Winter III

Riddu Riđđu 1991-2001 (2001)

«Every summer in the far north of Norway, in the land of the midnight sun north of the Arctic Circle, a unique music and culture festival is held in the municipality of Gáivuotna (Kåfjord), a few hours drive from the city of Tromsø. This festival, called Riddu Riđđu (which means, roughly, “storm off the water”), celebrates the music and culture of the Sami, the indigenous people of northern Scandinavia, and of other indigenous peoples of the world.» (Read more)

«For 10 years the Riddu Riđđu Festival has featured the culture of the Sami and other Northern Peoples. In 2001 Riddu Riđđu celebrates its 10th anniversary. To mark this jubilee we have gathered musical highlights from past festivals. All tracks are live recordings from Riddu Riđđu, and are published by kind permission of the artists.» (From the liner notes)

Featured artists: Hedningarna, Wimme, Chirgilchin, Sara Marielle Gaup, Mari Boine, Sirmania, Sabjilar, Tiina Sanila, Elvel, Per Ivars Orkester, Namgar Lkhasaranova & others.

Thanx to Giuliano for this post.

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African Rebel Music: Roots, Reggae and Dancehall (2006)

«Presenting hits from 10 countries African Rebel Music – Roots reggae and dancehall gives a first insight into the new reggae dancehall movement in Africa (24 page booklet). So far only two reggae artist have had real international success: Lucky Dube and Alpha Blondy. A new generation has long arrived but although many of them are stars at home and regulars in their local charts, this compilation is the first chance for most of them to release their music internationally. The East African Reggae Bashment Crew is a cooperation of two famous line-ups from East Africa: the duo Necessary Noize from Kenya and Bebe Cool from Uganda. They were nominated for one of the most important African music awards the Kora Awards in South Africa end of 2005 in the category Best African Reggae Group. Another highlight is Tiken Jah Fakoly from Ivory Coast who is no doubt the next reggae star to emerge from Africa. In 2005 he became the most successful reggae artist in France. The 994 Crew recorded the first dancehall track ever from Mauretania. […] Ethiopia pitches in the song ‘Shashamane on my mind’ in which Sydney Salmon praises a piece of land that was once given to the Africans in the Diaspora by Haile Selassie as a place for repatriation. Batman is one of the most popular dancehall artists from Ghana adding the newest style of music now rocking the nightclubs of Accra: raglife. Musicians like Dully Sykes, H2O, The Danfo Drivers, Peter Miles, Teba or Rebellion are the heroes of a new generation of African pop music, that has long surpassed the usual world music stars still being celebrated in Europe. The language is reggae and dancehall. The sound and lyrics of their music represent the feeling of an urban Africa in the 21st century.» (Out Here Records)

«African reggae has always been a hit-or-miss affair. While there have long been reggae artists working the local music scenes of South Africa, Mauritania, and Uganda, the continent has produced only two real international stars: Alpha Blondy (from Ivory Coast) and, even bigger, Lucky Dube (from South Africa). This compilation of tracks presents a wide variety of artists from such disparate locales as Mauritania, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Ghana, Nigeria, and Senegal, and it raises hopes for the future of African reggae while still revealing a pretty uneven musical landscape. On the evidence here, it appears that the most exciting developments are taking place in Nigeria: there's a subtle complexity to Mad Melon and Mt. Black's "Sinsemilia" that you wouldn't necessarily expect from a song by that title, and Bantu brings a nice hip-hop flavor to "One Vive One Flow, Pt. 2." In fact, there's quite a bit of hip-hop-reggae fusion going on here, as well as some fine Afrobeat/dancehall (courtesy of Peter Miles and Leo Muntu). There's also the odd sprinkling of political banality (Alif's "Wooyo") and musical banality (H2O's "African"), but overall this is an exciting and encouraging compilation. Recommended.» (AMG)

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Ali Farka Touré and Boubacar Traoré: Diarabi

A love song of sparkling beauty...


Hybrid Tango - Hybrid Tango (2004)

«In the mid 90s, Max Masri (synths and programming – in his teens one of the last disciples of the legendary tango maestro Virgilio Expósito) went back to Buenos Aires from Germany after sharing interesting experiences with argentine emigrants and, because of that, brought the idea to create a new musical language, blending tango and modern sounds.

In late 1998 he started working with Diego S. Velázquez (guitars) and they began recording and producing their first electrotango tracks. In 2001 this idea was revived, with a modern sound, their own compositions and, finally, a name for the project: Tanghetto, a combination of the words "tango" and "ghetto" inspired by the "little Argentinas", the communities of exiled argentines living overseas. The current line-up includes Federico Vázquez (bandoneón), Antonio Boyadjian (piano), Chao Xu (violoncello and Chinese bowed string instrument erhu) and Daniel Corrado (acoustic and electronic drums).

