Tag Archives: world music

Artist Profiles: Robert Plant

Robert Plant – Photo Credit by Pamela Springsteen

Robert Anthony Plant was born August 2, 1948 in West Bromwich, West Midlands, England. He is a rock singer most famous for being the lead singer of one of the most influential rock bands of all time. Led Zeppelin. Robert is known for his powerful style, with a wide vocal range that embodies folk and blues passion at its finest. The British musician has a great appreciation for world music, especially African music.

In 1966 Plant became a professionalmusician. By 1967 he hformed the Band of Joy with John Bonham and created two fundamental working partnerships. The first such partnership was with Terry Reid – the two became friends playing on the progressive music circuit of the mid-1960s; the second was with bandleader Alexis Korner with whom Plant worked as harmonica player and co-vocalist in various Korner ventures many of which featured pianist Steve Miller and were featured as the opening act for the band Free.

In early 1968, Plant’s psychedelic dream ended. Bonham left the Band of Joy to tour with Tim Rose while Plant continued to work with Korner. Plant’s friend, Terry Reid recommended Plant to Jimmy Page for a revised Yardbirds line-up, declining the gig himself to pursue what looked to be a promising solo career. Plant in turn recommended Bonham and with Page’s fellow session musician John Paul Jones on bass, what began life as ‘The New Yardbirds” became the creative force known as Led Zeppelin.

Plant was influenced by J.R.R. Tolkien, which inspired some lyrics on early Led Zeppelin albums. The passion for diverse musical experiences drove Plant and Page to explore the African continent, specifically Morocco which they both revisited during their reunion album No Quarter in 1994. From blues to folk to African tribal music, Plant enjoyed diverse influences.
Led Zeppelin’s greatest success came with “Stairway to Heaven,” an epic fantasy song that draws influence from folk, blues, Celtic, traditional music and hard rock among other genres. While never released as a single, the song has topped charts as one of the greatest songs of all time on various polls around the world.

Plant enjoyed great success with the band throughout the 1970s but it ended abruptly when Plant and his wife Maureen were seriously injured in a car crash in Rhodes, Greece on August 4, 1975. This halted production of Led Zeppelin’s album Presence for a few months while he recovered. Things also took a turn for the worse in 1977, when his oldest son Karac died of a stomach infection. Karac’s death later inspired him to write the Led Zeppelin song “All My Love” in tribute.

Bonham’s unfortunate death in 1980 brought the Led Zeppelin era to a close. Following the band’s breakup”, Plant pursued a successful solo career. Plant formed a short-lived all-star group, The Honeydrippers, that had a Top Ten hit with a remake of “Sea Of Love”.

Plant and Jimmy Page renewed their long-time partnership in 1995 for four years in the No Quarter project, a mix of North African, Egyptian, and folk roots sounds.

Plant’s wide-ranging enthusiasm for non-Western musics, including the music of Morocco, met with his lifelong fascination with American West Coast psychedelic rock to form a new fusion of styles and colors known as Strange Sensation. Their first album Dreamland received great critical acclaim and two Grammy nominations in January 2003.

Plant recorded with Afro Celt Sound System and along with Skin and Justin Adams traveled to north of Timbuktu in Mali to participate in the 2nd Festival of the Desert, a gathering of African, Saharan and assorted musicians that included Oumou Sangare, Ali Farka Toure, Tinariwen and Tartit. This project ultimately became a CD compilation Festival in the Desert on the Harmonia Mundi label.

In 2003, Plant released the retrospective Sixty Six to Timbuktu that included a selection of Plant’s solo work from his first recording date to his appearance in Mali.

In October of 2004, Plant revived his long-dormant Es Paranza label for its first release in many years. May of 2005 saw the release of Plant and the Strange Sensation’s album Mighty Rearranger that featured twelve new original songs. A major year-long tour followed. At the close of 2005, the critically acclaimed Mighty Rearranger received two Grammy nominations in vocal categories.

In 2006, Robert and the band embark on a new adventure with a series of dates across Europe and beyond. A stopover in Sweden in late May saw Robert, along with the other members of Led Zeppelin receive the prestigious Polar Music Prize. King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden presented the award to Led Zeppelin in the presence of other dignitaries with the following words: ‘The 2006 Polar Music Prize is awarded to the British group Led Zeppelin, one of the great pioneers of rock. Their playful and experimental music combined with highly eclectic elements has two essential themes: mysticism and primal energy.”

In October of 2006 Rounder/Zoe Vision released Plant and the Strange Sensation DVD, a ten-camera High Definition shoot for USA Soundstage productions. This was the first commercial DVD in Robert’s career. This continued the critical recognition of the work of Plant and the Strange Sensation.

2006 closed with the worldwide release of Nine Lives (Rhino), a beautifully designed boxed set containing all of Plant’s solo work since 1980, accompanied by outtakes live cuts and a DVD with contributions from Tori Amos, Phil Collins, Roger Daltrey, Bobby Gillespie and Lenny Kravitz among others.

In 2007, Robert worked on album number three with Strange Sensation.

