Become a Babe(b)logger! / A Request

Would you like to give your contribution to the building of Babe(b)logue?
Do you think that your country is poorly represented in Babe(b)logue?
Do you know any artist that you think is worth mentioning here?

Then, choose an album, make a zip file, upload it (in Sharebee or MassMirror) and send it to:


Also, I'm searching for any recordings by the great bolivian singer Gladys Moreno, impossible to find here in Italy. If you have one, please send it to the aforementioned address. Thanx a lot in advance!


Report dead links here, please...

... & I'll re-upload the files as soon as I'll be back.

Radu's Summer Songs - Vol. 3

...and here's the third (and last). Have a nice summer!

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Radu's Summer Songs - Vol. 2

Here's the second volume of my summer collection. Enjoy!

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Radu's Summer Songs - Vol. 1

Hello everybody!

As I’m about to leave for a holiday, this site won’t be updated the next few weeks. All Babe(b)logue archives are open, so I warmly invite you to browse’em and see if you overlooked something interesting. But I have a final “gift” for you all: a 3-volume-3 collection of my favourite summer songs, featuring artists like Peter Hammill, Tarika, Leningrad Cowboys, Radu (yeah, that’s me!!!), Erkin Koray, Gladys Moreno, Sambasunda, Ginkobiloba, Osibisa, Roy Paci & Aretuska, Govi, In Gowan Ring, Celtas Cortos, Ali Hassan Kuban, Malicorne, Idir, Albion Country Band, Mojave 3, Thin White Rope, AltaiKai, Alpha Blondy, Tinariwen, Marc Ribot, Men at Work, Fenua, Oroonies, 24 Grana, and many more…

Here’s the first volume, the other two will follow soon. Enjoy!


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Calexico - Travelall (2000)

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Putumayo Presents: World Reggae (2004)

Reggae's infectious and adaptable one-drop shuffle rhythm, coupled with the music's tendency to deal with social and political issues, has made it a popular genre for musicians worldwide, and when combined with pop and hip-hop elements, has made for some fascinating hybrids. This Putumayo collection reflects both the diversity and the unified cohesiveness of these reggae-based forms, and makes a fascinating introduction to reggae in the 21st century. The disc opens with the bright-sounding "Pas de Problemes" by the French group Kana, which features some solid and efficient Jamaican-inspired horn work. Nigeria's Majek Fashek drops bits of highlife into the reggae stew with the Bob Marley-like "African Unity," while the French group Gnawa Diffusion fuses rap, rai, reggae, jazz, and funk into a patchwork quilt version of "Ya Laymi." The Welsh/Spanish conglomeration known as Mas y Mas adds a dose of Celtic fiddles to the mix on "Agua." French Guiana's Chris Combette (who sings "it's a rastaphobe world" in his selection, "Babylone Buildings") draws on East Indian elements, including an impressive sitar break, played here by Mungel Patasar. Perhaps the biggest name on this compilation, the Ivory Coast's Alpha Blondy, sings "Lalogo" in the Bambara language, a track that was recorded at the legendary Tuff Gong studio in Jamaica. As a sampler of the ever evolving international reggae community, World Reggae opens a wide window into some fascinating new music. (AMG)

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Zulya - Aloukie (1999)

«Multi award-winning Zulya Kamalova is the leading proponent of Tatar and Russian music in Australia as well as one of the most versatile and accomplished vocalists on the world music scene today. Since her move to Australia in 1991 Zulya has developed a totally original approach as an affirmation of her unique identity – an affirmation that takes her Tatar and Russian background to totally new places and in completely new ways. […]
A native of Tatarstan-Udmurtia region of Central Russia,
Zulya began performing Russian and Tatar songs at the age of 9. Later she studied music and languages at university level. She made a dramatic decision to settle in Australia in 1991and inspired by the diversity of cultures began to share her music with Australians. Zulya’s first release in Australia, Journey of Voice (1997), a unique collection of vocal styles and traditions received accolades for its versatility, passion and the “achingly beautiful” tone of her voice. In the following years, Australian audiences have been able to witness the continuing rise of this unique musical treasure. Zulya’s later albums, Aloukie (1999) and Elusive (2002) have also been released in Europe and have been awarded and nominated for various awards […].These albums feature traditional and original songs in her distinctive Tatar style but with unusual instrumentation, presenting the traditional music from a new perspective.» (More at http://www.zulya.com/bio.htm)

