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world music These two LPs, both recorded in Vietnam, fit together in this review no better than a CAFO full of corn fed, corporate cattle and a back yard full of organic mustard greens. Whatever the case, they have a country in common. Hanoi Masters: War Is A Wound, Peace Is A Scar, apparently the first volume in Glitterbeat's Hidden Musics series, is a gem. Yet, it's not like anything here hasn't been heard before. The twang of Vietnamese mono-chord instruments has appeared on labels ranging from Folkways to Ocora. But that doesn't keep this collection from perhaps being the greatest assortment of buoyant, hardcore, exceedingly rare folk-based music from a particularly fertile sliver of southeast Asia ever released... The latest in Sublime Frequencies' confounding, mapless, aural travelogues into "the other" is Radio Vietnam a jarring stew of politically charged transistor snippets, news in English, ESL lessons, Vietnamese electric slide street guitar, lo-fi, synth drenched pop... Bruce Miller lets you know what works, and what doesn't.

 

world music Although French accordionist Jean-Louis Matinier and Marco Ambrosini, Italian virtuoso of the nyckelharpa (a Swedish traditional instrument that is something of a cross between hurdy-gurdy and vielle), have existed as a duo since 2008, it took a period of refinement before their music at last saw the digital light of day. Anyone who has followed the career of Anouar Brahem in the 21st century will have encountered Matinier alongside the Tunisian oudist on 2002's Le Pas Du Chat Noir and 2006's Le Voyage De Sahar. Ambrosini is recognized as a leading proponent of the nyckelharpa and has carried that instrument in fresh directions across a varied terrain of recordings. Matinier has elsewhere characterized his musical relationship with Ambrosini as “a total dialogue,” and the description could hardly be more appropriate. In Inventio, they complete each other's sentences. Tyran Grillo finds depth of interpretation that leads them across all borders.

 

world music Pray for Brain is a band unlike any other. This instrumental ensemble pushes the envelope and is refreshingly impossible to categorize. Rock, jazz and funk, along with a range of South Asian and Middle Eastern influences, slip between traces of surf, rockabilly and country in a great mix of cultures that twist and turn at the drop of a hat. The band emerged out of Sama Duo, formed by Mustafa Stefan Dill (guitars, oud) and Jefferson Voorhees (drums). When the pair jammed with Christine Nelson (upright bass), an instant connection was shared and a trio was born. None of the Above captures the unexpected magic of the Albuquerque-based group in an exciting way. Alex Brown finds it a diverse and unpredictable journey.

 

world music In the Basque Country, the trikitixa or diatonic accordion has dominated folk music over the past 150 or so years. The Basque trikitixa is traditionally played with a tambourine alongside, and perhaps, a vocal accompaniment. The name synonymous with the trikitixa over the past 25 to 30 years is that of the Bilbao-based marvel, Kepa Junkera, who burst onto the Basque local scene with his appearance at the national competitions in 1988. Joined by the Basque vocal group Sorginak he presents Trikitixaren historia Txiki bat - A Short History of the Trikitixa, a CD with an accompanying hardcover book by Josean Agirre, that tells the story of the trikitixa's absorption into Basque culture, its troubles with the church and later, the Spanish state, and its emergence in the 1980s as a vibrant token of Basque nationality. David Cox shares the music and the history of the 'little hand sound,' the trikitixa.

 

world music Radio for the week of May 2nd, 2015
This week marks the 150th edition of RootsWorld Radio. We'll be focusing on percussion, from the avant garde to folk and funk. We'll also present an audio review of a new anthology of the work of Ghana's King of Highlife, E.T. Mensah. Other artists will include Tim Patterson (performing percussion works by John Bergamo), Brooklyn Gypsies, Fliflet/Hamre (Norway), Andreas Aase (Norway), Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino (Puglia, Italy, Pekko Kappi & K.H.H.L. (Finland), Rasgueo (Berlin), Fatoumata Diawara & Roberto Fonseca (Mali/Cuba) and Jonah Sithole & Deep Horizon (Zimbabwe).

Get more info on days and times for the broadcasts.

Listen to some previous programs on demand.

