Tag Archives: world fusion

Artist Profiles: Catrin Finch

Catrin Finch – Photo by Rhys Frampton

Welsh harpist and composer Catrin Ana Finch was born in Llanon, Ceredigion, UK in 1960. She started learning the harp at six. By nine, she had passed her Grade VIII harp exam. She was a member of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain at the age of ten and became the youngest of its members to play at The Proms, a summer season classical music series in London.

Catrin studied harp with Elinor Bennett and later attended the Purcell School, an academic institution for children in Hertfordshire. She continued her music studies at the Royal Academy of Music in London where she studied harp with Skaila Kanga.

During the 1990s, Finch won several competitions for young harp players, including the Nansi Richards Prize and the Blue Riband at the National Eisteddfod of Wales.

She has performed with many of the world’s top orchestras. She has collaborated with numerous classical and world music acts, including Colombian group Cimarrón and Senegalese kora player Seckou Keita.

Catrin Finch and Seckou Keita

Catrin is devoted to promoting the harp and classical music in general to a new and broader audience, through her annual Academi Catrin Finch Academy Summer Harp School, an Annual Harp Fun Day and her ‘Classical Café’ evenings.

Discography:

Carnaval de Venise (Sain, 2001)
From Coast to Coast (Kissan Productions, 2002)
Crossing the Stone (Sony Music, 2003)
The Harpist (Sony Classical, 2004)
Barddoniaeth Daear / Poetry Of Earth, with Jeremy Huw Williams (Sain, 2005)
Live – Byw (Kissan Productions, 2006)
Unexpected Songs, with cellist Julian Lloyd Webber (2006)
String Theory (Kissan Productions, 2007)
Little Angels (Kissan Productions, 2007)
Bach: Goldberg Variations (Deutsche Grammophon, 2009)
Annwn ‎(Kissan Productions, 2011)
Blessing, with John Rutter (Deutsche Grammophon, 2012)
Clychau Dibon, with Seckou Keita (Astar Artes Recordings, 2013)
Lullabies (Deutsche Grammophon, 2013)
Tides (Kissan Productions, 2015)
Soar, with Seckou Keita (Bendigedig, 2018)

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Albaluna, Charismatic Progressive World Music from Portugal

Albaluna – Amor, Ira & Desgosto (independent release, 2019)

Albaluna is an outstanding Portuguese band that is hard to describe. Their sound is rooted in a fantastic mix of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern influences, northern European folk, medieval music and progressive rock. They call it ethnic prog. Whatever, you call it, it is one of the most captivating and original acts I’ve heard out of Europe recently.

Albaluna – Amor, Ira & Desgosto

Amor, Ira & Desgosto (Love, Wrath and Disgust) combines ancestral instruments from around the globe as well as modern instruments, injecting the high energy of progressive rock drums, electric bass and keyboards along with charismatic vocals that cut across time.

The group’s performances range from intimate acoustic concerts to lively electric shows at folk and rock festivals. The band has performed in Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Germany, Lithuania, and India.

Prior to Amor, Ira & Desgosto, Albaluna released three albums and two EPs, “D’Antes” (2010), “Marca Antiga” (2012), “Alvorada da Lua” (2014), “Nau dos Corvos” (2016) and “Nau dos Corvos – Lado B” (2017).

The lineup includes Ruben Monteiro on sanfona (hurdy gurdy), kopuz, kisa, divan, harmonium, davul, zurna, keyboards, santur, and vocals; Raquel Monteiro on medieval viola and violin; Dinis Coelho on jembe, darbuka, dahola, bendir, tombak, daf, tabla and riq; Christian Marr’s on voice, bass and bouzouki; Carla Costa on tin whistle, ney and gaita de foles (bagpipe): Tiago Santos on drums; and Luís Runa on keyboards.

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The Best of Kroke Indeed

Kroke – Kroke 25, The Best of

If you haven’t heard about Kroke yet, this is one of the finest instrumental ensembles in the European music scene. The award-winning Polish trio includes virtuoso instrumentalists who deliver an exquisite mix of modern Polish music, klezmer, contemporary jazz and chamber classical music.

The trio is highly popular in Europe, from Poland and Germany to Spain, performing their passionate and evocative music to world music, jazz and classical music fans alike.

Kroke – Kroke 25, The Best of (Universal Music Polska, 2017)

This two-CD compilation includes superb material released from 1996 to 2015, released on various labels: Germany’s Oriente Musik and two Polish major label divisions: Warner Music Poland and Universal Music Polska.