Raising Sand, a project and partnership with Grammy Award winning bluegrass artist Alison Krauss was released in October 2007 on Rounder Records. Produced by T-Bone Burnett, Raising Sand includes blues, country and folk-rock.

Discography:

Pictures at Eleven (Swan Song Records, 1982)
The Principle of Moments (Es Paranza Records, 1983)
Shaken ‘n’ Stirred (Es Paranza Records, 1985)
Now and Zen (Es Paranza Records, 1988)
Manic Nirvana (Es Paranza Records, 1990)
Fate of Nations (Es Paranza Records, 1993)
Dreamland (Mercury Records, 2002)
Mighty ReArranger (Sanctuary Records, 2005)
Raising Sand, with Alison Krauss (Rounder Records, 2007)
Band of Joy (Rounder Records, 2010)
Lullaby and… The Ceaseless Roar (Nonesuch Records, 2014)
Carry Fire (Nonesuch Records, 2017)

Share

Notable World Music Programming at Savannah Music Festival 2018

The Savannah Music Festival has announced the world music artists set to perform in 2018. The festival next year will take place March 29th through April 14th, 2018, at a number of venues throughout Savannah’s Historic District.

As usual, the festival selected first rate world music acts. Mali’s Trio Da Kali will share a bill with South African guitarist Derek Gripper (a kora music practitioner).

Malian kora maestro Toumani Diabaté is set to perform with his son Sidiki Diabaté in A World of Strings, an original production also including Brazilian music played by Savannah Music Festival Associate Artistic Director and mandolinist Mike Marshall and pianist Jovino Santos Neto (who will also play a solo show).

 

Diego El Cigala – Photo by Anya Bartels Suermondt

 

Iberian sounds include the great Dominican Republic-based Spanish flamenco singer Diego El Cigala and Portuguese fado singer António Zambujo.

Cellist Mike Block will perform with fellow Silk Road Ensemble musician Sandeep Das on tabla.

The festivals’ Latin Dance Party features the unrivaled Cuban son ensemble, Septeto Santiaguero.

Festival favorites Lúnasa (Ireland) and Tim O’Brien will team up for a concert of Irish and Appalachian-influenced music.

Alasdair Fraser & Natalie Haas play on a double bill with an electrifying new all-female acoustic music quartet called The Goodbye Girls.

For ticket information and the rest of the programming, including classical music, American roots music, jazz, theatrical productions and films, visit www.savannahmusicfestival.org.

headline photo: Septeto Santiaguero with El Canario

Share

Caught Up In Getting Caught Up

It is a long time since I have contributed reviews to this site. The reasons are many, varied and not a matter of public record. They’re also quite boring, so you wouldn’t want to hear about them in any case. My tendency had been to write reviews in groups united by some sort of genre, style or perceived common-ground theme. But I presently find myself so far behind that the disconnected overview I am about to subject you to is the only approach that will effectively close the gap. Apologies, and away we go.

As a longtime fan of Afrobeat music, I was greatly interested when I heard that Chicago Afrobeat Project would be collaborating with drummer Tony Allen. Allen, after all, was the man behind the kit for all of Fela Kuti’s groundbreaking records and was just as instrumental (pun absolutely intended) in creating the Afrobeat style. What Goes Up (Chicago Afrobeat Project, 2017) does not disappoint. Allen’s militantly polyrhythmic drumming is as spot on as ever. He also brings the experimental feel of his recent works, so the album isn’t simply formulaic Afrobeat but rather an effective blend of contemporary textures (including measured doses of rap) and traditionally-grounded grooves.

Horns, stinging keyboards and no-nonsense vocals (largely female) share most of the upper mix with Allen’s drums, while bass, guitars and percussion provide covert menace beneath. The lyrical unrest typical of Afrobeat is very much present in songs that address racial and gender inequity, political nonsense, media trickery and the belief that the high and mighty will be toppled sooner or later. None of the tracks are even five minutes in length (another departure from the once-usual Afrobeat template) and lest you think it’s all message-laden heaviness, “Afro Party” will handily prove otherwise. If this is the current state of Afrobeat, it’s in a healthy state indeed.

 

Betsayda Machado & La Parranda El Clavo – Betsayda Machado and Parranda El Clavo – Loe Loa: Rural Recordings Under the Mango Tree

 

While Afro-Cuban, Afro-Brazilian, Afro-Colombian and Afro-Peruvian music have all been getting their due of late, Afro-Venezuelan music hasn’t fared as well. Perhaps the level of upheaval in that nation has some bearing, but now there’s a degree of redress to be found with Loe Loa: Rural Recordings Under the Mango Tree (Odelia, 2017) by Betsayda Machado and Parranda El Clavo.

Percussion and vocals are all you hear on this field recording (albeit captured with modern technology), and given that Betsayda and her many-strong ensemble are descended from escaped slaves who lived in hidden village communities, the drumming and call-and-response voices ring with an air of both celebration and defiance. This is thunderously rousing music, binding in its spell and guaranteed to raise your spirits to the highest heights. Alan Lomax is surely smiling from the Great Beyond.

