Tag Archives: world music

Sundanese Nyckelharpa Adventures

Ana Alcaide and Gotrasawala ensemble -  Tales of Pangea
Ana Alcaide and Gotrasawala ensemble –
Tales of Pangea

Ana Alcaide

Tales of Pangea (Ana Alcaide TP01/ARC Music, 2015)

We received two versions of this album, the original Spanish edition and the international release by Arc Music. Ana Alcaide is the remarkable Spanish world music artist who uses the traditional Swedish instrument called nyckelharpa to explore the musics of Spain, the Mediterranean and beyond. On this project, Ana traveled far away to Southeast Asia to collaborate with Indonesian musicians.

Ana Alcaide spent time in West Java (Indonesia), collaborating with local musicians to develop a fusion on Eastern and Western influences. The project came about when Franki Raden of Gotrasawala Festival invited Ana Alcaide to collaborate with Sundanese musicians. Ana worked with a collective of local musicians that was named Gotrasawala Ensemble.

The recording sessions took place in Bandung (West Java) and San Martin de Valdeiglesias (Madrid) with a mix of original compositions by Ana Alcaide, Rudi Rodexz and traditional pieces. The result is a beautiful set of melodic musical pieces where the distinct flavor of Asian bamboo flutes, percussion, vocals and zithers meets the European folk and classical traditions, jazz, and the mesmerizing hurdy gurdy-like sound of the nyckelharpa.

The lineup on Tales of Pangea includes Ana Alcaide on nyckelharpa; Bill Cooley on psaltery, ud, clay pot; Novi Aksmiranti on vocals; Rudi Rodexz on bansing (bamboo flute), kecapi (Indonesian zither), Hang drum, vocals; Riky Oktriyadi on kendang (barrel drum), selentem (gamelan metallophone), frame drums, hand percussion; Rudini Zhiter on kecapi (Indonesian zither); Iman Jimbot on suling (bamboo flute), vocals; and Ray Sandoval on Spanish guitar.




Tales of Pangea is a splendid album by a groundbreaking artist in the current world music scene.

Buy Tales of Pangea in North America

Buy Tales of Pangea in Europe


Remarkable World Music Programming at Duke Performances 2015-2016 Season

 Buena Vista Social Club, one of the highlights of this season at Duke Performances
Buena Vista Social Club, one of the highlights of this season at Duke Performances


Duke Performances recently revealed the programming for the 2015-2016 season. This year, the world music presentations look especially appealing. The first artist scheduled to perform at Duke is celebrated Ethiojazz musician Mahmoud Ahmed, who will appear on Thursday, September 10 at Reynolds Industries Theater.



Next will be Portuguese singer-songwriter Lula Pena, set to perform on Thursday, September 17 at the more intimate Nelson Music Room.



Try not to miss Indian violin master and innovator L. Subramaniam, He has been making memorable Indian classical, fusion and soundtracks for years. He will be playing on Friday, September 18 at Baldwin Auditorium.



On Saturday, September 26, two top dancers from Spain will appear on stage at Reynolds Industries Theater: Patricia Ibañez (Jerez de la Frontera ) and Abel Harana (Sanlucar de Barrameda). Jerez is one of the cradles of flamenco so this a great opportunity to see real flamenco dance art, featuring two emerging talents accompanied by singers, guitar and palmas (handclap percussion).



One of the highlights this upcoming season is undoubtedly the Buena Vista Social Club’s ‘Adiós Tour.’ This concert is expected to draw a very large audience so the venue moves to the Durham Performing Arts Center. Even though some of the members of the Buena Vista Social Club passed away in recent years, the lineup features several of the original members including admired vocalist Omara Portuondo; iconic singer-songwriter and tres guitar master Eliades Ochoa; trumpeter Guajiro Mirabal; and laud (Spanish lute) virtuoso Babarito Torres. This concert will take place on Monday, October 26.



Another Cuban heavyweight is set to perform on Monday, November 16. Keyboard maestro and composer Chucho Valdés will appear with a new incarnation of the legendary Cuban jazz fusion band Irakere at Page Auditorium.



Celtic supergroup The Gloaming is set to appear on Saturday, March 26 at Baldwin Auditorium. The lineup includes the unique vocals of Iarla Ó Lionáird (Afro Celt Sound System); fiddle master Martin Hayes; hardanger fiddler Caoimhin Ó Raghallaigh; guitarist Dennis Cahill; and pianist and producer Thomas Bartlett, aka Doveman.



Kassé Mady Diabaté, one of the leading jeli (griot) singers from Mali, is scheduled for Friday, April 1 at Baldwin Auditorium. He will be accompanied by a traditional lineup of ngoni, bala (balaphone), and kora performed by some of the finest musicians in Mali, including kora master Ballake Sissoko.



On Friday, April 8, 2016 Chinese chamber music virtuosos Shanghai Quartet will appear with pipa (Chinese lute) prodigy Wu Man. The program will include pieces by contemporary Chinese composers for string quartet and pipa with a mix of contemporary classical and folk songs. Location: Baldwin Auditorium.



The last concert of the season will be a real treat for fans of Balkan brass bands. Two of the finest Roma (Gypsy) bands, Boban & Marko Markovic Orkestar and Fanfare Ciocarlia. The concert will take place Monday, April 11 at Page Auditorium. We’ve seen these artists at world music expo WOMEX and at Forde (Norway) and their performance is spectacular.



We regard American roots music as part of the world music family so we also recommend the concerts by former Carolina Chocolate Drops artist Rhiannon Giddens who will perform on Friday, September 25 at Page Auditorium.



Another great American roots music show is scheduled for Thursday, December 10. Rosanne Cash will present ‘The River & The Thread’ at Page Auditorium.



Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band will appear on Friday, March 4 at Baldwin Auditorium.



Lastly, we highly recommend the concert by Rez Abbasi. Although he doesn’t make world music, he’s one of the finest guitarists in the contemporary American jazz scene. Abbasi recently recorded new acoustic versions of some of the jazz-rock fusion classics from the 1970s. Rez Abbasi Invocation is set to perform Friday, January 22 at Baldwin Auditorium.

We spoke with Aaron Greenwald, Executive Director of Duke Performances about this year’s program and the future of world music at Duke Performances.


Aaron Greenwald, Executive Director of Duke Performances at the Sarah Duke Gardens venue
Aaron Greenwald, Executive Director of Duke Performances at the Sarah Duke Gardens venue


Angel Romero – At the time of selecting the program for the 2015-2016 season, you must have been approached by numerous booking agents. How did you choose the artists scheduled for the new season?

Aaron Greenwald – At Duke Performances, we’re invested in making both a balanced slate of programming & one that is full of surprises. On a season to season basis we’re committed to programming a handful of genres: jazz, dance, theater, classical music, international music, Americana and new music/contemporary classical.

In addition, we’re mission-driven to present in a network of about a dozen venues — quite large to quite small — both on campus and in town. Finally, we’re interested in engaging artists who are willing and able to interact meaningfully with our campus and community.

Within those guidelines we have an enormous amount of freedom and my choices ultimately come down to artists routing through the southeast that are too wonderful to skip — Abdullah Ibrahim, Chucho Valdes, Rosanne Cash; those that fit into a meaningful thematic scheme, global hip-hop for instance — Ana Tijoux, Rennie Harris Puremovement, Blitz the Ambassador; & those that I’ve always wanted to showcase in Durham — Bettye Lavette, Mahmoud Ahmed, Fazil Say.

AR – Do you rely exclusively on the rosters offered by booking agents or do you also seek specific artists you’re interested in?

AG -The process of engaging artists, particularly international artists, has become so complex — from both a federal tax & visa perspective — that it is very nearly a necessity to work closely with agents. That said, we’ve demonstrated an appetite for musical eclecticism for so long that we’re one of the first calls for an agent who’s trying to make an unusual project work for touring in the US. I think this is the case with the exceptional Portuguese singer-songwriter Lula Pena, as well as our grand late-April double-bill of Boban & Marko Markovic Orkestar from Serbia and Fanfare Ciocarlia from Romania.

On the other hand, while we booked the highly acclaimed Turkish pianist Fazil Say through an agent, we sought him for many months because he is likely the most important contemporary Turkish performing artist and we were anxious to engage the vibrant Turkish community here in the region.

AR – It seems like this upcoming season features more renowned world music artists than years before. We are excited because Duke Performances is the largest world music university presenter in the area. Will you feature such a strong world music program in future seasons?

We are exclusively interested in programming interesting and potentially transcendent performance. If great international artists continue to tour — across dance, music and theater — and we are able, with reasonable marketing, to attract a sizable audience to these performances, we will attempt to make more programming of this variety. It is important, perhaps, to remind local audiences that it is rather costly for international artists to tour and that their ability to do so is predicated on making a series of successful concerts while touring the US in as efficient and cost-effective manner as possible.

We are only able to program this work, and pay the fees of the artists, if audiences make a concerted effort to see the work — there is, perhaps, an ethical dimension here — if you want to live in a place that features art from around the world, you have some obligation to actively patronize that work.

AR – Can you tell us about the upgrades or changes in Page Auditorium after the renovation?

