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A World Music Magazine


world music "When I was young I studied the history of Hannibal and Rome," recalls Andrea Esperti, "and I immediately appreciated the courage, strength, and will of this man. No one would have thought he could win against the strongest empire in the world. His accomplishment therefore goes beyond historical fact. It's an encouragement to realize our dreams and overcome obstacles." For Andrea Esperti, a musician at ease in classical and jazz repertoires alike, the spirit of collaboration is paramount... Tyran Grillo talks with the Italian trombonist and composer about Le Voyage d'Hannibal

 

world music "This music isn't for arenas," says cowboy singer and music historian Don Edwards. Born in New Jersey, he cites influences like Robert Johnson and Willie Nelson, and broad ranging popular interests like the Carolina Chocolate Drops and Norah Jones. But American cowboy songs are where his heart lies, and he told Greg Harness all about it when they met at this year's National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada. Hear his story, and his music, in the RootsWorld interview.

 

world music NID are a Swedish trio comprised of Mia Marin (five-stringed fiddle), Hanna Wiskari Griffiths (soprano saxophone), and Petter Berndalen (percussion)... As a project, NID was conceived as an experimental ground on which the three musicians explored how to get their different instruments to sound like one. The word "precision" has appeared in write-ups of the band, and I'm certainly not one to disagree – the playing on Homecoming Queen is absolutely lovely, with enough air left in the arrangements for moments of invention to shine through. Lee Blackstone discovers the 'exquisite deception' that makes NID astonishing.

 

world music It took decades of social and political morphing for the music on this collection, all originally released in the 1950s and 60s on 78 RPM records, to happen. Yet, once it did, it became enormously popular. It gave voice to a marginalized rural population (luk thung means children of the fields), as it incorporated influence from the Lao speaking North East Isan province. Furthermore, while it still contained western pop influences leftover from the days of Minister of Propaganda Major General Luang Wichitwathakans insistence on adopting music and dress styles of the west in the late 30s, it had also taken on aspects of an appreciation for rural folk dance, known as ramwong, which gained popularity after Word War 2. It was the Isan influence, coupled with ramwong that led to luk thung, a pop style that infused local, rural rhythms with early 40s-era western-instrument dominated pop... Luk Thung: Classic and Obscure 78s from the Thai Countryside, the CD version of a what had been a 2011 vinyl-only release, features tracks from more famous singers such as Suraphon Sombatcharoen, who did much to make the music popular, Waiphot Phetsuphan and Namphueng Boribun alongside little known performers Mitt Mueangmaen and Roengchai Mueangsamut... Bruce Miller listens to a pop style that infused local, rural rhythms.

 

world music Quercus names both the debut album and trio composed of folksinger June Tabor, pianist Huw Warren, and saxophonist Iain Ballamy. The word is Latin for oak, but the image implies more than rootedness, embodying the full arboreal essence of this somber collection. Indeed, Tabor's voice is the very wood of the forest, and invites the instrumentalists along its democratic path of music making... Tyran Grillo discovers the shadows cast by three remarkable musicians.

 

world music Boris Kovač explores the possibilities of Eastern and Western jazz with his band La Campanella on Eastern Moon Rising. Hints of European folk music and Balkan beats meet tango and the beguine on a mostly instrumental record shrouded in mystery. Kovač grew up in Novi Sad, an ethnically diverse region of Serbia, and has lived abroad in Italy, Slovenia and Austria. He enjoys working as a musician, composer, multimedia artist and theater collaborator. His theatrical flair is evident on the album cover, which features Kovač standing in the middle of a group portrait wearing a bright pink jacket and dark sunglasses. He holds his saxophone by the bell in one hand as he stares at the camera surrounded by his bandmates who join him wearing loud, eccentric clothing... Alex Brown introduces us to Kovač's dynamic compositions and dramatic vision.

