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world music The titles say it all: Bitori: Legend Of Funana: The Forbidden Music Of The Cape Verde Islands

Space Echo: The Mystery Behind The Cosmic Sound Of Cabo Verde Finally Revealed

Synthesize The Soul: Astro-Atlantic Hypnotica From The Cape Verde Islands 1973-1988

Bruce Miller investigates three recordings that explore the 20th Century sounds of the these Atlantic Ocean islands off the North African coast, from accordion driven dance music to synthesizer centered pop.

 

world music Aurelio Martínez is arguably Central America's most gifted and vibrant musical talents, a key tradition bearer of one the most threatened cultures of the isthmus, the African-Amerindian Garifuna people. Apprenticed from an early age to his cultural elders, later a collaborator of Garifuna masters Paul "Nabi" Nabor (19282014) and Andy Palacio (19602008), Aurelio is the foremost champion of the music, dance and language traditions… With its emphasis on vocal artistry, polyrhythmic complexity and dense percussive base, Garifuna music speaks across the African diaspora to its Central American, Caribbean and Latin America counterparts, rooted in the sacred ancestor spirit-possession drumming, song and dance genres of the ritual dügü, consonant with analogues in Cuba, Brazil, Haiti, Jamaica, Trinidad and elsewhere... A mature expression of Aurelio's decades-long sojourn, Darandi is a definitive rendering of some of his most compelling original and traditional Garifuna material, in a new recording made live at Real World Studios in England. Read Michael Stone's full review of Darandi, and listen to a full song from the album, a song made famous by his mentor Paul Nabor.

Darandi is RootsWorld's Music of the Month selection for March, 2017. Find out more.

 

 

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The treasure of language

Here are a few recordings that explore the power of language; in this case, some lesser know tongues of Europe and the Atlantic. Languages all have their own unique rhythms and meter that are reflected in both the poetry and in the music itself. These three artists offer us a glimpse into their very local worlds, singing (and, in effect, playing) in Karelian, Älvdalska and Faroese. - CF

First is a very special recording of music from Sweden, by one of its most interesting and important artists, Lena Willemark. As Lee Blackstone writes, "Blåferdį (Blue Journey) is a mesmerizing album from an always adventurous Swedish singer and violin player. To realize this work, Willemark wrote a series of poems, in Swedish and in Älvdalska (also called Elfdalian, an ancient Swedish language) which she set to the sounds of a quintet - Willemark on vocals and violin; Emma Reid on violin; Mia Marin on 5-string violin; Mikael Marin on 5-string viola; and Leo Sander on cello; plus percussionist Tina Quartey on numerous drums and bells… The music and singing is quite simply, astonishing. The strings act like roots, anchoring these songs, the cello another dark timbre. Quartey's percussion never overwhelms the delicacy and force with which the quintet maneuvers through Willemark's compositions."
In addition to Lee's full review, we have a full song and some excerpts from the album. Ms Willemark also contributed a few words explaining how she came to perform the entire work in Älvdalska (Elfdalian), an ancient dialect from her home region of Älvdalens, in Sweden. And we have a short video of her telling the nativity story in the language. Read the full article.

The next recording comes from a quintet of vocalists from the Faroe Islands. Kata is an all-female vocal quintet hailing from, and arranging folk tunes of their islands. Kata's precise, rooted singing will appeal to fans of Trio Mediaeval, but they are also influenced by Bulgarian choirs like Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares. The album's tone tends toward cautionary tales of injurious traditions and social mores, as codified in folk stories handed down for generations. Occasionally accompanied by electronics and percussion, the listener is offered a dip into forgotten waters, an experience of vivid melodic and lyrical shapes on Tívils Døtur. Listen to the music and read Tyran Grillo's full review.

Finally, we offer you an audio feature of the music and songs of Karelia, as reinterpreted by Lekkujad, a quartet of musicians based in Helsinki that are exploring new ways to hear music from Karelia, a region that spans the Finnish-Russian border. These four musicians have diverse backgrounds that come together to create something unusual for Karelian music. Listen to a few tracks from their new recording, Tulinbo Ruadieh.

 

world music Singer, guitarist and song writer Lula Pena is one of the most iconoclastic artists of Portugal. She is often referred to as a fado singer, but that's sheer laziness on the part of those looking for simple pigeonholes to place their expectations in. There is certainly the independent spirit of fado in her music; the old school variety punctuated by cigarettes and late nights; the cousin of the blues, the rembetiko, the morna, and the Appalachian ballad. But Pena stands apart, and shows how far on her latest recording, Archivo Pittoresco.    See a video of one song and a live performance, and read Cliff Furnald's review.

