Sunday, December 10, 2006

The Jazz Singer's Return to Faith

Fink Like his earlier recording Lokshen, Enrico Fink has created a record that is a true treasure trove of information about the Jewish experience in Italy. On Il Ritorno alla Fede del Cantante di Jazz (The Jazz Singer's Return to Faith), the premise is to take the Jewish liturgical tradition in Italy (and in particular in Ferrara and Firenze) and distill it through Fink's experiences. The result is a fascinating work that can be highly traditional ("El male rachamim") or highly modern ("Lo Amut"). It inhabits the same spiritual ground as Robbie Robertson's soundtrack for "The Native Americans" (especially on "Eliyahu" with its dialog between the child singer and Fink), another work of passion for a culture endangered, as well as things like Hector Zazou's Songs from the Cold Seas, Tom Waits, U2 circa The Joshua Tree, cantor music and jazz, all of which come in and out of focus throughout this record creating a polymorphic work that is both contemporary and timeless, the effort behind it evident but not crushing.

Read more and listen to a song

Saturday, December 02, 2006

RIP Perry Henzell (The Harder They Come)

From the Jamaica Observer
Friday, December 01, 2006

PERRY Henzell, co-author, director and producer of one of Jamaica's first feature films The Harder They Come died on November 30th at his son's house in St. Elizabeth.

Henzell's latest project - No Place Like Home - a film about Jamaica, was set to be premiered at the Flashpoint film festival in Negril today. Yesterday, tributes were paid by politicians and persons who worked with the pioneer filmmaker.

Actor Carl Bradshaw, who had roles in The Harder They Come and No Place Like Home, described Henzell's contribution to the growth of Jamaica's cultural product as phenomenal.

"I remember him as a pioneer. He was the man who influenced Jamaica's film industry. The Harder They Come was more than a great visual as it is responsible for taking reggae music where it is today," Bradshaw said.

Perry Henzell also penned the novels, "Power Game," which was published in 1982, and "Cane," a historical drama, which was published in 2003.

Read the complete story at Jamaica Observer

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Omar Sosa Broadcast - 11/25/2006

Omar Sosa and his Trio, featuring bassist Childo Tomas and drummer Steve Argüelles, will be guests on the Radio France-France INTER broadcast, Le Pont des Artistes, with host Isabelle Dhordain. Also on the show will be Cesaria Evora.

The program airs at 8:10 PM (until 10:00 PM) in France on Saturday, November 25, and can be heard at that time via streaming audio on the Internet by going to:

Sosa will play compositions from his new CD, "Live à FIP".

Internet streaming times worldwide:
8:10 PM Europe
7:10 PM U.K.
2:10 PM East Coast USA
1:10 PM Central USA
11:10 AM West Coast USA
4:10 AM Japan (November 26)
6:10 AM East Coast Australia (November 26)

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Live Danish Folk , Roots and World Music - Online in November

4 Days Of Young Live Danish Folk and Roots Music - Directly On The Internet.

One of the biggest events in Denmark with live concerts and –recordings in sound and pictures for streaming, downloading and podcasting, will be held at the ‘Bruunske Pakhus’, Fredericia, Denmark. From the 26th to the 29th of November ‘The Bruunske’ will be humming, sizzling and exploding with an audience and an bevvy of bands and artists from the contemporary Danish folk music scene. All the concerts, the interviews on and behind the stages will be broadcast LIVE in sound and video.

The concerts will then be available for download and pod casting from the Internet at a later date. A total of 12 of the best Danish roots bands and artists present founr days of beautiful and intense acoustic music, great singing, mind ripping folk/rock/jazz, all with a focus in traditional Danish folk music, but with new, fresh and sometimes experimental outlooks.

Artists will include:
Trio Mio
Sussie Nielsen Band
Henrik Jansberg Band
Haugaard & Høirup

You can get schedule information at
Links will be available online at RootsWorld during the shows.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Nordic Roots Festival Report

The Nordic Roots Festival in Minneapolis is one of the great world music events of the year.
One of our long time readers, David Smith, recently attended 8th Annual Festival and sent us his report and photos.

I have just returned from the Nordic Roots Festival in Minneapolis. This is a small, urban festival held at the Cedar Cultural Center, a small non-profit center based in an old movie theater which features music of all types during the year.

The festival features contemporary folk music from Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Samiland, and other places where Nordic roots can be found. They present a nice mix of music from those countries, with attention paid to diversity in presentation...

Nordic Roots
Read David's complete report on RootsWorld

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Two unique 'world music' concerts reviewed

Saadet Turkoz and Hans Koch

There has long been a healthy spirit of non-conformism in Krakow, so it is no surprise to receive a visit here from musicians who refuse to compromise. Vocalist Saadet Turkoz and reedman Hans Koch certainly fall into this category, and their appearance at Club Re in Krakow, Poland on September 10th, 2006 was surely uncompromising. Turkoz' music is freely improvised, but is based on a personal interpretation of and reflection on the folk melodies her parents and their friends exposed her to when she was a child. The lullaby, the confession, the curse and the dirge all have their place. Building on this core of universal human experience, she is able to convey dramatically contrasting emotions. Philip Palmer reports from Krakow.

carmen Consoli
Carmen Consoli demurred when she was introduced as "the most successful singer and songwriter Italy has ever produced."
"I am just a little artist trying to express herself," she said. But for the past decade she has reigned as Italy's leading female rock star. A gifted lyricist and tunesmith, she has attracted a passionate and devoted following in her homeland with her woman-centric point of view and emotionally charged concerts. She is particularly popular with women, left-leaning youth and gays, but even older, straighter and more mainstream audiences love the self-described "bambina impertinente." At a recent concert at Joe's Pub in NYC and on her new recording, Eva Contro Eva, she is changing course towards a more roots-oriented music, still powerful and still uniquely her own. George De Stefano checked in on the "piccola cantatessa" while she was in New York.