In December 2003, Emigrante (electrotango), Tanghetto's debut album, was released in Argentina. The album achieved gold status by early 2005. On July 2004, Emigrante was nominated for a Latin Grammy award in the "Best Instrumental Album" category.
During 2004 Tanghetto intensified its live activity. […] On December 10th, 2004, many Tanghetto musicians, led by Max and Diego, released a side project called Hybrid Tango, where the fusion of modern tango music and electronica goes unprecedently beyond, adding a world music flavour with flamenco, latin rhythms and jazz elements. This record has been equally well received by the specialized press and music consumers, sharing the top positions of the rankings of alternative music sales with Tanghetto’s Emigrante. Some of the tracks for Hybrid Tango are part of Tanghetto's live repertoire. In August 23rd, 2005, this album was nominated for a Latin Grammy award in the "Best Tango Album" category.» (Tanghetto)

«Les nombreuses expériences et créations qui voient le jour en Argentine dans la mouvance electro-tango ne sont pas toutes convaincantes. Parfois il y a trop de 'production' d'effets electro et pas assez de musique. Ce travail, que nous avons sélectionné, nous a attiré par la forte volonté de rester dans le respect de la musicalité, de travailler au plus près de la matière tango, en particulier de ce tango “piazzolliano” qui marque les dernières décennies. Un travail soigné, une interprétation qui présage d'autres bonnes réalisations. A suivre. L'objectif de Hybrid Tango, selos ses membres, est de “concevoir l'idée d'un tango cosmopolite, en conservant ce son 'porteño' qui lui est propre”. (Musicargentina)

«Definido por sus creadores como un “tango cosmopolita”, Hybrid Tango, el proyecto paralelo de los miembros de Tanghetto fusiona el nuevo tango y la electrónica con diversos estilos y músicas del mundo, como flamenco, jazz, candombe, etc. Nominado en el 2005 para los premios Latin Grammy, es un atrevido paso adelante en la música argentina contemporánea.» (Constitucion Music)

Per un profilo in italiano cliccate qui

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Awadi Video

Le rappeur sénégalais Awadi se fait, dans sa chanson « Sunugaal », la voix des immigrés clandestins qui tentent, au péril de leur vie, d’atteindre les côtes des îles Canaries. Pour la première fois, son titre est mis à la disposition des auditeurs sur son site Internet. Une première pleine de succès pour le chanteur.

Listen to the song/Watch the video (use IE browser) :

Learn more: Afrik

Recommended by Francesco (thanx)

Postcards from Italy (50) - Milano

Olivier Ker Ourio & Danyel Waro - Sominnkér (2003)

«Lo spirito del maloya si colloca tra nostalgia e speranza, malinconia e collera, umanità rubata e felicità possibile. Le sue parole e le sue melodie in tonalità minore sono come i bagliori di uno specchio frantumato. Una poetica caratterizzata da voci lancinanti sostenute da strumenti rurali: il rouleur (tamburo di basso che si suona a cavalcioni) e il bobre (arco musicale). Il kayamb, che contiene dei semi e si suona scuotendolo, fa nascere il tempo 6/8, la firma ritmica del maloya. Il maloya “rullante” originale (da distinguersi dal maloya “scandito”, accessibile a tutti) è di natura rituale. Legato ai periodi di quaresima, quando le famiglie invitano gli amici a condividere le offerte per gli dèi, è anche la trama di leggende, racconti, sirandanes (indovinelli tradizionali) e preghire durante le quali qualcuno “entra in comunicazione con l’aldilà” attraverso la trance. […]

Dall’inizio degli anni ’80 il maloya ottiene una grande risonanza all’estero grazie alle numerose varianti (puro, permeato di influenze sega, jazz, reggae, rock…) diffuse da musicisti quali Rwa Kaff, Granmoun Baba, Firmin Viry, Ti Fock, Zizkakan e Baster. Il protagonista più notevole e innovativo è Danyel Waro. […] Nel corso degli anni, mentre altri puntano sulla world music, Waro cerca la propria legittimità nei kabarés. Un’immersione stilistica e filosofica che ha per scopo “proteggere la profondità della nostra musica”. Un lavoro di ampio respiro che porta i suoi frutti. Per quanto rigoroso in questo tentativo di riabilitazione, Danyel Waro ha arricchito il maloya di inflessioni jazz e colori malgasci. Una questione di ortodossia aperta. […] » (Frank Tenaille, Lo Swing del Camaleonte, Epoché, pp. 99-101)

«Dans une égale volonté de partage, de respect et d’exigence, Olivier Ker Ourio (un harmoniciste rare dans le jazz d’aujourd’hui) et Danyel Waro (la «voix» du maloya de la Réunion) ont tracé ce “chemin de cœur” (Sominnkér): une rencontre qui fera date par la magie des musiques, la puissance des textes, l’intensité des émotions. “Il y a onze ans, j’ai quitté la Réunion pour m’installer à Paris et vivre ma passion : le jazz. Je suis toujours habité par cette île magique, ses paysages, ses contrastes, sa diversité culturelle. La culture créole est toujours très présente dans ma vie : j’aime manger et parler créole, et je suis resté à l’écoute des musiques réunionnaises, le séga et surtout le maloya. Je rêvais depuis des années d’une rencontre entre les couleurs du jazz et le rythme irrésistible du maloya. Je ne pouvais espérer mieux que ce chemin de cœur avec Danyel Waro et toute une famille d’extraordinaires musiciens” (Olivier Ker Ourio).»

