A World Music Magazine
                      

world music Bamako in particular and the Wassoulou region in general have produced many of the massive, landlocked nation’s most well-known names. From Oumou Sangare to Ali Farka Toure, there’s been no shortage of international exports that have not only put the country on the map for many, but have also kicked out some of the continent’s deepest grooves... Na Hawa Doumbia’s first album, La Grande Cantatrice Malienne, holds a place within a larger circle of hard-driving singers, all of whom started out recording with guitarists and/or n’goni players. Doumbia and her six-string accompanist, N’Gou Bagayoko, also share their tendency to play in what Westerner’s would call a minor-key, lending the music a sense of foreboding that the lyrics might just belie... Whatever the case, this album demands repeated listens and one’s full attention as Doumbia, barely 20 years old and still developing into the synth-driven dance singer she would become, soars over the guitar, holding tightly to notes before dropping them into the songs’ rhythms, apparently determining tempo and tension as a result.   Bruce Miller reviews and you can hear a couple of tracks.

 

world music The absorbing, creative style of Blick Bassy surrounds every aspect of his latest release. 1958 is a concept album that celebrates the bravery of Ruben Um Nyobé, an inspirational hero who dedicated his life to fighting for Cameroon’s independence. He was tragically killed by French forces in 1958. Bassy sets out to remind Cameroonians about the importance of Nyobé and urges them to remember their history. He uses minimal blues inspired compositions to provide a foundation for his vocals, often soft and smooth, but at times expansive and pushed to the limit. He writes lyrics mostly in the Bassa language and uses a percussive pulse to deliver his songs with popping guitar and cello patterns. Horns and electronics round out the instruments to make a set of contemporary tracks that do not rely on drums for rhythm.   Alex Brown shares his thoughts, along with a few videos.

 

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English folk music rolls on with remarkable depth on Nick Wyke and Becki Driscoll’s fifth full-length album, Cold Light. The duo’s first album from 2006 featured a mix of traditional and contemporary (self-penned) tunes which highlighted Wyke and Driscoll’s complex fiddle playing – sensitively supporting each other’s flights, driving each other on, and drawing out compositions that bore witness to two artists on the rise. Over the years, Wyke and Driscoll’s sound palette has expanded as other instrumentation and guests have been added to their recordings, but the core has always been the interplay between the duo. Cold Light finds the perfect balance between arrangements and the trad-modern mix that Wyke and Driscoll are mining... Wyke and Driscoll have produced an album of folk music that mixes wondrous chamber-pop deeply founded on a respect for traditional music and modern songcraft. It stands as one of the strongest releases of the year.   Lee Blackstone reviews the album, and you can listen to some of the music.

Cold Light is our December choice for Music of the Month. Subscribe, or get this CD, and support RootsWorld.

 

world music "Zan Bezan" (Women, Sing) is Liraz's call to join her personal revolution, a revolution expressed in song and dance, encouraging women to work for positive change and female freedom in the Middle East and around the globe. Liraz Charhi is a singer, songwriter, actress and cultural activist with deep personal ties to Persian traditions. Her family (Persian Jews) emigrated to Israel during the 70’s, just as the Iranian Revolution was taking shape. It was in the Persian community of Tehrangeles, Los Angeles that she discovered not only new sounds, but a new way of expressing her music in modern terms and contemporary politics, especially about the role of woman in society, as you can hear in this song and video..

 

world music Songs From Lands Of Silence is the debut release from Nelia Safaie, an Iranian singer/songwriter and player of tar, setar, and baghlama, offers delicious smaller servings of beauty to bring some light into the most ordinary of days. Largely self-taught as in instrumentalist, in her 30s she moved to Tehran for the musical opportunities it could bring her. She’s student with a number of teachers, including vocal lessons from Masha Vahdat. From the very beginning Safaie shows what she can do: “Shoopeh” is full of delicate tracery in the vocals, while baghlama shadows and fills out her singing. It’s an introduction and indication of her talents. Read Chris Nickson's full review and listen to some of the music.