 

world music French trio Bey.Ler.Bey are mistranslaters of sorts. Composed of accordionist Florian Demonsant, percussionist Wassim Halal, and clarinetist Laurent Clouet, the group showcases a collective knowledge of what they call the "colors and codes of Balkan music" while embracing certain conventions of free jazz and minimalism. On Mauvaise langue, they conspicuously eschew traditional elements through a kind of upside-down and backwards jigsaw puzzle, fitting sounds together that seem like they've always coexisted. However, the mercurial qualities of each voice betray a newness of vision.    Listen to the songs and read Dylan McDonnell's review.

 

world music Like countless projects before it, Au bout du petit matin ("In the wee hours") lines out the possibilities of joy and sorrow through a collage of instrumental and vocal means. However, Malgache artist Tao Ravao and French musician Thomas Laurent fulfill their vision by offering a window into primarily Francophone and Francophone-associated tunes… The choice of instrumentation for this project, as well as the song material, is highly associated with either French postcolonial or stereotypically "French" sounds: Ravao plays both guitar and kabosy, a box-shaped wooden guitar common in musics of Madagascar, while Laurent sports a twelve-hole chromatic harmonica not dissimilar to the voice-like emotionality popularized by musicians like Toots Thielemans and Gregoire Maret. The duo dissolves and rebuilds its sound piece by piece as it creates allusions to disparate musical contexts.   Read Dylan McDonnell 's review and listen to some songs from the album

 

world music "I'm going to tell you a long story about Shirley Collins and English folk music. To do so, follow me back to before Shirley Collins was born to around the turn of the twentieth century…" Shirley Collins' Lodestar, her first recording in 38 years, was published late last year, and both Lee Blackstone and your editor picked it as one of our favorite releases of 2016. Join Lee as he walks you through the story of this most interesting and enduring folk music legend, in his article about English folk music, Ms. Collins and her highly anticipated return to singing. There are also three beautiful video pieces to accompany his story.

 

world music The folk world has its projects whereby musical connections are made which heighten awareness concerning the indebtedness different cultures have to one another: in that spirit, parallels and future avenues are explored… The trio Serendou, are in this excellent tradition of cultural exchange, when two musicians from Niger meet with a Breton flautist in Zinder. Serendou are comprised of Yacouba Moumouni (flute, vocals), Boubacar Souleymane (singer, percussionist, guitar and kountigui a one-stringed lute), and Jean-Luc Thomas (ebony flute, electronics, vocals)… Zinder's substance is thrilling on several counts. The musicians go deep into Nigerien music.. tunes shimmer, and the flute playing brings to mind the circularity that one hears in Breton music a round, call-and-response rhythmic sway that characterizes a lot of the album… Lee Blackstones explores the invisible borders.
world music Finnish folk music can sound other-worldly. The country's folk-epic, "The Kalevala," compiled by Elias Lönnrot in the early 1800s era of nationalism, features ancient and stunning poetry that sounds as if it were forged by mountains and rivers. "The Kalevala" is laced with charms and spells, and its impact on Finnish folk culture has been immense. One can hear its echoes in this new recording.

Okra Playground formed in Finland in 2010, and Turmio is the group's debut recording. Three female vocalists are up-front in Okra Playground's sound, which lends thrilling dynamics to their chosen material. Both play the kantele, strung over their shoulders for a twin-stringed attack that any heavy metal band would envy. The men in the band round out the contemporary sound with bass, synth, accordion and percussion. Comparisons to both Värttinä and Hedningarna are inevitable. Okra Playground has an organic, acoustic base, but they frequently add electronic enhancements so that their overall approach appeals to both traditionalists and experimentalists.    Read Lee Blackstone's full review and listen to the music.

