Tag Archives: world fusion

Nightwalker Stephan Micus Dedicates White Night to the Moonlight

Stephan Micus – White Night (ECM Records, 2019)

Composer, multi-instrumentalist, global traveler, and musical instrument collector Stephan Micus is an extraordinary musician who creates mesmerizing musical pieces. White Night is dedicated to the experiences that take place at night, under the moonlight.

I’ve always been inspired by moonlight,” says Stephan Micus about White Night. “Often I go walking, swimming in the sea or, best of all, cross-country skiing when the moon turns the snow into millions of diamonds. Moonlight for me has a special magic.”

Stephan Micus – White Night

Micus plays a wide-range of musical instruments although on this occasion he focuses on the evocative, oboe-like Armenian duduk and the captivating, trance-like kalimba (a lamelophone or thumb piano used across Africa that is known as sanza and mbira in other places) along with his familiar 14-string guitar.

Throughout his travels, Micus collects musical instruments. On White night he plays kalimbas he collected in Tanzania, Botswana, Namibia and Ethiopia. “These are old and unique instruments,” he reveals. “Most of them I found in remote villages and so each one has its own story connected with the people I met, with the landscapes and these memories help me create the music for them, something an instrument bought in a shop could never do. In most cases I change the tunings according to the music which evolves when I start improvising on them. My first kalimba I bought in Tanzania some 26 years ago.”

Stephan indicates that when he travels, he takes a kalimba with him on his journey. It is a versatile instrument to carry. It is small and doesn’t bother anyone. This allows Micus to keep composing melodiess and rhythms even if he is on the road.

White Night is hard to classify musically. It is a marvelous one-man chamber ensemble that performs melodic, atmospheric world music and inspiring chanting with influences from Armenia, Botswana and many other parts of the world. There is a masterful intertwining of moods, bringing together the melancholy of the duduk with the cheer of the kalimba.

Buy White Night


Dead Can Dance Envision the Rituals of Dionysus

Dead Can Dance – Dionysus (Pias America, 2019)

Anyone who has dipped an ear into the musical wonderlands crafted by Dead Can Dance knows that the journey down these fantastical rabbit holes can be gloriously fierce and wholly satisfying and their latest offering Dionysus is certainly no exception. Following up on releases like Spiritchaser, Anastasis, Into the Labyrinth and Aion, the dynamic duo behind Dead Can Dance Brendan Perry and Lisa Gerrard have chosen the ritual and rites of Dionysus as the creative jumping off point for their latest musical journey. Dionysus. You know, the Greek god who’s got the goods on wine, wine making, fertility, ritual euphoria, religious ecstasy and theater. That Dionysus.

Dead Can Dance – Dionysus

There’s no need to start brushing up on your Greek mythology or crafting a fennel staff topped with a pine cone; the music on
Dionysus is all about that mysterious, well-trodden path of rite and ritual, plucking sounds that bubble up from the earth or snagged straight from the wind.

For this recording, Mr. Perry lures listeners with an array of collected sounds from around the globe like belled goats from Switzerland, a beehive from New Zealand and bird calls from Brazil and Mexico. Paired with Dead Can Dance familiars like frame drums, flutes, whistles, soaring vocals that might well have been snagged from the air and soul-stirring rhythms, Mr. Perry adds a daf or Iranian frame drum and a fujara or Slovakian shepherd’s flute to his musical cauldron.

Divided into two acts, each with several tracks that flow into one another, Dionysus opens with ship and surf sounds on “Sea Borne” before evolving into mélange of drums, hand claps, fabulous horns and vocals and you’ve magically arrived at the beginning of your own ritual backed by electronica and soaring vocals. Like all fantastical musical journeys there’s always a bit of surrender to the direction of the music.

Dionysus turns next to the “Liberator of Minds,” a lush landscape of percussion instruments, flutes and whistles with a decidedly Middle Eastern flair before giving way to “Dance of the Bacchantes,” a piece that quickly finds ritual ecstasy by way of intense drumming and female vocals and ululations that’s fierce and delicious.