«In Aloukie Zulya centers vocally on the hauntingly beautiful Tatar singing style, she grew up around in the heart of Russia. It is a sound originating somewhere in between Eastern Europe and Far East, that musicologists call "a bridge between Mongolian and Hungarian music." Zulya presents the traditional songs and the original compositions in a unique cross-cultural interpretation, celebrating the musical diversity she has experienced in the years of living in Australia. She says "Having settled here I realised the importance of not only sharing one's culture but also creating a unique Australian culture." Featuring a host of talented musicians she has arranged the songs using instruments as varied as didgeridoo, tabla, kora, double bass, bassoon, talking drum, thumb piano, flugel horn and piano accordion among others. Aloukie means a soulful song, that invokes memories of home. Zulya's crystalline voice shares the richness and strength of her culture whilst making a distinct new Australian sound.» (cdroots)

«Zulya Kamalova ist eine der wichtigsten Interpretinnen tatarischer Musik. Ein Grund für die ungemeine Faszination, die Zulya auf ihr Publikum ausübt, ist die offensichtlich Freude, die ihr das Singen bereitet. Selbst wenn Lieder von einer tiefgründigen Melancholie bestimmt werden, erscheint die Darstellung dieses emotionalen Reichtums dennoch als etwas grundsätzlich Erhebendes. Ihr Musikstil widerspiegelt das Aufeinandertreffen von Ost und West. Dazu kommt ihre Vorliebe, sich je nach Bedarf der musikalischen Elemente anderer Kulturen zu bedienen und auch solch ungleiche Klangfarben wie diejenigen des Didgeridoos, des Flügelhorns, des Akkordeons oder der indischen Tabla in ihren Stil zu integrieren.
Zulyas zweites Album Aloukie webt einen sehr markanten Teppich aus traditionellen und orginellen Songs mit Zulyas unverwechselbarem tarischen Stil. Aloukie wurde im Jahr 2000 zum “World Music Album des Jahres” bei den Australien World Music Awards gewählt. Bisheriger Höhepunkt von Zulya war die Auszeichnung “Artist Of The Year” bei den World Music Awards 2001. (indigo.de)

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Postcards from Italy (39) - Piedmont

Tadjikistan - Chants des Bardes/Songs of the Bards (1998)

«This French recording was made in the field in 1990-1992 and covers ten bards, one of whom is represented twice. A "bard" (or hafiz) in Tajiki parlance is not some sort of troubadour so much as the local musician, professional or amateur. These bards are the keepers of tradition in a country that traces its musical history back to ancient Greece and Persia.

The pieces typically feature a male vocalist, one drum and a stringed or bowed instrument (or both), although more or fewer instruments are occasionally to be found. The most common instruments are the small-bodied, longnecked lutes like the dombrak or the setar, which make a sound that is metallic without being jangly and that lend themselves to rapid strumming.
The music is more folk than classical: a little rough with lots of feeling. A song for two vocalists like "Three Ruba'i" is almost epic in its sweeping passion, achieved by the paired voices and the dramatic repeated motifs of the strummed instruments. Other songs are less dynamic, but most would be interesting to anyone who enjoys the folk music of Central Asia.» (AMG)

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Rosalia de Souza - Garota Moderna (2003)

«Italian producer Nicola Conte was responsible for one of the biggest underground dance hits of 2000, the wonderfully catchy and light "Bossa Per Due." That song and the album it was on, also titled Bossa Per Due, were a refreshing blast of laid-back Brazilian jazz meeting Stereolab at cocktail hour and made Conte one of the most sought-after producers in the world. In 2003 he hooked up with Rosalia de Souza, and on her debut record, Garota Moderna, Conte has done perhaps his best work yet. Over 13 tracks he and de Souza create a light, swinging, and hip mood that never flags and is a complete joy from beginning to end. Most of the songs are cut from the same cloth as Bossa Per Due: bossa nova-influenced rhythms spiced with loungy jazz touches and liberally borrowing elements from electronic dance music and easy listening. The frothy tropical cocktail is topped off with de Souza's sensual and sweet (and mostly sung in Portuguese) vocals. She never oversings or does anything remotely dramatic, often forgoing words altogether and crooning wonderful la-de-das. She is the perfect foil for Conte's winking and swinging sonic constructs. Tracks like "Maria Moita," "Tempo Futuro," "Mais," and "Ipanema" are sly groovers that sound like they should be playing in a James Bond movie set in Brazil. In fact the whole record is a retro-futuristic treat. It should appeal to dance music mavens, jazz fans, Brazilian music lovers, and just about anyone who likes easygoing, sunny dance music. It will also further cement Conte's position as a top-notch producer.» (AMG)