 

Ilú Keké. Transmisión en la Eritá Meta

 

Similarly, Transmision En La Erita Meta (Sendero Music, 2017) is all about drums and voices, though the drums here are more than instruments. They are a trio of sacred Cuban bata, vessels of sound created to invoke and seek the blessings of the deities known as orishas, belief in which originated among the Yoruba people of West Africa and survived the slavery era. The worship system of Santeria was later syncretized with the saints of Catholicism, but purer forms of orisha worship endure in Cuba and elsewhere.

Spoken testimonies are interspersed among the 21 tracks on the CD, and if your understanding of Spanish is as non-existent as mine, the hypnotically complex pulses of the double-headed, bell-festooned bata and reverent vocal chants are all you’ll need to connect to the Divine. The disc comes with an extensive booklet that tells in great detail how the story of the particular drums used fits into the overall tradition that inspired their use. It’s as absorbing to read as the drumming is to listen to. Curl up and absorb yourself in both.

 

Aurelio – Darandi

 

Keeping close geographically as well as covering more music that came about in the age of slavery, Darandi (Real World/Stonetree, 2016) by Honduran Garifuna master musician Aurelio, captures him at his raw best. Following a performance at the U.K. WOMAD festival, he took his band to the in-house studio at Real World Records and recorded a dozen live-and-direct tracks that are a kind of greatest hits from his three previous studio albums.

Acoustic and electric guitars, bass and a pair of snare-buzzed traditional hand drums provide the accompaniment to Aurelio’s nimble voice and the glorious wraparound of his three backing vocalists. The African roots of Garifuna music resound in the highlife-like guitar chiming and feverish drumming, but Spanish and Central American indigenous elements are just as present. I’ll leave it to you to research the Garifuna origin story if you don’t already know it. I’m too busy listening to this excellent music.

 

Monoswezi – A Je

 

The liner notes of A Je (Riverboat Records/World Music Network, 2017), the latest by Monoswezi, describe them as “African-Nordic jazz alchemists.” And who am I to argue? Such wording makes my task of describing their music that much easier. I’m fairly sure this is the group’s third album, and the most immediately striking addition to their sonic brew is the harmonium, that hand-pumped organ so central to Pakistani Qawwali devotional music. The instrument gives a penetrating mystical edge to Monoswezi’s already very fine fusion of Mozambican, Norwegian, Swedish and Zimbabwean sounds. As before, I’d peg the rhythmic side of things as mostly African, though melodically it’s the punctuation of instruments like clarinet, banjo and the prior- mentioned harmonium that add the welcome Scandinavian chill and outward reach.

New to the lineup is Sidiki Camara, a calabash and ngoni (lute) player whose name I’ve seen in the credits of many a West African music album and who brings an extra layer of spark to this one. A Je is Monoswezi’s best yet, full of propulsive, hands-on percussion, adventurous but mutually perfect combinations of lead instruments (such as banjo and mbira plucking happily side-by-side) and vocals that sound like jelis singing tales of recent trips to Arctic zones and beyond. Consistently great listening through and through, so count it a must-have.

 

Elida Almeida – Kebrada

 

Closer to the African mainland (just to the west of it, specifically) we find the latest up-and-coming singer from Cape Verde, Elida Almeida. She scores on Kebrada (Lusafrica, 2017) which despite her young age finds her fully adept at the heart-stirring nuances of singing in familiar Afro-Portuguese styles like funana and coladera, mixing things up with some Latin and Caribbean inflections. Nothing revolutionary, just great music for the many out there who love the sounds Cape Verdeans have brought to the world. The fact that one of the contributing musicians is recently deceased Malagasy accordion master Regis Gizavo makes it even greater and more than a little bittersweet.

 

Stringquake – Cascade

Sometimes three pieces are all you need. Such is the case with Stringquake, whose album Cascade (Stringquake, 2016) blends Amelia Romano’s harp, Misha Khalikulov’s cello and Josh Mellinger’s percussion into instrumentals that range from intimately moody to absolutely grand. The two stringed instruments complement each other to perfection, an intertwining mesh that trades leading roles of tonal beauty while keeping pace with a percussion backdrop that includes cajon, frame drum, tabla and steel pan. You can rightly call some of this chamber music, some of it jazz fusion (like the cover of Don Cherry’s “Guinea”) and some of it world music in the not-otherwise-easily-classified sense. But it’s all beautifully, passionately rendered and stands up to repeated listens that continue to impress.

 

Astrid Kuljanic – Transatlantic Exploration Company – Riva

 

If an unconventional musical foursome is more your speed, check out Astrid Kuljanic on her release Riva (One Trick Dog Records, 2017). Her band, comprised of accordionist Ben Rosenblum, bassist Mat Muntz and percussionist Rogerio Boccato, is called the Transatlantic Exploration Company and her own background of having been born in Yugoslavia, studying music in Italy and Manhattan and finding inspiration on the Adriatic island of Cres makes the name perfectly fitting. And not surprisingly, the music fits the moniker as well. Kuljanic’s swooping, versatile vocals make her sound at home singing reconfigured traditional Croatian songs, scatty jazz pieces, samba-inspired charmers, a quirky original or two and a completely unique take on Dizzy Gillespie’s “A Night in Tunisia.” She and her players sound like they’re having a blast and the music is again hard to classify, but the whole thing is head-spinning good. Available from www.onetrickdogrecords.com

 

Divanhana – Live in Mostar

 

Lovers of sevdah, the often-melancholic traditional music from Bosnia and Herzegovina, will rejoice in Divanhana’s Live in Mostar (ARC Music, 2017). The band sports instrumentation that only bows partly to tradition (accordion, electric piano, electric bass, drums, percussion and violin) and livens up their “Balkan blues” with jazzy breaks and klezmer-like seasonings. The achingly gorgeous lead vocals of Naida Catic (particularly on the unaccompanied “Daurko Mila”) are clearly a major asset, but the entire band rises to the occasion.

