Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Interview with Thomas Mapfumo

George Negus interviews Zimbabwean musician, Thomas Mapfumo.
Dubbed as the Lion of Zimbabwe, Mapfumo is known internationally for blending traditional Shona mbira music with western instruments since the early 70s. At the time, singing in Shona was uncommon, and in the context of the escalating war, automatically political.

His songs often reflected the concerns of society; hardships in rural areas and the oppression of Shona culture by white rulers.

However it wasn't until the late 80s when his music focused on questioning the country's leadership, who he believed had failed the people. In 1989 he released the album 'Corruption', which openly criticised President Robert Mugabe and his government.

Shortly after the release, Mapfumo became the target of government harassment which eventually forced him to flee to the United States.

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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Strings Tradition

Eyal Hareuveni reviews Strings Tradition.
Binding the ancient but still thriving string tradition of the kora (a 21-string West African harp), the Northern Indian Hindustani tradition of the sitar and the Southern Indian Carnatic tradition of the violin is really a brilliant idea. the debut release of Strings Tradition brings together five versatile and resourceful musicians who, rather than just finding a common musical language, possess a true timbral affinity and intimacy.

New-York-based Malian kora master Mamadou Diabate comes from a griot's family. His father, Djelimory Diabate, played the kora and he is related to another great kora player, Toumani Diabate. He has collaborated with diverse musicians including jazz bassist Ben Allison, blues guitarist Eric Bibb, Beninese singer Angelique Kidjo and Irish folk singer Susan McKewon. Sitarist Shujaat Husain Khan, son and a pupil of one of the greatest sitarist ever, Ustad Vilayat Khan, is a specialist of the singing style of the sitar, gayaki ang, and a close collaborator with Persian kamancheh master Kayhan Kalhor. The inventive Southern India violinist Lalgudi G.J.R. Krishnan also comes from a musical family, his father, Lalgudi G Jayaraman, also a renowned violinist. Tablaist Gourishankar and ghatam player Muraly Trichy round out the quintet.
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Mercan Dede: 800

Robin Denselow reviews Mercan Dede's 800.
In the 13th century, the Islamic Sufi poet and mystic Mevlana Jelaleddin Rumi became famous for whirling in the streets with religious joy - a practice that led to the founding of the Whirling Dervishes by his followers. Eight hundred years on from Rumi's birth comes this celebration album from the best-known Turkish exponent of electronica and "spiritual clubbing". Now based in Montreal, Dede has assembled a global cast for his project, with leading Turkish musicians playing anything from trumpet and trombones to the zither-like kanun and the kemence (fiddle), matched against a Swiss bass player and the Indian tabla exponent Shankar Das.
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