AG – Page Auditorium, Duke’s largest venue, has undergone a year-long 5-million dollar renovation. When the work is done, the venue will seat right about 1,150 people. The work done in the hall will, first & foremost, modernize a space that was built in 1934 & degraded with poor additions for nearly 8 decades.

The renovation will better allow us to effectively present music that requires some amplification, there will be flown arrays over the stage and a ceiling treatment to help dampen reverberation in the room. The lighting and seating have been modified to help focus the attention of the audience on the stage. Nearly all of the renovation budget has been spent making Page a more comfortable and effective venue for audiences — we think that folks who’ve for generations found the hall challenging, will be most pleased with the changes that have been implemented throughout the space.

For more information and ticket details go to dukeperformances.duke.edu


The Recording Academy Announces Best World Music Album Nominations for the 57th Annual GRAMMY Awards

Best World Music Album nominations for the 57th Annual Grammy Awards were announced last night by The Recording Academy.

List of World Music and Roots Music-Related Nominations

Best World Music Album

Toumani & Sidiki Diabate - Toumani & Sidiki
Toumani & Sidiki Diabate – Toumani & Sidiki (World Circuit)


Eve - Angelique Kidjo
Eve – Angelique Kidjo (429 Records)


Our World In Song - Wu Man, Luis Conte & Daniel Ho
Our World In Song – Wu Man, Luis Conte & Daniel Ho (Daniel Ho Creations & Wind Music)


Magic - Sérgio Mendes
Magic – Sérgio Mendes (OKeh)


Traces Of You - Anoushka Shankar (Deutsche Grammophon)
Traces Of You – Anoushka Shankar (Deutsche Grammophon)

Best American Roots Performance:

“Statesboro Blues” — Gregg Allman & Taj Mahal

“A Feather’s Not A Bird” — Rosanne Cash

“And When I Die” — Billy Childs Featuring Alison Krauss & Jerry Douglas

“The Old Me Better” — Keb’ Mo’ Featuring The California Feet Warmers

“Destination” — Nickel Creek

Best Latin Pop Album

Tangos – Rubén Blades (Sunnyside Records)

Elypse – Camila (Sony Music Latin)

Raíz – Lila Downs, Niña Pastori And Soledad (Sony Music Latin)

Loco De Amor – Juanes (Universal Music Latino)

Gracias Por Estar Aquí – Marco Antonio Solís (Universal Music Latino)

Best Tropical Latin Album

50 Aniversario – El Gran Combo De Puerto Rico (EGC Records)

First Class To Havana – Aymee Nuviola (Worldwide Entertainment)

Live – Palo! (Rolling Pin Music)

El Asunto – Totó La Momposina (Sony Music Latin)

Más + Corazón Profundo – Carlos Vives (Sony Music Latin)

Best Americana Album

The River & The Thread – Rosanne Cash (Blue Note Records)

Terms Of My Surrender – John Hiatt (New West Records)

Bluesamericana – Keb’ Mo’ (Kind Of Blue Music)

A Dotted Line – Nickel Creek (Nonesuch)

Metamodern Sounds In Country Music – Sturgill Simpson (High Top Mountain Records)

Best Bluegrass Album

The Earls Of Leicester – The Earls Of Leicester (Rounder)

Noam Pikelny Plays Kenny Baker Plays Bill Monroe – Noam Pikelny (Compass Records)

Cold Spell – Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen (Compass Records)

Into My Own – Bryan Sutton (Sugar Hill Records)

Only Me – Rhonda Vincent (Upper Management Music)

Best Blues Album

Common Ground – Dave Alvin & Phil Alvin Play And Sing The Songs Of Big Bill Broonzy
Dave Alvin & Phil Alvin (Yep Roc Records)

Promise Of A Brand New Day – Ruthie Foster (Blue Corn Music)

Juke Joint Chapel – Charlie Musselwhite (Henrietta Records)
Decisions – Bobby Rush With Blinddog Smokin’ (Silver Talon Records)

Step Back – Johnny Winter (Megaforce Records)

Best Folk Album

Three Bells – Mike Auldridge, Jerry Douglas & Rob Ickes (Rounder)

Follow The Music – Alice Gerrard (Tompkins Square)

The Nocturne Diaries – Eliza Gilkyson (Red House Records)

Remedy – Old Crow Medicine Show (ATO Records)

A Reasonable Amount Of Trouble – Jesse Winchester (Appleseed)

Best Regional Roots Music Album

Light The Stars – Bonsoir, Catin (Valcour Records)

Hanu ‘A’ala – Kamaka Kukona (Hanu Arts & Entertainment)

Love’s Lies – Magnolia Sisters (Arhoolie Records)

The Legacy – Jo-El Sonnier (Takau Records)

Ceremony – Joe Tohonnie Jr. (Cool Runnings Music)

Best Reggae Album

Fly Rasta – Ziggy Marley (Tuff Gong Worldwide)

Full Frequency – Sean Paul (VP/Atlantic)

Back On The Controls – Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry (Upsetter)

Out Of Many, One Music – Shaggy (Ranch Entertainment, Inc.)

The Reggae Power – Sly & Robbie & Spicy Chocolate (Universal Music Japan, VP Records, Taxi Records)

Amid The Noise And Haste – Soja (Ato Records)

The 57th Annual Grammy Awards will be held on “Grammy Sunday,” February 8, 2015, at Staples Center in Los Angeles and broadcast live on CBS from 20:00 – 23:30 (8:00 – 11:30 p.m.) Eastern Time/Pacific Time.


Admired World Music Booking Agency Eye for Talent Becomes Riot Artists


American world music booking agency Eye for Talent, founded by Bill Smith, has joined forces with Evan Smith and former artist manager and record company A&R specialist, Fabian Alsultany, to develop a next-level agency called Riot Artists.

During the past decades Eye for Talent has represented some of the finest acts in the area of world music, including folk and traditional music. Riot Artists will embrace new areas of talent such as electronica, contemporary music, rock, as well as speakers and innovators/technologists, while still remaining true to its world music roots. In recent months we have signed feminist Russian protest group Pussy Riot, South Asian rock star Karsh Kale and Tex-Mex legends Flaco Jimenez & Max Baca,” said Fabian Alsultany. “We are also representing the farewell tour of Armenian duduk master Jivan Gasparyan as well as producing the thematic tour, Women of the Arab World.”

Riot Artists will continue representing the Ukrainian musical sensation, Dakhabrakha, sarod maestro Amjad Ali Khan, Paris Combo, and Tuvan quartet Huun Huur Tu, together with other artists.

The new agency recently attended world music expo WOMEX in Spain and will be present at Mid-Atlantic Performing Arts Market, CINARS, APAP, and other conferences and showcases.

The company’s new website is www.riotartists.com


The Planet’s Best World Music Label Celebrates 25 Years

Various Artists Real World 25
Various Artists
Real World 25

Various Artists

Real World 25 (Real World Records, 2014)

Trailblazing world music label Real World Records is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. As part of this commemoration, Real World Records has put together a fabulous compilation with a selection of tracks from its impressive catalog.

Musician, composer and famed vocalist Peter Gabriel created Real World as channel to expose some of the finest contemporary global music acts, musicians who perform new music rooted in tradition. Twenty-five years later, Real World Records has developed an impressive catalog of over 200 releases that constitute some of the finest world music recordings in the past decades.

What makes Real World Records stand out is its attention to detail and high quality productions. First of all, the label’s musical choices are admirable. Real World has consistently identified top talent throughout the world and has revealed it to the rest of the world. In addition to the first rate quality of the artists, Real World consistently delivers state of the art recordings that are a pleasure to listen to. But there is more, Real World understands that design and layout is another art component in the process. Besides the splendid music and recordings, the artwork and presentation is consistently top-notch.

With so many artists from so many countries, you have a lot to choose from. Even though we consider all of Real World Records’ catalog contemporary world music, stylistically the non-traditional components range from rock and pop to cutting edge electronica or cross-cultural hybridization.

If you are seeking to learn more about world music in general or Real World Records in particular, get this 3-CD boxed set. It contains artists and songs that have become world music ‘classics’. Some of Real World Records’ artists have achieved tremendous success. These world music stars include the outstanding Afro Celt Sound System, who have sold more than a million albums and is among the most successful world music artists up to now. Other highly popular acts include The Blind Boys of Alabama, Kenyan musician Ayub Ogada, Ugandan star Geoffrey Oryema, the great British South Asian singer Sheila Chandra, and East London minimalists Portico Quartet.



Following its own tradition, Real World 25 is presented in a wonderfully-packaged clamshell box containing three CD sleeves, and a 28-page booklet. The booklet contains fascinating details about the label’s 25-year history, a collection of Real World Tales with recollections and contributions from artists, producers, designers, managers and others, and a few examples of the top quality photography used by Real World.

The 48 tracks follow the history of Real World. CD1 collects breakthrough songs that have been substantial highlights or ‘classic’ points in the label’s history; CD2 explores the extensive Real World catalog, presenting some submerged treasures that deserve more attention; CD3 is the listeners’ choice containing tracks chosen by fans, who were asked by Real World to pick their favorite Real World Records track.

