RootsWorld: a magazine and radio program of the world's music

A World Music Magazine


world music Born in the Russian republic of Tatarstan and now based in Australia, Zulya Kamalova teams up with her band The Children of the Underground for an interdisciplinary concept album that reflects the singer's interlocking interests in art, theater, and song. Equally comfortable in folk and popular idioms, here she fashions an otherworldly cabaret in the context of a self-styled “science fiction fairytale.” On Love and Science is sung in six languages and packaged in a hardcover book, complete with lyrics, the fairytale in English, and full-color illustrations by Kazakh artist Dilka Bear. Tyran Grillo takes us inside the story book.


world music Leyla McCalla's latest release, A Day for the Hunter, A Day for the Prey refers to a Haitian proverb that suggests the unavoidable balance that we all must embrace in all parts of experience. This concept is reflected in the very creation of the album: it was recorded in New Orleans (McCalla's adopted home since 2011) and Maurice, Louisiana with a corps of musicians on guitar, banjos, vocals, ti fer (triangle), and sousaphone. Of these, many are artists local to Louisiana and others hail from across the great American musical beyond... McCalla explores ideas familiar to her past work as well as a number of other channels branching off from what we might think of as "roots music." The pieces here emphasize original songs, Louisiana Creole and Cajun fiddle-based tunes, and Haitian songs with both known and unknown composers, all of which encompass aspects of McCalla's musical and family heritage… Dylan McDonnell presents the music of the Haitian-American cellist, banjo player, singer and folklorist.


world music Recorded inside ancient landmarks in Norway, France, Spain, Turkey, Alhambra, and Poland, The sun will rise is the eighth album from Iranian singer Mahsa Vahdat on the KKV imprint. The recording is a rarity for being sung without accompaniment. While such a premise might turn off some in this age of multi-instrumentalists and genre fusions, its messages promise to open listeners to the primal art of song in ways they will rarely experience. The album features poetry from the 11th century to the current one and Vahdat's delivery of them will give you more than enough context to take in the scent of their emotional incense. And while a few are based on folk songs, most float on vessels of her own crafting... Tyran Grillo finds Vahdat's exploration of communication is a lesson in universality by way of that most organic of instruments.


world music On my radio show, I will broadcast pretty much any version of "Cluck Old Hen" that I can find. It's a simple little song that I have known forever. I like how every recording of this folk tune takes a slightly different direction… A study of the many renditions of "Cluck Old Hen" could be in and of itself a study of the folk music tradition. So the other day, when into my lap fell new EP Slacker Ridge from the Real Vocal String Quartet, I was very pleased to see that track 1 was "Cluck Old Hen." I also saw that the RVSQ looks like a traditional string quartet -- two violins, viola, and cello. I wondered what a classically trained string quartet would sound playing this Appalachian folk tune, a question which often is formed in my mind as "What Would Yo-Yo Ma Do?" With my vivid imagination intact, I dove right in. The instrumental introduction sounded kind of like I thought it would. Then in came the voices, and my entire experience shifted… Greg Harness tells you why "Cluck Old Hen" might be the perfect example for a history of American folk song. And more about RVSQ, too.


world music "This one snuck up on me. Natalia Lafourcade, with her sweet and sometimes girlish voice, didn't initially grab me, but her sophisticated sound and the thoughtful emotional territory she roams has made this her fourth album - an instant classic for me…. Hasta La Raiz doesn't use traditional Mexican sounds, but has a contemporary sound that pulls in from everywhere electronica, folk guitar, reggae, bossa…" Marty Lipp had to give it a little time, but he ultimately fell for the music of Mexican singer-songwriter.


world music Malian singer Rokia Traoré has pushed the boundaries of Malian pop music outward more consistently than any other artist of her generation. Her career broke boundaries from the beginning: Traoré chose to ignore Mali's rigid caste system and her noble birthright that forbade music making. As a musician she's never been content to stay in one lane, and hasn't been afraid to raise the big questions about what it means to be an African pop artist in a global music marketplace. That restlessness and those questions are at the heart of Né So, which translates into “Home.” Home is very obviously at the heart of Né So, with songs that dig deep into the meaning of homeland, rootedness and the loss of both. Tom Pryor finds out what it sounds like when global pop actually grows up.


world music The self-titled début from Sociedade Recreativa brings to mind an environment of carefully-considered play, specifically with the questions of authenticity and cultural distinctions. The bedrock of this release is Forró de Rebeca, a Franco-Brazilian trio formed in 2008 in Lyon, France, highly influenced by the soundways of northeastern Brazil. Having released their most recent album in 2013, they come out of the gate on Sociedade Recreativa with something to prove, advancing their conglomeration of Afro-Brazilian rhythmic structures and percussion, syncopated accordion work, and the characteristic emotive delivery of the rabeca, a Brazilian fiddle instrument that descends from the medieval Arab-Andalusian rebec. On this project, the trio worked closely with Maga Bo, a Seattle-born electronic producer based primarily in Rio de Janeiro since 1999. Dylan McDonnell finds it an unadulterated sonic expression of the artists' joy in collaboration."