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Les Anarchistes - Figli di Origine Oscura (2002)

«Figli di origine oscura non è una semplice rilettura di canti anarchici; siamo su di un altro piano, in una dimensione che supera i precedenti tentativi di reinterpretare la tradizione di matrice libertaria, fino a questo momento poco ricettiva nei confronti di un suono non conservatore. Merito de Les Anarchistes, il cui lavoro ha aggiornato il “vissuto anarchico” in un contesto nuovo, nel quale l'ammeticciamento degli arrangiamenti assume un ruolo assolutamente capitale. Il collettivo toscano centrifuga il rock con il free-jazz, l'elettronica, il folk. E il risultato è stupefacente: dimenticate i vecchi (e rispettabili, sia chiaro) stilemi della canzone italiana anarchica – cioè chitarra acustica e via ad urlare di rabbia – perché Les Anarchistes hanno scelto una formula tesa a privilegiare una struttura aperta a sonorità che con la tradizione hanno poco a che spartire. I vecchi canti assumono una veste nuova, e certe cose come "Su fratelli pugnamo da forti", "O Gorizia tu sei maledetta", sono rilette con l'intenzione di farle (ri)vivere con uno spirito 'altro', pur continuando a tenere alto il valore di testi la cui attualità continua a rimanere viva. Il cd, nel suo esplicito elogio all'anarchismo, riesce, comunque, a non limitare la sua forma espressiva al solo campo politico-insurrezionale: con "Les anarchistes", "Tu non dici mai niente", "Il tuo stile" (queste ultime due riprese recentemente anche dai Têtes de Bois), i toscani omaggiano un grande come Leo Ferrè, mentre il testo di "The mask of anarchy" è tratto, nientedimeno, da due poesie del visionario Blake e del romantico Shelley. Preziose le collaborazioni: Raiz degli Almamegretta, il fisarmonicista Antonello Salis e Blaine L. Reininger dei Tuxedomoon e […] altri. […] Si sentiva il bisogno di un disco come questo, per la sua passione, il suo sentimento, il suo ardore. […] Les Anarchistes non sanno cosa sia la retorica: lo scopo della band sembra quello di offrire ulteriori motivi per non dimenticare che esistono altri modi di vedere il mondo. Dire che ci riescono bene, è sin troppo limitativo.» (Rockit)

«Si fuéramos el RDL le pondríamos a esto la posible etiqueta de "retro-emo-core-cántico-populare", pero bueno, como aun no se nos ha subido la historia a la cabeza, diremos que con ese engendro calificativo queda medianamente definido este original proyecto, aunque ellos mismos en su propia web (www.lesanarchistes.com) se han dado en llamar electro nu-folk o electro combat-folk. Se trata pues, básicamente, de una revisión y puesta de actualidad, meramente en lo formal claro, de las canciones anarquistas y libertarias del siglo pasado a través de las nuevas tecnologías musicales. Se toma una base de letras y proclamas que se aderezan con un poco de indietronica, new jazz electrónico, el rock mas avanzado y unas esencias de música étnica, y con todo esto se consigue a veces un genial y compacto producto en canciones como por ejemplo "su fratelli pugnamo da forti" o "Les anarchistes", aunque en otras el exceso de alguno de los componentes lleva al fracaso o al galimatías, como es el caso de "Tammurriata delle mondine" donde unas voces chamánicas hacen de ésta, una canción digna de una producción tipo Enigma o Spirit, o las demasiado jazzísticas para nuestros gustos "Un bolero per Goliardo", "Dai monti di Carrara" o "The mask of anarchy", donde el saxo y el free jazz nos satura bastante a pesar de ser magníficas composiciones, e incluso la excesivamente discotequera "Battan l'otto". Sin embargo, en las más cercanas a la esencia original, donde las voces están apoyadas por un entorno no demasiado agobiante, brillan con esplendor las frases que fácilmente nos evocan esas imágenes mudas de lucha y miseria en blanco y negro. Este es el caso de la rockera "Sante Caserio" o la propia versión de "Les anarchistes" de Léo Ferré, casi provocan que te entren ganas de salir a la calle a protestar por algo, o incluso de leer a Marx... Son además en los pasajes mas sosegados como en "Il galeone", "Tu non dici mai niente" o la voz femenina en "Il tuo stile", donde consiguen, a nuestro entender, sintetizar el espíritu de la idea. Luego tenemos las más etnicas, folkies o world-music, como "Un di' discenderemo" con presencia de guitarras acústicas, los violines de "Lacrime 'e cundannate" o la casi Jethro Tull "O Gorizia tu sei maledetta". Cerrándose el trabajo con la postrera "Un bolero per Goliardo" donde la presencia jazz va in-crescendo en plena voragine que nos aboca a la proclama final.
En resumen, una propuesta como mínimo original, a pesar de basarse en "fusilar" literalmente algo tan antiguo y utópico como la lucha por la jornada laboral de "n" horas (donde "n" siempre es mayor estricto de 8), que a tenor de nuestros delicados gustos solo tiene el fallo de un exceso de jazz en casi todos los cortes, pero con lo que tenemos que transigir puesto que se trata de recrear el sonido de la época, con sonidos analógicos de viejos sintetizadores, saxo, trombones y flautas en libres improvisaciones al mas puro estilo free jazz de los 40.
Así pues, esta original proposición, producida por Nicola Toscano y Max Guerrero recibió entre otros el prestigioso "Premio Ciampi" al mejor álbum de debut del año 2002. Por ello, dejamos en sus propias palabras la definición exacta de este proyecto: "...¿Cómo podemos definir nuestra música? No lo sabemos y de hecho no nos importa. El canto de las multitudes es realmente lo que nos importa, piezas de la historia cantadas a oídos sordos, melodías cristalinas que ocupan sonidos desconocidos... y la eterna memoria de Léo Ferré que dio nombre a este proyecto".» (nadadora)