Turning to Act II, is where Dionysus hooks listeners further by way of “The Mountain” where the ritual continues with pipes against mysterious electronica, ethereal vocals, including some from Mr. Perry himself, and a backdrop of rite-inducing percussion.

At the mountain top, listeners are ready for “The Invocation,” preceded by belled goats and the wind before evolving into some truly spectacular vocals laced by bells and zither-like instrument. The retreat to “The Forest” is just as stunning in that familiar musical cross-cultural Dead Can Dance mix of vocals, percussion and electronica.

The journey ends with “Psychopomp” that opens with rattles, birdsong and ritual rhythm before taking on a dreamy slide into an otherworldly place where vocals twine around rattles and birdsong.

Dionysus is everything you want in a Dead Can Dance recording – rhythms rooted to the earth, vocals plucked from under the wings of swooping birds and that savage grace only music can capture for us mere mortals.

Buy Dionysus


Artist Profiles: Dany Noel

Dany Noel

Dany Noel was born in Havana, Cuba. He began his performing career at only 8 years old singing and playing guitar. After taking up acoustic and electric bass, he began to play with the top son, salsa and timba groups from Cuba. Ultimately, he left his native country to settle in Torino, Italy.

Dany is a renowned bassist, musical director, arranger, composer, producer, singer and graduate of classical guitar at the Conservatorio Ignacio Cervantes de la Habana. He has collaborated and recorded with prestigious musicians such as Celia Cruz, Omara Portuondo, Chucho Valdés, Pio Leyva, Xiomara Laugart, Iovanny Hidalgo, Richie Flores, Jose Alberto El Canario, Richie Rey, Rey Sepulveda, Mayito Rivera, Roberto Van Van, Changuito, Alexander Abreu and Jerry Gonzalez among others.

He moved to Europe in 1997, first to Italy. Along with Cuban drummer Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez, he formed Italuba as bassist, musical director, arranger and composer.

Dany is currently living in Madrid and has worked with Spanish, Argentine and Greek artists Luz Casal, Victoria Abril, Lolita Flores, Ainhoa ​​Arteta, Mariza, Arvanitaki Elefteria, Fito Páez, Ojos de Brujo, José Luis Perales and film director Fernando Trueba in his movie Chico y Rita.

He has also entered the pop and flamenco scene, which has led him to record with artists such as Niño Josele; Concha Buika on her album Niña de Fuego, winner of a Grammy Award, produced by Javier Limón; and Limón’s project Son de Limón, as bassist, voices and arranger.

In his 2017 album, Por La Habana , Danny focuses on the roots of Cuban music, his ancestors and his own words: “It’s an album so that my parents and my people won’t stop dancing”.


Mi Sentir (2006)
Dime Si Tú Sabes (2006)
Proposicion (2011)
Confidence, with Dario Chiazzolino (2014)
Tinta Unida (2014)
Por La Habana ‎(Abanico Records, 2017)

With Italuba:

Italuba (Timba Records, 2002)
Italuba II (Cacao Musica, 2006)


Amina by Refugees for Refugees Tops the Transglobal World Music Chart in May 2019

Amina, the second album by the Belgium-based world music collective Refugees for Refugees is the number one album in the May 2019 Transglobal World Music Chart.

Refugees for Refugees – Amina

The Refugees for Refugees ensemble includes acclaimed musicians from Syria, Tibet, Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan and Belgium. After the debut album ’Amerli’ in 2016, 10 of the musicians that took part in the recordings formed a band under the artistic direction of Tristan Driessens.

The line includes Asad Qizilbash (Pakistan) on sarod; Aren Dolma (Tibet) on vocals; Fakher Madallal (Syria) on vocals and percussion; Kelsang Hula (Tibet) on dramyen and vocals; Mohammad Aman Yusufi (Afghanistan) on dambura, vocals; Simon Leleux (Belgium) on percussion; Souhad Najem (Iraq) on qanun; Tammam Al Ramadan (Syria) on ney; Tareq Alsayed Yahya (Syria) on ud; Tristan Driessens (Belgium) on ud.