 

world music Near as I can tell, there's nothing odd about a bluegrass band led by a fiddler from North Carolina. But what about a bluegrass band that was formed in Argentina and includes two players from that country as well as a fourth from Mexico? It's bluegrass, yes, and more. The first thing you'll hear when you spin Che Apalache's Rearrange My Heart is a clapped-out clave pattern and a sung invitation, partially in Spanish, to pull up a chair and lend you ears. Doing so reaps many a reward and more than a few surprises. Soon "Maria" kicks in with a dual Americana/Latin sweep that also takes a turn into manouche sounds. It's followed by "The Dreamer," a timely tale about the plight of a DACA recipient who befriended Che Apalache fiddler and front man Joe Troop.   Read Tom Orr's full review and listen to some of the songs.

 

world music While the British Protestant tradition sees hymns come as complete entities, with specially-composed words and music, in the Nordic countries they do things a little differently. There’s a long history of mixing the hymn words with folk tunes. It makes sense: the tunes were simple and memorable, people already knew them, and they’d be likely to take up the new words (the oldest text dates from 1572, just to give you an idea). It’s this history mingling folk and church that Phřnix jump into on this new album and they do it with glee on their new release, Hvad Intet Řre Hřrte End.   Hear the music and read Chris Nickson's review.

 

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Influenced by the music of his native Algeria and his adopted homeland of France, the late Rachid Taha always put the wry in rai. While Je Suis Africain feels like it should somehow be a weighty epitaph for his unique career (he died of a heart attack last year), the album fits the situation only in that it maintains his signature cultural mix and continues the themes of his career as a smart aleck that rocked out as he thumbed his nose at the assholes that made life tough for immigrants. Born in Oran, Taha emigrated to Lyons, where he worked in a factory and eventually started gigging as a deejay at a local club, playing a mix of Western rock and Middle Eastern sounds that were coming up, such as rai and chaabi. That bringing together and celebrating various kinds of music continued right up through this last album, which touches on an array of styles... Read Marty Lipp's review and hear some of the music.

 

world music review

Music of the Month

The mention of the music of Epirus, a region of south-eastern Europe now divided between north-east Greece and southern Albania, evokes the sound of a sobbing, down-bending clarinet, on the slow tunes like Escher’s ever-descending staircase. But it’s not necessarily sad music, and much on The Soul of Epirus by the 85-year-old clarinet master Petroloukas Halkias and Vasilis Kostas, 29-year-old master of the laouto (lute with eight steel strings), is joyful and skittering... This is beautiful, exciting, heart-felt music by two brilliant players...   Read Andrew Cronshaw's review and listen to some of the music.

The Soul Of Epirus is our November selection for Music of the Month
Subscribe monthly, or get only this CD and support RootsWorld.

 

world music The Furrow Collective's Fathoms is the group's third full-length album, and as on previous releases, the band's plumbs traditional music in an unsparing, contemporary manner. Comprised of four sterling musicians – Lucy Farrell (voice, viola, tenor guitar, percussion), Rachel Newton (voice, electroharp, fiddle, piano, percussion), Emily Portman (voice, banjo, concertina, harmonium, percussion), and Alasdair Roberts (voice, acoustic and electric guitars, banjolin, piano, harmonium) – The Furrow Collective brings its members' English and Scottish roots to the table. Lee Blackstone digs deep into the music of this superb quartet.

 

world music A double bassist and a singer - both of them doubling on other instruments - explore the very fluid boundary between folk music and improvisation, and create something that lingers long in the mind. The words come from traditional songs, some from the musicians' native Latvia, but also Lithuania, Bulgaria and the Ukraine - notably, all countries once repressed under the Soviet yoke. Stansilav Yudin And Asnata Rancāne give a grounding to the songs, an anchor, although at times they seem to hover, circling around and over a track, more ghostlike than solid. The words are the clothes, however; it's the music that's the body of Op. 2. Read Chris Nickson's review and hear the some of the music

 

world music Tanec Strún is a reverential reimagining of Slovak folk traditions fed into modern Western styles, mostly ballads, interpreted by the Miriam Kaiser Trio. Strings predominate - violin, viola, cello - with added percussion, jew's harp and synthesizer. The trio is Miriam Kaiser, violinist, arranger, vocalist; Milan Adamec, producer, arranger, violinist, electronics; and Júlia Vesselá, cello, with lyrics by Kaiser and Nad’a Mitanová. The Slovak song tradition goes back to the 18th century and is said to be among the richest of Central Europe. Western music, newly embraced after being forbidden in the Soviet Union until its fall in 1989, is the axis around which these songs turn. Infused electronic strains contribute definitively these works, luxuriously padding the songs rather than usurping them. Hear some songs and excerpts from the album, and read Carolina Amoruso's review.

