Tag Archives: world jazz

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).


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.

Buy Melodic Melange


Deep Impressions of Monk and Reggae

Monty Alexander – Wareika Hill, Rastamonk Vibrations

Monty Alexander – Wareika Hill, Rastamonk Vibrations (MACD Records, 2019)

Monty Alexander, one of Jamaica’s greatest jazz musicians, celebrates two of his major influences on Wareika Hill, Rastamonk Vibrations. Alexander reconstructs jazz classics composed by Thelonious Monk and recreates them by adding a deeply Jamaican flavor in the form of irresistible reggae grooves.

The album was recorded throughout several years and also includes a live piece recorded in Paris.  

Wareika Hill, Rastamonk Vibrations is masterfully arranged and features an impressive cast of musicians. Two jazz heavy weights also join as guests: guitarist John Scofield and saxophonist Joe Lovano.

Two tracks on the album were not composed by Monk, although he played them: the Christian hymn “Abide with Me” and “Bemsha Swing,” composed by drummer Denzil Best, Thelonious Monk’s friend.

Wareika Hill refers to the place near the Monty Alexander’s home in Jamaica, where he first saw and heard Rastafarians playing drums and smoking ganja.  

Lineup: Monty Alexander on piano; J.J. Shakur on acoustic bass; Jason Brown on drums; Obed Calvaire on drums; Andy Bassford on guitar; Karl Wright on drums and percussion; Leon Duncan on electric bass; Courtney Panton on electric bass; Junior Wedderburn on Nyabinghi drums; Abashani Wedderburn on Nyabinghi drums; Bongo Billy on Nyabinghi drums; Earl Appleton on electric keyboards; Ron Blake on tenor saxophone; Wayne Escoffery on tenor saxophone; Andrae Murchison on trombone; Joe Lovano on tenor saxophone; and John Scofield on guitar.

Buy Wareika Hill, Rastamonk Vibrations

More about Monty Alexander


The Futuristic World-Bending Sound of the Go: Organic Orchestra

Go: Organic Orchestra & Brooklyn Raga Massive – Ragmala – A Garland of Ragas (Meta Records, 2019)

Ragmala – A Garland of Ragas is a fantastic project envisioned by American percussion maestro, world fusion pioneer and composer Adam Rudolph, who leads the groundbreaking Go: Organic Orchestra. This extraordinary double album brings together forward thinking contemporary jazz, classical and world music via the Go: Organic Orchestra and the unconventional approach to Indian classical music of Brooklyn Raga Massive.

The 40-piece ensemble performs a set of composed and improvised pieces that defy musical boundaries with a mix of captivating global percussion, exploratory winds, marvelous strings, mesmerizing Indian vocals and instrumentation, exquisite electric piano, dreamlike harp, and Moroccan Gnawa trance music.

Go: Organic Orchestra & Brooklyn Raga Massive – Ragmala – A Garland of Ragas

This album feels like the culmination of everything I’ve been reaching for in my creative pursuits,” explains Rudolph. “With this music I can hear the humanity of all these different musicians shine through, and their voices bring forth something that’s never existed before.”

Violinist Trina Basu, a longtime member of both Go: Organic and Brooklyn Raga Massive affirms, “In the history of Indian Classical music collaborations, we have never heard anything recorded like Ragmala. We feel this is a new high-water mark for all of us.”

