Tag Archives: world fusion

Captivating and Stylish Opium Moon

Opium Moon – Opium Moon (Be Why, 2018)

Descriptors like enchanting, elegant and hypnotic just don’t seem to do justice to Be Why Music’s recent self-titled release of Opium Moon. It is indeed enchanting, elegant and hypnotic, but it’s more. Surely, this is the music drunk bees must hear lolling inside a flower, captives to the warm summer sun and soothing breeze surrounded and infused by drugging fragrance. Finding your inner drunk bee is no further than a listen to this extraordinary CD.

The musician masterminds of Opium Moon are Iranian santoor master Hamid Saeidi, Israeli bassist Itai Disraeli, American percussionist MB Gordy and the Canadian-American violinist Lili Haydn. Delving deep into a sound that draws on trance and sacred musical traditions of both East and West, Opium Moon is sultry and meditative. Produced by Ms. Haydn and Opium Moon, this is musician’s recording in the best of all possible ways where composing and execution is collaborative, where each thread of music is more than its parts or participants.

Ms. Haydn remarks, “In this era of ‘fake news,’ I began to feel that words no longer seemed to matter. I lost my faith in my protest songs and threw myself into creating an album without words, one which was imply an embodiment of the peace and inclusiveness I wanted to see in the the world. In these polarized and frightening times, simply making beauty – and loving across boundaries – is a revolutionary act.”

Mr. Disraeli insists that the music, “is not about opium! It’s about mindfulness, clarity of vision and heart. This world is so filled with hate and division; this is peace music, about connection and deep humanity. For each of us, there is some of our best work on this record – because it was born out of love, humility and respect for each other’s rich cultural legacies.”

I feel it prudent to mention to listeners to settle in because where you are going on this musical landscape isn’t a wild ride but a slow, sensual surrender. The opening notes of the lush “Gravity = Love” sets up another worldly space where the music seems to have traveled through space and time by way of steady drum beat, thrumming bass and the exoticism of santoor with violin lines rising like threads of smoke.

Each track of Opium Moon is as good as the last on this recording with tracks like the elegantly airy dip and soar on “Drunk With the Great Starry Void,” it title borrowed from Pablo Neruda, the deeply hypnotic “How Can I Pray When the Beloved Is All I See?” and the moving play of violin over santoor, frame drum and bass on “When I see You Naked I Smell the Earth.”

Closing out with the equally delicious “Caravan,” marked by some truly plumy bass lines, Opium Moon proves potent in its languid grace in gently propelling listeners to a place that is as old as time and still right around the corner.



Buy Opium Moon


Invigorating Cross-Genre Expressions by Kiran Ahluwalia

Kiran Ahluwalia – 7 billion (Kiran Music, 2018)

Composer and vocalist Kiran Ahluwalia is an explorer and innovator in the field of modern Indian music. On her 6-track album 7 Billion she incorporates the energy of electric guitar, organ and bass, along with drum set, tabla and global percussion.

7 billion is progressive world fusion, where fascinating South Asian traditions and Indian-language vocals are combined with irresistible funk, powerful rock, and tasty Saharan desert blues.

The band on 7 Billion includes her producer husband Rez Abbasi on guitar; Louis Simao on organ, accordion and synthesizer; Rich Brown on electric bass; Davide Direnzo on drums; Nitin Mitta on tabla; and Mark Duggan on jembe and hand percussion.



7 billion is a beautifully-crafted album where various global music traditions are connected impeccably.

Buy 7 billion


Artist Profiles: Babukishan


Krishnendu Das (a.k.a. Babukishan) is a music designer, singer and author from India. He was born September 27, 1962.

Babukishan comes from a family background of traditional folk music artists. His grandfather, guru shri Nabani das Baul, worked with the great poet Rabindranath Tagore. His father is the legendary baul Samrat purna das, Purna Das Baul, the first baul singer (folk singer) of India who spread this culture throughout the world.

At an early age, Babukishan joined several youth folk festivals that traveled throughout the world from 1980 to 2002 as music composer, musician and singer. He also toured with Bob Dylan’s The Band East & West tour in 1985. In addition, Babukishan has performed with other international artists such as Alice Cooper, Tom Petty, Miles Davis, Dharma Bums, Allan Fakir, fusion band Sosoo, George Harrison, Herbie Mann, reggae group Third World, Robbie Robertson, Garth Hudson and many others.

