RootsWorld: a magazine of the world's music
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Real World 25
3 CDs, 38 tracks trace the rich and diverse history of one of the major 'world music' labels.
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A World Music Magazine


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 See that line of men that’s marching down the street
carrying automatic weapons, combat boots on their feet
got to wonder what kind of enemy they expect to meet
over in Ferguson,
Ferguson Missouri
A song by Samm Bennett

 

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.

 

Something from elsewhere:
Alison Hird talks with the Anglo-Tamil singer-songwriter Susheela Raman about her new album Queen Between - a psychedelic trip inspired by lengthy travels in India and Pakistan. Hear the interview from RFI's 'World Music Matters,' and listen to a song from the new CD.
world music

 

world music "Never fear quarrels, but seek hazardous adventures." – Alexandre Dumas
Strange sounds are afoot in Gascony, the southwest region of France that birthed D'Artagnan. The province lies close to Spain, and the Basques, who had an influence on the dialect spoken in Gascony. The area also lies in the Occitan cultural region, that mysterious sector overlapping parts of Italy, Spain, and France; the medieval Occitan language has been the focus of some interesting cultural reclamation projects. The Gascon dialect is believed to be derived from Occitan. In Gascony, the musical group and collective Artús have been mining the varied cultural strains that have fed into Gascony's unique character. They utilize both electric and acoustic instrumentation, and they draw on traditional Gascon music. However, the band never 'plays it safe' – they are resolutely experimental, drawing from rock music's progressive genre. The hurdy-gurdy is a main instrument (the fearless Romain Baudoin), accompanied by a battery of percussion, violin, keyboards, the Basque 'ttun-ttun' (a stringed drum), pipes, and bass. That Artús do not utilize an electric guitar would appear to be a band 'policy' to cede dominance to the hurdy-gurdy... Lee Blackstone listens to the purveyors of a tradition that knows no boundaries.

 

world music Classical guitarist Marc Sinan, born in 1976 to a Turkish-Armenian mother and a German father, has over the past two decades attracted increasing demand as a soloist and collaborator, and dedicates his output to softening divides between genres, eras, and cultures. Hasretim - Journey to Anatolia represents the most significant evolutionary leap in his career as a composer. This video-musical journey traces Sinan's heritage along the Black Sea coast to the Armenian border. More than that, it's an invaluable archive of life and song on the Anatolian plateau, which he explored together with Dresdner Sinfoniker artistic director Markus Rindt in 2010. During the trip, Sinan was saddened to find that the preservation of folk music so prevalent elsewhere (viz: the Baltic states, Hungary, and Greece) was lacking in Turkey. Consequently, he took the opportunity to address the discrepancy, pooling a storehouse of traditional musicians and incorporating their art into a large-scale, contemporary piece of his own design. "I was quite nervous," writes Sinan of the recording process. "Unlike musical field research, our project demanded much more than simply documenting the current state of the Turkish musical tradition regardless of its artistic merit. We were on a treasure hunt and would only rest once we stumbled upon something truly special." Tyran Grillo explores the music and video of this important new work.

 

world music Greg Harness started his weekly Radio Boise show in May of 2011. The radio station was brand new, and the library was very small, particularly for anything resembling folk or roots music. As he was casting about for music to play, he found The Holy Coming Of The Storm, his introduction to Cahalen Morrison and Eli West, and he played their "Lost Lovin' Gal" on the very first broadcast. Their 2014 release, I'll Swing My Hammer With Both My Hands is everything he expected from them - excellent musicianship, strong originals and extraordinary covers, all in a beautifully packaged CD designed by West himself. Greg Harness takes you into the music of Morrison and West.

 

world music There is a story about a sommelier who knows wines so well that he can drink a vintage today and predict how it will taste years from now. At maturity, he can identify the wine from his prediction. So, consider the influences on the music from Azerbaijan: its location between Europe and Asia on the Caspian Sea; a Turkic language; and centuries of Persian, Arabic and Russian musical influences, and you should be able to project its uniqueness. These four sets from the Felmay label's series Traditional Music of Azerbaijan have a clear purpose in the repertoire of songs. Sometimes traditional world music collections lack that certainty and you end up with a grab bag of regional sounds. Not here. Richard Dorsett listens to works by Ramiz Guliyev, Gochag Askarov, Nazaket Teymurova and others.

 

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world music Over the past three decades with ECM, Argentine bandoneón virtuoso Dino Saluzzi has built a new home, but through his output on the label has traced so far back down his old roots that with El Valle de la Infancia (The Valley of Childhood) he might at last have reached the center of the earth. Playing once again with his "in-house" band, he emotes seamlessly with brother Felix on reeds, son José on guitars, and nephew Matías on electric and upright bass. Guitarist Nicolás Brizuela and percussionist Quintino Cinalli round out the extended family portrait. As ever, Dino's humble beginnings manifest themselves in every note, and he credits them with freeing his creative approach. Dino's mastery is thus so organic that to name it as such barely renders a sketch of his capabilities, as evidenced by this latest excursion. As it turns out, the valley of his childhood is a bountiful place to be... Tyran Grillo goes down into the valley with Dino Saluzzi

 

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 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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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.

 

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