English bio & reviews: http://www.lesanarchistes.com/bioEN.html

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Putumayo Presents: Mexico (2001)

«Even in the northern states, Mexican music is easy to find on American radio, but airplay almost exclusively consists of the Tex-Mex norteño style. In contrast, there's barely an accordion in earshot on this sparkling collection of traditionally rooted songs. Los Bravos del Norte de Ramon Ayala weigh in with the bouncy ranchera "Andan Dicendo," but on all other fronts guitar trills rather than squeezebox sighs propel the music. With violin swoops and falsetto vocals, La Calaca unleash the galloping son huasteco/ranchera "Rogaciano." The same ensemble graces the gusto "El Tecolote" with less ferocity but equivalent momentum. Los Lobos dip way into their past with a 1977 version of the son jarocho sped up into a self-proclaimed son loco on "Flor de Huevo," complete with dizzying fretwork and a flailing rhythm. The delicate instrumental son istemeno wedding song "Mediu Xhiga" from Dueto de los Hermanos Rios brings exquisitely ornamented requinto guitar from Mexico's Pacific Coast. Rounding out the set is a slice of Latin cabaret complete with braying clarinets and a gritty vocal takeoff on, of all things, a traditional Mexican Christmas carol via Lhasa de Sela's "Los Peces."» (Bob Tarte, Amazon)

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Postcards from Italy (38) - Trento


The Chills - Kaleidoscope World (1986)

«The Chills were one of New Zealand’s best and most popular bands of the 80s, making a small but consistent series of chiming, hook-laden guitar pop. Both the songs and the arrangements were constructed with interweaving guitar hooks and vocal harmonies, creating a pretty, almost lush, sound that never fell into cloying sentimentality. Throughout their existence, the band’s personnel changed frequently – there were more than ten different lineups – with the only constant member being guitarist Martin Phillipps, the band’s founder. […]

Kaleidoscope World is the Chills’ essential document, although it’s not an album but a collection of tracks from early- and mid-80s EPs, singles, and compilation cuts. Perhaps that’s not surprising: the Chills are more skilled at crafting interesting odds and sods than sustaining interest over the course of an album, where their somewhat monochromatic approach tends to drag things down. The influence of Syd Barrett/early Pink Floyd is stronger on these early tracks than it would be on subsequent releases, both on the easygoing singalong numbers and the more experimental outings. The highlight (of both the album and the Chills’ career) is their New Zealand hit single, the haunting "Pink Frost."» (AMG)

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Celtas Cortos - Cuéntame un cuento (1991)

In the first half of the 90s Celtas Cortos, formed in Valladolid in 1986, published some enjoyable and fresh celtic folk-rock albums with a sound somewhere in between the epic magniloquence of The Waterboys and the hypercinetic and contagious hilariousness of The Pogues, quickly becoming the recognized champions of Spanish “Rock Celta”, before slowly losing their inspiration and distinctiveness. Cuéntame un cuento is arguably, alongside Gente impresentable, their finest moment.