The impressive ensemble includes Jay Ghandi on bansuri; Arun Ramamurthy on violin; Trina Basu on violin; Samarth Nagarkar on vocals; Neel Murgai on rhythm sitar and overtone singing; Sameer Gupta on tabla; David Ellenbogen on electric rhythm guitar; Abhik Mukherjee on sitar; Bala Skandan on mridangam; Mari Tanaka on tampura; Kaoru Watanabe on C flute, fue and noh kan; Michel Gentile on c flute; Sylvain Leroux on chromatic tambin, tambin, c flute; Ze Luis on c and alto flute; Mariano Gil on bass flute; Avram Fefer on tenor saxophone and bass clarinet; Sean Sonderegger on bass and contrabass clarinet, soprano saxophone; Sara Schoenbeck on bassoon; Ivan Barenboim on b flat clarinet; Charles Burnham on violin; Julianne Carney-Chung on violin; Sana Nagano on violin; Gwen Laster on violin; Richard Carr on violin; Stephanie Griffin on viola; Leco Reis on acoustic bass; Graham Haynes on cornet, flugelhorn, kudu horn and bamboo vaccine; Stephen Haynes on cornet, flugelhorn, solo alto, pocket trumpet, didgeridoo, conch and kudu horn; Peter Zummo on trombone, didgeridoo, conch and kudu horn; Libby Schwartz on french horn; Mia Theodoratus on harp; Marco Cappelli on electric and acoustic guitars; Alexis Marcelo on keyboards; Damon Banks on electric bass; Harris Eisenstadt on Cuban batá drums (iyá, itótele, okónkolo); Rogerio Boccato on caxixi, mineiro, temple blocks, bells, wood box and surdo; Hamid Drake on drum kit and okónkolo; and Adam Rudolph on iyá, itótele.

Special guests: Hassan Hakmoun on sintir and vocals; and Abderahim Hakmoun on karkabas and vocals.

Ragmala is an exceptional album conducted by talented composer, percussionist and visionary Adam Rudolph.

Buy Ragmala – A Garland of Ragas

The album release concert will take place on Friday, December 13 at Live@365 Series, Elebash Recital Hall, CUNY, 365 5th Ave, New York City, USA.


Artist Profiles: Brooklyn Raga Massive

Brooklyn Raga Massive

The joyful Brooklyn Raga Massive (BRM) is a non-profit artist collective committed to creating cross-cultural perception through Indian classical and Raga inspired music. It includes innovative musicians rooted in both traditional Indian and South Asian classical music, as well as cross-cultural Raga inspired music.

The culturally all-encompassing nature of BRM has developed a strong community and has become an incubator of new music collaborations in Brooklyn, New York City.

BRM presents over around 70 performances annually with an continuing weekly concert and raga jam session series and specialty concerts, and co- stages an annual 24 Ragas Live festival.  

In 2019, Brooklyn Raga Massive participated in the double album
Ragmala – A Garland of Ragas, a collaboration with Go: Organic Orchestra.


Brooklyn Raga Massive Compilation Volume 1 (2015)
Coltrane Raga Tribute (2017)
Terry Riley In C (Northern Spy Records, 2017)
Women’s Raga Massive Compilation v.1 (2018)
Coltrane Raga Tribute EP -Live Mondriaan Jazz festival (2018)
Ragmala – A Garland of Ragas (Meta Records, 2019)

To learn more about the artists in the collective, visit www.brooklynragamassive.org


Artist Profiles: Go: Organic Orchestra

Go: Organic Orchestra

Go: Organic Orchestra is a 21st century concept of a “future orchestra”. Artistic director Adam Rudolph‘s archetypal method to composing and improvisational conducting incorporates musical forms from across the world.

Using a non-linear score with his distinctive approach to rhythm as the nucleus, Rudolph improvisationally leads the musicians in concert. This creates unplanned orchestrations that serve as both context and inspiration for the musicians’ improvisational dialog.

For over two decades, Rudolph has taught and conducted hundreds of musicians in the Go: Organic Orchestra concept throughout North America and Europe.

Rudolph has performed with Go: Organic Orchestra ensembles in New York, Los Angeles and Austin, Naples, Palermo and Istanbul.

Go: Organic Orchestra with Brooklyn Raga Massive at the Rubin Museum of Art – Photo by Adrien H. Tillman

In 2019, Go: Organic Orchestra released an outstanding double album titled Ragmala – A Garland of Ragas in collaboration with Brooklyn Raga Massive and Gnawa musician Hassan Hakmoun.


