Saturday, August 22, 2009

Papa Wemba & Peter Gabriel: In Your Eyes

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Gito Baloi

Please Visit Echoes of the Land aStore

Friday, August 21, 2009

Ruben Blades

Ruben Blades back on stage after five years.
Times have certainly changed since Rubén Blades took his proverbial mailroom job in New York City's Fania Records in the mid-'70s, but the visionary man and the thought-provoking artist remain charting their own destinies in this Twitter age.
As a young and aspiring singer-songwriter, the "Poet of Salsa" started writing insightful protest songs about Latin America's turbulent socio-political and economic woes while mingling with the likes of Ray Barretto and Larry Harlow in the hallways of the famed salsa label.
True, social injustices and financial uncertainty still reign in much of Latin America today (like in most parts of the world), but gone are most of the region's dictatorships; gone are the all mighty and powerful multi-national record labels that controled the careers, lives and pockets of musicians and gone are the "organic" days when recording and playing live was the nature of the business.
Still, the fabled Panamanian artist - who'll kick off  the first leg of his 2009 international concert tour on Friday in Puerto Rico — is firm on continuing making music that matters, music that transcends generations, music that speaks to the soul and the masses or "barrios" to connect with people.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The 100 Greatest World Music Albums of All Time

The 100 Greatest World Music Albums of All Time chosen by editors.
You can find the list with full details here.

As any "Greatest" list its relevant for what was included as for what was excluded.

1. Wátina - Andy Palacio & the Garifuna Collective
2. Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares
3. Live! - Fela Kuti
4. Djiriyo - Abdoulaye Diabate
5. Congotronics - Konono Nº1
6. Everything Is Possible: The Best of Os Mutantes - Os Mutantes
7. The Dub Factor - Black Uhuru
8. Força Bruta - Jorge Ben
9. The Orphan's Lament - Huun-Huur-Tu
10. Buena Vista Social Club - Ry Cooder
11. Catch A Fire - Bob Marley
12. Ethiopiques, Vol. 7: Ere Mela Mela - Ethiopiques
13. Roots of Dub/Dub from the Roots - King Tubby
14. Entre Dos Aguas - Paco de Lucia
15. Tango: Zero Hour - Astor Piazzolla
16. African High Life - Solomon Ilori
17. Juicy - Willie Bobo
18. Gal Costa - Gal Costa
19. Balancê - Sara Tavares
20. At the Monterey International Pop Festival - Ravi Shankar
21. Yol Bolsin - Sevara Nazarkhan
22. Red & Green - Ali Farka Toure
23. Art of Amalia - Amalia Rodrigues
24. The Art of the Koto, Volume 1 - Nanae Yoshimura
25. Juju Music - King Sunny Adé
26. Amen - Salif Keita
27. Fado Em Mim - Mariza
28. Dance Mania - Tito Puente
29. Mali Koura - Issa Bagayogo
30. Originalite: First Recordings 1956-1957 - Franco
31. Khaley Etoile - Etoile De Dakar
32. In the Dub Zone - Ja-Man All Stars
33. La Kahena - DJ Cheb I Sabbah
34. Diwan - Taha, Rachid
35. Vietnamese Traditional Dan Bau Music - Thanh, Pham Duc
36. Sahra - Khaled
37. Camping Shaabi - Think of One
38. Precious Platinum - Bhosle, Asha
39. Traditional Music of India - Khan, Ali Akbar
40. Troileana - Liliana Barrios
41. Via Brasil, Vol. 2 - Maria, Tania
42. Songs from Kenya - David Nzomi
43. Cesaria - Evora, Cesaria
44. New Ancient Strings - Sissoko, Ballake
45. Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India - Rahman, A.R.
46. Reveries - Conte, Paolo
47. Taraf de Haïdouks - Taraf de Haïdouks
48. Promises of the Storm - Khalife, Marcel
49. Below the Bassline - Ranglin, Ernest
50. Just a Little Bit Crazy - Joyce
51. Mujer de Cabaret - Puerto Plata
52. Aman Iman: Water is Life - Tinariwen
53. Lost Songs Of The Silk Road - Ghazal
54. Kita Kan - Kouyate, Kandia
55. Wave - Jobim, Antonio Carlos
56. Heart of the Congos - Congos
57. Spirits to Bite Our Ears: The Singles Collection 1977-1986 - Mapfumo, Thomas
58. Siembra - Colon, Willie
59. Segu Blue - Bassekou Kouyate
60. Welcome To Mali - Amadou & Mariam
61. East of the River Nile - Pablo, Augustus
62. Fifty Gates of Wisdom: Yemenite Songs - Haza, Ofra
63. Electric Sufi - Youssef, Dhafer
64. Drums of Passion - Olatunji, Babatunde
65. The Venezuelan Zinga Son, Vol. 1 - Los Amigos Invisibles
66. Celia & Johnny - Celia Cruz
67. Shahen-Shah - Khan, Nusrat Fateh Ali
68. The Sun of Latin Music - Palmieri, Eddie
69. Cru - Seu Jorge
70. Immigrés - N'Dour, Youssou
71. Live at the Acropolis - Kodo
72. Buena Vista Social Club Presents Ibrahim Ferrer - Ferrer, Ibrahim
73. The Lama's Chants - Lama Gyurme
74. Elis & Tom - Elis Regina & Antonio Carlos Jobim
75. Alone at My Wedding - Kocani Orkestar
76. The Idan Raichel Project - Idan Raichel
77. Cheo - Feliciano, Cheo
78. Spain - Tomatito
79. Bomba de Loiza - Hermanos Ayala
80. The Lasting Impressions Of Ooga Booga - Masekela, Hugh
81. Legalize It - Tosh, Peter
82. Zamba Malato - Peru Negro
83. Squeeze Box King - Jimenez, Flaco
84. Pretaluz - Bastos, Waldemar
85. Rodrigo y Gabriela - Rodrigo y Gabriela
86. Pirates Choice - Orchestra Baobab
87. Africa Must Be Free by 1983 - Mundell, Hugh
88. De Pelicula: El Hijo del Pueblo - Vicente Fernández
89. Mr. Gavitt: Calypsos of Costa Rica - Walter Ferguson Gavitt
90. Music of Bali - Various Artists
91. I Will Not Be Sad in This World - Gasparyan, Djivan
92. An-Ba-Chen'n La - Kassav'
93. Between Heaven And Earth: Music Of The Jewish Mystics - Statman, Andy
94. Songs of Praise - Koita, Ami
95. Danc-Eh-Sa - Ze, Tom
96. Introducing...Rubén González - Gonzalez, Ruben
97. La Revancha del Tango - Gotan Project
98. Fondo - Vieux Farka Touré
99. Gift Of The Tortoise: A Musical Journey Through Southern Africa - Ladysmith Black Mambazo
100. Altan - Altan