world music Sainkho Namtchylak grew up in the former USSR near the border with Mongolia, has studied in the Tuvan state capital, delving into regional shamanic traditions, and then in Moscow, rubbing shoulders with a Western-oriented musical avant-garde. Like a Bird or Spirit, Not a Face brings her together with members of the Malian Tuareg ensemble Tinariwen on guitars, bass, vocals percussion. Michael Stones finds it bracing, sudden, and oddly compelling.


world music Between July and December of 1959, Paul Bowles (best known as the author of "The Sheltering Sky") managed to document a trance-inducing volume of field recordings from his adopted home in North Africa. Concerned at the time that traditional, rural Moroccan music was rapidly disappearing due to a combination of local apathy and the advances of modern, urban technology, Bowles made his case to the Library Of Congress upon receiving a Rockefeller Foundation grant. Even for those who have heard a wide variety of music from the region and can easily identify much of what's in Music Of Morocco From The Library Of Congress, there is something otherworldly about Bowles' recordings, especially housed as they now are in a handsome, rectangular, cloth-wrapped jewelry box, and with Bowles' own hand drawn map of his travels... Bruce Miller follows Bowles' path to the heart of Moroccan music


world music Cuban pianist-composer Omar Sosa is an artist abundant with musical ideas, working with an ever-surprising cross-section of immensely talented international compatriots, pursuing multiple projects that never repeat themselves, in the live outing JOG, allied with German trumpeter, flugelhornist and vocalist Joo Kraus, and Venezuelan percussionist Gustavo Ovalles. Michael Stone finds intense compassion and a profound sense of humanity in JOG.


world music Since 1996, Norwegian Hardanger fiddler Nils Økland has charted a range of melodic waters, always docking at the intersection of traditional and contemporary music. For Kjølvatn he has assembled a full band under his own name, with harmonium, saxophone, bass and percussionist, exploring that gray area between folk, jazz, and classical. Having worked with these musicians for years in some configuration or another, Økland revisits a trove of older material with special familiarity on this latest work. Tyran Grillo reviews a CD that explores the gray area between folk, jazz, and classical.


world music To those who may know the accordion only as the bane of childhood cool, Kimmo Pohjonen reminds us of the instrument's rich folk history and, more importantly, potential for innovation. To that end, he has outfitted his accordion as a musical generator par excellence, one that speaks electric and acoustic languages with equal fluency. Also fluent is the original art he has composed through and around his chosen medium. Recorded in his home studio, Sensitive Skin is the culmination of the many strands running through his previous albums. From classical to pop, jazz to film score, there's a little bit of something for every listener to bite into. Fueled by a slew of guest talents, including the Kronos Quartet, the album blasts off into an imaginative sound-world. Tyran Grillo shows us how “accordion” and “uninhibited” belong in the same sentence.


world music Folknery describe themselves as 'Ukrainian free folk,' which sounds as if the band from Kiev, Ukraine, are about to blow your head off Albert Ayler-style. On their album Useful Things, the band does expand the palette of Ukrainian folk music: there's plenty of structure to their music, but a gleeful kitchen-sink abandon so that experimentation and genre-clash unite in soulful grooves. The story of Folknery mirrors the music's off-kilter approach: this is a band whose name emerged as a mash-up between William Faulkner and folk music, the idea for which came straight out of a dream. Lee Blackstone shares Ukrainian music that cannot be ignored.


world music Fifty years ago, 'Bella Ciao' was a profoundly important show mounted by the Nuovo Canzoniere Italiano. The program highlighted the burgeoning research into folk song over the period 1954-1964, and as such, it was poised to help further the Italian folk revival. 'Bella Ciao' proved to be uneasy listening for some in the audience… The new album version of Bella Ciao, supervised by accordionist extraordinaire Riccardo Tesi, an ensemble that includes Lucilla Galeazzi, Elena Ledda, Ginevra di Marco and others, celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of that seminal show. Tesi gathered together major Italian folk and political artists for this event, and the musical component of the songs has been updated to include guitar, accordion, clarinet, bass, and percussion. The show has thus been fleshed out, but just enough to keep the songs in a fond caress. Lee Blackstone takes you inside to find what works, and what doesn't, in this new edition.


world music Drops is meant to represent the waters connecting all of humanity. Yet the biggest drop in its musical ocean is the kantele, that most enigmatic of dulcimers and a core timbre of the traditional Scandinavian soundscape. In the hands of Vilma Timonen, who wields it like a bodily extension among her talented quartet, the kantele is a painterly tool that is every bit as illustrative as the brush. With Tuomas Timonen (percussion), Topi Korhonen (guitar, trumpet, mandolin), and Jaako Kämäräinen (bass), she cohabitates a dwelling of shadows, starlight, and eventually daybreak. With the exception of two instrumental tracks, the album is fully song-based, with Vilma singing lead and her band backup, and takes the listener across a terrain of fairytale lyrics (available on the band's website), nuanced arrangements, and fusions of various genres. Tyran Grillo introduces you to the Vilma Timonen Quartet from Finland.