Read the full reports in RootsWorld

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The dark future of "world music?"

This press release was sent to us today.
It is offered with no additional comments: feel free to make your own!

Dear Editor:

Imagine hearing Jay-Z, on his upcoming world tour rapping in each country's native dialect! Voxonic, Inc. a New York based technology firm has developed proprietary software, which allows our voices to be seamlessly converted into foreign languages.

Through the use of a 10-minute sample of our voice, Voxonic's technology can replicate a specific voice in any language. Voxonic breaks our voices into "phonemes" that compose our voice, and hires an actor who is fluent in the desired language to record a lyric or speech (the actor does not have to mimic the original speaker in order for a successful conversion). The Voxonic technology aligns the two voice patterns, resulting in a 99 percent level of accuracy in the original speaker's voice.

Voxonic offers tremendous benefits to the entertainment industry. Imagine how much easier it will be for American entertainers to have the opportunity to reach out to their foreign demographic. With the record industries sales at an all-time low, the diminishment of language barriers makes marketing and entertainment opportunities endless. Some of those various opportunities include the following:

* Radio promotional opportunities for entertainers to make voice-drops in any language.
* Music artists being able to create concert introductions in any dialect.
* Record labels having the opportunity to make limited-edition albums and singles in a wide-range of languages.

Voxonic, Inc., which has additional involvement from world respected music industry pioneers such as entertainment executive Andre Harrell, and accomplished music producer Eddie F., is redefining music culture. "This technology will allow record companies to expand their artist's marketability globally," said Arie Deutsch, President of Entertainment for Voxonic Inc. "Think of how powerful it would be for Russian teens to hear Eminem rap in their native language".

Like I said: no comment from me is needed, I think.
Please offer your own, though!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Kepa Junkera paints his vision of the world

Globalista Basque accordionist Kepa Junkera explores a series of audio-impressions of cities around the world that he has visited in his latest world music tour de force, "Hiri".

Guests include Patrick Vaillant and Melonious Quartet, Mercedes Peon, Ibon Koteron, Enzo Avitibile, Andy Narell, Bulgarka, Glen Velez, Eliseo Parra, Gilles Chabenat, Xose Manuel Budino, Tactequete and dozens of other musicians from around the world.

Release date is October 1.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Belize celebrates 25 years of (musical) independence

The nation of Belize is celebrating it's 25th anniversary this year with art exhibits, international guests, parties and celebrations around the country.

I thought you might like to look back on some of RootsWorld's reviews and articles about the music of Belize, to virtully join in the celebration.

An overview of Garifuna Music

Pen Cayetano and the Original Turtle Shell Band

Aurelio Martinez

Cult Cargo: Belize City Boil Up

Lebeha Boys Garifuna Youth Band

Leroy Young "The Grandmaster"

From Bakabush: The First Ten Years of Stonetree

There's lots more, too... just use the search box on the web site to find a lot more music.

Happy Birthday, Belize

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Conquering the Silence - Live in Ramallah

“In a situation of oppression, where silence is utter complicity, art cannot be but a form of resistance, rehabilitation, and progressive transformation.”

I am not sure what the internet availibility of this September 17th program will be, but it looks like it could be a unique international event, and it certainly includes a cast of important artists. I hope to have more information soon. For the moment, I pass on this information I just received from members of the ensemble El-Funoun - CF

Conquering the Silence
For freedom, justice and peace in Palestine, Lebanon and Iraq
An international manifestation of cultural resistance, featuring live music, poetry, theater, film and dance, transmitted via satellite links between Ramallah, Beirut, Cairo, London, Paris, Dubai and New York.

Presented by:
Marcel Khalife (Lebanon), Mai Masri (Palestine), Khalid M. Ali (Iraq), Breyten Breytenbach (South Africa), John Williams (UK), Amin Haddad (Egypt), Khalid Jubran (Palestine), Roger Assaf (Lebanon), El-Funoun Dance (Palestine), Kamilia Jubran (Palestine), Yussof Abu Wardah (Palestine), Ali Amr and Nai Barghouti (Palestine).

Sunday, September 17
8:00 pm at Ramallah Cultural Palace

The entire event will be broadcast live on Al-Jazeera Direct

Posted by Popular Art Centre, Al-Urmawi Center for Mashriq Music and El-Funoun Dance Troupe

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Flexibility, artistic freedom and innovation - L Subramaniam

• Flexibility, artistic freedom and innovation are crucial for the survival of traditional music. Only then can it reach the masses— Dr L. Subramaniam

L Subramaniam

For violin virtuoso, Dr L Subramaniam, music has always been a bundle of contradictions. So, inspite of being a stickler for tradition, he constantly innovates to improve techniques.

The master of Indian violin talks with the Mumbai Mirror about his latest work, Sangeet Sangam.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Baghdad to New Mexico: the journey of world musician Rahim Al Haj

Rahim Al Haj
Music is like a clock, it moves around in a circle, declares Rahim Al Haj, an innovative musician whose own life has been formed by cycles of music. He has travelled in his person and in his music from his homeland of Iraq into exile and then back home again as a true messenger of hope. A Baghdad native and a serious student of the classical and folk music of his native Iraq, he was imprisoned twice by the regime of Saddam Hussein, in part for refusing to compose musical tributes to that regime's military adventures during the 1980s. His life came under threat by the Saddam regime at the time of the First Gulf War. Rahim eventually made his way to New Mexico in 2000, adjusting to a very different culture, and re-establishing himself musicically. His work is marked by a thematic dedication to principles of peace and reconciliation in the form of wordless musical "poems" and by formal innovation on the ancient styles of the Iraqi maqam. Bill Nevins talks with this composer and musician of true world music in RootsWorld.

