Indian Ocean - Black Friday OST (2005)

Another incredible album from one of India’s finest bands (in case you missed it, click here for their Kandisa album). Enjoy!

«Indian Ocean is a musical ensemble that refuses to pigeonhole itself. Others spend considerable time trying to define their music; the members of the group sidestep that issue politely. Almost every time. But, a few things are certain: their vista is phenomenally wide; they sing in multiple languages and weave in many diverse traditions of music in their works. The languages they sing in include Hindi, English, Urdu, Sanskrit, and even Aramaic. Many songs have interludes in at least half a dozen other regional Indian languages. The musical traditions that they draw upon include classical, folk, sufi, slokas, baul, and contemporary melodies. And they do all of this without sounding gimmicky for a second! All their melodies are intricately crafted works of art, which are guaranteed to marvel and awe.

The Indian Ocean quartet includes individuals from diverse backgrounds. The closest they have come to in the process of defining their music is referring to it as "organic fusion." One must be careful; "fusion" is a tired and a much-maligned concept in contemporary Indian music. Almost anything set to the dull thud of a mindless drum-machine gets labeled as "fusion" these days. In sharp contrast, Indian's Ocean's music is infused with the riches traditions of world music. From rock to raaga, classical to contemporary, blues to baul - Indian Ocean draws inspiration from a vast bank. What emerges is music that is completely peerless.

Indian Ocean, however, has wowed audiences not only in India but also in Europe, Australia and, more recently, in the USA. The foursome came together in the early 1990s and consists of Asheem Chakravarty, Susmit Sen, Rahul Ram and Amit Kilam. It was a fortuitous meeting more than a decade ago, which brought Sen and Chakravarty together, sowing the seeds of Indian Ocean. Even then, it was an interesting mix: Susmit's fire to do something big and his ingenuity with the guitar, and Asheem's traditional, steady, if somewhat laid back background. Then Rahul appeared on the scene, with his romance with the bass guitar and magnificent stage presence. Amit and his drums were soon to follow. But, Amit just doesn't play drums. In any given performance, the number of musical instruments he handles with perfect aplomb, sometimes simultaneously, is quite amazing.» (From an Indian Ocean Fansite)

Read more about this amazing band:

Fused Brains, free music – The story of Indian Ocean

Ratan Prasad’s Indian Ocean page

Black Friday: Music Review by Joginder Tuteja

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Yusef Lateef - Eastern Sounds (1961)

«One of multi-instrumentalist and composer Yusef Lateef's most enduring recordings, Eastern Sounds was one of the last recordings made by the band that Lateef shared with pianist Barry Harris after the band moved to New York from Detroit, where the jazz scene was already dying. Lateef had long been interested in Eastern music, long before John Coltrane had ever shown any public interest anyway, so this Moodsville session (which meant it was supposed to be a laid-back ballad-like record), recorded in 1961, was drenched in Lateef's current explorations of Eastern mode and interval, as well as tonal and polytonal improvisation. That he could do so within a context that was accessible, and even "pretty," is an accomplishment that stands today. The quartet was rounded out by the inimitable Lex Humphries on drums – whose brushwork was among the most deft and inventive of any player in the music with the possible exception of Connie Kay from the Modern Jazz Quartet – and bass and rabat player Ernie Farrow. The set kicks off with "The Plum Blossom," a sweet oboe and flute piece that comes from an Eastern scale and works in repetitive rhythms and a single D minor mode to move through a blues progression and into something a bit more exotic, which sets up the oboe-driven "Blues for the Orient." Never has Barry Harris' playing stood up with more restraint to such striking effect than it does here. He moves the piece along with striking ostinatos and arpeggios that hold the center of the tune rather than stretch it. Lateef moans softly on the oboe as the rhythm section doubles, then triples, then half times the beat until it all feels like a drone. There are two cinematic themes here – he cut themes from the films Spartacus and The Robe, which are strikingly, hauntingly beautiful – revealing just how important accessibility was to Lateef. And not in the sense of selling out, but more in terms of bringing people to this music he was not only playing, but discovering as well. (Listen to Les Baxter and to the early-'60s recordings of Lateef – which ones are more musically enduring?) However, the themes set up the deep blues and wondrous ballad extrapolations Lateef was working on, like "Don't Blame Me" and "Purple Flower," which add such depth and dimension to the Eastern-flavored music that it is hard to imagine them coming from the same band. Awesome.» (AMG)

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Postcards from Italy (52) - Torino

Linton Kwesi Johnson - Dread Beat An' Blood (1978)

«[…] Dread Beat An’ Blood was Linton Kwesi Johnson’s debut recording, the first time his political poetry had been accompanied by the powerful beats of reggae. This new form of music, revolutionary in terms of language, content and style, came to be known as ‘dub poetry’ and Johnson is still the foremost and most uncompromising practitioner of the art. Using the patois of Jamaican speech, Johnson articulates the Black British experience and uses the rhythms of reggae to get his message across. In the past, he has been called a prophet. “Yeah, yeah, I don’t take these things seriously. I just think it’s another media tag,” he says dismissively. “The music is compatible with the poetry in so far as I am writing out of the reggae tradition and some of the poems are written are within the perimeters of the reggae structure. And it’s oral poetry and oral poetry lends itself to the rhythms of music.” Considering his commitment and personal history, perhaps Johnson’s success is no great surprise. His whole life has been based around increasing political awareness, fighting racism, and music. Born in Chapletown, Jamaica, in 1952 he came to England at the age of 11 to live with his mother in Brixton. It was an traumatic experience, compounded by the hostility and racism of Britain in the early 60s. Before long he had joined The Black Panthers. “That’s where I learnt my politics and about my history and culture,” he has said. “That’s where I discovered black literature, particularly the work of W.E.B. DuBois, the Afro-American scholar who inspired me to write poetry.” […]» (SpikeMagazine, read more)