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The Genoese diatonic accordion player Filippo Gambetta brings together two dozen musicians in his recent 12-track studio effort, Otto Baffi. Gambetta introduces us to a variety of folk dances which incorporate such diverse dances as tarantellas, mazurkas, and even forro, the genre originating in northeastern Brazil featuring the accordion and triangle...

Another wide-ranging accordion album of recent vintage is Egurre, the most recent effort by Imuntzo eta Beloki, the Basque accordion-tambourine duo. Like the Gambetta record, it canvasses a variety of genres such as Mexican and cumbia. But while the Gambetta disc is an accordion teacher's record, this has a completely different feel. With at least half-a-dozen recordings, most of which I seem to have accidentally accumulated, this veteran duo seems to personify just about everything about country music - Basque Country that is!
Read David Cox's review and listen online.


world music For Romani brass band Fanfare Fanfare Ciocarlia, Onwards to Mars seems appropriate, considering the group from Romania is celebrating its 20h anniversary and seemingly stopping at nothing to perform work beyond the earthily expected. The fourteen tracks continue the group's trend of making connections between numerous rhythmic and melodic elements from seemingly disparate cultural contexts, as well collaborating with artists from different regional and linguistic backgrounds. Dylan McDonnell takes you for the ride.


world music Ferhat Tunç is the kind of singer, rare in today's popular data stream, who must bear witness to the politics of his art in everyday life. Despite having been persecuted, sentenced, and jailed for his sonic activism, if not also because of the infractions inflicted upon him by his own government, Tunç has persevered in focusing his attention on those who have, less fortunately, paid with their lives. Recorded in Istanbul and Oslo, Kobani is Tunç's deepest mission statement yet. As the booklet explains, "he shows his solidarity with Kurds, Alevis, Yazidies and Armenians, by writing and performing songs about their stories, their suffering and pain, their hopes and the richness they bring to Anatolia and Mesopotamia." And by sheer scope of his outreach, which in this album extends farther than ever before, one can only hope that his revelations ring true, especially for those too disconnected to even imagine such horrors occurring right outside their windows... Tyran Grillo explores a voice and sound of protest from Turkey.


world music A lot of interesting and unusual artists find their way to RootsWorld every month, and it is always wonderful to sit down with one of their recordings, one that just stops me dead in my tracks, and listen from beginning to end. Mateja Gorjup's Ijekaru is one of those recordings. Gorup comes from Slovenia and she has a deep interest in the traditional music of her country and other cultures nearby. She can sing with the purity you find in an old field recording - a pure, guileless delivery that is captivating, whether she is singing from an old book of traditional tunes or performing one of her own compositions based on the tradition. But she is also a vocal explorer, someone who lives in the 21st century and revels in all the myriad influences and tools that modern communications can bring. Listen to a few songs and learn more about this unusual artist.


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"Komitas is always in the heart of Armenian musicians and Armenians in general."

Levon Eskenian is an Armenian composer and pianist who was born in Lebanon. With The Gurdjieff Ensemble he explores the deep well of Armenian music as imagined by the priest, musicologist and composer Komitas. Erik Keilholtz reviews Eskenian's latest recording and Tyran Grillo talks with him about his music.

Read both articles and listen to some of the new music.


world music Musicians and scholars throughout the world have often drawn aesthetic, historical, or mythological connections between the blues as it is known throughout the US and different styles of music stemming from regions of Africa. With Ligerian Blues, the Franco-Malian trio Deltas adds yet another strand to this conversation, highlighting imagined and/or real connections in name and sound alike. Deltas began as a duo based in Angers, France, formed by guitarist Vincent Erdeven of dub group Zenzile and violinist/kora player Richard Bourreau of WOMAD-circuit veterans Lo'Jo. The two-piece expanded to a trio following their eponymous début in 2013 after collaborating with ngoni player/singer Andra Kouyaté, originally of Bamako and sideman with Ivorian singer Tiken Jah Fakoly. Thus, the imagery of the word “Ligerian” (a seeming portmanteau of the Loire and Niger rivers) evokes a symbolic merging of the geographic and musical origins of the musicians themselves, while the group's name recalls the Mississippi delta, the hallowed “source” of the blues... Dylan McDonnell takes you down to the Ligerian Delta.


