Since I'm leaving again for a while, I will answer to your messages and e-mails as soon as I'll be back. Thanx, anyway, and keep writing me. Without your love and appreciation, this blog wouldn't have much sense. Cheers, Radu

Please, report dead links here. Thanx!

Postcards from Istanbul: On the Bosphorus

Asiaminor - Sokak Boyunca (1991)

«Sokak Boyunca (Along The Street) is the title of a CD by the Turkish group Asiaminor, released by Face Music Switzerland. Contemporary and creative music which is equally characterised by updated traditional ethnic influences and by suspenseful dealing with additional material, for instance from the sectors of jazz, jazz rock and rock, in the meantime has become the trademark of Face Music. The seventh production by this label even exceeds its own standards.

For Asiaminor is a quartet which fascinates both by virtue of its collective unity and by the soloistic talents of each musician. This constellation makes it possible to combine traditional Turkish music and influences from contemporary jazz in such a terse and incisive style that in this one case the term "Ethno jazz" is surely appropriate, although the four musicians probe their free space in such a way that such labels are right away becoming absurd.

Thus this CD is an example for possible statements that tie different nations and cultures with each other – nations and cultures which in the final analysis are only apparently in contradiction to each other.» (Peter Dürsteler, Face Music, read more)

For more info and links, click here

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African Party Volume 1 (1966-1968)

Hello everybody! I’m leaving for a brief holiday, but I’m not gonna leave you thirsty for music, ‘cause this is a real gem, which I am sure will be in heavy rotation in your mp3 player for the whole summer! So, have fun with the African Party!

See ya soon, Radu

«In the nineteen-seventies, many quality recordings of classic Congolese bands were issued in the AFRICAN 360 series, distributed by SonoDisc of Paris. […] The lack of recording information, beyond titles and composers of songs and occasionally licensing, frustrates any attempts at scholarship but foregrounds the music, which is consistently great. The attitude of the label was very much like that seen in the “Colonie Belge” genre of Congolese paintings which showed the superior whites treating the Africans like wayward children, humiliating and punishing them. […] This brutal attitude even permeates the music where the 360 series was concerned. A fragile and rare treasure of the world's music was bungled, mishandled and tossed off by the French publishers. Clearly they didn't give un crotte.

The oldest archive of Congolese music in Europe (dating from the 1950s) belonged to Editions Ngoma, who recorded in Léopoldville but pressed their records in France. According to (Congolese music historian/biographer) Vincent Luttman, around 1961 Fonior (a subsidiary of the Decca Records empire) began issuing 45s of the orchestra African Jazz on Decca for European and African (non-Congolese) release. This deal was set up by Grand Kalle – where Fonior paid for and held the recordings, but granted Kalle license for release in Congo under his own editions label “Surboum AJ”. The European- and Congolese-pressed editions differed, using different artwork and catalogue numbers throughout. Around 1963-65 Decca also began reissuing some of these 45T as a series of 4 track 45T EPs. At this time the only artists to appear on the European editions produced by Fonior/Decca were African Jazz, OK Jazz, African Fiesta, Loup Jazz and Pierre Rasins (Antilles-based artist).

By 1967-8 Fonior (by then semi-independent of Decca) were distributing Congolese records on many smaller Congolese labels (Editions Boboto, Paka Siye, etc) and these later became the mainstay of the early African 45T catalogue (being repressed and re-issued as the 90xxxx 45T series from around 1968-ish on. These re-issues were primarily made for European-Francophone markets and African (non-Congo) distribution.

The 360 series of LP releases began to appear from around 1966-67 (the first ten releases only – with the series beginning properly from around 1969), and were either LP's licensed directly from Congolese labels (see Izeidi below) or were compiled (in later releases) from previously licensed 45Ts taken from the labels 90 series.

When the once mighty Ngoma label collapsed in the early 1970s, Fonior secured the rights to their catalogue and began integrating previous Ngoma product into their African (LP & 45T) series, repackaging them and issuing them with new Editions African 90xxx or 360xxx catalogue numbers.