«The title pretty much says it all. This is a stunning debut and an indication of the great things that were to come. Johnson's debut is longer on spoken-word pieces than it is on poetry and music, but Dennis Bovell's influence can be felt in these eight tracks. Songs such as "It Dread Inna Inglan," which describes the death of George Lindo at the hands of racists, or "Five Nights of Bleeding," which recounts tales of British police's capricious use of violence against London's West Indian population, are moving and confrontational mini-masterpieces of anger and a man searching for justice in a country that seems all to willing too deny it to him and other Afro-Brits. A powerful and compelling record.» (AMG)

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Toure Kunda - Live Paris-Ziguinchor (1984)

«This live recording captures the great Senegalese band around the time of their finest recordings (Amadou-Tilo and Casamance au Clair de Lune) and offers some wonderful performances of their greatest hits, including "Salya" and "Emma." Their accompanying musicians are out in full force; though, with the exception of the occasional cheesy synthesizer fill, they're largely reined in, providing the appropriately surging backdrop to the group's scintillating vocal harmonies and driving West African percussion. Through rhythmic repetition, they were able to develop hypnotic and captivating pieces that were sometimes based on something as mundane as the introduction of bandmembers, a feature that occurs no less than three times over the course of this album but can go almost unnoticed in context. "Emma" is given perhaps its definitive performance here; the keening, poignant vocal line is rendered with heartbreaking directness and the loping rhythm provides just enough melancholic nostalgia. The recording quality is excellent throughout and the band is both as tight as necessary and as loose as one would want them to be. It's a fine introduction to the group as it blends both their roots-oriented approach and their more overtly pop incarnations. Recommended.» (AMG)

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Kevin Johansen & the Nada - Sur O No Sur (2003)

«It's hard to imagine a more disjointed upbringing than Kevin Johansen's: the songwriter grew up in Alaska and Argentina (to an American father and Argentinean mother). As an adult he spent a decade in New York City honing his chops and writing. Since moving to Buenos Aires in 2000, he's become one of Argentina's biggest pop stars thanks to a mildly psychedelic American-style folk song sung in English entitled "Down With My Baby," which is included on Sur O No Sur. The rest of album is filled with same kinds of cultural paradoxes: he mixes the traditional and the modern while peppering his nicely polished pop gems with salsa, samba, rock, rap, reggae, cumbia, country, hip-hop, and tango. Singing in both Spanish and English (and Spanglish), Johansen has the deep baritone of Leonard Cohen, yet his lyrics are far from somber, telling us that he doesn't take himself too seriously. Other highlights included here are the impossibly infectious "Puerto Madero" and the carnival-like title track.» (Tad Hendrickson, Amazon)

Muchas gracias a Jimena desde Uruguay por ese “post”.

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Amaia Zubiria - Haatik (2002)

«Amaia Zubiria (San Sebastian – Gipuzkoa, 1947) has a marvelous voice and a deep knowledge of traditional song. Together with Txomin Artola she was a longtime member of the ensemble Haizea, and after persuing solo careers for a number of years they came together again to record the beautiful and interesting ‘Folk Lore Sorta’ series of albums of traditional Basque song. Haatik is decidedly contemporary, with touches of rock and jazz throughout, but it never loses the feel of tradition, in the songs, in the delivery and in the attitude. The singer is accompanied by a stellar set of musicians on guitar, bass, percussion, accordion, flutes, reeds, piano and more. » (CDRoots)

«Amaia Zubiria (Zubieta/Usurbil-1947) posee la voz más pura, atrayente y encandiladora de nuestra música popular. Sabe combinar a la perfección el sentimiento de la canción con el placer del canto y esto hace que el que la escucha quede irremisiblemente atrapado. Durante toda su larga y densa carrera, la canción ha sido para ella sinónimo de vida y viceversa. Nació y creció unida al canto y con su voz ha hecho crecer en todos nosotros muchos momentos brillantes e inolvidables. Comenzó con el grupo Haizea, más tarde con Pascal Gaigne, con Txomin Artola y posteriormente continuó en solitario, habiendo presentado, hasta la fecha, 12 estupendos discos para el recuerdo y cientos de actuaciones repletas de color y de sensibilidad, recreando y popularizando de nuevo canciones eternas mientras ofrece a su público la parte más abierta, desnuda y fértil de su alma. Cuando Amaia Zubiria canta, lo hace desde muy cerca, haciendo revivir los amores escondidos, las crudezas apaciguadas y las memorias de cada uno de nosotros, suavemente, cincelando en la piel del viento las señales imborrables de la vida. Con voz sugerente, golosa, sutil y poderosa canta a los paraísos inundados de tierra adentro y a la cruda humedad del mar abierto, mientras nos transpola a la edad de los sueños.» (ProduccionesSerrano)