«Con el folk como emblema, Celtas Cortos lograron hacerse un hueco en el panorama musical mayoritario de nuestro país, gracias a una propuesta refrescante que con el tiempo fue dejando de serlo. El Instituto Delicias de Valladolid vio nacer el germen de la banda, integrado por cuatro alumnos y un profesor del centro, que solían interpretar música tradicional bajo el nombre Colectivo Musical del Instituto Delicias. Tras otro proyecto fallido y una posterior conexión con Amenara, grupo regional de cierto éxito en su circuito y varios álbumes publicados, los cuatro del instituto deciden presentarse a un concurso musical de su ciudad en 1986. Con el apoyo de músicos de Amenara –entre ellos, Jesús Cifuentes, Cifu- se hacen con el primer premio del certamen bajo el nombre de Colectivo Eurofolk. Su idea inicial era separarse tras el evento, aunque la victoria les mantiene unidos, a sabiendas de que deben buscar otra nomenclatura para la formación. Es entonces cuando nace Celtas Cortos, debido al agrado de uno de sus miembros por estos cigarrillos.
En 1987 se hacen con otro premio, que esta vez les permite plastificar tres canciones en un álbum compartido con otros dos ganadores, el extrañamente localizable Así suena: folk joven. Tras estos primeros éxitos, su moral cae en picado cuando las discográficas rechazan sucesivamente su propuesta en forma de maqueta. Prácticamente al borde de la disolución, reciben una oferta de la independiente Twins para dar lugar a su primer trabajo largo. Salida de emergencia (rock celta) aparece en 1989, grabado en 10 días y con un contenido totalmente instrumental basado en sus influencias tradicionales. También se apuntan posibles vías de evolución hacia otros estilos, que denotan las posibilidades de la banda. Gente Impresentable (1990) incorpora una novedad importante: cinco de los temas cuentan con letra y voz de Cifu, algo que aumenta su popularidad ante una propuesta más asequible. No obstante, su verdadero espaldarazo llega con Cuéntame un cuento (1991). El salto a la compañía DRO les otroga los medios disponibles para hacer llegar a mucha gente éxitos redondos como 20 de Abril, o el tema que da título al disco. Celtas Cortos ocupan los primeros opuestos de ventas nacionales, mientras sus directos son fiestas cada vez más multitudinarias. […]» (Mtv.es)

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Maria de Barros - Nha Mundo (2003)

«Although she was born in nearby Senegal, Maria de Barros has made her musical home in Cape Verde, where she brings her warm, sensual voice and original creative vision to bear on the mornas and coladeiras of her adopted home and on the boleros and sambas that came to the islands from Brazil and the Caribbean. Those who are already familiar with the singing of Césaria Évora and Susana Baca will see similar influences at work here, but de Barros' gently compelling style is uniquely her own. Backed up by a mostly acoustic band of guitars, accordions, percussion, and what sounds like a Portuguese guitarra, de Barros weaves a complex tapestry of rhythms and melodies that varies from the reggae-flavored "Riberonzinha" to the bouncing Afro-Cuban hesitation-step of "Regresa," finally culminating in the album's emotional centerpiece, a simple, joyful, and stunningly beautiful song entitled "So Um Melodia." It is difficult to imagine anyone not being completely entranced by this sometimes bittersweet but ultimately joyous album. Very highly recommended.» (AMG)

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Alpha Blondy & The Solar System - Yitzhak Rabin (1998)

«In the latter half of the 1980s Alpha Blondy put African reggae on the world music map. He has been described approvingly by one writer as “Outspoken, multicultural, and definitely off the wall” (Chuck Foster, Roots Rock Reggae, 1999, p. 135). Another writer has identified some of the reasons for his international success, noting that “As the first African reggae artist to attract an international audience, he has brought a unique sensibility to the genre. Never an orthodox Rasta, he has stayed true to the vision of reggae as liberation music and spiritual celebration; yet he has comfortably adapted the idiom to his own world view and fitted the lyrics to address the issues of Africans.” (Susan Cummings Maroni, The Beat vol. 19#2, 2000, p. 49)