Go: Organic Orchestra 1 ‎(Meta Records, 2002)
Web Of Light ‎(Meta Records, 2002)
In The Garden ‎(Meta Records, 2003)
Thought Forms ‎(Meta Records, 2008)
Can You Imagine… The Sound Of A Dream ‎(Meta Records, 2011)
Sonic Mandala (Meta Records, 2013)
Turning Towards The Light ‎(Cuneiform Records, 2015)
Ragmala – A Garland of Ragas (Meta Records, 2019)


Bass Folk

Chłopcy Kontra Basia – Oj Tak!

Chłopcy Kontra Basia – Oj Tak! (Riverboat Records, 2014)

Polish folk music meets jazz bass on Oj Tak! (Oh Yes!), a 2014 album released by Cracow-based Chłopcy Kontra Basia. The innovative sound revolves around the traditional-style vocals of Basia Derlak and the jazz-style lead double bass of Marcin Nenko, supported by percussion. The songs are inspired by Polish folk tales and musical forms such as mazurek, oberek and kujawiak as well as other Eastern European folk traditions.

Chłopcy Kontra Basia

The group was discovered by Riverboat Records during its Battle of the Bands online competition, where artists submitted a track to be considered for a quarterly award.

The lineup on Oj Tak! includes Basia Derlak on vocals and clarinet; Marcin Nenko on bass; Tomasz Waldowski on drums, fujara and pinao. Guest: Mariusz Obijalski on Wurlitzer keyboard.

Buy Oj Tak!


The Middle Eastern Aspect of Gordon Grdina

Gordon Grdina’s The Marrow – Ejdeha

Gordon Grdina’s The Marrow – Ejdeha (Songlines Recordings, 2018)

Ejdeha presents the Middle Eastern music side of Canadian guitarist and ud player Gordon Grdina. Here, Grdina focuses on the ud in a set of ud solos and improvisations supported by mesmerizing daf frame drum and acoustic bass, along with cello. The album combines remarkable improvisation with tight ensemble interplay.

The lineup on Ejdeha includes Gordon Grdina on ud; Mark Helias on bass; Hank Roberts on cello; and Hamin Honari on tombak and daf.

Buy Ejdeha


Masterful Mehmet Polat Outside His Harmonic Comfort Zone

Mehmet Polat and Embracing Colours – Quantum Leap

Mehmet Polat and Embracing Colours – Quantum Leap (Aftab Records, 2019)

Ud virtuoso and composer Mehmet Polat presents a new band and direction on his latest album, Quantum Leap. The Embracing Colours ensemble represents a jazzier side of his modal compositions. Although Polat spent recent years inspired by the fertile musical traditions of the Middle East, Africa, India, Europe and the Balkans, this new venture explores focuses on jazz.

Mehmet Polat describes the musicians in his new band: “Joan Terol Amigo is a genius on drums, Hendrik Muller is a master of grooves on bass and Bart Lelivelt is a brilliant accordion player. The ud is a traditional instrument played in all Arabic countries, West Asia and Eastern Europe, and can be a great connector of cultures.”

Throughout Quantum Leap, the masterful ud dances around the admirable accordion and bass, interweaving tasteful jazz, Balkan, Anatolian and Flamenco elements.

Embracing Colours includes Mehmet Polat on ud, Joan Terol Amigo on drums, Hendrik Muller on bass and Bart Lelivelt on accordion.

Guest musicians: Cigdem Okuyucu on vocals (track 4), Eric Vloeimans on trumpet; Imamyar Hasanov on kamancha; and and Michalis Kouloumis on violin.