 

world music For a number of reasons, Niger strikes many as a difficult place to penetrate. It's brutally hot, largely desert, landlocked, and dauntingly vast. Over the last 13 or so years, it's also experienced it's share of coups, drought, and threats from within and without. This is the information that often gets expressed through various media outlets, and while these concerns are real, the country is also experiencing a musical flux. Alongside centuries old traditions are cell phones and the internet, which are forcing shifts. Niger has had some aural anomalies for quite some time, with releases of Mamman Sani Abdoulaye's late 1970's synthesizer experiments, as well as early 70's recordings by Azna de L'ader. Tuareg guitar rock, found in the Agadez region, and recorded over the last decade or so, has also seen plenty of attention…

Which all brings us to Studio Shap Shap. This six-piece ensemble, based in the nation's capital Niamey, does what so many young bands from more cosmopolitan areas of the world are doing; they're synthesizing tradition with a more experimental approach. On Chateau 1, the komsa lute, balafon, and the Hausa talking drum known as the Kalangou, blend with electric keyboards, electronics, snippets of field recordings and musical patterns not normally associated with the country's roots, for something that captures the country's musical flux perfectly… Listen to the music and read Bruce Miller's full review.

 

world music Based in Prague, Czech band ba.fnu meet with legendary Breton singer Yann-Fañch Kemener on a remarkable project called YFK 2016. ba.fnu are a young band playing cittern, hurdy-gurdy and other stringed instruments, percussion and some computer programming. They have an affinity for both Czech and other European styles, but especially Breton fest-noz tunes. Yann-Fañch Kemener is famous for helping to revive Kan ha diskan, the Breton vocal style that accompanies dancing. The Czechs bring a contemporary modern aesthetic to their arrangements, which can described as traditional music incorporating urban street sounds. Kemener's vocals circle through the mix and add a trance-like quality to the tracks.

What the musicians aim to achieve here are not merely danceable songs, but experimental sound-art. YFK 2016 is meant to be experienced as a sonic calendar, with a distinct political message. They combine this all with spoken word samples continually throughout the music and these provide a running commentary on international affairs… Read Lee Blackstone's review and listen to a few of the songs from this Czech/Breton 'calendar.'

 

world music As unlikely as they are talented, the members of Doolin' are French musicians playing Irish music, recording on a Nashville-based record label. Formed in 2005 in Toulouse by six musicians from widely different backgrounds but united in their love of Irish music, the group's newest album shows little trace of their native land, with lyrics principally in English. The group mostly plays instrumentals, propelled by bodhran playing and percussive guitar work. They also add heartfelt vocals in songs like Bob Dylan's "Ballad of Hollis Brown" and Steve Earle's "Galway Girl." The group has produced an album that should be welcome to fans of high-energy modern traditionalists such as Solas, Lunasa and Flook… Read Marty Lip's complete review and listen to some of the music.

 

world music "You can lose the battle, you can even lose the war; but what counts is having fought."

The Occitan speaking lands of Italy have brought forth their fair share of contemporary and folk musicians, and of these Lou Dalfin is probably the longest-lived and best-known band. On Musica Endemica, their thirteenth album in 35 years, Sergio Berardo's band continues on its folk-rock course - especially if you consider the hurdy-gurdy a rock instrument. It's been five years since their last effort, and it's certainly worth the wait… Hear some of the music and read David Cox' full review.

 

world music I thought my knowledge of global music instruments was fairly comprehensive. Then I took a look at the thing balanced on the shoulder of Malawi's Gasper Nali in the cover photo of his album Abale Ndikuwuzeni. I'm sure I'm not the only one who, at first glance, wondered why this fellow didn't take up the harmonica. But I'm open-minded and open-eared, so I had to find out what this bizarrely beautiful axe could sound like. Turns out it's called a babatoni and is Nali's own creation. With its cow skin drum resonator, single string and very, very long neck, it may look like a surrealistic representation of a giraffe but sonically comes across rather like a Brazilian berimbau. The babatoni's sole string is struck with a stick held in Nali's right hand while his left moves an empty glass bottle along the string in order to vary the tone. The effect is melodic in a rudimentary sort of way, producing a shimmering, rise-and-fall metallic buzz that you might assume to be electronically created if you hadn't already gotten the visual. Read Tom's full review and listen to a few songs from the album.

 

world music Transparent Water occupies space within several different spectra: between plucked and hammered strings, spontaneous and preconceived composition, wandering and purposeful trajectories. Its fluidity reflects a continuity of Cuban pianist Omar Sosa's vision of transcontinental blurring of styles and idioms in an ultimately Afro-diasporic framework. This time around Sosa has partnered with Senegalese kora player and singer Seckou Keita to engage a project of exploratory proportions: the album features elements of multiple African regional musics (Mandinka and Yoruba), Chinese reed timbres, Japanese koto playing, and the Afro-Latin piano and percussion canons. Read Dylan McDonnell's review, and listen to a full song and some excerpts from the album.