Kroke’s sound revolves around the masterful performances of composer and multi-instrumentalist Tomasz Kukurba, accordion player Jerzy Bawoł and bassist Tomasz Lato. Kukurba’s violin and viola dance around the highly expressive accordion and bass, and sometime soars into fantastic, mesmerizing explorations.

Throughout the years, Kroke’s sound evolved and Tomasz Kukurba added more instruments to the mix. One track includes a captivating electric viola performance.

The lineup includes Tomasz Kukurba on violin, viola, electric viola, flutes, hand and mouth percussion, vocals, whistles, piano; Tomasz Lato on acoustic bass; and Jerzy Bawoł on accordion.

Guests include Dariusz Grela on vocals, Tomasz Grochot on percussion, Anna Maria Jopek on vocals, and Sławek Berny on udu.

The CD booklet includes detailed information about each track in Polish and English.

The Best of Kroke is an outstanding introduction to a formidable trio that has been making deeply satisfying, genre-defying instrumental music for many years.

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More about Kroke.

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Cross-Cultural Fusions Across the Globe

Mikarimba – Taperebá

Taperebá (2019) is a superb new album from Mikarimba, an ensemble of excellent musicians led by Japanese marimba maestra Mika Stolzman. The United States-based act plays flavorful acoustic music grounded in jazz and classical music, with international flavors. Taperebá includes recreations of musical pieces by Brazilian, Cuban, American folk, jazz classics and contemporary jazz musicians such as Hamilton de Holanda, Paul Simon, Mongo Santamaria, Chick Corea, Gershwin and Pat Metheny.

On Taperebá, Mika appears along with her husband, famed clarinetist Richard Stoltzman; Eddie Gomez on bass; Steve Gadd and his son Duke Gadd on drums and percussion; Brazilian maestro Hamilton de Holanda on mandolin; and arranger and pianist Kazunori Maruyama, who flew in from Japan.

Kim Sanders and friends – Bent Grooves

Australian multi-instrumentalist Kim Sanders plays a wide range of global music instruments. His band includes Australia-based musicians from diverse backgrounds and nationalities. On the album Bent Grooves (2008), Sanders and his friends play a mix of Turkish Sufi music, Balkan Gypsy brass sounds, West African beats, Indian Classical music, flamenco, blues and jazz improvisation.

The band on Bent Grooves includes Kim Sanders on Turkish gaida (bagpipe), aardvark (bass bagpipe), kaval (Bulgarian flute), ney (Turkish flute), saluang (Sumatran flute) and tenor saxophone; Sandy Evans on soprano and tenor saxophones; Carlos Villanueva on charango; Bobby Singh on tabla; George Doukas on bouzouki and Greek baglama; Llew Kiek on Turkish baglama; and Steve Elphick on acoustic bass.

Musa Mboob, – Gambia Sessions

Gambia Sessions (2019) showcases the talent of Musa Mboob, one of the finest percussionists in Gambia. Musa, who is also a singer and dancer, is presently based in Brighton, UK. Gambia Sessions (Arc Music, 2019), his latest Gambian fusion recording, features his band XamXam: Tom Phelan on keyboards; Luke Ratenburry on electric guitar; and Tom Fairbairn on bass.

Musa performs at Gambian cultural festivals, venues across Europe and also conducts workshops in British and Gambian schools.

Rootes – Uncommon Ground

Uncommon Ground (2018) is the debut album from Rootes, a world music ensemble formed in 2017, led by percussionist Gilbert Mansour. The goal is to fuse traditional Arabic music and instruments with other genres such as flamenco from Spain, Indian music and Latin American sounds.

Mansour’s intention is to develop cross-cultural pollination that serves as an alternative communication bridge between people around the world. The ensemble uses a wide range of musical instruments representing diverse cultures: buzuk and darbuka from the Middle East, Flamenco cajón and guitar from Spain, bansuri flute from India and Latin percussion.

The lineup includes Rashika Shekar on bansuri; Gilbert Mansour on percussion; Alba Díaz Escudero on vocals; Jose Antonio Torres Maldonado on guitar; Albert Mansour on buzuk and guitars; Tomás de los Cariños on vocals; Tabari Lake and Han Beyli on bass; Joyce Cheung, Hooni Min and Erick Peralta on piano; Scott Peters and Marta Roma on cello; Jelena Soro on oboe; Rachel Lanskey, Layth Sidiq and Tania Mesda on violin; Dan Lay on viola; Cesar Secundino Méndez on harp; Tony Barhoum on qanun;Argenis Genao on bongos; Pedro Sanjur on timbales; and B-horns Boston on horns.