 

world music It's remarkable to consider that the Swedish trio Väsen have been around for 30 years now, releasing album after album of satisfying music, often with a sly touch of gentle humor. They helped to create the movement of European instrumental music, grounded in native folk tradition, but with ambitions and reach far beyond it. With nyckelharpa/viola/guitar and three virtuoso players, they have stayed at the forefront. Rule of 3 isn't a musical revolution of any kind. It's simply a journey further down the road that Väsen began to walk three decades ago. Read Chris Nickson's review and hear the music.

 

world music Daniel Cros, a singer-songwriter based in Barcelona, presents a likeable 10-tune collection of songs about travelling, evoking voyages to Latin America, France and elsewhere. He began his solo career in 1995. He also founded the Rosazul recording studio in Barcelona. Sed de Viaje does not break a lot of new ground musically, but successfully presents a very likeable selection with his warm, calm voice and compelling acoustic guitar.   Read David Cox review and listen to some songs.

 

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Madagascar, due to its having broken off of the Indian subcontinent some 88 million years, is well known for plants and animals not found anywhere else. The same might be said of its music, traditionally played on zither-like instruments, preserved from Indonesian origin, such as the marovany and valiha. Malagasy folk have simply managed to apply their own melodic and rhythmic concepts to anything they touch, be it the accordion, the guitar, or choral vocal music... Not surprisingly, the electric guitar changed much once it was introduced on the island in the late 1950s. Pop bands, mixing indigenous grooves with sounds coming from South African radio soon followed, and this concoction serves as something of a foundation for the sometimes loping other times stuttering tracks that have been so smartly curated on Alefa Madagascar! Salegy, Soukous, and Soul From the Red Island 1974-1984.   Read Bruce Miller's review and hear some tracks from the set.

 

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The driving sound of London’s creative music scene cuts right through 360°, the second release from Kongo Dia Ntotila. Led by Mulele Matondo, who is originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo, this ensemble blends Central African dance music together with jazz and other styles to create an energetic mix they refer to as “Kongo Jazz.” This uptempo music is shaped by intricate polyrhythms that feel alive, drawing upon the full technique of the band. Two electric guitars (John Kelly and Diala Sakuba), bass (Mulele Matondo), drums (David Lessie), trumpet (Mike Soper), and sax (Will Scott) lace intricate phrases together with precision while the vocals are split between Matondo and Lessie... Read Alex Brown's review, hear some songs and see a live performance video.

 

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In their nine years together, the Belgian brothers of Trio Dhoore have come a long way. Starting out as highly talented young lads, they've grown into a central part of the European instrumental movement, influenced but not completely consumed by their native traditions. August, their fourth album sees them experimenting more than ever before, bringing soundscapes, synths, and electric guitar into their world, alongside hurdy-gurdy and diatonic accordion. It makes for a timeless sound palette that is ancient and refreshingly new at the same time, especially as everything is handled sparingly and with quite exquisite taste. Read Chris Nickson's review and listen to some of the music.