«Two first-rate musicians, the Paris-based jazz harmonicist Olivier Ker Ourio and THE voice of the maloya, namely Danyel Waro, have come up with this “path of the heart” (Sominnkér), an invigorating mix of jazz and maloya. With its magical music, powerful lyrics and emotional intensity, this album will stand out in the history of Reunion music. “Eleven years ago, I left Reunion and settled in Paris to fully live my passion for jazz. I have remained haunted by this magical island, its landscapes, its contrasts, its cultural diversity. The Creole culture is very present in my life. I eat and speak Creole, and I listen to Reunion music, sega and especially maloya. I had been dreaming for years of blending the tones of jazz with the irresistible beat of maloya. I could not wish for a better way than this ‘path of the heart’ with Danyel Waro and this gang of amazing musicians” (Olivier Ker Ourio).» (Africultures)

Un portrait de Daniel Waro

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Altan - Harvest Storm (1992)

«Altan has long been one of the most consistently thrilling of the current crop of traditional Irish groups, and it's difficult to pick a single highlight from their catalog. But if pressed, many fans and critics would pick either Harvest Storm or the equally fine Red Crow. Although the program is a fairly typical collection of traditional reel sets, jigs, Gaelic songs, and slow airs, every track feels as if it were chosen for a unique sort of loveliness — the soaring beauty of the "Rosses Highlands" set, the curiously eerie hush of the traditional wedding song "Dónal Agus Mórag," the chugging energy of "Drowsy Maggie." The singing of fiddler Maighread Ní Dhomhnaill is particularly noteworthy on "Donal Agus Morag" and "'Si Do Mhaimeo Í" (the latter of which offers the unusual opportunity to hear a didgeridoo part on an Irish album). This is one of the last albums the group made with flutist Frankie Kennedy, who died of cancer after making one more album with them, the excellent Island Angel. (AMG)

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Augustus Pablo - East of the River Nile (1977)

«The late Horace Swaby, a.k.a. Augustus Pablo, was one of the canonical figures of Jamaican reggae and dub music. From the moment he emerged on the scene as a teenager with his hit single "Java" to the classics he cut with his influential Rockers band and label, Pablo made the melodica, an obscure mouth organ of European origin, an indispensable part of the reggae sound. That instrument's piercing and poetic strains made this memorable out-of-print-classic, originally released in 1977 and rereleased in honor of its 25th anniversary, a marvel of sound and soul. Recorded in Lee Perry's legendary Black Ark Studio and mixed by the Scientist of Sound King Tubby, Pablo--who also plays keyboards--is backed by a first-rate band that includes Robbie Shakespeare on bass, drummer Aston "Family Man" Barrett, and guitarist Earl "Chinna" Smith. Pablo and company deliver a nondub instrumental album that serves as the syncopated soundtrack of the Rasta nation. Who could forget the minor-key Afro anthems "Chant to King Selassie I," "Natural Way," and "Jah-Light"? Along with shout outs from Perry, the Orb, and others, the CD also includes six bonus tracks and a never-before-heard version of the title cut. All told, Augustus Pablo's "Far East sound" is still with us.» (Eugene Holley, Jr., Amazon)

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Photos: Gilles

Muradian Ensemble - Anoush: Armenian Dances (1998)

Recorded in the Netherlands in 1997, while the group was touring in Europe, Anoush features Muradian Ensemble interpreting a nice selection of Armenian folk dances. Band leader Hratchja Muradian plays kamantcha, while the other group members play kanoun, doudouk, clarinet, zurna, oud, accordion and dehol. Guest soloist Liudvig Garibian improves the musical quality of the wind instruments. According to the Rough Guide to World Music, the Muradian Ensemble «are a typical Soviet-style group, with an arranged and polished style, but very compelling». To me, they're well worth a listen! You can find other titles by this group here.

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Hugh Masekela - The Boy's Doin' It (1975)

«Hugh Masekela has an extensive jazz background and credentials, but has enjoyed major success as one of the earliest leaders in the world fusion mode. Masekela's vibrant trumpet and flugelhorn solos have been featured in pop, R&B, disco, Afropop and jazz contexts. He's had American and international hits, worked with bands around the world, and played with African, African-American, European and various American musicians during a stellar career. His style, especially on flugelhorn, is a charismatic blend of striking upper register lines, half valve effects, repetitive figures and phrases, with some note bending, slurs and tonal colors. Though he's often simplified his playing to fit into restrictive pop formulas, Masekela's capable of outstanding ballad and bebop work. […]