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Night Lights of Eilat (Israel) from Aqaba (Jordan)

Picture: RMF

Bustan Abraham - Ashra (2000)

«Formed in 1991 (the same year as Alei Hazayit), Bustan Abraham was the brainchild of Avshalom Farjun, a concert promoter and self-taught Israeli musician. Up to that point Farjun had expressed his interest in music from Turkey, Persia,and India through his choice of foreign musicians to bring to Israel for concerts. Avshalom Farjun sowed the seeds for Bustan Abraham when he brought Krishnamurti Sridhar, an Indian sarod player, to perform at the 1987 Israel Festival. In addition to the main concert Farjun arranged a late night jam session for Sridhar and three local ‘ethnic’ musicians. I use ‘ethnic’ here as it would be used by most Israelis: to indicate musicians playing non-commercial music that is not associated with Western art music. Specifically, these musicians played Arab, Persian, and American music, as well as flamenco; they may well have drawn on other styles. According to reports from my students, the audience was enthralled by the musical dialog, with its group and solo improvisations that lasted almost until dawn. As an outcome of that night two of the participants, Taiseer Elias (‘ud and violin), an Israeli Arab, and Miguel Herstein (guitar and banjo), an Israeli Jew born in the US, formed the duo White Bird. They enjoyed some success and began to tour abroad both to promote their music and to spread the message of peaceful coexistence between Arabs and Jews, playing a repertoire of arrangements, improvisations and a few original compositions. They recorded one commercial cassette with the following statement on the inside cover: “It is our sincere hope that through these concerts we can help build a bridge of understanding that will bring us all closer to peace.” This is almost certainly one of the earliest expressions by a musical group of the message of peaceful collaboration that was to be picked up by several other musical groups in the 1990s.

Not everyone who initially joined the group stuck with it. As with Alei Hazayit, some of the Palestinian musicians were not able or willing to forgo well-paid wedding gigs to devote time to extensive rehearsal and a couple of the Jews were judged not sufficiently competent by other members of the band. After the first year and recording the group settled to a steady seven members. By the time they broke up in 2003 they had issued five original CDs and one compilation of their “greatest hits.” The band toured extensively in Europe and North America and enjoyed sporadic airplay on various world music radio shows in Israel and abroad.
The fundamental challenge facing these musicians – beyond the invention of a new type of music – was how to market that music. They had to identify, attract, and retain an audience where none had previously coalesced. This challenge was not unique to Bustan, but the band’s dedication to instrumental music was an added handicap, at least in the Israeli market, where purely instrumental music is significantly harder to sell and receives relatively little airplay. Building on his prior experience as an impresario for performers from various parts of Asia, Avshalom Farjun developed a sense of what type of music might appeal. He experimented with inserting vocal tracks on two of the group’s albums and featured guest artists (including the world famous Indian drummer Zakir Hussain and the popular Israeli singer Noa) on several. According to band members , however, these attempts at crossover appeal did not yield appreciably higher sales.

The band’s main repertoire, at which they excelled, consisted of fairly lengthy and complex instrumental compositions that featured a wide variety of rhythmic and melodic resources , sophisticated arrangements, tight ensemble coordination, and numerous, lengthy solo improvisations. The flute, ‘ud, and percussion players, in particular, attained levels of virtuosity unrivaled in the ‘Israeli ethnic music’ scene. […] Consisting almost entirely of original compositions by members of the band, rather than familiar repertoire reworked, Bustan Abraham’s music does not call on the familiarity and verbally mediated emotional appeal of the love songs that Shoham and Jamal selected and arranged for Alei Hazayit. Nonetheless this music can be exciting and moving.

The band toured extensively and was well received, but the frequency and extent of these tours was subject to all sorts of pressures, some of them common in the music business and some of them linked to the unique circumstances of Middle Eastern politics. Since all members of Bustan are Israeli citizens, travel was much simpler to arrange and they did not suffer as many outright cancellations as Shoham and her Palestinian partners did. But they did find that the number of invitations to perform abroad rose and fell with Israel’s perceived willingness to bargain with the Palestinians. For instance, when Binyamin Netanyahu became prime minister and scuttled hopes of ongoing rapprochement with Arabs and particularly with the Palestinians, the band found itself suddenly much less popular with festival organizers and other promoters in Europe. With the onset of the second Intifada in 2000, Israel’s economy slid downward, a process that is ongoing at the time of writing. By spring 2003 each of the members was deeply involved in other projects and Bustan was forced to disband for lack of sufficient income, one of many victims of the difficult times that afflicted Israel’s music industry.» (Excerpted from Beyond Israelis vs. Palestinians or Jews vs. Arabs: The Social Ramifications of Musical Interaction, by Ben Brimmer. Click here to read the full essay – highly recommended!)

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Aurelio Martinez - Garifuna Soul (2004)

«Following in the footsteps of the legendary Parranderos from the Caribbean coast of Central America, with an enchanting blend of African and Latin acoustic roots, Aurelio emerges as one of the most exceptional Garifuna artists of his generation.

Acclaimed for both his preservation and modernization of the Paranda musical tradition, Aurelio's virtuosity is found in his distinctive, penetrating vocals and his talent as a composer. Aurelio was born into a family possessing a long and distinguished musical tradition in the small Garifuna community of Plaplaya in Honduras. Aurelio began playing guitar as soon as he was old enough to hold the instrument. By the age of six he was regularly playing drums at social gatherings. Inspired by his grandmother and his father, Aurelio gathered a vast repertoire, which later enabled him to develop his own style.