 

world music Fiddler and composer Aidan O'Rourke hails from Scotland, where as a boy he grew up near TAT-1, the world's first transatlantic telephone cable, laid in 1956. O'Rourke remembers stories told by his father of "a cable that connected the world," and it is this sense of childlike wonder and technological innovation that he brings to this suite of original music... O'Rourke makes Hotline a true collage, splicing samples of early transmissions in "Tat-1." Something of a prelude, it introduces us to the radio drama about to unfold by weaving actual test conversations into instrumental lines, the latter of which creep in from all sides like vines in time-lapse video. That the content of these early transmissions is limited to trivialities like the weather is poignant, considering the cable will one day carry talk that may alter the course of world history. Tyran Grillo taps the line and shares the transmissions.

 

world music Marjan Vahdat brings her first solo project to light. Whether handling the words of Rumi, 19th-century poet Tahereh Ghorattolein, or those from her own pen, Marjan's mostly original melodic settings make every lilt an experience unto itself. As noted in the album's press release, Marjan is forbidden to perform in the presence of men in her native Iran, but now her birds flock freely, no longer confined to their cages. Marjan thus proves herself a key proponent of Persian song, and on Blue Fields makes her most indelible mark yet. Tyran Grillo crosses the Iran-Norway border.

 

world music The label that brought vintage Ethiopian pop music the largest international attention it has ever had has also been dropping volume after volume of vintage and contemporary sounds from coastal Tanzania and the islands that hug it. So far, the variety has been staggering, and the latest two releases in the Zanzibara series continue to confound assumptions about what the region's music is. Volume 7 features two of 80s-era Dar Es Salaam's rival bands, the Mlimani Park Orchestra and the International Orchestra Safari Sound. On Volume 8 qanun player Rajab Suleiman and his 12-piece band of choral and lead vocalists with percussion, bass, oud and accordion come up with a modern take on taarab. Bruce Miller takes us to Zanzibar.

 

world music By now, everybody and their backup singers have done the album-of-old-standards route, some many times over. At first glance at the song titles, Leon Russell's new Life Journey may seem like that same old thing, but the singer sidesteps the traps that have snagged others by taking side trips. Jeffery R. Lindholm takes us on Leon Russell's invigorating trip.

 

world music "We'll be in Seattle, and someone will come up and say, 'I don't like cowboy music, but I like you guys.'" So says Wylie Gustafson, cowboy singer and rockabilly band leader. Greg Harness caught up with him at the 30th annual National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada and got a few choice words from him about his career, the radio and The Wild West.

 

world music It's not often that an album title reveals method and message as clearly as Pervane – Fløyet fra Guds hånd. "Pervane" is the Turkish word for "butterfly," while "Fløyet fra Guds hånd" means "Flown from the hand of God" in Norwegian, at once indicating an intermingling of cultures and the forces assembled to express them. Above all, the compound title is a metaphor of the music's unfolding: like a butterfly flown from the hand of God, it communicates something of the divine in the familiar. In simplest terms, this encounter between the Norwegian Broadcasting Boys' Choir, a.k.a. Sølvguttene, and legendary Turkish ney virtuoso Kudsi Erguner, along with his group of musicians, is a mash-up of Norwegian hymnody and music drawn from Turkey's Sufi tradition. Although not obvious, the connections are far from arbitrary...   Tyran Grillo explores an emerging trend of Scandinavian and Near East musical interests and the potential interconnections between them.

 

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Kim Carson Has Enough Heart Left to Break
Leather-jacketed bikers were lined up along the levee on Algiers Point just five days after the close of Jazz Fest 2014 in New Orleans. Having contracted the disease of pop music avoidance and having assiduously ignored "Fest" for the past several years, it was time for me to prowl the streets and find some authentic roots music. Kim Carson, 18-year local veteran of the New Orleans music scene, was playing with her new touring band, The Real Deal, and fine-tuning performances for a three-month European tour. Plastic chairs and rickety tables overflowed with dogs and people for a Friday night at the Old Point Bar. A yellow lab the size of a pony was greeting late arrivals and slopping water from an aluminum bowl near the stage monitors. Less than a stone's throw away, the renovated levee with a yellow-striped asphalt bike path snaked along Patterson Drive to the pedestrian ferry landing. Adventurous souls scrambled up the levee bank and ignored the graffiti covered stairs a few yards away. Their reward was New Orleans twinkling like a spectral OZ and shimmering in the Mississippi shipping lane snaking a sinuous route to Gulf waters wounded and stained by the BP oil disaster. The faint smell of creosote and diesel waxed and waned with the tidal flow... Georgianne Nienaber visits The Point and talks with the New Orleans country songwriter about her music and her life.

