A World Music Magazine

world music Wantok Music Vol. 3 opens with a song from Torba Province in Vanuatu, north-east of Australia. It tells of how, in the late nineteenth century, a white man arrived there bearing gifts as a way of enticing the local people to trade with him. Subsequently, having continued to raise his prices to a level they were unable to afford, he persuaded them to grant him some land, where he then set up a trading center to make the local people dependent on him. The fact that the song, by Father Levi Sandy, is delivered unaccompanied helps to give it a timeless quality, but unfortunately that's not the case with the majority of tracks on the album which, through their arrangement and production, have an overtly modern sheen to them, which already makes them sound rather dated, at times. Read the pros and cons of the label's approach in Mike Adcock's review, which includes a few songs and videos.


world music Jagdselskabet is one for those who delight in hardcore instrumental Danish folk music. The trio of violinists Krtistian Bugge and Steen Jagd, and pianist Malene Beck, used to play together regularly, and recently began collaborating for dances again, performing traditional music and for this album, Jagd's compositions. His music is certainly inspired by the tradition, and it's very much music for dancing, even with the delightfully quirky touches that pepper tracks. Listen and maybe even dance a kvadrille or a vals, as you read Chris Nickson's review.


world music Avishai Cohen, the trumpeter from Tel Aviv and now New York based, takes the work of Miles Davis in a parallel but similar direction. Miles Davis wanted crowds and more accessible music but always at the core he was interpreting emotions. Cohen is doing the same thing in reverse, using his trumpet to express emotion in a way less accessible, but more stream of consciousness, dream state. When Davis went into the studio, the space he gave his musicians to improvise was legendary. In a similar way, Cohen has brought musicians together to improvise emotions. The songs are simply "Part 1," "Part 2," and so on. We get more information in the last tune, which is a spoken word composition. In this space, it is interesting to think where Davis might have gone if he did not head towards fusion, and intriguing to think what Cohen is doing in this improvisational, dream-like space. It is haunting and so personal. Lisa Sahulka listens in.


world music Langt Ud' I Skoven slipped under the radar, even for many of the band’s fans. Here is Dreamers’ Circus (with a few friends), plus a Danish children’s choir, performing largely traditional songs for children – a interesting subset of Danish folk. It’s not something that’s been slapped together for an album and performance; there’s plenty of time and imagination gone into the arrangements, and everything soars with the trio's usual sense of melody. Chris Nickson reviews.


Music of the Month

world music The craggy black and white photo on the pack gives a clue about the cragginess of the music within, and indeed of Tomás de Perrate’s singing. This isn’t the flamenco of dazzling guitar and dance. Perrate (Tomás Fernández Soto), who is of an Andalusian gitano flamenco family, has long focused on the emotion of cante jondo, ‘deep song.’ After mostly listening to a variety of rock and other musics, but conditioned by what he heard in his family, he took up flamenco singing relatively late, and has taken an individual, non-mainstream path within it. Tres Golpes, his first album in eleven years, is his most extreme statement to date. Much of the material on it comes from 16th and 17th century sources, while the title track is an Afro-Colombian song accompanied by palmas (clapping), shouts and rough group singing. He recorded this material as demos, but when producer Raül Refree heard them he wanted to work with Perrate on making them an album. Refree comes from a rock and pop background but is currently lauded for his work with Iberian roots musicians such as his collaboration with Portuguese singer Lina. Read Andrew Cronshow's critique and hear a number of the songs.


world music Shriekback's 1000 Books would seem to fall well outside of our usual 'roots.' Perhaps so, but it became the subject of much discussion among a number of our contributors this year, and so here it is. Lee Blackstone writes, "It’s taut, funky, humorous, and politically-charged. There is a lot of musing on where we are all going, personally and collectively, and every inch of it is worth lending an ear... It’s a beautiful Frankenstein’s monster, grasping for sympathy and understanding, eyes cast in wonder at the fish below the ice and the gill-less humans on the streets." The album includes what at least 3 of RW's writers consider to be one of the best songs of the year, but you can listen, read and decide where to pigeonhole it, if you care and dare.