Alpha Blondy was born Kone Seydou in a multicultural village in the centre of the Ivory Coast. He has said of Dimbokro that it is “a small village where all the big politicians went to school. There is a Catholic missionary school that we all attended […] and then during vacations they sent me to Koranic school. In Dimbokro we are so mixed. So do not judge somebody by his Muslim name […] he may go to church, he may drink wine [...] Christian make baby with Muslim [...] The Imam of the biggest mosque in the Ivory Coast [has a Catholic wife].” (Maroni, p. 50). This exposure to religious diversity and tolerance influenced his universal outlook. […] It is not only religious but also national identity that is challenged by Blondy's perspective. He has said that “I don't believe in geography [...] whether I am in America, or Paris, or Abidjan [...] I am living in the big Israel, because creation began in Israel.” (ibid., p.73).

Alpha Blondy's hybrid music expresses the diverse aspects of his unique identity. Singing in Dioula, French, English, Hebrew and Arabic, he has also said that his “secret aim” is “to give the two-coated dimension to the cake: reggae and rock. That's the culture I have in my head.” (Foster, p. 134). Explaining the context of his artistic and cultural development he has said that “This African generation is more rock and roll than African [...[ People ask me, 'Why as an African, don't you play African music?' They don't ask Guns n' Roses to play country music! This African music they relate to is a lot of tom-toms and Tarzan yodels. I call this touristic; this is not the reality today. [...] This pure, wild young African cannibal is over. The coconut tree is over. Now, no matter where you come from, there's got to be a school, a radio. [...[ We're part of that dream, that universal big American dream. [...] So people ask why don't you sing like Salif Keita? I say, 'I wish I could! But I grew up listening to Mick Jagger. He doesn't sing African music. But the one he plays, we love it!' (Foster, pp. 132-3)

The step from rock to reggae came easily. Foster has noted that Alpha Blondy “saw reggae as a natural extension of '60s music. 'The Rastas, [Blondy] says, 'are really black hippies.” (ibid., p. 134). Yet if Rastafari came naturally to Alpha Blondy, it so perturbed his parents that they had him committed to a psychiatric hospital for two years, and in 1976 they sent him to Columbia University in New York to study to be an English teacher. There he became friends with Clive Hunt, the Jamaican musician and producer who would later produce "Elohim". Blondy credits Hunt for encouraging him to sing in African languages. Blondy's studies were interrupted by inadequate finances and by illness and in 1978 he returned to the Ivory Coast where he released his first single, "Briagadier Sabari". This was followed by an appearance on national TV, and this led to "Jah Glory", his first full length recording. His popularity grew rapidly in the region and in the mid 80s he was playing to packed football stadiums in Ghana. The international release and distribution of his music, together with performances across the globe, introduced him to the world market, and he regularly performs to capacity audiences. His collaborations with The Wailers (on the albums "Jerusalem", "Cocody Rock" and "Yitzak Rabin", as well as his use of The I-Threes, Bob Marley's backing singers on "Yitzak Rabin"), is particularly appropriate. After all it was Bob Marley and The Wailers who were marketed as a rock group by Chris Blackwell of Island Records, and this led to them becoming the first Jamaicans to make a major impact on the global musical scene. With Blondy recording in Jamaica (at Marley's Tuff Gong Studio) reggae has come full circle. […] But don't expect a one-way pilgrimage on his part. For "Yitzak Rabin" and "Elohim" he brought some of the above-mentioned musicians to Africa to record at his own 24 track recording studio in Abidjan. […] “Instead of me going to Jamaica, we wanted Jamaica to come to Africa. I wanted the musicians to learn the real Africa, not the stereotype.” (Maroni, p. 49)

But if aspects of his identity appear confused and bohemian, at least to those who do not identify with his universalist message, Blondy is also capable of providing very direct socio-political commentary. […] He is also not shy to give praise where he believes it is due – "Yitzak Rabin" was homage to an assasinated politician that Blondy viewed as a peacemaker.

Alpha Blondy's unique synthesis of music and culture has struck a chord across the globe. World music is all the richer for it. (People.africadatabase.org)

French bio: http://www.kima-arts.com/modules.php?name=Alpha_Blondy

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Postcards from Italy (37) - Valle d'Itria, Apulia

Aziza Mustafa Zadeh - Dance of Fire (1996)

Aziza Mustafa Zadeh is a classically trained pianist and singer. She grew up in the former soviet republic of Azerbaijan as the daughter of Vagif Mustafa Zadeh, a jazz composer and pianist, to whom lots of Aziza's works are dedicated, and of Eliza Khanom, a singer, who is now her manager. She currently lives in Mainz, Germany. Her music is a blend of jazz, classical piano, and Azerbaijan folk.

