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A World Music Magazine

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world music Hailing from New York, the band Dálava are edging out into music with a particularly rich backstory. Vocalist Julia Úlehla and guitarist Aram Bajakian, childhood friends, found themselves reunited in a musical project probing the texts and tunes transcribed by Vladimir Úlehla, Ms. Úlehla's great-grandfather and a biologist and an ethnomusicologist. Mr. Úlehla was taken by the folk music of the Moravian village of Stráznice, and he painstakingly transcribed the songs and tunes of this community. Armed with Úlehla's transcriptions, but coming from a different time and place in cosmopolitan New York, Ms. Úlehla and Mr. Bajakian wondered how they could make these folkloric tunes breathe again... Lee Blackstone finds out how it's done.


world music The music on Nawa's Ancient Sufi Invocations & Forgotten Songs from Aleppo is the result of passion, and thanks to the ongoing, ever more complex civil war that is tearing Syria's various religious, ethnic and political communities apart, it's also an accidental act of preservation. Indeed, in light of recent events in Aleppo and elsewhere, we're lucky to be hearing this at all. This document of breathtaking patience, polyphony and vocal incantations is not the product of years of ethnomusicological study, but the end of result of a DC-area punk rock drummer's rabid curiosity and desire to connect a new musical project to some form of ancient chant... Bruce Miller follows the trail.


world music From coastal Honduras, guitarist-singer-songwriter-dancer Aurelio has been at it for over 20 years, and if one were to revisit his original ensemble, Lita Ariran, the impassioned potential manifest there is fully realized with Lándini, Aurelio's strongest outing yet. All it took was to revive several traditional Garifuna songs, to co-author several more with his mother María ("the sole inspiration for this album"), and to work out the rest with his long-time associates including Belizean producer and multi-instrumentalist Ivan Duran. Michael Stone hears the substance of rooted artistry at its finest.


world music

The frenzy whipped up by Les Ambassadeurs Du Motel De Bamako was subtler than the sweat-laced declarations of James Brown or the Godfather-inspired long-form funk of Fela or Ebo Taylor. But it was no less intense. Mali and Guinea both shared bands seemingly less groundbreaking. They weren't playing rock or JB-inspired street funk so much as updating local polyrhythm with electricity, snagging Cuban influence from colonial days and housing some of the most polished, understated and underrated guitar players the world had heard. It's an embarrassment to keep hearing how awesome the likes of Eric Clapton were, when "Diamond Fingers" Diabate or Les Ambassadeurs' own Kante Manfila shredded with such precision - and respect for their bands - that they left overrated western rock star-types eating their dust... Bruce Miller digs in to this highly recommended 2 CD set.


world music Sousou and Maher Cissoko's Africa Moo Baalu isn't an Afro-Scandinavian fusion (one of the duo's previous releases, titled Stockholm-Dakar, was), but instead sticks fairly close to the feel of African Mandinka tradition. Tom Orr listens in.


world music Baka Beyond has taken their fair share of critical drubbing over the course of 21 years. Some find the band's Afro-Celtic fusions to be too lightweight, too contrived, too it's-been-done-better, too whatever. As for me, I was a fan at the start and still am... Among the group's recent undertakings was providing live music for a Welsh staging of Shakespeare's "The Tempest," and their latest album, After the Tempest, includes two songs used in the production, along with an array of tracks that hint at Celtic, west African and Pygmy music in a sound has become less of a 'project' and more of a true musical collective. Tom Orr listens to the storms.


world music Welcome to the fascinating world of Violons Barbares. Dandarvaanchig Enkhjargal on morin khuur and Dimitar Gougov on gadulka are joined by French percussionist Fabien Guyot, with all three singing in various styles. Saulem ai is the ensemble's second record, and it starts off at a gallop. First comes the title track, a traditional song from Kazakhstan which translates to “My Beloved.” It's ostensibly a love song - with hoofbeats. Greg Harness reviews this unique global trio.


world music At least since Ravi Shankar achieved mass US popularity in the 1960s, the temptation to blenderize East Indian musics with western forms has, in amateur hands, produced some fairly dreadful slop. Indian herbs and spices are perhaps best appreciated in traditional sub-continental cuisine; travel to Germany, try some currywurst, and decide for yourself. But for artists deeply versed in jazz, Carnatic, and Hindustani disciplines, another outcome is possible. Indian-American violinist Arun Ramamurthy became a Carnatic music acolyte at age 11... Recorded in Brooklyn, Jazz Carnatica serves up a pair of Ramamurthy originals and mostly traditional South Indian tunes from the 17th century forward... Michael Stone listens to The Arun Ramamurthy Trio and finds considerable promise.