 

world music Chicha, or cumbia peruana, as it was called in its nascence, is uniquely Peruvian and a mainstay of the national repertoire since the late 60s, early 70s. (Chicha is named after an ancient Amerindian fermented or virgin brew made from purple corn.) It’s an idiosyncratic amalgam of musics, with jumpbacks to­ of all things­ the surf guitars of such as Dick Dale, e, the Ventures, Surfaris, and more; you’ll also hear strains of Peru’s romantic and old-timey criollo music, Amazonia, Afro-Latin, classic and psychedelic rock, and inevitably its backbone of cumbia from Peru, Colombia and, more recently, cumbia electronica. Los Wembler’s de Iquitos go back to the first crop of chicha bands, led by Los Destellos, a bunch from Rimac, a working class area of Lima, that formed in 1966... The step firmly back onto the international circuit in 2012 and are celebrating their 50th anniversary with Visión del Ayahuasca. (Ayahuasca is another ancient brew of tradition, this one hallucinogenic and used sacramentally in indigenous ceremonies, though it has penetrated mainstream Peru and far beyond.) The CD includes a number of new songs and revisits some of the old. Production is up and all of the tunes sport vocals; even when not pitch perfect, they add to the listenability diminished by the repetitious melody of some of the older works... Read Carolina Amoruso's review and listen to some of the songs

 

world music So much of what falls under the category of "world music" is often focused on one or two cultures, and in its wanderlust reveals something beyond human nature's tendency to draw borders around itself. Throughout annual growth rings, the fertile collaboration between Mats Edén (playing violin and viola d'amore) and sound artist Stefan Klaverdal, we search not far and wide for metaphysical connections, but rather dive inward to articulate commonalities between all matter­living and nonliving­at the molecular level. Although the sounds come mostly from Edén's strings, processed live by Klaverdal, the resulting assemblage is as organic in feel as each track title is in image. Tyran Grillo reviews, and the artists share some of their music.

 

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world music

Haitian roots outfit Lakou Mizik is the brainchild of singer Jonas Attis and guitarist/singer Steeve Valcourt. Lakou Mizik brings together a multi-generational septet of some of Haiti’s best musicians to showcase the diversity of modern Haitian sounds, including konpas, kanaval songs, twobadou ballads, and vodou ritual music. Now Lakou Mizik returns with a barn-burner of a second act on HaitiNola. The album revisits the connections between Haiti and New Orleans with a crew of NOLA musical all-stars including The Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Leyla McCalla, Cyril Neville, Trombone Shorty, Win Butler, Régine Chassagne, Lost Bayou Ramblers, The Soul Rebels, 79ers Gang and many others.   Read Tom Pryor's review and listen to some of the music

HaitiaNola is our Music of the Month selection for October, 2019. Your 20.00 a month (US; 28.00 globally) subscription will get you brilliant music from around the world every month and help support RootsWorld's continuing mission. These CDs are donated by the artists and labels, so all of your contribution goes to support the magazine. Subscribe now.

 

world music Lucilla Galeazzi, Didier Laloy, Ialma, Carlo Rizzo and Maarten Decombel join forces on Alegrěa e Libertŕ. This very enjoyable twelve-track release features the skilled work of eight performers, highlighted by the vocals of Salentina singer Lucilla Galeazzi, and Ialma, the vocal and percussion group from Galicia (Veronica Codesal, Natalia Codesal, Eva Fernandez and Marisol Palomo). At the same time, this disc is the coming together of the talents of accordionist Didier Laloy, tamburello player Carlo Rizzo, and Maarten Decombel on the guitar, and the lyrics of Brais Fernandes and Galeazzi. In a time when freedoms are being threatened, including artistic freedoms, in Europe and elsewhere, my sense is that this is a quiet cri-de-coeur from artists that are part of that international community that is forming in places like Belgium, where many paths cross in the heart of today's political Europe... Read David Cox' full review and listen to the music.

 

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world music

Benedicte Maurseth is one of the Norway's leading players of the Hardanger fiddle (she comes from the region where it originated; you might say it's in her DNA). The instrument is similar to a violin, but with four or five tuned sympathetic strings that resonate and deliciously eerie depth to the music. For, this her seventh album, she's completely solo (apart from some birdsong on one cut), taking traditional music, tunes associated with different fiddlers, and adding her own voice and ideas to them in variations and improvisations. It's beautifully meditative and utterly immersive; you don't listen to the disc; it draws you in until you're subsumed in the music. Read Chris Nickson's full review and listen to some of the music.

You can also read Chris' book review of Maurseth's To Be Nothing: Conversations with Knut Hamre, Hardanger Fiddle Master.