Given how crystalline the sound is, you might easily mistake the disc for a studio album until the audience reaction reminds you that a lucky bunch of folks were able to enjoy this live and direct. And the CD comes with the next best thing to having been there: a DVD featuring live performances and interviews. Get this and savor a double dose of sevdah at its progressive best.

 

Various Artists – Cuba! Cuba!

 

If your collection of Cuban music isn’t complete (and whose is?), pick up Cuba! Cuba! (Putumayo, 2017). The various artists here are mostly in classic sound mode and some are younger artists carrying the torch for that classic sound. Still, the Putumayo folks like to throw in a wild card or two, and one surprise here is the unearthed instrumental “Guajira” featuring legends Alfredo Valdes Jr. on piano and trumpeter “Chocolate” Armenteros, recorded in Peru in 1964. That track serves as a kind of guidepost for the other fine singers and players on the disc, including veterans Roberto Torres and Armando Garzon (the latter with the ever-venerable and hypnotic “Chan Chan”), Miami-based young traditionalists Sonlokos and the always invigorating Jose Conde y Ola Fresca. This one’s got sizzle to spare.

 

Various Artists – Mista Savona Presents Havana Meets Kingston

 

“Chan Chan” is also the opening track on Mista Savona Presents Havana Meets Kingston (17 North Parade/VP, 2017), a brilliantly realized Cuban/Jamaican fusion in which son meets one drop, congas patter away alongside nyabinghi drums, Spanish-accented troubadours trade off with Trench Town chanters and both sides nice up the party. Some songs are more one locale than the other and employ a key element (like deejay chatter or regional horn riffs) that make the connection, while most are seamless mashups that are simply thrilling, like veteran guitarist Ernest Ranglin joyously picking his way through “410 San Miguel” with pianist Rolando Luna nimbly matching the vibe (and that’s before the dub effects even kick in).

Some of the other participants on the album are Sly and Robbie, Barbarito Torres, Changuito, Bongo Herman, Julito Padron and a chorus of notables that includes Leroy Sibbles, Lutan Fyah and Price Alla. That’s just the tip of things. No other written words will do justice to this landmark release recorded at Havana’s Egrem Studios under the guidance of producer/arranger/keyboardist Jake Savona. Highly recommended.

 

Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino – Canzoniere

 

Grandly combining Italian traditional music with jolts of contemporary Western pop, Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino strike a tasty, dance-ready balance on Canzoniere (Ponderosa Music Records, 2017). CGS are one of those bands that can seemingly do it all, mixing accordion, uniformly rhythmic clatter and a reggae feel on “Ientu,” infusing “Moi” with a start-and-stop techno stomp that dramatically punctuates the traded vocals, builds simplicity into complexity in nothing flat with help from guitarist Justin Adams on “Aiora” and erects walls of sound throughout using instruments and voices that are organically and electronically symbiotic. I’m not sure if the term “mind-blowing” is still in the accepted lexicon, but this album fits that description in a most satisfying way.

 

Mary Ann Kennedy – An Dan: Gaelic Songs for a Modern World

 

Scotland’s Mary Ann Kennedy gives us An Dan: Gaelic Songs for a Modern World (ARC Music, 2017), and a very nice lot they are. Her voice is grand and soaring and the arrangements, heavy on strings and Kennedy’s own piano, match to near-perfection. The lyrics are from a combination of literary sources while the musical arrangements are again Kennedy’s work, so the whole thing has an air of tradition mixed with vision.

Those who appreciate the familiarity of Gaelic music will be spellbound even as subtleties like the South African melody that underpins “Song for John MacDonald” ring true from a world beyond. For pure beauty, you can’t beat this.

Share

Stirring Afro-Flamenco Explorations

Raúl Rodríguez – La Raíz Eléctrica (Fol, 2017)

Spanish multi-instrumentalist, composer, researcher and inventor Raúl Rodríguez has released another impressive recording titled La Raíz Eléctrica.

The new album continues Raúl Rodríguez’s explorations of flamenco, Caribbean and African music connections. On La Raíz Eléctrica you’ll find a delectable mix of flamenco, Afrobeat, Cuban son, Haitian vodoo rhythms and Andalusian rock.

La Raíz Eléctrica features a remarkable cast of guests, including Haitian musicians from Lakou Mizik, Boukman Eksperyans as well as Paul Beaubrun; American singer Jackson Browne; and other extraordinary musicians.