 

world music There were so many musical continents whose discovery, or perhaps sole existence, owe themselves to what were then the advanced technologies of the gramophone, amplification, or the radio. These devices, mixed with a heaping wallop of colonization, world war, shipping, immigration, and a growing western influence in general concocted musical stews that don't seem particularly avant-garde now; however, not so many decades ago, they either led to further musical explosions- such was the case with African American proto-rock and roll, aka R & B- or became the explosions themselves, an example of which spans this set. While highlife never hit American shores during its mid twentieth century heyday, it, alongside Congolese rhumba, changed everything in formidable hunks of Sub-Saharan Africa. And it was Ghana's E.T. Mensah and The Tempos who was at the helm of this change. The music on King of Highlife Anthology, 69 tracks from the band's golden era- 1950s and 1960s- includes Mensah's earliest, rawest, and probably best material. Bruce Miller delves deep into this substantial 4 disc and book set.

 

world music Like the image gracing the cover of this self-titled debut, Ensemble Ériu describes shapes carved into the earth over eons. And yet, there is undeniable freshness to its erosions. Such dynamic balance is embodied in cofounders Jack Talty and Neil O'Loghlen, who together arrange all of the material here and bake its stylistic mélange to a crisp. Where Talty's concertina epitomizes the sounds of old, O'Loghlen's bass thrives on jazz, though his traditional heart beats audibly when he picks up a flute or whistle. New interpretations of standard fare may often be said to stand out from the rest. Not so with Ensemble Ériu. Theirs stand in the rest, showing breadth of deference and influence in every song. Tyran Grillo thinks you will be challenged and delighted by this unique Irish ensemble.

 

world music Cuban pianist-composer-bandleader Omar Sosa has resided outside his homeland for over 20 years, and while he has engaged and recorded with an extraordinary array of artists from four continents, his ceaseless musical inspiration remains deeply rooted in Cuba and the African Diaspora, in the island's Lucumí spiritual tradition that gives this recording its name, ilé, home, earth.... Of Sosa's many ensembles over time, he is literally at home with fellow homeboy Camagüey conservatory mates Leandro Saint-Hill and Ernesto Simpson, buoyed by more than a decade's rhythmic partnership with Mozambican Childo Tomas. Omar Sosa Quarteto AfroCubano is one tight and versatile quartet, interweaving musical idioms from across the globe without ever a hint of the derivative. Michael Stone listens in.

 

world music For a country that hardly seems able to catch an even break, Haiti makes some great music that runs the gamut. Tabou Combo, arguably Haiti's most popular band, modernized African/Francophone/indigenous roots to a point of achieving international success but put off some traditionalists in the process, while artists like Boukman Eksperyans and Emeline Michel reined in the contemporary aspects of their sound enough to find the best of both worlds. Then there's Boulpik, a sextet that for the last decade has been specializing in an acoustic version of the konpa dance music popular in Haiti since the 1950s. The back cover of their CD Konpa Lakay refers to their style as street music. Their instrumental lineup of dual banjos, marimbula bass and percussion makes for a loose, jaunty sound... Tom Orr takes you to the roots of Haiti.

 

world music Can a bustling Brazilian song and Swedish slangspolska happily coexist? Can a Denmark-based duo without a squeezebox do justice to a Dominquinhos song about a sensitive accordion? The answer seems to be "yes, indeed." Vingefang - Miriam Ariana (voice and strings) and Lene Høst (voice, guitar and percussion) bring a clarity to their music that seems to demand the word "delightful." Whether it is their own compositions or a journey through the music of France, Denmark, Sweden and Brazil, they make it all their own... The editor shares his delight.

 

world music FatDog is an amalgam of two bands: the jazz trio Fattigfolket, and the folk trio Doggerland. Posterity will know that the groups joined forces one summer night in 2011, at a festival held on the Swedish Koster Islands. The result is has been nothing less than remarkable: a group that has found a comfortable niche in combining Nordic and English folk, with plenty of room for improvisation. This allows FatDog's wind section plenty of 'breathing room.' The group also features the vocals, concertina, guitar, and cittern, hurdy-gurdy and upright bass. The results can be heard on New Found Land. Lee Blackstone finds it all has a seamless, timeless quality.

 

 


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world music

Following a six-year silence, master oudist Anouar Brahem returns with his most personal, yet somehow selfless, project yet. During the revolution that gripped his native Tunisia at the turn of 2011, Brahem experienced a creative drought and spent the following years gathering enough water to nourish the seeds that would become Souvenance. The title means "remembrance," but the music looks resolutely forward, drinking in uncertainty as if it were the only sustenance visible from atop the rubble of uprising. Though Brahem claims no direct correlation to these events, their echoes remain, needing to be heard. Souvenance brings together a new assemblage for Brahem, who situates his rosette within a quartet of piano, bass clarinet, soprano saxophone, and electric bass. One further layer finds realization in the Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana. Tyran Grillo shares a recording shows the artist at the height of maturity.

