Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Interview with Talvin Singh

Talk? Yeah, eloquent and interesting Talvin Singh can talk. And when you are the multiskilled English cat who fused Indian bhangra with dance beats long before the Western world's recent fascination with Bollywood, you have a lot to discuss.

Particularly when he is a prominent "Asian" identity in England, which has experienced simmering racism and legislation changes since terrorist bombings struck London a year ago. "We have a policy now in the UK where I could be walking down the street with a strange-looking instrument in my hand - it could be my drums, or sitar, or whatever - and I'll be locked up for 28 days," says charming Singh, who is presenting audio/visual performance Tabtek at the Adelaide Bank Festival of Arts, and a DJ set at Womadelaide.

You can find the full interview here

7th annual Cape Town International Jazz Festival

The 7th annual Cape Town International Jazz Festival, which is now acknowledged as the biggest Jazz event on the African continent, will once again take place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) on Friday 31 March and Saturday 1 April 2006.

Festival director, Rashid Lombard, and his organisation team, espAfrika (Pty) Ltd, are more than confident that the 2006 staging of this popular festival, that has become affectionately known as Africa's Grandest Gathering, will be as successful as the previous festivals and will again feature a world-class line-up of jazz and jazz related artists.

This will be the third time that the Cape Town International Jazz Festival will be staged at its spacious and classy new home at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC).

The 2006 festival will again feature a spectacular bill of 40 acts, split equally between the African and International contingents, performing in five different venues situated around the Convention Centre.

There will also be the traditional free concert for the people of Cape Town prior to the festival on Thursday 30 March to be held on Greenmarket Square.

With almost four months to go till the eagerly anticipated weekend musical party in March, espAfrika have already announced the first list of artists who will be appearing at the 2006 Jazz Festival. Artists already confirmed include:

Manu Dibango & Soul Makossa Gang, Chucho Valdés Quartet featuring Mayra Caridad Valdés,Tina Schouw and Friends, Charlie Haden Quartet, Freddy Cole, Louie Vega and his Elements of Life LIVE featuring Blaze, Anane & Luisito Quintero, Nestor Torres, Terence Blanchard, Tribute to Ray Charles featuring Joe McBride, Gerald Veasley and Kenny Blake, Miriam Makeba, Sipho ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse, Relax, Omar Sosa Quartet featuring Pee Wee Ellis, RJ Benjamin, Mario Canonge Trio featuring Horacio El Negro Hernandez, Caiphus Semenya, Heads Up Superband featuring. Joe McBride, Gerald Veasley and Kenny Blake, Unofficial Language featuring Paul Hanmer, Ian Herman and Pete Sklair

You can find the full article here

Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Long Walk to Freedom

The vocal call and response of Ladysmith Black Mambazo traces our world’s civilizations from the very beginning. As a form of communication, singing has accompanied the advancement of societies far and wide. Our ancestors undoubtedly found it as pleasurable as we do. With a cappella singing providing a natural delight that cannot be replaced by modern technology, Joseph Shabala and company deliver a series of timeless messages that grab at your soul.

You can find the full review here

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Interview with Amadou Bagayoko

Banning Eyre spoke with Amadou Bagayoko (Amadou et Mariam) on August 9. 2005, find the interview here

Toumani Diabate and Ali Farka Toure, In the Heart of the Moon

Ali Farka Toure points out in a heartfelt sleeve note that it is rare to find musicians from such different cultures collaborating in Mali. This is especially true of the northern desert traditions Ali has devoted his musical life to, and the sometimes exclusive world of Mande griots in which Toumani was nurtured. On top of that, there is the grandeur of these particular figures: Ali, the quintessential "African bluesman," legendary champion of northern music, and worldwide icon of African guitar; and Toumani, commonly acclaimed by those in the know as the greatest living player of the demanding, 21-string West African harp, the kora. Ali and Toumani inhabit the top tier of Mali’s musical pantheon, and yet there is an endearing father/son dynamic at play between them, with Ali having entered music in part under the tutelage of Toumani’s father Sidiki, and having known Toumani literally since the kora maestro’s infancy. Ali writes that Sidiki taught him the classic Mande repertoire back in the 1950s and 60s, and the songs of that era dominate here. Indeed, thought this is not the genre Ali is best known for, classic Made fare was the music that first inspired him to pick up a guitar back in 1956. Add to this compelling story line the lush, rich sound recording achieved by World Circuit’s secret weapon - engineer Jerry Boys - and this release is automatically one for the history books.