 

world music Sámi music takes many forms, and Ássu's debut release is informed by a lot of influences while remaining true to the north. This collection of eleven tracks, primarily traditional in origin, sounds like a merger of the music of the northern Sámi, the joik, with elements seemingly transplanted from the Sahara. Harald Skullerud, the Norwegian percussionist, and Olav Torget, a strikingly innovative guitarist, team up with Ulla Pirttijärvi, the famed Sami artist, and co-creator of Solju, to create a soundscape which very much rocks the joik, or traditional Sámi song. Fans of Tinariwen and Boubacar Traoré might well recognize some of the stylings of Torget, who along with Skullerud has spent time in Mali and Senegal - and have a history of bringing Norwegian and West African music together. No surprise. If it wasn't for the inimitable vocal style it would be easy to place this disc a couple of thousand kilometers south of its place of origin. Read David Cox' full review and listen.

 

Music of the Month

 

world music A bakhshi is a singer of epic ballads that can last, Homeric-like, for many hours or even days, self-accompanying usually on dutar, the thin-necked two-string lute. The Bashkirs have a true living song tradition; singing is a normal part of life, and some epics last several days. Termez is at the southern tip of the country, on the river Amu Darya that forms the border with Afghanistan, with the extremities of Turkmenistan and Tajikistan not far west and east respectively. In fact it’s pretty much at a confluence of Central Asia’s -stans. Founded over 2,500 years ago, in 1220 the original city was destroyed by Genghis Khan. Under Russian rule from the end of the 19th century, Termez became a military base until the end of the Soviet-Afghan war, and Uzbekistan’s independence in 1991, and today it’s a fast-modernizing, spread-out city. Andrew Cronshaw takes you to a festival and competition centered on these great singers, in photos, words and an interesting audio piece.

 

world music It’s been interesting to hear the way Afenginn have grown over the course of the seven albums since their 2004 debut. With each outing, the reach of leader/composer Kim Rafael Nyberg has grown by leaps and bounds, but with Klingra he’s gone far beyond anything he’s attempted before, capturing the great sweep that extends beyond the Denmark/Sweden/Finland axis and far out into the North Atlantic to the Faroe Isles. But it’s not solely the composition, which has long been edging towards something like this; the band itself has morphed, too. Four of the musicians from the last album are here (including Nyberg, who plays nothing this time around; he’s become purely the composer and arranger), along with the Danish String Quartet and several Faroese musicians. Afenginn has always had a pan-Nordic vision, but this time it’s taken on a different identity. Chris Nickson takes you into this unique aural landscape.

 

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Leveret started life a few short years ago carrying the reputation of an English folk supergroup. It’s easy to understand why they deserve the tag. No songs, all tunes played on melodeon/button accordion, English concertina, and fiddle. But Diversions towers over most everything being released. That’s all the more impressive for being recorded live over the course of just a few days with virtually no rehearsal. The empathy between the three musicians shows just how much they listen and desire to complement each other and the tune by never overplaying. There’s great delicacy in the arrangements – simply let the sorrowful beauty of “The Wounded Huzzar” (from poet John Clare) or the grandeur of “Unanimity/King George The Third’s March” flow over you for examples of the way the instruments weave in and out and around each other... Read Chris Nickson's review and listen.

 

world music For the first fleeting seconds, Ethiopiques—Revolt of the Soul entices us with a bar or two of intriguing piano tones that seem both western and eastern, familiar and new. Immediately and incongruously thereafter, we're on a train bulleting through what we're sure is a European town. Cut now to a marvelous painted image of a black-tied orchestra fronted by a vocalist and 2 back-up singers having a swell time of it. And, yes, we realize that the music is Ethiopian, sophisticated, mysterious, pentatonic, and penetrating.