Babukishan has also worked with top Indian musicians/singers and music directors such as R.D.Burman, Zakir Hussain , V. Laya, Shankar.

As a composer, Babukishan has written the music for several albums, TV serials and films, earning a good reputation as one of the most promising composer in the Bollywood (Indian cinema) music &film industry of India. In his recordings, Babukishan features folk music, romantic songs, pop songs, ghazals, Qawwali music, new age, fusion, Sufi music and bhajans (devotional songs).

He is the first singer and music composer from the rich baul family tradition to venture into fusion music by combining baul/sufi music with western music and reggae music. Babukishan produced and directed two documentary films about folk music and he wrote a book titled “The Bauls of Bengal.” Babukishan founded the band “Birds” that combines new age, world music/traditional folk and fusion music.


Artist Profiles: Ashwin Batish

Ashwin Batish

Ashwin Batish is a composer, performer, teacher of music, and recording artist. He was born in Bombay (now Mumbai), India. His field of expertise includes playing the sitar and the tabla. Ashwin Batish had training in North Indian classical music from his father Pandit Shiv Dayal Batish (S. D. Batish).

Ashwin also studied accounting in the United States, where he now resides. For a few years, Aswhiwn Batish taught music at San José State University and University of California, Santa Cruz. Currently, he teaches classes at the Batish Institute of Music &Fine Arts, in Santa Cruz, California. He has made several educational videos dedicated to Indian musical instruments, including
Sitar Tutor Video #1 – Introduction to the Sitar; Sitar Tutor Video #2 – Beginning Sitar Exercises; Tabla Tutor Video #1 – Introduction to Tabla; Tabla Tutor Video #2 – Tabla Bols Tanpura Tutor Video; Harmonium Tutor Video #1 – Introduction to the Harmonium (Co-Authored with Pandit Shiv Dayal Batish); Dilruba Tutor Video #1 – Introduction to the Dilruba (Co-Authored with Pandit Shiv Dayal Batish); Tweaking Your Sitar; Changing Your Sitar Strings; Vichitra Veena Tutor (Co-Authored with Pandit Shiv Dayal Batish); and Tanpura Tutor.

There is also a boxed set by Ashwin: Tabla For Accompaniment and Practice: a boxed set of 10 CDs or 32 cassettes. Ashwin Batish presents 10 of the most popular rhythm cycles of North India in this unique collection that has been compiled especially for classical and folk music of North India and is an invaluable resource for Jazz/World musicians and composers interested in jamming with Tabla grooves.


Sitar Power 1 (Batish Records, 1986)
Sitar Power 2 (Batish Records, 1994)


Diali Cissokho Brings North Carolina and M’bour Together on Routes

Diali Cissokho and Kaira Ba – Routes (Twelve Eight Records, 2018)

Routes is the new album by North Carolina-based Diali Cissokho and Kaira Ba. Diali Cissokho is a Senegalese kora maestro who moved to Pittsboro a few years ago and formed a band with American musicians.

This new recording has deep Senegalese and North Carolinian roots. Diali Cissokho traveled with his American bandmates to his birthplace, M’bour to record an album together. The band’s bassist and producer Jonathan Henderson and engineer Jason Richmond setup a mobile unit in a hotel near the ocean and invited local musicians.

After the sessions in Senegal, the producer added North Carolina musicians to the tracks. Guests included renowned violinist Jennifer Curtis, North Carolina Heritage Award-winning mandolinist Tony Williamson, jazz and gospel vocalists Shana Tucker and Tamisha Waden, and the excellent pedal steel guitar player Eric Heywood.



The final result was Route, an eclectic and deeply satisfying album that features a mix of traditional jali (griot) kora, Afropop, Senegalese salsa and American gospel, jazz and North Carolina roots music.


Buy Routes


Artist Profiles: Zoltan Lantos

Zoltan Lantos

Zoltan Lantos is a classically trained violinist from Hungary, who was drawn to experimental and eastern music and spent several years in India studying classical Indian music. Lantos’ virtuosity, warm sounds and unique way of improvising on the violin couples with his knowledge of Indian ragas and contemporary European jazz.

Lantos has shared a stage with various artists from his native Hungary, as well as from around the world. He also leads his own highly acclaimed quartet of Hungarian musicians.


