Tag Archives: Mariza

Global Musical Diversities in London, Songlines’ Cultural Activism

Numina by Zahra Hussain, Barbican Centre – Photo by Evangeline Kim

 

We live in confounding and perplexing times.  A relatively peaceful international order this past year has suddenly become upended by at least two recent political developments: the U.K.’s Brexit and the results of the presidential elections here in the U.S.  In both instances negative views concerning globalization and immigration threaten preservation and celebration of humanity’s rich cultural heritage and diversities.

Regressive electoral rhetoric here in the U.S. flaunted and promoted xenophobic intolerance, religious bigotry, racial hatreds, and misogyny.  Right-wing supremacist views loom on the horizon as the new normal.  In such a dangerously noxious atmosphere affecting the international, it’s critical to continue to explore and discover what’s noteworthy among the myriad global artistic, poetic and musical, expressions.  They form the world’s magnificent cultural ecosystem.  The proliferation and accessibility of world music recordings and concerts today in Europe and America, compared to, say, their “newness” 30 or 40 years ago, underscore much-needed cultural resistance against the political rants about metaphoric and physical borders and walls.

London Worldview

Across the pond, London is one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the world.  About a  third of Londoners are foreign-born where over 200 languages are spoken along with English, the official language.  This is the cultural “fabric” of the U.K.’s largest city that Simon Broughton, editor in chief of Songlines Magazine, mentioned during a visit this past fall preceding the U.S. elections, as I attended a couple of excellent Barbican Centre world music events.

Among the international stalwarts advocating world music, Songlines Magazine, launched in 1999, is one of the few remaining major print and digital music publications. Still not widely circulated in the U.S. though available on the net, the magazine covers global music, traditional and contemporary, popular and fusion, with impressive style and content. (The print edition with its handsome glossy lay-out is well-worth the subscription.)

In Simon’s view: “Rather than just being a music magazine, I have always seen Songlines as a way at looking at the world through its music. And music is a way of exposing people to other cultures in a pleasant, accessible and enlightening way. Once you’ve experienced another people’s music and culture, you understand them more and fear them less.”

Songlines, among other world music publications and sites, stands to gain a greater profile as a worldview counter-force, given emerging discriminatory, isolationist ideologies. This occurred to me as I followed Simon Broughton around London for a few days preceding the roiled U.S. presidential elections. Even the concept of Brexit seemed remote during two great concert events at the Barbican.

Transcender Sufi Night

Parissa – Photo by Evangeline Kim

 

Originally conceived as  “Ramadan Nights” in 2004, meant to explore the wealth of Muslim music traditions found throughout Islam’s historical geographies, the Transcender Festival evolved to include spiritual, devotional and trance-ritual sounds from all over the world.  This year there were two Sufi-related festival concert nights, programmed by Simon B.  I happily caught one.  Persia’s iconic Parissa co-billed with Turkey’s Meshk Ensemble.  It was a night reaching moments of incantatory rapture.

Parissa had not performed in London for 12 years.  The Barbican main hall was filled with Persian media and legions of fans who cherish her.  She has not been allowed, as a woman, to perform publicly in her country, due to political repression enforced since 1979.  Yet for over 40 years, she commands reverence and adulation whenever her rare appearances outside of Iran.  At home in Tehran, she manages to carry on her tradition through teaching the fine art of Persian song to young women.

Accompanied by an ensemble of musicians on tar, kamancheh, and tombak and daf percussion, her repertoire was dedicated to the great 13th century Sufi mystic poet, Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi.   Her vocal expressive progression during the concert seemed like an epiphanic ascension towards divine mystical love over earthly pain and despair.

The SOAS American scholar of Persian music, Jane Lewisohn, who has followed her since the Shiraz-Persepolis Festival of Arts in the 70s, exclaimed following her performance, “Parissa always chooses the best poetry by Rumi.” Lacking regrettably were program notes with translations of the poems. However, I drew pleasure just from the sheer beauty of Parissa’s nuanced delivery of Rumi’s poems with instrumental interludes. Hers were elegant delectations, restrained, lit with spiritual passion.