The lush sound lingers in the background as we return to small-town Europe, Poitiers, France, invited by an intent and reflective silver-haired gentleman to his studio replete with books, a reel-to-reel recorder, 33 RPM records and much more. Journalist Francis Falceto begins, "All, every one, is to do with Ethiopia." Falceto is enamored of Ethiopian music. So there's the link and now our story can unfold. The film illustrates Falceto's mission to catalog, remix, and release on disc a trove of remarkable music played by remarkable musicians, the best of the golden age of Ethiopian jazz-funk-R and B, running generally from the late nineteen sixties until the mid-seventies when a newly installed military dictatorship, the Derg, wrecked havoc and terror upon the country and its cultural riches. Carolina Amoruso reviews a remarkable film.

 

world music On Skana, French singer and composer Muriel Louveau collaborates with American composer and producer Charles B. Kim to yield a world of classical and cinematic associations. Texts drawn from the Latin mass, as well as the poetry of William Blake and John of the Cross, speak to an imaginary congregation that transcends time and space. In outer terms, the music is a veiled mix of vocal overdubs, synthesizers, and percussion. In inner terms, it speaks in a language far grander than those mere elements would imply. Tyran Grillo looks back on this 2009 release that he says is filled with "purity of expression and fullness of meaning."

 

world music Following his unmissable collaboration with Mahsa Vahdat, Endless Path, Turkish baglama virtuoso Coskun Karademir resurfaces as if from deep meditation with a newly fashioned quartet. Joined by Cem Ekmen (duduk), Ugurcan Sesler (cello), and Ömer Arslan (percussion), he journeys through a landscape of traditional music modernly reimagined, modern music anciently reimagined, and original pieces on Öz/Essence. Much of the program is by composer Levent Güne and Karademir himself. That both have written for films is immediately obvious, as one can visualize entire story lines, characters, and dramas within each tune. Tyran Grillo reviews.

 

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Balafon master Seydou "Kanazoé" Diabaté follows in the footsteps of his ancestors and takes his contemporary African music to audiences around the world. His rich compositions and arrangements are given life by his talented Kanazoé Orkestra . On Tolonso, he is reunited with Mamadou Dembélé (flute, ngoni, balafon, vocals), Martin Etienne (saxophone), Stéphane Perruchet (percussion), Elvin Bironien (bass), and Laurent Planells (drums). This time around, Losso Keďta joins the band and adds his powerful vocals to the mix... Tolonso means "where we celebrate" and it also is the name of Diabaté's birthplace in Burkina Faso. There is plenty to revere on this album. Sambla, Mandingo and Bambara traditions combine with jazz, Latin and even some electronic elements to create a lively set of African music Read Alex Brown's review and hear some of the music.

 

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Although the word elixir is often associated with medicinal quackery and alchemy, its etymology resides in the Greek xerion, meaning “powder for drying wounds.” That same combination of aridity and healing is felt in the restoratives mixed by Aurélie Dorzée, Tom Theuns, and special guest Michel Massot. In their admixture of instruments both commonly (guitar, trombone, banjo, sitar) and not so commonly (nail violin, mandolauoto, alto saxhorn, sousaphone) heard, Elixir brings truth of evocation to everything they touch. Compositional credit is shared by Dorzée and Theuns as catalysts of every chemical reaction herein, starting with the “Ouverture.” As its record warps into correct speed, it serves as portal both to and from some forgotten past, setting the stage for a fantastic journey. Much of what ensues is shaded by artfully chosen colors. Between the overlay of Dorzée’s fluid, folk-inspired violin and singing to the underlay of Theuns’s sitar and mandolin, there’s more than enough to elicit fresh experiences and discoveries with each listen. All of it is held together by Massot’s sousaphone, which draws a thick and surprisingly melodic thread through the center. And while it does resort to the occasional harrumph, it’s a deeply serious player of deeply serious music... Read Tyran Grillo's full review.

Elixir is our Music of the Month selection for September. You can subscribe for 20.00 a month (28.00 outside of North America) and get new music every month, while helping to support RootsWorld. Or you can receive the individual CD for a one time donation. These CDs are donated by the artists and Homerecords.be. We thank them for all of their support.

