A World Music Magazine

world music Omar Sosa and Paolo Fresu have a three album trilogy, Eros and Alma, and now their latest, Food, takes on another layer of their cross cultural musical exploration. What elevates Omar Sosa’s playing is that his improvisational muse is grounded by the clave and montuno of Afro-Cuban music. Sosa may go farther afield but he always comes back to the invisible scaffolding of Cuban music. These parameters are joyous constraints that make him so interesting to listen to.

Paolo Fresu is an Italian trumpeter from Sardinia Italy, who is often compared to the moody atmospheres Miles Davis and Chet Baker conjured. On Food, Sosa and Fresu have created a beautiful album that channels the joy of food, the communal table life, and also the implications of climate change, in an emotional and intimate album. Read Lisa Sahulka's review and listen.


world music The Aga Khan Master Musicians display a high level of musicianship, presenting coherent collaborative performances which belie the fact that they emanate from a range of musical backgrounds, encompassing the Middle East, Central Asia and China. “Tashkent,” the opening track of their debut album Nowruz showcases this admirably, setting the style of what is to come... Each of the six musicians playing have contributed at least one composition to the album, either played solo, as in the case of Jasser Haj Joussef's "Cadence" performed on the viola d'amore, or anything upwards of that. Read Mike Adcock's review and listen to some of the music.


world music U.S. fans of Sharon Shannon’s lively and lovely music will have just one more chance to see her perform stateside - she recently announced that her current tour of the US will be her last, though she will continue to release albums and tour elsewhere... The tour also coincides with the release of Now and Then, a boxed set of Shannon’s catalogue, which began in 1991 with the release of her eponymous debut, one of the biggest selling album of Irish traditional music in history. Since then, Shannon has stayed rooted in the tradition while collaborating with an international array of musicians—from Jackson Browne to Sinead O’Connor to British dub-poet Linton Kwesi Johnson to Galician piper Carlos Nunez—and incorporated other cultures into her repertoire. Sharon Shannon talks about how she found her way to the accordion and tells us old old stories and upcoming plans in her interview with Marty Lipp.


world music Rêve du Troubadour is the first solo album from Louis Michot, best known as a fiddler, songwriter and member of the Louisiana band, Lost Bayou Ramblers. This song plays on traditional music from Martinique, and features guest artist Langhorn Slim on the guitar, one of many guests who push the album in all sorts of interesting directions. Sound Bites is our collection of short reviews, and well, sound bites.


Magos Herrera Magos Herrera’s meticulously crafted musical gift is like an undulating mosaic, the colors of its myriad tesserae growing in hue and intensity as she adds new facets to her musicianship. The mosaic grows brighter still as her spirit, intelligence and body in motion reveal her personal interpretation of the music that has captivated her: jazz. “Freedom,” she says, “that’s jazz to me. It’s harmonic sophistication with freedom.”

An artist of composition, voice, collaboration, even the finery of album design, Herrera did not come to jazz as if raised in its bosom. Having been born in Mexico where there was no true jazz culture, she’d had little exposure to the idiom as a child, although she recalls itinerant foreign musicians who passed through her hometown of Mexico City, and others who’d stayed, especially exiled Brazilians bringing with them their many rhythms, weighty lyrics, and winsome vocalists. Magos Herrera talks with Carolina Amoruso.


world music

world music

After more than two decades together, the three members of Genticorum form one of the tightest units on the planet. In music from their native Québec (both traditional and original) they have found a rich seam that clearly has plenty of treasures to mine.

They open with "La Batelière," which crackles with gleeful energy. The interplay between the instruments and harmonies is sharp and adept, yet still a completely natural, high-octane conversation that constantly shifts from one player to another.
Hear the music and read Chris Nicksons review.

Au Coeur De L'Aube is our pick for Music of the Month for September, 2023.
Subscribe and receive this and more music throughout the year.


world music "It is not always easy to love what we have, because sometimes it weighs on us like tons and tons of cement."

