Tag Archives: world music

The Exceptionally Expressive and Futuristic Les Amazones d’Afrique

Les Amazones d’Afrique – Amazones Power (Real World Records Released 24 January 2020

Supergroup Les Amazones d’Afrique is back with another album highlighting leading female vocalists from West Africa. The expertly-crafted Amazones Power also showcases a modern and stylish vision of African music, combining edgy electronics, pop, reggae, funk, rock, infectious rhythms, and a new vision traditional music.

Les Amazones d’Afrique – Amazones Powe

The lineup this time includes Mamani Keita (Mali), Rokia Koné (Mali) and new generation artists Fafa Ruffino (Benin), Niaru (Guinea), Ami Yerewolo (Mali), Nacera Ouali Mesbah (Algeria), Kandy Guira (Ivory Coast). On the album’s last track, ‘Power,’ the collective grows to 16 multi-generational vocalists spanning Africa, Europe and Latin America.

Amazones Power is not only about great music. The women also sing about social justice with a focus on women’s rights.

The Amazons also invited young male vocalists: Douranne (Boy) Fall and Magueye Diouk (Jon Grace) from Paris-based band Nyoko Bokbae.

Buy Amazones Power


Call for Proposals for WOMEX 2020 Program

The World Music Expo, WOMEX has announced its call for proposals for the WOMEX 2020 edition. WOMEX 220 will take place in Budapest, Hungary, October 21 – 25, 2020.

The WOMEX Call for Proposals is open to all musicians, filmmakers and music specialists from across the planet. WOMEX is seeking new music, new approaches, new interpretations and ideas. Once the submissions are in, the official program will be hand-picked by an independent, international and annually changing panel of jury members, also known as the Seven Samurai (the 2020 jury will be announced shortly).

WOMEX encourages submissions in four categories: Showcase; Club Summit; Film; and Conference.

The deadline for proposals is Friday, March 13, 2020.

The submissions can be made via womex-apply.com

headline photo: Budapest chain bridge by Federico Chiesa


Transglobal World Music Chart Reveals 2019 Festival Award

The Transglobal World Music Chart (TWMC) has unveiled the winners of its 2019 Festival Award. South Korea’s Jeonju Int’l Sori Festival is the winner this year.

Park Jechun (right), Commissioner of the Jeonju International Sori Festival

2019 Festival Award:

1. Jeonju International Sori Festival

2. Ethnoport

3. (two festivals tied for third place) Estival and 5 Continents

5. BU Global Music Festival

6. Globaltica

7. Fira Mediterrània de Manresa

8. Rainforest World Music Festival

9. Sukiyaki Meets the World

10. Etnosur

After the evaluation of the previous edition, at least one of the festivals that repeated this year has improved, following our assessment. That made us very proud,” stated Transglobal World Music Chart co-founder and Festival Awards coordinator Araceli Tzigane Sánchez. “Moreover, this second edition has served us to identify our own areas of improvement. We have not been able to assess two specific festivals that applied and that had fluent communication with us. For the third edition, we will work more closely with the applicants to avoid this situation and to increase the number of applicants.

The Transglobal World Music Chart Festival Awards were started in 2018 as part of the TWM’s goal to increase the awareness, enjoyment and appreciation of the music from diverse cultures of the globe.

Application information for festivals interested in participating in the 2020 edition is available here.

Transglobal World Music Chart (TWMC) is an association of music critics, writers, and radio DJs and producers specialized in world music. Members hail from all continents. The TWMC releases a monthly chart that selects the best recent world music albums across the globe.

More about the chart: www.transglobalwmc.com

Headline photo: Iri Nongak at Jeonju Sori International Festival 2019 by Angel Romero


Gong Hei Fat Choy, Chinese Classics Recreated by International Artists

Gong Hei Fat Choy

The album Gong Hei Fat Choy (China Music House, 2019) features classic Chinese songs recreated by musicans from various countries. The recordings took place in six countries, Cuba, Poland, France, Israel, USA, and China. The thirty musicians came from 10 countries: including Cuba, Ukraine, Poland, USA, France, Israel, Zambia, China, Brazil and Venezuela.

China Music House, the label that put together the project selected some well known artists from the world music, reggae and electronic music scene such as Cuba’s a cappella maestros Vocal Sampling, Brazil’s Luis de Aquino and Polish-Ukrainian band Dagadana. Global music instruments were combined with Chinese pipa, suona and gaohu.

