Kutumba - Folk Roots (2005)

«The word ‘Kutumba’ holds a special meaning in the Nepali language. It stands for a unique bond amongst community members. As their name, Kutumba is all about bringing together traditional folk tunes and instruments with new and improvised sounds and ideas.

Kutumba is a folk instrumental ensemble, group of seven professionals from Kathmandu. Having come together for the preservation of their culture and art, Kutumba wishes to spread love and joy of Nepali folk music throughout the world. Self motivated and self driven, Kutumba is a group with their own unique sound and vision.The seven members have different roots and backgrounds in music. Kutumba is the harmony of traditional roots, culture and new sounds.» (Kutumba’s Official Site – Click for more info)

Many thanx to Bijay for this post.

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Jack DeJohnette & Foday Musa Suso - Music from the Hearts of the Masters (2006)

«When Foday Musa Suso teamed with drummer Hamid Drake in the ‘80s to form the Mandingo Griot Society, the usage of kora and the American drum kit was a novelty, and successfully but precariously placed the traditions of African village music and jazz oriented polyrhythms in a new place. Suso and the veteran drummer Jack DeJohnette team up in duets that do not juxtapose, but complement the rhythmic strengths of the different instruments, creating a language of their own. Suso is happy to play the vibrant shimmering melodies his 21-string instrument uniquely brings to the table, while DeJohnette adopts a sensitive, supportive rather than similarly melodic role, forming funky beats, cymbal accents, and colorations that shade rather than drive the music. There are two traditional pieces: "Kaira" sports a repeat melody buoyed by DeJohnette's slight R&B strut, while "Sunjatta Keita" is a simple 4/4 jam. The delicate, organic, minimalist blending of instruments during "Rose Garden" displays an extension of traditions, while the 6/8 "Mountain Love Dance" evokes the kind of magnificent natural sounds you expect from these two. A loose drum solo and kora separate traded-off identities in "Voice of the Kudrus," there's a boogaloo flavor from DeJohnette for "Ocean Wave," and Suso's kora cascades on the danceable and playful "Worldwide Funk." The sound of the hunter's guitar or douss'n gouni is featured on "Ancient Techno." Though DeJohnette is also known for playing piano, hand drums, or electronics, none of that is present here, nor much of a mainstream jazz content. It is a consistent and playful dialogue between two incredible musicians who need no definitions, restrictions, or guidance to make their spare, soulful, diverse, and heartfelt original music happen.» (AMG)

«Temporaneamente libero dagli impegni col trio di Keith Jarrett, che predilige ora i "solo-concerts", Jack DeJohnette si diverte ad esplorare la musica ad ampio raggio, con la curiosità e la voglia di aprire nuovi scenari che lo possano stimolare. A 64 anni, il grande batterista di Chicago che vive a Woodstock passa da un’avventura all' altra, dal duo con John Surman e orchestra al trio con John Scofield e Larry Goldings. Ed ora al dialogo afro-americano tra l’etno e il jazz con Foday Musa Suso, il virtuoso della kora, che è una specie di arpa tribale della cultura africana. […]

Enciclopedico maestro delle percussioni ma anche buon pianista, Jack DeJohnette non è solo uno dei batteristi più importanti della storia del jazz, ma un vorace esploratore del ritmo e della musica a 360 gradi. La sua libertà di battuta "dentro" e "fuori" del tempo lo rendono unico e adatto a qualsiasi tipo di cultura sonora. L' incontro con Foday Musa Suso, che non è uno di quei menestrelli etnici chiusi e dogmatici, sembrava in qualche modo predestinato.

La storia: dopo il blues, primo amore, Jack scopre il jazz al liceo. Diplomato al conservatorio e all’università, passa dal piano alla batteria emigrando nel 1966 a New York. Tra il 1970 e il ‘72 entra nella band di Miles Davis. E da allora, richiestissimo, collabora con i più grandi. Per fare solo qualche nome: Ornette Coleman, Sonny Rollins, Chet Baker, Pat Metheny, Herbie Hancock, Dave Holland, Lester Bowie, John Abercombie e, soprattutto, Keith Jarrett nel supertrio con Gary Peacock al contrabbasso.

Fenomenale solista di kora e discendente dei Griot, i cantastorie africani di antica dignità ancestrale, Foday Musa Suso è universalmente riconosciuto come un fuoriclasse della world music. Nato in Gambia, è cresciuto a stretto contatto con le tradizioni e la cultura della sua terra. Ma da quando nel 1970 si è trasferito a Chicago, non a caso la città natale di DeJohnette, la sua carriera si è aperta alle collaborazioni con gli artisti più diversi come Herbie Hancock, Philip Glass, Pharoah Sanders e Ginger Baker. Nei dieci brani di Music from the hearts of the masters Jack DeJohnette e Foday Musa Suso […] spaziano dal jazz improvvisato alla world con un’attenzione particolare all’evoluzione del ritmo in un crescendo […] spettacolare e coinvolgente.» (Repubblica)

Vedi anche Mandingo Griot Society.