Read More

Friday, August 25, 2006

Exploring Turkish-Sephardic roots with Janet and Jak Esim

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The existence of a Jewish community is maybe not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Turkey, but in fact Jewish populations were present in Anatolia way before the arrival of the Turkish populations from the East... The Jewish community in Istanbul still has deep roots and is well represented in all fields, from cultural activities to finance and industry... Since the late 80s, Janet and Jak Esim have intensively researched and represented Turkish Jewish traditions - especially Sefardi but also Askenazi - with their own complex story of differences and similarities. Their long-term commitment has produced half a dozen recordings. Francesco Martinelli explores the history of the music and the evolution of The Janet and Jak Esim Ensemble.

Read more

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Marcel Khalife's plea for peace

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Marcel Khalife held a press conference at the UNESCO International Headquarters in Paris on August 3 and delivered a plea to his fellow artists around the world to take a stand on the Israeli war into Lebanon.

You can read the complete text of his message in this PDF file

Moacir Santos dies at 80

Moacir Santos, the Pernambuco-born Brazilian musical legend who influenced 2 generations of artists in his native country and beyond died last week at the age of 80.

He was recently enjoying a renewed interst in his work via a compliation of new recordings of his compositions by younger and better-known Brazilian musicians, including Milton Nascimento and Gilberto Gil titled "Ouro Negro'' and a reqworking of his classics by Mário Adnet (guitar) and Zé Nogueira called "Choros & Alegria."

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Enzo Avitabile returns from the 'sacred south'

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Enzo Avitabile
Sacro Sud (Folkclub Ethnosuoni)

The Neopolitan reed player returns in 2006 with a powerful new recording of sacred songs from sourthern Italy, performed in sparse, all acoustic settings that evoke wonder and passion. The ensemble is stellar and includes Luigi Lai: Launeddas; Maurizio Martinotti: Ghironda; Mario De Rosa: Mandoloncello; Giancarlo Abbatiello: Chitarra Napoletana; Carlo Avitabile: Tamburi and two vocal ensembles: Cantori Del Miserere Di Sessa and Polifonica Alphonsiana.

  • Maronna nera
  • Figliule ca 'nce jate a la Maronne
  • Rosario della Madonna delle Grazie
  • Devozioni dialettali

    More info
  • Friday, July 28, 2006

    Etnika: Maltese music, new world music

    The international radio program The World ran an interesting interview with Maltese musician Andrew Alamango, of the ensemble Etnika. He talks about the music, the making of the intstruments, etc, and it includes some muisic form their 1999 CD Zifna

    Listen to the program from The World

    Read the RootsWorld review of Zifna, and an earlier interview with members of the ensemble
    The CD is available from cdRoots

    Monday, July 24, 2006

    Belgium's Think of One: running in Trafico

    Loose in attitude but capable of creating some very tight boundary-crossing music, Belgium's Think of One combine slippery Roma style horns with Brazilian percussion and vocals, a sonic sense as open-minded as that of Manu Chao or Lo Jo and a willingness to borrow a groove from anywhere that strikes their fancy. While they first made a name beyond their home base of Antwerp with music that blended their brash, bouncy brass with Moroccan sounds, Trafico takes a predominantly Brazilian feel and runs gleefully with it...

    Full review coming soon in RootsWorld
    If you subscribed to RootsWorld,a you would already have this and dozens of other reviews and articles (and a free CD)!

    Alan Stivell: electronic backbeats and rolling, directionless melodies...

    Veteran Breton harpist Alan Stivell can't seem to decide if he wants to dabble in hip-hop or waft away in the New Age aether on Explore. Melody lines are sketchily defined, then abandoned altogether. The innovative harping for which he's known is almost an afterthought here, as all is abandoned in service to the groove. He does do a bit of aimless solo harp wandering on the title track, but it's nothing for the memory books. While there's a lot of colorful experimenting with timbres and textures, the songs are not strong enough to stand up to the tonal onslaught...

    Read the complete review in RootsWorld

    Monday, July 17, 2006

    Classic Congolese back on CD

    Grand Kalle
    A lot of classic Congolese music is back on CD this month. These inportant Sonodisc recordings come and go on the market, so it's great to see so many being reissued at the same time.

    Tabu Ley Rochereau And Afrisa International - Kaful Mayay 1973
    Not only neo-traditional 'Kaful Mayay' but also gorgeous 'Nzale,' hypnotic 'Aon-Aon' and 5 other tracks from the early 70s, including two making their first appearance on CD.

    Grand Kalle et l'African Jazz - Merveilles du Passe
    So good it took three CDs to capture it all! Grand Kallé, Dr. Nico, Dechaud, Mujos, Vicky Longomba, Rochereau, (briefly) Manu Dibango: the first great modern Congolese band at its peak. Marvelous indeed and truly essential.

    More titles now available: (see more info on the whole series here)

    Grand Kallé & L'african Jazz - Merveilles Du Passé, Vol. 2 (1961-1962)
    Grand Kallé & L'african Jazz - Succes Des Années 50/60, Vol. 1
    Grand Kallé & L'african Jazz - Succes Des Années 50/60, Vol. 2
    Grand Kallé & L'african Team - Volume 1
    Grand Kallé & L'african Team - Volume 3
    Grand Kallé & L'african Team - Volume 2
    African Fiesta - Nico, Kwamy, Rochereau & L'african Fiesta
    African Fiesta - Makila Eyina Nzoto
    Tabu Ley Rochereau - Le Seigneur Rochereau
    Rochereau, Tabu Ley - À L'olympia
    Rochereau, Tabu Ley - L'afrisa International
    Rochereau & Franco - Lisanga Ya Banganga (2 CDs)
    Tabu Ley Rochereau - Rochereau, Sam Mangwana & L'African Fiesta National
    Rochereau, Tabu Ley - Tete Nakozonga
    Rochereau, Tabu Ley - Sacramento
    Rochereau, Tabu Ley - Rochereau & L'african Fiesta National, Vol. 1 (1964-1966)
    Tabu Ley Rochereau And Afrisa International - Kaful Mayay 1973-75
    Rochereau, Tabu Ley - Rochereau & L'african Fiesta National, Vol. 2 (1966-1969)
    Tabu Ley Rochereau - 1968/1969
    Tabu Ley Rochereau - 1971/1972/1973
    Rochereau, Tabu Ley - Sorozo

    These CDs are all available via cdRoots

    Sunday, July 16, 2006

    RIP: Micheal O Domhnaill, guitarist and founding member of the Bothy Band

    Micheal Ó Domhnaill, guitarist and founding member of the Bothy Band died July 8 at the age of 54.