 

world music Describing themselves as "a sort of truncated nautical B-movie featuring a cast of characters raided from Hollywood's worst costume department," Seas of Mirth are a band of merry pranksters sailing the 'pirate folk' subgenre. Pirates are perhaps themselves the ultimate subgenre, and pirate-related themes crawl from the seaweed in many metal and folk-rock oriented bands. Seas of Mirth do the developing scene credit on their second full-length album Hark! The Headland ApproachethRead Lee Blackstone's review and sing along.

 

world music Celebrating its 25th anniversary, Planet Drum has been remastered in a special edition with three previously unpublished tracks. In 1990, Mickey Hart assembled a cast of musicians from around the world to make a percussion album unlike anything ever produced. Hart was joined by Zakir Hussain and T.H. "Vikku" Vinayakram from India, Babatunde Olatunji and Sikiru Adepoju from Nigeria, Airto Moreira and Flora Purim from Brazil, and Giovanni Hidalgo from Puerto Rico. Planet Drum was released in 1991 and spent twenty-six weeks at the top of the Billboard charts, winning the first World Music Grammy. Instead of writing compositions in a particular style, Hart wanted the musicians to bring their traditions to the studio with the goal of creating new rhythms and ideas in an open-minded environment. The results speak for themselves…Join Alex Brown in revisiting a classic percussion album.

 

world music On The Magical Forest, Norwegian kantele virtuoso Sinikka Langeland reconvenes her "Starflowers" quintet (with saxophonist Trygve Seim, trumpeter Arve Henriksen, bassist Anders Jormin, and drummer-percussionist Markku Ounaskari), adding to that quilt the patchwork of voices known as Trio Mediæval. Any of these names will be familiar across the spectrum of ECM followers, but their shared love for Scandinavian folk music has never been so clear as in this latest project. In contrast to previous albums, the kantele is a largely supportive presence, almost airy in its backgrounded-ness. This gives Langeland's unaffected singing - and, more importantly, the imagery laced into it - room to roam.   Read Tyran Grillo's review and listen.

 

world music Constantinople, formed in Montreal in 1998, comprises Kiya Tabassian (voice, setar), Pierre-Yves Martel (viola da gamba) and Ziya Tabassian (tombak, percussion). Over the years the ensemble has collaborated with the likes of Frank London, Loren Sklamberg, Savina Yannatou, and many other artists from Mexico, Spain, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Iran, India, China, Mongolia and Uzbekistan. Joining Constantinople on Jardins Migrateurs is Senegalese kora player, singer and composer Ablaye Cissoko, who hails from a line of Mandinka griots. The project's conceptual "itinerant garden" cultivates a spiritual communion wherein Persian strains (the Tabassians were born in Teheran) engage West African and Western classical elements on mutual aural terrain. Viola and percussion underpin the kora, setar and voice, fostering a deferential exchange that conjures sonic beauty through graceful simplicity. Michael Stone reviews and shares some of their music with you.

 

world music Los Lichis's story isn't particularly unique, in that it involves a few friends meeting at college, picking up whatever instruments that might be lying about and forging their way toward something that, as far as they're concerned, is unique. Yet because core members Manuel Mathar and Geraldo Monsivais met in the 1990s, far after the innovations of kindred experimentalists in early 70s Germany or Japan, not to mention the LAFMS, and perhaps also because they attended the University of Monterrey, in Mexico, and not an art school in LA or NYC, their story becomes a bit more intriguing… Mathar and Monsivais, along with another friend, Jose Luis Rojas, found themselves with a shared interest in getting way out there, with - amazing for the end of the 20th century - not much in the way of record collecting geekdom as reference points for what they wanted to do. Fortunately for us, the record button was on and this collection, spanning the decade between 1997 and 2007 and culled from CDRs and cassettes, is a fantastic trip into the nether regions beyond pop music's limitations… Go on a sonic adventure with Bruce Miller and discover music that lacks any boundaries.