Meshk Ensemble Video Clip by Evangeline Kim:

 

The real surprise of the Sufi-themed evening was the stunning opening concert by the Turkish Meshk Ensemble.  There are currently all sorts of Turkish whirling dervish groups in Turkey ranging from the new age to the nonsensical.  Most all authenticity in Turkish Sufi devotional music was lost in 1925 when Sufism was banned as “backward” in the country for various reasons.  The original 1001 days of dervish training in the Mevlevi lodge tradition were abandoned.  The rigorous training of dervishes in Sufism’s philosophy and thought, its ethical code of conduct (adab), and the related arts,  – particularly musical knowledge of the highly complex technicalities in the Turkish makam system seemed all but foregone according to the Meshk Ensemble’s spokesman and musician, Feridun Gündeş.  A deeply embedded cultural tradition of higher knowledge dissipated into forms of nostalgia and touristic exoticism.

Simon further notes, “It’s the state-supported Konya Sufi Music Ensemble that usually tours with ‘whirling dervish’ performances and performs regularly in Konya where Rumi was buried in 1273. But their performances seem routine and overblown. They have around 25 musicians and singers and it’s clear that the Mevlevi lodges employed much smaller groups of musicians. So Meshk’s style is much more authentic and more interesting as they are continually investigating new repertoire and not rotating the most common ayin pieces. You could compare Cevikoglu with artists like Roger Norrington or John Eliot Gardiner who transformed the approach to Beethoven and Bach 25 years ago.”

“Meshk’ in Turkish signifies the earlier pre-1925 Sufi musical educational training process from dervish master to student, the chain of transmission.  This tradition has been revived and is being upheld by the Meshk Ensemble’s leader, Dr. Timuçin Çevikoğlu, Mevlana scholar with the Ministry of Culture, and who also happens to be the director of the famed Konya Mystic Music Festival.

According to Feridun Gündeş, “He ​works​ diligently like a musical archeologist determined to ​discover​ ​how​ the great composers of the past ​intended​​​ their Ayin compositions to ​be performed​​.  His understanding is probably the closest we can get to the original works of the past. ​ ​Meshk Ensemble is the group he founded and created in order to give life to this critical restoration work through performance and recording activities.”

And so it was at the Barbican, we were transported to mystical Sufi realms by a brilliant, London-debut Meshk performance with players of ney, tanbur, bendir, kudum and beautiful vocals by Dr. Timuçin and Suleyman Ozen.  The first part featured “Ilahis” or devotional  hymns, sung and played during Sufi “dhikr” gatherings (remembrance of God).  The lyrics were poems written by some of Turkey’s great poets, including Yunus Emre and Pir Sultan Abdal.

The second part enacted the famed sema ritual ceremony with 5 dervishes whirling in a blur of billowing white robes across the stage to a rare ayin (music performed during sema), discovered a few years ago in official archives by Dr. Timuçin.  It’s known as the ‘Hicazkar’ makam – one of utter poise, serenity, and peace – composed by Mustafa Câzim el-Mevlevî in the late 19th century.  The lyrics were drawn from Rumi’s masterpiece, the Mathnavi, verses 292-320.

Transcender Art

On the upper level foyer at the Barbican, as accompaniment to Transcender, the visual artist Zarah Hussain’s light installation “Numina” drew mesmerized crowds.  Combining designs found in Islamic art and architecture with digital technique, Hussain’s basic hexagonal grid shifted with infinite geometric variations of dazzling color and light.  Psychedelic visual riffs leading to contemplative wonder.

Songlines Music Awards 2016

Songlines Best Artist Award 2016, Mariza with Simon B – Photo by Evangeline Kim

 

Launched in 2009, the Songlines annual awards has become a delightful concert event in recognition of outstanding talent on the world music scene..  A couple of nights later following Transcender, I took in another sold-out evening at the Barbican’s main hall, showcasing 4 winning acts based on current recording releases, voted in by Songlines’ contributors, its readership, and the general public: Mariza’s “Mundo”, Sam Lee’s “The Fade in Time”, Songhoy Blues’ “Music in Exile”, and Debashish Bhattacharya’s “Slide Guitar Ragas from Dusk Till Dawn”.

Simon B, as emcee, remarked, “For me this music is interesting because it brings us together.  The world is actually quite a small place with millions of diverse traditions.  Songlines is about making those better known.”