world music "The Nearness of You" is a jazz standard written in 1938 by a vaudeville lyricist and a Tin Pan Alley composer. It has been interpreted so many times but always in a certain genre and in a space where jazz elevates simple tunes. Norah Jones, Charlie Parker, Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald have all taken it into a more complex but very mainstream jazz sound. Along comes Lynn Adib, a singer and composer born and raised in Damascus, Syria, who along with bassist Marc Buronfosse reshapes this song into a haunting painting of sounds. The duo have ushered their jazz to another level, injecting it with music from Syria and translating some of the lyrics to Arabic. Lisa Saulka explores Nearness, an album of traditional songs and pop standards that defies genre.


world music Imagine you’re a Danish quartet with one album under your belt. You’re invited to play only your second-ever gig (!), a prestigious event in Warsaw, Poland. What do you do, perform pieces that people might know, or write something entirely new that will never be repeated after that night? If you’re Penny Pascal, you opt for the latter, with a pair of lengthy pieces. The first, “Danish Tunes” is far more than a perfunctory pastiche of Danish dance styles and familiar melodies. Instead, it takes all that as its inspiration, then aims high with original tunes that to flow with the head-raised-feet-moving lightness that characterizes Danish music. The second nods toward a few different styles as well as classical music with remarkable writing skills. Join Chris Nickson in Warsaw and enjoy the entire concert.


world music Folk and Great Tunes from Siberia and Far East is double album compilation that brings together tracks from artists across the enormous Russian region, including rarely heard material from the far north and east. There is singing, both solo and in groups, as well as instrumental music; music traditionally played and also traditional music re-interpreted for a modern audience. Mike Adcock shares his thoughts on the many and varied artists he finds on the recordings.


world music The Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies began in 1979 as a means of documenting the lives of thousands who survived the horrors of World War II. Since 1981, the collection has been housed at Yale University’s Sterling Memorial Library, where it has garnered international renown for its historical importance. Part of that importance, however, was at risk of being lost: namely, the songs recounted by survivors in their video testimonies. These caught the attention of Belarusian musicologist and multi-instrumentalist Zisl Slepovitch, who saw an opportunity to revive all-but-forgotten musical legacies of the Jewish ghettos and concentration camps. Joining forces with his ensemble and Latvian singer Sasha Lurje, he set out to arrange and record these songs to “remind us that the survivor singing them represents all those who did not survive to sing again.” The result was the 2020 album, Where Is Our Homeland? Now, Slepovitch and company have returned with a second installment, entitled Cry, My Heart, Cry. Join Tyran Grillo and explore the archive's music, images and video.


world music Colours In Black, the second EP from Kinaara, the Leeds, England trio of guitar, bass, voice, sees them building on the success of last year’s Across The River EP, with six pieces covering a broad range of styles, all threaded together by the very sinuous, sultry voice of Satnam Galsian. It springs out of the traps on with “Kaalay Rang,” a Punjabi folk song with a decidedly desert blues groove, featuring some excellent guitar work from John Hogg, playing nicely punchy filigree around the vocal. It’s a mix of styles that startles at first, but works in a surprisingly effective fashion, opening up an avenue that could well be ripe for further exploration. Find out where else Kinaara are going in Chris Nickson's review.


world music Gnawa is an ancient music from Moroccan and West African which are near bordering areas. These sounds are familiar to us as they influence jazz, blues and many genres of modern music. What you will hear on Moktar Gania And Gnawa Soul's Masterisé are Islamic and religious songs with rhythms which will sound surprisingly familiar along with ritual poetry, an inspiration to dance and think. Artistic director Jacques Sanjuan has transformed this music into a gorgeous 21st Century ride. The album has 150 years of Moroccan tradition informing it, yet it would sound innovative in any of the Brooklyn clubs. You will hear guitarist Jean-Marie Ecay, a French Basque guitarist, and Israeli singer of Moroccan origin Neta El Kayam in the groove as well. Lisa Sahulka finds an album cast in a mix of modern sounds, mysticism and incantations.