We’ve always been vibrant, alive, and kicking,” says visionary Real World records’ founder Peter Gabriel. “We worked hard to create an environment where the artists felt respected and supported, so that they were able to deliver extraordinary performances.”

In order to carry out his vision, Gabriel and his colleagues renovated an old mill building and turned it into a state-of-the-art recording studio, on the edge of a pond, with landscaped gardens bounded by a river. The first releases were the Grammy-winning Passion (Peter Gabriel’s soundtrack to the Martin Scorsese film `The Last Temptation of Christ”), Passion Sources, and albums by the legendary Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan; Congolese bandleader Tabu Ley Rochereau, and Cuba’s prominent son and changui ensemble Orquesta Revé.

We just knew we wanted to work with music that has real passion, atmosphere, and grooves,” adds Gabriel. “Music that would touch those open enough to listen.”

Normally, I list an album’s highlights in my reviews, but in this case it’s hard to choose as this is truly an outstanding compilation and practically every artist selected deserves complete attention. The list is mind blowing: Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Maryam Mursal, Joi, Little Axe, The Blind Boys Of Alabama, Peter Gabriel, Ayub Ogada, Jocelyn Pook, Hukwe Zawose, Remmy Ongala & Orchestre Super Matimila, Adrian Sherwood, Dub Colossus, Totó La Momposina y sus Tambores, The Imagined Village, Iarla Ó Lionáird, Lama Gyurme And Jean-Philippe Rykiel, Pape & Cheikh, Daúde, Los De Abajo, Toumast, Farafina, Djivan Gasparyan & Michael Brook, Joji Hirota, Mara! With Martenitsa Choir, Tom Kerstens’ G Plus Ensemble, Mamer, Värttinä, Tenores Di Bitti, Thomas Mapfumo, The Ananda Shankar Experience And State Of Bengal, Syriana, Guo Yue, The Creole Choir of Cuba, Joseph Arthur, Daby Touré, Sevara Nazarkhan, Afro Celt Sound System, Portico Quartet, Yungchen Lhamo, Spiro, Martyn Bennett, JuJu, Charlie Winston, Big Blue Ball, Geoffrey Oryema, Sheila Chandra, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan & Michael Brook, and Papa Wemba.



Real World Records continues to seek significant talent. Some of its most recent signings include Welsh language act 9Bach and Honduran Garifuna singer-songwriter and activist Aurelio Martinez.

Real World 25 captures some of the most iconic world music artists of the past three decades, demonstrating that Real World Records is undoubtedly the best world music label out there.








Purchase this great collection: Real World 25 in North America

Purchase the Real World 25 box in Europe


World Music Festival LIFEM 2014 to Focus on Africa and South America

Lifem_2014London’s annual world music festival LIFEM will take place October 29 – November 1, 2014 in London.

This year, LIFEM focuses on Africa and South America. The festival will present world and UK premieres as well as artists rarely seen in the UK. This year’s remarkable line-up includes Badi Assad (Brazil), Gaio de Lima (Brazil), Ami Koita (Mali), Mosi Conde (Guinea), Amira Kheir (Sudan), Amadou Diagne (Senegal), Carmen Souza (Cape Verde) and Maiuko (Mozambique).

29 Oct 2014
19:00 (7:30pm)
Kings Place: Badi Assad (Brazil) + Gaio de Lima (Brazil)

30 Oct 2014
19:00 (7:30pm)
Kings Place: Ami Koita (Mali) + Mosi Conde (Guinea)

31 Oct 2014
19:00 (7:30pm)
Kings Place: Amira Kheir (Sudan) + Amadou Diagne (Senegal)

1 Nov 2014
19:00 (7:30pm)
Kings Place: Carmen Souza (Cape Verde) + Maiuko (Mozambique)


Recordings Rooted in Folk Music Traditions for Hispanic Heritage Month 2013

Bajofondo - Presente
Bajofondo – Presente
Every year, from September 15 through October 15, the United States of America celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month. Many Americans celebrate the culture and traditions of those who trace their roots to Mexico, Puerto Rico, Spain, and all the other Spanish-speaking nations of Central America, South America and the Caribbean. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the Hispanic population of the United States as of July 1, 2012 is 53 million, making people of Hispanic origin the nation’s largest ethnic or racial minority. Hispanics constituted 17 percent of the nation’s total population.

World Music Central participates in this celebration with a selection of some of the best contemporary artists, music albums and videos rooted in traditional music that represent a wide range of nations and regions.

Argentine Tango and Tango Nuevo

Contemporary tango revolutionaries Bajofondo have a new album titled Presente, which has three Latin Grammy nominations this year for Album of the Year, Instrumental Album of the Year and Best Alternative Song (for track “Pena En Mi Corazon”). The production team of Santaolalla and guitarist Juan Campodónico captures the common links and individual features of the music of the Rio de La Plata, the river that separates and unites Argentina and Uruguay, incorporating traditional sounds with cutting edge electronica.

New Tango maestro Pablo Ziegler & Metropole Orkest have a new album titled Amsterdam Meets New Tango (ZohoMusic, 2013). Pablo Ziegler is known for his mix of tango and jazz improvisation. The album features a mix of tango, jazz, blues, Brazilian music and South American folk rhythms.

Pablo Ziegler & Metropole Orkest - Amsterdam Meets New Tango
Pablo Ziegler & Metropole Orkest – Amsterdam Meets New Tango
Argentine saxophonist Julio Botti is a new name to the world of tango jazz. The saxophone is not normally associated with tango music. Botti’s album is Tango Nostalgias (Zoho Music, 2013).

Pablo Ziegler has re-arranged some of his most vibrant compositions specifically with Botti’s soaring soprano horn in mind. Most of the material was recorded in Buenos Aires using Ziegler’s regular trio of Quique Sinesi on guitar, Walter Castro on bandoneon and the Ziegler himself on piano, augmented by Horacio Hurtado on acoustic bass and Quintino Cinalli on percussion and drums.

Buenos Aires-born bassist and composer Pablo Aslan has a new album titled Tango Grill (Zoho Music, 2010). Aslan has lived in New York since 1980, and is the leading exponent of the New York tango jazz scene. His sextet Avantango features the top Argentine tango and jazz musicians in New York.

Amapola Dry is led by New York-based Argentine musicians Sofia Juan (piano, vocals) and Martin Fuks (vocals, guitar, live electronics, live visuals). The group’s sound is characterized by edgy global electronica, traditional tango and pop vocals. “We use traditional instruments (bandoneon, guitar, piano), altogether with electronic sounds, taking from this new “palette” the closer colors, on feeling and deepness, to our Tango flavor“.

The Latin Grammy nominees for Best Tango Album this year are:

Tango Nostalgias by Julio Botti; Romance De La Luna Tucumana by Diego El Cigala; Tangos y Canciones Criollas by Hernán Lucero; Piazzolla De Cámara by Ramírez bySatorre; Amsterdam Meets New Tangoo by Pablo Ziegler & Metropole Orkest, Conducted By Jules Buckley

Canada’s Latin Music Scene

Lula Lounge: Essential Tracks
Lula Lounge: Essential Tracks
This first release by the Lula Lounge Records label, Lula Lounge: Essential Tracks, focuses on Toronto’s thriving Latin scene and features established and emerging artists who have performed on the Lula stage over the past decade. The CD documents the evolution of Latin music in Toronto as waves of immigration to Canada from the Caribbean and Latin America brought corresponding swells in salsa music production. Included are pioneers of the Toronto Latin music revolution such as Jane Bunnett, Luis Mario Ochoa, Son Ache and Hilario Duran, established artists such as Caché and Luisito Orbegoso, as well as today’s most popular acts: Telmary, Yani Borrell, Jorge Maza, Roberto Linares Brown and Latin Grammy-winner Alex Cuba (formerly of the Puentes Brothers).


Son De Pueblo’s album Traditional Songs and Dances from Colombia (Arc Music, 2013) celebrates the joy of life with a mix of engaging Afro-Latin musical traditions from the plains, mountains, and the Caribbean peppered with salsa, rumba, and musical genres from throughout Latin America.


Cuba has been delivering some of the finest jazz pianists in recent years. Keyboardist Roberto Fonseca has a new album titled Yo (Montuno Producciones/Concord Jazz, 2013) where he mixes the sounds of Africa, Cuban roots and carnaval music, and the best electronic grooves, venturing into trip-hop.

Dominican bachata

Modern bachata star, singer-songwriter Juan Luis Guerra, is one of the most popular artists of Latin American music. He has an exciting live album titled Asondeguerra Tour loaded with many of his international hits.

Bachata Roja performs traditional bachata music from the Dominican Republic. The group has a recent album titled Amor y amargue (iASO Records, 2011) that features timeless bittersweet romance bachata classics.

Mexico and Mexican Diaspora

La Tuza - Son del Otro Lado
La Tuza – Son del Otro Lado
From Mexico comes the brand new album by Los Atemperados v2.0 titled De Barro y Maiz (Urtext, 2013). The group combines son jarocho (traditional music from the state of Veracruz, Mexico) as well as nueva trova, Latin American folk, baroque, contemporary classical and even a little progressive rock. The multi-instrumentalists of Los Atemperados v2.0 use a wide variety of instruments, including guitars, keyboards, jaranas, harp, flutes, contrabass, teponaztli, and and quijada (donkey jawbone).