The complete May 2019 list:

  1. Refugees for Refugees – Amina – Muziekpublique
  2. Kronos Quartet, Mahsa & Marjan Vahdat – Placeless – Kirkelig Kulturverksted
  3. Waed Bouhassoun – Safar: Les Âmes Retrouvées – Buda Musique
  4. Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba – Miri – Outhere
  5. Alim Qasimov and Michel Godard – Awakening – Buda Musique
  6. Minyo Crusaders – Echoes of Japan – Mais Um
  7. The Gloaming – 3 – Real World
  8. Las Hermanas Caronni – Santa Plástica – Les Grands Fleuves
  9. AKA Trio – Joy – Bendigedig
  10. Kel Assouf – Black Tenere – Glitterbeat
  11. Leyla McCalla – The Capitalist Blues – Jazz Village / PIAS
  12. Le Trio Joubran – The Long March – Cooking Vinyl
  13. Ifriqiyya Électrique – Laylet el Booree – Glitterbeat
  14. Urna Chahar-Tugchi featuring Kroke – Ser – Urna Chahar-Tugchi / UCT
  15. Oratnitza – Alter Ethno – Fusion Embassy
  16. Söndörgő – Nyolc 8 Nyolc – SNDRG Music
  17. Kanazoé Orkestra – Tolonso – Buda Musique
  18. Adir Jan – Leyla – Trikont / BGST
  19. Altın Gün – Gece – Glitterbeat
  20. Coşkun Karademir Quartet – Öz / Essence – Kalan
  21. Olcay Bayır – Rüya: Dream for Anatolia – ARC Music
  22. Aziz Sahmaoui & University of Gnawa – Poetic Trance – PIAS
  23. Xiomara Fortuna – Son Verdad – Ileakwa Producciones
  24. Our Native Daughters – Songs of Our Native Daughters – Smithsonian Folkways
  25. Dobranotch – Merčedes Kolo – CPL-Music
  26. Tartit – Amankor / The Exile – Riverboat / World Music Network
  27. Mary Ann Kennedy – Glaschu: Hometown Love Song – ARC Music
  28. Hama Sankare – Niafunke – Clermont Music
  29. Le Vent du Nord – Territoires – Borealis
  30. Rachele Andrioli & Rocco Nigro – Maletiempu – Dodicilune
  31. Lau – Midnight and Closedown – Reveal
  32. Rodopi Ensemble – Thraki: Thrace, the Paths of Dionysus – ARC Music
  33. Equus – Tailwind Home – Equus
  34. Áššu – Áššu – Bafe’s Factory
  35. Black Flower – Future Flora – Sdban Ultra
  36. Umut Adan – Bahar – Riverboat / World Music Network
  37. Rupa & the April Fishes – Growing Upward – Electric Gumbo Radio Music
  38. Yann-Fañch Kemener – Roudennoù / Traces – Buda Musique
  39. Alfredo Rodríguez & Pedrito Martínez – Duologue – Mack Avenue
  40. Dhafer Youssef – Sounds of Mirrors – Anteprima

More at www.transglobalwmc.com


The Experimental Side of Sheila Chandra

Sheila Chandra – This Sentence is True

Sheila Chandra – This Sentence is True (EMI/Narada, 2001)

Sheila Chandra, the Anglo-Indian singer who released a number of synth-pop albums in the 1980s, is in a more experimental mood in this album. Her earlier releases include ABoneCroneDrone.

This album is rather intriguingly named, and our picks on this album include the three tracks briefly titled This, Sentence and Is! The sound is ambient, but less sensual and more fragmented. Her vocals are mixed with percussion, piano riffs, guitar riffs and crackling sounds.

The album may come across a bit jarring or even dissonant to some listeners, especially those used to more rhythmic arrangements, and the 7 tracks barely stretch beyond 45 minutes.


Songs Inspired by the Strong, Resilient Stories of Women

Taína Asili – Resiliencia

Taína Asili – Resiliencia (Taína Asili , 2019)

Resiliencia is the new album from bilingual singer-songwriter and social justice activist Taína Asili (Taina Del Valle). Although Taína was born in the continental United States, she grew up in a Puerto Rican family and has strong connections to the traditional music of Puerto Rico, Cuba and other parts of the Caribbean.

