lovers, and a forbidden-race love song, which every record ought to have at least one of.”

Cooder produced I, Flathead and wrote or co-wrote all the songs. He sings and plays mandolin, guitar, and bass on the album, alongside Mariachi Los Camperos; Joachim Cooder, and Jim Keltner on drums; Rene Camacho on bass; Francisco Torres on trombone; Ron Blake and Jon Hassell on trumpet; Anthony Gil on bass sax; Flaco Jiménez on accordion, Gil Bernal on tenor sax; Jared Smith on keyboards; Martin Pradler on electric piano and drums; and Juliette Commagere on vocals.

 

Ry Cooder – Photo by Susan Titelman

 

Ry Cooder has composed soundtracks for more than twenty films, including Wim Wenders’ Paris, Texas, and The End of Violence.

 

 

Discography

* Ry Cooder (Reprise, 1970)
* Performance, soundtrack (1970)
* Into the Purple Valley (Reprise, 1972)
* Boomer’s Story (Reprise, 1972)
* Paradise and Lunch (Reprise, 1974)
* Chicken Skin Music (Reprise, 1976)
* Showtime (Warner Brothers, 1977)
* Jazz (Reprise, 1978)
* Bop Till You Drop (Warner Brothers, 1979)
* Borderline (Warner Brothers, 1980)
* The Long Riders, soundtrack (Warner Brothers, 1980)
* The Border, soundtrack (1981)
* Southern Comfort, soundtrack (1981)
* The Slide Area (Warner Brothers, 1982)
* Paris, Texas, soundtrack (Warner Brothers, 1985)
* Music from Alamo Bay, soundtrack (1985)
* Blue City, soundtrack (1986)
* Crossroads, soundtrack (Warner Brothers, 1986)
* Why Don’t You Try Me Tonight, compilation (Warner Brothers, 1986)
* Get Rhythm (Warner Brothers, 1987)
* Pecos Bill (Windham Hill, 1988)
* Johnny Handsome, soundtrack (1989)
* Rising Sons, with Taj Mahal(recorded 1965/66, released 1992)
* A Meeting By The River, with Vishwa Mohan Bhatt (Water Lily Acoustics, 1993)
* Trespass, soundtrack (Warner Brothers, 1993)
* Geronimo: An American Legend, soundtrack (Sony, 1993)
* River Rescue – The Very Best Of Ry Cooder (1994)
* Talking Timbuktu, with Ali Farka Touré (Hannibal, 1994)
* Music by Ry Cooder, film music (1Warner Brothers, 1995)
* Last Man Standing, soundtrack (Polygram Records, 1996)
* The End of Violence, soundtrack (Outpost Records, 1997)
* Buena Vista Social Club (World Circuit/Nonesuch, 1997)
* Primary Colors, soundtrack (1998)
* Mambo Sinuendo, with Manuel Galbán (Nonesuch, 2003)
* Chávez Ravine (Nonesuch Records, 2005)
* My Name Is Buddy (Nonesuch Records, 2007)
* I, Flathead (Nonesuch Records,2008)
* The Ry Cooder Anthology: The UFO Has Landed (2008)
* San Patricio, with The Chieftains (2010)
* Live On Air (2010)
* Pull Up Some Dust and Sit Down (Mobile Fidelity, 2011)
* Election Special (Nonesuch, 2012)
* Live in San Francisco, with Corridos Famosos (Nonesuch, 2013)

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