La Tuza hails from the state of Massachusetts in the United States. The multinational band performs Mexican roots music and has an album titled Son del Otro Lado. The trio specializes in son huasteco of central Mexico, the lively son calentano from the Mexican Hotlands, and the syncopated son jarocho. La Tuza uses traditional Mexican instruments, such as jarana jarocha, guitar, jarana huasteca, requinto, violin, cajon, marimbol, pandero, and quijada (donkey jawbone).

Café con Pan started as a traditional son jarocho duo in Veracruz, Mexico. The musicians, Alex Dempster (guitarra de son) and vocalist Kali Niño moved to Toronto in 2009 and began incorporating urban sounds as well as composing original material. The group uses hand-crafted traditional guitars, zapateado dancing and percussion. Their recent CD is titled Nuevos Caminos a Santiago, recorded in Toronto, Los Angeles and Jalapa (Xalapa).


The brand new compilation Peru Maravilloso features a great selection of vintage 1960s and 1970s cumbia, guaracha, chicha, soul-jazz, Latin-jazz, rock and psychedelic music.

Puerto Rico

Plena masters and innovators Gary Nunez y Plena Libre released Corazon recently. The band is rooted in plena and bomba and adds other elements to its tasty mix such as Dominican merengue, Cuban songo, Latin jazz and rock. “We emphasize the sound of the drum in the eternal dialog with the voice and the rest of the musical ensemble,” says bandleader, bass player, and founder Gary Núñez, “as we adapt elements of jazz, rock, and other Latin and Afro-Caribbean music to our roots.”

Another fine release from Puerto Rico is Hijos de Agüeybaná’s Agua del Sol (Tumi Music, 2012). Bomba, a vibrant Afro-Puerto Rican musical genre is the focus of the album. The superb group introduces a wide range of bomba forms, from the very traditional to salsa, jazz and electronic explorations.


Buika - La Noche Mas Larga
Buika – La Noche Mas Larga
Afro-Spanish singer Buika has developed into one of the great divas of Spanish song. Her repertoire includes Spanish song 9copla), rancheras, flamenco, boleros, Afropop, and soul. Buika’s latest release “La Noche Mas Larga” (Warner Music Spain, 2013) was recorded with Madrid-based Cuban pianist Ivan “Melón” Lewis and also features skilled Spanish percussionist Ramón Porrina.

Legendary Madrid independent record label Nuevos Medios introduced the sounds of flamenco innovators in the early 1980s. A three CD anthology titled Nuevos Medios 30 Aniversario 1982-2012 collects some of the best artists in the label’s impressive roster. Nuevos Medios was created in 1982 by the late Mario Pacheco and Cucha Salazar. The aim of the company was producing popular music deeply rooted in the immense Spanish language tradition but with an international accent. Nuevos Medios broadened the limits of flamenco and Spanish pop music.

Malvela is a group of women from northeastern Spain spanning different generations, from Señora Carmen who was 86 years old at the time of the recording to Raquel Dominguez who was 32. The ladies from the Galician region are devoted to rescuing from oblivion the old songs of the Mos-Porrino region, on the border with Portugal. Malvela was created in a class about popular music taught by folk singer Uxia in her native village, Sanguineda. In 2002 they released their first album. Their most recent recording is “Raianas” (Fol Musica, 2011), their 4th album, recorded live. “Raianas” is a journey through the music of both banks of the Miño river, with traditional and contemporary songs along with new songs and some of the best known “hits” of the group. The album focuses on the Raiano (border) repertoire, rejoicing in the spirit of brotherhood with Portugal that Malvela have expressed since their first album.

Bagpiper and pianist Cristina Pato hails from the northeastern Spanish region of Galicia and currently lives in New York City. On her latest album, Migrations (Sunnyside, 2013) she brings together traditional Galician music, jazz, world sounds and classical music. “The idea of things and persons finding their space in another place without losing their identity serves here as the metaphor of my own way of finding a musical language that would honor my roots, my instinct, my education and all the beautiful things I have learned from other artists in my personal trip…”

Afro-jazz and world music trio Diouke features Senegalese musician Abdoulaye N’diaye (kora and voice), Frenchman Matthieu Saglio (cello) and Spaniard Carlos Sanchis (accordion, harmonica and keyboards). Together they weave a fascinating dialog with four voices: the kora, cello, accordion and the harmonica. The three musicians met in Valencia (one of Spain’s creative spots), a crossroads of Mediterranean cultures. For their first album, the trio invited Israeli percussion player Itamar Doari (who accompanied Avishai Cohen), drummer Jesús Gimeno (long-standing accomplice of Matthieu within flamenco jazz outfit Jerez-Texas), Cuban musician Roque Martínez on the saxophone, Brazilian vocalist Thais Morell, and the choruses of Nigerian singers Damilola and Morenike Otusemade.

Mundofonias’ The Ultimate Guide to Spanish Folk Music (Arc Music, 2013) is a great introduction to some of the leading contemporary folk music groups from many regions in Spain. The compilation was curated by the Mundofonías radio team, Juan Antonio Vázquez and Araceli Tzigane.

Radio Cos is a group from Spain’s northeast formed by Xurxo Fernandes and Quique Peon, singers and pandeireteiros (tambourine players), together with three prestigious instrumentalists: Pedro Lamas on bagpipes and soprano sax, Nikolay Velikov on violin and Xan Pampin on the accordion. Radio Cos have developed a new vision of Galician roots music, blending tradition with modern elements. The melodies used in their album were taken from their files of field recordings, gathered throughout more than three decades all over the Galician region.

Jazz singer Rebeca Vallejo was born and raised in Madrid. She lives in the New York area and has recorded an album titled Azúcar, Canela (sugar, cinnamon). Vallejo showcases her mix of traditional jazz with Brazilian bossa nova, and flamenco rhythms from her native Spain.

Andorra-born guitarist Vasco Hernández moved to Madrid as a baby and later to Barcelona. He has a new album titled Luz de otra manera. Hernández plays a lighter form of flamenco using guitar, palmas (handclap percussion) and zapateados (flamenco tapping) with modern and global instruments such as bass, darbuka, and clay pot drum.

United States

Southern California band Los Cenzontles (“The Mockingbirds”) have a new album titled Regeneration that features Los Lobos’ David Hidalgo and Jackson Browne. The group combines trippy vintage rock, several forms of the diverse Mexican traditional music, and the border-crossing sounds developed by young Mexican-Americans, the fastest growing demographic group in the United States.

UNC’s Charanga Carolina is the only university-based charanga ensemble in the state of North Carolina and probably in the United States. They have an album titled La Familia. The Cuban “charanga” ensemble features flute, violins, brass, piano, bass, and percussion. It is associated with danzón, a musical and dance style with roots in European light classical and Afro-Cuban music. The charanga also played a central role in the development of salsa music in the 1960s and 1970s in New York City. UNC’s Charanga Carolina specializes in Cuban danzón and New York-style salsa music. The ensemble is directed by David F. García.

David Correa and Cascada the San Francisco Bay Area have an album titled Eterna Primavera where Correa’s guitar travels through the world of Latin guitar, rumba flamenca, and Middle-Eastern influences as well. The musicians on the CD include David Correa on guitar, Lee Howard on bass & Tim Bolling on percussion and special guest Alfredo Caceres on guitar.


Florencia Gonzalez, composer, performer (multi woodwind player, singer), and session musician, leads bands that range from a duo of guitar and saxophone to a 20-piece Big Band. In addition to her jazz projects, she leads a Candombe Project, which includes horns, percussion, singing and a lot of beautiful tunes from Uruguay and Argentina. Her album is titled Woman Dreaming of Escape.


 Maria Márquez - Tonada
Maria Márquez – Tonada
Venezuelan singer Maria Márquez released Tonada (Adventure Music) this year. It’s the follow-up to her critically-acclaimed 2004 release, Nature’s Princess. Tonada was produced by Maria and renowned percussionist John Santos, and features some of the San Francisco Bay Area’s best musicians, such as Mr Santos, Peter Barshay, Rich Kuhns and Scott Amendola, among others. Also featured is special guest Ray Bonneville on slide guitar. “The hauntingly beautiful melodies derived from the Venezuelan folklore are an essential part of the fabric that makes me who I am. At the core of it all, I wanted to showcase the raw but powerful sound of the Venezuelan cuatro which is at the heart of Venezuelan folk music,” says Maria Márquez in the liner notes.

Raquel Cepeda is a Venezuelan jazz vocalist and full-time geologist in the Texas oil industry, who is also a visual artist, writer, and dancer. In 2001 she released her first CD, Juegos de Playa, which she recorded with singers Karina Stone, Antonia Toro, and Joanna Vega, along with important jazz musicians from her homeland, including Gonzalo Micó. Her new album is I’m Confessin (Peonia Music, 2013), produced by Paul English. I’m Confessin’ contains American standards, Brazilian bossa nova and sambas, Latin boleros, a Venezuelan tonada, and even a ballad of her own.