    As a member of the legendary 1970s group The Bothy Band, O Domhnaill, along with his sister, Triona, introduced audiences to a contemporary instrumental form of Irish music and modern interpretations of Gaelic song. The family grew up in Kells, County Meath, but spent their summers in the Donegal Gaeltacht, where they first heard the music that would make the band reality

    Micheal, Triona and sister Maighread formed their first group, Skara Brae, with guitarist Daithi Sproule, in 1970. Micheal and Maighread joined Triona in what would become the The Bothy Band in the mid-1970s.

    You can read a fuller obit in The Herald and on the unofficial Nightnoise web site

    Friday, July 14, 2006

    World Music, World Cup (1973)


    I just stumbled on this marvelous video featuring Loko Massengo (now of the rumba supergroup Kekele), in a 1973 TV broadcast by the ensemble Madjesi.

    Note the soccer outfits on stage (and the soccer playing that goes on during the instrumental breaks in this 8 minute song.)

    See it here

    World music hypoxia

    Various Artists: Chill Out World: The Highlands Edition

    This compilation bears so little resemblance to actual world music, you would honestly get a more international musical experience by phoning a series of embassies and being put on hold. Each track is like flying to a different far off land, and never making it past the duty free shop. Everything has been sanitized and pre-packaged for your consumption. Except I'm using "consumption" in the tuberculosis sense. One can only assume that the producers spent so much time in the highlands, that hypoxia has damaged their brains. - Louis 'please hold for an operator' Gibson

    Sunday, July 09, 2006

    Elena Ledda: singer at the ancient crossroads of Sardina

    cd cover
    Elena Ledda, trained at the Cagliari conservatory, has scoured Sardinia to assimilate its various folk styles and genres, gaining national stature as the music's foremost interpreter and proponent. Amargura, her eighth release, reveals Ledda at the apex of her melismatic powers, singing in Sardo and bringing the music of this ancient cultural crossroads brilliantly, poignantly alive. Her matchless voice is framed by a host of unusual and compelling work by some of Italy's foremost folk artists...
    Read the complete review

    Saturday, July 01, 2006

    The Mouth Harp Feted in Amsterdam

    Jew's HarpThe 5th International Jew’s Harp Festival will take place in Amsterdam from July 28th through July 30th, in association with the International Jew’s Harp Society. Hundreds of players, Jew’s harp makers and researchers from remote corners of the world will gather in Amsterdam to promote the versatility of the small instrument.

    The core of the festival is the participation of 60 instrumentalists and their ensembles which represent the diverging musical traditions. In addition to a series of concerts in which mixed ensembles will highlight the versatility of the Jew’s harp, there will be cinematography, lectures, demonstrations and a market.

    The Jew’s harp players from Asia with their electrifying and idiomatic sound interpret the authentic musical culture which has remained almost unchanged over the centuries (e.g. Spiridon Shishigin from Sakha-Yakutia, Bolot Bairyshev from Altay, Robert Zagredtinov from Bashkortostan). Also in Europe there are some remnants of the original folklore (e.g. Svein Westad from Norway, Manfred Russmann from Austria) but much experimenting with modern instruments takes place as well (Aron Szilagy from Hungary, Anton Bruhin from Switzerland, Tran Quang-Hai from Vietnam/France, Phons Bakx from Holland, Tapani Varis from Finland).

    Get more info from Jew’s Harp Society

    Thursday, June 29, 2006

    LA Law star goes latin

    If you had to guess which former LA Law cast member had a new latin folk CD out, you'd probaby guess Jimmy Smits, right? Surprise! It's Michele Greene; who it turns out is half Latina, comes from a rich singing tradition, and has quite a voice as well. She's on the road supporting her new CD "Luna Roja" and also has a new book out "Chasing the Jaguar." More info at

    Tuesday, June 27, 2006

    Three recordings from Palestine and the world

    iconThree recent recordings by Palestinian musicians, each, in its own way, quite brilliant. Taken as a whole, they give a sense of the range of contemporary Palestinian music, from the rooted-in-tradition to the most avant-garde. Two of these recordings are from artists with what is probably the most important and creative contemporary Palestinian ensemble, Sabreen. Kamilya Jubran (left) served as Sabreen's lead vocalist and qanun player for twenty years, while Wissam Murad remains one of Sabreen's core members. Sabreen's music has always been characterized by deep roots in the traditions of Arabic music, particularly that of the takht, the classical small ensemble known for its use of improvisation. Throughout its long recording career, Sabreen has been known for its creative ability to incorporate the rhythms and sounds of jazz, reggae, rembetika, blues, contemporary Arabic pop music, and even hip-hop, while at the same time to remain firmly grounded in the tradition. Although the members of Le Trio Joubran are not connected to Sabreen, their work too is at once innovative yet tradition-grounded...
    Ted Swedenburg investigates these daring new works: Read More

    Wednesday, June 21, 2006

    A Happy Reunion: Solas Y10

    Solas - Seamus Egan
    A Happy Reunion

    Solas hit the traditional music seen in 1996 with a bang. Formed, almost by chance, to play a few festivals, the group found themselves with an instant fan-base and critical acclaim that was unusual for an untried band. Now, ten years later, playing their own brand of musically-tight, often lightening-fast, and always uniquely well-crafted traditional music, Solas has proven itself as a supergroup on the Celtic scene. Helene Dunbar talks with Seamus Egan about 10 years of Solas.   Read More

    Friday, June 09, 2006

    Cheikha Rimitti, R.I.P.