Buy Quantum Leap


Otherworldly Autumn Soundscapes

Kayhan Kalhor, Rembrandt Frerichs, Tony Overwater and Vinsent Planjer – It’s Still Autumn

Kayhan Kalhor, Rembrandt Frerichs, Tony Overwater and Vinsent Planjer – It’s Still Autumn (Kepera Records/Challenge Records International, 2019)

Somewhere in the throes of baking in the last of the summer heat thoughts of autumn arise. The lure of the pungency of dries leaves, that crystalline light that belongs to those first crisp mornings and the warm glow of that last blast before the dark of winter takes hold might just seem like property of experience or childhood memory, but what if you could capture autumn in music? What would be the soundtrack to autumn? Lucky for you I think I’ve got just the right soundtrack for you autumn listening.

The Challenge Records International release of It’s Still Autumn is the quintessential soundtrack for your autumn lolling and reflection. And, let me caution here that once you open yourself to this glorious collection of tracks it is all about the music so it’s best to sit, listen and take the ride.

Interestingly enough our autumn pleasure soundscape is the result of a collaboration between the Iranian kamanche player Kayhan Kalhor and the Dutch jazz group The Rembrandt Frerichs Trio. Music fans might know musician and composer Mr. Kalhor ‘s work with Yo Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble and recordings such as The Rain with Ghazal, The Wind and Hawniyaz. The equally impressive music pedigree of musician and composer Rembrandt Frerichs has recordings such as Ordem E Progesso Vol. 1 & 2, Levantasy with Yoram Lachish, Tony Overwater and Vinsent Planjer and The Contemporary to his credit. Musician and composer Tony Overwater’s discography includes Changes in Time, Ellington Suites with the Tony Overwater Trio with Calefax and Jungleboldie with the Tony Overwater Trio. Musician and composer Vinsent Planjer has appeared on Levantasy, Continental and A Long Story Short recordings.

With Mr. Kalhor on kamanche, Mr. Frerichs on fortepiano and harmonium, Mr. Overwater on violone and double bass and Mr. Planjer on his own crafted percussion setup called the whisper kit, It’s Still Autumn lays down a soundscape so finely crafted that if you were to close your eyes listening your mind’s eye would catch the swirl of dried leaves or the dawning light catching the dew. It’s Still Autumn is where everything is in its proper place, where curlicues of Iranian kamanche rise on the winds of fortepiano against the thrum of double bass and polished off by the tang of percussion or the tinkling of bells. It is neither wholly jazz or wholly world music – it’s the best combination it is that out-of-time, other-worldly soundscape fueled by its own goodness.

Divided into two sections of Dawn and Dusk, It’s Still Autumn is cleverly crafted where one track simply flows into another, so the opening “Dawn-Introduction” with fortepiano, violone and cascade of wind chime bells sets up the anticipation of the full light with kamanche before flowing neatly into “Dew Drops” which in turn leaps headlong into the spectacular that is the bright and joyful “Kayhan’s Chahar” with some pretty stunning double bass, fortepiano and kamanche goodness. And, that’s only three tracks in. There’s the serene sorrow of the kamanche on “Still” and the elegantly smooth “Offering.”

If the music hasn’t hooked you by this point seek professional help, but first you should check out the second section of It’s Still Autumn entitle Dusk. The eerie musical threads on the opening of Dusk’s “Introduction” snare the listener before the track slowly unfurls into a reflective mood awaiting the gloaming by way of achingly lovely kamanche lines before evolving into the melancholic mood of “Autumn” led by kamanche and laced by double bass and fortepiano. “Autumn Winds” is perhaps the most strongly jazz flavored and boasts some truly delicious double bass, fortepiano and percussion work as the track takes wild flight on the autumn winds. Closing track “Long Story Short” is simply masterful in its musicianship as it reaches out and snatches colored leaves from the wind and conjures up the very edges of light before it slips into the dark.

It’s Still Autumn is the mosaic of leaves under foot, that tang of wood smoke in the air and the golden moments of last warm light before winter. Yeah, it’s that good.

Buy It’s Still Autumn