Conflict and ambivalence are at the heart of this delightful, surprising offering from musician Mar Grimalt. Espurnes I Coralls (Sparks and Corals) is fresh, personal, and hard to pin down. When I think of Mallorca, I imagine a place of bright daylight, holidays and warm sun-baked spaces of leisure. For singer and composer Mar Grimalt it conjures up images of industrial sand dunes, gravel and giant machines. She grew up on the island, and her family runs a cement factory... She played in the gravel and sand mountains as a child but began to develop a more critical stance as she grew older. She says she is looking to honor the family's life's work, and to reconcile "the little doll that played in the mountains of gravel" with her need to break free of its hard-shell confines. That may be, but the family business plays large in the album, with soundscapes and on-site samples from the family business. Recorded in July 2022, it layers and mixes spoken word, ambient noise and music into lush and unusual offerings. Mallorcan poetry wafts through the album, which means that words as much as music matters here. Explore this unique recording with Martha Wilette Lewis.


world music In his lovely, soulful second album as the collaborative Too Sad for the Public, composer Dick Connette reverently and sometimes irreverently takes the roughhewn spirit of American folk music and refines it like a hunk of whale bone etched into an elaborate, beautiful scrimshaw. On his latest, Vol. 2: Yet and Still, Connette mostly turns to Canadian-born and Brooklyn-based Ana Egge as the vocal focus of the songs with lyrics. Her bluesy drawl, reminiscent of a laidback, late-night, jazz-hipster, gives the songs a sardonic, wry sensibility. Though known as a composer, he also shines as a lyricist. His sung stories have the resonance of folk wisdom, but he seasons his wisdom with wry touches of absurdist wit. Read Marty Lipp's review and listen to some of the music.


world music Maria Ka makes it abundantly clear in her music that the personal is political. Ka lives in Poland, and she discovered that her family had covered over its Jewish roots; there were Jews in her father’s genealogy. This revelation led Ka to pursue Jewish studies and psychology at University in Krakow. It also led to further realizations: that the Yiddish language deeply resonated with Ka, and that her University program did not provide much by way of women’s studies... These interests permeate Der Hemshekh (‘The Continuation’), which she sings entirely in Yiddish. The sound world of the album is resolutely contemporary, primarily built around electronics and loops, oboe, drums, and Maria Ka’s vocals. Read a little personal history and a review by Lee Blackstone.


world music Parchman Farm is one of those names that echoes across the history of American music. It’s been the subject of songs by Bukka White and Mose Allison. Alan Lomax recorded there, making the first recordings of Leadbelly. It had the reputation of being a hell on earth. It’s the oldest penitentiary in the US, and it’s still there. Producer Ian Brennan had been trying to gain access to the place for three years, and in February this year he was finally allowed in to record a Sunday service with just one week’s notice. Singers were drawn together for the session from a dozen different church services, some performing alone, others as part of a group. Brennan captured it, all live, with not a single overdub, and we get to hear the results in Parchman Prison Prayer: Some Mississippi Sunday Morning. Read Chris Nickson's review and hear some of the recordings.


world music Martin Simpson has become an elder statesman among guitarists, his work on acoustic six-string and banjo simply devastating in its effortless style, and he’s rightly achieved a hero’s status for us. He’s a man who’s often made connections between the English and American traditions, and in Thomm Jutz, a German-born American bluegrass musician, songwriter, and Appalachian scholar, he’s found a perfect companion for this particular exploration. Nothing But Green Willow; The Songs Of Mary Sand And Jane Gentry presents music collected by British musicologist Cecil Sharp, from two women in Western North Carolina in 1916. Chris Nickson reviews this new album , as well as a reissue of some more American tunes recorded in the 1970s by The Scrub Jay Orchestra (Ian A. Anderson, Maggie Holland and Martin Simpson).