    Ted Swedenburg writes:

    Cheikha Rimitti died of a heart attack in Paris at the age of 83 on May 15. She was a performer right to the end; she had just performed in Paris two days before she died. Rimitti was one of the great cheikhas of modern rai, releasing her first recording in 1952, but it was her 1954 release, "Charrak, Gattaa," that made her renowned, and infamous, throughout Algeria. The song was considered by some to be an attack on the preservation of female virginity. After independence, her music was banned by the NLF from the airwaves, because of its vulgarity.

    Rimitti had a reputation for bawdiness, and her name reportedly came from her habit of demanding more drinks: "Remettez!"--"Give me another." Cheikha Give Me Another Drink. Her reputation for excess should not be exxagerated, as it is all too often in publicity about rai. After an accident in 1971, Rimitti gave up drinking and smoking, and went on hajj in 1976. I even have a cassette, purchased in Paris' Barbès district, which she recorded under the name Hajja Rimitti.

    You can read the rest of his obit here

    Wednesday, May 24, 2006

    Hamza El Din: the last turn of the water wheel

    cd cover
    It's been a bad week for world music, first with the passing of rai great Cheikha Rimitti, and now Nubian master musician Hamza El Din

    Hamza el Din was at the forefront of the first wave of 'world music' with his recording "Escalay" (1971) and brought the music of North Africa the same kind of attention that Ravi Shankar was bringing to the music of India. He made the ud an important part of the global movement towards international musical communication. He was also a great believer in the healing power inherent in music, and made that part of his mission.

    he also never shied away from experimentation, performing with many diverse musicians from around the world, including Kronos Quartet. His 1999 recording "A Wish" inlcuded contributions from Kronos cellist Joan Jeanrenaud, composer and pianist W.A. Mathieu, Jordanian percussionist Hani Naser and Japanese diva Shizuru Ohtaka.

    Saturday, May 20, 2006

    Cheikha Rimitti, Rai diva dies

    I just heard on the BBC World Service that the mother of Algerian Rai music, Cheikha Rimitti, has died at the age of 83. More info here. Rimitti blazed the trail for contemporary Algerian artists like Khaled, Rachid Taha, and Cheb Mami.

    Friday, May 05, 2006

    Rhythm and Jews: The Afro-Judeo Connection

    cd cover
    The 2006 Toronto Jewish Film Festival will explore the Jewish/Black musicial connections of the past and present in a 12 film retrospecitve titled Rhythm & Jews May 6th through May 14th. A free panel discussion will be held on May 9 to explore the subject in more detail. David Chevan and Warren Byrd (Members of the Connecticut-based Afro-Semitic Experience - recently featured in a RootsWorld online concert) will sit on the panel and perform live.

    According to the organizers, "Rhythm & Jews is comprised of 12 films tracing the synthesis of Jewish and Black music, from the wave of Eastern European Jewish immigrants to America starting in the 1880s, through to the vaudeville, Tin Pan Alley and Big Band eras, to the Golden Age of Broadway, the Brill Building years of the ’50s and ’60s and the heydays of jazz and blues, right up to the rap, reggae and hip hop of the present day."

    You can get more information, and see trailers to a number of the movies, the the TJFF web site.

    Wednesday, May 03, 2006

    African Xylophone Festival in NYC

    On Saturday, May 6 and Sunday, May 7, some good friends of RootsWorld will host to the second annual African Xylophone Festival in NYC. “AXF2” will expand on the variety of xylophones presented last year, with the spider-webbed gyil of Ghana, the balafon of the historic empire of Mali, and the resonant embaire of Uganda, joined by the timbila of Mozambique, as well as the log-drum krin from the forests of Guinea, the spirited namaddu (tuned drums) of Uganda, and the metallic budongo of East Africa. The African Xylophone Festival is sponsored by Jumbie Records with the 92nd Street Y, the Columbia University Arts Initiative and the Center for Ethnomusicology at Columbia University. The festival includes two nights of concerts and three days of workshops

    * Bernard Woma Trio—traditional and modern compositions for gyil by the solo xylophonist of Ghana’s National Dance Company
    * Famoro Dioubate’s “Kakande”—classical balafon repertoire of the Mande peoples of West Africa given a New York flavor with flute, bass, cello and congas
    * Dallam-Dougou—innovative music finding common ground between Hungarian folk music and the xylophone aesthetic of Guinea
    * Imaginary Homeland—a jazz quartet of African xylophone, strings, and saxophone, presenting modern music for the Ghanaian gyil
    * Biakuye Unity Ensemble—traditional music of southern Uganda featuring the embaire xylophone, budongo kalimba, and namaddu tuned drums.
    * Nora Balaban's "Timbila Project" – the timbila xylophone of Mozambique’s Chopi people meets electric guitar and Afropop
    * Valerie Naranjo—solo transcriptions of the gyil xylophone performed on Euro-American marimba, with piano and percussion
    * A NeNe Wofa — The youth of Duffield Street come together in a celebration of Mande culture
    * St. Ann's African Xylophone Ensemble of Brooklyn—New York’s youngest African xylophone ensemble, of 2nd and 3rd graders
    * Workshops for children and adults at Columbia University, covering three different African xylophone traditions
    * Advanced masterclasses for professional xylophonists with master musicians of Ghana and Guinea
    * Jumbie Xylophone Summit—a rare meeting of xylophone masters from different African traditions on one performance stage
    * Jumbie Orchestra: AXF Grand Finale—A festival orchestra of Jumbie Records artists perform Bernard Woma’s composition "Gyil Mambo.”