Raúl Rodríguez showcases his talent playing a wide range of musical instruments including two variations of the Cuban tres he came up with: the flamenco tres and the electric tres, which appears in this album for the first time.

La Raíz Eléctrica has it all: fiery percussive pieces, notable solo guitar performances and inspiring songs.

 

 

You don’t want to miss the physicals version. La Raíz Eléctrica comes with a 100+ page hard cover book with essays, photos , credits, English-language translations and a cover by one of Spain’s most talented graphic designers, Mariscal.

The lineup includes Raúl Rodríguez on vocals, tres flamenco, electric tres, electric guitar, flamenco guitar, lap steel guitar, acoustic guitar, backing vocals, keyboards, palmas (flamenco handclap percussion), bombo, caja, shekere, karkabas, kazoo; Aleix Tobias on drums, cajon, calabash, darbuka, bells, bendir, congas, tambourine and effects; Pablo Martin Jones on cajon, palmas, bell, kalimbas, bongos, congas, bells; Guillem Aguilar on bass; Mario Mas on electric and flamenco guitar; Domi Jr. on jembe; Peterson “Tipiti” Joseph and James Acarrier on kone (Haitian metal horns); Jackson Browne on vocals; Javier Mas on archlute; Paul Beaubrun on electric guitar; Theodore “Lòlò” Beaubrun on lead and backing vocals; Mimerose P. “Manzé” Beaubrun, Natacha Massillon, Caroline Dejean Andrus, Donier Mondesir, and Emilio Cuervo on backing vocals; Domi Serralbo and Paco Pavia on palmas; and dancer Juan de Juan.

 

 

La Raíz Eléctrica is a masterfully-crafted cross-pollination of musical styles by one of Spain’s most gifted musicians.

Buy La Raíz Eléctrica in Europe

Buy La Raíz Eléctrica in the rest of the world

Share

WOMAD Gran Canaria 2017 Program Revealed

Acclaimed world music festival WOMAD Gran Canaria has announced its 2017 programming. WOMAD Gran Canaria will take place November 10-12 at Parque de Santa Catalina in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (Canary Islands, Spain).

 

 

The lineup this year includes:

101 Brass Band (Canary Islands, Spain), Beating Heart (UK), Bombino (Niger), Hindi Zahra (Morocco), Horace Andy (Jamaica), Kuarembó (Canary Islands, Spain), La Dame Blanche (Cuba), Miroca Paris (Cape Verde), Niño de Elche (mainland Spain), Orkesta Mendoza (USA), Papaya (Canary Islands, Spain), Profecía Crew (Canary Islands, Spain), Tu Otra Bonita (Spain), and The Brand New Heavies (UK).

WOMAD Gran Canaria also includes adult workshops led by Ripton Lindsay (Jamaica) and Ras Happa (Jamaica) as well as children’s workshops by Purple Moon (Canary Islands, Spain) and Urban Outdoors (UK).

The WOMAD Gran Canaria is supported by the City of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and the Gran Canaria island government (Cabildo).

Headline photo: Bombino

Share

Artist Profiles: Peter Gabriel

Peter Gabriel

 

Peter Gabriel has earned a worldwide reputation for his support of world music, his groundbreaking work as a progressive rock pioneer, his innovative recordings as a solo musician and writer, and for and his creative video productions.

Gabriel was born February 13, 1950 in Cobham (Surrey, England). While at school in 1966 he was a member of two bands The Spoken Word and The Garden Wall. The latter included two schoolmates, keyboardist Tony Banks and guitarist Anthony Phillips. In 1967 Gabriel, Banks, Phillips and bassist Mike Rutherford formed Genesis which would later become one of the most famous progressive rock bands of all times.

Initially, Peter Gabriel was a flute player but soon became the lead vocalist. He also became the main lyricist for Genesis. Gabriel also introduced theatrical elements to the band’s shows. He used makeup and various costumes during the band’s live performances. Genesis became a legendary band thanks to its charismatic vocals, its elaborate lyrics, outstanding music and innovative visual effects. Progressive rock fans worldwide consider the band one of the finest in the history of the genre and numerous groups and singers were heavily influenced by Genesis and Peter Gabriel.

 

 

In 1975 after tensions during the recording of the double LP The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, Peter Gabriel left and started his solo career. Soon, Peter Gabriel reached success with a series of pop hits such as “Solsbury Hill,” “Here Comes The Flood,” “Games Without Frontiers” and the anthemic “Biko,” a tribute to slain South African activist Steven Biko.

 

 

In 1980 he got together with a group of people to found word music organization WOMAD (World of Music Arts & Dance). In a series of international festivals held in various countries and continents each year WOMAD brings together traditional and modern world music as well as arts and dance from every corner of the globe. Peter Gabriel is currently an advisor on the board of WOMAD.

Shortly afterwards Peter Gabriel established Real World Studios in Wiltshire England designed as an ideal environment for performance. It also became the base for Real World Records a label that is dedicated to recording and promoting a wide range of world music and eclectic artists.

Gabriel has released over 1 albums and in 1986 he won his first Grammy with his seventh album So. The videos from this project established him as a leader in video production and included ‘Sledgehammer ‘ which won the most music video awards ever including a No. 1 position in Rolling Stone’s top 1 videos of all time.