The African 360 series of LPs also added to their catalog from the (Fonior-owned) Fiesta label. Fiesta was begun in the early 1970's (1971-73) and concentrated on releasing non-Congolese 33T including a number of Camerounian artists (Manu Dibango's Soul Makossa being their most famous 45T). Congolese artists however did sometimes appear on editions Fiesta 45T (as did a number of Middle-Eastern artists) including many works by both OK Jazz (licensed from Franco's Editions Populaire) and Negro Succes.

As stated above, back in 1961 Decca licensed their Congolese recordings to Fonior in Brussels for sale in Belgium. Fonior also sometimes pressed records for Loningisa and Esengo. According to Gary Stewart, in Rumba On The River, the technically superior Fonior studios in Brussels became the site of pilgrimage for African artists, beginning with Kalle and African Jazz, with whom Manu recorded his first sessions. The musicians would go into the studio and work until they had recorded over forty songs. Some had already been composed, but a great many were written in the studio. Manu's biography (7 Kilos Of Coffee) gives a unique account of this spontaneous composition and recording process. The pay for 40 songs was usually about $200 to share among band members who would sometimes collapse from hunger or fatigue during these long, arduous sessions.

As the 1960's progressed into the 1970s, the once profitable Decca recording empire began to decline. By the mid-1970s the decline became terminal. Fonior struggled on, licensing product from the 'new wave' of Congolese artists (Veve, Zaiko, LipuaLipua, Stukas, etc) as well as retaining links with the old guard (Franco/Rochereau/Izeidi, etc), but by the late 1970s the African catalogue already contained many gaps. The production of African 45T seems to have ended around 1978, although the LP series continued. In those later years poor pressing/mastering facilities also meant that when 45T records were pressed/repressed there were many faulty discs – this probably accounts for the decline and abandon of the 45T singles catalogue. Finally Fonior went into bankruptcy in 1981 and its entire catalogue was purchased by Sonodisc for a nominal fee.

Sonodisc was formed in 1970 by two former employees of Ngoma (the Congolese label that operated a pressing plant in France), Marcel Perse and Michel David. They left Ngoma with contacts and even recordings but mainly acted as distributors of Umm Kalthum records from Egypt and some from the Caribbean. When the Fonior catalogue went to Sonodisc for a pittance, Franco, Tabu Ley & Verckys sued to regain control over their recordings but were over-ruled in court. Token payments were made to them, but no other African artist ever received a sou for their music which was now in the hands of Sonodisc. […]

The AFRICAN 360 series has two main sub-categories: L'Afrique Danse and Les Merveilles du Passé. Both focus on mid-60s to mid-70s Zairean popular music. There is also a 425 series of modern releases. […] The mainstays of the AFRICAN 360 catalogue are, naturally enough, the most popular artists from Congo (Zaire): "Franco" (Luambo Makiadi), "Docteur Nico" (Kassanda wa Mikalay), "Rochereau" (Tabu Ley Pascal), Kiamuangana Verckys, and Camerounian multi-instrumentalist Manu Dibango.» (Muzikifan – click for much more!)

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Ghazal - Moon Rise Over The Silk Road (2000)

«Westerners have become increasingly familiar with the classical music of India since it first became fashionable in the 60s. But the Persian tradition, without a Beatles/Ravi Shankar collaboration to promote it, has remained a mystery, although it is becoming more recognized. Ghazal creates (or rather, re-creates) a musical bridge between two of the world's most expressive and distinctive musical traditions.

Improvisation lies at the heart of both Indian and Persian classical music. According to Kalhor, “The music that we play together reflects the improvisatory styles of our cultures. This means taking a small idea or melodic form or phrase and developing it into something much larger, beyond its primary character.”

Kayhan Kalhor is a master of the kamancheh, the traditional fiddle of Persian classical music who has performed with and composed for some of Iran's greatest artists. As a son of the legendary Ustad Vilayat Khan, Shujaat Husain Khan is a virtuoso sitarist and scion of one of the greatest families of Hindustani (North Indian) music. They are accompanied on tabla by either Swapan Chaudhuri, one of India's most acclaimed artists, or Sandeep Das, a rising star of the younger generation.