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The Wailin' Jennys - Firecracker (2006)

«Though Cara Luft, a founding member of the Wailin' Jennys, was replaced by Annabelle Chvostek, the band's tight harmonies and pretty folk songs haven't changed at all on their second album, Firecracker. In fact, they've even gotten better. Chvostek's voice is seductively low and versatile, and it blends well with and adds a lot of strength and depth to the higher ranges that Ruth Moody and Nicky Mehta provide. All three Jennys are also great songwriters, and everything on the album is well done, with thoughtful reflective lyrics about love and friendship and death, the cold autumn wind of the Canadian prairie blowing through the record, shaping and influencing the mandolin, the banjo, the acoustic guitar, the violin, the National Steel. It's music with a dark, sweet edge, like it understands the pain in the world but still chooses to focus on what's good instead. "Swallow," though in its attempt to maintain rhythm and rhyme the lyrics can occasionally sound a little corny ("You got me, arrow shot me/Now come connect the dot me"), lilts along like the bird itself as it explores love's transience, while "Avila" is simple and pretty, with a delicate chorus of "O sweet peace never have you fallen/never have you fallen upon this town," sung in three-part harmony, that sense of longing lodged between the notes of a slow, aching electric guitar solo that winds its way through the song. A similar feeling is also apparent in "Glory Bound," manifested as a desire for a reprieve from life's hardships. It's not morbid, it's simply sad and honest in that uplifting way that only country and folk music can be. There is a melancholy that lies within many of the Wailin' Jennys' songs, but there's still an overwhelming sense of hope and happiness that is even stronger, and makes Firecracker a really great, uncontrived album.»

Official site: http://www.thewailinjennys.com/

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Dave Grusin - 3 Days of the Condor (1975)

A great soundtrack to a great movie! Check’em out!

«Dave Grusin adopts a superb white funk sound, incredibly crisp and clean. The orchestra on this album are unbelievably tight, and very funky. It's a mix of short funk themes and longer strings-laden tracks. The theme is superb, and much covered, and check out "Flight Of The Condor".» (Blaxploitation)

«In the 1970s, when prominent movie stars started to become the driving forces behind films, the jazz musician Dave Grusin was a favorite choice for film composer by several above-the-title male actors, notably Robert Redford, Paul Newman, and Warren Beatty. Redford starred in director Sydney Pollack's spy thriller 3 Days of the Condor, and Grusin got the scoring nod. The film was set in the New York City of the present day, the present day being 1975, and Grusin turned in music imbued with familiar elements of jazz fusion and R&B-funk. His "Condor! (Theme From 3 Days of the Condor)" could have been the instrumental track for a Steely Dan song of the time, and "Yellow Panic" was one of several tracks to employ wah-wah guitar à la Shaft. "Yeah! Make it funky," declared Jim Gilstrap at the outset of "I've Got You Where I Want You," a funk workout.» (AMG)

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Three Days of the Condor (1975) movie trailer


Anouar Brahem, John Surman & Dave Holland - Thimar (1998)

«The role of the Arabic, lute-like, stringed instrument, the oud, has been revolutionalized through the playing of Anouar Brahem. While used in the past to accompany vocalists, the oud is used by Brahem as an imaginative solo instrument. In 1988, Tunisian newspaper, "Tunis-Hebdo", wrote, "If we had to elect the musician of the 80s, we would have, without the least hesitation, chosen Anouar Brahem". The British daily newspaper, "The Guardian", wrote that Brahem was "at the forefront of jazz because he is far beyond it"…» (More here)

«A strikingly attractive "transcultural" project initiated by Tunisian oud virtuoso Anouar Brahem, who is both an innovator and a traditionalist in the deepest sense (he has been credited with "restoring the sovereignty of the oud" in Tunisian music). There is no glib fusion of traditions on Thimar but rather a coming together of three very distinctive musicians who sacrifice none of their individuality in the search for common ground. Arab classical music and jazz are the reference points here, but Anouar Brahem, John Surman and Dave Holland meet as improvisors not limited by genre definition.» (ECM)

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Postcards from Italy (61): L'Aquila (Abrutium)

Sine Nomine - La Musica Italiana del XV Secolo (1992)

A great collection of (secular) Italian Renaissance music. Highly recommended.

Sine Nomine:

Gloria Moretti (voice, percussions),
Alessandra Fiori (alto, portative organ),
Stefano Pilati (Tenor, synphonia, lute, percussions, Renaissance guitar),
Marco Ferrari (bass, flute shawn, dulcian),
Roberto Caccio (Lute, bass),
Fabio Tricomi (pipe and tabor, fiddle, lute, Renaissance guitar, Jew's harp, Percussion),

Pier Gabriele Callegari (tromba a tirarsi)


1. La vida de Colin (Anon.)
2. Fate d'arera (Anon.)
3. Rosetta che non cangi mai colore (Antonio Zachara da Teramo)
4. Fugir non posso (Anon.)
5. Alle stamegne, donne (Anon.)
Ricercare (Anon.)
D'un bel matin d'amore / Bâl d'la lîvra (G.B. Zesso / Anon.)
8. Curte c’ascurte (Anon.)
9. Un cavalier armato Cavalca Sinisbaldo (Anon.)
10. Movit'a piedade (Antonio Zachara da Teramo)
11. Amoroso (ballo francese) (Giovanni Ambrogio)
12. De là de l'acqua / Piva (F. Patavino / J. Dalza)
13. Dhè fusse pur qui meco (Anon.)