You can find the full review here

Mamadou Diabate, Behmanka

Sizing up 2005 in the final weeks, this album jumps out as a neglected gem. Lots of world music top-10 lists this year include In The Heart of the Moon, Toumani Diabate’s soulful session with Ali Farka Toure. It is a sweet, laid back encounter between two masters, but if you really want to hear the kora played with gusto, as well as mastery, Toumani’s cousin Mamadou has the record for you. Behmanka is among the most beautiful and technically awesome kora recordings ever made. From its stately opener "Touma," which revisits the title track from Mamadou’s ensemble debut album, to the lashing, 12/8 lope of the exhilarating closer, "Djimbaseh," these 8 tracks take your breath away.

You can find the full review here

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The 2005 Review - Star Online eCentral (Malaysia)

The popularity of West African musicians in world music is unchallenged yet again as the continent’s legendary names and lesser known artistes featured highly on most lists that summed up crucial work music releases from last year. At least two immensely interesting projects stood out among numerous collaborations - the stunning alliance between Amadou and Mariam and Manu Chao which produced the immeasurably blissful Dimanche a Bamako and the sublime In the Heart of the Moon from Malian master musicians Ali Farka Toure and Toumani Diabate.

These partnerships, however, are not the only albums that will evoke wonderment and reverence long after the dust has settled. The endeavours from distinguished solo musicians such as Salif Keita (M’Bemba) and Cheikh Lo (Lamp Fall) would also emerge as significant postings in the history of roots music.

Considering most of the highlights of last year will be celebrated at the upcoming BBC Radio 3 Awards for World Music 2006 (online polling ends Jan 31), it’s timely to make mention of the the notable 2005 releases that re-established world music’s presence on the racks.

Includes reviews of:
Emmanuel Jal and Abdel Gadir Salim: Ceasefire
Amadou & Mariam: Dimanche a Bamako
Ali Farka Toure and Toumani Diabate: In the Heart of the Moon
Cheikh Lo: Lamp Fall
Salif Keita: M’Bemba
Souad Massi: Mesk Elil
Susheela Raman: Music for Crocodiles
Papua New Guinea Stringbands with Bob Brozman: Songs of the Volcano
Debashish Bhattacharya: 3: Calcutta Slide Guitar
Ballake Sissoko: Tomora Ballake Sissoko

You can find the full article here.

Susheela Raman, Music for Crocodiles

Music For Crocodiles is at once smoother, and more commercially orientated than its two predecessors, yet still has room for unexpected outbreaks of fuzzed-up guitar or cello.

It's more accessible because Raman chooses to sing a bigger proportion of songs in English, which is her native tongue, pushing her closer towards the singer-songwriter zone. Theres a soulful feeling that has its roots in her teenage days, when Raman was singing with blues bands in Sydney.

You can find the full review here.

Amadou and Mariam, Dimanche a Bamako

Together as a musical entity since 1980, three years after they met at the Institute for the Young Blind in Bamako, Amadou & Mariam have slowly gained an audience outside West Africa since achieving major label status in 1998. I have to admit to finding their work up to this point a little monochrome, but suddenly they're in Technicolor courtesy of Manu Chao, who here takes on the role of producer.

At first listen and especially on the instrumental "M'Bife Balafon" this could almost be Chao's long awaited third solo album. Certainly, the way the French public have lapped it up adds to that impression. But despite a generous sprinkling of his trademarks (frequent backing and lead vocals, the cop car siren on "La Réalité", a vibrant skanking strum on "Camions Sauvages" and the general sense of momentum created by judicious segueing throughout, to name a few), it's very much an Amadou & Mariam record.

You can find the full review here.

Best African Music - The 2005 Review

The RFI review of the year

2005 ended with an appropriately elaborate display of musical fireworks on Salif Keita's ambitious new album M'Bemba (released at the end of October). The album, entirely recorded in Keita's studio in Bamako, found the Malian star delving into his country's history and the royal courts of the past. M'Bemba, which fuses traditional Mandingo rhythms with other surprising elements such as Spanish melodies, was hailed as one of the most accomplished releases of 2005 - and rightly so, in our eyes!

You can find the full review here.

Salif Keita, M'Bemba

M'Bemba is a largely acoustic album with a strong feel for Keita's Mande roots. And his core group of musicians is more or less unchanged. Kante Manfila, ­ his old colleague from the Malian supergroup Les Ambassadeurs ­ brings back his beautifully realised arrangements and distinctive instrumental voice on guitar. Ditto long-term sidekick Ousmane Kouyaté and Djelly Moussa Kouyaté. Percussionist Mino Cinelu is still creating marvellously cinematic atmospheres. There's a swooping female chorus haunting most tracks, and producer Jean Lamoot is still exerting his guiding influence on Keitas sometimes erratic taste.