The Persian and Indian traditions are, in a sense, musical cousins. In fact, there is a connection that goes beyond the notes themselves: Several centuries of Moghul rule in northern India left a strong imprint on Hindustani music: a result of the mysticism, poetry, and musical subtleties of the Persian language and culture. The name Ghazal reflects that link: in the Persian tradition, a ghazal is a specific genre of poetry, characterized by an unusual blend of ecstatic spirituality and earthy desires. In India, ghazal has evolved into a form of semi-classical music that remains popular to this day, and usually takes the form of a love ballad.» (World Music Institute)

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Sopwith Camel - Fazon (1972)

One of my favourite "summer songs".
Have fun!

Lynda Lemay - Live (1999)

«French Canadian singer/songwriter Lynda Lemay has been a star in her native Quebec since the early '90s, and also has a large following in Europe, where her playful, poignant writing style is appreciated for its compassionate, literate, and often humorous approach to both the large and small requirements of contemporary life. With a novelist's eye for detail and an endearing ability to make light of her own phobias, Lemay writes melodic songs (almost always sung in French) that are fast becoming national treasures in Canada, and her popularity in France stems from her clear understanding of the French chanson tradition.

Lemay was born on July 25, 1966, and grew up in Portneuf near the St. Lawrence River outside Quebec City…» (AMG, read more)

«Des sujets de société les plus divers, Lynda Lemay sait créer des perles poétiques, piécettes tragi-comiques ou photographies d'un instant de vie. De part et d'autre de l'Atlantique, un large public se retrouve dans des textes souvent bouleversants. Depuis le début des années 90, il a alors suffi de quelques chansons pour que cette jeune Québécoise s'impose comme un nom essentiel de la chanson francophone.» (RFI Musique, lisez plus)

Lynda’s official site: click here

Some lyrics here

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Postcards from Italy (59) - Angels' Band (Ruffia, Piedmont, Italy)

Quartetto Marini - Cantata Profana (1990)

One of the best female Italian folksingers, here in action with her wonderful vocal quartet, in a more experimental mood. Well worth diggin’it!

«Il quartetto vocale nasce nel 1976 con lo scopo di eseguire alcune musiche che avevo scritto con intento polifonico, ma che eseguivo sempre da sola non avendo amici musicisti cantanti in grado di leggere la musica né tanto meno in grado di cantarla come immaginavo. (Vivevo allora nell’ambiente della ricerca del canto contadino e nel mondo della canzone politica, dove i cantori non erano musicisti, ma piuttosto antropologi, sociologi, scrittori, registi, architetti, intellettuali di ogni genere, con la passione della musica, ma senza la conoscenza necessaria a leggere una partitura, intonare in modo perfetto, ecc.).
Piano piano c’è stata un’evoluzione nello studio della musica, negli anni settanta abbandonata la canzone politica, molti sono entrati nel mondo della musica professionale: è nata a Roma la Scuola Popolare di Musica di Testaccio, e finalmente, insegnando in questa scuola che divenne anche centro di confluenza di molti musicisti stanchi del ghetto costituito dai conservatori di musica, incontrai molti giovani appassionati di canto, che già conoscevano le mie canzoni, e con queste (all’epoca erano solo donne) formai il mio primo gruppo polifonico.
Eravamo undici, progressivamente molte dovettero lasciare il gruppo prese dai loro impegni, e così siamo rimaste in quattro.

Dal ‘76 ho incominciato a scrivere per il Quartetto Vocale molti madrigali che ora compongono il nostro repertorio.
C’è stato un avvicendarsi di cantanti, al mio fianco, tutte hanno contribuito con il loro studio e la loro esperienza vocale alla crescita del quartetto. Grazie all’impegno vocale delle mie amiche [Patrizia Nasini, Patrizia Bovi, Francesca Breschi] ho potuto scrivere pezzi sempre più acrobatici. […] Con questa formazione il Quartetto Vocale può ricoprire secoli e secoli di produzione vocale eseguendoli con maestria e rigore: un sogno che non credevo di riuscire a realizzare. Ogni volta che ci incontriamo per cantare è una gioia. In ogni Cantata eseguiamo pezzi da me scritti espressamente per il racconto della Cantata, scritti in partitura, che la grande sensibilità delle mie colleghe permette di cantare come fossero pezzi di tradizione orale. Ognuna di noi ha, a lato, le proprie attività musicali, concertistiche, di insegnamento: Patrizia Nasini è molto richiesta dai compositori contemporanei per eseguire la loro musica grazie ai suoi straordinari colori vocali, Patrizia Bovi ha formato con altri musicisti umbri il gruppo Micrologus di ricerca ed esecuzione di musica medioevale, Francesca Breschi ha un suo gruppo di esecuzione di canzoni d’autore, e inoltre è una magnifica assistente musicale istruttrice di cori e di canto tanto da garantire un’esecuzione perfetta dell’opera a lei affidata. Con queste tre amiche cantare è un piacere.» (Giovanna Marini)