No other work during Hugh Masekela's long and fruitful career blended all of his interests – jazz, funk, pop, Afrobeat, and R&B, plus a little Latin and a lot of disco – into such an exciting mixture as 1975's The Boy's Doin' It, his first record for Casablanca. Influenced by Kool & the Gang as well as the growing tendency for Latin artists (like Joe Bataan) to cross over toward contemporary dance trends (and labels), Masekela recruited a few veterans from the Ghanian highlife band Hedzoleh Soundz – with whom he'd worked with on one album before. Recorded in Lagos, Nigeria and dedicated to Fela Kuti, The Boy's Doin' It has six extended jams, each of which does an excellent job of playing off deep grooves against ensemble vocals and catchy hooks, with plenty of room for Masekela's own trumpet and every note polished to a fine '70s sheen. It didn't matter what type of music fan you were: pop, disco, funk, world music, and any but the most hidebound jazz purist could get into these tracks.» (AMG)

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Makassy Wallpaper

Orchestra Makassy - Agwaya (1982)

«In 1980 a 15-man band from Dar Es Salaam got together in a Nairobi studio for some young Brits who wanted to cash in on the Afropop boom that was happening thanks to King Sunny Ade. Mzee ("Elder") Makassy was the leader and principal vocalist of the band named after him; Tshimanga Assosa of Maquis Original contributed singing and songwriting skills. (The songs are in Shona, Swahili and Lingala.) Mose Se Sengo a.k.a. "Fan Fan" is often mentioned in connection with the band as he had been chef d'orchestra before striking out on his own, and he co-wrote two of the songs on the album, but the guitarists on the record are Aimala Mbutu and Alfani Uvuruge. The excellent, bustling Kasongo Shinga played bass, and there were two drummers, a tumbador, and four horn players, including Twalib Mohamed as trumpet soloist and Akuliake Saleh on alto sax. In short, a classic East African dance-band line-up. The opening cut, "Mambo Bado," by Assosa, did become a dance-floor hit, at least in the limited world in which I was deejaying. It still gets you going from the first note. "Kufisilika Sio Kalema" is another mover and shaker in the Virunga style. The ballad "Nakolela Cherie" that closes side one is a haunting ballad about a man whose wife has abandoned him and the kids. There is a bright guitar part in the style of "Fan Fan" and muted trumpet adding to the pathos. Most of the songs contain wry social commentary. Side Two opens with "Mosese," obviously penned by Fan Fan, about a man complaining to his fiancée, followed by "Athumani," a song in which a young married woman complains about her husband running around. The bass is high in the mix for the moody "Mke Wangu," another classic track in which the singer tells of a man who lavished material goods on his wife only to have her leave him. Periodically he says "No smoking!" or "Disco!" in English, seemingly exhortations to the guitarists who are working out. "Molema" by Fan Fan and Makassy at the end of Side B, winds the set down beautifully. "Mambo Bado" should have prompted the group to international stardom but Virgin failed to promote them and they broke up. A further tragedy is that the album has not been reissued on CD [In fact, what you got here is a vinyl rip].» (Muzikfan)

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Bhagavan Das - Now (2002)

«To kick off this Mike D-produced East meets West extravaganza, Bhagavan Das offers the appropriate homage to Lord Ganesha, remover of obstacles and bestower of blessings. He is the first to be worshipped by dictate of his father Lord Shiva. It must be said that the words sound oh so much more sacred in the authentic Sanskrit rather than English. For instance, no one ever mistook "you have a big fat red belly" as a holy expression. A Beastie Boys feel guides the whole album, without overtaking the spirit of devotion. The traditional chant of "Raghupati" suddenly becomes a contemporary groove in his hands. Whatever gets you singing to God is a good thing, and most of the Hindu deities are represented here: Ganesha, Ram, Kali, Radha, Shiva, Hanuman, and Krishna. For good measure, Das even throws in a curve ball. On the aptly titled "Shiva Gospel," he moves from ancient mantras praising Shiva into a gospel shout-out to Jesus. Not a subtle point he's making, and well taken. To close the album, as any true devotee would do, Das tacks on a sweetly solemn arati, complete with the requisite conch blowing and bell ringing. Kudos to Mike D for the tasteful combination of Indian classical instruments such as sarangi, ektar, tabla, and dholak with Western drum'n'bass rhythms. It works really well, making this an easy listen for someone dabbling in this genre.» (AMG)

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Postcards from Italy (49) - Torino

Haugaard & Høirup - Duo for Violin & Guitar (1999)

«If you are into fiddle / guitar duos this one is a must! The duo Haugaard & Høirup (Harald Haugaard, violin, viola; Morten Alfred Høirup, guitar, lute and vocals) belongs certainly to the top of the creme of Danish music playing musicians. Both musicians are well known faces in the scene: Harald has played /plays in DUG, Dk-Locomotiv, Sorten Muld, Puls and Serras; Morten in Danish Dia Delight, American Cafe Orchestra, Ouellete, Legault & Høirup and solo.