But Mbemba has a lusher, more saturated sound, and it's upbeat, featuring the kind of studio effects and urgency of voice that characterised 1987 album Soro.

You can find the full review here.

Cheikh Lo, Lamp Fall

Whatever happened to Cheikh Lo? Even by Senegalese standards, he is an outstanding singer, and that's no mean achievement in the land of Youssou N'Dour and Baaba Maal. In the late 1990s he recorded a couple of albums that showed off his versatile, soulful vocals and ability to mix African styles with anything from Cuban influences to American funk; it seemed he would become a major star. Instead, he disappeared from view. Now there's a new album: it's a wildly varied, if uneven, set with some impressive moments.

You can find the full review here.

Souad Massi, Mesk Elil

Souad Massi left Algeria for France to become a major celebrity with her unlikely fusion of north African styles and sad, gentle western folk ballads. Now she is moving on. The overall mood is still quietly tragic, and enthusiasts of her gently powerful singing and thoughtful songs will be delighted by Hagda Wala Akter (There's Worse) which deals with the depressing life of a friend back in Algiers, or a personal lament like Khalouni. But like some female Algerian answer to Morrissey, she is clever enough to match bleak lyrics with subtle and increasingly varied musical settings. So on the exquisite Malou, she brings in flamenco influences and on Ilham she provides a vocal reminder of her Berber roots.

You can find the full review here.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Third edition of Sauti za Busara (Sounds of Wisdom) - Kenia

The venue will be at the Old Fort in Stone Town for four nights and then it decamps to Kendwa beach on Zanzibar’s north coast for a special grand finale featuring international DJs.

Organised by Busara Promotions, a non-governmental, non-political, non-profit cultural organisation based in Zanzibar, the 2006 Festival showcases a rich and dynamic programme including ngoma traditional music, taarab, kidumbak, rumba, muziki wa dansi, mchiriku, Swahili hiphop bongo flava, Afropop fusions, mystic and religious music, theatre, comedy, acrobatics and dance.

Of the 40 groups participating, most are from the Swahili-speaking nations: Zanzibar, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, and Burundi, with six or seven specially selected groups from Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Mali and Europe.

According to Busara Promotions Director, Yusuf Mahmoud, among confirmed artists include Ferooz (Bongo Flava megastar), Mchinga Sound (Muziki wa Dansi), Jagwa Music (Mchiriku from Dar es Salaam - favourites at WOMEX UK 2005), Lady Jaydee is also expected to show up with a live band, Culture Musical Club (Zanzibar taarab), Amina (Mombasa taarab), Sinachuki Kidumbak, Bi Kidude Msondo group, Black Roots (Zanzibar), Mkalimala Culture Group (traditional music from Mtwara), Taffetas (Kora fusion from Mali, Guinea-Bissau and Europe), Fanaza (Swaziland), Ukoo Flani MauMau (Nairobi hiphop), New Sound Band (Burundi), Atongo Zimba (Ghana) and The Shrine Synchrosystem featuring DJs Rita and Max from London, performing live with musicians and rappers from West and East Africa. Other artists are yet to confirm.

You can find the full article here

An Interview with Susheela Raman

An interview with Susheela Raman about her new album "Music for Crocodiles"

On Love Trap, released in 2003, Susheela Raman sang in Sanskrit, Telugu and Tamil, the last being the language of her parents. Music For Crocodiles, which has earned her a nomination in the 2006 BBC Radio 3 Awards for World Music, is mostly performed in English. This might be perceived as a commercial move, and to a certain extent, that is the case, but Raman has always been caught on the cusp between her Indian classical training and a desire to belt out the blues. She's interested in a variety of musical forms, and this is evident when listening to the range of her new songs.

You can find the article here.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Amadou & Mariam - World Music For People Who Hate World Music

Dimanche á Bamako still showcases the signature sounds of Amadou and Mariam-Amadou’s high, bluesy baritone and brittle, propulsive electric guitar with Mariam’s ardent, highly ornamented soprano-but Chao’s production adds the punch of dance-happy beats from around the globe.

