Friday, February 16, 2007

Izaline Calister keeps Curacao on the musical map

world music cd coverThere's not a lot of music from the island she calls home that's readily available to the rest of us, so Izaline Calister is seeing to it that the often-lively, sometimes-reflective music of Curaçao in the Dutch Antilles gets a fair hearing. The first two tracks on Kanta Helele swing feverishly like salsa, but by the time the title song rolls around, the acoustic guitar is at the forefront, a melodica is punctuating the melancholy and the lyrics are urging hanging in there through tough times. And yet the swing remains...

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

A little 'ice' music in the night

cd cover Norwegian percussion Terje Isungset settled into various locations near the Arctic Circle, built all of his instruments out of ice, and has been recording unique and beautiful works, accompanied on some tracks by the wordless vocals of Sidsel Endresen and horn player Per Jørgensen. On two of the most unusual recordings to cross my desk in quite a while, these artists show just how 'cool' music can be. His new label, All Ice of Norway, has now made this powerful music available to the world.

cd coverTwo Moons is the newest recording of "all ice" music from the Norwegian percussionist, joined by Per Jørgensen on vocal and ice trumpe, with Isungset on ice percussion, icehorn and isofon, performed in Geilo, Norway in two specially built igloos 9 - 14 January 2006. The weather conditions were severe, and the sleet, snow and wind at times made its way into the igloo, and can be heard at times in the recording. Per Jørgensen made four ice trumpets and was given a separate igloo as a recording booth. All the trumpets were played to bits during the sessions. Terje Isungset had ice of fantastic quality delivered from Vatsfjorden in Leveld. It provided exceptionally long sustaining soft tones. Two of the tunes were recorded live at the midnight outdoor concert of Ice Festival 1. It was minus 5 degrees, cloudy and quiet. As the last sounds faded, the sky cleared, and the full moon shone onto the onlookers. Hence the title Two Moons. He was sheltered in a heated lavvo. It's absolutely unique; beautiful, surprising and highly recommended.

cd coverFor Igloo, the frst recording in the series, Isungset settled into an ice hotel near the Arctic Circle, built all of his instruments out of ice, and recorded this work accompanied on some tracks by the wordless vocals of Sidsel Endresen. It does not get more unique than this!

Both CDs are available from cdRoots

Monday, February 12, 2007

And the golden idol goes to.....

At the really big shoe last night, the little statue of sales went to a lot of artists or recording projects, including a few that might be of interest to you folks:
  • Wonder Wheel by The Klezmatics
  • Polka In Paradise by Jimmy Sturr
  • Lost Sounds: Blacks And The Birth Of The Recording Industry 1891-1922 (various)
  • We Shall Overcome — The Seeger Sessions by Bruce Springsteen
  • Modern Times by Bob Dylan
  • Legends Of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar - Live From Maui (various)
  • Love Is My Religion by Ziggy Marley
  • The Hidden Land by Béla Fleck & The Flecktones
  • Simpático by the The Brian Lynch/Eddie Palmieri Project
  • Historias Que Contar by Los Tigres Del Norte
There were, of course, lots more... and you can find them at that .com place for the recording industry awards mill whose name is so throughly trademarked I prefer not to mention it.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Cuba Today: Jazz Havana and Beyond

Brown in Cuba Fans of Cuban jazz may think first of pianist, composer and producer Chucho Valdés, who presides over the Havana Jazz Festival and the steady flow of North American jazz artists to the island. Those who've traveled to woodshed, network and sometimes record in Cuba include Jane Bunnett, George Benson, Terence Blanchard, Steve Coleman, Roy Hargrove, Antonio Hart, David Murray, Nicholas Payton and Wynton Marsalis, among others. One legacy of the Soviet era is the integrated national system of music, dance and arts conservatories. The system offers superb training to aspiring performing artists from primary school onward. Musicians study western classical, jazz and Cuban folk idioms interchangeably, which explains in large part the abundant creativity of contemporary Cuban music. The best students eventually land at the Instituto Superior de las Artes (ISA) in Miramar, Havana, the springboard to bigger things. Most musical visitors find their way to ISA, intent upon checking out the scene and connecting with session musicians to invest their work with something unique. In some ways, the music training system has performed too well, producing a surfeit of immensely talented musicians with limited outlet for their artistry...

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