The duo came first together to represent Denmark at the EBU (European Broadcasting Union) festival in Solvenia - Alan Klitgaard, producer of the Danish radio, formed this duo... The music they made was for them and the audience so breathtaking that this duo is still together.

They play together traditional Danish music and self written (of both) music, written in traditional style – but the magic of the music is coming from the arrangements. The music sounds traditional, yet very fresh, lively and up-to date. […] Well worth checking out!» (Christian Moll, Folkworld)

«Harald Haugaard e Morten Alfred Høirup sono due ottimi musicisti della nuova generazione che sta rigenerando e diffondendo la musica danese per ogni dove; quella generazione che con idee innovative comincia ad uscire dai confini nazionali e dalle generose ali protettrici del Danish Folk Council per diffondersi nei folk festival tedeschi, sloveni, americani, svizzeri e italiani (Folkest)... Dovunque apprezzati per le loro doti tecniche e l’energia che sgorga a piene mani dai loro strumenti, Haugaard (violino) e Høirup (chitarra e canto) presentano un repertorio composto per lo più da brani danesi tradizionali e di composizione. Qualche brano cantato (interessante ad esempio Aften ved søen, dove vengono musicate le parole del poeta Axel Juul), molte danze ballabili (polke in quantità, valzer, hopsa), qualche estratto delle raccolte musicali danesi del 18° secolo e diversi “reel” di composizione danese. […]» (Tiziano Menduto, Evolusuoni)

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Thomas Mapfumo - The Chimurenga Singles 1976-1980 (1984)

«Aprile 1980: lo Zimbabwe proclama l’indipendenza nazionale. Per festeggiare l’evento, Thomas Mapfumo e il suo gruppo, The Blacks Unlimited, vengono raggiunti nientemeno che da Bob Marley e dai suoi Wailers a Salisbury, in un Rufaro Stadium strapieno! […] Thomas Mapfumo incarna i sette anni di lotta nell’allora Rhodesia […] contro il potere coloniale bianco che, alleato al Sudafrica, si era attribuito il monopolio delle miniere, delle piantagioni di tabacco e di cotone e dei grandi allevamenti bovini. Un’aspra lotta in un paese di sette milioni di abitanti terminata con trentamila morti, quindicimila mutilati, duecentocinquantamila esuli e un milione di profughi.

Per fronteggiare le armi sofisticate dell’esercito bianco, i resistenti neri avevano impiegato i metodi in uso in tutte le guerriglie del mondo ma, soprattutto, si erano avvalsi di quelli della coscienza, facendo leva sulle pulsioni della spiritualità shona e ndebelé, le due etnie principali. Una filosofia a partire dalla quale Thomas Mapfumo (“lancia” in lingua shona) e il chitarrista Jonas Sitholé hanno composto una musica che sarebbe diventata la colonna sonora della lotta per l’emancipazione, sia nelle bidonville di Salisbury e Bulawayo, sia nelle campagne. Musica che sarebbe stata ampiamente diffusa da Radio Mozambico, Radio Zambia, Radio Cairo, Radio Mosca o tramite dischi clandestini.

Nato nel 1945, Thomas Mapfumo sa di cosa parla. È cresciuto nel cuore delle tribal trust lands, terre sfruttate e abbandonate dal colono bianco, e ha seguito i genitori nelle township (ghetti) della capitale. Intuisce l’uso che si può fare della musica ascoltando alla radio la musica soul e rock che faceva furore tra i giovani all’altro capo del pianeta.

La sua particolare alchimia è dovuta all’uso della mbira. Usato fin dalla dinastia monomotapa del XVI secolo, questo lamellofono conta solitamente ventidue tasti di metallo fissati su una cassa di risonanza in legno da suonare con i pollici. Nella cultura shona, questa sanza suonata con un sonaglio fatto di zucca (hosho) ha una funzione particolare: è lo strumento medium che permette di entrare in contatto con gli “spiriti” durante le danze di possessione. I missionari non sbagliavano a qualificare i suoi motivi cristallini come “musica di Satana”. Sicché, attraverso la trasposizione del suono circolare dello strumento, Mapfumo immagina un nuovo stile di riff (ripetizioni ritmiche) per chitarra e basso, poi adatta il motivo di terza suonato dall’hosho a un cimbalo e accompagna il tutto con un vigoroso tamburo di basso. Nasce la chimurenga music, con cui Mapfumo sublima le frustrazioni e le umiliazioni del suo popolo.

Benché vietate dal regime razzista di Ian Smith, le canzoni di Mapfumo si diffondono clandestinamente e inducono molti giovani ad arruolarsi nella resistenza. A causa dei suoi brani, l’autore sconta anche diversi mesi di carcere nonostante le autorità non abbiano in mano nulla di concreto, visto che le parole delle canzoni chimurenga si articolano su parabole e metafore care alle lingue nazionali dello Zimbabwe.