world music Lima-based Buh Records has been feverishly bringing attention to experimental South American artists over the last few years; however, they’ve also dropped recordings of contemporary, roots-based Peruvian sounds not always well known outside the country’s borders. These releases have served to celebrate the massive, geographically complex South American country’s rich cultural diversity. With its latest releases from Los Hermanos Ballumbrosio and Perkutao, the label digs deep into coastal Afro-Peruvian vocal and percussion based ensembles, both of whom demonstrate Peru’s Afro roots run as deep as Colombia’s or Brazil’s. Bruce Miller listens to two albums of the country's unadorned, contemporary, always-innovative Black roots.


Music of the Month

world music Stian Carstensen's Musical Sanatorium is a brilliant piece of work by an extraordinary musician; for me, his greatest yet. It is astonishingly ever-changing in sound and direction, not just from track to track but within each track. While it sparks all kinds of images and resonances, there's not a cliché nor a predictable development to be found. Carstensen is that rare thing, a genuine multi-instrumental virtuoso polymath. He's a master of accordion, banjo, kaval, pedal steel, guitar and more, with wide experience in several musical genres, including the Norwegian accordion and fiddling traditions of generations of his family, and the dazzling, asymmetric rhythms of the accordion and kaval music of Bulgaria and other parts of the Balkans where he's frequently travelled, and adding to them high skills in classical music and jazz. Join Andrew Cronshaw as he dissects the strange brain of this Norwegian artist.


world music You could come to this album simply intrigued as to how a Barcelona born, Paris educated jazz violinist might interpret the classic song “My Favorite Things.” John Coltrane famously took the composition composed in 1959 by Rodgers and Hammerstein to a completely different place just a few years later in 1961 and defined what modern music was, or could be. Coloma Bertran takes “My Favorite Things” apart into nine additional compositions on the album Principis (Principles) with flavors of the original... Bertran lives in Barcelona, where the native language is Catalan, which gives the title track, “Principis” a double meaning. In an email exchange, she says it is “one of the main themes of the album, which I wrote to remind me where I come from and what my principles and values are.” The title tune begins with a lone violin, then drums and then it explodes into a joyous romp. Her take on the jazz violin is also interesting; an instrument that is relatively rare in jazz, she makes it the center of attention. Lisa Sahulka reviews this unique album.


world music

world music

Amélia Muge first appeared on my radar in a 1998 recording of romanciero, a style of narrative poem that was popular on the Iberian peninsula in the 15th and 16th centuries. Novas Vos Trago (Tradisom) featured a group I had already come to love, the energetic percussion, bagpipe and vocal group Gaiteiros de Lisboa, and she appeared on a few tracks with them. While she is often promoted as a fado singer, and sometimes fits well into the category, it is her unyielding interest in the ancient and how it can inform the new that has made her essential listening for me over the last two decades. She has flirted with pop music and some purist fado in that time, but Amélias brings her fully into her own, in an album completely focused on the voice, the lyric, the stories. Hear more from this finely performed and beautifully illustrated recording, reviewed by your editor.

Amélias is our pick for Music of the Month for July, 2022.
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world music Magalí Sare is a pianist, vocalist, flautist, percussionist, composer, arranger, lyricist, and more from Catalonia, with training in Western classical music and jazz; these elements combine to give a sophisticated and lyrical sound to Esponja (Sponge), Sare’s second album released under her own name. Esponja is both alluring and infectious, made ever more captivating by the polished elasticity of Sare’s voice. She adorns her gift with a palette of vocal accents, chirps and sighs for example, to illustrate her stories, confessions, her soul, further enhanced by toothsome lyrics and classy instrumentation. There’s little here that is not immensely pleasing. Carolina Amoruso soaks it all in.