world music Born in Argentina but living in France since 1998, Las Hermanas Caronni - sisters Gianna (clarinet, bass clarinet, vocals) and Laura (lead vocals, cello, violin) - grew up in a multicultural family, absorbing a gamut of musical influences as they developed into the present duo. Sitting somewhere on the border of classical music and freer territories, they craft a form of chamber folk that is as lovely as it is intimate on Navega Mundos. Their original compositions are at once reflective of the past, and of a future in which fusions serve as expressions of genuine unity. Tyran Grillo takes you along as these sisters sail around their musical world.


world music Music of the Month Saba Anglana, born in Somalia to an Ethiopian mother and an Italian father, has articulated and refined a self-described “italoafricana” cultural identity that is something new and, as her fourth and latest release attests, powerful and compelling. Ye Katama Hod (The Belly of the City), recorded in Turin and Addis Ababa, with Italian and African musicians, comprises nine tracks written by Anglana and her producer, arranger, and band member Fabio Barovero... Born in Mogadishu, Somalia's capital, she went into exile with her parents when she was a child... Raised in Italy, she received a degree in art history, and, in the early 90s, embarked on an acting career in television. But she retained a connection to her African roots, visiting her mother's relatives in Ethiopia and studying the Somali language. Her new CD explores urban life, the place that “contains the visceral aspect of its existence, such as in its ghettoes, its suburbs, its most vulnerable groups." George de Stefano takes you to the places she writes of, and shares the music.


world music Audio-Video Special Feature

Cypriot trio Monsieur Doumani sing their new song, "Akamas' dragons," a powerful plea to save the unspoiled peninsula of Akamas in Cyprus from commercial development. Listen, watch, download and learn.



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The Music of Haïti

There's a lot of new music coming out of Haiti this year, not least of which are two exceptional releases of Haitian roots music (mizik rasin): a dazzling debut from a young group of all-stars, and a stunning return to form from a group of seasoned veterans. Those veterans are RAM, the legendary Haitian roots ensemble and their newest release, RAM 6: Manman m se Ginen. The debut comes in a strong new recording by Lakou Mizik titled Wa Di Yo. Tom Pryor digs deep into the music of both bands in his review, along with presenting full songs from each album.


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Audio Feature: a Haitian folk song

Leyla McCalla is an American musician of Haitian descent, probably best known for her work with The Carolina Chocolate Drops. But for a number of years, she has been working on her own, developing a personal approach to music that encompasses her Haitian roots, American folk, Louisiana traditions, as well as gospel, jazz and classical music. We're pleased to present a song from her new album, A Day For The Hunter, A Day For The Prey. Since we're focused on the music of Haiti this month, you can listen to her rendition of a traditional song from the island, "Peze Café".


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world music Michael Stone checks in with some quick takes on a number of new jazz recordings from around the world, including music by Stefano Bollani and Hamilton de Holanda, Cristina Braga, David Buchbinder, Mr. Ho's Orchestrotica Quartet, Joe Fielder's Big Sackbut and Uri Sharlin and The DogCat Ensemble. Listen to some tracks and find out more.


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More reviews:

Karavan Sarai is singer Narayan Sijan and producer/musician Carmen Rizzo. Sijan grew up in the American Midwest but spent the bulk of his adult life traveling, learning and residing in Asia and the middle east and those points that were once stops along the Silk Road. Woven Landscapes is inspired by that route and Tom Orr finds it a most pleasing and evocative listen.

On Long Ago, Fabio Mittino and Bert Lams have taken Gurdjieff and De Hartmann's piano arrangements of near eastern melodies and transcribed them for guitars. The results are charming and make for pleasant listening, which is about as far as they go. Erik Keilholtz shares his thoughts.

Bassekou Kouyaté & Ngoni Ba's global audience has grown exponentially since they released their first album in 2007. The driving sound of Kouyaté's electrified ngoni has captivated ears at concerts and festivals around the world. During his travels, Kouyaté has noticed the way rock and roll influences musical styles from around the world. Their latest offering is Ba Power. Alex Brown finds tradition and substance underneath the wailing ngoni.

The music of Galicia, the rocky, Celtic-influenced coastal area of North Western Iberia, is one of the better-known musical exports within the Spanish state. Xabier Diaz and Adufeiras de Salitre, a group consisting of a dozen female vocalists/percussionists who sing close harmony in the Galician tradition, explore present twelve pieces that expand on tradition Galician song repertoire on The Tambourine Man. The emphasis is on percussion and specifically the tambourine, as Diaz guides the listener through this strong recording with his smooth effortless vocals and a rhythm section based on the traditional pandeiras. David Cox shares his thoughts, and a full song from the album.

