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world music

Antonis Antoniou is an old friend to many of our readers. His work is deeply rooted in the complicated musical and social traditions of Cyprus, where streets were literally divided by steel barrels to separate Turks from Greeks during some of the country's most difficult times. Kkisméttin (fate, destiny, kismet) was made during the pandemic lockdown we have all been living with, and Antoniou took this as an opportunity to create new songs that could speak in various ways about that loss of freedom, and its parallels in the rest of our lives. The songs on the album are not blunt political instruments, but poetic references that cut slowly, but cut deep. He writes not in political screed, but in prose poetry that elicits the beauty of the island and the wonder of its diverse population. Read Cliff Furnald's review and listen to some of the music.

The album is our Music of the Month selection for April, 2021

 

world music I hope by now the impression abroad that the only Portuguese roots music is fado has is known to be as false a stereotype as all Spanish music being flamenco, or all Americans cowboys. Portugal has a rich variety of regional rural traditional musics, and indeed the melodies of some, particularly those of Alentejo, have shaped the urban Lisbon fado. A unifying aspect of all these musics, though, and of the people in Portugal who perform and listen to them, is a great appreciation of melody, and warm, expressive singing. Sara Vidal is a Portuguese singer and harpist, and for all of her well-known work with many other ensembles, Matriz is her first solo album. It’s a collection of traditional songs from the Portuguese regions of Beira Alta, Beira Baixa, Alentejo, Algarve, Ribatejo, Trás-os-Montes, Minho and the archipelago of Madeira. Read Andrew Cronshaw's review and listen to some of the music.

 

world music Langeleik is a form of table-top zither which, like the more widely known Hardanger fiddle, is a uniquely Norwegian instrument. The recordings in Høyre du, mann! - Langeleikopptak 1955-1983 are drawn from the archive of the Norwegian Collection of Folk Music at the National Library in Oslo, and celebrates the langeleik in 42 relatively short tracks. The langeleik goes back in time considerably further than the Hardanger fiddle and the instrument played on the track "Vals etter Arne Hasvoldseter," which is inscribed with the year 1524.

The CD contains a descriptive booklet, partly in English, which includes photographs of instruments and players. It seems that most of these archive recordings were made specifically for documentation, principally to capture traditional ways of playing before they disappeared altogether. The fact that most of the players heard in the earlier recordings on the album were in middle or old age at the time (the oldest, Ingeborg Lunde having been born in 1875) is perhaps an indication that the langeleik playing tradition was not being taken up by many from the younger generation. Come explore the archive with Mike Adcock.

 

world music Start up the opening track of Himla’s self-titled debut, and for a moment the voice and guitar transport you right back to those days of the ‘70s singer-songwriters – the haunted female voice and resonant guitar arpeggios. Listen just a little longer, though, and it’s apparent this isn’t merely nostalgia. A clarinet creeps into the song, nosing around the tune, then cello joins in, using a high register, more like viola or violin. The melody is quite bewitching – the equal of anything from five decades ago – with an edge of familiarity, but very quickly there are plenty of touches of the unusual in the arrangement. And with that’s it’s immediately clear that Adine Fliid and her two band mates - Oda Dyrnes and Siri Iversen, have something rather special here. While the instrumental choice might appear to be limited, the trio conjure up a broad range of moods. It’s helped by Fliid’s songs, which sometimes swoop in from oblique angles... Join Chris Nickson and listen to something unique and new.

 

world music Hot on the heels of his collaboration with singer and guitarist David Walters (reviewed a few weeks back) comes a new release under his own name from kora-player Ballaké Sissoko, though the album has been in the making since 2018. Djouro is also a collaboration, with eight different artists, each making a single track appearance. They include Salif Keita, Vincent Segal, Arthur Tebou, Sona Jobarteh, Oxmo Puccino, Patrick Messina, Camille, and Piers Faccini.

On the title track Sissoko is joined by kora-player Sona Jobarteh from The Gambia, the first woman from her griot tradition to play the instrument professionally. Djouro is a Bambara word meaning string, an apt title for a duo sharing forty-two strings between them. As an album title it has a more metaphorical meaning for Sissoko, suggesting the musical thread running between the diverse artists involved. Read Mike Adcock's review and listen to some of the music.

 

world music In the slow opener of Anástasis, "Rise," Stefanos Dorbarakis’s kanun plays a long, thoughtful solo intro. A voice enters, floating over it, and then bowed bass, lyra and laud join in to develop and enrich. Katerina Papadopoulou is the singer, and a very fine one indeed, but this is very much a group album, showcasing equally the work of the six top-class instrumentalists: Kiriakos Tapakis (oud, laud), Giorgos Kontogiannis (Cretan and Aegean lyres), Chariton Charitonidis (bagpipe, tsambouna, floghera), Theodoros Kouelis (bass), Manousos Klapakis (percussion) and Dorbarakis (kanun).