world music Jerry Jeff Walker, the late, great singer-songwriter, wasn’t a Texan. That’s a surprise in itself; his music seems organically entwined with the Lone Star state and it did become his home for many years, but he was born in New York state. Steve Earle, who was born in Texas but now ironically lives in New York, is an unabashed fan who worked with Walker back in the 1970s. Jerry Jeff is Earle's way of paying homage to a man who was a huge influence on him. Read Chris Nickson's review and hear how Steve Earle and The Dukes pay tribute to the great songwriter.


world music Estonian artist Eva Väljaots plays a variety of kannels, zithers with different sounds, strings and using different techniques, and her album Hundinuiaois - Bulrush Bloom taps into the essence of that delight in sound. Conceptually this series of pieces, all her own compositions, relate to aspects, and neighboring plants, of the bulrush (great reed mace), whose stiff brown sausage shaped flower-mass, atop a tall swaying stem, fragments as it matures, into a blizzard of white down that floats off in even the gentlest breath of breeze. Her simple, rather Moomin-like, line drawings of it and other plants in the CD booklet illustrate each track. Andrew Cronshaw takes you deeper into the instrument and the music.


world music There is a depth to the music of Soadan that takes a minute to define. Pieds Nus isn’t a day at the beach barefoot, minimal clothing and a band playing all day on the shore. It is an extended time in a place that is both familiar and exotic, joyful and serene; that experience of waking up from a distant dream to sunshine, waves and new places. Soadan is the trio of Gregory Audrain (vocals, guitar, bass), Armel Goupil (marimba, keyboards) and Jean Marie Lemasson (vocals, drums, percussion), all natives of Brittany in France but steeped in the roots of not only their own culture, but a wide range of music from far flung places in Africa, the Indian Ocean and South America. Lisa Sahulka takes you on a trip inside this unique 'jazz' trio. Lisa Sahulka takes you on a trip inside this unique 'jazz' trio.


world music A classically trained cellist, banjoist, singer, and songwriter, Leyla McCalla, born in New York of Haitian immigrant parents and activists is now based in New Orleans. Her work has drawn upon her Haitian heritage and many other influences. When Duke University acquired the archives of Radio Haiti (1957–2003), McCalla took on the challenge of reviewing and incorporating elements of that material into a multi-disciplinary theater project that became Breaking the Thermometer. She weaves Radio Haiti’s humorous and provocative archival broadcasts, interviews, traditional Haitian tunes, and her original compositions into a varied and engaging reflection upon the cultural, social, and political struggles of latter 20th Century Haiti, and the effort to trace her personal trajectory in that dynamic context. Read Michael Stone's review and hear some of the music.


world music

world music

There are bits of free jazz, sci-fi and a complicated mix of the African Diaspora in the music of Irreversible Entanglements' Open The Gates. The incendiary poetry that accompanies the music is beautiful in this context. Music is more powerful than the sword and this music is a tsunami of thoughts on justice and equity laced with various rhythms.

Shabaka Hutchings' new album Afrikan Culture fits well in this space, a most welcome addition to jazz and its continuing evolution. It melds Japanese wood instruments with the kora and mbira to an effect that isn’t entirely expected. Lisa Sahlka listens to two recent recordings that explore politics, jazz and new ideas.


world music On the second album from Anna Dantchev and her ensemble Dantchev:Domain, The Lions We Are, the Bulgarian singer who lives in Finland finds them exploring the theme of courage, a concept that’s not always easy to define. Perhaps aptly, then, it’s an album of surprising twists and turns in music, brimming over with ideas. That surfeit is evident on the very first track. “Goodbye” shifts quite abruptly from lament to a hyperspeed disco bassline, colored by deep brass that morphs into jazz. It’s quite astonishing, and there’s no doubt the musicians are exceptional, but the track, like the rest of the album, is very much an album of shadowed textures; plenty of darkness without the relief of light, only a few swirls of guitar and xylophone to offer occasional counterpoint. Read Chris Nickson's review and hear some of the new music online.