Mariem Hassan left behind a remarkable legacy of cultural identity for the Sahrawi people when she passed away in August 2015. She died near the Sahrawi refugee camps in Algeria where she spent over twenty-five years of her life living in exile with her fellow refugees, refusing to accept Morocco's fractured rule of Western Sahara. During her time in the camps, she worked as a nurse and developed her outstanding voice. Her dedication to exposing the plight of Sahrawis beyond the borders of Africa combined with her exceptional vocal capabilities earned her the nickname, 'The Voice of the Sahara.' Her dancer, backing vocalist and percussionist Vadiya Mint El Hanevi, joined Hassan when her group was touring and her original dancer lacked proper documents to travel abroad. Their work together culminates on this final release, Baila Sahara Baila. In addition to their vocals, Hassan and Hanevi tap into the rhythmic pulse of the recording by playing a range of percussive instruments. Alex Brown taskes you to the heart of the Sahara. For their eighth album, the minstrels of Salento known as Officina Zoè have written a message in a bottle to the sea. Here the Mediterranean serves as an ever-shifting crossroad of symbolic and musical treasures, each element pieced into a narrative of sirens, fishermen, and explorers, whose need for salt outweighs the iron evoked on the 1997 debut album, Terra. Like the waters that inspired them, these songs are massive. Averaging over seven minutes a piece, together they move to the rhythms of an epic tide indeed. Most of the tunes on Mamma sirena are elaborations of traditional songs, collectively a showcase for vocalist Cinzia Marzo, guitarist Luigi Panico, accordionist Donatello Pisanello, violinist Giorgio Doveri (who, along with Pisanello, also plays mandolin), and percussionists Silvia Gallone and Lamerto Probo.

Soul Sok Sega: Sega Sounds From Mauritius 1973-1979 is further proof that not only did colonization's incessant need for control, worker exploitation, and outright slavery force the planet into a crazy quilt of languages, ethnic hybrids, distinctive cuisines, and rhythms, it also culminated in dancefloor, electric ensemble, and DJ explosions in so much of the world. Bruce Miller shares this remarkable mixture of experimental hybrids, analogue production, and sheer rhythmic joy.

Jason Hamacher's aural documents of a vanishing culture and music, just prior to the civil war that has shredded Syria, have worked to reveal ethnic pockets never considered by many westerners. Forty Martyrs: Armenian Chanting From Aleppo focuses on an Armenian singer, V. Rev. Yeznig Zegchanian, and his solo chanting at Forty Martyrs Church in Aleppo. Recorded during two trips in 2006 and 2010, Hamacher managed to preserve part of an ancient musical ritual in what had been a thriving Armenian neighborhood, brought about by an influx of refugees from the Turk-sanctioned and delivered Armenian genocide of nearly 100 years ago. Bruce Miller finds this spiritual music's appeal spills well beyond any single divinity

Karim Nagi, the Egypt-born, Swarthmore-educated, Boston-based orator, songwriter, DJ, drummer, dancer and college educator, has released the latest of his now dozen albums, Detour Guide. It is a magical mystery tour into, around, and beyond the modern Arab world, which of course includes many lands not predominantly populated by Arabs, or Muslims.It is an adventure worth taking. Nagi's lyrics are intriguing, barbed and catchy; profoundly serious but slyly humorous. Bill Nevins takes you on a trip through the Arab mind with Karim Nagi. Sprung from the seminal Orquesta Cubana de Música Moderna under the leadership of Armando Romeu, pianist-composer-director Chucho Valdés founded Irakere in 1973... Some four decades on, Valdés has assembled a younger generation of Cuban players and this ten-piece touring ensemble reimagines six of the band's originals in a Tribute to Irakere: Live in Marciac. Michael Stones finds the Cuban band leader swinging harder than ever in his 75th year.


world music Värttinä formed over 30 years ago, and this is their 13th studio record. They've moved all over the folk-roots-world music map, roaming from kanteles and accordions to electro dancematic this-and-that, with various journeys into Broadwayism and Eurovisionesqueness. Much of this was well-crafted, enjoyable music. Sometimes it was spectacular, too often it was not. Their latest recording, Viena puts the voices front and center where they belong. It's less about atmosphere and more about singing. No matter what you know about the band, Greg Harness thinks this may be the Värttinä record you've been waiting for.



world music When American singer and guitarist Jon Humboldt Gates traveled to Moscow in the early 1990s, the most expansive vision of his “Timezone” project came to light. The result was more than a transcontinental collaboration; it was a division of two cellular cultures into one organism. The studio tapes that would become Lost Nations were a coming together of 20 artists whose integration grew only as the gargantuan trunk of the Soviet Union fell into disintegration. Bill Laswell has taken these original recordings as (re)construction materials for a self-styled mix translation, which finds the prolific bassist and producer building on a series of full-length remix projects around such towering figures as Bob Marley, Miles Davis, and Carlos Santana. Regardless of the source, at the heart of it all thrives a fundamental sound, one in which the fatigue of social living gives way to harmony in kind. If we can find commonality in sound, this music seems to ask, then why not also in soul? Tyran Grillo takes you from TimeZone east to TimeZone west, and back.