Excellently, spaciously live-recorded, they make a perfectly balanced ensemble in an unusual and varied set of traditional music from the area of present-day Greece and the Greek-rooted traditions of the wider Mediterranean, including from Thrace, Macedonia, Ikaria, Smyrna, Pontus, and a tarantella from southern Italy. Join Andrew Cronshaw on a journey through old Greek music.

 

world music In Fading Light is a jazz inspired album with the unusual combination of piano, oud and trumpet. The Greek pianist, composer, improviser and band leader Tania Giannouli plays the main role here, with Andreas Polyzogopoulos’ trumpet and Kyriakos Tapakis’ oud adding important nuances to the instrumental experience as a whole. The album was recorded in 2020, which of course has been a unusual year worldwide. Giannouli says, “Despite what’s happening to our world at present, people need music. They need art. It is not a luxury. It’s essential for our psychology, for maintaining health and balance – mentality, physically, emotionally, spiritually, and even politically.” The all instrumental album successfully gives the listener freedom to explore and choose their own path. Maria Ezzitouni takes you along on their different route to Greece.

 

world music #MeToo and Black Lives Matter are bringing consciousness if not yet change to many societies of the so-called developed world, where entrenched systems of oppression towards women and people of African decent, if not all people of color, prevail. Afro-Brazilian and female, Luedji Luna is in the crosshairs of this oppression. Bom Mesmo É Estar Debaixo D'Água, of which she is singer-songwriter, co-arranger, and co-producer, is her second album. The album is a personal, intimate statement that decries the objectification of Black Brazilian women like herself as the most sexually desirable and the easiest to exploit.

There are no throw-away tunes on the album; each one has its message and its own signature, bolstered by bright accompanists with jazz and fusion chops inevitably, but lightly lilted by the Brazilian breeze. Luna enlists other women's words of poetry and song to amplify her own, which she delivers in alluring, tempered vocals that at times graze the coquettishness of Brazil's pantheon of MPB female vocalists.   Read Carolina Amoruso's review and listen to some of the songs.

 

world music Cypriot composer, percussionist and singer Vassilis Philippou - on bendir, riq and tombak, is joined by illustrious colleagues on Sol Aurorae, an elegant album of his compositions that fit very naturally into the eastern Mediterranean modal music tradition. His group here consists of Michalis Kouloumis (violin, viola), Giannis Koutis (oud, guitar), Meir Gassenbauer (ney) and Michalis Messios (double bass). Guesting, on lyra is Zacharias Spyridakis, and on kopuz the multi-talented Efrén López Sanz. It’s an ensemble work, interpreting and exploring Philippou’s songs and instrumental compositions. In the rich instrumentation, fiddle and lyra edge into yearning, duskily fluting harmonics, with gutty oud, breathy ney and double bass, underpinned by his deeply resonant hand drums that blend melodically rather than driving or showing off.   Read Andrew Cronshaw's review and hear some of Philippou's compositions.

 

world music

world music

Like most of the major islands in the Mediterranean, Corsica has had its share of invaders, conquerors, visitors and immigrants... All this turmoil makes for a unique culture with its own unique institutions, language and music. Most familiar of the musical part of that is the vocal music of the island, pulifunie, the polyphonic choral tradition that has had a resurgence since the 1960s and some of those choral groups have achieved some small international fame, as well as attention from contemporary composers.

On their fifth recording, À principiu, L'Alba straddle the old and the new, with strong vocal references to the traditional polyphonic singing and nods to contemporary folk and jazz. They embrace the many influences that have flowed through the island, from Arabic, North African, Italian and French inhabitants and visitors, as well as reaching out further to places like Greece, Portugal, Senegal and Zimbabwe... L'Alba are not here to recreate the past, but to remind us that past and present are separated by a very thin line and crossing it is both a challenge and a blessing.   Read the editor's full review and listen to some samples of the music.

À principiu is RootsWorld's Music of the Month selection for March. Subscribe monthly, or buy this one CD, and support the magazine and radio program.

 

world music Nocturne finds Marseilles-based singer and guitarist David Walters taking a change of direction from his last release Soleil Kreyole, with its urban dance rhythms and expansive sound. This is a purely acoustic affair featuring just three other musicians (Ballaké Sissoko, kora; Vincent Ségal, cello; and Roger Raspail, guitar) but this paring down has not been at the cost of a rich musical texture. On the contrary, it has allowed each musician space to explore the distinctive qualities of his chosen instrument as well as finding the common ground shared with the other two. A limited palette can bring a greater cohesion to ensemble playing and this is a case in point. Walters moves between three different languages in his songs - French, English and Martinican Creole, reflecting his own background growing up in France with Caribbean parents... Read Mike Adcock's review and listen to some songs.