 

world music Cuar is a trio consisting of Matthew Berrill on clarinet, Aoife Ní Bhriain on fiddle, and Neil Ó Loclainn on double bass and flute. But the music they create is more than a triangulation; it's a pyramid whose structural integrity depends on the listener as its base. All the music on Roscanna, with the exception of the final track, is rooted in the mind of Ó Loclainn. The album's conclusion, the traditional Irish "Bádaí na Scadán," is an emerald clue into its origins, as well as proof of the trio's willingness to dig deep enough so that geography ceases to matter. Read Tyran Grillo's review and hear a few tracks from the album.

 

world music The South Africa-derived rhythms of Malawi's regional folk/pop hybrids, often produced on homemade instruments out of economic necessity, have garnered a bit of attention of late... The duo that comprises Madalitso Band spent years playing the streets of the nation's capital, Lilongwe, which, despite being the governmental hub, contains massive poverty and unemployment... Homemade instruments such as the ones played on this record, seem like orchestras. The guitar, played by Yosefe Kalekeni, holds tight to the rhythm while Yobu Maligwa's long-necked, banjo-like babatoni, the sliding bass sound prominent in many of the country's regional bands, serves as bottom end as well as lead. While key shifts are few, dynamics, subtleties, and variety seem endless. And their vocal harmonies are like choruses. Bruce Miller reviews.

 

world music It has been more than 20 years since Latvia freed itself from Russia and Communism; there's a generation that's grown up in the heady air, and the six women of Tautumeitas are among them. They're part of the second Latvian folk revival – the first was part of the 1970s cultural resistance against the Russians – and their debut is full of joy, eagerly grabbing the country's tradition and pulling it into the 21st century... They bring big arrangements and choruses to the tradition, but keep the multi-part polyphonic singing that's at the heart of Latvian music (historically performed by women). Instrumentally, on top of their own violins and accordion, there's jaw harp, bass, and some electronic programming that gives plenty of punch to the sound.   Here is Chris Nickson's review and some songs to listen to

 

world music Chances are good that there's nothing else even remotely like this record being released this year. Take your most slicked-up "world" muzak blandness- you know, the stuff with quasi-Cuban rhythms, lobotomized acoustic guitar strumming and production meant to render passion into processed bites of disposability- and then allow the musicians on the recording to fidget, squirm, and finally break from their constrictions, and you've got this record. Its sounds may seem disguised as Starbucks background, but there's something warped lurking just below the surface... Moken, who hails from Cameroun but spent time in Detroit before calling Atlanta home sings, steers the guitar licks, the trumpet, some of the percussion and the occasional ngoni, all to this record's benefit. Listening to him can often feel unsettling, perhaps even demanding sea legs. On the surface, it's all pretty normal until you pay him a little more attention... http://www.rootsworld.com/reviews/moken-19.shtml Read Bruce Miller's review of Missing Chapters and see a few videos by this most unusual artist.

 

world music In small, neglected Colombian villages not too far from the Caribbean coast, descendants of runaway slaves and freed people have managed to hang onto musical traditions connected not only to Afro-Cuba, but Africa itself. Theirs is the story of neglect, isolation, marginalization, and poverty that often accompanies preserved traditions in so much of the world. Access to education and health care are few; illiteracy looms large, and at least one the performers here has no birth information. However, what Voces Del Bullerengue do have is a rich tradition of bullerengue, a vocal-based music driven by cantadoras, elderly women who engage in call and response over complex hand drum patterns and clapping... And from what’s on offer on Anonimas & Resilientes, bullerengue feels vibrant and healthy despite singers who are no younger than 53, with one woman possibly as old as 105.   Bruce Miller looks into this fascinating music.

 

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Songs of Our Native Daughters is the result of four singular artists coming together to, in a sense, create music that re-creates musical history. Rhiannon Giddens, Amythyst Kiah, Leyla McCalla, and Allison Russell are all interested in black string music, which lost its identity as such after the music crossed over to white musicians playing what became commonly thought of as bluegrass or “country music.” The opera-trained Giddens has gotten critical acclaim for her own music and is the best known of the four singers, and certainly turns in some gorgeous and stirring vocal performances, but she also shares leads with her compatriots here. The resulting album is both a powerful examination of slavery and a celebration of the resiliency of those subjected to decades of oppression, particularly black women. Read Marty Lipp's review and listen to some songs from the album.