Mr. Pauer is the artistic name of a Venezuelan producer based in the Miami (Florida) area. He plays electronic music based in cumbia and other rhythms from South America. His album is titled Soundtrack.


The Latin Grammy nominees for Best Flamenco Album coincide with some of the best flamenco releases of the year: Tierra by guitar maestro Vicente Amigo (Legacy/Sony Music Entertainment España), Un Viaje Por El Cante by rising star Argentina (LP Flamenco/Rosevil Productions), Mi Única Llave by celebrated cantaor (singer) José Mercé (Blue Note Flamenco/EMI Music Spain), Autorretrato by the young heir to the Morente dynasty, Estrella Morente (EMI Music Spain), Real by popular cantaor Miguel Poveda (Universal Music Spain/Discmedi) and Soy Flamenco by legendary guitarist Tomatito (Universal Music Spain)

Although most flamenco albums are produced in Spain, occasionally you find recordings such as Al Gitano Por Flamenco (Acqua Records, 2011) by Geromo Amador y Hector Romero Ensamble released in Argentina. It is as flamenco tribute to popular Argentine singer Sandro. Geromo Amador is a Spanish Gypsy singer that performs regularly in Buenos Aires flamenco nightclubs. His colleague is a classically trained guitarist from Buenos Aires, who studied flamenco in Spain with El Entri, Paco Serrano, Antón Jiménez and Ramón Jiménez.


Africando - Viva Africando
Africando – Viva Africando
Africando is fascinating international salsa super-group that brings together West African vocalists deeply inspired by Cuban music and salsa with top Latin music musicians. The band has a new album titled Viva Africando. Producer Ibrahima Sylla and arranger Boncana Maiga flew a group of New York’s top Latin musicians led by pianist Oscar Hernandez to Paris. There they reunited with Africando’s vocal stars, Medoune Diallo, Sékouba Bambino, Amadou Ballaké and Shoubou, along with other guest singers from diverse African and American countries, singing in 10 different languages. The album finale features a tribute to Africando by the fabulous Spanish Harlem Orchestra, featuring Ray de la Paz.

Best Salsa Album Latin Grammy nominees this year include Una Mujer Que Canta by Albita; 25 Años, 25 Éxitos, 25 Artistas by Guayacán; Me Llamaré Tuyo by Víctor Manuelle; Que Seas Feliz by Tito Nieves; Gilberto Santa Rosa by Gilberto Santa Rosa; and Sergio George Presents Salsa Giants by Various Artists.


To find out more about the musics of Latin America and Spain, check out these books: Musics of Latin America by Robin Moore, Music of Latin America and the Caribbean by Mark Brill, The Garland Handbook of Latin American Music by Dale Olsen, The Latin Tinge: The Impact of Latin American Music on the United States by John Storm Roberts, and Gypsies and Flamenco: The Emergence of the Art of Flamenco in Andalusia by Bernard Leblon.

The anti-Hispanic propaganda in the English-speaking world is the subject of these two interesting books:
Spain’s Long Shadow: The Black Legend, Off-Whiteness, and Anglo-American Empire by María DeGuzmán; and Tree of Hate: Propaganda and Prejudices Affecting United States Relations with the Hispanic World by Philip Wayne Powell

Latin Grammy Nominees

Finally, we feature the Latin Grammy nominees not mentioned above who have released recordings in traditional, fusion or world music categories:

Best Contemporary Tropical Album

Leslie Grace by Leslie Grace
Escultura by Guaco
Asondeguerra Tour by Juan Luis Guerra
Amor Total by Toby Love
Amarle by Vocal Song

Best Traditional Tropical Album

Sentimentales by Lucy Fabery y Humberto Ramírez
La Canción Cubana by Miriam Ramos con Barbarito Torres, Ernán Lopez-Nussa y Rolando Luna
Un Siglo De Pasión by Arturo Sandoval
La Habana Tiene Su Son by Septeto Nacional Ignacio Piñeiro
Vamos Pa’ La Fiesta by Septeto Santiaguero

Best Tropical Fusion Album

Obsesiónate by Casadiego
Pégate by Grupo Treo
Boogaflow by Palmacoco
Suerte by Tecupae
Corazón Profundo by Carlos Vives

Best Instrumental Album

Presente by Bajofondo
Dos Mundos 2 by Huáscar Barradas & Leopoldo Betancourt
Trio by Hamilton de Holanda
Dances From The New World by Paquito D’Rivera y Sergio & Odair Assad
Latin American Classics by Theodore Kuchar Conducting The Orquesta Sinfónica De Venezuela

Best Folk Album

El Caballo De Oro by Reynaldo Armas
Luz – Una Navidad Celta En Venezuela by Gaêlica
Gualberto + C4 by Gualberto Ibarreto y C4 Trío
Clásicos – El Pecado Original by Los Nocheros
De Cantos y Vuelos by María Mulata
Carnaval En Piano Charango by Chuchito Valdés y Eddy Navia

Best Latin Jazz Album

What’s Up? By Michel Camilo
¡Ritmo! by The Clare Fischer Latin Jazz Big Band
On The Way by Negroni’s Trio
Live In Hollywood by Poncho Sanchez And His Latin Jazz Band
Border-Free by Chucho Valdés & The Afro-Cuban Messengers
Grand Piano Live by Chuchito Valdés


World Music Central’s Best World Music Albums of 2012

Fatoumata Diawara - Fatou
Fatoumata Diawara – Fatou
At World Music Central we don’t have a single list of best albums. Instead, we ask our writers and a special guest to send us their lists. These are the lists of 10 Best World Music Albums of 2012.

We begin with Lara López, our special guest for 2012:

Lara is a Madrid-based radio producer and DJ. She presents her own show broadcast nationwide called Músicas Posibles on Radio 3-Radio Nacional de España. Since 2003 she is a member of the European World Music Charts.

1. Fatoumata Diawara – “Fatou” (World Circuit Records)

2. Lucas Santtana – “O Deus Que Devasta Mas Tambén Cura” (Mais Um Discos)

3. The Toure Raichel Collective – “The Tel Aviv Session” (Cumbancha)

Mariem Hassan - El Aaiun Agdat
Mariem Hassan – El Aaiun Agdat
4. Antunes, Scandurra & Diabate – “A Curva Da Cintura” (Mais Um Discos)

5. Ablaye Cissoko and Volker Goetze – “Amanké Dionti” (Motema)

6. Luis Delgado – “Luis Delgado Dirigido Por Gerardo Vera” (Warner Spain)

7. Baloji – “Kinshasa Succursale” (Crammed Discs)

8. Various Artists – “World Routes – On the Road” (Nascente)

9. Mariem Hassan – “El Aaiun Agdat” (Nubenegra)

10. Staff Benda Bilili – “Bouger Le Monde” (Crammed Discs)

Tom Orr

Tom is a California-based writer and a regular CD reviewer for World Music Central. His list is in no order whatsoever.

The Toure Raichel Collective - The Tel Aviv Session
The Toure Raichel Collective – The Tel Aviv Session
1. 10 Ft. Ganja Plant – “10 Deadly Shots Vol II” (ROIR)

2. Koo Nimo – “Highlife Roots Revival” (Tugboat Records/World Music Network)

3. Dub Colossus – “Addis Through the Looking Glass” (Real World)

4. Novalima – “Karimba” (ESL)

5. Amadou & Mariam – “Folila” (Nonesuch)

6. The Toure Raichel Collective – “The Tel Aviv Session

7. Modogo & Sam – “Black Bazar” (Lusafrica)

8. Fanga/Maalem Abdallah Guinea – “Fangnawa Experience” (Strut Records)

9. Zieti – “Zemelewa” (Grigri)

10. Jimmy Cliff – “Rebirth” (Universal)

Madanmohan Rao

Madanmohan Rao is a Bangalore-based music editor & DJ, specializing in World Music and Jazz. He is a regular CD and concert reviewer for World Music Central

Anoushka Shankar – Traveller
Anoushka Shankar – Traveller
1. Anoushka Shankar – “Traveller” (Deutsche Grammophon)

2. Renata Rosa – “Manto dos Sonhos” (Sony)

3. Groupe Mazagan – “Introducing Groupe Mazagan” (World Music Network)

4. Various Artists – The Rough Guide to Samba (World Music Network)

5. Mário Moita – “Fado Navegante” (Arc Music)

6. Kamel El Harrachi – “Ghana Fenou” (Turn Again Music)

7. La Pongal – “Contemporary Tamil Music” (ArtSeek Records)

8. Damily – “Ela Lia” (Helico Music)

9. Mystik Vibes – “The Shadow Tree” (InstaMojo)

10. Vusa Mkhaya – “Vocalism” (Arc Music)

Rafael Mieses

Rafael is based in Tampa (Florida, USA) and is a regular contributor to Músicas del Mundo.com, our Spanish language world music website. His list is in no order.