 

world music No one can say The Nordic Fiddlers Bloc are profligate with their releases; in 12 years together, this is just their third, and their first since 2016. But they make every track, every single note count on Bonfrost, and those years of playing and touring together have given them a majestic kind of empathy that illuminates the music. The three fiddlers - Olav Luksengård Mjelva from Norway, Andres Hall from Sweden, and Kevin Henderson from the Shetland Isles ( with one cultural foot in Scandinavia and the other in Scotland, play instruments that complement each other to perfection: fiddles, viola, octave fiddles and Hardanger fiddle. Chris Nickson reviews. Listen to a few tracks, plus a pandemic video bonus.

 

world music Anoura, the new album by Malian singer and guitarist Anansy Cissé, was produced over a period of four years against a background of political turmoil in the north of Mali where Cissé is from. The sleeve notes tell us that that some of the songs, all sung in his own Songhai language, reflect this particular social situation while others express more personal feelings. The four years have allowed time for the production to be well honed and with its thoughtful layering of interlocking guitar overdubs it certainly feels like a studio album, but it's none the worse for that and never sounds overworked. Throughout the album there is an extremely effective play-off between the acoustic and electric sounds coming from guitar, ngoni and, on two tracks, the soku, a Malian fiddle. Read Mike Adcock's review and listen to some excerpts from the new album

 

world music Orava - Panorama Of Folk Song And Music Culture comes as a very nicely put together package: two CDs, in a 74 page hard-back book in a protective sleeve containing lots of color photos and details of the performers, texts about the project, song lyrics, and a map of the region. It features music by performers from 19 villages in the Orava region, which is at Slovakia's northern tip, bordering on Poland. It features male and female singers solo and ensemble, in unison and harmony, unaccompanied or joined by diatonic accordions, fiddles, string bands, bagpipes, or whistles including píštalka and koncovka. It's strong, loud singing, characteristically often pushing to the very top of the singers' registers, as is much Slovak singing particularly in the mountainous areas, and the melodies are in the distinctive modes that are typical of much old Slovak tradition, returning frequently to the root note but nevertheless having a feeling of suspension. http://www.rootsworld.com/reviews/orava-21.shtml Join Andrew Cronshaw in exploring the music of this region.

 

world music Dust to Digital has released a number of other projects of 78-era global music focused collections... But Excavated Shellac bounces around the world from track to track, and with 100 performances, almost none of which has seen prior reissue, it allows for necessary depth. The 186-page PDF booklet contains an insightful introduction and detailed track-by-track notes by Jonathan Ward, whose music blog and personal collection is the basis of thisrelease. But it’s the music that makes this such an important release. Read Bruce Miller's deep look inside a collection that he says will "challenge our notions of divisions either by geography or colonizer over colonized."

 

world music Alostmen, a quartet centered on two-stringed lute player Stevo Atimbire, are pushing music forward a bit differently; their approach is much more rooted in Ghana’s past. For one, Atimbire’s kologo is an instrument that connects to fra fra tribespeople in the country’s north. And certain tracks, such as the unadorned “Bayiti,” driven by voice and solo kologo, are unmistakably West African, the voices repeating singular words over the melodically minimal music. Yet, Alostmen are young guys as into hip hop or reggae as anything traditional, which is why their music sounds so startling fresh. Read Bruce Miller's review.

 

world music There is always a sense of satisfaction when two veterans from entirely different musical scenes join forces to create something genuinely new and different, the feeling that old dogs still have some new tricks left. Poul Lendal is certainly a respected old dog of Danish folk music; after more than four decades as a performer and teacher he’s pretty much a godfather of it all. David Mondrup’s time with electronic music isn’t quite as long, but he’s established a reputation as one of Denmark’s great innovators and teachers of the subject. As Vaev, the pair have come up with something that steps outside the sometimes-jaded boundaries of folktronica. Chris Nickson shows us an interesting new kind of folk music from Denmark.

 

world music Ville Ojanen is from Finland's fiddling nexus, Kaustinen, and over the years has been a member of Sikiät, the dance group Ottoset, Folkkarit and Troka. While still a part of that scene, and the Kaustinen accent and its evolving tradition is strongly there in his compositions, he moved away geographically, the music he composes is wider in its influences, and while he's a very fine fiddler, his albums aren't about showcasing his fiddling, with other instruments in an accompanying role; they're albums of his compositions, featuring a variety of musicians. This is his fifth, with a titular tie-up he must have been waiting for: the Roman numeral V, 'viisi' - Finnish for five and his first initial. Listen while you read Andrew Cronshaw's review.

 

world music Influenced by the Latin-American nueva canción movement as well as the 1960s British invasion which they were exposed to growing up, Los Bunkers learned their musical chops as a Beatles cover band in the Biobio region, hence their original moniker Los “Biotles.” With the return of democracy and a limited but vibrant music industry they moved to Santiago. It seemed that this young Chilean band incarnated not just the psychedelia of the British invasion, but also the emancipatory power of Chilean folksong. David Cox explores the history of this important Chilean band.