Garifuna Soul features the musical talents of Rolando Sosa, Lugua Centeno, Chela Torres, Justo Miranda, Andy Palacio, and others. Garifuna Soul was recorded by Ivan Duran and Gil Abarbanel in a relaxed atmosphere at Sandy Beach Resort in beautiful Hopkins village. The result is a natural sound that captures Aurelio’s spontaneous character and intensity. This new album, a mix of original and traditional compositions, includes 12 selections, comprising a rich blend of acoustic instruments and soulful vocals. With the stage set for an emotive fusion of traditional and modern, Garifuna Soul has revolutionized, with fresh elegance, the tradition of Paranda music.

Aurelio’s collaboration with Stonetree Records dates back to 1997, when he contributed to the now famous Paranda recording sessions, delivering three masterful performances, including his well-known composition: “Africa” and an inspiring duet with Andy Palacio. Aurelio is an original member of the Garifuna All Star Band and has taken his Paranda music to stages in France, Japan, USA, Mexico and neighboring Central American countries.» (CDBaby – click for more reviews)

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17 Hippies - Berlin-Style (1999)

«[…] The Berlin-based group emerged after the Berlin Wall fell. “It was like someone had opened a hidden door,” explains vocalist and lyricist Kiki Sauer. “New and exciting music from Eastern Europe flooded into town with new grooves. All we could do was listen, learn, and try to find our own musical connections.” The band started with a simple concept, says vocalist and musical mastermind Christopher Blenkinsop. “We said, ‘OK, so you play an instrument? Well, don’t bring it!’” Christopher picked up the ukulele (after playing bass in rock bands); Kiki, who had been trained on classical piano, took up accordion; Lüül found a misplaced banjo; Dirk, the heavy metal drummer, had always wanted to play guitar; Antje switched to clarinet, after classical flute training; and off they went creating their own sound. […]

From the beginning, the number of musicians was constantly changing. “In Berlin you’d call a person trying to do something in a nice way, but only half succeeding, a hippie,” Kiki explains. “So with their tongue in their cheek, people were referring to us as the five hippies, 24 hippies, or whatever amount of musicians that happened to be on stage.” One day when in a trio format, the band opened for a friend’s British punk band. “The English lead singer asked for our band name, as he wanted to announce our ‘appearance,’” says Christopher. “On a lark, one of us said 17 Hippies, and since then it stuck. In German, ‘17’ is pronounced ‘zieb-t-zeen,’ and has a nice sound to it. It also has a somewhat magical appeal. It could never have been 16 or 18.” As of this writing, there are 13 band members in 17 Hippies. And they also play the jew’s harp, the Indian tanpura, the Irish bouzouki, and assorted other string, brass, and wind instruments. Just what you would expect from 17 Hippies, regardless of how many of them are on stage. “In Germany – and only in Germany –people tend to count musicians on stage,” chuckles Kiki, “and sometimes they say, ‘Why, there aren’t 17 of you!’ One or two have wanted their money back! Same thing happens about the hippie thing: ‘Why, you’re not hippies?’ We tell them, ‘Well, the Rolling Stones aren’t exactly stones.’”

[…] “When we started, our friends were organizing the Techno-heavy, musical-political celebration ‘Love Parade,’” says Christopher. “Techno was the thing everybody was into, while we were ‘going acoustic.’ We had all grown up on Chuck Berry and the Beatles, and maybe Beethoven, and that ever since the ’70s, when David Bowie and Iggy moved here, the ‘scene’ considered itself to be Europe’s rock city. There was no such thing as German folk, or world music, or whatever you might call it… When we started, everyone here thought we had gone mad.”

17 Hippies continues to use traditional tunes, and instruments, but rarely playing them “the right way” (whatever that is). “Our audience in Berlin learned about these new, old sounds by listening to us,” says Kiki. “The ‘traddies’ hated us. After a while, people started referring to the way we played as a style. Now in other parts of Europe they call it ‘Berlin style.’» (RockPaperScissors)

Official Site (de/eng/fr): http://www.17hippies.de/

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Paris - L'Institut du Monde Arabe

Abdel Gadir Salim - Le Blues de Khartoum/Khartoum Blues (1999)

«When Abdel Gadir Salim, the exceptional singer, composer and oud (Sudanese lute) player was a student at the prestigious Institute of Music & Drama in Khartoum, he turned for inspiration to the music of his native Kordofan. The province of Kordofan is a desert region to the west of the country, where most of the people are nomadic cattle herders. They came to this part of Sudan from every corner of the Islamic empire, bringing with them the rich traditions of Arabic culture, which has changed, developed and adapted in response to the passing years.