    More info

    Saturday, April 29, 2006

    Nuestro Himno: another diversion

    The media generated 'debate' over this new version of the US national anthem seems to me to be just one more stupid diversion to entertain a crumbling society.

    My complaint is not the language (who cares? ) but the utterly boring music that acompanies it (why wasn't there a protest when Whitney Houston croaked it out? or Metallica? or Beyonce?).

    I am waiting to hear some Norteno, rumba, cha cha cha and flamenco versions. That will certainly make for better listening than this current pop disater.

    Give me the Hendrix version any day!


    Tuesday, April 25, 2006

    The immigration theory of world music

    I do not normally present 'press promos' as part of this blog, but my long time compadre-in-music Ken Braun of Stern's Music in NY sent out this promo sheet with his current releases, and I just had to share it with you all...
    Cliff Furnald, ed.

    Dear friends and colleagues,

    The first people that ever lived in North America walked across the iced-over Bering Strait from Siberia to Alaska about 10,000 years ago. They carried no documents and were not authorized to enter this country. Border bears spotted them and gave chase, and such encounters resulted in casualties on both sides. Law enforcement was obviously inadequate. Some of the "frozenbacks" were deported to their country of origin, but many (no one knows exactly how many) slipped into America. It’s been happening like that ever since, and not only on the northern border but also along every other frontier. See what happens without strict immigration controls? The country fills up entirely with people from somewhere else.

    At least it’s been good for music. Without immigrants, American music would be little more than birdcalls, frog choruses, coyote howls and the wind in the trees. Thanks to all of the people who have come to this country from somewhere else, starting with Asians, followed by Europeans, Africans, Central and South Americans (whose ancestors had themselves originated elsewhere) and of course islanders from near and far, American music is the most diverse, dynamic and popular in the world. This phenomenon isn’t just historical, something that happened long ago; it’s ongoing and as vital now as it ever was. Consider how the Celtic music revival of the past few decades has inspired the bluegrass revival in this country, or the ways Indian and Indonesian forms have influenced some of America’s best modern "classical" composers. Think of the immense influence of Jamaican dub and dancehall on hip-hop, or the various Latin styles that color everything from the most serious jazz to the most ephemeral pop these days as much as in the past hundred years.

    And African music? Elements of African music so thoroughly imbue so many kinds of American music that we can hardly imagine what our nation would sound like without them. True, this process began centuries ago, but it didn’t end with the abolition of the Atlantic slave trade. Africans are still coming to America – this time of their own accord if not always by the book (ironic in light of the fact that it was once legal to transport their ancestors here against their will) – and they’re bringing new music with them. From African dance classes and drum circles to African club nights in cities across the country, and on to the millions of records sold by African-born stars such as Dave Matthews and John Legend, Africans continue to make themselves heard in America. The African components of American music are being replenished, building on what came before but introducing new things too, further enriching the national culture.

    We at Stern’s Music favor liberal immigration policies. We believe hospitality makes us all better people. We’re thankful for our foreign-born colleagues and proud to promote the music of immigrants. We’re especially pleased this month to release three CDs by African artists now living and working in the United States. Martino Atangana, from Cameroon, teaches at the City University of New York Graduate Center, having gotten his Ph.D. at the Sorbonne, but he has also played guitar with Manu Dibango, Paul Simon, Jean-Luc Ponty, Henri Dikongue, Hassan Hakmoun and Shannon Jackson. Keeping one foot on the lecture forum and the other on the stage, he’s been gigging in and around New York for seven or eight years and has won a following that’s as multi-ethnic as his band, African Blue Note. Martino is a particularly nimble bikutsi guitarist but, as his new album demonstrates, he and his band are adept at Caribbean music and contemporary jazz as well as various African styles. One member of African Blue Note, pianist Azouhouni Adou, has recorded a CD of his own. In addition to the keyboards, Azouhouni plays clarinet, sings, and leads his own band, all with impressive skill and verve. He and his sidemen play in a variety of styles too, with a particular flair for funky jazz.

    Guelel Kumba also came through New York, but this Senegalese-born Fulani singer and guitarist has wound up, seemingly by gravitational pull, in the same part of northern Mississippi that has given birth to so many great bluesmen. There he and a bunch of local musicians have formed a band they call Afrissippi. Like the late Ali Farka Touré jamming with Taj Mahal, Gatemouth Brown or Ry Cooder, Afrissippi instinctively finds the crossroads where West African traditions and the blues meet. This is truly African-American music. In fact all three of the artists we’re focusing on this month are making music that is both African and American. Pass out the green cards.

    We’re not saying everyone should settle in America. On the contrary, we think that instead of either trying to keep immigrants out the U.S. or throwing open the gates to unregulated cheap labor, our government and businesses would do far more good by supporting international policies and programs that strengthen other countries’ cultures, economies and democracies. Help to give people good reasons to stay home, opportunities to lead fulfilling lives wherever they are. At its best (though perhaps its most paradoxical), globalism encourages nationhood and independence as much as freedom of movement and enterprise. It comes down to all people’s right – and the actual possibility – of self-determination. Which is why we’re so enthusiastic about Midnight in Mali. (You knew there had to be a musical angle.) This latest Stern’s Africa CD was recorded at an extraordinary concert in Bamako featuring a once-in-a-lifetime array of some of Mali’s greatest artists, including guitarist Djelimady Tounkara, balafon virtuoso Keletigui Diabaté, n’goni whiz Basekou Kouyaté and singer Dieneba Seck, all under the direction of Habib Koité. As Banning Eyre’s introduction observes, "It was that rare occasion when musical giants dare to risk the new, rely on their wits, and freely explore their shared heritage: the majestic, matchless variety of Malian music." Such a concert could not have happened in New York, only in Bamako. So while we advocate mixing and exchanging, we also celebrate tradition and uniqueness, and we see no contradiction in that. Our slogan is "Support local music everywhere!"