 

world music Despite having been formed nearly a decade ago, Floyds Row, named for a thoroughfare in their home base of Oxford, have but one album to their name. Recorded in 2013 and bearing a 2017 release date, The Oxford Sessions has a classical and early music air with some folk and traditional tinges. The core ensemble is the trio of Alistair Anderson (concertina, Northumbrian small pipes), Andrew Arceci (viola da gamba, double bass) and Chris Ferebee (guitar, mandolin, cittern, lyre). Vocalists Hannah James and Joshua Copeland, flautist Becky Rea and harmonium player James Percival are listed as guests. Split evenly between original compositions and arrangements of others' works, the tracks are more likely to make you lay back and ponder rather then get up and dance. Tom Orr shows that here at RootsWorld, it does not have to be new to be newsworthy.

 

world music

world music

In 2009, Omar Sosa made an eight-country tour of East Africa. The tour resulted in the film documentary “Souvenirs d’Afrique,” and an evocative trove of Sosa’s improvisations with local traditional artists during each of the tour stops. More than a decade later, and the consequence of close and sympathetic listening across half a continent, An East African Journey achieves what few so-called “world music” undertakings ever manage. Sosa’s playing is restrained throughout, engaging with, augmenting, and building upon the subtle creations of his artistic partners, rather than using their striking and diverse talents as mere spice for his own work. What makes this title still more compelling is its departure from European and North American artists’ more typical turn to West Africa for genre-bending musical inspiration.

Sosa collaborates with Olith Ratego (Kenya), Rajery and Monja Mahafay (Madagascar), Abel Ntalasha (Zambia), Steven Sogo (Burundi), Seleshe Damessae (Ethiopia), Dafaalla Elhag Ali (Sudan) and Menwar (Mauritius) on the 13 tracks presented on his new release. Michael Stone delves into this fascinating approach to collaboration. Read his review and listen to some of the music.

 

world music "One must always protect the dialects because they contain the essence of the history and culture of our country." - Roy Paci

Dialects—more accurately described as regional languages—need to be protected because, as Paolo Coluzzi observed in a 2009 article in the journal "Modern Italy," Italian is "a secure and vital language, spoken by almost the entire Italian population," but many of "the other varieties present in Italian territory are endangered…and are at risk of extinction."

Paci's words could serve as a statement of purpose for Linguamadre. This new Italian group has released its first album, Il Canzoniere di Pasolini. All but one of the nine tracks have been adapted from among the 800 poems and traditional songs collected by the poet, novelist, and filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini and published in his 1955 collection, "Canzoniere Italiano" (Italian Songbook)... Linguamadre eschews the folkloric, instead drawing on Italian folk music, jazz, and electronics to create contemporary arrangements that are as mysterious, unpredictable, and often as strange as the poems and lyrics themselves. George de Stefano explores Linguamadre's new, vibrant interpretations of the poems and lyrics collected by Pasolini sixty-six years ago.

 

world music Leyla McCalla's Vari-Colored Songs, was her first solo album, issued as a limited run in 2013. McCalla’s intention to acquaint listeners with Hughes’ poetry by putting his words to her compositions is laudable. Hughes is a giant among writers, intellectuals and activists, a keystone of the Harlem Renaissance of last century’s 20s and 30s that produced a starburst of intense Black brilliance in music, the fine arts and literature, as well as thought; the Harlem Renaissance also served as a forum to define and legitimize pride in one’s blackness. McCalla, who is of Haitian descent, sets eight of Hughes’ poems to her string band, country, and New Orleans style music, interspersing these curiously with traditional Haitian fare. Two compositions of her own are included, music and lyrics both. All told, it is an idiosyncratic and intriguing collection that yields mixed results.

The reissue of Vari-Colored Songs is timely for its devotion to Hughes and his deceptively simple, yet profound and beautifully cadenced Afro-centric writing, as a harbinger of Black Lives Matter, and his poems, indeed all of his writings, both personal and emblematic, are a reminder that we are still awaiting a national reckoning on race. Carolina Amoruso delves into this complex endeavor. Read and listen.

 

world music There has been some sniffiness among purveyors of… call it what you will, but ‘world music’… about the ‘fusion’ word. Indeed its use can sometimes warn of music that, though often skillfully played, might turn out to have a rootless superficiality. So, on the face of it, Folklore Fusions is not a promising title. But, at least for the ‘folklore’ part, in today’s stream of recorded music in all its formats perhaps there’s some sense in giving the prospective listener some clue as to what sort of thing they will hear.

Shum Davar, based in Prague, is a band whose members have Belorussian, Georgian, Czech and Slovak backgrounds, playing music drawing mainly on klezmer, Roma and Balkan traditions. Fusion, folklore or whatever, they have excellent material, both traditional and new-made, and they do it with such fire and originality that one’s immediately engaged in the album’s well put together flow. Read Andrew Cronshaw's review and listen to some excerpts from the album.