 

world music Three recordings feature Markus Tullberg, Swedish flute wunderkind, in a number of different projects that draw out the dynamics of his instrument. Specifically, Tullberg utilizes the wooden transverse flute, which was an important part of the southern Swedish folk tradition from the 19th to the 20th centuries. The tone of the flute is never piercing; generally, Tullberg brings a rich, mellow sound to each band concept. For +1, Tullberg is paired with Andreas Ralsgård. Dan "Gisen" Malmquist (clarinet), Jens Ulvsand (bouzouki and vocals), and Tullberg make up the trio on Diphtong. And Nos Honks brings in saxophonist Jonas Knutsson and French flautist Anna Roussel on Prisma. Lee Blackstone send out the call: "Wooden flute aficionados, unite!"

 

world music The lucky among us grow up in a musical tradition. That's how many learn gospel, blues, or bluegrass, even rock and roll. Music like that needs no explanation; it's just part of who we are. For the rest of us, we must discover, learn about, and then adopt the music that becomes the soundtrack for our lives. Recordings are there for us, sure, but sometimes we can use a guide to show us the way. Paul-Emile Comeau is such a guide and his new book, "Acadian Driftwood: The Roots of Acadian and Cajun Music," will take you into one of North America's most appealing vernacular genres and introduce you to its musicians and their discographies. Richard Dorsett reads up on this unique North American history.

 

world music I'm listening to a great mix of American roots music. There's some bluegrass, some Cajun, some old-time front porch music, and a couple of traditional cowboy songs. And it comes from Finland. Yes. Finland. Tuomas Logrén is the guitarist for the fiddle-heavy Finnish ensemble Frigg. I think of Frigg as a Nordic ensemble; they draw from Finnish folk music supplemented by the traditions of Sweden and Norway. That's what I was expecting to hear on Yövesi, which is also the name of a lake in eastern Finland, home to a number of threatened species like the Saimaa ringed seal, the Arctic Char. Sounds Finnish so far, right? Greg Harness discovers the cowboy intersect between Finland and America.

 

 


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world music The a cappella songs of the Mississippi Delta's African American prison farms left their mark on 17year-old Alan Lomax when he first visited Parchman with his father John in the early 1930s, on a Library of Congress mission that among other things sprang Leadbelly and brought “The Midnight Special” to the American vernacular. Alan Lomax returned to record at Parchman in 1947, 1948 and 1959, logging work-song vocal traditions forged under plantation slavery and hammered out under Jim Crow. Parchman Farm: Photographs and Field Recordings: 1947-1959 is an artfully produced book and CD package that includes an essay by folklorist Bruce Jackson (longtime Lomax colleague, friend, and author of "Wake Up Dead Man: Afro-American Worksongs from Texas Prisons"), Lomax's black-and-white and color photos (all from 1959) and facsimiles of telling prison documents, artifacts of an era of U.S. social history whose residual animus persists into the Hands-Up-Don't-Shoot-I-Can't-Breathe present. Michael Stone takes a hard look at Parchman Farm, the music and the history.

 

world music Born in the city of Antep in Turkey's western Anatolia region, Olcay Bayir was immersed in music early on, thanks in no small part to her father's status as an ashik (a mystic troubadour of sorts) and the fact that her homeland is sandwiched between the Balkans and the Middle East. Hearing and picking up on the traditional music of Turkey and the surrounding areas was only part of the equation, though. While still in her teens, Bayir went to London to study classical opera, accounting for the dramatic subtleties in a vocal style that also retains a healthy measure of Anatolian folkloric tones. That duality makes Bayir's debut album Neva / Harmony a real treat for the ears. Tom Orr finds it all penetrating, and beautiful.

 

world music Moorish music from Mauritania has been evolving for centuries and now Noura Mint Seymali and her group have taken another step towards sharing that music with the world on Tzenni. Her father, Seymali Ould Ahmed Vall, was a visionary scholar-artist who believed progressive Mauritanian music should be embraced, not dismissed for lacking strict traditionality. Her stepmother, Dimi Mint Abba, is hailed as a national treasure who gave her stepdaughter the opportunity to sing backup for her while she was a teenager. Her paternal grandmother, Mounina, was also a respected singer and musician. Needless to say, Noura Mint Seymali's experience of growing up in an iggawen, or griot, family has strongly shaped her own musical message for a global audience. Alex Brown looks into this inspirational music.