Manaraf – La route à soi

Manaraf is the project of two French musicians and composers who deliver an exquisite and captivating mix of western and eastern music on La route à soi. Aliocha Regnard plays the Swedish and Henri-Charles Caget plays a wide range of percussion instruments, including Provence drum, shaman drum, udu, daf, bendir, darbuka, riq, psaltery, bass marimba, ebow, bowed, clockernspiel, sanza, cymbals, and fruits. 

Chris Prosser – Mistune

Violinist Chris Prosser presents dark instrumental pieces inspired by classical, Balkan and Jewish music, accompanied by the Indian drone instrument tanpura, played by Susan Thompson. The album is titled Mistune (2019). New Zealand-based Prosser was one of the founders of the duo Besser and Prosser in the 1980s. Besser was also part of the Free Radicals electronic band.

Wassim Halal – Revolutionary Birds

French-Lebanese composer and percussionist Wassim Halal introduces the listener to an unconventional combination of Middle Eastern percussion and French bagpipes. The album Revolutionary Birds features percussion and bagpipe duos along with Sufi chanting. The lineup includes Wassim Halal on daf, darbuka and bendir; Erwan Keravec, from Brittany, on cornemuse (bagpipe); and Mounir Troudi (Tunisia) on Sufi chant.

Beyond Borders Band – It Just Happens

Beyond Borders Band is a German-Tunisian ensemble that fuses western music and Arabic sounds. On their album It Just Happens (Hout Records, 2018), the four skilled musicians deliver a set of instrumental pieces that incorporate jazz and Arabic influences. The lineup includes Fadhel Boubaker on ud; Niko Seibold on saxophone; Jonathan Sell on acoustic bass; and Dominik Fürstberger on drums.

Elektra Kurtis and Ensemble Elektra – Bridges from the East

Elektra Kurtis and her Ensemble Elektra includes New York musicians from various backgrounds. The music is rooted in Greek tradition as well as other cultures and genres: flamenco, Arabic, Caribbean, jazz improvisation and contemporary classical exploration. Band members include violinist ad composer Elektra Kurtis, Reggie Nicholson on drums, Bradley Jones on bass, Lefteris Bournias on clarinet, and Curtis Stewart on violin. Through the improvisations each member brings their own flavor to the music.

Ensemble Elektra’s recordings include: The Book of Time (Milo Records, 2000), AFROdite’s Smile (Milo Records, 2005), Cutting Through (Milo Records, 2010) and Bridges from the East (Milo Records, 2015).

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Enthralling Mix of Nordic Winds and Arabic Atmosphere

Anders Hagberg & Ahmad al Khatib – Melodic Melang

Anders Hagberg & Ahmad al Khatib – Melodic Melange (Footprint Records, 2014)

Melodic Melange delivers a remarkable mix of Nordic jazz and Middle Eastern maqam music. This project features Swedish multi-instrumentalist, composer and Professor Anders Hagberg and Palestinian ud (oud) maestro virtuoso Ahmad al Khatib.

The album contains a set of spellbinding pieces highlighting the sound of various flutes and soprano saxophone in collaboration with the ud. The two soloists are supported by mesmerizing Middle Eastern frame drums and delectable acoustic jazz bass.

The lineup includes Anders Hagberg on flutes, soprano saxophone and mouth harp; Ahmad al Khatib on ud; Johannes Lundberg on double bass and vocals; and Youssef Hbeisch on percussion and vocals.

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Manhu: Voices Of The Sani, the Sounds of Southwestern China

Manhu – Voices Of The Sani

The album Voices Of The Sani will present the living tradition of Manhu in Yunnan province, China. The album is set for release on January 31, 2020 on Riverboat Records

All five members of Manhu grew up in the villages of the Stone Forest region of Yunnan, the native soil of the Sani people. Manhu’s musicians were submerged in traditional Sani music from a young age, as well as inspired by modern rock music.

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A Marvelous Voyage through Acoustic Global Percussion and Electronics

Tom Teasley – All the World’s a Stage

Tom Teasley – All the World’s a Stage (T2 Music, 2012)

American percussionist and composer Tom Teasley plays an innovative mix of acoustic percussion instruments from various parts of the world along with electronic percussion devices and wind instruments.

The original tracks on All the World’s a Stage take the listener on a world music rhythmic voyage where various traditions are interweaved masterfully: West African, Afro-Cuban, Indian, Middle Eastern and Irish Celtic.

