Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Hamza El Din: the last turn of the water wheel

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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

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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