 

world music Initially, François Couture's Souvenance fulfills the expectation that it is to be a collection of 14 dance tunes, originals but keeping well within the conventions of the tradition. Given that this is music from Quebec, it doesn't come as a surprise to find the track list includes gigues (a mainstay of the region's tradition), Celtic style jigs and reels, and melodies with a sometimes decidedly French flavor. In fact the titles of all the tracks here indicate that they are conceived as dance tunes. But as things develop things are not always quite what they seem. Mike Adcock takes you through the twists and turns of this danceable yet challenging set of tunes.

 

world music On Y, Motus Laevus delivers a seriously diverse blend of new thinking and traditional melodies, ranging from slow and relaxing tunes to fast arrangements that makes you want to dance. The musicians behind the project, Edmondo Romeno, (soprano sax,clarinets, and chalumeau and fluier - wooden flutes). Tina Omerzo (voice, piano, keyboards) and Luca Falomi ( acoustic, classical, baritone,12 strings and electric guitars, acoustic bass) all have impressive backgrounds in playing, composing and researching a variety of musical genres. Maria Ezzitouni reviews. The band shares two videos.

 

world music While drummer Terje Isungset and trumpet player Arve Henriksen (who both double on several other instruments here) have long musical histories apart and together, more apart, really; this is their first duo release in six years. The Art of Travel is an album that delves deep to find hidden corners and curious nooks and crannies, the way all good travellers should. The pair show that there is an art to their particular type of travel, crossing through chaos to find order and beauty in the music. It’s a mix that travels through time and space, on files exchanged online between their homes in Norway and Sweden during lockdown. Chris Nickson takes you there to listen.

 

world music “I wanted to make a record, both of us did, that had a strong female voice, without any apology for that.”

Sad, funny, poignant, quirky. The new album from Suzzy Roche and her daughter, Lucy Wainwright Roche, is indelibly colored by the surreal, frightening first weeks of the pandemic, which stopped New York City in its tracks, though this duo found a way to wriggle through and create a comforting and discomforting elegy for our times. Marty Lipp talked to Suzzy Roche about the new recording, life in lock down in NYC, her sisters, and of course, her daughter Lucy.

 

world music Bará is a trio based in Europe, but the music has roots that spread much wider. Vocalist and ngoni player Baba Sissoko hails from Mali and his original songs call on that country's rich traditions. Percussionist Afra Mussawisade was born in Iran where he studied Persian classical music but he moved to Europe as a child, soon becoming exposed to other musical styles. Jozef Dumoulin, on keyboards, is Belgian. He began his career studying jazz piano but his inspiration now comes from a much broader musical field. All three musicians have worked with a wide range of international musicians in concerts and recording and have played together before, but this is their first venture recording as a trio. The result is an album that sounds fresh, varied and rather special. Whilst each musician makes his own distinct contribution to Bolo Saba, there is a sense of unity and purpose in the music that belies the differences between them. Read Mike Adcock's review and listen to some of the songs.

 

world music Ásgeir Ásgeirsson is an Icelandic player of bouzouki, saz and more. Since 2017 he has been creating a big, beautifully executed project: a trilogy of albums of Icelandic folk songs and melodies from Bjarni Thorsteinsson's 1905 collection, interpreted and developed from the perspective of the traditions of Turkey, Bulgaria and Iran. Featuring top musicians from those places, with the songs largely performed by Icelandic singer Sigrídur Thorlacius, they were recorded in studios in Iceland, Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey, the Netherlands, Iran and India.

This year brings the final album, Icelandic Folksongs Volume 3, Persian Path. Its instrumentation comprises a rich orchestral blend of qanun, santur, oud, ney, kamanche, qeychak, setar, violin, cello, percussion and Ásgeirsson's instruments which here include touches of guitar synth. They mould themselves to the Icelandic material, elaborating and extending it with arrangement and composition by Ásgeirsson and the players. The result is a sweeping, indeed epic, flow of melodies. Read Andrew Cronshaw's review and listen to some of all three recordings in the series.

 

world music "Inside my mountain, hay un misterio."
With these suggestive words, the first line of the first track of Oye Mujer (Listen Up, Woman), Ladama lays down their brand of sexual politics vaunting empowerment and liberation on their own terms. Ladama (La Dama—the lady, without a facetious undertone) is an all women collective of players from the Latin American world, including the US. Ladama isn’t intent to merely throw down a velvet gauntlet of sexual empowerment. The group has also taken up, notably as women, the web of urgencies of the day, including global warming, homelessness, poverty, immigration, indigenous rights, and more. Ladama is not just a mouthpiece against indignity: these women are serious musicians, all, and care equally about their art as players, composers, lyricists and arrangers, achieved, they are proud to disclose, collectively. Their commitment to mastery as women musicians engages the listener, lending more agency to their message. Read Carolina Amoruso's review and listen.