«Nata nel 1969 a Baku, capitale dell’Azerbaijan, Aziza è figlia di Vagif Mustafa Zadeh, tra i più conosciuti e amati pianisti jazz dell’ex Unione Sovietica. Seguendo le orme del genitore, prematuramente scomparso a soli 39 anni, anche Aziza ha diretto la sua ricerca musicale verso la fusione del mugam, la musica tradizionale del proprio paese, con le armonie del jazz, dando vita a un impasto sonoro che in poco tempo ha sedotto l’Ooccidente. Pianista, cantante, compositrice, ha iniziato a suonare all’età di tre anni: a quattordici è già concertista, a diciassette vince il suo primo premio internazionale, intraprendendo molto presto una carriera da professionista in cui la guida la madre Eliza, che le fa da insegnante e manager. Dopo il primo album solista, semplicemente intitolato Aziza Mustafa Zadeh (1991), conosce il grande pubblico con Always (1994), disco che le procura il Phono Academy Prize, da parte della Società Fonografica Tedesca, come migliore produzione jazz dell’anno, ed il prestigioso Echo Prize assegnato dalla Sony. La terza prova, Dance of Fire (1996), le permette di ospitare i più grandi nomi della scena jazz internazionale, del calibro di Stanley Clarke, Al Di Meola, Bill Evans, mentre il quarto album, Seventh Truth, prodotto lo stesso anno, crea diverse polemiche in patria per l’audace copertina, dove Aziza appare seminuda.
Osannata da certa critica, biasimata da altri per i troppi compromessi con la musica occidentale, a discapito della più autentica tradizione dell’Azerbaijan, Aziza continua a tenere concerti in tutto il mondo con grande successo, confermato anche dagli ultimi album […].» (RomaEuropa)

«Aziza Mustafa Zadeh, Azerbaycan'ın başkenti Bakü'de dünyaya geldi. Piyanist ve besteci babası Vagif Mustafa Zadeh, mugam olarak bilinen geleneksel Azerbaycan müziği ile cazın karışımından yarattığı müziği ile tanınıyor. Annesi Eliza Mustafa Zadeh ise klasik müzik eğitimi almış bir şarkıcı. Küçük bir çocukken dans eden, resim yapan, şarkı söyleyen, yani sanatın tüm dallarıyla ilgilenen Aziza, 3 yaşında babasıyla sahne aldı ve ilk doğaçlamalarını yaptı. Fakat daha sonra piyanodaki yeteneği parlamaya başlayacaktı.
Erken yaşlarda klasik piyano eğitimi almaya başlamasına ve J.S.Bach ve F.Chopin'in bestelerine olan ilgi ve hevesine rağmen, doğaçlamaya olan ilgisini ve yeteneğini de göstermeye başladı. "Yeterince pratik yapmadım" diye açıklıyor ve ekliyor "çaldığımı hissetmezsem çalmam".
Babasının trajik bir şekilde 39 yaşında sahnede ölmesi Aziza'nın hayatında bir dönüm noktası oluyor. Bu krizin sonucunda annesi kendi sahne hayatına son veriyor ve kendini kızının müzikal yeteneklerini geliştirmeye adıyor. Şu anda onun menajeri ve Aziza yeni besteler yaptığında onun fikirlerine çok güveniyor. "Ona güveniyorum çünkü bir klasik müzikçi olarak çok tecrübeli ve babamla da caz tecrübesi var" diyor ve ekliyor "müzik, tarih ve edebiyat hakkında çok şey biliyor".
17 yaşındayken Washington'da Thelonious Monk piyano yarışmasını, Monk'un bestelerini kendi mugam tarzıyla yorumlayarak kazanıyor. Daha sonra annesiyle Almanya'ya taşınıyor ve kendi ayırt edici müzikal yönünü geliştirmeye konstantre oluyor.
Zadeh, 1991 yılında kendi adını taşıyan ilk albümünü Aziza Mustafa Zadeh'i çıkardı. Bu albümde, kendi etnik köklerini klasik müzik ve cazla besleyebilen, sıradışı ve dikkate değer bir sese sahip bir sanatçı olduğu hemen anlaşılıyordu. Bu ilk olumlu izlenimler 1993 yılında çıkan Always albümü ile perçinlendi. Yetenekleri o kadar etkileyiciydi ki pek çok prestijli caz müzisyeni Aziza'nın 1995'deki Dance of Fire albümü için bir araya gelmeyi kabul etmişti. Gitarist Al Di Meola, basçı Stanley Clarke, Weather Report'un eski davulcusu Omar Hakim ve saksofoncu Bill Evans gibi ustalardan oluşan bir grupla çalmak, kendini henüz tam olarak ispat etmemiş pek çok müzisyen için korkutucu olabilirdi, fakat Aziza bir kez daha kendine özgü müzikal eğilimleriyle dolu bir albüm çıkardı. "Aziza bir dahi, hem besteci hem de icracı olarak. Onun müziği bana yalnız başına cazdan daha anlamlı geliyor, çünkü duyduğum şey onun kültürü." diyor Al Di Meola ve ekliyor "onu dinlerken Azerbaycan'ı duyuyorum." […]» (Kimkimdir)