 

Sam Lee – Photo by Evangeline Kim

 

Contrasts in styles were in sharp relief.  Sam Lee opened the night with heart-tugging renditions of some the U.K.’s splendid folk traditions.  American record producer, Joe Boyd, in presenting Sam’s award stated: “The genius of Sam and his group has been to find a way to surround that music, those ballads, with really adventurous and interesting instrumentation that takes the rhythmic cue from the song rather than trying to impose something on it.”

 

Songhoy Blues – Photo by Evangeline Kim

 

Debashish Bhattacharya – Photo by Evangeline Kim

 

Mali’s Songhoy Blues is tremendous in live performance and had the audience jumping and dancing  with its searing, rocking rhythms.  They excelled especially with the catchy “takamba” beat.  India’s Debashish Bhattacharya to me sounds better on the album compared to his performance that night.  He is not a strong, convincing vocalist, but surprisingly, sang one song.  His edgy twang on the slide guitar was remarkable technically, but the shimmering delicate power of sitar tonalities was the quality I missed.

Mariza, the Portuguese fado star, is forever glamorous and beguiling.  I hadn’t seen her live in several years, but her confidence and charm topped off the evening with immense celebratory joy.  The Songlines Awards concert is a fun-filled and exciting world music happening, not to be missed if you happen to be in London.  Every world music artist might aspire to be a winning Songlines act, appearing at the Barbican.

Malick Sidibe Solo Exhibition, Somerset House

Before I left London, Simon clued me in on the superb exhibition of works by the late Malian photographer, Malick Sidibe.  Ensconced within the larger Contemporary African Art Fair that ran for a few days in October at the Somerset House, the solo photography show is still up until January 15th.

While Mali’s roster of stars from the 60s to the present began to hit the world music markets – such as Ali Farka Toure, Boubacar Traore, Salif Keita, Toumani Diabate, Oumou Sangare, and Rokia Traore – in Mali’s capital, Bamako, Malick Sidibe was quietly documenting Mali’s popular life and people.  To view this exhibition is an astounding view into the lives of ordinary folk who became immortal stars reflected through the lens of this photographer.

 


Nuit de Noël (Happy Club), 1963 (c) Malick Sidibé

 

Simon Broughton Portrait, 2004, by Malick Sidibe

 

His major work began at the moment of Independence and post-colonial exuberance in the country and throughout Africa, the 60s. Over the years, until Sidibe’s passing this past April, visiting world music fans, record producers, and journalists had their photos taken in Malick Sidibe’s studio.

In Simon’s experience, “It was the thing to do, to have your photograph taken by Sidibe. When I was in Bamako in 2004 a friend of mine took me to Malick’s studio. He was a man of few words and was fast and practical in taking my portrait. He asked me how I wanted to pose and not having a moped to straddle – although I’m sure he could have provided one – I just decided to sit crossed legged. He took a few pictures, but he chose the one that was kept. I went back a day or two later to collect the print. Nick Gold, of World Circuit Records, was also a fan of Malick’s work and took Oumou Sangare, amongst others, to have her photo taken there.”

The exhibit holds 3 themes: Nightlife in Bamako, Beachgoers by the River Niger, and Studio Portraits.  Wafting through the exhibition rooms is a fantastic soundscape of African music from the 60s and 70s by DJ Rita Ray.  The exhibition catalogue is a keepsake.

Despite the sad turn of political events in Mali since 2012, the photographs are a testament to the vibrant, resilient, and creative spirit of Mali’s people. The art of living lives on through Malick Sidibe’s eyes.  And Songlines will continue to add value to Mali’s and the world’s musical legacies.  There is hope for better days to come.

Headline photo: Meshk Ensemble – Photo by Evangeline Kim

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Mariza’s Larger World

Mariza – Mundo (Warner Music Portugal/Nonesuch, 2016)

Released earlier in the year in Europe, Mariza’s new album Mundo is now available in North America. The acclaimed fado singer became a world music sensation thanks to showcases at WOMEX, performamces at world music festivals and other presentations. Now she’s taken a further step with her collaboration with Spanish producer Javier Limón.

