Friday, March 26, 2010

Ethiopiques: the funkier side of Ethiopia

For those who have kept up with the Buda Musique series, the otherworldly novelty of the earliest volumes released in the late 1990's has perhaps worn off. But they have also been rewarded with everything from solo pianists, King David's Harpists, historic recordings of orchestras as well as classic, 1970's-era Ethiopian soul as interpreted by Cambridge, Massachusetts' Either/Orchestra live in Addis Ababa... The latest in the series, Ethiopiques 24, is devoted to the funkier side of 1970's Ethiopia. Stars of earlier volumes, such as Seylou Yohannes and Ayalew Mesfin, appear here and the music, as always, is spectacular. Wubshet Fisseha and the Exception Five Band's lone track, "Sew Endayhon Yelellem," mixes a horn line that could come from nowhere but the landlocked East African nation with scratchy guitars, one of which takes a brutally raw solo midway through. Tamrat Molla and the Venus Band's "Ber anbar Sebelewo" steals quietly in before erupting in celebratory handclaps so typical of Ethiopian and Tigray music. Behind it all are the usual assortment of cheap organs, jubilant horn charts and choked guitar and bass licks...

Read More and Listen in RootsWorld

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Music from the heart of the Batonga

Like those 70s-era Electra/Nonesuch LPs, Africa: Shona Mbira Music and Music of the Shona People, The Kankobela of the Batonga Vol. 1 features music played on the kankobela (commonly referred to as the thumb piano), and like those records, the music contained here is a thing of lullabye-like guilelessness. In fact, this disc can be seen as the long-awaited companion to the recordings South African ethnomusicologist Hugh Tracey made of the same music between 1952 and 1957. Those recordings have been reissued, along with another 20 discs worth of Tracey's material, as Kalimba and Kalumbu Songs by SWP.

The music here was recorded in 1996 and 2008 by label owner Michael Baird. Baird, who is Zambian-born, traveled to the region his birth country shares with Zimbabwe, the Zambezi valley, an area dominated by the finger-shaped Lake Kariba, in order to see what was left of the type of music he heard on those Tracey recordings half a century ago. And while the musical results are wonderful, the reality on the ground is depressing. About a decade after Tracey's initial visit, the Zambezi river was damned, making the lake and pushing the Batonga people away from what had been fertile ground. Several decades of displacement have not only taken their toll on these people's quality of life, it has caused the younger generations to turn away from the traditions, because, as far as the generations who've come of age since the lake was formed are concerned, those traditions now represent failure.

Read more and listen on RootsWorld

Friday, March 12, 2010

Mariem Hassan's 'the thorn' expands the Saharan 'blues' tradition

cd coverSaharaui singer Mariem Hassan releases her new CD this month, in collaboration with with the poet Lamin Allal and the guitarist, Lamgaifri Brahim. A highlight of the CD is the innovative title track “Shouka,” a cantata developed by using all scales and rhythms of the traditional vocal style, the haul.

A full review will be coming in RootsWorld soon.


More audio and Biography of the artist at cdRoots

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Omar Sosa's latest Ceremony: a big band exploration

world music cd coverThink what you may of the Grammys, but the Academy got one thing (partially) right this past year: Omar Sosa's 2009 recording Across the Divide: A Tale of Rhythm & Ancestry was nominated for Best Contemporary World Music Album. While Béla Fleck took home the statue, the nomination introduced many people to the music of Omar Sosa. For these new listeners, this is good timing. The most recent release by Omar Sosa, Ceremony, shows off his deep "world" credentials. Sosa, originally from Cuba, teamed up with Germany's NDR Bigband and Brazilian arranger Jaques Morelenbaum, and the result is a powerful recording of celebration and joy.

Read More and Hear a Song

Buy the CD

See more reviews of World Music on RootsWorld