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Marcos Ariel - Bambu (1981)

«A música instrumental brasileira renasceu revigorada em meados da década de 80. Um dos principais responsáveis por este movimento foi Marcos Ariel. Tecladista, flautista, compositor e arranjador, Marcos passeia com naturalidade por gêneros diversos, que vão do chorinho ao jazz fusion. Um artista completo, com carreira consolidada nos EUA e Europa.
Produzido pelo próprio Marcos Ariel e pelo parceiro João Baptista, 4friends aponta na direção contemporânea do jazz. A química perfeita entre parceiros de tantos anos é evidente; uma reedição da seção instrumental da Banda Zil, que trazia entre 1986 e 1991, além de Ricardo Silveira (guitarra & violão), João Baptista (baixo) e Jurim Moreira (bateria), os músicos e cantores Zé Renato e Cláudio Nucci. 4friends mostra um repertório de onze composições inéditas de Marcos Ariel.

Marcos Ariel iniciou sua carreira profissional em 1976, como flautista e pianista do Grupo Cantares. Em 1981 lançou "Bambu", contemplado com o Prêmio Chiquinha Gonzaga. Lançou diversos outros trabalhos na década de 80, e participou do Free Jazz Festival em São Paulo (1986) e Rio (1987). Com a repercussão alcançada pelo disco "Terra de Índio" no exterior, começou também a se dedicar à carreira internacional. Na década de 90, lançou 4 discos nos EUA, alcançando sempre ótima colocação nas paradas das FMs norte-americanas.» (ClubdeJazz.com)

Entrevista com Marcos Ariel: AloMusica

English Liner Notes: Whatmusic

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Rabih Abou-Khalil (with The Balanescu String Quartet) - Arabian Waltz (1996)

«Arabian Waltz is the pinnacle of Rabih Abou-Khalil's achievement as a composer and arranger. It is a sublime fusion of jazz, Middle Eastern traditional music, and Western classical. In addition to Abou-Khalil on oud (the Arabic lute), Michel Godard on the tuba and the serpent (the tuba's antique kinsman), and Nabil Khaiat on frame drums, the album also features the Balanescu String Quartet instead of the usual trumpet or sax. The presence of the Balanescu might seem to pose a dilemma for the composer: traditional Middle Eastern music uses no harmony but a string quartet is all about harmony. Abou-Khalil achieves a compromise by generally writing the string parts in unison (or in octaves), in effect using the quartet as a single voice, but also letting the quartet split up to play parts in unison with the other instruments or to provide ornamentation. Without surrendering jazziness at all, the presence of the strings makes possible a wondrous atmosphere, almost as if one is listening to the soundtrack of a classy movie set in Beirut or Damascus during the '40s. This feeling is greatest on "Dreams of a Dying City" with its brooding tuba and cello motifs and grave, repeated rhythms. "The Pain After" starts with an impressive tuba solo that turns into a long interlude for tuba and string quartet; sad, slow music that sounds like one of Beethoven's late quartets. Then Abou-Khalil finally enters on oud, bringing a sustained note of wistfulness. Fortunately, beside the darker numbers lie the propulsive drama of "Arabian Waltz" and the bobbing and weaving quirkiness of "Ornette Never Sleeps." Abou-Khalil is known for experimenting with the possibilities his guest musicians bring to his style. In this case, the guests have inspired the host to reach a new height and maybe even a new style. This recording suits every fan of world music, jazz, classical, or just good music.» (AMG)

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Postcards from Italy (36) - Pale di S. Martino, Trentino