 

world music Makgona Tsohle Reggi is a collection of ska and jerk-inspired instrumentals by the Makgona Tsohle Band. But this is decidedly not a reggae or ska record. What it is instead is a collection of twelve sharp, terse performances featuring organ-drenched staccato chug, guitars that seem to push past the limits of their amplifiers, and saxophones-as-human-voice, all buoyed by drum patterns that skitter and jab. And while the influence of Jamaica is present, it melds so effortlessly with South Africa’s own sounds of the era as to have ended up producing a type of raw, garage groove that occasionally defies geographical identity altogether. Listen to the music and read Bruce Miller's review.

 

world music It's been a lousy year, but one would never know it listening to Sharon Shannon’s joyous new album The Reckoning, which was conceived, made remotely and released through the early months of the coronavirus pandemic. We’ve been told that during this dark, turbulent and grueling year to find our little joys. And damned if Shannon hasn’t done just that, finding joy in her squeezebox, tootling out tunes with a band of co-conspirators from around the world, managing a virtual worldwide trip while staying locked down in her County Galway home. Read Marty Lipp's review.

 

world music
Dark, slow, intense, deep-pitched duetting, on hardingfele very unusually tuned an octave down, and electric viola similarly plunged to octave-low register, in ‘sorrowful tunes to make your heart sing’ - these are the melodies of songs, from living tradition, hymn-books and manuscripts, of sadness as melancholy as the plover’s cry, love lost, farewell, the transience of life, and ‘bottomless baroque mystery.' Norway’s Ånon Egeland has a distinguished, open-minded and multifaceted career in traditional music and the inspiring communication of its skills and knowledge to new generations. Mikael Marin is the viola player with the very well-known Swedish trio – recently become a duo – Väsen. In live performances of this project the two of them, with grey beards and dressed in retro suits and hats, appear like ghosts from another time. Listen to their collaboration and read Andrew Cronshaw's review.

 

world music The Ludwig Variations is not, as one might expect from the title, a set of variations on the works of ol' Ludwig Van B (whose 250th birthday anniversary is this year). No, this Ludwig is a creaky, wheezy old small piano-accordion made by the German company Ludwig, and in these pieces its characterful sounds are augmented and celebrated by Mike Adcock and a cast of his pals responding to these pieces on a sympathetic range of other mainly acoustic instruments. Mike explains "In the early days of the Corona virus lockdown of 2020 I sat down one evening in my living room, my head full of thoughts about what the coming months might bring. I'd taken down from a shelf an ancient and rarely touched accordion, thinking to explore its charms, and began to improvise." Hear the results of his experiments in Andrew Cronshaw's review.

 

world music

world music

Nahawa Doumbia, a singer from Mali's extraordinarily musical Wassoulou region, has been releasing records for nearly 40 years. She's also been the focus of two other 'Awesome Tapes From Africa' releases, recordings that show off her voice over solo acoustic guitar as well as larger bands that combine traditional instruments with electric ones. With Kanawa, the label is releasing brand new music from this West Africa treasure... And not surprisingly, it induces surrender. Doumbia's voice has only gained power with age... Lyrically, she speaks to what she has been witnessing in her home country: the treacherous flights of young people to Europe, the struggle for Malians to find employment and build their own country, and a denouncement of the fundamentalist horrors that have ransacked the country's northern regions in recent years. Ultimately, she's arguing that leaving Mali works against the country's future, no matter the current issues. Bruce Miller reviews the legendary singer's new album.

 

world music Young, largely city-based, musicians finding and learning from the old village players has created an upsurge of enthusiasm for, and dancing to, Polish traditional dance music, mainly its lurching, energetically fiddled mazureks (mazurkas). The playing, organising and teaching work of Janusz Prusinowski and his band have been a huge influence in this revival since the time of their first album in 2008. WoWaKin brings a further and very engaging burst of dance-impelling energy that I'm finding as enthusiasm-inducing as I did that first Prusinowski Trio album. All of the material on the trio's Wiazanka is traditional, much of it learned from living or recently deceased musicians from across lowland Poland who played for weddings, funerals and as village entertainers. While keeping all the traditional technique and instrumentation, WoWaKin have not only absorbed the essence but vitalize it with their own approaches. Andrew Cronshaw reviews and you can listen in.