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Trinidad Steel Combo - Steel Drums from the Caribbean Islands (1995)

«The Steel Drum, or Pan, is a unique instrument, and one of the most recently invented. It is a skillfully hammered 55-gallon oil drum which has been carefully tuned to produce tones. The Steel Drum carries the full chromatic range of notes, and can produce just about any type of music you can think of!

During British Colonial rule of Trinidad in the 1800's, hand drums were used as a call for neighbourhood gangs to collect and 'mash up' with the other gangs. Hoping to curb the violence, the government outlawed hand drums in 1886.

Deprived of the drums, the Trinidadians turned to the 'Bamboo Tamboo', where each member of the group would carry a length of bamboo and pound it on the ground as the group walked through the streets, producing distinctive rhythmic 'signatures' which identified each gang. (The word "Tamboo" is from the French "tambeau", or "drum".) When two gangs met on a march, they would pull out the machetes they had hidden inside the long bamboo poles, which solved none of the violence problems.

Soon, the government outlawed the bamboo bands as well. Deprived of all traditional rhythmic instruments, the Trinis took any objects they could find, including garbage can lids, old car parts, and empty oil barrels (from the Navy bases on the island). They used these instruments to form the Iron Bands, which marched down the streets playing the same distinctive rhythms. These impromptu parades were called Iron Band.

One day in the late 1930's, during a particularly rough iron band session, somebody discovered that a dented section of barrel head produced a tone. Winston "Spree" Simon is generally credited with being the first person to put a note on a steel drum. Originally the pans were convex, like a dome rather than a dish. Ellie Manette, a pan-maker still active in the US today, was the first to dish out a pan and give the steel drum its mature form. Many tuners began experimenting with and producing tuned 'pans', eventually forming large groups of the neighborhood panmen into orchestrated bands. There are many great musicians, arrangers and innovators in the history of the steel bands.

The musical competitions which began to take place each year at Carnival quickly replaced the street fights. There are two competitions, one for the popular songs of the year, and a separate contest which showcases both the technical ability of each band and the versatility of the steel drum by presenting highly orchestrated classical pieces. Fifty years after the first such contest, the rivalries between steel bands still exist, but manifest themselves in an excellent quality of musicianship.

The bands, which include Phase Two Pan Groove, the Amoco Renegades, the Trinidad Cement Limited Skiffle Bunch, and the Silver Stars, each perform a masterfully arranged, ten-minute piece for the yearly Panorama competition. Each band can contain over 100 musicians and 300 pans, and rehearses relentlessly for months before Carnival in the hopes of winning the Panorama and being crowned champion steel band for the year. If you are interested in the music produced by this event, Panorama recordings can be found at many fine record stores.» (More info and links here)

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Wasis Diop - No Sant (1996)

«The traditional sounds of Senegal are combined with contemporary world music influences to create the smooth-edged global fusion of Paris-based guitarist Wasis Diop. His song, "African Dream," was a top forty hit in England, while, his soundtrack for his brother, Djibril Diop Mambety's film, Hyenes, was an international success. USA Today praised Diop for his "sensual rhythms, gorgeous harmonies and mystical melodies", while, Paris-based magazine, Le Matin, observed that Diop "strikes a balance between the songs of a hallucinating Muslim priest calling his flock and the ageless gentle storyteller of the Savannah"... Exclaim magazine wrote, "Diop's voice is key in the framework of the songs; deep, dark and delicious". Emigrating to Paris in the late-1980s, Diop shifted his focus from engineering studies at a university to touring and recording with a jazz band, West African Cosmos. Encouraged by the band's singer to visit Jamaica, Diop made the trip in 1989. While there he was befriended by influential record producer Lee "Scratch" Perry, and played guitar on several of Perry's dub singles. Returning to Paris, in 1990, Diop began working with Morrocan-rooted vocalist Amina Annabi. The following year, a song he composed for her, "C'est Le Dernier Qui A Raison (It Is The Last One Who Speaks Who Is Right)," placed first in the Eurovision Song Contest. Introduced to Japanese saxophonist Tasuaki Shimizu, shortly afterwards, Diop spent the next two years recording and touring in Japan as a member of Shimizu's band. Launching his solo career with the soundtrack of Hyenes, Diop quickly achieved international acclaim. That success has continued with his extremely-eclectic solo albums, No Sant, released in 1995, and, Toxu, released in 1998.» (AMG)

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