The concept of resilience has become a focal point in current society, increasingly adopted by many individuals and health providers as well. Taína Asili advocates for resistance to the current American administration and also celebrates the resilience of women, victims of violence, hurricane sufferers, cancer survivors and other individuals who have shown their hardiness and capacity to recover after facing adversity.

Taína sings in Spanish and English. Musically, Taína draws from diverse influences such as Manu Chao-style mestizo music that incorporates ska and rock, traditional Puerto Rican music, reggaeton, cumbia, salsa, electronic dance music, Indian music and American soul. Highlights include “Resiliencia”; the irresistible “La Alegria,” a collaboration with DJ Johnny Juice; the wonderful son cubano “Canción de luz”; and the Indian music-infused “Beyond the Stars” featuring the outstanding Veena Chandra on sitar.

Taína Asili

“Before I started writing songs, I conducted interviews with women from New York and California to Montreal and Puerto Rico,” says Taína about Resiliencia. “I had already planned a trip to Puerto Rico, but after the hurricane it became more urgent than ever before to witness and record what happened on the island.”


Artist Profiles: Che Apalache

Che Apalache

Che Apalache is the demonstration of a powerful cultural and musical exchange. Formed in the urban neighborhoods of Buenos Aires, the string band ensemble draws intensely from the musical traditions of the Southern United States and Latin America.

The group’s founder, Joe Troop (fiddle) is from Winston-Salem, North Carolina and moved to Argentina in 2010. While he gradually carved out a niche in the local music scene, Joe taught bluegrass and old-time music for a living.

Joe met Mexican artist Pau Barjau (banjo), and Argentine musicians Franco Martino (guitar) and Martin Bobrik (mandolin). What started as a group created between an instructor and his students progressed into a rich musical collaboration that brought together bluegrass and South American music.

The band’s debut album Latingrass, came out in 2017.

Che Apalache – Latingrass

American banjo player banjo player Béla Fleck produced their next album in Nashville, scheduled for release in the summer of 2019 on Free Dirt Records.


Latingrass (2017)


Flamenco and Jazz, Andreas Arnold’s Two Hearts

Andreas Arnold – Odisea

Andreas Arnold – Odisea (Galileo Music, 2019)

Andreas Arnold is a US-based, jazz-trained German guitarist who fell in love with flamenco and spent some time in southern Spain immersed in flamenco culture. Odisea is his third release and it is deeply influenced by flamenco guitar and Mediterranean music. Unlike other non-Spanish guitarists who play easy listening flamenco rumbas, Arnold plays the real stuff: soleas, tangos and other forms.

Odisea is a melting pot of musical ideas and cross-pollination. Andreas Arnold incorporates jazz, flamenco, Greek and other world music influences. This project showcases a skilled trio format that includes Arnold on guitars, Greek musician Petros Klampanis on acoustic bass and Japanese percussionist Miguel Hiroshi, who was raised in Granada, Spain.

I think this album is sort of a homecoming for me,” says Arnold about Odisea. “Back to a looser and improvised approach, while incorporating many things that I’ve learned during my travels across the vast seas of flamenco. Back to jazz elements, even back to classical elements that are rooted in my childhood.”

The recordings took place in Brooklyn (New York) and also in Cadiz and Madrid (Spain) and feature additional guests who provide additional authenticity to the flamenco side of the album. Guests include Carlos Ronda on cajon and palmas (flamenco handclap percussion); Cristian Soto on vocals; David Enhco on trumpet; Guy Mintus on piano and melodica; Jeremy Smith on percussion; Juan Carmona on percussion and palmas; Lucas Carmona on palmas; Maria Manousaki on violin; Ricardo Piñero on electric bass and palmas; and Rocio Parilla on vocals and palmas.

Odisea is a remarkable journey through the spirited sounds of western Mediterranean flamenco, eastern Mediterranean Cretan and Greek music and contemporary jazz.