world music The past twenty years or so have given us a number of free and spiritual jazz reissues, many of which were made by ensembles who never recorded again, or whose output was confined to small imprints that were never able to offer any distribution... Saxophonist James Branch- aka Plunky Nkabinde- is a crucial part of this scene. Initially connecting with Zulu musician Ndikho Xaba in San Francisco, Plunky joined Ndikho and The Natives, another spiritual jazz group that only recorded a single LP (2022 saw this LP reissued in South Africa and the US). From there, he formed Juju. A Message from Mozambique, released in 1973 on Strata-East and then again on Washington DC’s Black Jazz label, is a much more raw affair. Juju’s shaggy ferocity valued passion over finesse. Read Bruce Miller's review.


world music The opening track of Sarah-Jane Summers' latest album, Echo Stane, is the atmospheric “Airtan” which sets the mood with what is for the most part an exploratory piece of improvisation, one which can too easily prompt the reviewer to reach for over-used adjectives like “dark and brooding.” But this melancholic undercurrent is almost intrinsic to the sound of the Hardanger fiddle, even in the animated dance music, with the melodic tension shifting between the higher and lower strings. Here the lower string holds a drone while an upper string seeks out a melodic line, disconcertingly sliding up and swooping down, the center of gravity shifting and the bowing producing a range of grainy tones from the strings. Read Mike Adcock's review.


world music Choreographer, dancer, DJ, and musician Faizal Mostrixx’s Mutations comes at a moment when radical electronic and dance music from Eastern Africa is getting crucial global exposure. Experimenters such as Otim Alpha, Ocen James, and Nihiloxica- all from Uganda- have altered centuries-old rhythms and instrumentation from various parts of the country, sculpting them into dance-floor ready shapes as well as abstract make-overs... Mutations follows the sonic trajectory of 2022’s Transitions EP, in as much as it fuses field recordings with sometimes frantic synths and pads, at times coming off as a cousin to Chicago’s long-evolving footwork scene. Mostrixx’ mother was a dancer, and he grew up hearing imported pop sounds from nearby Congo and other neighboring countries. And because of the dominance western sounds still hold over the globe, his music naturally makes use of elements found in house, dub, down-tempo, and hip hop. Listen in, and read Bruce Miller's review.


world music Moldavia - Peasant Tunes From The Old Land Of Hârlau presents recordings made in 2019, 2022 and 2023 by Neculai Florea, Nicolae Amarandei, Valentin Bălaşanu, in the traditionally Moldovan region of Romania in the counties of Iaşi and Botoşani in the north-east, near the border with Moldova, playing fiddle, cobza (a traditional pear-shaped lute with a very short neck), and wooden whistles. Read Andrew Cronshaw's review and listen to some samples from the recordings.


world music Stoonia Lood / Stories Of Estonia feels like an album that’s been gestating inside Mari Kalkun’s imagination for years, finally emerging into the light, as the singer and instrumentalist shows her Estonian homeland in its deep, raw nature, an antidote to the plastic shimmer of the 21st century. Her songs are filled with air and space, lightness and the grace of nature, and in British folkie Sam Lee, she’s found the perfect accomplice to bring it all to life... Vocally, she’s never sounded better, with the confidence of experience and the certainty of belief in what she’s doing. Chris Nickson shares this new work from Estonia. Chris Nickson shares this new work from Estonia with you.


world music The name of this Finnish trio is a perfect description of their sound. Sähköpaimen translates as “electric shepherd,” and their music is a persuasive, heady mix of the contemporary and the rural, as Amanda Kauranne and Kirsi Ojala's wind instruments, mouth harps, and wild, uncontained vocals rub and roil against Eero Grundström's electronics and loops. Hämärä (Twilight) marks that time of day when the transition from the real world into the realm where magic happens, and the band explores the possibilities that lurk in the darkening shadows. Read Chris Nickson's review and listen.