1. Papo Vazquez – “Oasis” (Picaro Records)

Diego El Cigala - Cigala & Tango
Diego El Cigala – Cigala & Tango
2. Diego El Cigala – “Cigala & Tango” (Universal)

3. Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars – “Radio Salone” (Cumbancha)

4. Bela Fleck and Marcus Roberts Trio – “Across The Imaginary Divide” (Rounder)

5. Gilberto Gil – “Concerto de Cordas & Maquina de ritmo” (Biscoito Fino)

6. Alex Diaz & his Merengue Jazz – “Beyond 145th Street” (Jazz en Dominicana)

7. Branford Marsalis Quartet – “Four MF’s playin’ tunes” (Marsalis Music)

8. Rodriguez – “Searching for Sugarman” (Columbia/Legacy)

9. Alfredo Rodriguez – “Sounds of Space” (Mack Avenue)

10. Hamilton de Holanda Quintet – “Brasilianos 3” (Adventure Music)

Tony Hillier

Tony Hillier is one of Australia’s leading folk & world music writers and a member of the acclaimed Cairns-based band Kamerunga. Hillier’s informed and insightful coverage of music from all over the globe features in The Weekend Australian and Rhythms magazine

Here is Tony’s list of Ten Best Albums of 2012 with comments included.

Number One: Ondatropica – “Onda

A stunning re-interpretation of Colombia’s musical heritage, conceived by Colombian musician Mario Galeano and English producer Will ‘Quantic’ Holland. Has the potential to do for Colombian music what Buena Vista Social Club did for the music of Cuba.

Buika – In My Skin
Buika – In My Skin
2. Buika – “In My Skin

Buika is the daughter of political refugees from the African nation of Equatorial Guinea. She grew up on the Spanish island of Mallorca. Her music is a unique blend of flamenco, jazz, soul and blues.

Bellowhead – “Broadside

The English folk canon has been catapulted into the 21st century on the back of this bodacious behemoth. With a blend of bravura playing and bravado arranging, a score of different instruments and a range of styling, Bellowhead has blown away cobwebs and all vestiges of chunky sweaterdom to reawaken a slumbering giant of a genre.” http://www.bellowhead.co.uk

4. Sandy Evans & Friends – “Cosmic Waves

Inspired Indo-jazz fusion from Sydney saxophonist Sandy Evans and Indian music champions Sruthi Laya.

5. Kelly Joe Phelps – “Brother Sinner & The Whale

American troubadour Kelly Joe Phelps’ poignant solo gospel-inflected album brims with magical finger-picking and slide guitar work.

Joseph Tawadros  - Concerto of The Greater Sea
Joseph Tawadros – Concerto of The Greater Sea
6. Joseph Tawadros – “Concerto of The Greater Sea

Egyptian-Australian composer and Arabic lute virtuoso celebrates his deep connection with the ocean in this collaboration with brother James, pianist Matt McMahon, viola player Christopher Moore and violinist/orchestrator Richard Tognetti and the Australian Chamber Orchestra. Well-deserved winner of the 2012 ARIA Best World Music album award.

7. Mara! & The Martenitsa Choir – “Tra Parole e Silenzio

Long-time champions of world music in Australia, Mara! deliver songs, in Italian, based on the poignant poetry of late human rights lawyer Edoardo Di Giovanni. http://www.maramusic.com.au

8. The Toure Raichel Collective – “The Tel Aviv Session

A chance meeting in a German airport led to this collaboration between Israeli superstar Idan Raichel and Malian guitar virtuoso Vieux Farka Touré́. Israeli bassist Yossi Fine and Malian calabash player Souleymane Kane add spice to an inspired work. http://www.toureraichel.com

The Imagined Village – Bending The Dark
The Imagined Village – Bending The Dark
9. The Imagined Village – “Bending The Dark

Renowned English folkies Eliza & Martin Carthy are part of TIV’s often-changing line-up, guided by Afro-Celt Sound System founder Simon Emmerson. Age-old tunes such as Cuckoo’s Nest and The Bedmaking are set adrift in a serpentine sea of swirling sound and rhythm that incorporates Asian chants, sitar, east European Gypsy-klezmer fiddle, Martin Carthy’s distinctive acoustic guitar, a drumming duel and other seemingly disparate elements.

10. Archie Roach – “Into The Bloodstream

Gospel, blues and soul inspire this reconnection with aboriginal veteran Archie Roach’s creative spirit. A joyous celebration of resilience and the power of the spirit.

Patricia Herlevi

Patricia is a regular contributor to World Music Central. She also runs her own blog called Whole Music Experience. She includes her list of top 10 CDs for the year and honorable mentions.

Top 10 World Music CDs for 2012

1. Silvana Kane – “La Jardinera” (Six Degrees Records)

2. Hijos de Agueybana – “Agua del Sol” (Tumi Records)

3. Irene and Francis Jacob – “Je Sais Nager” (Sunnyside Records)

4. The Toure Raichel Collective – “The Tel Aviv Session” (Cumbancha)

Good Lovelies - Let the Rain Fall”
Good Lovelies – Let the Rain Fall
5. Good Lovelies – “Let the Rain Fall” (Warner Canada)

6. “Mountain Music Project” (independent release)

7. Los Gauchos de Roldan – “Button Accordion and Bandoneon Music from
Northern Uruguay” (Smithsonian Folkways)

8. Os Cempes – “Tentemozo” (Folmusica)

9. Radmilla Cody – “Shi Keyah: Songs for the People” (Canyon Records)

10. Mahsa and Marjan Vahdat – “Twinkling of Hope” (Kirkelig Kulturverksted)

Honorable Mentions:

1. Lo’Jo – “Cinema el Mundo” (World Village)

2. Le Vent du Nord – “Tromper le Temps” (Borealis Records)

3. Chris Berry – Oka! (soundtrack/field recording), independent release

4. Tony Duncan – “Earth Warrior” (Canyon Records)

Best Compilation:

“Putumayo Presents… African Blues” Putumayo Records

Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz is the founder and managing editor of World Music Central. His list is in no order.

Annbjørg Lien - Khoom Loy
Annbjørg Lien – Khoom Loy
1. Annbjørg Lien – “Khoom Loy” (Heilo/Compass Records)

2. Gerardo Núñez – “Travesía” (The Act Company)

3. The Olllam – “The Olllam” (Compass Records)

4. Ana Alcaide – “La Cantiga del Fuego” (ARC Music)

5. Debo Band – “Debo Band” (Next Ambiance/Sub Pop)

6. Fatoumata Diawara – “Fatou” (World Circuit/Nonesuch Records)

7. Anoushka Shankar – “Traveller” (Deutsche Grammophon)

8. Kan – “Sleeper” (KANCD01, 2012)

9. Samuel Yirga – “Guzo” (Real World Records)

10. Diego El Cigala – “Cigala & Tango” (Universal)

Best Compilation:

Carlos Núñez – “Discover” (Sony Masterworks)

Upcoming Artists:

Amós Lora, born in Madrid on September 21, 1999 is the 13 year old flamenco guitar prodigy from Madrid (Spain) who recorded his first solo album titled Cerro Negro at 12. His technique has impressed the international guitar community and the CD booklet includes an introduction by the grand master of flamenco guitar, Paco de Lucía.

Amós’ performance on video of Paco de Lucia’s classic ‘Entre dos Aguas’ has been viewed by over half a million visitors.

Kardemimmit is a superb Finnish ensemble of young singers and kantele players. Their latest album is titled “Autio Huvila” (Frigg)


World Music Central’s 2012 Gift Guide

Putumayo Celtic Christmas
It’s that time of year again when World Music Central gives up the goods for our Holiday Gift Guide. We’ve found a boatload of new goodies to add this year, as well as some old favorites. So there’s no reason to tap your stash of boxed fruitcakes you bought back in 1975 or rummage through closets or attics looking to re-gift ugly sweaters, hat and glove gift sets or that The Best of Lionel Richie CD you got from you Aunt Sally. No, this year you are heading toward gold gift-giving status with some of our picks for the music lover in your life, and maybe if you’ve been really, really good some nice person will get you some of these goodies for you off your wish list.

Let’s kick things off with a little holiday music.

Christmas: The Mountain Way is a CD/DVD set with performances by Dale Ann Bradley, Steve Gulley, Marty Raybon, Audi Blaylock, Cumberland River and Common Strings packed with tracks like “Joy To The World,” “In The Sweet By and By,” “O Holy Night” and “Go Tell It On the Mountain” for an Appalachian Mountain inspired Christmas.

A Six Degrees Collection: Christmas Remixed – Holiday Classics Re-Grooved
Celtic Woman has offered up Home for Christmas with goodies like “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” “Hark The Herald Angels Sing” and “Adeste Fideles.” Other new offerings include Estrelas do Natal with such artists like Luiz Melodia, Jorge Vercillo and Margareth Menezes; The Classic Christmas Album by Willie Nelson; Mannheim Steamroller’s Candlelight Christmas ; On a Cold Winters Day: Early Christmas Music and Carols from the British Isles by Quadriga Consort; Putumayo Celtic Christmas and Canadian Ron Korb’s Europa.

For some older holiday music recordings you might want to check out Latin Christmas’s Merengue Navidad y Año Nuevo;” Jewish Cello Masterpieces by Richard Locker, Susan Walters, Ernest Bloch, Max Bruch and Maurice Ravel; Jazz and Blues Christmas by Putumayo Presents; World Christmas Party, also by Putumayo Presents; And Winter Came by Enya; Celtic Thunder’s Celtic Thunder Christmas and A Six Degrees Collection: Christmas Remixed – Holiday Classics Re-Grooved with various artists.