 

world music The music of Washington Phillips and his unique instrument remains singular, easily separated from the multitudes of blues and gospel records recorded in the rural, black, early 20th Century deep south. The ghostly twinkles of Phillips' double zither, the manzarene, caressing a voice seemingly devoid of hurry, carried by the clouds, have only grown more unusual, seductive, and softly brazen with time. Steeped in gospel's oral tradition, but floating on his own instrumental innovations, Phillips created some early genre-defying folk minimalism. Bruce Miller introduces you to Washington Phillips And His Manzarene Dreams, the latest book and CD set from the ever-interesting Dust To Digital label.

 

world music On A Thousand Cranes, the Turkish born Kurdish singer Çigdem Aslan draws from Turkish and Greek songs recorded from the 1930s to the 1970s, most of which are well known in both countries and have histories that cross national boundaries, whether fluidly or forcibly. The themes of exile and longing are intermixed with the more hopeful ideas that people and communities can and do reinvent themselves after the worst circumstances. Greg Harness shares his thoughts on music that is challenging and hopeful, and shows us the power we have to reinvent ourselves, regardless of circumstance.

 

world music Bruce Molsky is a veteran of American string bands and transatlantic sessions. Arto Järvelä is on more recordings than one can keep track of, and it was Norway's Ånon Egeland has opened many ears to how musical a munnharpe can be. Rauland Rambles, recorded at the 2016 Rauland International Winter Festival in Norway, contains a great mix of Norwegian, Finnish, and American traditional tunes in various combinations of fiddle, hardingfele, ukulele, kantele, banjo, munnharpe, and seljefløyte… Greg Harness finds this cross-cultural collaboration to be a treasure.

 



I asked a number of our writers to tell you about some of their favorite recordings and overlooked gems from 2016. Marty Lipp wrote, "It was tough, dispiriting year, but there were some bright spots among the new releases of 2016. Artists - some from very troubled nations - showed us that hope and joy are available with a willful turn of our proverbial internal dial."

In the first installment, we'll hear from Marty (ML), Michael Stone (MS), Alex Brown (AB), Tyran Grillo (TG), Greg Harness (GH) and your editor, Cliff Furnald. Volume 2 has picks from Lee Blackstone, David Cox and a bit more from the editor. They are not ordered by "greatest" in any fashion, but are simply the picks of a number of our writers, randomly presented to allow you to wander through the world of music they represent.
Volume 1
Volume 2

 

world music Uh-oh. Thrace. The gateway between East and West, Europe and Asia. Western trained musicians playing with near-Eastern traditions. Peace. All that crap. By now we know the drill: bloody cellist plays plaintive melodies ripped off from some exotic locale. Rimsky-bloody-Korsakov lives! Chinoiserie Uber Alles and all that. The cultural theorists can scream "appropriation!" The purists can sniff and snort... But then there is the music. Oh, there is the music... Crisp rhythms, expertly phrased, intelligently composed. Intriguing harmonics (especially on "Zarbi & Shustari", which uses a very Thracian-style violin on an Iranian melody, to great effect), gently pulsing drums, subtle melodic variations. Jean-Guihen Queyras leads his quartet, with Sokratis Sinopoulos on lyra and Bijan & Keyvan Chemirani on percussion on Thrace: Sunday Morning Sessions. Erik Keilholtz shares a few asides, and even his thoughts on the music.

 

world music "The enemy is clearly delineated: he is a perfect model of malice, a kind of amoral supermansinister, ubiquitous, powerful, cruel, sensual, luxury loving…. He wills, indeed he manufactures, the mechanism of history, or tries to deflect the normal course of history in an evil way… The paranoid's interpretation of history is distinctly personal: decisive events are not taken as part of the stream of history, but as the consequences of someone's will." - Richard Hofstadter, "The Paranoid Style in American Politics"

Real Enemies - the big-band production of Vancouver-born, Brooklyn based composer and bandleader Darcy James Argue - is a prescient title for these, our times. It draws inspiration from the work of historians Kathryn Olmsted - who explores U.S. popular fascination with conspiracy theories in her book "Real Enemies" - and Richard Hofstadter, excerpts from whose essay quoted above percolate through this new work… Peppered with audio cameos by Cold War and "intelligence community" household names, under his direction, Darcy James Argue's Secret Society conveys the ambiguity, obsession, psychosis, nagging dread, and Twilight Zone menace-with-a-moral… Michael Stone takes you inside a powerful new North American work.