 

 

Peter Gabriel has been involved in a broad spectrum of human rights and environmental issues. His song,Biko, was the first pop song which talked about the effects of apartheid and in 1988 and 199 he was involved in the Nelson Mandela concerts at Wembley. In 1988 he also worked with Amnesty International to set up the Human Rights Now tour visiting many countries with Sting Bruce Springsteen Tracey Chapman and Youssou N’Dour.

Following this he initiated the,Witness” program which was launched in 1992 in conjunction with the Reebok Foundation in the USA. The organization aims to arm human rights activists from around the world with hand-held video cameras and other tools of mass communication. To date they have supplied hundreds of cameras to over fifty countries and have also set up a bi-weekly Witness web broadcast via Macintosh’s Quicktime Channel.

In 1989 Gabriel visited the USSR to help launch Greenpeace and also contributed to the One World One Voice album – a collaborative project which featured artists from all over the world.

The first two-CD anthology of Peter Gabriel’s solo career Hit (Geffen/Universal Music) was released November 4 23. Simultaneously the record company released Growing Up Live a long-form concert DVD from Gabriel’s most recent tour up to that point. Hit was compiled with Gabriel’s full participation. It featured 29 recordings each newly remastered. Three of the selections were previously unreleased: Burn You Up Burn You Down, the radio edit of “Blood Of Eden” (the original is on the Us album) and a live “Downside Up” (the original is on Ovo).

At the end of 1997 Gabriel was invited by Mark Fisher to help create a show for the central space of the London Millennium Dome. 1998 was spent brainstorming ideas on the narrative and visual concept. In 1999 while continuing to be involved with the show’s development Gabriel composed the music. The show was opened on January 1st 2000.

Peter Gabriel’s music was censored after the September 11, 2001 attacks. Clear Channel Communications one the largest radio networks in the United States sent out of a list of 15 songs that were recommended to be pulled from airplay. One of the songs on the list was When You’re Falling, a collaboration between Gabriel and Afro Celt Sound System.

In the year 2000 Peter Gabriel entered the world of digital music distribution. He founded On Demand Distribution (OD2) together with Charles Grimsdale. The objective of the company is to sell and promote the music that the company manages through a diverse set of on-line retailers and to find new channels for music sales. These services will allow record labels and artists to securely distribute digital music and get paid.

The album Scratch My Back was released in 2001 and consists of cover songs written by David Bowie Lou Reed Arcade Fire Radiohead Regina Spektor Neil Young and others. The concept for the record was that Gabriel would cover songs by various artists and those artists in turn would cover Gabriel’s on a future follow-up album. The follow-up finally came out in 2013 titled And I’ll Scratch Yours.

Discography:

From Genesis to Revelation, with Genesis (1969)
Trespass, with Genesis (Charisma, 1970)
Nursery Cryme, with Genesis (Charisma, 1971)
Foxtrot, with Genesis (Charisma, 1972)
Genesis Live, with Genesis (Charisma, 1973)
Selling England by the Pound, with Genesis (Charisma, 1973)
The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, with Genesis (1974)
Peter Gabriel 1 – Car (ATCO, 1977)
Peter Gabriel 2 – Scratch (ATCO, 1978)
Peter Gabriel 3 – Melt (ATCO, 1980)
Peter Gabriel 4 – Security (Geffen, 1982)
Plays Live (Geffen, 1983)
Birdy – soundtrack (Geffen, 1984)
SO (Geffen, 1986)
Passion (Geffen, 1989)
Shaking The Tree (Geffen, 1990)
Us (Geffen, 1992)
Secret World Live (Geffen, 1994)
Ovo (Egg) – The Millennium Show (2000)
Long Walk Home (Real World, 2002)
Up (Geffen, 2002)
Hit (Emi/Virgin, 2003)
Scratch My Back (2010)
New Blood (2011)

Share

Yasmin Levy to Perform at Berklee Performance Center

Yasmin Levy

Sephardic music diva Yasmin Levy is set to perform Sunday, November 5, 2017 at Berklee Performance Center.

Yasmin Levy preserves and recovers the most beautiful and romantic songs from the Ladino/Judeo-Spanish tradition. Her intense and sensual vocals combines flamenco’s fiery passion with the microtonal essence of Middle Eastern music.

She is accompanied by Turkish and Arabic instruments such as the oud, ney, and qanun, along with hand percussion, acoustic guitar, and bass.

Her discography includes: Mano Suave, Tango, Sentir, La Juderia, Romance & Yasmin, and Libertad.

7:30 p.m.
Berklee Performance Center
136 Massachusetts Ave., Boston
Tickets at: tickets.worldmusic.org

Share

Artist Profiles: Paul Simon

Paul Simon – Photo by Myrna Suarez

 

Folk singer Paul Frederic Simon was born October 13, 1941 in Newark New Jersey. His music career started in Forest Hills High School when he and his friend Art Garfunkel began singing together as a duo occasionally performing at school dances. In 1964 Simon and Garfunkel got signed by Columbia Records. Their first LP, Wednesday Morning 3 AM was released in 1964.