Mundo still contains exquisite fado. In fact, most of the album is still fado plus a Cape Verdean morna. But there is more. Grammy award-winning producer Javier Limón is well-known for making music accessible to large audiences. Limón composed a song titled “Alma” for Mariza. Here, Mariza sings in Spanish. Her Spanish is charming, with an Andalusian flavor.

 

 

Although most of the album is in Portuguese, there is another track in Spanish, a 1930’s Argentine tango song. Thanks to “Alma” and a handful of other pop songs that are very radio friendly, Mariza has now reached beyond the fado and world music audiences. She currently has access to Portuguese and Spanish-language mainstream audiences, which will boost her international career. Nevertheless, fado fans shouldn’t worry. As indicated earlier, most of the album still contains splendid classic and modern fado songs featuring Mariza’s passionate vocals and Portuguese guitar.

 

 

Mariza is currently touring North America to present her new work.

Buy Mundo in North America

Buy Mundo in Europe

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Fado Star Mariza to Perform at The Town Hall in New York City

Mariza
Mariza

 

Acclaimed Portuguese vocalist Mariza is set to perform Saturday, October 15, 2016 at The Town Hall in New York City.

The fado singer will be presenting her new album Mundo (World) that features classic songs honoring the late fado legend Amalia Rodrigues and legendary tango singer Carlos Gardel, as well as new songs written for her by the Grammy-winning Spanish producer Javier Limón. On Mundo, Mariza sings in Portuguese and Spanish.

 

 

8:00 p.m.
The Town Hall
thetownhall.org/event/mariza

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Fado Star Mariza with Special Guest Bebel Gilberto to Perform at NJPAC

Mariza - Photo by Carlos Ramos
Mariza – Photo by Carlos Ramos

Portuguese fado sensation Mariza is set to perform on Sunday, October 16, 2016 at New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC). The acclaimed fado artist will be in North America for a 12-date fall tour. She will joined by Brazilian vocalist Bebel Gilberto.

Mariza first attracted international attention with the release of her 2001 debut album, Fado em Mim. Since then she has sold over a million copies of her recordings and earned more than 30 international Platinum awards. Mariza will be showcasing her new album, Mundo (World) that includes classics honoring the late fado legend Amalia Rodrigues and influential tango singer Carlos Gardel, and new songs written for her by acclaimed Spanish producer Javier Limón.

Bebel Gilberto is a well-known vocalist in the world music scene, who combines electronica with Brazilian music.

New Jersey Performing Arts Center
1 Center Street, Newark NJ
Doors 6:30pm / Performance 7pm
Tickets: $35 – $125

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Songlines Music Awards 2016 Winners’s Concert in London

Debashish Bhattacharya
Debashish Bhattacharya

Fado star Mariza, Malian band Songhoy Blues, Indian guitar maestro Debashish Bhattacharya and Sam Lee & friends are set to perform on October 3rd at Barbican Hall in London. These four world music acts are winners of this year’s Songlines Music Awards.

Launched in 2008, the Songlines Music Awards honor the diversity of musical talent across the globe featured in Songlines magazine. Votes for the Awards came in from Songlines readers, contributors and the general public.

19:30
www.barbican.org.uk/music/event-detail.asp?ID=19721

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Savannah Music Festival 2009 Will Present the Most Artistically Diverse Season in the History of the Organization

Mariza
Mariza

Savannah (Georgia), USA – The Savannah Music Festival (SMF) announces its most artistically diverse lineup to date for the upcoming 2009 festival, including several commissioned works and a wealth of original productions showcasing a wide variety of American and international musical traditions.

Committed to enhancing the cultural landscape of Savannah, SMF programs combine elegance and soul in a way that mirrors the history and culture of the remarkable city. The unique musical arts event is one of the highlights of springtime on the southeastern U.S. coast and a distinctive destination for cultural travelers.

The 2009 festival takes place between March 19 and April 5 in historic downtown Savannah and features more than 100 musical performances in intimate settings.