world music The third studio effort of Ludovic Navarre under the name St Germain is his first in 15 years. This self-titled recording is something of a reinvention for the French electronic musician, and his farthest sonic reach to date. St Germain dives headfirst into the very roots of the music that characterized its predecessor, pulling in guest musicians from Mali and Senegal- including kora players Mamadou Cherif Soumano and Cheikh Lo Ouza Diallo, guitarist and n'goni master Guimba Kouyate, and bass player Alioune Wade—for a rewarding fusion of African beats and dancehall aesthetics. Regardless of what this project might sound like on paper, Navarre strays from the expected conventions enough to breed a genuinely self-sustaining hybrid... Tryan Grillo reviews, and you can listen while you read.


world music When applying the epithet ethnic to a singer's style, one should be careful, because one doesn't always know what it meant back when it was coined. But then again, sometimes you are so sure of its meaning that you don't care. This is it. This is really ethnic. Sanna Kurki-Suonio sounds like the earth mother, the voice of the people. And now we have her newest collaboration, as a band, called Sanna Kurki-Suonion Kuolematon Erikoissysteemi, The Immortal Special System of Sanna Kurki-Suonio. It's tradition, it's prog-rock, it's blues and rock and jazz and folk. Waldemar Wallenius tries to curb his enthusiasm for the new and unique recording. Listen to some songs and read his thoughts.


world music Hurdy-gurdy master Matthias Loibner is no stranger to pushing the envelope of what his instrument can do. On previous albums he has worked with extended techniques, electronic processing, and musical ideas from well outside the European hurdy-gurdy tradition. Lichtungen continues this exploration. Although the recording opens with a lovely cantabile melody, and uses the counter-rhythms and drones that are associated with the hurdy-gurdy, it is the wide timbral spectrum that grabs and holds the listener's attention. Loibner's delightful timbral play never comes across as gratuitous, nor does it overshadow his virtuosity on the hurdy-gurdy. Erik Keilholtz explores the artist's honest quest for new sounds on an ancient instrument.


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Film maker Michal Shapiro takes us to Brussells, to a performance by diatonic accordionist Didier Laloy and cellist Kathy Adam, in their duo collaboration, “Belem.” Listen and watch.


world music The heyday of modern Senegalese orchestras, at least on record, like that of so many West African countries, was the 1970s. And it was an oft repeated confluence of factors that led to it. Like its immediate neighbors Guinea and Mali, the influence of not only big band jazz from the US, but Cuban sons brought over from sailors from the island, had a strong pull on Senegalese bands during the 20th century's first half... Senegal 70 concentrates on the 1970s, as this western African nation had no shortage of amazing, innovative dance bands making records and packing the country's clubs at the time... Dieuf-Dieul de Thies' 1980s output, collected on Aw Sa Yone proves that this band was as good as any to come from Senegal. Bruce Miller hits the wayback machine and finds the groove of Senegal's golden years.


world music Ale Carr is the cittern player with Dreamers Circus, the Denmark-based, classical-inspired trio with two wonderful records to their credit. The fiddler Esko Järvelä is a veteran of many beloved Nordic ensembles including Frigg, Baltic Crossing, Karuna, and Tsuumi Sound System. Together, they have created Holmgång, a recording of traditional and original tunes, from a Swede and a Finn played on a five-string fiddle and a Nordic cittern. Greg Harness reviews, and you can hear a full track from the album.


world music Iranian singer Mamak Khadem joins forces with guitarists Jorge Strunz and Ardeshir Farah, bassist and keyboardist-producer Jamshied Sharifi, and percussionist Mino Cinelu, along with a 27-piece ensemble, for this collection of traditional melodies from Iran, Bulgaria, Serbia, and Greece. Much like Greek singer Savina Yannatou, Khadem has a way of making songs her own, passing each through her interpretive filter many times before committing it to CD, all while erasing as many borders as she defines. The Road she travels is spacious, sparse, vibrant and exciting. Tyran Grillo reviews, and you can listen to a full track from the album.


world music Supernatural Love is indeed a sizable sidestep for Sidestepper. For 20 years they've been rightly singled out as the pioneers of electro-cumbia, combining Afro-Colombian rhythms with electronica and filling many dance floors the world over in the process. It now seems quite fitting that the band should return to the deeper, distinctly African roots of the music. It's the acoustic instruments that lead the way, with hand drums and percussion out front, flutes, kalimba and guitar providing melodic color that's seldom more than subtle, call-and-response vocals echoing joyously and an earthy vibe sure to heal any ailments that too much techno can cause. Tom Orr reviews, and you can listen to a song.


world music Hailing from Moravia, in the heart of central Europe and the Czech Republic, Ponk are an innovative trio that has revitalized the traditional folk repertoire found in the Czech/Slovak border regions... The key to the sound of Postfolklor is the Hungarian cimbalom played by Eduard Tomaštík. Tomaštík lays down a pulse that serves as the foundation for the rest of the group, which features Michal Krystýnek on violin, and Jakub Nožička on double bass. Tomaštík's cimbalom is a percussive, often driving force for this drummer-less trio. The cimbalom often sounds like a piano being played in Steve Reich-ian bursts; at other times, Tomaštík utilizes the pedals on the instrument to make it sound like a guitar. Lee Blackstone finds it all a wild trip by a trio with enormous promise.


world music "Esperanto is a dream, a wish, a utopia in which all humanity can communicate in a single language, without linguistic dominance that inevitably involves the subjection, and not only cultural, of people who are forced to express themselves in a language that is not their own."