Ravi Shankar’s Vision of Peace

Pandit Ravi Shankar – Vision of Peace

Pandit Ravi Shankar – Vision of Peace (Deutsche Grammophon/Universal, 2000)

This double CD showcases some of Pandit Ravi Shankar’s international prowess. The first CD has Japanese-Indian collaborative tracks featuring Pandit Ravi Shankar on sitar and Ustad Alla Rakha on tabla, accompanied by Japanese musicians Susumu Miyashita and Hozan Yamamoto on flute and string instruments. Our pick on this CD is the energetic track, Rokudan.

The second CD is more traditional, with Raaga Jogeshwari and Raaga Hameer. In sum, a fine listen for an afternoon of relaxation.


Refugees for Refugees, Pooling Global Musical Talent

Refugees for Refugees – Amina (Muziekpublique, 2019)

It’s become fairly standard to sum up a person’s life in a single moment. We catch a glimpse of the face as some person crosses a border, disembarks from a ship or jockeys for space in a refugee camp and we sum up that life.

There are some who would chalk up the refugee story by making it part and parcel to tragedy, war or desperate circumstances, while the less sympathetic would see an unwanted burden. But that’s never the whole story. We don’t see bread bakers, engineers, nurses or store owners where the family’s store has successfully existed and operated for and by generation after generation of the same family. We certainly don’t see the keepers of traditional craft work like carving or needlework or artists or musicians. We dismiss the back story of the refugee, that life before being uprooted, and perhaps the most precious of that life. It is with some sadness that I think we might be truly missing out.

It’s somewhere in here that Muziekpubique, a non-profit organization in Belgium, has seen this missed opportunity. Running a program promoting folk and world music by way of concerts, music lessons and a record label. This clever organization and label has teamed up musicians from Pakistan, Tibet, Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Belgium to create Refugees for Refugees, resulting in a second release of the recording called Amina, in support of Muziekpublique and Cinemaximiliaan, a kind of cross cultural crossroads for refugees in a Brussels park where refugees can get information, find friends and even watch a movie or find a creative project.

Refugees for Refugees – Amina

While the good deeds of Refugees for Refugees might be incentive enough to support this project, the better bet is to support this wonderful music. Amina is full of delightful surprises and lush pleasures. Composing and arranging most of the music on Amina by members of Refugees for Refugees, this collaboration where one musical tradition is seamlessly enfolded in another, sometimes in improbable combinations, comes across as wholly organic.

Pooling the talents of Pakistan’s Asad Qizilbash on sarod, Tibet’s Dolma Renqingi on vocals, Syria’s Fakher Madallal on vocals and percussion, Tibet’s Kelsang Hula on dramyen and vocals, Afghanistan’s Mohammad Aman Yusufi on dambura and vocals, Belgium’s Simon Leleux on oriental percussion, Iraq’s Souhad Najem on qanun, Syria’s Tamman Al Ramadan on ney, Syria’s Tareq Alsayed Yahua on ud and Belgium’s Tristan Driessens on ud Amina flows free in that otherworldly space where musicians, regardless of their country or tradition, meet and commune, that place where all the good things in music happen.

Hooking listeners from the opening strains of “Perahan,” Amina dazzles with a heady mix of vocals, ud and ney. And, the tracks just get better with “Semki Molem” with its rich combination of deep male chorus against the soaring vocals of Aren Dolma. The ud laced “Qad Hijaz” is just as powerfully stunning as “Kesaro Sarko.”

Other goodies include the sarod and quanun rich “Punarjanm,” “Tonshak” with its scratchy throat singing against Tibetan vocals by Ms. Dolma and musical combination of sarod, dramyen, ud, ney and bendir and all the glorious quanum riches of “Shuq.” “Tales of the Mountain” will raise the hairs on the back of your neck it’s that good, just as simple pleasures of sarod and dholla will delight on “After the Dust.” And still the goodies just keep coming with “Rose Gate,” “Wasla Qudud Bayati” “Lhasa” and closing track “Chaman Chaman.”

With Amina, supporting a good cause never sounded so good.

Buy Amina