 

world music It's likely that this collection's existence makes little sense to anyone unfamiliar with Harry Smith or the original 6-LP Anthology of American Folk Music he curated, originally released by Folkways in 1952. Yet, if there's a soul out there somewhere who's just now tapping into this music via this comp, it will then get a chance to stand on its own as a collection of music recorded commercially and released on 78 RPM shellac discs in the US circa 1927-30. They will hopefully note that it isn't representative of what was popular at the time. Hell, it's not even representative of whatever 'American' is... Harry Smith was a collector - of Easter egg patterns, textiles, paper airplanes, and at one point, records. He also saw a pattern to the sides he decided to initially compile for the anthology. He mixed alchemy with academia to make choices, and as awesome as the original collection is, there are some clunkers, which means those clunkers' equally weak B sides appear here. So, both the original anthology, and this mirror collection are filtered by the commercial nature that allowed them to exist on record in the first place, and then again by a curator driven by the power of particular patterns as much as by the records' quality. Arguably then, the idea of a collection of B sides undoes Smith's vision. All that said, it's a wonder the music is as good as it is. Bruce Miller digs deep into the archive. Listen with him.

 

world music Lo'Jo is one of those remarkable bands that's crafted a sound that's instantly identifiable. Five seconds and you know who it is. But rather than simply trade on that, they've used it as a springboard from which they can experiment. On each of their albums for more than 20 years, they've mutated and subverted many musical norms. They've tried things, brought in new ideas and instruments well before they became established in Western music. Transe de Papier is no different. The familiar elements are there: the poetic, gravelly voice of Denis Péan, the harmonies of the Nid El Mourid sisters, and the violin of Richard Bourreau, which often sounds nothing like an ordinary violin. That's the established core, along with relatively recent bassist Alex Cochennec, but it's how they use those pieces that illustrates the changes. Read Chris Nickson's review and listen to some of the music and a video.

 

world music The story on how Rafael Machuca, a Colombia tax lawyer, came to own and operate Colombia’s most eccentric record label is almost as odd as the sounds found in this collection. The tale goes something like this: Machuca was in charge of finding live music for a lawyers directors’ party, and, having no clue how to search for traditional sounds, contacted his brother-in-law, Humberto Castillo, a record dealer in Medellin. Castillo traveled up country and helped Machuca find a variety of Barranquilla nightspots full of local talent that no one had thought to record. The long and short of all this is that Machuca, a man who previously had no interest in music, much less the music business, became infatuated with what he heard, joined one band on tour and ultimately used his tax knowledge to form a label with contacts and suggestions for musicians by Castillo. Out of this came a half decade of coastal Colombia’s most outrageous psychedelic rhythms. Machuca encouraged single-takes, and at times, put together bands out of whoever was around, meaning some of these “groups” he recorded never existed outside of the one or two sides they waxed for the label. The music on La Lorcura de Machuca 1975-1980 is well-grounded in Cumbia and Vallenato, so its roots aren’t obscured so much as decked out in glow-in-the-dark feathers and high-heels. Read Bruce Miller's review and listen to a few tracks.

 

world music Cimarrón is a Colombian group playing llanero joropo music, the music of Colombia’s north-eastern plains (los llanos). In October, they performed live from the river and savannahs in the Orinoco Plains. Watch the impressive full video (24 minutes) and read a short intro to their music by Andrew Cronshaw.

 

world music The term “Afro-Futurism,” supposedly coined in 1993, but certainly put into practice philosophically and otherwise way before then, has been receiving much attention over the last few years. And it makes sense too. When a group of people- jailed, shot by police, denied fair housing, wages, or equity with regards to all manners of health and educational issues- finds itself systemically deprived of justice, a look to sci-fi and other ways to use the future as a way to escape the present is one logical reaction to various forms of oppression. The idea of space travel, both figurative and literal, is what fueled the music and writings of master bandleader, composer, and keyboard wizard Sun Ra... It only makes sense that Canadian-Malian artist Djely Tapa would embrace the term as a way to update griot traditions as a form of feminism. She has harnessed rhythms and stories at their root, but delivered them coated in dub murk and trippy electronics. Tapa grew up in Kayes, learning the music of the griots to whom she was related, all the while finding herself fascinated with Western culture. Eventually moving to Montreal to study Mechanical Engineering, she fell in with the cities massive African Diaspora and dug back into her griot-based roots. Eventually, she connected with Chadian-Canadian DJ AfrotroniX, who produced Barokan. Read Bruce Miller's review and listen to some of the music.

 

world music Some may fondly remember the stringy, reedy swingy halling/polska honk of Filarfolket, a prime and now legendary band in the Swedish folk music revival. Mapou often evokes that swing. Pairing ex-Filarfolket saxophonist Sten Källman on baritone, tenor and soprano with Haitian voudou drummer Sanba Zao, it draws on Swedish and Norwegian traditional halling, polska, waltz or springlek and Haitian melodic rhythms.

In music of just reeds and drums, plus touches of brass, with no chordal instruments but rich with implied and actual harmony, they’re augmented by two more Haitian percussionists, bass clarinettist and soprano saxophonist Robin Johansson and, on a few tracks, a bunch of Swedish reeds and brass players. The resonant and gutty patter and pitched ring of the drums creates a rhythmic and melodic world, over and within which the reeds float and weave their own melodies, softly solo or in thicker ensemble. Andrew Cronshaw reviews and presents some of the music.