So the songs of Kordofan owe much to Arabic traditions but are sung in colloquial dialect with melodies and rhythms that have a flavour distinctive of Kordofan.
Although the pentatonic scale dominates Sudanese music traditional and modern there is a tendency in Kordofan to introduce half and even quarter tones bringing the music closer to classical Arabic traditions. And there is the distinctive 6/8 rhythm of the mardoum wedding dance which has inspired so many songs throughout the region.
Salim took some of the lyrics, he took the melodies and the rhythm of Kordofan and played them on the oud. He brought together musicians to play violins, electric guitars, organ, accordion, and percussion. Together they played the music of the western nomads but they played in concert halls, on radio and television and the songs of Kordofan became known and loved throughout Sudan.
Salim is not from a family of musicians. He was born in El Obeid the first Oasis town on the western edge of Sudan. He trained first as a teacher but, already an accomplished oud player, was awarded a five year scholarship to study music at the Institute. In recent years, between giving concerts in Sudan and throughout Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Salim is headmaster of a Sudanese school in Chad. In 2005 Salim teamed up with young Sudanese rapper Emmanuel Jal to release the acclaimed album Ceasefire.» (SoundsofSudan)

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La Tabaré - Chapa, Pintura, Lifting (2006)

«Chapa, pintura y lifting: eso hizo Rivero y compañía a sus creaciones desde 1987 a 2002. Como toda cirugía, algunas parecen necesarias, otras ayudan un poco y hay las que pasan inadvertidas. Además de estas 10 intervenciones “mecanicoquirúrgicas”, La Tabaré, creó dos temas nuevos y versionó un tema de Sumo y otro de Viglietti.

El disco arranca con “Kafkarudo”, un éxito a primera vista – evítese la palabra hit para no ofender al autor –, acompañado de pinceladas ricoteras y percutido con los redoblantes por segundo necesarios para advertirle el error a todos los que pensamos que el milongón era el ocaso rockanrolero de Rivero. Después llega una versión extraordinaria de “El Tacho”, del primer disco de la banda, que deja de sonar a café concert para sumarse a un sonido pop que acompaña a casi todas las canciones del disco. Arreglos melódicos de viola, golpes de batería más cercanos y toque de energía rítmica aparecen recurrentemente en temas como “Zona de combate”, o “El Romancero” que pierden su tristeza original pero que la recuerdan perfectamente.

A medida que pasan los años, los cambios son menores y los temas más recientes como “Flan del rock”, “Ojalá” o “Enemistad” no parecen tener demasiadas diferencias con los originales, excepto por algunas variaciones en la melodía de la voz.
La quinta pista la ocupa la versión del tema de Sumo “Crua Chan”, ideal para programarla a las seis am y salir a la calle a destruir objetos y sujetos que defiendan intereses incompatibles con los propios. El otro cover del disco es “Gurisito” de Daniel Viglietti, que parece haber sido hecho con la misma máquina que la versión de “El Chueco Maciel”, incluida en Placeres del Sadomusiquismo. Otro tema nuevo es “BSDM”, una caricatura musical que habla de las propiedades destructivas del amor, que bien podría estar en un disco de Leo Masliah. Rivero se despide con “Epitafio”, versión que corre a velocidad de doblebombo y termina con frases fúnebres que siembran a cuatro vientos la mejor forma de morir.

Más allá de gustos y disgustos, estamos ante la reinterpretación de una obra larga, sufrida y celebrada. Algo brutalmente lejos de una mera recopilación porque goza de reivindicación, porque importa el cómo pero también el qué. Rivero vuelve a cantar “Las raíces desteñidas”, “Contracrisis”, “Excepto a veces” y salvo por pequeñas actualizaciones semánticas, cualquiera que lo escuche verá que el cantautor, en su flanofobia, sigue siendo rock and roll.» (Montevideo.com)

Many thanx/muchas gracias a Jimena desde Uruguay (y también a La Tabaré) por ese “post”.

Official site: http://www.latabare.com.uy/. Click here for La Tabaré’s MySpace site.

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Hand Painting Art II

Guido Daniele, Elefante (2006)

Club Africa Vol. 1- Hard African Funk, Afro-jazz & Original Afro-Beat (2000)

«One of a handful of Afro beat/Afro jazz compilations put out by British promoter and DJ Ross Dewbury, Club Africa features an infectious blend of '70s cuts informed by Fela's groundbreaking Afro roots and jazz blend. High profile moments come courtesy of Mandingo, Peter King, and Miriam Makeba, revealing the collection's cross-cultural bent in the process. In fact, a good amount here is global, coming from the likes of Columbia's Wganda Kenya, the New York-African group Buari (featuring jazz drummer Bernard Purdie), and the U.S. session band behind Chakachas' funk hit "Jungle Fever." And, yes, there is plenty of Africa here too, not only in all the music of course, but more directly in the Fela-meets-Sunny Ade side "Jungle Funk" by Nigeria's Nkengas and the Afro-Cuban cut "Kenia" by Kenya's Mombasa. The grooves are incredible throughout, making it easy to believe, as Dewbury purports in the liner notes, that this music is "the flavor of '99 with cutting edge DJs." Save for the Gaytones' lifeless rendition of the Manu Dibango hit "Soul Makossa" and the Ashantis' Afro-Allman Brothers jam "Everybody's Groove," it's not hard to see why the hipsters of Dance Nation are getting down to cuts like these.» (AMG)

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The Kudsi Erguner Ensemble - Peshrev and Semai of Tanburi Djemil Bey (1994)

«Along with his brother, Suleyman, Kudsi Erguner is one of the top players of the ney, a Turkish reed flute. In addition to his own recordings, Erguner has performed with Peter Gabriel, Maurice Bejart, Peter Brook, Georges Aperghis, Didier Lockwood and Michel Portal. His compositions and collaborations have been heard in the films, The Last Temptation Of Christ and Meetings With Remarkable Men, theater piece and film, Mahabharata, and ballets, Le Voyage Nocturne and Neva. Erguner's band, The Kudsi Erguner Ensemble, was formed in 1988, as Fasi, with the goal of preserving the classical music of the sixteenth century Ottomon Empire.