Dopo l’indipendenza, il beat ipnotico nato dalla mbira diventa il segno distintivo della musica pop zimbabwese, i cui maggiori rappresentanti sono Stella Rambisai Chiweshé (la prima donna ad aver usato in scena la mbira, strumento riservato agli uomini), Oliver Mtukudzi, Bhundu Boys, Devera Ngwena, The Four Brothers, Comrade Chinx e Chiwoniso. […] (Frank Tenaille, Lo Swing del Camaleonte, Epoché edizioni, pp. 61-63)

«Thomas Mapfumo made revolutionary changes in Zimbabwe’s pop-music scene by recording a song for which he’d written his own music. Before Mapfumo, songs in the traditional style were always based on tunes that had been handed down for generations. Mapfumo’s music, chimurenga (“music of struggle”), became popular during the civil war against White minority rule, but his popularity made the government unhappy. In 1977 he was sent to a prison camp for subversion. To obtain his release, Mapfumo agreed to perform for the ruling party, but at the concert he sang only his most revolutionary songs. “I told them that since I’d been in detention, I didn’t have time to write new ones.” […] The early hit singles by Mapfumo and Blacks Unlimited, these classic sides were recorded during the long civil war; their musical and lyrical content completely revamped the face of pop music in Zimbabwe.» (More at AMG)

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Cudillero (Cuideiru), Asturies, Spain

Roferu, Cuideiru (1994)

Llan de Cubel - L'Otru Llau de la Mar (1992)

A masterpiece of Asturian folk, and a personal favourite of mine.

«Llan de Cubel ye ún de los más veteranos (dende 1984) y el de mayor repercusión, internacional de los grupos del folk asturianu. El so nome ta sacáu del Picu Llan de Cubel ente los conceyos de Cuideiru y Pravia. La so música ta basada nel repertoriu tradicional asturianu (popular y ensin autor reconocíu). El so soníu ye acústicu y apoyen les sos melodíes na gaita asturiana, el vigulín y la flauta travesera de maera, pa la percusión tiren de tambor tradicional y de bodhran mientres que l'armonía ye cosa de la guitara acústica y del bouzouki. Tamién usen dalgún mediu llétricu pa pasaxes mui concretos de la misma forma qu'a pesar de ser un grupu de clara vocación instrumental, tamién recueyen cantares nel so repertoriu. El so repertoriu ye na so mayoría de temes asturianos (alboraes, marches, pasucáis, saltones, muñeires, polques, entemedios de misa, tonaes, vaqueiraes, villancicos, cantares mariñanos, de llabor, de chigre, etc...). Anque tamén tienen fecho guiños a temes tradicionales d'otros paises del Arcu Atlánticu. La primer formación xuntó al nucleu carbayón d'Elías García, Fonsu Mielgo, Susi Bello y Daniel Lombas, col pixuetu de Guzmán Marqués y Marcos Llope. D'esta primer formación aguañu siguen Elías García, Fonsu Mielgo y Marcos Llope, xunto con Xel Pereda (1995), Simon Bradley (1996) y Xuan Rodríguez (1997). Tamién tuvieron nel grupu Flavio Rodríguez y J.M.Cano.» (Uiquipedia)

«Seperated by a range of mountains to the rest of Spain, the county Asturias (and also Galicia) in Northern Spain is different in several ways to the Southern parts of Spain: The county looks green, and the music sounds somehow familiar to ears used to listen to Irish or other Celtic music. Asturias and Galicia, both belonging to the Green Spain or Atlantic Spain, are the two countries in Spain with strongest Celtic roots. Fonsu, percussionist of Asturian folk band Llan de Cubel, says about the Celtic connections of Asturias that "obviously historically and culturally there are links with the other countries of the Atlantic Sea. There were always exchanges with Brittany for example, many fishermen and traders as well; there were exchanges with the British Islands, with Brittany and the Atlantic coast of Europe." Another reason is geographical; "Asturias has a natural border with the rest of Spain. Asturias is a very green country with lots of mountains, and the natural border is a range of mountains that seperates Asturias totally from the rest, it's a kind of wall, and Asturias was isolated with these mountains. So the natural escape, the natural exit was the sea. You couldn't cross the mountains because they are very high, and there weren't good roads or whatever. There was a natural relationship."Today, the Asturian-Celtic connection is strong again, Llan de Cubel have close relationships to the people of Scotland and Ireland. They do exchanges: Scottish and Irish bands come to play in Asturias, and Llan de Cubel go to play there. Some Scottish and Irish bands play also Asturian tunes, and Asturians play Irish and Scottish tunes in sessions.