 

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The Danish string trio Vesselil (violin, viola, cello and voices) has been around since the end of 2015, but this self-titled work shows the wisdom of taking time over a first release. A mix of original compositions with traditional folk from Denmark, Sweden, and Belgium, the pieces show just how well the musicians understand and work with each other, and how they've allow things to simmer and develop. That's perfectly illustrated on the album's longest track, "Opdagede Omsider" written by violin/viola player Clara Tesch. While a piece of its soul might lie in folk music, it has more in common with a modern string quartet, and the instruments create a delicately beautiful, complex web of sound that draws in the listener... They approach the traditional pieces with respect for the past, but refuse to be slaves to it. Read Chris Nickson's full review and listen to some songs from the album.

 

world music In 2017, violinist Maureen Choi issued her first album. Theia, named for the Greek goddess of sight and all things shiny, reveals how much she’s matured as an instrumentalist, arranger and composer in such a short time. Theia is a fluid pairing of flamenco and straight-ahead jazz, with scattered references to her classical, especially baroque, beginnings. Flamenco, though, with its fire, immediacy, its ability to embrace myriad influences, pushes through as 'Theia’s' lifeblood.

Six of the album’s ten songs are Choi’s own; the others are personalized yet faithful reworkings of a disparate repertoire, including a traditional Venezuelan joropo, and bold interpretations of works by Paco de Lucia and Manuel de Falla.

Read Carolina Amoruso's review and listen to some tracks from the album.

 

 

world music Finland and accordions
Anyone who has been reading RootsWorld for a while knows that your editor is completely in thrall of both, so when they collide, as they often do, they grab my attention. Teija Niku plays a full chromatic accordion, which she told me is, “a Finnish chromatic standard bass accordion, made in Italy at the Pigini factory. In Finland the model is called Lasse Pihlajamaa Revontuli Casotto.” She has played in numerous ensemble settings, including with The Polka Chicks, Aallotar and Karuna, as well as performing as a soloist and with her own self-named quartet. Hetkessä is a solo affair, just the accordion and occasional vocals. The title – in the moment - is an excellent description of the work here, as the pieces seem carefully composed, and yet clearly spring from improvisational impulses during the writing process. Read the editor's review and listen to the music

 

world music Following on their Kind Of Folk Volume 1: Sweden, Groupa delivers their impressions of Norway. As before, the trio consists of Mats Eden (viola d'amore and hardingfele), Terje Isungset (drums, percussion, and whatever he can get his hands on), and Jonas Simonson (flutes)... Mats Eden hails from Värmland in Sweden, which borders on Norway, and he studied composition at the Norwegian Academy of Music in Oslo. Terje Isungset's percussion embraces both traditional and non-traditional instruments. Isungset is no stranger to molding unconventional natural materials into musical instruments, as evidenced by the series of music that he has produced using instruments fashioned from ice. Simonson's tone and appreciation for both rhythm and atmosphere are the marks of a master flautist... The Groupa trio manage the tightrope between folk melodies and improvisation so that they do not sound like any other musical ensemble, and this is in large part to the distinctive and recognizable playing of each musician exhibited on Kind Of Folk Volume 2: Norway. Read Lee Blackstone's full review and listen to some excerpts from the album

 

world music
world music
The sound of a good string section can invoke everything from baroque grandeur to gripping suspense to signaling when to break out the hanky during sad scenes of a movie or TV show. There’s no doubt that the San Francisco-born Real Vocal String Quartet can do all that and more without breaking a sweat, but founding violinist Irene Sazer and her mates (fiddler Sumaia Jackson, cellist David Tangney and double bassist Sam Shuhan with cellist Helen Newby as an occasional fifth) have bigger things in mind. An Eastern European tour through the American Music Abroad Program inspired Sazer to collaborate with musicians from some of San Francisco’s sister cities - the Culture Kin of the title - and the results are a passionately rendered set of musical pieces that both stir and soothe. Read Tom Orr's review and listen to their music.

Culture Kin is July's Music of the Month selection. Start a monthly subscription or buy the CD and help support RootsWorld.

 

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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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