[In this record] this world-famous ensemble interprets compositions by one of the greatest musicians of Turkey's cultural renaissance, Djemil Bey (1873-1918). The artistry of both compositions and performances aside, there is a notably effective balance of ensemble pieces and solo performances by various instruments. The notes are, as usual with CMP, brief but entirely adequate.» (AMG)

Thanx to Giuliano for this post.

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Chambao - Pokito a Poko (2005)

«The three original members of Chambao – La Mari, El Edi, and Dani – made waves in the world music scene with their new brand of flamenco, called flamenco chill, which combined the passion and vocal style of traditional Andalusian flamenco with elements of electronica, specifically chillout. Formed in the early morning hours of the 2001 summer solstice in Malaga, Spain, Chambao first appeared to the greater public on the 2002 Sony compilation Flamenco Chill, to which they contributed eight songs, featuring Mari on vocals and the others on the instrumentation. Two years later their first solo full-length, Endorfinas en la Mente, produced by Italian electronica expert Bob Benozzo, was released, followed the next year by Pokito a Poko, a record on which Dani contributed very little, as he left the group before it was finished. After touring for Pokito a Poko, Edi also decided to depart from the band, leaving Mari alone as the last remaining member. After successfully battling breast cancer, the singer returned to the stage and studio with Chambao, this time with a new seven-piece backing band.» (AMG)

«Primero fue Flamenco Chill, un álbum recopilatorio, con seis temas propios y dos versiones, “Triana” y “Camarón” (Pepe de Lucía), no podía ser menos; con él alcanzaron la popularidad. Su calidez y sensualidad que transporta a ambientes relajados mezclados con el duende y la gracia sureña les valió para conseguir el reconocimiento del público (más de 90.000 copias vendidas) tanto nacional como internacional.
Fusionando notas flamencas con la “parafernalia” de la electrónica, ellos mismos autodenominaron su estilo como flamenco chill, una originalísima propuesta y una apuesta valiente y arriesgada. Aunque las etiquetas encorsetan y determinan, pues ellos pretenden una andadura libre, un evolucionar de su propio estilo y lenguaje, un modo de hacer que huela a salitre, que suene a mar. “Queremos transmitir la mejor de las vibraciones” y para ello dieron vida a Endorfinas en la mente, su segundo álbum, esta vez con once temas enteramente suyos, con el que recibieron el Premio Ondas a la Mejor Creación Musical, y el Premio de la Música al Mejor Álbum de Nuevas Músicas.
Este segundo trabajo significó su consolidación definitiva, vendió cerca de 90.000 ejemplares en 20 países, desde EEUU a Japón, desde Francia o Alemania hasta México. Pretendían provocar la “buena voluntad” de la gente y trataron temas como la evolución y el conocimiento personal. Daban las “gracias al oído que escucha, al corazón que siente, a la mente que busca”.
Y así “Pokito a Poko” parieron a su “tercer hijo”, apostando nuevamente por la fusión del flamenco “apaleao” (callejero) y las programaciones y secuencias; pero cada vez más con un lenguaje propio e inconfundible. Evoca alegría y serenidad a un tiempo, con, quizás, un sentido rítmico más vivo, más chambao.» (EstacionTierra)

Official Site (esp/eng): http://www.chambao.es/

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Un Crime Contre l'Humanité

Chéri Chérin (Dem. Rep. of Congo), L'Esclavagisme (2006)

Dakar Sound Vol. 4: Their Thing (1996)

Here's a great collection of late 70's-early 80's Senegalese urban music from the authoritative Dakar Sound series. This fourth volume features great tracks from Canari de Kaolak, Royal Band, Number One of Dakar and Takarnasse, all of them doing "their thing". So, don't expect westernized sounds or "commercial" arrangements. This is pure afro-caraibic music at its best. Enjoy!

For more info about this amazing series and the Dakar Sound catalogue, check its website. Other volumes of this series are available here.

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Hand Painting Art

Guido Daniele, Aquila (2001)

Mercedes Sosa - 30 Años (1993)

«The driving force behind the nueva canción movement, singer Mercedes Sosa was born and raised in Tucumán, Argentina, beginning her performing career at age 15 after taking top honors in a radio station amateur competition. A rich, expressive vocalist and a gifted interpreter, Sosa was dubbed "the voice of the silent majority" for her choice of overtly political material, and alongside artists including Violetta Parra and Atahualpa Yupanqui she spearheaded the rise of the so-called "nueva canción" movement, which heralded the emergence of protest music across Argentina and Chile during the 1960s. The movement was crippled in 1973 by the CIA-sponsored coup which ousted democratically-elected Chilean President Salvador Allende; with her repertoire of songs championing human rights and democracy, Sosa was viewed as a serious threat by the military regime which assumed power, and in 1975 she was arrested during a live performance which also resulted in the incarceration of many audience members. Death threats forced her to leave Argentina in 1979, and she remained in exile for three years, finally returning with a triumphant comeback performance in February 1982. Sosa recorded prolifically in the years to follow. In fall 2000, Sosa won a Grammy for Best Folk Album for Misa Criolla at the first annual Latin Grammy Awards.» (AMG)

