Ugandan media, and his official Facebook site, reported today the passing of celebrated world music artist Geoffrey Oryema. Oryema was born in Uganda and had been living in France. His greatest hit was “Land of Anaka” from his 1990 album Exile.
Aja Addy was born 1948 in Accra, Ghana. He was an acclaimed Ghanaian master drummer and percussionist. Influenced by his work as a tigari priest, the nephew of Mustapha Tettey Addy combined the power of the Kpanlogo drum with the more relaxed highlife rhythms of Ghana. Aja toured extensively with Reinhard Flatischler’s MegaDrums ensemble.
“My father was a drummer“, explained Aja Addy, “so I learned how to drum and to dance from him. He has taught me the songs we play in our concerts. They are from the villages in the Greater Accra region and you’ll hear them at any occasions, when a baby is born, at parties, weddings and funerals All my musicians are Ga, a people of fishermen, hunters, carpenters or masons like me. My family taught me how to work with cement. What kind of job you get depends on the region where you live. For example I lived near the river so I learned how to swim and fish, but when the river carried no water, we had to hunt, so I learned all this, but in different seasons. Once every year we go to Ghana to say hello to my family and to have the ceremonies. I also teach my students there.”
After two successful solo releases, Aja Addy recorded a live album titled Live Refreshment with his band Tsui Anaa (Patience). It was recorded in Bremen, Germany and covered traditional songs and rhythms of the Ga people in Ghana. They are played at ceremonies as well as parties and dance festivities.
BraAgas is an all-female ensemble and one of the finest performers of contemporary Czech folk music. Even though they are known for playing music from various parts of the world, on O ptácích a rybách (About birds and fish) they focus on fascinating recreations of Moravian songs.
O ptácích a rybách contains a set of engaging songs where BraAgas treats the listener to a mix of solo and harmony vocals along with a wide range of traditional musical instruments from the Czech Republic and other cultures, such as dudy (bagpipes), nyckelharpa, frame drums, shepherd’s flutes, fiddle and various types of percussion.
The lineup on O ptácích a rybách includes Kateřina Göttlichová on vocals, guitar, nyckelharpa, bagpipes; Michaela Krbcová on vocals, drums, percussion; Karla Braunová on vocals, flute, clarinet, bagpipes, wind instruments; and Michala Hrbková on vocals and violin. Guests: Jan Hrbek on bass; Jan Balcar on guitar and didgeridoo; Jan Klíma on vocals; and Jan Hrbek on vocals.
O ptácích a rybách features remarkably expressive vocals, all enhanced by a masterful and lush mix of Medieval and Czech folk music. Highly recommended.
Acclaimed Sardinian vocalist Elena Ledda’s album Lantiàs (S’Ard Music) has won the the National City of Loano Award for Traditional Italian Music for the Best Album of 2017.
Now in its 14th edition, the Loano Award is the main recognition for traditional music in Italy and is presented every year to the best folk music productions by a jury composed that includes over sixty journalists.
The Loano Giovani Award, bestowed to the best music production by musicians under 35, goes to Lame Da Barba. The Career Award to Gastone Pietrucci / La Macina; and the Cultural Reality Award to Trouveur Valdotèn.
The 14th edition of the Awards will take place July 23 to 27, 2018 July in Loano (SV).
Renaud Garcia-Fons was born December 24, 1962 in Paris, France. He is a double bass phenomenon of Spanish-French origin who studied classical music and received an advanced degree from the Conservatoire da la Ville de Paris.
Renaud Garcia-Fons is one of the border-crossing virtuosos equally at home with contemporary classical music, jazz and traditional music. His bass has an ear open to the sounds of Andalusia, the Orient and the Occident, developing genuine World Music.
Garcia-Fons has grown into a highly reputable musician for his breathtaking technique and intonation as well as his talent as a composer. A dazzling performer on five strings, he uses his instrument’s entire range, thus dominating the music and making the bowed double bass sound rather like a cello or a violin. When listening to his percussive speed pizzicato or his sweeping arco flageolets, the breadth of his capabilities becomes evident immediately.
As a composer Garcia-Fons likes to take the listener on a gypsy’s journey through the Mediterranean area, especially Andalusia (Spain), then Brittany, Latin America, India, the Arab world and even into European classical music of the past. Although incorporating influences from far and wide, his compositions are always focused and efficient and keep to the spirit of charming chamber music.
He has collaborated with Dhafer Youssef on 1999’s Malak (Enja Records); Gianluigi Trovesi Nonet on Round About A Midsummer’s Dream (Enja Records, 2000); Antonio Placer, Paulo Bellinati and Jorge Trasante on Nomades D’Ici (Le Chant du Monde, 2000); Nguyên Lê on Three Trios (ACT Music, 1997), Bakida (ACT Music, 2000) and Fragile Beauty (ACT Music, 2008); Gerardo Núñez on Jazzpaña II (ACT Music, 2000), Kudsi Erguner on Islam Blues (ACT Music, 2001) and David Peña Dorantes on Paseo A Dos (E-Motive Records, 2015).