The folk songs featured are “Beautiful Flowers and Full Moon”, ”Bu Bu Gao”, “Xi Yang Yang”, ”Purple Bamboo Melody”, ”Song of The Phoenix”, ”Thunder in the Dry Summer.”


World Music Central’s Best World Music Albums of 2019

World Music Central presents the Top 20 World Music Albums of 2019 selected by our staff. Our favorites include the best 20 overall and best regional albums.

Best 20 World Music Albums of 2020 in alphabetical order:

Afrosideral – El Olimpo de los Orishas – Wonderwheel Recordings
Bassekou Kouyate and Ngoni Ba – Miri – Out Here Records
Carlos de Jacoba – Alpaca Real – Alitare Music
Chick Corea and The Spanish Heart Band – Antidote – Concord Jazz
Cimarrón – Orinoco – Cimarrón Records
Clark Tenakhongva, Gary Stroutsos and Matthew Nelson – Ongtupqa Sacred Music of the Hopi Tribe – ARC Music
Dancas Ocultas – Dentro Desse Mar – Galileo Music
Habib Koite – Kharifa – Contre Jour
Kayhan Kalhor, Rembrandt Frerichs, Tony Overwater and Vinsent Planjer – It’s Still Autumn – Challenge Records International
Kel Assouf – Black Tenere – Glitterbeat
Kiki Valera – Vivencias en Clave Cubana – Origin Records
Mara Aranda – Sefarad en el corazon de Turquia – Mara Aranda
Mary Ann Kennedy – Glaschu Home Town Love Song – ARC Music
Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan – Live at WOMAD 1985 – Real World Records
Porangui – Porangui – Sol Creation Records
Roberto Fonseca – Yesun – Mack Avenue
Santana – Africa Speaks – Concord Records
The Gloaming – 3 – Real World Records
Tui – Pretty Little Mister – independent release
Vitto Meirelles – Da Hora – Cooking Vinyl

Best African Album

Bassekou Kouyate and Ngoni Ba – Miri – Out Here Records

Best Asian Album

Apichat Pakwan – Esantronics – Animist Records

Best Celtic Album

Flook – Ancora – Flatfish Records

Best European Album

Juan José Robles – In-Quietud – Juan José Robles

Best Flamenco Album

Carlos de Jacoba – Alpaca Real – Alitare Music

Best Latin American Album

Kiki Valera – Vivencias en Clave Cubana – Origin Records

Best Middle Eastern Album

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

Best North American Album

Tui – Pretty Little Mister – independent release

Best World Fusion Album

Chick Corea and The Spanish Heart Band – Antidote – Concord 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).


Barbaros Bozkir Releases Last Man in the Dream World

Barbaros Bozkir – Last Man in the Dream World

Turkish multi-instrumentalist Barbaros Bozkir has a new album titled Last Man in the Dream World. He plays world music with a cinematic feel. Each song is based on different stories. “‘I have a story, where the stories are turned into music.’’

The lineup includes Barbaros Bozkir on synthesizer, piano, accordion, melodica and guitar; Tolga Akşit on ud and clarinet; Alper Kekeç on percussion; Ardashes Agoshian on double bass; Firat Duyulur on fretless Bass; and Firat Duyulur on fretless bass.

Buy Last Man in the Dream World


The Old Town School of Folk Music Announces 2020 World Music Wednesdays Season

Alash in Carrboro 2017 – Photo by Angel Romero

The Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago (Illinois, USA), has announced the 2020 World Music Wednesdays season. Concerts are free, with a suggested donation of $10.


Le Vent du Nord
Wednesday, January 8, 2020
8:30 p.m.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020
8:30 p.m.

Miguel de León
Record release party
Wednesday, January 22, 2020
8:30 p.m.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020
8:30 p.m.

Zhou Family Band
Wednesday, February 5, 2020
8:30 p.m.

Beto Jamaica, Rey Vallenato
Wednesday, February 12, 2020
8:30 p.m.

Crossing Borders Music
Caribbean Roots
Wednesday, February 19, 2020
8:30 p.m.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020
8:30 p.m.

Caro Pierotto and Farofa present BR 101
Wednesday, March 4, 2020
8:30 p.m.

José del Tomate
Wednesday, 3/1January 2020
8:30 p.m.

The Revelers
Wednesday, 3/18, 2020
8:30 p.m.

Akalé Wubé with Girma Bèyènè
Wednesday, 3/18, 2020
7:00 p.m.

Aoife Scott
Wednesday, 3/25, 2020
8:30 p.m.

The Old Town School of Folk Music
4545 N. Lincoln Ave.
Chicago, IL 60625
(773) 728-6000


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.


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