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The Steppes - Enquire Within (1989)

«Easily one of the best and most distinctive combos of the neo-psychedelic crop, combining a subtly baroque musical sensibility with an ability to pull off ambitiously original arrangements and production ideas. The Steppes capture the essence of vintage psychedelia without sounding pretentious or unduly derivative. The band's albums have steadily grown more accomplished and impressive, Enquire Within is a mesmerizing, extraordinarily realized work…» (Bompstore)

«Enquire Within was recorded at Goldust Studios in Bromley and was engineered by Mark Dawson, who had been recommended by Nick Saloman of The Bevis Frond. Over a four week period the band laid down a selection of recordings that would give the band's recorded work the kind of production for which they had long hoped. This album was certainly a turning point in The Steppes sound and, when it was released in 1989, The Steppes started to get major press. The fledgling Q magazine described the album as “a strange, but rather fascinating brew” whilst Italy's Rockerilla compared the album to Hendrix meets Nick Drake! In truth Enquire Within was surely The Steppes attempt to finally satisfy their love for '60's music and bring it into the '90's. Master James which was slated for a UK 12" single that was never released, is a hard edged number that hints at Beatleseque vocal harmonies without being derivative. The love song “In Your Prime” hangs piano on a waltzing melody line, while the understated passion of “You Don't Know How Late” is reinforced by brilliantly subdued, electric guitar bursts. During “Who Am I To Say” Tim Gilman pours some of his most fiery guitar work into a crisp, Hendrix influenced, blues rock mould while “The Brightest Lights” is pure Steppes – magnificent lyrical, Irish rock blended with acid guitar ragas, mysterious and lethal. The Beatles like “Time Goes By”, a demo version of which is included on this CD, is the kind of song that has made Oasis famous while “Sailing The Silver Cloud” rocks out with Celtic abandon. Enquire Within was released on CD in Germany by the Music Maniac label with bonus tracks [included here]. Despite critical success Enquire Within was not helped by the cheesy, computer generated packaging and lack of effective promotion…» (Irishrock.org, click here for full bio & discography)

New: The Steppes on MySpace

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D'Gary & Jihé - Horombe (1995)

«With an instrumental virtuosity and unique vocal style, D'Gary has successfully brought the musical traditions of Madagascar to the international stage. His 1991 album, Malagasy Guitar/Music from Madagascar, was produced by American guitarists Henry Kaiser and David Lindley, and served as an introduction to his musical mastery. In a review of the album, Puncture, wrote “(This) is an album for guitar head who will be astonished by D'Gary's formidable technique and the heady whorl of music he can coax from his instrument”. D'Gary has continued to garner acclaim with his subsequent work.

His album, Horombe, recorded with his band, Jihe, showcased his talents as an arranger with the melodies of his open-tuned guitar skillfully balanced by texturally-rich orchestration. […] D'Gary (whose given name is Ernest Randrianasolo) has a captivating fleetness and grace in his guitar playing and, consistent with much popular song from Madagascar, that buoyancy is in effect on most of the pieces here. The rhythms are quick, never leaden or bombastic and the backing vocals also serve a rhythmic function to keep things skipping forward. D'Gary's voice is engagingly rough and even if the listener is entirely ignorant of the language, it's unique conflation of elements of Indian and Arabic as well as mainland Africa makes for an unusual and fascinating succession of sounds. While the overall upbeat nature of the album makes for a fun listen, one sometimes wishes for a bit more depth and seriousness as provided, for example, by the great singer Dama Mahaleo in his collaboration with D'Gary, The Long Way Home. Still, admirers of African pop and roots music will find much to enjoy here.»

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No Blues - Farewell Shalabiye (2005)

«In late 2004, the Dutch production company Oost-Nederland commissioned a three-day exchange between Haytham Safia, guitarist Ad van Meurs and double-bass player Anna-Maarten van Heuvelan. The result was a subtle and profound conversation between classical Oriental music and American folk-blues. The tradition of folk tales inspired by the likes of Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger finds a strong resonance in the complex taqsim scales performed by Safia’s ‘oud. Tales of love, exile and day-to-day existence are confidently sung in van Meurs’ low-key and sonorous voice that will remind some of Dire Straits.

Farewell Shalabiye or “Farewell my beauty” is an experiment by the trio that has adopted the tongue-in-cheek group name No Blues. After the 2004 sessions they successfully opened for The Holmes Brothers. No Blues then went into the HT studios in the Netherlands to record this ten-track CD under the supervision of vocalist Ankie Keultjes. Within a week of its release in August 2005 it was the Dutch national radio’s album of the week. The producers have tried to sell it as a successful blend of “Americana” and Arabic music called “Arabicana”, an appallingly corny idea. But the respectful and in-depth explorations of the two worlds do honour to the virtuosity of the three artists. Farewell Shalabiye is a soothing and engrossing CD that would enrich any album collection.» (Daniel Brown, Mondomix)

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Luar Na Lubre - Plenilunio (1997)