 

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world music Following the bell and duduk that open Sangen fra Katakombene (Song from the Catacombs), Norwegian is one of the last languages one might expect to hear. Yet that is exactly what occurs in the new project from SKRUK, Sangen fra Katakombene. The acclaimed Norwegian choir that hails from Sunnmøre in southwestern Norway approaches this album with over 20 more to its credit. Under the direction of Per Oddvar Hildre, and featuring arrangements by Siyavush Karimi, rector of the Azerbaijan National Conservatory, and composer Henning Sommerro, the program blends narrative songs with recordings of monks made in Turkey at Mor Augin and Mor Gabriel, the world's oldest Syriac Orthodox monasteries. Tyran Grillo listens to ancient sounds reignited by a global sensibility.

 

world music Most of the banjo heard today has a strong rhythmic component, whether played in an old-time clawhammer way or three-fingered bluegrass style. Neil Driscoll approaches the banjo in a different way, treating it more as a melodic instrument, taking a role one might expect a fiddle or maybe a clarinet to take on his new CD, Take It Easy, But Take It. Greg Harness thinks differently about the banjo now.

 

world music De Temps Antan are the exuberant purveyors of a lively, rough-hewn acoustic style from Quebec. The trio - made up of Éric Beaudry, André Brunet and Pierre-Luc Dupuis (all alumni of La Bottine Souriante) - play music that is upbeat and good-humored; it's not hard to imagine that these are the sounds and beats that got exhausted manual laborers up and moving on a Saturday night. But the playing on Ce Monde Ici-bas is deft and elegant. This is no sloppy fireside jam session. Marty Lipp introduces you to the high-energy, hot-fingered playing of this trio.

 

world music Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars new release is a laid-back, mostly acoustic album that celebrates the band's tenth anniversary. With it's low-key approach Libation harks back to the days of playing scavenged instruments around the campfire. Alex Brown has some good things to say, and has a few complaints.

 

world music Martin Green, the renowned accordionist for the band Lau, is not afraid of experimenting with the folk idiom. Green's 2009 project, The Martin Green Machine, found the musician with a commission from the Celtic Connections 'New Voices' series. With Crows' Bones, Green was commissioned yet again – this time from the adventurous Opera North, for an evening of traditional and contemporary ghost songs. The Crows' Bones is really a collaboration, with Green as headmaster. Musicians Becky Unthank (vocals, music boxes), Inge Thomson (vocals, toys, noises, log), and Niklas Roswall (nyckelharpa) are all equally prominent. As befitting a program about ghosts, the overall aesthetic is eerie, stark, and shadowy... Lee Blackstone delves in and finds some living, and some dead, and all dark.

 

world music The idea of a unique creative performance may have little meaning to casual consumers in the age of download-me-now. But uneasy listening has been the province of the nonprofit Creative Music Studio (CMS) in Woodstock, New York ever since founders Karl Berger, Ingrid Sertso and Ornette Coleman began in 1971. Drawing in the likes of John Cage, Don Cherry, Gil Evans, Buckminster Fuller, George Russell, Gunther Schuller and many others, the artistic and philosophical objective was to foster improvisatory musical performance as a universal mode of human communication. The accumulated experimental fruits, 400–plus hours, are now in the process of digitization in the CMS Archive Project, which results, together with the original analog tapes, photographs and memorabilia, will be conserved for all time at Columbia University Library. The initial three-CD selection from the CMS Archives, released by Innova, the label of the American Composers Forum, spans the period 1977–1981. It offers an idiosyncratic cross-section of impromptu period jazz composition and improvisation. Michael Stone digs through the archive.

 

 

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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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