Ringrazio il mio amico Giuliano per il post di questo splendido disco. Many thanx!

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Bembeya Jazz National - Authenticité 73 / Parade Africaine (1973)

«During the 1960s and '70s, Guinea's all-powerful president Sekou Toure created a system of state-sponsored national orchestras and instructed them to create modern interpretations of the country's folkloric music. Toure's policy of authenticité forced bands to meld traditional music with the Cuban styles and Congolese rumba popular at that time. Guitarists learned to echo the fluid melodies of the kora and balafon. Horn sections harmonized ancient airs. Rhythm sections learned how to make indigenous music danceable, arriving at the sound called Manding Swing. Singers affected the grand vocal dynamics of the griots. From the ranks of the National Orchestra came supergroups Keletigui Traore et ses Tambourinis and Bala et ses Balladins. But the great Bembeya Jazz National from northern Guinea proved the most popular of the new dance bands. Formed in the town of Beyla, far from Guinea's capital, Bembeya's success ultimately spread throughout the countries of the old Manding Empire – Mali, Guinea, Gambia and Senegal – legitimizing Toure's cultural renaissance. In 1973, after a long run of blockbuster concerts and recordings, Bembeya suffered the loss of its fabulously charismatic lead singer, Aboubacar Demba Camara in a car accident in Senegal. Down, but not out, Bembeya continued until 1991, largely relying on the strength of Sekou "Diamond Fingers" Diabate, one of African pop's most innovative guitar virtuosos. Today, a few Bembeya veterans carry on the roots pop tradition, notably singer Sekouba "Bambino" Diabate, who has become a major Guinean star, playing with his mostly acoustic ensemble.» (Afropop)

Another good biography here

Full discography here

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Bevinda - Fatum (1994)

«A French journalist once tagged her the “fada” of the Fado (fairy of the Fado). If Fado may be an important element in her music, she proved through the years that she was quite an unusual singer who found her path and her voice as she built her own world between the realms Portugal of her native land and France the country where she now lives.

Well known to the French audience, Bévinda has already had a rich career that started in 1994, with her first album Fatum and is still going on eight albums later with Luz (which means light) which many consider as her most accomplished body of work.

Born in Fundão on the Portuguese shore of the Atlantic, nurtured in France where she grew up, she came to Paris at the age of eighteen and worked as a trekking guide, a job that allowed her to discover the many faces of Asia. Her music will later reveal the influence those countries had and still have on her. She entered the world of music by chance and discovered that singing was her new passion. She studied with Julia Pelaez who encouraged her to sing in her mother tongue and as a result, she decided to spend two years in Lisbon to find her roots again.

The creative path she has followed from one album to another has always genuinely reflected her inner personal path. Her music tells about far away lands, from India to Brazil, to the coasts of North Africa. She sings her own words, those of her mother or even Amália Rodrigues. In 1997, she dived into the realm of poet Fernando Pessoa and released a ground breaking album, only accompanied by two cellos: Pessoa em pessoas. The critics loved it and the audience was puzzled.

Now surrounded by new musicians, she brings her music even further towards the East while still retaining the nostalgic tones of the Fado and the blues of the Saudade. Now Bévinda is teaming up with Aaken to write new material, their first song being "O Verão". She has just released a tribute album to French songwriter Serge Gainsbourg entitled Serge Gainsbourg tel qu'elle which mainly focuses on his work from the 60's.» (http://www.myspace.com/bevinda)

Bevinda’s official website (English/French): http://www.bevinda.net/

Biografia in italiano: http://www.srijan.it/bevinda.htm

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