There’s also the Anthology of Moravian Folk Music Advent and Christmas Holidays, a very nice 5-CD set with booklet. The Voices of Bulgaria Perunika Trio has put out A Bright Star Has Risen as some lovely fare for your holidays.

Fun Stuff

Stylophone Music Synthesizer
Now for some fun stuff. There’s a saying about “a little something for everybody,” well, we got a whole lot for just about any music student, music teacher or music lover. Whether it’s the Music Lover’s Pen, the Well Noted Over the Door Hanger, Piano Key Chain or the Kikkerland Make Your Own Music Box Kit, there’s a whole heap of gifts looking for a stocking to stuff or a gift box to fill. Here’s a few that might strike the fancy of the music obsessed person on your list.

Greetings Card Sheet Music In San Domingo– These retro, beautifully handcrafted inked cards sport various old song book covers and would make a very nice framed collection.

Stylophone Music Synthesizer or Stylophone Retro Pocket Synth – These hand-held synthesizers have been recently re-launched with volume control, headphone or amplifier socket or MP3 socket and pitch control. Every synthesizer freak in the world wants ones of these babies.

R & M Musical 7 Piece Cookie Cutter Set – Talk about cool cookies!

Vinyl Record Clock – Pick an artist like Frank Sinatra, Pink Floyd, Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones or others and pick a recording and get that 12” vinyl record fashioned into a wall clock.

Carter’s 4 Piece Crib Bedding Set
Painting of India Embossed Miniature Painting of Indian Music Instruments on Marble Plate – These are just too lovely.

Divatex Rock & Roll Full Sheet Set

Musical Notes Fleece Throw Blanket

Red Black Guitar Comforter Bedding Set Full/Queen – Hey, sometimes you’ve just got to dream with a musical inspiration.

DENY Designs Anderson Design Group Music City Shower Curtain, 69 by 72-Inch – I know this is really specific, but I did say something for everybody.

Trend Lab 4 Piece Crib Bedding Set, Rockstar

Carter’s 4 Piece Crib Bedding Set, Monkey Rockstar – This is just the cutest thing around, so if you know someone about to have baby’s first Christmas this is really good gift for the fun-loving parents.


There’s a boatload of musically inspired posters that if framed would make a nice gift. Here are some options:

Old Guitarist Art Poster Print by Pablo Picasso
Bob Marley “One Good Thing About Music“, Music Slim Poster Print, Woodstock (3 Days of Peace & Music, Red) Music Poster Print, Guitar Heaven Chart of Famous Guitars Music Poster Print, Plato Music Quote Art Print Poster, Bob Dylan Piano Music Poster Print, Old Guitarist Art Poster Print by Pablo Picasso, Guitar Chords Learn to Play Print Music Poster, Fender Stratocaster Diagram Music, 1934 Cordoba Playing Music Europe Travel Tourism Spain Vintage Poster Repro, Django Reinhardt Poster, Jazz Pioneer, Gypsy Guitarist.

Other artful goodies include Benzara’s Lets Rock Guitar Metal Art Décor Sculpture(), Ashton Sutton Musical Clef Wall Clock or the Saraswati – Hindu Goddess of Knowledge, Music & Art statue.

Gifts for children

If you’ve got kids or people who act like kids and need a device, game or puzzle to keep them occupied on your list you might want to peruse some of these gift ideas:

Drums Chalkboard Peel and Stick Wall Decal – What could be better if you’ve got little ones who love to draw on walls?

Woodstock Bamboo Rainstick

Melissa & Doug Deluxe Band Set
Melissa & Doug Band in a Box or Melissa & Doug Deluxe Band Set – These are great for getting the wee ones in the groove, but keep in mind you are going to be hearing these instruments for a long, long time.

Vtech – 3-in-1 Musical Band

LeapFrog Learn and Groove Music Wand – This might drive some parents crazy but what a great way to teach about tempo.

B. Parum Pum Pum Drum

Ucreate Music – A very cool gift.

Multi Voice Changer by Toysmith. It allows you to change voice with 10 different voice modifiers. – Hey, I know my husband would play with one of these.

Game systems

If game systems are on your list you might want to check out a few of these.

Music Box Sets and DVDS

Okay, let’s hit the shelves for some music box sets and DVDs.

Return of the Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of
First up is Return of the Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of, a follow-up to Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of. And oh boy, this two-CD set is worth its weight in gold with tracks like “Roll and Tumble Blues” by Hambone Willie Newburn, “The Panama Limited” by Washington (Bukka) White, “Mon Chere Bebe Creole” by Dennis McGee and Sady Courville, “Fort Smith Breakdown by Luke Hignight & His Ozark Strutters, “Sun To Sun Blues” by Blind Blake and “Some These Days I’ll Be Gone” by Charley Patton. Chocked with 46 tracks of some of America’s 1920s recorded gems, this is the stuff that any self-respecting music lover would crawl over broken glass to get.

The Tito Puente Quatro: The Definitive Collection box set boasts 5 digitally re-mastered CDs, photos, artwork and liner notes by author, curator and music historian Joe Conzo, Add to that another yummy collection – Etta James: The Complete Private Music Blues Rock N Soul Albums Collection is a 7-CD set of some of the very best of Ms. James and her recordings on the Private Music and RCA labels.

For reggae fans, there’s Reggae Golden Jubilee – Origins of Jamaican Music. This box set boasts “100 of the most significant hit songs to emerge from the first fifty years of Jamaican independence, handpicked by the former Jamaican Prime Minister, the Honorable Edward Seaga. Paul Simon’s Graceland 25th Anniversary Edition CD/DVD set is available this season, as is Turkish Tradition – Masterpieces of Culture.

History of Indian Film Music
A few classics you might have missed include Fela Vinyl Box Set #1, Africa – 50 Years Of Music by Blaireaux, Bob Marley’s Live Forever: The Stanley Theatre, Pittsburgh PA September 23, 1980 [Limited Edition Collector’s Box with “Highlights” CD + T-Shirt], Anthology – Traditional Sufi Qawwalis, 100 Beats: Arabica by Various Artists and finally the box set History of Indian Film Music by History of Indian Film Music.

Now for DVDs, music fans might like The Mountain Music Project: A Musical Odyssey from Appalachia to Himalaya with Tim O’Brien, Tony Trischka and Riley Baugus, or Celtic Thunder’s Heritage, Tenth Decade – Live in Escondido starring Ravi Shankar or Paco DeLuci & Group. There’s also Fela Kuti’s Fela Kuti: Teacher Don’t Teach Me Nonsense & Berliner Jazztage ’78.

Naxos Records has come out with a DVD collection called A Music Journey. With a whole host of countries to choose from, one can go from Russia/Ukraine/Uzbekistan to Germany to Southern Italy and Sicily to England to China to Madrid, La Mancha, Toledo or even take a scenic musical journey of Norway.

For a few of the oldies but goodies there World Music Portrait: Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Play for Change: Peace Through Music and Music Makers: Buena Vista Social Club. Wahoo!


If books on your gift list World Music by Jesse Russell and Ronald Cohn or Guitar World The Best Instruction Book by Guitar World might just be a hit. There’s also Terry E. Miller and Andrew Shihriari’s World Music: A Global Journey in the paperback and CD set value pack or Rick Beyer’s The Greatest Music Stories Never Told: 100 Tales from Music History to Astonish, Bewilder, and Stupefy. With all sorts of genres, formats and artists available, music books or instructional guides might just be a clever addition to a CD or even a musical instrument.

Musical Instruments

Antonio Hermosa AJ-15 Flamenco Guitar
Speaking of musical instruments, this just might be the year that you give the gift that keeps on giving by presenting that special person in your life a lovely musical instrument. You might even put one on your own wish list, finally fulfilling that lifelong desire to learn to play an instrument.

With a plethora of styles and starter kits out there, giving a musical instrument is easy. There’s Alfred’s Kid’s Guitar Course, Complete Starter Pack or for the more seasoned player on your list there is Fender Starcaster Natural Acoustic Guitar Kit, Fender Starcaster Strat Electric Guitar Starter Pack, Full sized Black Guitar with Amp, Case and Accessories Pack Beginner Starter Package and the Lauren LA30N 30-inch Student Guitar just for starters. For the even more advanced and the very special people on your list there is the Antonio Hermosa AJ-15 Flamenco Guitar or the Cordoba 55 FCE Thin Body Flamenco Acoustic-Electric Guitar with Humicase.

Guitars aren’t your thing? Well, there are percussion sets, cajones, bongos, harmonicas, ukuleles, tin whistles, violins, jaw harps, kazoos, ocarinas, bamboo flutes, banjos, thumb pianos, sitars and even didgeridoos. Look at this way, learning to play an instrument will help the little people in your life with math, science and patience skills and help the somewhat older people in your life make it through the long winter and enrich their lives. Hey, maybe you can team up with another gift giver and offer a set of lessons to go along with the instrument.


Here are some of our favorites in the electronics department:

iPods and MP3s come in all sizes and capacities. This year you can choose an Apple product or a host of other MP3 players that fit just about every budget.