Tom Teasley plays in symphonic orchestras, jazz ensembles and also presents solo percussion performances throughout the world.  

Teasley studed global percussion with several maestros, including Glen Velez, Trichy Sankaran, Yacub Addy and Frank Malabe.

The instruments used on All the World’s a Stage include new creations as well as traditional instruments, including aquasonic, balafon, bodhran, cajon, didgi-harp, riqq, melodica, dumbek (darbuka), Korg wavedrum, Roland HandSonic, MalletKat, and bansuri whistle.

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Silkroad Announces Global Musician Workshop in June

Global Musician Workshop participants

Silkroad has announced the dates of its renowned Global Musician Workshop (GMW). The classes will take place at the New England Conservatory in Boston, (Massachusetts, USA), during June 8-14, 2020.

Silkroad’s GMW is a musician training program modeled after the creation of the Silkroad Ensemble and directed by Silkroad cellist Mike Block. By making music together, GMW nurtures a community of globally minded musicians by providing an opportunity for participants to build unanticipated connections, exchange ideas, and learn from musical genres, styles, and traditions from around the world.

GMW is a open to musicians and educators 18 years of age or older from any musical background—university and conservatory students, professional and amateur performers, teachers and teaching artists, with backgrounds in Western classical, jazz, world music, or folk styles.

GMW 2020 Faculty:

Mike Block: Multi-style cello
Maeve Gilchrist: Celtic harp and voice
Sierra Hull: American bluegrass
Balla Kouyaté: Malian balafon
Hankus Netsky: Klezmer multi-instrumentalist
Edward Perez: Afro-Latin bass
Kala Ramnath: Indian Carnatic violin
Bassam Saba: Arabic oud/flute/violin
Shane Shanahan: World percussion
Wu Man: Chinese pipa

More details at silkroad.org/gmw.

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World Music Act Bokanté Announces 2020 U.S. Tour

Bokanté – Photo by York Tillyer

Transnational world music band Bokanté has announced a US tour in Spring 2020. Bokanté’s album What Heat is nominated for Best World Music album. What Heat is a collaboration with Metropole Orkest and British arranger and conductor Jules Buckley.

Bokanté – What Heat

The word Bokanté means ‘exchange’ in Guadeloupean Creole, the language of singer Malika Tirolien, who grew up in the island. Bokanté includes musicians from 5 countries. The band was formed by Snarky Puppy’s Michael League: “I wanted to put together a band that traces the blues from its roots in Africa and the Arab world throughout the diaspora and into a modern context. A big part of the blues belongs to an acoustic idiom; I wanted this band to pursue how groove-based and soulful it can be.”

Tour dates:

February 22 – Boston, MA – House of Blues

February 23 – Philadelphia, PA – City Winery

February 26 – North Bethesda, MD – AMP by Strathmore

February 28 – Frederick, MD – Weinberg Center for the Arts

February 29 – Newark, NJ – Victoria Theatre

March 1 – New York, NY – Joe’s Pub

April 30 – Santa Cruz, CA – Rio Theater

May 1 – Davis, CA – Mondavi Centre for Arts

May 2, San Francisco, CA – SF Jazz

May 3, San Francisco, CA – SF Jazz

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Global-bending Quebecois Music

Les Grands Hurleurs – Chouïa (Coyote Records, 2018)

Les Grands Hurleurs is a remarkable band from Quebec in Canada featuring three of the region’s finest multi-instrumentalists. What sets Les Grands Hurleurs apart from other Quebecois groups is their innovation and openness to other traditional cultures and genres.

On the album Chouïa, Les Grands Hurleurs intertwine Quebecois call and response vocals and rhythms with Malian-style desert electric blues guitar, West African beats, Celtic fiddle and modern chamber music. Additionally, Les Grands Hurleurs have added female vocals, which are rare in many Quebecois bands.

Les Grands Hurleurs – Chouïa

The Les Grands Hurleurs lineup includes Nicolas Pellerin on vocals, violin, foot percussion, cajón and mandolin; Simon Lepage on vocals, electric bass, frtless bass and double bass; and Stéphane Tellier on vocals, acousticand electric guitar and mandolin.

Guests: Jorane on vocals; Elage Diouf on vocals and percussion; female string ensemble Quatuor esca; Martin Lizotte on Hammond B3 and synthesizer; and Rami Renno on vocals.

Chouïa is a beautifully-constructed album showcasing the multi-talented Quebec trio Les Grands Hurleurs.

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