Légendes (Enja Records, 1992)
Alboreá (Enja Records, 1995)
Suite Andalouse, with Pedro Soler (Al Sur, 1995) Oriental Bass (Enja Records, 1997) Fuera, with Jean-Louis Matinier (Enja Records, 1999)
Acoustic Songs, with Gérard Marais (Label Hopi, 2000)
Navigatore (Enja Records, 2001)
Entremundo (Enja Records, 2004) Arcoluz (Enja Records, 2006)
La Linea Del Sur (Enja Records, 2009) Méditerranées (Enja Records, 2010)
Solo – The Marcevol Concert (Enja Records, 2012) Beyond The Double Bass (Enja Records, 2013)
Silk Moon, with Derya Türkan (e-motive Records, 2014) La Vie Devant Soi (E-motive Records, 2017)
The tiny village of Tagliu-Isulaccia in the far north of Corsica is the home of Alain and Jean-François Bernardini, well known at home and abroad by the name I Muvrini. People here remember seeing them perched on makeshift stages singing their first polyphonies, and certain of their admirers from those early days are proud to still have in their possession the 45 rpm recording by Canta U Populu Corsu on which the brothers sang at the request of their father, a poet and singer who passed away in 1977.
The Bernardinis sing in their native Corsican because it is essential to them as the first seed of universality tying them to all lands, all shores, and all the cultures of the world.
At the end of the 1980s, I Muvrini played the role of cultural pioneer, as at that time there existed in Corsica neither a reference point nor a structure for the distribution of music in general, and for theirs in particular. The group survived by managing and financing themselves, recording at their own expense, creating their own label, and giving hundreds of concerts around the island offering free admission to those under 15. Furthermore, in a desire to increase awareness of an ancestral tradition, they participated actively in the creation of schools for the teaching of Corsican singing.
Some years later, in the wake of an ever-growing success, I Muvrini crossed the sea and began a series of performances at the Printemps de Bourges festival, at Bobino, and in Brittany, another land of strong national pride. As they released their records and passionately defended them along the way, the group watched their public grow. That public comprised a good part of Corsica by the summer of 1993, when a third of the island’s population flocked to their sold-out concerts. The Zenith Theater and the Bercy hall, both in Paris, were soon won over in turn.
I Muvrini proceeded to collaborate with Jacques Dutronc on the song “Corsica” from his album CQFD and with Véronique Sanson. I Muvrini wove the words and notes that made their May 1998 release Leia the symbol of a Corsica that holds the hope of moving forward.
The musical palette of the group includes Cajun, Celtic, Jazz, and World music.
I Muvrini, the U.S. debut release on Higher Octave World, contains the very best moments of the group, including the “Terre d’Oru” duet with Sting and a reprise of Jacques Brel’s “Amsterdam.”
…Ti ringrazianu (1979)
Anu da vultà (1980)
…È campà quì (1981)
À l’encre rouge (1986)
Pè l’amore di tè… (1988)
À voce rivolta (1991)
Alma (2005) I Muvrini et les 500 choristes (2007) Gioia (2010) Imaginà (2012) Invicta (2015) Pianetta (2016) Luciole (2017)
The members of Gnawa Diffusion, who are based in Grenoble in the South East of France, come from a rich mix of musical and cultural backgrounds. Fusing their individual influences into a collective sound, Gnawa Diffusion have woven elements of rap, ragga, jazz, reggae and rai into a vibrant musical patchwork.
The group’s name is a reference to the Gnawa, black Africans who were deported to North Africa in the 16th century by the rulers of Fes and Algiers. While the Gnawa were officially converted to Islam by their new leaders, they continued to worship their own African gods in private.
The way Gnawa Diffusion sees it, this historic tale of people uprooted from their homeland and forced to begin a new life in a foreign land is remarkably similar to the lives of modern-day immigrants growing up in France. Indeed, the group’s lead singer, Amezigh, son of the famous Algerian writer Kateb Yacine, considers himself to be a 20th century version of the Gnawa.
Amezigh, who arrived in France in 1988 at 16, has been closely involved in the struggle to defend immigrants’ rights and abolish racial prejudice. When Amezigh formed Gnawa Diffusion in 1992 he saw the group as an alternative means to get his political message across. Amezigh, Gnawa Diffusion’s lead singer and songwriter, writes his lyrics in three languages, Arabic, French and English.
Gnawa Diffusion started their career in 1993 with the release of a mini 5-track album named “Legitime difference”. Following the release of their CD album the group began to concentrate on their live career, with an extensive tour of France, performing concerts with a host of French stars including FFF, Zebda, Massilia Sound System and Princess Erika.