Pieces (1996)
Eclipse (1997)
Mirrorworld (1998)
Makahia (2000)
Tiptoe Ceremony (2002)


Interview with Vallenato Singer Chabuco about his Brazilian Album

Colombian singer-songwriter and composer Chabuco has released fourth solo album titled “Encuentro” (Encounter), a superb mix of coastal Colombian Caribbean music and Brazilian music. The album is his first release for a major label, Sony Music.



The album was recorded in São Paulo, produced by acclaimed Brazilian musician, arranger, composer and producer Swami Jr. The musicians that participated in the Encuentro include Brazilian pianist Zé Godoy, Puerto Rican percussionist Richie Flores, the arranger, composer and instrumentalist Milton Mori, percussionist Douglas Alonso and bassist Marcelo Mariano (Djavan). Encuentro also features two special guests: Spanish star Alejandro Sanz who delivers a diet with Chabuco and renowned Dominican singer-songwriter, Vicente García.



We talked to Chabuco about his background and the new album.

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

I’ve always been connected to music, but my foray into stages and records and tours was with the group Los Pelaos.

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

One of the fundamental elements of the music that I make is that of my roots, henceforth the different genres that I fuse.

How has your style evolved?

The learning from these encounters with different genres has been fundamental to mature as a musician. That is evolution.

Your album “Encuentro” you mix Brazilian music with jazz, Colombian music and other styles. When did you discover Brazilian music?

I listened to Brazilian music since I was a child because of the adults around me, Tom Jobim, Gilberto Gil, Toquiño, Djavan and others. Therefore, my interest in combining my Vallenato folklore with the music of Brazil.

How was the experience of recording in Brazil?

The best thing that happened to me was recording in São Paulo Brazil, because of the love for music, the respect and union that they give you, made the work more pleasant. I would repeat it again!

What does the Colombian public think about your Brazilian sound?

Everyone likes Brazilian music; well, nearly everyone! But what I do is to dress vallenato with other folklore styles, so what my audience likes is what I come up with and how vallenato sounds from another musical perspective without losing its essence.



Are you going to continue exploring the Brazilian side?

Well, if I could do it again, I would do it a thousand times, but I like to find different sounds all over the world.

Besides being a singer, you are also an instrumentalist. What instruments do you play and which one do you like the most?

I like to accompany myself with my guitar. Aside from that, I have the soul of percussionist, and I play the accordion.

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

I would call to play live Richie Flores, Horacio Negro Hernandez, Kike Purizaga and Diego Valdes.

What music are you listening to currently?

I listen to boleros, funk, timba, classic vallenato, salsa, pop, and African music that is the mother of all.

What do you like to do during your free time?

Listen to music and get together to sing with my friends.

What country or countries would you like to visit?

African countries, Poland, and return to Berlin, because I am in love with Germany.

What other projects do you have in hand?

Continue traveling through many places where you can find music, and also leave everything documented. Many places are missing.


Masterful Puerto Rican Percussion Labyrinth

Hector “Coco” Barez – “El Laberinto del Coco” (Hector “Coco” Barez, 2018)

“El Laberinto del Coco” is the first solo album from virtuoso Puerto Rican percussionist Hector “Coco” Barez. He has compiled his numerous musical influences (including his work as percussionist for Calle 13 and Bacilos) over a rich foundation of Afro Puerto Rican rhythms called bomba.

The album features a wide range of genres, bridging tradition and contemporary music, from rootsy Afro Puerto Rican pieces to energetic Latin jazz, fusion, powerful rock, irresistible funk and cosmopolitan world music in the form of Middle Eastern and Australian aboriginal musical influences. While most of the album is highly engaging and features masterful percussion performances, fiery brass and superb guitar work, two of the tracks include rapping which is an increasingly annoying vocal form.

Hector “Coco” Barez invited friends from Puerto Rico, the United States, Spain and France’s Reunion Island to participate in the album.



The lineup on the album includes Héctor”coco” Barez on percussion; Amarilys Rios on vocals; Chamir Bonano on vocals; Kiani Medina on vocals; Ellen Cockerham Riccio on violin; Tressa Gold on violin; Kimberly Ryan on viola; Schuyler Slack on cello; Tobias “Toby” Whitaker on trombone; Bob Miller on trumpet; John Lilley on saxophone; JC Kuhl on baritone saxophone; Abiud Flores on bass; Edward Prendergast on bass; Derrick Englert on bass; Todd Herrington on bass; Ben “Wolfe” White on keyboards; Efrain Martinez on drums; Kelli Strawbridge on drums; Reggie Pace on beatbox; Edmer Omi Lebron on electric guitar; DJ Williams on electric guitar; and Andrew Rapisarda on electric guitar.