The first album didn’t do very well so Simon moved to England where he released The Paul Simon Song Book in 1965. He returned to the United States to reunite with Garfunkel. They recorded several albums that had considerable commercial success, including Sounds of Silence (1965); Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme (1966); Bookends (1968); The Graduate soundtrack (1968); and Bridge Over Troubled Water (1969).

Paul Simon’s early relationship with world music was clearly visible in Bridge Over Troubled Water which featured an Andean song called “El Condor Pasa.”

Simon and Garfunkel disbanded in 1971. Simon released a solo album titled Paul Simon in 1972. Subsequent albums included “There Goes Rhymin’ Simon” (1973) that contained the hit songs as “Something So Right”, “Kodachrome”, “American Tune” and “Loves Me Like A Rock.”

In 1975 Paul Simon released “Still Crazy After All These Years” featuring the hit single “5 Ways to Leave Your Lover.” The next albums were “Greatest Hits Etc.” (1977) and “One Trick Pony” (1980). The One Trick Pony recording, Simon’s first album with Warner Bros. Records was also paired with a major motion picture of the same name, with Simon in the starring role. The hits dried up by the time he released Hearts and Bones (1983).

Paul Simon’s commitment with the USA for Africa project led him to perform on the famine relief fundraising single ‘We Are the World.” The Africa connection continued in 1986 with the Grammy-winning “Graceland”, which featured South African vocal ensemble Ladysmith Black Mambazo. His fascination with rhythm continued in 1990 with “The Rhythm of the Saints” that included Brazilian sounds.

 

 

On May 9 2006, Warner Bros. Records released “Surprise,” Paul Simon’s first release since 2000, which was produced by Simon, and in collaboration with Brian Eno. Said Paul Simon: “Working with Brian Eno opens the door to a world of sonic possibilities; plus he’s just a great guy to hang with in the studio”, or for that matter in life. I had a really good time.” Surprise includes contributions from musicians including Steve Gadd, Herbie Hancock and Bill Frisell.

During his distinguished career, Paul Simon has been the recipient of many honors and awards including twelve Grammy Awards three of which (Bridge Over Troubled Water, Still Crazy After All These Years and Graceland) were albums of the year. In 2003 he was given a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award for his work as half of the duo Simon and Garfunkel.

He is an inductee of The Songwriters Hall of Fame and is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame both as a member of Simon and Garfunkel and as a solo artist. He was a recipient of The Kennedy Center Honors in 2003.

Of Simon’s many concert appearances he is most fond of the two concerts in Central Park in New York (with his partner and childhood friend Art Garfunkel in 1981 and as a solo artist in 1991) and the series of shows he did at the invitation of Nelson Mandela in South Africa-the first American artist to perform in post-apartheid South Africa.

Paul Simon’s philanthropic work includes the co-founding of The Children’s Health Fund (CHF) with Dr. Irwin Redlener. The CHF donates and staffs mobile medical vans that bring health care to poor and indigent children in urban and rural locations around the United States. Simon has also raised millions of dollars for worthy causes as varied as AMFAR, The Nature Conservancy The Fund for Imprisoned Children In South Africa and Autism Speaks. In 1989 The United Negro College Fund honored him with its Frederick D. Patterson Award.

On May 23rd 2007, Simon was the recipient of the first annual Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. Named in honor of George and Ira Gershwin, this newly created award recognizes the profound and positive effect of popular music on the world’s culture and will be given annually to a composer or performer whose lifetime contributions exemplify the standard of excellence associated with the Gershwins.

 

 

Discography:

Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M., with Simon & Garfunkel (Columbia Records, 1964)
The Paul Simon Songbook (CBS, 1965)
Sounds of Silence, with Simon & Garfunkel (Columbia Records, 1966)
Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme, with Simon & Garfunkel (Columbia Records, 1966)
Bookends, with Simon & Garfunkel (Columbia Records, 1968)
Bridge over Troubled Water, with Simon & Garfunkel (Columbia Records, 1970)
Paul Simon (Columbia Records, 1972)
There Goes Rhymin’ Simon (Columbia Records, 1973)
Paul Simon in Concert: Live Rhymin’ (Columbia Records, 1974)
Still Crazy After All These Years (Columbia Records, 1975)
One-Trick Pony (Warner Bros. Records, 1980)
The Concert in Central Park, with Simon & Garfunkel (Warner Bros. Records, 1982)
Hearts and Bones (Warner Bros. Records, 1983)
Graceland (Warner Bros. Records, 1986)
The Rhythm of the Saints (Warner Bros. Records, 1990)
Paul Simon’s Concert in the Park (Warner Bros.Records, 1991)
Songs from The Capeman (Warner Bros. Records, 1997)
You’re the One (Warner Bros. Records, 2000)
Live from New York City, 1967, with Simon & Garfunkel (Columbia Records, 2002)
Old Friends: Live on Stage, with Simon & Garfunkel (Warner Bros. Records, 2004)
Live 1969, with Simon & Garfunkel (Columbia Records, 2008)
Surprise (Warner Bros. Records, 2006)
So Beautiful or So What (Hear Music, 2011)
Live in New York City (Hear Music/Concord, 2012)
Stranger to Stranger (Concord Records, 2016)
Paul Simon – The Concert in Hyde Park (Sony Legacy, 2017)

Share

Chandrika Tandon’s Inspiring Journey

Chandrika Tandon – Shivoham – The Quest (Soul Chants Music, 2017)

Shivoham – The Quest is an impressive production by vocalist, composer and businesswoman Chandrika Tandon. The album is beautifully packaged and designed in a hard cover box that contains three discs and a booklet with song descriptions, photos and credits. Shivoham – The Quest is divided into three movements: Yearning, Searching and Connecting that reflects Chandrika Tandon’s musical and life journey.