Original Productions & Other Highlights

• Long Time Travelin’, a celebration of American folksong traditions: Rayna Gellert of Uncle Earl with Patrick Sauber, old-time balladeer Tim Eriksen, National Heritage Fellow Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, the Tatnall River Shapenote Singers, and host Jim Lauderdale, an acclaimed Nashville singer-songwriter

• Jazz Now and Forever, a series of jazz greats including Dianne Reeves, Chick Corea & John McLaughlin’s Five Peace Band featuring Christian McBride, Kenny Garrett and Brian Blade, and The Clayton Brothers

• The Gershwin Songbook, jazz pianist Marcus Roberts and classical pianist Sebastian Knauer performing the greatest compositions of this masterful American composer

• The Blues was Born Here, an authentic southern blues review showcasing Piedmont blues masters Cephas & Wiggins on a one-time only bill with Georgia’s own Beverly “Guitar” Watkins

• Resplendent Recitals, a series highlighting the world’s finest recitalists including tenor Ian Bostridge, guitarist Manuel Barrueco, and pianists Garrick Ohlsson, Marc-Andre Hamelin and Sebastian Knauer

• Big World of Music, leading international artists such as fado star Mariza, Mike Marshall & Darol Anger with Väsen, Bela Fleck’s Africa Project featuring virtuosos Toumani Diabate, Vusi Mahlasela, and D’Gary, and Indian maestros Zakir Hussain & Shiv Kumar Sharma.

• The 16th annual American Traditions Competition, some of the nation’s most talented aspiring vocalists competing for more than $30,000 in prize monies

• The three-night Savannah Jazz Party featuring Bucky Pizzarelli, Howard Alden, Howard Paul and Ken Peplowski; the Ellis Marsalis Quartet; and the 2009 Piano Showdown with solos and duos by pianists Eddie Palmieri, Henry Butler, Aaron Goldberg and Bob Seeley

• The Complete Brandenburg Concertos performed by the Academy of Ancient Music with Richard Egarr

• Organ Stops, a six-concert series featuring such internationally acclaimed organists as Janette Fishell

• Everybody Dance Now, a three-concert series of dance parties featuring Eddie Palmieri & La Perfecta II, Zydeco great Cedric Watson, and the rising young Cajun ensemble, Feufollet

• Georgia On My Mind, a four-concert series including Savannah’s own Bobby Lee Rodgers & Friends in a one-time only event, as well as the Marcus Printup Quartet, Caroline Herring, and Sacred Harp Singing with Tim Eriksen

• Swing Central, a three-day high school jazz band and competition capped off by Battle Royale, the closing night finale concert featuring a cutting contest with trumpeters, saxophonists, trombonists and rhythm sections. Featured performers: Marcus Roberts Trio, The Clayton Brothers, Wycliffe Gordon, Terrell Stafford, Scotty Barnhart and others

• Roots & Twang, a varied series featuring Neko Case with Crooked Fingers, Punch Brothers featuring Chris Thile, The Infamous Stringdusters and The Lovell Sisters, and The Blues was Born Here

• Tap master Savion Glover, combining two different projects on a Savannah stage

Tickets go on sale at 9 am EST on November 13 and are available online at www.savannahmusicfestival.org or by phone at 912-525-5050.

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Mariza Nominated Again for Latin Grammy in 2008

Mariza -  Terra
Mariza – Terra
For the second year, Mariza is nominated for “Best Folk Album” by The Latin Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences. Terra is the fourth album by fado singer Mariza. The Portuguese artist is nominated for the category of “Best Folk Album”. Other nominees are Damaris , Peru Negro, Walter Silva and Cholo Valderrama .
 
 Terra was released in Portugal and Spain on the 30th of June. Since then it has been the # 1 record on the Portuguese charts. Recorded between Lisbon (Portugal) and Madrid (Spain), it was produced by Javier Limón, one of the most acknowledged producers of the moment. Limon was responsible for recordings by Bebo y Cigala, Buika, Light Couple, Paco de Lucia, Enrique Morente and Carlinhos Brown.

Mariza sings on Terra the lyrics of poets such as Florbela Espanca, David Mourão Ferreira or Ary dos Santos. Also participating in Terra are Dominic Miller (Sting), Concha Buika and Tito Paris .

Mariza will start the European tour of Terra performing just in September at the “Cirque D´Hiver” in Paris and the Biennal de Lyon in France. In October, Finland, Belgium, Sweden, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Switzerland and Germany will follow.

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