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Malisan sensation Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni ba will release the follow-up to their debut "Segu Blue" on 21 September on Out Here Records.

Huun Huur Tu at the Philadelphia Folk Festival

Amadou & Mariam: The Magic Couple

Robin Denselow reviews Amadou & Mariam's The Magic Couple

Since Amadou & Mariam joined forces with Manu Chao four years ago to record the best-selling Dimanche à Bamako, there has been a series of compilation sets highlighting their earlier career. This latest compilation is a rousing reminder that the Malian husband-and-wife duo were making great music long before they became celebrities. The songs here are taken from the first three albums that they recorded outside Africa, between 1998 and 2002, and though the production work is far less slick than on the two bestselling sets that they recorded after meeting Manu Chao and then Damon Albarn, that's no problem.

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Afel Bocoum and Alkibar: Tabital Pulaaku

Robin Denselow reviews "Tabital Pulaaku"

Bocoum is a charming, easygoing man and he uses his songs to express his views on anything from the dangers of illegal immigration to Europe to the treatment of Mali's Peul people, the continuing power of voodoo, or the liberal trends in African Islam ("We thanks God today because girls are permitted to wear the long-forbidden skirt"). This is an album on which the lyrics are as important as the music.

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Goran Bregovic: Welcome to Bregovic

Robin Denselow reviews Goran Bregovic's Welcome to Bregovic.

The Gypsy brass is in evidence, of course, on tracks like Gas Gas Gas, taken from the Alkohol album and featuring DJ Shantel, but it's matched against fine, drifting choral works like Mesecina Moonlight or the orchestral Underground Tango. Then there are collaborations with a remarkable variety of other musicians, which include a stately track from the Turkish diva Sezen Aksu, a laidback ballad from Scott Walker, and an easy-going, understated song from Cape Verdean star Cesaria Evora. Best of all there's In the Death Car, with slinky, half-spoken vocals from Iggy Pop matched against both choir and brass.

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Friday, May 22, 2009

Maria de Barros: Interview

The vast distance between the Old World and the new isn't merely a matter of miles. Immigrant communities can share the language, music and customs of their homeland, but the harsh realities of the old country often start to fade as people put down roots in the United States. Listening to the buoyant, often celebratory music of Los Angeles-based Cape Verdean singer Maria de Barros and the ache-filled mornas of her famous godmother, Cesaria Evora, it's clear that while the two artists are united by a common culture, America's affluence and West Africa's poverty have set their music on divergent paths.

"Cesaria's life is a morna," de Barros says, referring to the blueslike musical form popular in Cape Verde's bars and cantinas. "This is someone who has suffered a lot, and now, thank God, she has been given everything she merits. My life is a completely different picture than hers."

De Barros celebrates the release of her gorgeous new album Morabeza with a series of Northern California gigs, including a Zookbeat concert at Don Quixote's this Tuesday and a show at the Big Sur Spirit Garden on Saturday, May 30. It was Evora who introduced the world to the music of Cape Verde in the early 1990s with her ineffably graceful, minor-key songs describing lives of hardship, heartbreak and anguished longing for absent loved ones. The morna is much like the blues in its heroic transcendence of hard times, but strongly inflected by the rhythms and cadences of West Africa, Brazil and Portugal, the colonial power in Cape Verde until 1975.