Apple iPod touch 32GB Black (4th Generation)

Here are some of the headphones we like. Remember these should come with a warning about volume level and hearing loss for younger users.

For those with a sizable vinyl collection or for those looking to go back to the good old turntable, here are a few options.

Audio-Technica AT-LP120-USB Direct-Drive Professional Turntable (USB & Analog)

Here’s just a few more, clever little gift ideas:

Finally, don’t forget to give to those who need this season. Our favorite charities include VH–1’s Save the Music and the Music Maker Foundation, but donating an old unused instrument to your local school’s music department or local community center will go a long way to preserving the music you love and bring some real joy to someone who could use the help.


Interview with Rising Sephardic and World Music Performer Ana Alcaide

Ana Alcaide
Photo by Lucía Herrero
Spanish musician Ana Alcaide has become a familiar name in Europe thanks to her new album La Cantiga del Fuego that hit the world music charts in Europe at number three. The album will be available in Europe and North America in November 2012.

World Music Central’s Angel Romero interviewed Ana Alcaide to find out more about her background and La Cantiga del Fuego.

When did you begin learning music?

At six. My parents detected that I had a gift for music and signed me up for after school programs in my school.

Which was your first musical instrument?

The violin.

How many instruments do you play now?

Primarily the nyckelharpa, violin and vocals. I have an ability to play instruments, specially the bowed strings (rabel, kamanche, other fiddles). There are many others that also attract me and that I use in studio recordings, such as the Celtic harp and santur. The problem is finding time to study all!

You use as your main instrument the nyckelharpa, a Swedish instrument that is not well known in Spain. How did you discover it?

Ana Alcaide with her nyckelharpa
Photo by Lucía Herrero
When I was finishing my degree in Biology, I was given an Erasmus scholarship to study in Sweden and I lived in Lund for a year. Attracted by the great Swedish musical tradition, during my free time I tried to attend all the music events posible and in one of them I saw a nyckelharpa for the first time. I fell in love with its sophistication and depth of sound.

Where did you learn how to play it?

Two years later, in Toledo. Until then, I didn’t have the economic means to get one. Then I started to play in the streets of Toledo during weekends, since during the weekdays I studied violin at the conservatory. A few years later I returned to Sweden to complete mu music training and to deepen my knowledge of the nyckelharpa.

You latest album is titled La Cantiga del Fuego. What does it mean?

Ana Alcaide – La Cantiga del Fuego
The name comes from a traditional Sephardic song from Thessaloniki in Greece, that describes a fire that took place in that city. This title seemed very symbolic and suggestive, and I used it as the main the thread of the entire work: ‘The cantiga del fuego is the voice that has always been inside and that leads us to be what we are, that ancient powerful voice that echoes inside us since ancestral times.’

The songs on Las canciones de La Cantiga del Fuego have a Sephardic nature but they are original. What sources did you use to write the lyrics and compose the music?

I like to compose new melodies in the ancient language. The composition process is a very special phase: I let myself be carried by my instincts and I leave the rational on the side. When an idea appears, I try to mold it and find the song. I’m passionate and have fun arranging and producing my musical ideas. It’s what I enjoy the most!

When I compose a song, I always begin with the melody, lyrics come later. Perhaps because I feel more an instrumentalist than a singer, and the world of melodies is where I feel it’s easier to create. For this album I had the collaboration of my great friend and poet Beatriz Moreno-Cervera, who wrote two of the lyrics for my melodies. It’s been a really fun and enriching collaboration, that I’m sure will continue in the future!

What musicians did you use to carry out this Project?

Guitarist Josete Ordoñez, one of the participants in la Cantiga del Fuego
This has been my first large production experience and I have learned a lot. I used great musicians and friends who provided special and enriching sonorities, expanding and coloring my musical ideas. The list of collaborators is very long and begins with the musicians with whom I work regularly. On ‘La Cantiga del Fuego’ you can listen to the psaltery, santur and oud of Bill Cooley, winds by Jaime Muñoz, basses by Renzo Ruggiero, guitars by Josete Ordoñez and Rafa del Teso, percussion by Diego López and Sergey Saprychev. In addition, there are very specific special collaborations such as the voice of Iranian artist Reza Sheyesteh, the Greek lyre of Dimitri Psonis and the hansa veena of Ido Segal.

Do you plan to take La Cantiga del Fuego to the stage?

The album came out in May in Spain, but I’ve been presenting live since January. I’ve performed over 40 concerts this year, most of them in Spain and a handful in France, Italy and Portugal. It’s been a very intense and productive year. In the future I plan to do international tours.

La Cantiga del Fuego, which is an independent production reached number 3 in the European World Music Charts. What does this mean to you and did you increase your sales?

Ana Alcaide with the nyckelharpa
Photo by Lucía Herrero
Undoubtedly, it’s a great recognition that fills me with hope and motivation to continue! Sincerely, I was not expecting it, and I am very grateful to everybody who has supported me and I feel a commitment to continue to offer the best of me. These types of recognitions don’t have an immediate direct effect in record sales, but rather positive long term consequences, such as more publicity and international recognition.

I understand that British label Arc Music is going to release the album in November

Yes, I’m very excited!! ARC Music is going to release the album worldwide and this is a very good opportunity to get international exposure for my music, as well as reaching places that I can’t reach. I’m very happy to work with the ARC team.

You live in the ancient city of Toledo, a city in which Jews, Christians and Muslims coexisted. Paco de Lucia lived in Toledo recently. What does it mean to live in Toledo? And why do you think it attracts musicians and other artists?

Ana Alcaide in the streets of Toledo
Photo by Lucía Herrero
Toledo is a beautiful city that attracts numerous artists because of its extremely rich historical past, no wonder it’s known as the ‘city of the three cultures.’ It’s a city that allows itself to be rediscovered over and over again. To me, it means a daily environment for inspiration, and I love being carried away by its influence. I’ve lived here for 10 years and this environment has provided me the necessary ingredients to develop my musical and artistic career: spirituality, inspiration, history. I love living in Toledo, I carry her with me.

Lately, there seems to be a renewed interest in Sephardic music in Israel, Spain, the United States, Europe and several countries in the Mediterranean. Why do you think there is such an interest?

In Spain, the interest has to do with tourism reasons, since we have a Jewish heritage that has not been promoted enough. I don’t know the reasons in other countries. In any case, the story of the Sephardic peoples is really interesting: it means a great example of coexistence, exchange and cultural enrichment.

If you could gather your ideal musicians or bands, who would you call?

Ana Alcaide
Photo by Lucía Herrero
What a difficult question! Above all, I admire great producers and composers, such as Gustavo Santaolalla, Nycky Ryan (Enya), Mike Oldfield, Karl Jenkins (Adiemus), Alan Parsons, and Quincy Jones. I love the songs by groups like Abba and Roxette. I understand music in 360º.

Spain is suffering a great economic crisis. How is it affecting musicians?

Being a musician in Spain is not considered a serious or honorable job. It’s not well recognized academically or valued socially. There is no support for musical creation, or for projects, or tours. The few supports available are practically designated, since Spain is a very corrupt country. In general, people don’t understand that we musicians are professionals who play a role in society, like other professionals. We don’t have a professional association that represents or supports us, and we are much disunited among ourselves. The fundamental problem is a great lack of culture, a tremendous lack of vision that feeds the great cultural crisis that is eating up Spain. The radical measures of cuts in education and the arts show a great ignorance by those who are in charge and forecast a very dark future. It’s very disheartening to live in such an environment with so little motivation. As a Spaniard, I am not proud at all of this situation and sometimes I feel like running away.

What music are you currently listening to?

Ana Alcaide
Photo by Lucía Herrero
Lately I listen to soundtracks. I find very interesting the job of joining music and film. The latest album I purchased is the soundtrack of ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ by Harry Gregson-Williams.

What do you like to do during your free time?

I travel a lot. I always love to have a trip in mind so that I can dream about it and plan it. I’m very attracted to other cultures and learning more about them. I love to go out to the countryside, specially the mountains. I like to read and cook a lot. I’m interested in natural sciences, phytotherapy and natural remedies.

What country or countries would you like to visit?

In general all! I’d love to see India, Korea, Thailand and the south of Asia. I’d also like to see Albania. I would also like to know more about Latin America, where people seem happy and joyful. I’d like to go to Chile and Costa Rica. My next trip is to Mexico, a country that I know and love. I like to learn about places in depth. I prefer to stay in a place for a long time and get to know it well rather than traveling in a superficial way.

If someone were to travel to Toledo, what places would you recommend for sightseeing, food and music?

Círculo de Arte Toledo (Spain). Photo courtesy of Círculo de Arte Toledo
Above all, my recommendation is that they forget about maps and get lost in its streets. Aside from the main monuments, I recommend that they visit historical spaces that open only on certain days and that are quite charming (organized by consorcio de Toledo). Also the thematic routes, there are some that are really varied and interesting.

For food: La Abadía. To have a coffee or attend a concert, the Círculo de Arte de Toledo.

What other projects do you have?

My family. I have a beautiful son and a wonderful partner! I love being with them. If I had more time, I would study some natural medicine, Philosophy and Art History.