    Stay well,
    Ken Braun
    Stern’s Music

    You will find (or will find soon) many of the CDs mentioned by Ken at cdRoots

    Thursday, April 20, 2006

    World Music Charts Europe, April 2006

    Here is the April edition of World Music Charts Europe, a chart compiled by DJ from across Europe based on radio airplay.
    1. KAL Kal, Serbia (Asphalt Tango)
    2. KINAVANA Kekele, D.R. Congo (Stern's)
    3. DESCARGA ORIENTAL/THE NEW YORK SESSIONS Maurice El Medioni meets Roberto Rodriguez, Algeria/Cuba (Piranha)
    4. TECHARI Ojos de Brujo, Spain (Diquela / Pias Recordings)
    5. PART TWO Kora Jazz Trio, Senegal (Rue Stendhal Diffusion)
    6. BOULEVARD DE L'INDEPENDANCE Toumani Diabate & Symmetric Orchestra, Mali (World Circuit)
    7. REMIXED Amsterdam Klezmer Band, NL/Russia/Germany (Essay Recordings)
    8. LA VIDA TE DA Amparanoia, Spain (Wrasse)
    9. LAMP FALL Cheikh Lo, Senegal (World Circuit)
    10. LA CANTINA Lila Downs, USA (Peregrina/Narada)
    11. M'BEMBA Salif Keita, Mali (Emarcy Records/Universal)
    12. BELLOW POETRY Maria Kalaniemi, Finland (Aito)

    More charts

    Hooray for Bollywood? Indian Idol 2 perplexes

    cd cover
    It seems India's version of the pop idol TV craze is getting some interesting results.
    Indian songwriter and producer Anu Malik talks about Indian Idol

    "When Indian Idol 2 started, I believed we would have a female idol this time. Unfortunately, that didn't happen and it is really funny. Women are ruling in every sector, so why not in music? It's all about the audience. How can Monali, Meenal, Neha or Antara not get astounding votes? Strangely, somewhere down the line, we still feel boys should be given first preference." Read the rest of his interview at

    Tuesday, April 18, 2006

    Ambrozijn - new world music from Belgium

    cd cover Ambrozijn, the Belgian trio of Tom Theuns, Wim Claeys, and Wouter Vandenabeele, rejoin their now customary producer Gabriel Yacoub for their fifth recording, Krakalin. It is an oddly varied musical experience. The instrumental prowess is immediately evident and compelling, but the choice of material can be difficult, even deliberately disturbing as in "Kuifje in Bergom." Theuns' vocals demand acclimatization from the listener, and his lyrics are even more difficult to conveniently categorize. And Ambrozijn challenges expectation in an even more subversive fashion, by essaying popular French styles of the recent past as in "l'Avion" and "Sur la Rive Gauche," avoiding tackiness and imbuing them with sympathetic resonance...

    Read More and listen to a full song form the CD

    Friday, April 14, 2006

    A world of music, preserved at the LOC

    2005 entries in the Library of Congress's National Recording Registry

    Full details and listings at the LOC

    Here's a sampling of the 50 recordings chosen for special recognition and preservation
    (in chronological order)

    1. "Canzone del Porter" from "Martha (von Flotow)," Edouard de Reszke (1903)
    6. "Ory's Creole Trombone," Kid Ory (June 1922)
    8. "Tanec pid werbamy/Dance Under the Willows," Pawlo Huemiuk (1926)
    10. First official transatlantic telephone conversation (Jan. 7, 1927)
    11. "El Manisero" ("The Peanut Vendor"), Rita Montaner, vocal with orchestra
    (1927); "El Manisero," Don Azpiazu and his orchestra (1930)
    15. "Wabash Cannonball," Roy Acuff (1936)
    20. "John the Revelator," Golden Gate Quartet (1938)
    25. "Jole Blon," Harry Choates (1946)
    28. "Anthology of American Folk Music," edited by Harry Smith (1952)
    33. "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On," Jerry Lee Lewis (1957)
    35. "Poeme Electronique," Edgard Varese (1958)
    36. "Time Out," The Dave Brubeck Quartet (1959)
    37. Studs Terkel interview with James Baldwin (Sept. 29, 1962)
    41. "Are You Experienced?" Jimi Hendrix Exerience (1967)
    42. "We're Only in It for the Money," Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention (1968)
    45. "Don't Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers," Firesign Theatre (1970)
    46. "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised," Gil Scott-Heron (1970)
    47. "Will the Circle Be Unbroken," Nitty Gritty Dirt Band (1972)
    48. The old fog horn, Kewaunee, Wis., recorded by James A. Lipsky (1972)

    From Cuba to Africa and back music crossing the Atlantic

    Africa's influence on New World music is hardly news, but beginning in the 1930s, in the throes of global economic crisis, the Gramophone and Victor companies began to repackage their Latin American catalogues with Ghana, Nigeria and the Congo region in their sights, marketed as the GV Series. Powerful radio transmitters broadcast the music to keen West African audiences, and local performers began to incorporate Cuban elements into their repertoire. The spread of the phonograph and the increased availability of affordable musical instruments, especially following World War II, only enhanced the popularity of Cuban dance music, and the rest is history.

    Michael Stone listens to some interesting new releases:
    Out Of Cuba: Latin American Music Takes Africa By Storm, Los Afro-Salseros de Senegal and Kekele from Cuba to Africa and back.