world music
With advanced degrees in musical performance and voice, and captured by the culture, spirituality and music of Candomblé, Bahia-born Irma Ferreira began a profound investigation of her Afro-Brazilian roots. Candomblé is Brazil's New World iteration of African sacred practices, having evolved mostly from the Yoruba traditions of the West African countries of Nigeria and Benin... Ferreira's first solo album release, Ém Cantos de Orisá, bears the fruit of her investigation, borrowing both chants and melodies from Candomblé's trove of devotional works. Read Carolina Amoruso's review and listen.


world music The lurching, wiggling rhythms of Swedish fiddle polskas, particularly those from the region of Dalarna, can be hard for the listener to grasp, though easier if one learns to dance them. The fiddler’s foot-tap can be a clue, but here, explored by the duo of leading fiddler Ellika Frisell and Mexican-born percussionist Rafael Sida, there’s much more help than that: a window on polska’s subtle internal rhythms and their possibilities. Färg Och Tid is no short-term fusion-type project; over the years that they’ve lived and played together, Sida has found ways to interpret and accompany Frisell that draw on his wide experience of the rhythms of the world, with his battery of hand and stick-hit percussion. Frisell, too, has connected polska with traditions from elsewhere, from her time with the mighty Filarfolket in the 1980s and her partnership with Senegalese griot kora-master and singer, the late Solo Cissokho. Andrew Cronshaw explores the intuitive and deep connections in 'color and time.'


world music Singer, fiddler, banjoist, percussionist, scholar, and exponent of Black roots music and dance, Jake Blount presents a searing album alive with Old Testament fury, gospel revelation, and topical prophecy, an unsentimental tale of earthly destruction, suffering, and resilience set at the end of days. Drawing upon what W.E.B. DuBois dubbed "The Sorrow Songs," Southern ring shouts, African descendants enslaved in colonial Jamaica, Gullah-Geechee tradition, the blues, and sundry Lomax field recordings, Blount shares inspiration with Black Americana revivalists including Ranky Tanky, Our Native Daughters, The Carolina Chocolate Drops, and many more. The New Faith is best taken in as an operatic whole, from start to finish. Read Michael Stone's review and listen to a number of tracks and 2 videos.


world music Sekou Keita, with his traditional background, skill and compositions, and Davide Mantovani's great abilities as arranger, bring to orchestral music a beautifully different set of musical ideas. No straightforward orchestration of kora melodies, African Rhapsodies is a series of full concerto integrations of kora and The BBC Concert Orchestra in which melodic lines and excursions come from both sides, so that they are no longer two, but a unified whole. Read Andrew Cronshaw's review and listen to some tracks from the recording.


world music

world music

Aire posts Magos Herrera at the summit of her creativity and her agency. For the first time she holds the reins of vocalist, lyricist, composer, co-arranger, and executive producer, even artistic director, crafting, with an impressive supporting cast, a work all her own. Among the A-list players to join her are: Jacques Morelenbaum; Gonzalo Grau; Diego Schissi; Dori Caymmi; and her frequent collaborators, the Knights. The album is broad brushed with the ever-fluid notion of jazz, embellished with classical sounds, indigenous traditions, Latin, and Bossa Nova. Magos Herrera's deep luxuriant vocals, lending their way equally to all sensibilities, flow frequently into wordless song, allowing Aire to convey both the lightness and heft of air. Carolina Amoruso reviews an album of stories in song.

Aire is our selection for July's Music of the Month. Find out how you can support RootsWorld and receive a copy of the album.


world music Rwanda has a rich musical heritage but one which is less widely know than those of some other African countries. One notable exception has been the music of Adrien Kazigira and his band The Good Ones who play acoustically but in a contemporary style with guitar, percussion and vocals. Ababeramuco's album Made in Gatagara has a much closer connection with the traditional music of Rwanda, both musically and in the instruments used, the band's name translating as “The Traditionalists.” There are four musicians: Gerard Rusatsi on the umuduri, a one-string bow played with sticks; Silvain Mutabaruks plays the iningiri, a one-string fiddle; Jean Marie Vianey, the inanga, a type of zither and Godefroid Ayirwanda, who plays a lamellophone known in Rwanda as an ikembe. All four contribute vocals and several tracks also feature unspecified percussion. Gatagara, named in the album title, is the village in whose neighborhood the four musicians live and play together. Mike Adcock reviews.