Despite this strong relationship, Fonsu emphasizes that the music of each place is different. […] Llan de Cubel's music is also very much its own. Describes Fonsu, "the music we are playing in Llan de Cubel is traditional Asturian music, mainly based in the repertoire for the Asturian pipes. We take most of our repertoire from pipe tunes for the Asturian pipes, the gaita." Together with the gaita, Llan de Cubel have percussion/keyboards, fiddle, flute, bouzouki, guitars and (Spanish) vocals creating a fine sound of Asturian traditions. […] If you come to Asturias, go to the cider bars, the sidrerias. Says Fonsu, "cider is the national drink of Asturias, for me it is the best Cider in the world. And if you go to the Cider bars, maybe you can find there a singer or a piper or..." Or find out about the very unusual way of drinking Asturian cider (especially how the sidra gets into the glass) – but that's another story.» (Michael Moll, Folkworld)

Official site: Llan de Cubel

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Mandingo Griot Society feat. Don Cherry - Mandingo Griot Society (1979)

«Foday Musa Suso is a Mandingo (West African tribe) griot (hereditary musician and cultural curator) who can trace his hereditary lineage back to the first performer on the 21-string kora lute. After a traditional apprenticeship in Africa, he came to the US in 1977 and formed The Mandingo Griot Society to bring his native sounds to a new, receptive audience. The group included Adam Rudolph (who recently appeared on Hassan Hakmoun's Gift of the Gnawa CD) and had featured jazz trumpeter Don Cherry as a guest, anticipating world-music fusion many years before the worldbeat era.» (AMG – Click here for a full biography)

«Foday Musa Suso nació en el pueblo Sarre Hamadi, Distrito de Wuli, en la nación africana de Gambia. Es un jali Mandinga de Gambia en Africa Occidental. Un jali es un músico experto hereditario, historiador oral, cantante de alabanzas, compositor y guardián de las tradiciones tribales Mandingas. Desde 1968, Musa Suso ha viajado y actuado por toda Africa, Europa y América del Norte, presentando la música Mandinga a todas las razas y culturas.

Musa Suso se afincó en los Estados Unidos, en donde fundó la Sociedad de los Griots Mandingas en 1977. Allí le enseñó a los músicos de jazz a tocar con arreglos nuevos de la música Mandinga. Su primera grabación contó con el célebre músico de jazz, Don Cherry. La Sociedad se ganó el entusiasmo de miles de seguidores en los Estados Unidos y Europa, y ayudó a crear los cimientos del creciente interés en la música africana. […]» (Músicas del Mundo)

Foday Musa Suso official website

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Linton Kwesi Johnson - Forces of Victory (1979)

«If Dread Beat An' Blood brought Johnson and initial flush of notoriety, then Forces of Victory was the record that cemented his growing reputation as a major talent. Bovell and the Dub Band swing hard on this set, especially on the album's opening track "Want Fi Goh Rave." This contains some of Johnson's most memorable songs/poems, such as the heartfelt prison saga "Sonny's Lettah" and the confrontational "Fite Dem Back," which he delivers in his trademark sing-song Jamaican patois. Dramatic and intense to the point of claustrophobia, Forces of Victory is not simply one of the most important reggae records of its time, it's one of the most important reggae records ever recorded.» (AMG)

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Tara Fuki - Piosenki Do Snu (2001)

«Both of these two energetic violoncellists (and singers) come from Northern Moravia, where they were passing by each other while studying at the Ostrava Conservatory. They met in Brno during their musicology studies at the Philosophical Faculty. Andrea (born in 1972) was at that time featured in the band BOO and in the international music-dance formation Rale, while Dorota (born in 1975) was playing with the Brno-based alternative band Lippany.
They are both inspired by the poetry of the night and by the dreams, which they consider as extractions from the sub-conscious.
"It is because what happens to us during the night is totally different and sometimes even truer than what we perceive in the day," says Andrea. Just like dreams, their music is able to gently caress and soothe, but also to empower with its brutal urgency.» (Calabashmusic)

Czech reviews here and here

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Tinariwen - The Radio Tisdas Sessions (2001)

«This recording arrives freighted with legends. The members of Tinariwen belong to the Touareg, the romantic indigo-clad North African nomads of the Sahara desert whose men veil. They were fighters in the Touareg insurgency against the Malian government, which lasted from the 60's to the mid-90's. In military camp in Libya, they were exposed to Bob Dylan and Bob Marley, and picked up electric guitars to create a rebel music based on adaptations of traditional songs. After a ceasefire was declared, Tinariwen's members returned to Mali in 1999, where they continue to pursue the Touareg cause, now with music rather than guns. The Radio Tisdas Sessions was recorded in a studio in Kidal, with the production of British guitarist Justin Adams and French world music group Lo'Jo. Because electricity is rationed in Kidal, the tracks had to be recorded between 7 PM and midnight, over a period of two weeks.

But its best to forget all the amazing stories and approach the music on its own merits. The structure of most songs is basic. The lead singer does a verse, with an electric guitar following the melody quite closely. This is followed by a verse sung by a chorus of voices (including some women). Then the guitar takes a solo, mainly reproducing the basic melody, sometimes venturing a little further. The instrumentation is rudimentary: a lead guitar, an understated backing guitar, on occasion a bass, and elementary percussion. The songs are mostly slow, stately, intense, and the overall effect is simply mesmerizing.