Buy the El Laberinto del Coco digital download or the CD from ellaberintodelcoco.bandcamp.com/releases


Koum Tara’s Sound Recipe Spanning Millennia

Koum Tara – Chaâbi, Jazz and Strings (Odradek Records ODRCD700, 2018)

Jazz legend tells us that while the U. S. 369th Infantry Regiment (AKA Harlem Hellfighters) was temporarily integrated into the French 16th Division during the First World War, musicians from Harlem and from North African French colonial possessions bonded, sharing not only performance ideas, but homemade instruments and instrumental techniques, and that what we call “jazz” today came from that specific merging of cultures.

Music aficionados surmise that a listening background in American jazz and blues, marked by slurred and individualistic improvisational phrasing, is a good start for falling in love with World Music, in which the primary vocabulary, for the listener, must be that of music rather than that of any one spoken tongue. Combine the legend and the surmise, and what results is the basis for Koum Tara.

Led by composer/pianist Karim Maurice, this group weaves Châabi, classic string quartet and jazz to create a cerebral music at once lighthearted and capable of exploring sophisticated depth. New release “Chaâbi, Jazz and Strings” does what is supposed to be done with a jazz project; it utilizes a group of respectful, introspective players to examine songs, take them apart and put them back together in just a few, not-long-enough minutes. In common with the most treasured recordings in one’s record collection, Koum Tara’s sound is at the same time superlatively modern and convincingly primitive.

Four musicians, nine songs. To give some idea of thematic range with words, some sample lyric lines, translated into English, include:

Don’t ever imagine seeing my shadow again

My wait is limitless / Like an orphan seeking happiness

In this garden, next to a river / The sun is about to fade into dusk

An internal ember burns me from inside

Accustomed to travel, he always returns to his nest / His plumage soft as silk

Be more tender and accept being mine / Beautiful creature, O dove of the city


No one can blame me for holding on to my first love

Is it a record or a rubaiyat? Please access it and decide for yourself. Piano like unexpected, refreshing summer rain. Driving percussion. Intense strings. Vocals guiding one through the human heart, from delight to despond. A sound recipe spanning millennia.

Buy Chaâbi, Jazz and Strings


Artist Profiles: Kostis Maraveyas

Kostis Maraveyas

Kostis Maraveyas (Κωστής Μαραβέγιας), also known as Kostis Maravegias and Maraveyas ilegál, is a versatile Mediterranean music artist. He is a composer, arranger, singer, and instrumentalist. Maraveryas is a skilled guitarist, pianist and& accordionist.

Kostis Maravegias was born in Greece, in 1974. He has a degree in harmony, counterpoint and fugue from the National Music Academy. He also studied Economics and Statistic at Bari University, Italy. His musical experience includes participation in the student workshop Music for films with teacher Ennio Morricone, at the Accademia Musicale Chigiana of Siena, Italy.

Kostis was a founding member of the band X Darawish consisting of Greek, Algerian & Italian musicians (Bari 1996). His role in the group was important as composer, author, arranger, singer, guitarist and piano player. X Darawish recorded two albums in the 1990s.

Radiopirate is his debut album, rooted in his experience of living and musically acting both in Italy and Greece. On Radiopirate, Kostis communicates his view for love, dreaming, traveling and comments on the vanity of moneymaking, racism, and imperialism.

Musically wise, Kostis merges Greek music forms with Italian, Spanish and the so-called Mediterranean temperament. The record primarily sounds like a radio program with a soundtrack: a journey into life. The ingredients are love, passion, and agony for peace.

Kostis Maraveyas has performed numerous concerts throughout Greece, Italy and the rest of Europe.


Bootleg, with X Darawish (1997)
Una ratsa mia fatsa (FM Records, 1998)
Radiopirate (FM Records, 2003)
Ilegal (Cantini, 2007)
Welcome to Greece (ilegál productions, 2009)
Lola (ilegál productions, 2012)
Ston Kipo tou Megarou, live (ilegál productions, 2013)
Katastroma (ilegál productions, 2016)