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' Barb├Ęs district, which she recorded under the name Hajja Rimitti.

You can read the rest of his obit here