world music In 2008, Sublime Frequencies released 1970s Algerian Proto-Rai Underground on vinyl only. This year, we get the CD version. The label is dedicated to tracking down rare music that has been neglected by the West, and they often emphasize music that explodes from the streets of cities and exotic oases whether from Morocco, India, Iran, the Sahara, or Thailand... the listener is treated to rai singles from that era, and the cover art encapsulates a feeling of danger that a punk fanzine might emulate Read Lee Blackstone's review and listen to some tracks.


world music Omar Sosa reflects, "There are concerts where you feel so good, you never want to forget." Indeed, no one knows better than the artist himself. Real Live is as close as one can get to the transcendent quality of an Omar Sosa performance. Those familiar with Sosa's work will recognize his memorable compositions, but will also perceive something new and compelling in every rendition... Sosa is also a singular solo performer. and Senses presents 16 piano improvisations resulting from his work with Zimbabwean choreographer Nora Chipaumire. Michael Stone hears the sound of the liberating spirit of Omar Sosa.


world music Calaita Flamenco Son greet the international market with a vibrant debut release that explores a range of flamenco music. The Manchester-based group started out as a trio before expanding into a quintet, adding a vocalist and a woodwind player along the way. The wisdom behind this decision is easy to hear on their self-titled CD. Guitarists Chico Pere and Glenn Sharp lead the way, composing most of the tracks on the album, while Leo Paredes holds the rhythm together on cajón. Recent additions Diana Castro and Matt Nickson support the band with vocals and flute/saxophone respectively. Castro's clear voice melds well with lead vocalist Pere's expressive, weathered singing and Nickson's woodwinds add a nice layer to the ensemble's guitar-driven sound. Gavin Barras adds fretless electric bass guitar to a couple of tracks, revealing a jazz undercurrent sitting below the surface... Alex Brown finds the rhythm of Calaita Flamenco Son.


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Real World 25
October's Music of the Month CD:
310 Lunes A new CD of interpretations of the French band's unique music,
plus a reissue of their 1989 album, never available outside of France.

Sign up for Music of the Month with a 20.00 monthly donation and get this and more great music throughout the year.

Real World 25


world music Denmark's Habadekuk are a very welcome addition to the current wave of 'big band'-style folk groups. Similar to the English band Bellowhead, the members of Habadekuk are drawn from numerous bands, projects, and solo endeavors. The wonderful fiddle player Kristian Bugge acts as a kind of master of ceremonies for the eight-member band. While the ensemble does take up the occasional song, the main emphasis for Habadekuk is on the tunes and the strong arrangements. As to what is the title's Kaffepunch? The Danish recipe calls for coffee, sugar, and schnapps: a marriage of caffeine and drunkenness, which aptly fits Habadekuk and this album. Lee Blackstone drinks it al in in his review.


world music Söndörgő may be from Hungary, but the lead instrument isn't, at least not originally. The mandolin-like tambura probably came from Turkey, carried into Hungary by Serbians and Croatians who were fleeing from the Turks... Long ago, some of them settled with their tamburas where the three Eredics brothers, a cousin, and a high-school friend who make up the band Söndörgő more recently grew up... The ringing but precise tones of the tambura strings give the music a sprightly bounce that is quite different from the usual brass bands or fiddle-led ensembles of this region, a bounce that lends a frantic pace to most songs in Tamburocket: Hungarian Fireworks. Jeffery R. Lindholm listens to the big bang.


world music RootsWorld Radio recently featured recordings made by a project based in South Africa called Wired for Sound: Moçambique. While certainly not the first folks to venture into this East African country with recording equipment, they take a new approach using modern digital equipment and a collaborative style that is certainly a new look on an age-old field recording tradition. Hear some of the local artists recorded in the project, and also hear a recent edition of the radio program that features earlier recording trips into the country. Get Wired for Sound.