 

world music Three words to thrive by is as interesting for its uplifting jazz music as its is for the creative process behind the album. The trio of Emanuel Ruffler (piano), Rashaan Carter (bass) and Timothy Angulo (drums) starts off with discussions that becomes ideas, that then inspire them to make music.

”This trio is born of conversation. It’s origin, thought and dialogue is rooted in listening, sharing, and learning. We’ve developed a fairly regular routine in which a discussion precludes and completes a rehearsal or a recording. We’ve developed a trust that ushers these exchanges through a wide range of ideas and topics. These conversations forms the core of the music,” explains pianist Ruffler.

Their first single, “Jazz Dakar” was released on the 30th of October and was born after all three went to West Africa, where they were deeply touched by the history of slavery. The Gospel singer and activist, Valerie Troutt completes the piece with a melody originally meant for a horn. Troutt’s voice has similarities with Anita Baker’s and it is hard not to wish for more. Read Maria Ezzitouni's review and hear some of the music.

 

world music Twenty-one years ago I reviewed Galician gaiteira (bagpiper) Susana Seivane’s first album, a sparkling production of arrangements in which she was accompanied by a bunch of leading musicians in the upsurge of energy in Galician traditional music. For her sixth album Dende O Meu Balcón (‘From My Balcony’), she has returned to her traditional Galician roots, in classic tunes and songs, with the raw gaitas and percussion and strong melodies. Hear some of the music and read Andrew Cronshaw's review.

 

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First, please join me in learning a little about the Walloon Region, a place and a culture in southern Belgium that shares borders with Flanders (Belgium), France, and Germany. Wallonia is the poorer cousin of Flanders and Brussels, economically and politically, but covers a bit more than half of the country's territory. Its residents speak their own distinct Romance language, Walloon, as well as French. Perhaps most descriptive is that the name itself is rooted a Germanic word meaning "the strangers"?

Gote d’Èwe opens with what seems to be an electronic wind but it quickly becomes clear it is human breath. This breathing is overlaid first by a single female voice, then a full chorus, creating a rhythm and a polyphonic melody... La Crapaude (the girlfriend, in dialect) are joined by rough, simple percussion instruments. They immerse you in the wonders of the Walloon tradition, sung not as traditionalist re-creation, but as living contemporary vocal music. Charlotte Haag, Sabine Lambot, Pascale Sepulchre and Marie Vander Elst, accompanied by percussionist Max Charue, delve into the folk tales of Wallonia and present them in rich harmonies, punctured by hands clapping, sticks clacking.   Hear more and read Cliff Furnald's full review.

 

world music The playfully named Le Chat Brel is an arresting mélange of music inspired by a number of post-War and mid-century cultural trends, mostly in France and Italy. In essence it is the story of two ships, one laden with an accordion on deck (and a piano in storage), the other carrying a violin and viola, that set sail from Franco-Italian harbors, bumping from performance to performance in ports mostly European. They would pass each other like the proverbial ships in the night until their captains came to see that they rode kindred waves, and a bond between them was cast. Maurizio Minardi, master of the keys, and Gabriel Bismut, master of the strings, are the two seafarers who vaunt their affinities on the album.

The curious title gives us a hint as to some of these affinities: “Chat” and “Brel,” when combined might bring to mind Claude Chabrol, one of the signature directors of the French Nouvelle Vague, groundbreakers in cinematic technique and engaged in social commentary. And Brel, of course, suggests the much venerated Francophone singer-songwriter, poet and gallant of Paris’s Bohemian set, Jacques Brel. Read Carolina Amoruso's review, listen to some of the music and watch two videos.

 

world music The gifted, unassuming Malian singer-guitarist Afel Bocoum is internationally known as a member of the band of his late mentor Ali Farka Toure and more recently, his work on Damon Albarn's Mali Music and Africa Express projects. But it's Bocoum's reflective solo recordings which I think show him in the best light. So I approached this new release, with its clutch of guest artists and promised combination of tradition and innovation, with a degree of caution. Bocoum wouldn't be the first traditionally inclined artist to end up drowned in a stodgy soup of well-intentioned overproduction. Turns out I needn't have worried. Lindé may have flash, dash and big-name cameos, but at the heart of every track is the easy rolling West African rhythm and melody of Bocoum's sound. Listen in with Jamie Renton

 

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About RootsWorld: RootsWorld is a world music magazine started in 1993, pretty much at the dawn of the term "world music" as well as the pre-dawn of internet publishing (I suspect this was the first music magazine of any sort published on the www). Our focus is the music of the world: Africa, Asia, Europe, Pacifica and The Americas, the roots of the global musical milieu that has come to be known as world music, be it traditional folk music, jazz, rock or some hybrid. How is that defined? I don't know and don't particularly care at this point: it's music from someplace you aren't, music with roots, music of the world and for the world. OK?

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