A World Music Magazine
                      

world music On Dreamers, New York-based Mexican vocalist Magos Herrera and the quartet Brooklyn Rider squeeze light from shadow. Their meticulous selections share origins in countries whose regimes have historically oppressed creative expression as counter-cultural. Longtime Kronos Quartet listeners will therefore find a familiar combination of artistic and political integrity, while rejoicing in Brooklyn Rider's distinctly vibrant commitment to the inner lives of repertoire.   Listen to the music and read Tyran Grillo's review.

 

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Weaving together elements of Cajun, zydeco, jazz, R&B and her own Haitian-American heritage, conditioned by a near decade of living in New Orleans, Leyla McCalla's The Capitalist Blues is a departure from her prior, solo acoustic outings. McCalla enlists some of the city's outstanding players (on banjo, guitar, lap steel, fiddle, viola, bass, piano, accordion, clarinet, sax, trumpet, trombone, tuba, glockenspiel, drums, percussion) and concentrates primarily on her singing. Her style is straightforward, concrete and unadorned, yet seasoned with tenderness and a trace of whimsy conveying the palpable joy that she took in working with her collaborators.

Her third release is a lyrical rebuke of the untold emotional, psychological, socioeconomic and environmental costs visited upon the commons by late capitalism. McCalla observes, "These songs are my reflection on motherhood, womanhood, activism and spirit…. seeing more clearly the cost to humanity in placing value in capital over human life."   Read Michael Stone's review, along with audio samples and videos.

The Capitalist Blues is our February 2019 selection for Music of the Month. Subscribe monthly or make a one time donation and get the CD as our thank you. Find out more.

 

world music Salif Keita has been called "the Golden Voice of Mali" and "the Golden Voice of Africa," but both epithets sell him short: he is one of the world's greatest living singers. His voice is not confined by geography or metallurgy – nor, evidently, by age; 69 years after singing his birth cry, it sounds as strong and supple as ever. However, we may be hearing his swan song in his12th solo album, Un Autre Blanc. Whether or not it proves to be his last, it sounds like a summation of his career, a valedictory.   Ken Braun looks back on the career of the vocal superstar and human rights activist, and presents his newest work.

 

world music Where documentary and fiction collide is this video of the song "Kap Kap" by La Réunion poet and composer Ann O'Aro, in a short live performance film juxtaposed against scenes from the town of Tan Rouge. With a dose of dark humor, "Virages" questions the viewer about the poetic, social and political links that can develop within a micro-society, the unique connections forged in a small village. See the film.

 

world music God Is Not a Terrorist is no more representative of Pakistani music than anything else coming from that country's massive collection of folk, pop, and other hybrids. Nor is it an example of some sort of folk relic, to be listened to with an understanding only of the past, which somehow needs to be preserved just because it's old. What Ustad Saami and his music represent are an ongoing conversation about gharana mastery, or lineage that, in Saami's case, goes back to the 13th century. Yet, since gharanas of different disciples and time periods have been free to emphasize some aspects of music and dance over others, what Saami plays is well-rooted but forever present. Like Appalachian ballad singers, the experimental ululations of Gedalia Tezates, or Vietnamese Catru performances in temples in Hanoi, Saami's music concerns itself with the one note that links his voice to everything around it, giving space for something all-encompassing and eternal... Read Bruce Miller's review and listen to the music

 

world music Czech Republic Dreamin' - In the artist's own words
I invited Michal Krystýnek (left) of the Czech trio Ponk to talk about one of the songs on their latest recording, Diedina. See what he has to say in their song "Dycky Dobre," a poem to friends, music, eternal truth, and pot. Read and listen.

 

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18th Century French painter Claude Arnulphy managed to capture, among other portraits, the nobility of musicians known as flute drummers, who led processions in and around Provence’s lower Rhone area, with his work, “Portrait de Jeune Tambourinaire”. The painting captures not only a player but a musical form that dates back to the 13th Century. Folk music of a one man band- the galoubet (three-holed flute) noted with the left hand while the right smacks the tambourin (drum) in any number of patterns, from polka to grooves harder to pigeonhole- these sounds became associated with Provence and nearly died out altogether... A focus and insistence on the importance of the musical past has brought us the Belouga Quartet's Quatuor de Galoubets-Tambourins. The quartet, representative of a new generation, has for this record, enlisted 4 composers who had a set of constraints to work with in order to pay homage to the tradition, while at the same time, expanded what these musicians could do by acknowledging a percussive debt, however small, to Africa and its diaspora... Listen to some of the music and read Bruce Miller's review.

