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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 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 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).