 

 

Chandrika Tandon brings together two of the greatest musical traditions in the world: Indian classical music (Hindustani and Carnatic) and western classical music. The Indian influences dominate in some of the tracks, with Indian musical forms, Hindi lead vocals, percussion, bansuri flute, string instruments, mantras and other elements. Western classical appears in the form of classical and early music choirs and orchestras and lead vocals in English.

 

 

There is fusion as well, where Indian and western traditions are elegantly intertwined. Additionally, Chandrika Tandon incorporates other world traditions such as the Soweto Gospel Choir, flamenco and global percussion.

 

 

The list of musicians is extraordinary. In addition to Chandrika Tandon’s impeccable and mesmerizing vocals, Shivoham – The Quest includes the London Voices choir directed by Terry Edwards; Soul Chants Ensemble of New York; Soweto Gospel Choir; The King’s Singers; and soloists from Ajoy Chakrabarty School of Music of Kolkata.

Also featured is the London Metropolitan Orchestra, directed by Andy Brown and percussion ensembles from Kolkata and Mumbai in India.

The lists of solo instrumentalists includes a striking international cast of acclaimed musicians: Kenny Werner on piano; Martin Bejarano on piano; Sally Heath on piano; Romero Lubambo on guitar; Peter Calo on guitar; Pedro da Silva on Portuguese guitar; Jamey Haddad on percussion; Cyro Baptista on percussion; Thomas Kemp on violin; Gil Goldstein on accordion; Anthony Pike on clarinet; Pandit Ronu Majumdar on flute; Sandeep Mishra on sarangi; Pratik Shrivastava on sarod; Shubhayu Sen Majumdar on esraj.

Shivoham – The Quest is a masterfully-crafted production that seamlessly crosses various secular and sacred music traditions.

Buy Shivoham – The Quest

Share

Artist Profiles: Najma

Najma

Vocalist Najma Akhtar, better known as Najma, was born in 1964 Chelmsford, England. Najma has Indian ancestry and holds a degree in chemical engineering.

Najma’s singing career began when she unexpectedly won first prize at an Asian song contest in 1984. She soon came to international attention with a track especially recorded for the first WOMAD/Real World compilation record.

The release of her first album Qareeb on Triple Earth Records in 1987 rapidly gave a cult status upon her with its adoption by Azzedine Alaia for her summer collection, a video directed by Jean Baptiste Mondino and inclusion in the soundtrack of Sammy & Rosie Get Laid, a Hanif Quereishi film. Qareeb attracted a lot of attention with its groundbreaking fusion of sounds of the Indian sub-continent and western pop. Najma quickly became an essential figure on the European world music scene.

A second release “Atish” in 1991 reached No. 4 in the Billboard World Music chart. The third album “Pukar” sold thousands of copies in Japan alone and was released on Miles Copeland’s label Mondo Melodia in the USA and South America. An album of popular Indian film songs titled “Forbidden Kiss” was also released in the USA in 1996 on the Shanachie label.

Najma has crossed musical boundaries and worked with artists that others only dream of. She has performed with Robert Plant and Jimmy Page and has recorded for their MTV Unplugged and No Quarter albums. She also contributed to Jah Wobble’s “Take Me To God” album (from which the song ‘Raga’ was featured in Robert Altman’s film “Pret a Porter”) and has collaborated with Andy Summers (The Police), Carol Grimes and Martin Allcock (Fairport Convention).

Najma is also in heavy demand as an actress and composer. In 2002 she wrote composed and recorded 13 songs for a full-length feature film titled Bollywood Queen.

On March 11, 2003 Mondo Melodia/Ark 21 Records released Vivid, Najma’s 7th album. Throughout the album’s ten tracks her mesmerizing voice soars over Arabic rhythms, trance beats, Bollywood strings and synthesizers. Najma wrote the lyrics and melodies for Vivid and collaborated with composer Richard Grassby-Lewis. Richard is better known for his work in film and television however his cinematic roots are brought into play on the album bringing the listener through different scenes as each track plays. Searching for a description to their distinctive sound Najma and Richard chose ‘Indian Gothic.’

 

 

Discography:

Qareeb (Triple Earth Records 1987)
Atish (1991)
Pukar (Calling You) (Mondo Melodia 1998)
Forbidden Kiss (Shanachie 1996)
Vivid (Mondo Melodia/Ark 21 2003)
Fariyaad: A plea to the creator (Choice Music, 2008)
Rishte (World Village, 2009)

website: www.najmaakhtar.com

Share