 

world music What is the artistic response to uncertainty? Musicians from across the United Kingdom have been asking this question since the Brexit vote, as have those from the United States since the 2016 Presidential election. To find answers, one strategy is to look at the creative community's response from places that have suffered greatly. In many of those spaces local artists have come forward with expressions of sorrow and loss yet also offered a path toward resilience and revival. Often that path looks both backward and forward… With the release of Amira Medunjanin's Damar, Greg Harness explores the path of Bosnian resilience as expressed by the sevdah musical tradition

 

 

world music With its distorted electric guitar, wailing vocals, and a drummer that keeps it all in sync, the album Arbina sounds free, explorative, even trippy, like a young artist who has found her groove through the mostly harmless mischief of a road-bound rebellion, but could one day bloom into an M.I.A.-style revolutionary. It's not all quite what it seems. This is Noura Mint Seymali's second international release after a lifetime of performing at public ceremonies and on record in her home country of Mauritania. She's a seasoned descendant of more than twenty generations of Moorish griot, a social caste of Saharan musicians and performers. Like the griots before, she dresses in a head-to-toe mulafa, singing lyrics that sit on the shoulders of God, country, culture and tradition, along with the hope and blessings they bring forth… Nokware Knight shares the work of an artist who sings without compromise.

 

world music The River is a collaboration of forces between the ETHEL string quartet and Native American flute player/maker Robert Mirabal. The recording sessions took place under the open skies of Taos Pueblo, New Mexico, the surroundings of which are referenced by a dusting of field recordings. Wind and water, for instance, harmonize in the ambience of opening track "An Kha Na." Its blend of indeterminate and composed sounds makes the introduction of strings and the singing of those playing them seem like something from another plane of existence. An overwhelming impression of distance prevails when the song transitions into "Tuvan Ride" through sounds of horses. While this jump from an American heritage site to the Mongolian outback might seem arbitrary in theory, in practice I can hardly imagine a clearer manifestation of the album's title. Here the river is no metaphor, but the very interconnectedness of life on Earth. Read Tyran Grillo's review and listen to a full track and some audio excerpts.

 

world music A Polish folk group institution, Trebunie-Tutki have been releasing recordings since the early 1990s. Based around family (lead Kryzysztof Trebunia-Tutka, on violin, flutes, bagpipes, and wooden horns, and Anna Trebunia-Wryrostek, on cello, are brother and sister), Trebunie-Tutki practice the 'góral' music of the Polish highlanders. Over the years, Trebunie-Tutki have not only performed traditional material, but they have also experimented with musicians from other cultures… Trebunie-Tutki's latest exploration on Duch Gór: The Spirit of the Mountains is with the Quintet Urmuli, a group that has been performing for twenty-five years, and who hail from Tbilisi, Georgia. Listen to the music and read Lee Blackstone's review

 

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New Nordic Roots

Groupa holds traditional Nordic folk music in high regard, but they are not afraid of breaking down boundaries and re-creating well established songs in their own way. The trio has been combining the traditional with a curiosity for the experimental for over 30 years. This often means using instruments that are out of the ordinary, including wood, stone and bells. Maria Ezzitouni talked with violinist Mats Edén about the history of the band, what makes them successful, and about the criticism they have faced by striving forward on their own path.

Groupa mixes Nordic folk music with new thinking and innovation on their tenth album, Kind of folk - vol. 1 Sweden. Most of the tracks are their own interpretation of long-established folk traditions from Sweden, with a few pieces composed by the trio of Terje Isungset (percussion), Jonas Simonson (flutes) and Mats Edén (violins). Read Maria's review of the recording and listen to some songs and samples.

 

world music Issa Murad, a Bethlehem native, developed his chops (oud and voice) at the Edward Said National Conservatory of Palestine, furthering his career in Cairo for a couple of years before moving on Paris in 2007, where he wrote an ethnomusicology thesis at the Sorbonne and dove into the city's cosmopolitan musical milieu. In Paris, Murad formed the ensemble Joussour in 2012 as an experimental sextet whose Arabic meaning is "bridges," an apt metaphor for his compositions, which explore connections between the improvisatory bent of Arabic, Syrian, Turkish, Balkan, Indian, Latin and world jazz sonorities. On the album Joussour, Michael Stone finds a world of illuminating improvisation, awaiting those who seek a different kind of different.