George de Stefano talks with Calabrian singer Massimo Ferrante.


world music Gossip is the fifth album from Khaira Arby, known as 'The Nightingale of the North.' Since bursting onto the music scene in the late 1970's, Arby has established herself as one of Mali's greatest treasures. Her resounding voice and infectious band have spread the musical traditions of Arby's hometown, Timbuktu, to audiences worldwide, as she continues to blur the boundary between traditional and contemporary Malian music. While this set of songs is drawn from the rhythms and melodies of Arby's youth, the group has injected these tunes with a timeless mix of scintillating funk and blues Alex Brown listens to this heartfelt and energetic album.


world music A few songs on Lura's latest album Herança (Heritage) come across a shade harder and faster than her previous work, though the longing, slightly melancholic feel that characterizes a good deal of Cape Verde's music is always present. Lura clearly views her country's musical heritage as something to celebrate. Tom Orr reviews, and you can listen to some of the music.


world music Milagro Acustico is a southern Italian band that has released many programs of thematically-linked music. Their latest, Sicilia Araba, Arabic Poets of Sicily 827-1091 (2013), and Rosa del Sud (2015), are very different in focus. Southern Italy has an ancient heritage of being a crossroads in the Mediterranean, with the Italian population being exposed to Greek, Middle Eastern, and African influences. On Sicilia Araba, the ensemble explores the Islamic influence upon Sicily. Rosa del Sud revisits the music of Sicilian singer Rosa Balistreri in an extraordinary fashion, by using recordings of Balistreri's voice in their own new musical settings. What both albums have in common are chords of memory and history that resonate today. Lee Blackstone shares his thoughts, and some of the songs, from this remarkable pair of recordings.


world music Three Cane Whale is the acoustic trio of Alex Vann, Pete Judge, and Paul Bradley. Based in Bristol, UK, these multi-instrumentalists are the living heart of what folk music should be, creating leafless melodies that burrow into their homeland as much as emigrate from it. While the reviewer might in any other case be at a disadvantage to describe such a sound, Three Cane Whale lends itself to effortless comparison with the legendary San Francisco Bay Area duo known as Mandible Chatter. Although the latter project has explored farther and more widely, a kindred spirit of purity guides the former's hands to evoke an almost microscopic panorama of peripheries. Like the wan skin of a birch tree, striated by gashes of dark, Palimpsest redraws its identity with each new season...   Tyran Grillo explores the many layers of this unusual English trio.


world music WÖR are a young Flemish quintet playing music from late 18th-century European manuscripts from around the area of Brussels, Antwerp, Diest, and Gent. What is particularly fabulous about Back to the 1780s is that WÖR shine an inventive spotlight on a catalog of tunes that has received very little modern exposure. There is a sheer exuberance to the selection of dance tunes and marches that WÖR have compiled for this wonderful set. Lee Blackstone takes us back to the future in Belgium.

world music Zemog El Gallo Bueno is both multi-instrumentalist/singer/composer/producer Abraham Gomez-Delgado and the band he leads, but it's a bit of a mystery as to what parts of YoYouMeTu Trilogy Vol. 1 and 2 are solo efforts, the work of an ensemble or combinations of both. Gomez-Delgado is reportedly the inventor and master of an instrument called an eje that enables him to be a one man Afro-Latin band. So as far as I'm concerned, the source of the horns, percussion, acoustic guitars, keyboards, vocals, effects and everything else heard on these two discs is too far after the fact. Tom Orr encourages you to cut a rug with your demons.


world music

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New music and old, from across genres and around the world, each week on RootsWorld Radio, hosted by RW editor Ciff Furnald.

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world music Finnish accordionist and composer Anne-Mari Kivimäki understands that history must be told to be alive. To demonstrate this, she has developed an idiosyncratic musical language drawn from the geographies of her interest. The albums reviewed here comprise parts three and four of her doctoral thesis, "Suistamo - The Laboratory of Tradition." This multi-faceted (and multimedia) portrait looks at the past, present, and future of Suistamo, a former municipality of Finland and now a federal republic of Russia. Lakkautettu Kylä (A Closed-Down Village) is at once the denser and more spacious of the two albums, while Suistamon Sähkö's Suistamo Electricity) is an ingenious, self-styled "folktronica" experiment. While it might seem like a gimmick in theory, in practice the presence of electronics gives apt traction to an album themed around hydroelectric power plants and cartographic resonances. Tyran Grillo explores the abandoned shacks and power stations of Karelia, musicially speaking.