«Reinterpreting songs from centuries-old songbooks, Luar Na Lubre has brought the musical traditions of Galicia, a Celtic region in northwestern Spain, to the international stage since 1986. The recipients of the Ideal award as Best Galician Folk Group awarded by the region's leading newspapers, El Ideal Gallego, the band continues to reinvent the music of their homeland. Formed in 1986 in the city of A Coruna, Luar Na Lubre has made its greatest impact in collaboration with British musician and composer Mike Oldfield, who they met in 1992. In addition to covering piper and bandleader Bietto Romero's song "O Son Do Ar," Oldfield invited vocalist Rosa Cedron to make a guest appearance at his Tubular Bells III concert in London and the band to join him on a world tour. The increased exposure enabled the group to earn their first gold disc with their 1997 album, Plenilunio.» (AMG)

«No ano 1986 nace Luar Na Lubre na cidade de A Coruña convertíndose co paso dos anos e o seu teimoso traballo nunha das formacións máis prometedoras e referenciais da música feita na Galiza e en galego. O traballo que desenrola a banda está enfocado dende a óptica de entender que a música é un dos factores culturais máis importantes para a afirmación do dereito á diferencia enriquecedora do pobo galego. O grupo pretende que na Galiza predomine a súa cultura, aínda que non rexeita influenzas que melloren a súa proposta sen deturpar o carácter central do seu proxecto, que baséase fundamentalmente nas músicas de raiz e língua galegas, polo que adican especial atención ao estudo dos cancioneiros galegos, así como ao traballo de campo que lles proporciona un fondo coñecemento sobre a realidade musical galega, que tamén se revela determinante nas composicións propias.» (http://www.myspace.com/luarnalubregaliza)

Official Website (Galego/Castellano/English): http://www.luarnalubre.com/

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African Art

Romuald Hazoumé (Benin), Ati (1994)

Super Rail Band - New Dimensions in Rail Culture (1985)

«Despite recent forays onto the North American concert stage under the leadership of guitarist Djelima Dytounkara, the Super Rail Band's seminal role in the development of modern Malian music is today largely forgotten. They may be credited as an early launchpad for the careers of Salif Keita and Mory Kante, but their importance is deeper than that: as the first high-profile Malian band to translate traditional Manding kora and balafon music into a modern urban context, they kick-started the emergence of electric griot music throughout Mali, Guinea and Senegambia.

Formed in 1970, the Super Rail Band was the first group to receive sponsorship from the Malian government, who, keen to nurture local culture, bought most of the band's imported Western instruments and underwrote their wages. Throughout the 1970s the band was resident at the buffet bar of capital city Bamako's Station Hotel, a literal crossroads of West African culture and a fashionable social meeting place as well.

The Super Rail Band was a vital stepping-stone for Keita and Kante, and also for Kante Manfila, originally an acoustic guitarist, who later became a key figure in the development of local electric music. In 1973, Keita and Manfila left to join Les Ambassadeurs in the Cote d'Ivoire, and Kante departed not long after to develop the kora into a modern lead instrument in front of an all-electric band. The age of the electric griot was born.

Recorded in late 1982 and first released in the UK in 1985 as New Dimensions In Rail Culture, this reissue puts a vital piece of the electric griot jigsaw back on the decks. The Manding modern/traditional blend is maturing but is not yet wholly integrated, and its constituent parts—ancient balafon and kora music (with kit drums and electric guitars reinterpreting the traditional instruments' lines), Islamic vocal stylings, Ghanaian dance-band highlife (E.T. Mensah had been massively popular in Mali in the 1960s) and, uniquely in the region at the time, Zairean rumba—are each distinctly audible.

Sekou Kante and Lanfia Diabate may not be as widely celebrated as their predecessors Keita and Kante, but they are A-list effervescent vocalists, fronting an easy-rocking, locked-down band. The horn players (sadly the sleeve has not acquired full personnel details over the years) are straight out of Accra, barely mutated, and Dytounkara's cascading guitar lines vividly evoke traditional kora and n'goni music while adding new electric textures and impact. The feral beauty of rural Manding folk music is perfectly captured during the second half of “Konowale,” electric and bass guitars enjoy some prolonged and enthusiastic coupling on “Tallassa,” and tumescent, Franco-ish guitar licks enliven “Mali Yo.” A great album then, and a great album still.

Personnel: Sekou Kante: lead vocals; Lanfia Diabete: lead vocals; Djelima Dytounkara: guitar; undocumented: saxophones, guitars, keyboards, bass guitar, drums, percussion.» (Chris May, Allaboutjazz)

Learn more: http://www.muzikifan.com/africaframe.html


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Ulytau - Jumyr-Kylysh (2006)

«I have always tried to work on as many styles and genres of music as possible, from Ozzy Osbourne to Tears for Fears, there has always been something new to learn and enjoy from a complete change of style. The Ulytau project was sent to me by producer Tabriz Shakhidi from Russia and I immediately enjoyed their fusion of Hard Rock and traditional styles. The twisted combination of screaming rock guitar with more ethnic instruments like the dombra and violin make for an exciting aural treat. The musicians in the band really know how to play and make their instruments sound good that, coupled by the fact that the album was very well engineered made the mixing process a joy. Max is a virtuoso on the guitar, he follows in the path of such guitarists as Zack Wylde and Steve Vai. The dombra and violin playing are beautifully executed, traditional yet still perfectly connected in the more modern surrounding. I wish them all great success with this recording.”» (Tim Palmer, mixing and production)

Official website: http://www.ulytau.ru/eng_index.mhtml

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