world music There are a number of stereotypes about Welsh music – most based on reality. One is that Wales is a nation of great singers... And Wales is full of harps and choirs. Clichés, but nonetheless true. That said, we come to a very different kind of Welsh music in 9Bach – not the typecast Celtic group but one with a sound derived from a number of sources and modern instruments. Yet this is a band rooted in great vocals, the harp and other traditional elements – based in the most remote settlements of the mountains of Wales. On Tincian, the group's second disc, the tunes are complex, moods are evocative and rhythm offerings are challenging and varied. David Cox listens in.


world music Great music's inspiration often stems from a time and place. With Moussu T e lei Jovents, that spot on the map is La Ciotat, a small city near Marseilles. For the past decade, as part of the Occitan music revival, Moussu T e lei Jovents has been one of the most prolific, musically interesting and positive phenomena in the Occitan region (southern France). The band alternates in language between French and Maritime Provençal (a variety of Occitan), native to the region... Moussu T e lei Jovents carry the identity of a mature, working class band from the Provencal docks, with Brazilian influences also... Thus also their attire, blue shirts and caps reminiscent of a working man's blue collar uniform. David Cox reviews three of their recent recordings, Empęche-nous (2012), Artémis (2013), and their latest, Opérette.



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world music They are ethnic comedians. Wait, one's a tap dancer, too. Well, some kind of dancer, maybe something ethnic. I can't tell. Now the other one's started playing accordion standing on a chair. This is more like it - some rip-roaring stuff. They sing songs, too, in a Värttinä kind of style. That was my first impression of the twin talents of Anne-Mari Kivimäki & Reetta-Kaisa Iles. Together they are Puhti, which translates as vigor, or perhaps, pizzazz. Whatever it is, they bring it all to their modern explorations into traditional music and dance. Waldemar Wallenius reviews the first two recordings of the in-progress trilogy, The Suistamo Suite


world music Sometimes hailed as “the voice of Palestine,” Rim Banna is also a messenger of revolution. Riding the waves of the Arab Spring, Banna sets ancient and modern poems to music that is equally timeless. Through the intensity of her interpretive gifts, she magnifies and recasts the politics of every verse. The key to appreciating them is in the album's tripartite title. “Revelation” connotes the ability to taste something new in the old. “Ecstasy” implies subordination to hidden messages, holding true to peace in a world close to bursting with repression. Finally, “rebellion” signals a refusal to stand down, taking the power of privacy and making it public for all to share. The album's broad landscape thus lends veracity to Banna's all-inclusive message. Tyran Grillo listens to her Revelation of Ecstasy & Rebellion


world music Musicologists studying southern Italy have described two types of music making, both socio-economically-based: agropastoral (that of peasants, other farm workers, and fishermen) and small town-artisan (barbers, tailors, and practitioners of other trades). The first group comprises non-professional, generally untrained players who use local instruments that often have ancient roots. They tend to favor modal scales, and make music for communal consumption, in religious rituals and other social occasions. The second group includes musicians who have at least some training in musical theory, favor modern instruments, often electrified, prefer tonal forms, and perform at least semi-professionally. But as a number of contemporary artists from the Mezzogiorno demonstrate, these two types are not mutually exclusive; they can, in fact, coexist in a fruitful dialectic of tradition and modernity, communal celebration and professional performance... In their passionate performances and on recordings, the Calabrian ensemble TaranProject brilliantly meld tradition and innovation. They play extensively in Calabria, packing halls and piazzas with multigenerational audiences. The older folks enjoy hearing the traditional songs and dancing the tarantella; the youth respond to the band's modern and rock-influenced approach to the local musical culture. George de Stefano explores why - for Calabrians - TaranProject's significance isn't solely musical.


world music The whirling sounds of Eastern Europe, Turkey and the Balkans vibrate with plenty of verve on She'Koyokh's Wild Goats & Unmarried Women. The London-based octet has been evolving over the past decade, working through a full range of Jewish, klezmer and Romani music along the way. On this release they extend their reach into even more musical traditions, including the sevdalinka of Bosnia and Herzogovinia, and Soviet jazz. Their multicultural ambition is matched by their roster of international talent. Comprised of members from the UK, USA, Greece, Serbia and Turkey, She'Koyokh mixes moving laments with lively, humorous compositions on an album packed full of surprises... Alex Brown reveals the hopping madnes, Kurdish love songs and geographical diversity of She'Koyokh.


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Interview archive
  • Andrea Esperti
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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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