The resulting international smorgasbord is accessible enough to be savored by even the most rock-centric ears, without sacrificing the music’s deep African roots. "The production and the mix may be more pop than we’ve done before," says Amadou, "but it’s not musically different from our other albums. We’ve worked with Syrian, French and African musicians before Manu Chao. Everyone brings different colors to the songs, but the root is always the music of Mali we grew up with."

You can find the full review here.

V/A - Congotronics 2

Congotronics 2 maintains the excellent standard of the first volume whilst managing to broaden the musical palette. Konono No. 1 feature again, with an excellent live track recorded during a recent trip to Belgium, along with six other bands. All hail from the suburbs of Kinshasa but have roots in diverse parts of the country meaning that each group brings its own unique heritage to the electro-traditional set-up.

You can find the full review here.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Spanish flamenco cantaor Juan Peña, 'El Lebrijano' and Moroccan violinist Faiçal Kourrich record Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Madrid, January 9 - (El Mundo)
Spanish flamenco cantaor Juan Peña, 'El Lebrijano' and Moroccan violinist Faiçal Kourrich plan to record an album based on texts by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
Juan Peña took his inspiration from texts of 'El coronel no tiene quien le escriba', 'Cien años de soledad' and, from the short story book 'La increíble y triste historia de la cándida Eréndira y su abuela desalmada'.
The two musicians will start recording next February.

Flamenco Hip Hop group Ojos de Brujo presents new album

Madrid, January 9 - (El Mundo)
Flamenco Hip Hop group Ojos de Brujo presented their third album "Techarí" in a concert in Logroño.
The album will be released in February 20.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Comment on the Radio 3 - World Music Awards nominations

From The Independent

Well, blow me down: after setting our teeth on edge for their first four years, with CD after CD of global pop, Radio 3's World Music Awards have at last found their game. This time, almost every nominated record offers something arresting, or beautiful, or both.

You can find the full article here.

An interview with fado singer Mariza

"The Australian" publishes an interview with Mariza, a few days before her performance at the Sydney Festival

THE woman seems to have it all: the designer gowns, the meticulous platinum hair, those deep brown eyes and that stunning face that leaps out at you from the cover of her latest disc, Transparente.

Live on stage in Barcelona on a balmy night in the outdoor Teatro Grec, she's just as beguiling: she appears much taller than she is and radiates warmth and sassiness in equal measure. She coaxes her audience into tears with a mournful fado ballad, gets them clapping along to a happier number, then has them laughing at her stories.

You can find the full interview here.

The Independent - World Music Review of the year

The Five Best

Konono No 1: Congotronics

Amadou and Mariam: Dimanche a Bamako

Touré/Diabate: In the Heart of the Moon

Los de Abajo: LDA v The Lunatics

Pink Martini: Hang On Little Tomato

You can find the full article here.

Amadou and Mariam nominated for two BBC World Music Awards and a Grammy

Middle-aged, blind and now world stars

Alice O'Keeffe
Sunday January 8, 2006
The Observer

An album by a middle-aged blind couple from Mali, which was picked by The Observer Music Monthly as one of last year's top 20, has been nominated for two BBC World Music Awards and a Grammy in the US.
Described as 'rock from Africa', Dimanche à Bamako, by Amadou and Mariam, is an infectious combination of African and Western influences which has already sold half a million copies worldwide.

Amadou, 51, said: 'Being blind, we are just happy making music.' The couple will be in the UK next month as part of the African Soul Rebels tour.

You can find the article here.

An Interview with Indian percussionist Trilok Gurtu

An Interview with Trilok Gurtu.

"Fusion is dead in the West. Nobody cares for it there. World music is upcoming, good remixes are welcomed," Gurtu told IANS in an interview.

Gurtu, the Hamburg-based son of late legendary Thumri exponent Shobha Gurtu, said the main reason for fusion's decline was that nobody wanted to look out for genuine music.

"Nobody wants to spend money to go searching for good country and folk music to bring out fusion. People who try fusion nowadays are those who have no idea what is involved in fusion.

"What we have nowadays is Bhangra beats and Garba beats in the name of fusion only because there is a large group of people from Punjab and Gujarat in the West," said Gurtu, who is currently travelling and performing in India.

You can find the full article here.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Himalaya Dawn by Kuljit Bhamra & Shan Chana

A review of Himalaya Dawn by John L. Walters

This album is pleasant, but it falls between too many stools: too sophisticated for regular World Music but not single-minded enough for the clubs; too calculatedly commercial for the creative music arena yet perhaps not straightforward enough for the mainstream audience that heard Bhamra and Chana in the hit musical Bombay Dreams (and The Far Pavilions).

You can find the full review here.