 

world music So much of the time in reviewing a recording, we look for the new, the surprising, the twist or the turn. Once in a while a recording like Mbalimaou comes along offering none of these, and is still fresh and exciting. Boubacar Traoré is now in his 70s and well into his second time around as a career musician. This is his 9th album since 1990's Mariama, a solo affair, just voice and guitar, recorded so raw you could hear his fingers on the strings and his breath between vocal lines. It was my introduction to him and I was spellbound. Since then he has presented his music with ensembles large and small, sometimes decidedly local, other times globally enriched. His latest, Mbalimaou rides the middle ground with a core group of African musicians on n'goni, percussion, kora and voices. Primarily recorded in Bamako (with some added dubs and mixing done in France), it is simple and clean - truly folk music in spite of all but one song being Traoré originals. Cliff Furnald listens in on one of the legends of Mali, again.

 


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world music The Teranga Beat label has demonstrated, over a small but potent number of releases in the last half decade, the importance of cultural obsession... With Live a l'Etoile with the great Dexter Johnson & Le Super Star De Dakar taped in 1969, the label has unfurled another reel of a potent artist in a transitional phase. Saxophonist Johnson, known for influencing the relaxed lyricism of every single regional tenor player in the years to come, had played with the Star Band, perhaps the most well-known of Senegal's hardcore Cuban-influenced bands. By the time of this recording, le Super Star's vocalist, Laba Sosseh, had already split for Cote d'Ivoire, and while many might argue that his departure changed the band irrevocably, this '69 recording, supposedly Johnson's last before he too left Senegal, shows him in command of a band anyone else would kill to be involved with. Bruce Miller gives you the details.

 

world music Mette Kathrine Jensen & Kristian Bugge play beautiful traditional music from Denmark on fiddle and accordion. They learned their craft from the old masters, and their tightly sympathetic duo play energises both dances and concerts.

Listen to a live performance by Jensen & Bugge from The Tønder Festival in Denmark

world music At times like these, when we are reminded that even comedy (“The Interview”) is an at risk art form, recordings such as this are welcome. It is welcome because war and the Taliban took a heavy toll on Afghanistan's artistic traditions, so any evidence of the regions musical resurgence seems like a stand against recent repression. The Afghan-American artist Quraishi is self-taught on the rubab (Afghanistan's national instrument, a short-necked plucked lute), and familiar with regional ethnic styles of his home country; including Pashtun, Tajik, Uzbek, and Hindustani traditions. Nine tracks comprise Mountain Melodies, Quraishi's second release, and he includes Afghan folk songs, a classical raga, and composed tunes. Richard Dorsett struggles with the successes and failings of an important release,

 

world music A shaman, a magical weaver of ancient healing spells? No, not all Finnish accordion players of recent times can be called that, but I just had to try and see what that kind of opening line would look like, because I'm somewhat at a loss for words. Antti Paalanen is all of these and none, a musician who wants to delve deep, but also just wants to make some noise on his new release, Meluta.
Waldemar Wallenius explains the unexplainability of the accordion man from South Ostrobothnia.

 

world music
Xarnège represents the "Western Door" of Occitania; the group envisages the musical re-uniting of the two traditions, Basque and Gascon, separated by language and the Pyrenees. The group's name refers to the 'border' areas where the two cultures come into 'collision' with each other. The five members of the band hail from a variety of veteran Basque and Gascon bands. In this, their third disc, the group further explores this territory in-between where cultures mix. Talka Tum shows the influence of Gascon rock pioneers Familha Artùs, evidenced by the involvement of Romain Baudoin, but also reminiscent of iconic Basque folk acts such as Oskorri, Tapia eta Leturia and others. David Cox explores the Occitan border music of Xarnège.

 

world music Riccardo Tesi always escapes easy pigeon-holing. He is idiosyncratic without being abrasive, cutting edge without the hard edge. He is a gentle fusionist, bringing together new and old worlds so that's it's hard to know where one starts and the other ends. On Maggio, his latest with Bandtaliana, the sound is vintage Tesi: a refinement of traditional music that has the well-aged, heartfelt soul of folk music, but is as assuredly lovely as a classical wind quartet. Underneath the overall gentle spell that Tesi casts are shades and layers of sophistication. Marty Lipp find amiable soulfulness in this new release.