The star of the group is founder Ibrahim Ag Alhabibe, who sings and plays lead on the most impressive songs, and is responsible for the most inventive guitar work. His most powerful playing is heard on "Zin Es Gourmeden," a slow, raucous desert blues, punctuated by ululations from the female chorus. A series of solo vocal verses, sung choruses, and guitar solos, "Zin Es Gourmeden" is an intense, measured burn. Ibrahim's ardent vocals and ringing-bell guitar also shine on "Le Chant des Fauves" and "Mataraden Anexan." "Imidiwaren" features Kheddou Ag Ossad on vocals and solo guitar, sounding like John Lee Hooker's Touareg second cousin on a blues dirge. "Bismillah," clearly a religious song from the title, features Kheddou backing himself on acoustic guitar.

The sound sometimes reminds me of deep Mississippi blues and of Ali Farka Toure on Talking Timbuktu, and sometimes of the lilting Sudanese music produced by Abdel Gadir Salim or Muhammad Wardi when they accompany themselves on 'ud. The blues feel is certainly authentic and not borrowed from Bob Dylan. You can hear the profound affinities between Malian Tuareg music and acoustic blues on the cut, "'Yali' War Song" by an "anonymous Tuareg elder" recorded in 1930 (on The Secret Museum of Mankind: Music of North Africa from Yazoo). The stories about Tinariwen are wonderful, but you don't need to know them to tell that this is the real thing.» (Ted Swedenburg, Rootsworld)

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We're Late For Class - A Collection (2007)

«Hi Radu,

We are WE’RE LATE FOR CLASS, an independent improv band that gives away our music. We’ve just released our 20th post, A Collection, and it features our best work from the last year.
We’re writing you in hopes that you might post our new album on your fine blog. It would mean a lot to us to reach your wider audience... and to just be acknowledged by other bloggers like yourself would be a treat. […]

We’re Late For Class is all improv and pro-herb, so an altered state of mind is highly recommend for optimum listening pleasure. You never know... you might even like us.

All the best...

Hi guys,

I truly love this kind of stuff, so it’s a real pleasure for me to post it here in Babe(b)logue. Long live psychedelic music (and attitude…).

All the best,

More info and more music at: http://werelateforclass.blogspot.com/

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Pictures of Greece: Lindos, Rhodes, Dodecanese Islands

Photo: JTC

Mode Plagal - III (2001)

Another fine contribution from Chris (aka Avantgarterbelt). Many thanx!

«Mode Plagal, a pioneering jazz-folk Greek fusion group offering a unique approach to traditional music, has created a signature sound both familiar and refreshingly new, that has led to their album topping many lists of the best recordings of 2001 in Greece. This is a work produced with great care, with an international audience in mind, including excellent bilingual liner notes (with a special English-only text on the history of vernacular Greek music), and the high caliber (and high profile) of guest singers. All those things are simply supportive of the main ingredient of the album, the group itself. Propelling the music with a verve and dignity that shows both great musicianship and deep admiration for the original material, Mode Plagal reinvent it without betrayal. Joyful and vibrant, their versions are an adaptation of the age-old material for contemporary society, conserving the tradition's intrinsic value in a way that no amount of faithful interpretation ever can. This is music produced over centuries, where reinterpretation was part of its appeal. The skillful performances of that material have an easy air, despite the apparent novelty of the jazz orchestration. It appears that Mode Plagal thought long and hard about the way their music would sound, but then performed it with total abandon.

The high point of this album, and the difference from the previous two, is the participation of four noted guest performers. They deliver some of their best interpretations on record. Savina Yannatou is her usual wildly improvisational self, but it's quite rare for her to allow herself so much leeway, certainly more than on any of her solo records with the possible exception of the live Terra Nostra. Theodossia Tsatsou, who is best known for her ethereal vocals with her former band Blé and her ensuing solo career, delivers a highly original version of a twentieth century drunkard's song. Eleni Tsaligopoulou offers a minimalist but highly effective version of an immigrant's song in a career-high performance. Yiota Vei elaborates and attenuates lyrics that in the hands of a lesser singer would have appeared banal. Her treatment brings forth the soul of the songs, especially on "Deli Papas." The importance that Greeks have been placing on 'levendià,' a traditional manly characteristic and a word that is really untranslatable, comes to life with her performance. That this is a song about a priest is just indicative of her ability.

Also featured is Evgenios Spatharis, a voice that is familiar to every Greek as the chief contemporary performer of "shadow plays," a traditional theatrical form of Middle Eastern ancestry akin to a puppet show, where the heroes are visible only through their projections on a screen. That is the only one that loses a lot of its majesty for non-Greek speakers, as the hilarious improvised dialogue is impossible to reproduce.

Mode Plagal have once again developed their particular niche, this time through the help of their esteemed guests, and it seems that the sky is the limit for them. Together with the 'Greeks & Indians' co-operative, they should be considered the pre-eminent ambassadors of the much-maligned vernacular Greek music in the 21st century, a worthy accolade for a group of rare musical instinct.» (Nondas Kitsos, CDRoots)

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