 

world music Music Through the Walls was created artists by Romain Bly, Simone Bottasso and Tijmen Veelenturf, who share a home in Rotterdam-West, in the Netherlands. Their project - creating music videos with a house orchestra - is dedicated to the idea that by bringing musicians together from all walks of life, in their communities, they will create greater interaction, goodwill and exchange of ideas. Their first project is now finished, a recording of a very original arrangement of "Good Vibrations" scored for a small orchestra. It is presented as just the audio, and also as a video that includes some of the behind the scenes moments, as well as the song. I have also included a little commentary from Simone Bottasso to give you a little more insight into the creative process behind the project and the recording.   Watch, listen and read in RootsWorld

 

Music of the Month

 

world music Bachata Haiti may be the first recording of its type. It offers14 representative tracks by noted contemporary Haitian-descent artists in the Dominican Republic. Guitarist-singer Joan Soriano plays lead guitar behind Franklin Medina “El Zorro Negro” (the black fox), Tomas Pérez Zenón “Toni Tomas,” Hector Ventura “El Gavilán” (the sparrowhawk), Willy Sánchez, Fritz Sterling “Felix Cumbe,” and Tony Sugar. One hears the occasional strain of Cuban guaracha and son (as on Soriano’s “Si un amor se va,” Felix Cumbe’s “Adónde vas?” and El Zorro Negro’s “Tounen nan vim”), but overall, the interpretations are in keeping with the topical, instrumental and vocal conventions of bachata... Read Michael's full review and listen to some of the music.

 

world music Chris Wheatley looks into the recent work of former Public Image Ltd bassist, cockney mystic and world music pioneer Jah Wobble in his reviews of three recent and very different releases. Dream World is abrasive, exhilarating and hypnotic, a wild serving of electro/acoustic, largely instrumental tracks, with plenty of global pepper and cinematic salt... The Butterfly Effect, in contrast, is a pure post-punk riot, seven tracks of visceral and cerebral band-workouts over which Jah Wobble declaims on everything from Margaret Thatcher to the Zen concept of unity and post-modern angst... Maghrebi Jazz does what it says on the tin. He and members of his Invaders of the Heart team up with Moroccan musicians MOMO for lengthy tracks of sublime North-African dub-jazz. Read Chris' complete review and listen

 

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All over the world, independent artists and journalists are being harrassed, insulted, jailed and even murdered for doing their job, speaking truth to power. While occasionally one of these men or women becomes a cause célèbre in the global media, so many more slip under our collective radar in the daily onslaught of news we endure each day.

One such case is that of Halil Karapaşaoğlu, a poet and activist in Cyprus. He was arrested this month for refusing to serve in the Turkish Cypriot military. He will serve jail time instead of paying a fine, stating, “If tomorrow there is a war, we as anti-militarists, will not fight... Our grandfathers and fathers had fought in the past, we will not make the same mistake. Our duty towards our country is peace."

Antonis Antoniou, a member of the ensemble Monsieur Doumani, offered his personal commentary and a song in solidarity with the peace movement in Cyprus.

 

world music The seventh album from Indian/Canadian singer Kiran Ahluwalia is a bright and shimmering affair... with a mix of traditional Indian, European jazz and hints of a desert blues and rock style. On a blind listen, one might puzzle over exactly where on earth the music of 7 Billion came from. The production is light and airy with plenty of space for individual musicians to perform. Ahluwalia’s voice is never less that note-perfect; it is strong but never overpowering. The tracks make use of acoustic and electric guitar, synths, drums, hand-percussion and accordion. While the song is at the center, the assembled musicians create a sound with delicate highlights and subtle shadows.   Read Chris Wheatley's review and hear some songs from the album.

 

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Composer and musician Basel Zayed presents music with deep roots in Arabic history and Sufi culture, but shown through the lens of a classically trained artist and conductor in Europe and now the United States. The Ayn Trio is his a vehicle for the expression of that global vision - Zayed on oud, buzuq, and vocals, Layth Sidiq on violin and Naseem Al-Atrash on cello. In his interview with Tyran Grillo, Basel says, “Since moving both to a different geographic location and a different mental and spiritual state, I have entered a new cycle in life that makes me feel more grounded, supported, and free.”

In his review, Tyran writes, "The musicians work together like the past, present, and future of a protagonist whose narrative journey from 'pain and loneliness to connection and joy' makes catharsis seem like an understatement."   Read the full review and a full track and samples.

Basel Zayed’s Ayn Trio is our first selection for 2019's Music of the Month series. Find out more and subscribe.

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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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