Endemic poverty on the island nation off the coast of Senegal has forced generations of Cape Verdeans to seek work far from home. One of the largest expatriate settlements is in Rhode Island, which is where de Barros settled with her family as a child. Born in Senegal and raised in Mauritania, she moved with her parents to Providence at the age of 11, joining a thriving, close-knit community.

She struck up a close friendship with Evora on a trip back to Cape Verde in 1988. When people asked if de Barros was the great singer's daughter, "She finally said, 'You know what? I'm your godmother,'" de Barros says. "'You baptize children and you never know how they come out. If I had to choose a godchild, I would choose someone like you. I know exactly how you are.'"
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Khaled: Liberté

Robin Denselow reviews Khaled's Liberté
The most popular performer in the Arab world is still extending his range. Khaled, the "king of Rai", became a celebrity across Europe and the Middle East in the early 1990s, provoking scenes worthy of Beatlemania with songs that matched the rousing dance music of Algeria with western influences that included a swirling layer of synthesisers. His last album Ya-Rayi, five years ago, showed his growing interest in acoustic styles, and this new improved set takes the process further.
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Emmanuel Jal: Interview

Fiona Purdon interviews Emmanuel Jal
Jal, 29, was a boy soldier in the Sudan People's Liberation Army – the veteran of many confrontations in Sudan and Ethiopia.

His battle experiences and rise to become an international rap star, performing alongside the likes of Peter Gabriel and Coldplay, are detailed in his memoir War Child: A Boy Soldier's Story.

The London-based writer and rapper is still tormented by his childhood, as he explains from Kenya. He is performing in a series of fundraising concerts in Africa.

"I hear gunshots from an AK-47, I feel the bombs exploding, they wake me up. Certain sounds come into my head, they cloud my head," says Jal, who has been a guest of this month's Sydney Writers' Festival.

"I can hear people screaming. I hear the sounds over and over."
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Catherine Bourzat: India: A Cultural Journey

India's emergence as an economic power, coupled with the popularity of the movie "Slumdog Millionaire," has made this ancient country, with its rich cultural and religious heritage, a renewed subject of American curiosity.

Putumayo, a company best known for world music, offers a coffee-table book that introduces a broad view of the country through excellent photographs by veteran travel shooters Laurence Mouton and Sergio Ramazzotti.

Divided into nine chapters, the book takes some surprising byways. The first chapter, "Indian Pink & Saffron Yellow," explores the importance of color in traditional Indian culture. "The Tumult of the Towns" extols the energy of the country's cities but does not neglect to show children sleeping on sidewalks.


The CD that accompanies this book, sold separately, highlights India's musical variety, from Bollywood tunes to acoustic, traditional and electronica, but too many of these tracks have the soulless sheen of cookie-cutter hits churned out by the likes of the Pussycat Dolls. Exceptions: the jazz- and folk- influenced tunes by Sanjay Divecha, Susheela Raman and Deepak Ram.
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Blick Bassy: Leman

Singer, songwriter, guitarist and percussionist released his first recording, titled Leman. On 'Leman' (World Connection, 2009), Blick Bassy connects the music of Central and West Africa and mixes it with bossa nova, jazz and soul.

Bassy's guitar playing and his intoxicating, warm voice are enriched by the kora, calabash and a double bass resulting in a unique, haunting sound which is velvety with subtle harmonies, yet also raw with groovy rhythms. 'Leman' was recorded in Salif Keita's studio in Bamako, Mali, and in Bassy's current hometown of Paris, and co-produced by Jean Lamoot (known for his work with Souad Massi, Salif Keita, Nneka and Kasse Mady Diabaté) and Jean-Louis Solans.
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Vieux Farka Touré: Fondo

Robin Denselow reviews Vieux Farka Touré's Fondo
When Vieux Farka Touré released his debut album two years ago, it seemed an outrage. Here was the son of the finest guitarist in Africa daring to move into the same territory within a few months of Ali Farka Touré's death. Young Vieux (as he must get fed up with being called) startled his critics because his album was so good. His live performances have shown an increased confidence, after a wobbly London debut, and here's a new set to show that he has become another great exponent of the African blues.
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Albert Kuvezhin Merited Artist of Republic Tuva

The famous rock-musician Albert Kuvezhin of the legendary group Yat-Kha, the only group in Russia which won a Grand-Prix in the annual international competition BBC Radio 3 Awards in World Music in 2002, received the title "Merited Artist of Republic Tuva". The government award was given to the remarkable rocker at his concert in Kyzyl by the head of the republic, Sholban Kara-ool.
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Kronos Quartert: Floodplain

John L. Walters reviews Kronos Quartert's Floodplain
Recent Kronos albums have been exemplary reminders that classical music is "world music", too, and vice versa. And that traditional music has a vital place in the contemporary repertoire. This generous, 12-track album is based around the concept that the world's great floodplains, such as those of the Nile, Ganges and Volga, are the cradles of humankind, and sublime sources of sustenance and fear. Kronos's selection of music from these regions is engaging, challenging, complex and rewarding.
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