    Tuesday, April 11, 2006

    BBC World Music Awards - 2006

    The annual awards for world music, presented by the BBC, were announced this week. Not, in my opinion, the most challenging collection of music imaginable, but it's always nice to see a new (really) Ry record get some recognition after years of him sitting in the background strumming. - cliff

    # Ry Cooder (USA): Americas
    # Souad Massi (Algeria): Middle East/North Africa
    # Amadou & Mariam (Mali): Africa
    # Fanfare Ciocarlia (Romania): Europe
    # Sain Zahoor (Pakistan): Asia/Pacific
    # DJ Shantel (Ukraine/Germany): Club Global
    # Nitin Sawhney (India/UK): Culture Crossing
    # Konono No 1 (Congo): Newcomer
    # Amadou & Mariam (Mali): Album of the Year

    More info about the awards, and audio of the performers' music, is available online:

    Friday, March 31, 2006

    Billy Bragg has the "Bush War Blues"

    Billy Bragg has the "Bush War Blues"
    I guess there is little to comment on except here it is:

    MP3: Bush War Blues

    Source: Anti- Records

    Wednesday, March 29, 2006

    Youssou N’Dour Announces New African Health Initiative

    At the United Nations on Wednesday, March 29, 2006, Senegalese 'world music' star and social activist Youssou N’Dour announces a new initiative to prevent malaria and to promote better health in Africa.

    Activists, policy makers and UN officials will gather to discuss The Roll Back Malaria Campaign at film screening of “Africa Live: The Roll Back Malaria Concert,” a 60-minute concert documentary conceived by Youssou N'Dour and Mick Csaky. A brief panel discussion and reception will precede the film.

    Malaria is the largest killer of children in Africa, killing a child every 30 seconds. Every year, an estimated 300-600 million people suffer from the disease. When Malaria strikes, it slows economic growth costing African nations about $12 billion each year, and prevents our future generations from attending school hindering their social development. Its prevention is an important part of poverty reduction and economic development.

    Source: UNICEF
    More info:

    Monday, March 27, 2006

    Tinariwen on tour

    North African blues band Tinariwen will be touring the US in April. Cities include New York, Minneapolis, Chicago, Austin, Oakland and Houston. They're one of the freshest bands that I've heard in years. If you can make it, go. Tour info here.

    Saturday, March 25, 2006

    WFMU goes Greek

    AKIS PERDIKIS Athens, Greece-based drummer & singer-songwriter will join George Sempepos (Byzan-Tone producer & ex-Annabouboula guitarist etc.) And ROB WEISBERG On Rob's show TRANS-PACIFIC SOUND PARADISE

    Saturday 3/25/06 6:00 PM Eastern Standard Time
    WFMU 91.1 FM in the NYC area and STREAMING LIVE AT
    (The show will also be available in digital archive in a few days at the same site)

    For a two-hour musical journey through the Greek alternative rock,  psych-garage,  folk-rock and ethnic fusion scenes, with side trips to other Mediterranean ports-of-call.

    Friday, March 24, 2006

    Youth For Youth World Music & Arts Fest

    The First Annual Youth For Youth World Music & Arts Fest
    San Francisco - April 30, 2006
    Bay Area musicians perform for and share their musical heritage with young audiences and their families in San Francisco.
    cd cover
    The Youth For Youth World Music & Arts Fest is an annual professional youth concert series that integrates young artists ages 5-17 into a larger cross-cultural community of world music masters and youth audiences. By bringing together multi-generations of artists and families, the festival provides a professional performing arena for young people to experience cultural awareness through traditional music, while building tolerance and respect for different cultures and peoples of the world, as well as the pluralistic social perspectives necessary to work across cultural differences.

    This is part of a continuing series of events produced by The SF World Music Festival

    Tuesday, March 14, 2006

    World Music Charts Europe - March 2006

    What's getting played on World Music radio in Europe?
    Here's the March 2006 World Music Charts Europe

    1. KINAVANA Kekele, D.R. Congo (Stern's)
    2. KAL Kal, Serbia (Asphalt Tango)
    3. AFRICAN REBEL MUSIC various (Out Here)
    4. FAREWELL SHALABIYE No Blues, Netherlands/Israel (Rounder Europe)
    5. MIERO Värttinä, Finland (Realworld)
    6. BELLOW POETRY Maria Kalaniemi, Finland (Aito)
    7. UKRAINE CALLING Haydamaky, Ukraine (EastBlok)
    8. LA VIDA TE DA Amparanoia, Spain (Wrasse)
    9. LAMP FALL Cheikh Lo, Senegal (World Circuit)
    10. A LIFE IN MUSIC Ananda Shankar, India (Saregama / beatScience)

    More charts online
    Many of these recordings are available at cdRoots

    ©2006 World Music Charts Europe

    Sunday, March 12, 2006

    2006 Danish Music Awards: H&H and Trio Mio

    cd cover
    The 2006 Danish Music Awards have given the prize to a number of artists that RootsWorld likes, including Haugaard & Høirup (Folk Artist of the Year - Traditional) and their recent recording Gæstebud (Album of the Year); Trio Mio ( Folk Artist of the Year - Contemporary) and Kristine Heebøll (The Folk Composer of the Year). A full list of the awards should be posted soon online at the Danish Folk Music Council.

    Friday, March 10, 2006

    More on Ali Farka Toure

    There are articles and obits all over the web for the great Malian guitarist, but perhaps the best tribute is this short program made in Niafunke by Afropop's Georges Collinet in 1994.

    Or if you you do the brand-name 'Podcast' thing, you can do it the hard, as well as read a number of other tributes, on the Afropop web site

    Thursday, March 09, 2006

    Os Mutantes & Nacao Zumbi

    For those of you in the UK, Brazil's Os Mutantes are playing a reunion show at Barbican on 22 May 2006. This will be their first live performance in 33 years. Nacao Zumbi opens. More info here.

    Wednesday, March 08, 2006

    U.S. Crossover Hits Elude Latin Alternative

    NPR had a nice segment on Latin Alternative bands today, including Aterciopelados, Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, Ozomatli and Café Tacuba. It's part of a series. Main page is here.

    Ali Farka Toure RIP

    Ali Farka Toure, the legendary guitarist from Mali, died on March 7th in Bamako after a long illness. Poet of the strings, an innovator within his roots, and finally, mayor of his hometown of Niafunke, he was truly a global original.