 

world music Deep in depression-era Arkansas, a woman named Mancy Massengill observed the Saturday action at a photo booth in Batesville. She also noted the camera brand as well as the business opportunity making photos for weekend revelers might provide for a mother of three in a place in time where work and money were scarce. She sold hens and sent the cash away for a lens, and from that point on, she and her husband, and later their extended family, pulled a trailer-turned-photo-studio around rural Arkansas on weekends and made pictures for anyone who was interested. Three for a dime. A nickel extra for tinting. This story is told twice - by photographer Philip March Jones, and again by Mancy's son Lance - in the book Making Pictures: Three for a Dime and the companion CD Arkansas At 78 Rpm: Corn Dodgers & Hoss Hair Pullers, that together give a sense of the playfulness, the sorrow, the ragged isolation and the importance of community found in rural Arkansas in the years leading up to the depression... Bruce Miller explores a wonderful visual and musical history.

 

world music La Mal Coiffée, five women from the Aude and Hérault regions of France, enhance their legacy of Occitan polyphonies and syncopated percussion on L'Embelinaire. The group (whose name means The Bad Hair or The Badly Coiffed) has had success across France, and in particular, Occitania. Their particular Languedocien variety lives on, not only in every day speech but in the Calandreta schools, in music, and in literature. L'Embelinaire is a very special project based on nine poems by Joan-Maria Petit (Jean-Marie Petit) and three by Léon Cordas (Cordes), venerable Occitan poets, both from the Hérault region, a viticulture-based department with urban centres such as Beziers and Montpellier... David Cox introduces us to 5 Occitan singer/persussionists who bring the ancient language to life.

 

world music I first became aware of Guinean guitarist Djessou Mory Kanté in a series of spare recordings on the wonderful Popular African Music label. He played with his older brother Kanté Manfila on the legendary Kankan Blues. He also did his first recording as a front man for the label, Guitar Séche. Living in Paris, he has gone on to greater fame as an in-demand guitarist for super stars like Salif Keita, and most recently did guitar work and arranging for Sékouba Bambino Diabaté. So it's not like he just came out of nowhere this year with this remarkable album of instrumental works for his chosen instrument. Nonetheless, the album is hitting many listeners, including me, like a gentle bolt of lightening. River Strings: Maninka Guitar brings the artist into a sonic space that is near perfect. A clean, clear recording technique buoys the performances, and a spare ensemble of guitars, ngoni, bass, keyboards and percussion carry it all simply and beautifully... Cliff Furnald listens to sublime music from the Niger River.

 

world music "What concert?" I finally asked. "Massilia, of course. Do you live in this city, or under a rock?"- - Jean-Claude Izzo, Total Khéops, 1996

Within the city of Marseilles and the surrounding region, Massilia Sound System has a status somewhere between cult and institution. Novelist Jean-Claude Izzo immortalized them in the Marseilles trilogy, the second of which is called "Chourmo". --a chourmo being a kind of fan club for this band. As far as "world music" goes, MSS is in an elite group of artists, not only for its cultural connections locally, but in its global reach. Massilia arrives in 2014 as the first studio recording for the group in seven years and as a reunion of sorts. David Cox takes us deep into the Occitan world of the ancient city of Marseilles and its leading musical innovators.

 


Interview archive
  • Andrea Esperti
  • Don Edwards
  • Kim Carson
  • Wylie Gustafson
  • Mimmo Epifani
  • Monsieur Doumani (audio interview)
  • Sauti Sol (audio interview)
  • Mauro Durante
  • Attwenger
  • Svøbsk
  • Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino
  • Just a Band
  • Geoff Berner
  • Juan de Marcos González
  • Steve Riley
  • Väsen
  • Makana
  • Ellis
  • Deolinda
  • Frode Haltli and Trygve Seim
  • Tab Benoit
  • Caroline Herring, Claire Holley and Kate Campbell
  • Annbjørg Lien
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    About RootsWorld: RootsWorld is a world music magazine started in 1993, pretty much at the dawn of the term "world music" as well as the pre-dawn of internet publishing (I suspect this was the first music magazine of any sort published on the www). Our focus is the music of the world: Africa, Asia, Europe, Pacifica and The Americas, the roots of the global musical milieu that has come to be known as world music, be it traditional folk music, jazz, rock or some hybrid. How is that defined? I don't know and don't particularly care at this point: it's music from someplace you aren't, music with roots, music of the world and for the world. OK?

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