world music Paul Simon has chronicled his life in words for many decades, telling his stories as narrative fiction, wrapped in poetry and music. Lisa Sahulka has taken on the task of reviewing not only his new recording, but looking back on the biography in song, real or imagined, that he has spent his entire adult life creating.

Seven Psalms is a suite in seven-movements, an acoustic masterpiece and possibly the last conversation we are going to have with him. The album is based on The Book of Psalms, the first book of the third section of the Hebrew Bible called Ketuvim (Writings). These are hymns of doxologies or praise to God. However, his Psalms are skeptical and more realistic, in the sense that if God exists then we have to acknowledge this being as both omnipotent but also evil, inflicting pain and sorrow. “The Lord is my engineer…The path I slip and I slide on. …The Lord is a virgin forest. …The Lord is a meal for the poorest of the poor. A welcome door to the stranger.” Lisa explores his new recording, in the shadow of the old. Read Lisa's review and hear the album.


world music re-tornar sounds like New York City, with an unexpected lightning fast pace which can slow down and cool off like a Barcelona evening (where they both live). Bass player Fortià's time in New York City influenced his music and perspective. Magalí Sare has acknowledged her passion for Flamenco and tango music... She is a singer, flutist and percussionist both in the classical and jazz genres. The polytimbral quality to her voice adds immensely to their collaboration. re-tornar explores stories of Read Lisa Sahulka's review and listen to some of the tracks.


world music There can be a sober, noble sensibility about a solo instrument, and the cello, with its expressiveness so close to the human voice, is able to tug fiercely at the heart. In the right hands it possesses beauty and power, and Liz Hanks owns the right hands and imagination. She’s worked with people in folk music and beyond, but for Land, she has made her world shrink. Not simply to a lone instrument, or even to the Steel City, Sheffield, where she lives, but quite specifically her local area of Meersbrook. The tracks become a walk through its geography and history, as tactile as any mix of playing and field recordings can be. Chris Nickson takes you on this serene walk.


world music Listening to these 3 albums by Sheila Chandra again, it’s hard to believe they’re around 30 years old. At the time they were released, they stood like beacons, unlike anything else out there, whether it was the slippery, abrupt turns of the konnokol mouth percussion that marked the “Speaking In Tongues,” to the reworking of the traditional English folk song “A Sailor’s Life,” where her vocal phrasing connected the piece to India, to the starkness of ABroneCroneDrone. Chris Nickson looks back on these newly reissued, essential albums.


world music Riccardo Tesi is a leading virtuoso of the diatonic accordion (the push-pull button squeezebox known in English as a melodeon, in Italian as organetto), as well as a composer, soloist, and leader of many ensembles and theatrical projects. During the pandemic, he composed most of the twelve pieces on his latest work, La Giusta Distanza, where he is joined by a core unit of guitarist Viera Sturlini and percussionist Francesco Savoretti, forming the Elastic Trio, augmented by a cast of other instrumentalists and, on three tracks, singers. Andrew Cronshaw shares his impressions of some of the music, and you can listen along as you read


world music The lost lithophones of Vietnam

In February of 2023 I made my second visit to Vietnam and my reason for going was again a musical one, summed up in one word: stone. For more than twenty years now I've had a thing about the way in which certain cultures of the world have chosen to produce music from this most unpromising of materials. Certain types of rock will ring when struck and, depending on length and thickness, can produce notes of identifiable pitch. Instruments which employ this principle are called lithophones.