Gnawa Diffusion’s innovative musical fusion and the hard-hitting lyrics of their protest songs have certainly made them one of the most prominent new groups on the French music scene. The group’s single “Ombre-elle” and their first full album “Algeria” (released in 1997 on GDO) served to increase their popularity – and Gnawa Diffusion’s live shows began to attract an impressive number of fans! When they hit the road for the Chibani tour – Gnawa Diffusion’s personal tribute to the past – the group’s lively on-stage performances attracted huge audiences across the world and led them to play in such places as the Africa Festival in Wurzburg, the Francofolies in la Rochelle, the Berlin Music Fest, Montreux Jazz festival in Switzerland, Reading/Leeds festival in the UK, Pirineos Sur Festival in Spain, Rascimus Beat It in Netherlands, Fete des Cent in Belgium, etc.
In January 1999, Gnawa Diffusion returned to the studio to work on their second album “Bab El Oued-Kingston” (which was released in May). The album featured the band’s usual fusion sound, but this time Gnawa Diffusion also began experimenting with traditional music, recording their own innovative version of “Chara’Allah” – a three hundred years old song. Following the release of the album, Gnawa Diffusion went on the road again, kicking off an extensive tour in Toulouse. Before the end of the year, music fans flocked to see the group playing concerts all over Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Gnawa Diffusion also performed at various music festivals throughout the summer of 1999.
Gnawa Diffusion rocketed back into the music news in June 2000 with a new album entitled Bab El Oued 2. At the end of the year the group also headed out to perform a tour in Algeria and flew back there again in 2001 for a mini-series of four dates. Renowned for their energetic live performances, the group returned to the festival circuit in the summer and traveled to such countries as Yemen, Syria, Jordania and Sudan.
After their Algerian tour, following the murderous confrontations in Kabylia, the band released a double live album titled Live DZ – the first live album ever recorded during a tour in Algeria.
in June 2003, the band came back with a new album, Souk System. Sung in French, Arabic and English, the lyrics were more political than in the previous albums. They referred to international news, denouncing as well as satirizing the events. As for the music, it consisted in the usual mixture of reggae and raga muffin, chaabi and Gnawa music. They began another worldwide tour from France to Canada and from Europe to North Africa.
Frederic Galliano was born December 23, 1969 in Grenoble. He’s an eclectic musician who works with cutting edge electronic music, jazz and world music.
From the age of 14 he became interested in Cuban and Latin American music, French singer-songwriters and German electronic music of the 1970s. The jazz of Miles Davis and John Coltrane impressed him greatly. Later, his continuous search led him to discover African and Middle Eastern music.
For five years, 1987-1991, he devoted himself to sculpture. In 1994 he entered the circle of French DJs. He produced for the F Communications label since 1996 and created his own label, Frikyiwa, in 1998.
After his first two albums Espaces baroques and Live infinis (F-Com), he has focused his research on bringing electronic music, jazz and some African influences into contact. His different concepts of creation includes references to art, philosophy and diverse cultures of different countries.
Galliano traveled through several West African countries for several years. There he recorded some of the most important female voices of Mali, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Niger and Guinea Conakry. The result of this work is the double CD Frederic Galliano And The African Divas, in which jazz musicians also participate.
A musical duo for more than 5 years, Caroline Phillips and Mixel Ducau formed the group Bidaia with Ritxi Salaberria and Jabi Area. Together, these four musicians create music rooted in Basque traditional dance melodies and rhythms as well as international folk music.
The traditional Basque instruments, the alboka (a small hornpipe – played with circular breathing), ttun-ttun (stringed-percussive inst.) and chirula (3-holed flute) are combined with acoustic guitar and piano as well as with other musical traditions: hurdy-gurdy, Moroccan darbuka and Peruvian cajón.
Mixel Ducau: Alboka, acoustic guitar, flutes, ttun-ttun, foot tambourine, lead vocals. Mixel is a native of the Basque Country (France) and founder of the very successful Basque contemporary rock group Errobi in 1975. A multi-talented instrumentalist, Mixel is an accomplished saxophonist and a composer and arranger for many groups throughout southern Europe.
Caroline Phillips: lead vocals, hurdy-gurdy and piano. Born in Northern California’s Bay Area, she studied classical voice in Paris and regularly performed in jazz clubs and private parties for the ex-patriot American community. She began composing in 1988 and moved to the French Basque Country in 1992.
Ritxi Salaberria: upright bass. Born in Hondarribia (Fuenterrabía) in Spain’s Basque Country, Ritxi studied classical flute in Pamplona and bass in London. A studio musician, Ritxi has worked with Spanish pop and rock artists Diego Vasallo (Duncan Dhu), Cesar Cuenca (Celtas Cortos), Julia Leon and French musician Pascal Gaigne, and is a founding member of several popular groups.
Jabi Area percussion. Born in San Sebastian (Basque Country, Spain), Jabi studied classical percussion at the conservatory while playing rock and Basque folk music. He has played with a large number of Spanish and Basque artists including: Cesar Cuenca (Celtas Cortos), Iñaki Salvador and Mikel Laboa.