world music It's the right time for Ola Belle Reed And Southern Mountain Music On The Mason Dixon Line to appear. Aside from the fact that some of Ola Belle Reed's tunes, specifically “I've Endured” and “High on a Mountain,” have become such standards at bluegrass and old time festivals that one might forget they were actually penned by someone in particular, instead of existing in that hazy realm known as the public domain, in 2011, actress Margo Martindale's brilliant Justified character Mags Bennett belted out “Mountain,” from her home in that show's fictitious version of Kentucky's Harlan County.... It's likely that all but the most hardcore devotees of Ola Belle Reed and her extended family's career are unaware that her earliest recordings - her earliest professional experiences in fact - were as banjo player and singer in her brother Alex Campbell's band, The New River Boys, who specialized in high powered bluegrass and recorded two early 60s LPs for Starday records. Yet, somewhere along the way, Ola Belle moved away from this music and back toward the tunes she recalled from her childhood in rural Western North Carolina... Bruce Miller reviews this important book and the accompanying 2 CDs.


world music Pop music and genocide make uneasy bedfellows, to say the least. And it's hardly fair to ask such a breezy medium to bear witness of one of the darker corners of 20th century history. But that's exactly what Don't Think I've Forgotten: Cambodia's Lost Rock and Roll, a superb collection of '60s and early '70s Cambodian pop and rock-and-roll, does as it admirably documents a vibrant music scene and a moment in time before the rise of the murderous Khmer Rouge. The album - a soundtrack to a film of the same name - features 20 songs selected by director John Pirozzi and Cambodian anthropologist Dr. LinDa Saphan, as well as an impressive 36-page booklet to put it all in context. Tom Pryor takes you back to a time before “year zero” and shows you how they rocked in Phnom Penh.




world music Oh, taken to knead the bread of war,
Oh to make the loaves of malice.
The cart of war is covered in tar,
The standard of war is covered in sand.

Mari Kalkun and her ensemble Runorun present a complex vision of early Estonian folk music on her new album, Tii ilo. Waldemar Wallenius explores these songs of war and beauty from Estonia and beyond


world music Totó la Momposina was among the first to bring Afro-Colombian roots music to the wider world. Totó subsequently took up residence in Paris, studied music at the Sorbonne, and performed her traditional repertoire for appreciative European audiences before returning to Colombia. Then she accepted an invitation to England to tour and to record La Candela Viva, her inaugural European release. Exhumed from the Real World archives nearly a quarter century later, studio outtakes from those sessions, now digitized, are the foundation of Tambolero. The result spans the spectrum of Afro-Colombian music, augmented with newly recorded bass tracks and choral backing by two of Totó's granddaughters. The recording's title track, an extended Afro composition, is in tribute to now-deceased master drummer (tambolero) Paulino Salgado "Batata," whose driving rhythmic signature pervades the production... Micheal Stone reviews, and you can listen to a full song.


world music Malian vocalist Kandia Kouyaté's new album definitely lives up to its title. Renascence, her first recording since Kouyaté suffered a stroke in 2004, represents a rebirth of her career, and of her sound, one of the most distinctive in West African music. During her seven-year recovery, she hardly spoke, let alone sang. Even after she had recovered, she had no interest in recording again. But one of her greatest admirers, the Senegalese producer Ibrahima Sylla, doggedly pursued her, and, in 2011, convinced her to return to the studio. George de Stefano explores the revival of one of the great voices of Mali.


world music Posthumously released recordings can be rueful treasures. But Amadou Balaké was more fortunate than many in that his posterity was not only well documented during his various heydays, but he remained at the peak of his powers and in strong demand almost until the end of his life. There could not have been a more touching and apt finale to one of African music's most prolific and celebrated careers than the recordings preserved on In Conclusion. Christina Roden shares his final, joyous sounds, and you can listen to a full song from the CD.


world music Through modern and ancient history, the Mediterranean Sea has been and remains one great maritime highway uniting continents and cultures. Today the Med serves as a fence and too often, tragically, a graveyard separating the prosperous peoples of the North and West from the oft-troubled South and East. Historians for their part recall that the Med was once politically united under the Roman Empire, that its borderlands have been constantly in flux, and that many languages, notably Greek, Latin and Arabic and their descendants, have vied for dominance. Lamia Bèdioui is a Tunisian-born Greek resident who, along with her Desert Fish present a stunning sequence of storytelling in music that circles the Great Sea and back again, examining in particular the Greek, Romance and Arabic cultures of the countries known today as Spain, France, Italy, Turkey, Algeria, Greece, Tunisia and Morocco. She has a voice that can handle these challenges, and she takes on each of these traditions in Athamra. David Cox explores these 14 stories of the sea.


Interview archive
  • Massimo Ferrante
  • 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
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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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