It was Vietnam which really put lithophones on the map internationally. In 1949 some villagers in the Central Highland region unearthed a set of stone slabs and brought them to the attention of a French ethnologist living there at the time who reckoned they were a form of ancient musical instrument, promptly had them sent to Paris for further investigation and that's where they have remained to this day.

Mike Adcock decided to go to the source to find the stones and their players. Join Mike's journey into the fascinating world of a musical instrument little known to modern listeners.


world music

world music

Fiddler Laura Risk and the two other members of this trio - Nicholas Williams on piano-accordion and flute, and pianist Rachel Aucoin - live in Québec, though none is originally from there. Risk is from California, the other two from other parts of Canada, but all are very experienced in Qúebécois music, indeed have received awards in relation to it and there are fine pieces from that tradition here. What particularly strikes me, though, is Risk's command of, and influence from, Scottish material and styles of melody and playing on Traverse. Andrew Cronshaw reviews.

Traverse is one of our selections for Music of the Month for June. Find out how can subscribe and get this fine album and many more throughout the year.


world music

world music

There is a wild boldness to Hiram Salsano's singing, plus a deep knowledge and understanding of her Italian tradition, and an originality to the arrangements, on her debut album Bucolica. Salsano's focus is the traditional music of southern Italy, in particular that of her home region, the mountain areas of Cilento in Campania, to the south and east of Naples in western Italy.

Internationally, the best-known southern Italian traditional musics are probably pizzica and taranta, whose heartland is the Apulia region on the other side of Italy from Campania, but this isn't a taranta/pizzica album. Salsano's sources and music are much more varied. Andrew Cronshaw reviews 'a splendid album from a very significant musician.'

Bucolica is our selection for Music of the Month for June. Find out how can subscribe and get this fine album and many more throughout the year.


world music L'oiseau magnifique is a clever new album by a Geneva based trio named Alice that uses harmonic vocals and an electronic keyboard to create spare, folk-inspired, contemporary feminist song-poems. The group play on traditions from French and Occitan music to invent tunes about love, magic birds, trees and, amusingly, a really bad party. The trio is enchantingly described as employing 'a thrift-store synth, bizarre wit and arresting vocals... an intergenerational, all-female micro-choir.' L'oiseau magnifique is fresh and fun, with enough grit and weirdness to be reflective of the challenging now. Come hear and watch them sing, and read Martha Willette Lewis' review.


world music

Lebeha Drummers formed in 2003 in Hopkins Village in Belize as an after-school program dedicated to nurturing and transmitting the music’s unique percussion, vocals, and dance styles to young Garifuna. Rooted in Garifuna spiritual practices, its energetic percussive character, dance movements, and vocals resonate with other West African and Amerindian genres brought together in a cultural efflorescence inadvertently sparked by the European colonial adventure in the erstwhile New World.

Biama is unique, however, in hewing to the traditional Garifuna roots of voice and percussion, versus the experimental acoustic and electric guitars, bass, sampling, etc. characteristic of the work of more contemporary Garifuna music luminaries. Read Michael Stone's review and hear some of the music.


world music Til Kirsten is the second album by the Danish string and vocal trio Vesselil. It is very much a female album, not just the musicians themselves, but the subject: Liden Kirsten, who lived in the 12th century, and is the subject of quite a few ballads and stories that have been passed down through countless generations. A few of those old songs appear here, alongside traditional dance tunes and original pieces... the entire album is filled with gorgeous melodies, sublime voices and expert playing. Chris Nickson reviews.


world music The renaissance of Shirley Collins continues on Archangel Hill, her third release since her 2016 return. This time around the production if fuller, a sound that does full justice to her voice. That voice is not the instrument of her young days, of course; she's 87 now, and she had decades away from performing. But now her singing carries the weight of experience - magnificent, full of a knowledgeable beauty. Her voice always had an unstudied, untrained simplicity and honesty; an innocence, if you will. That sense remains, but these days it’s a wonderfully weathered instrument, natural and affecting in its artlessness. Read Chris Nickson's review and hear the music.


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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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