 

world music Greg Harness writes, "I love a good anti-Nashville anthem. And I especially love "Z," from a self-described "half-gringa, half-Chicana, fiddle-playing Carrie Rodriguez." It's a rollicking honky-tonk song, underscored by a message of perseverance ("Doors are gonna open if you want them to / But you might have to knock 'em down"), and it fits my mood these days." Her new CD Lola shows off the "the ranchera side" of Rodriguez musical personality with "hard hitting original songs and striking takes on classics wrapped up in a message of perseverance and hope," making this one of Greg's "Best of 2016" recordings.

 

world music Gambian multi-instrumentalist Dawda Jobarteh and his top-notch band of Danish, Cameroonian, Ghanaian, Cuban, and Gambian musicians embrace an accessible fluidity of styles, and thus emotions, on Transitional Times. The album centers on Jobarteh's masterful playing on the kora, the Mandinka West African harp that has became a staple piece of transnational "world music" projects. His group's particular matrix of plucked strings, electric rock instrumentation, spiritual jazz, and a loosely unifying theme allows them to toy with labels and stereotypes while opening into less-trodden ground.

Despite belonging to a lineage of lauded jaliya or griots who helped spread recognition of the kora beyond West Africa (including his grandfather, Alhaji Bai Konte), Jobarteh only began to focus on the kora after relocating to Denmark, having initially studied the calabash in the Gambia. However, he exhibits all of these skills on Transitional Times, which embraces both songs from the jaliya tradition, as well as original and adapted compositions that incorporate other idioms. Read Dylan McDonnell's full review online now, along with many musical examples.

 

 

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Three Audio Features

First, we take you to Viljandi Folk Music Festival in Tallinn for a concert with Estonian artist and singer Mari Kalkun and her ensemble of Finnish players, Runorun. The quartet plays variants of the stringed zither common to northern Europe, called kannel, or kantele, along with double bass and percussion. The concert was performed on April 1st of 2016, at Tallinn Music Week, part of the Viljandi Folk Music Festival Showcase. Listen!

Next, a group of musicians from Bristol, England who call themselves Three Cane Whale. These recordings were made in the Old Barn in Kelston, Roundhill, in the south of England, between Bristol and Bath. They play what the ensemble calls folkish minimalist miniatures. The musicians are Alex Vann (mandolin, bowed psaltery, bouzouki, zither, music box, etc), Pete Judge (trumpet, harmonium, dulcitone, glockenspiel, lyre, etc), and Paul Bradley (acoustic guitar, harp, etc). We begin with a set of three pieces that all feature the words and voice of their guest, Jon Hamp and then carry on from there. Listen!

Finally, we hear Albaluna, a folk music ensemble that uses medieval and early folk music from Portugal, and merges it with Turkish and Balkan sounds. We're going to listen to a suite in three parts called "Sefarad," that brings in the Ladino Sephardic traditions of Jews in Andalusia and the Balkans. The three works are:
La Galana and the Sea
My daughter
The Roads of Sirkeci
Listen!

All of these performances are available online with the help and cooperation of the performers, who have generously allowed us to present the music to you. There are links to find out more about each ensemble.

 

world music Here's a two-disc collection of East African infectiousness that defies words: Urgent Jumping: East African Musiki Wa Dansi Classics. Tracks spanning the decade between 1972-82 fill these discs, and since curator, liner-note writer, and London DJ John Armstrong has already been spinning stuff like this for decades, his choices are, well, choice. The story apparently goes that Sterns scored a valuable and extensive collection of master tapes, housing tremendous amounts of music that hasn't seen the light of day since its original release. Armstrong went through it, landed on some 1,000 tracks, shortlisted 60, whittled that down to the current 27, and voila. Kenyan Benga and Zilipendwa are the thrust here, as they were also the most popular styles at the time, and Swahili tends to be the language in which much of this stuff is sung, though that is certainly not always the case. While tracks from Uganda, as well as Taraab from coast don't factor in here, the sheer amount of grooves percolating in Tanzanian and Kenyan cities were so vast that it doesn't matter. Listen to a full track and some excerpts from the 2 CDs and read Bruce Miller's review of a collection that "never once lets up."

 

Read reviews from 2016

 

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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?

All pages at RootsWorld are © 1992-2015 Cliff Furnald / FNI Multimedia Publishing, New Haven CT
The RootsWorld name is protected by US trademark law.
All picture and sound images are the property of the artists and record labels, and are protected by copyright. No file or part of a file may be used for any purpose, commercial or non-commercial, without the express written consent of RootsWorld or the other copyright owners.
About the use of sound files and copyright protections at RootsWorld