world music


world music

Orchestre Massako is an EP length 4-song collection that pays homage to late, prolific vocalist and songwriter, Jean-Christian Mboumba Mackaya aka Mack-Joss, a Gabonese musician who spearheaded this band from the late 1970s until their mid-1990s demise. Orchestre Massako, which was formed by members of Gabon’s National Gendarmerie, eventually became Gabon’s national orchestra and starting making records in Paris, where they were pressed and sold in Gabon. The band also came to include Amara Toure, a singer who had found fame in Senegal before moving first to Cameroun and then Gabon, where he joined Massako (you can hear him on two of this album’s tracks). Musically, the sound here is polished but not slick, and like many West African bands of the time, owes some of its sound to music coming in from Cuba and elsewhere in the Caribbean African diaspora

Saturno 2000 is an odd release. The recordings come from Mexico City. Well, sort of. Essentially, this compilation is indirectly the result of records that were sold to sonideros- block party DJs in Mexico City. The art of Mexican DJ culture runs along a timeline roughly the same as the earliest hip hop parties in the Bronx or the heavy, dub-drenched toasting of sound system DJ. What they all had in common was creativity based on economic decisions where money was tight. Whereas hip-hop’s origins or Jamaica’s toasters rapped over manipulated vinyl, Mexican block parties thrived due to the invention of turntables with pitch control, meaning DJs could slow records down from 33 to 20 RPMs, a concept that came to be called rebajada, or "to lower or reduce." This collection’s real inspiration comes from an accident at a Monterrey block party when a local sonidero’s turntable connection overheated, causing the records to slow down. The next day he started receiving requests for mix tapes of the tracks at the slower speed and a movement was born as more and more people wanted recordings. So, while the music here is largely from Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, and Venezuela, it comes via purposeful and accidental tweaking much farther north. And it’s astounding stuff, meant for a slow, hot summer day and a joint. Arguably, slowing the tracks down allows a listener to get inside the music. Truly, except on rare occasions where vocals appear, one would never know this music had been manipulated unless they were familiar with the original recording. Bruce Miller delves into two very different brands of popular music, from Gabon and South America.


world music

Music of the Month

Singer-songwriter-multi-instrumentalist Drew Gonsalves is a native of Trinidad, transplanted as a teen to Canada. Inspired by the Kaiso tradition of such definitive purveyors of calypso as Neville Marcano “Growling Tiger” and Calypso Rose, Gonsalves pens most of Kobo Town’s material. Carnival of the Ghosts delves more universally than its predecessors into the metaphysical vein. As Gonsalves relates in the album notes, "While much of my writing has been inspired by the history that has shaped the Caribbean and its diaspora, leaving its marks and scars in all our manners and doings, this album takes a wider look at our human condition­here the lingering past is not just beneath the surface of the present, it is also something we are all quickly becoming part of." Read Michael Stone's full review and hear some of the music.

Carnival of the Ghosts is our June, 2022 selection for Music of the Month. Read more about it and subscribe to our monthly CDs, or purchase this one for a donation to RootsWorld.


world music Nyokabi Kariũki gives us a highly personalized sound journey in peace places: kenyan memories. She takes us down a path through the sound images that haven’t left her; rather they have been informed and transformed by her artistic growth, and by the vividness as well as the fickleness of memory. Hers is a twenty-first century African interpretation of the environment and its relationship to traditional music. She teases us gently with console-tweaked natural sounds and with electronic fabrications. We share with her an intimate passage, one in which we feel, at the same time, enclosed within her secrets. Carolina Amoruso takes you to some of those secret places in her review. Listen.


world music Any Westerner who’s heard music of the Beja people, who live near Port Sudan, a city located on Sudan’s Red Sea coast and responsible for perhaps 90% of Sudan’s trade, discovered it via a 1995 CD release titled Rain in the Hills: Beja Ballads of Port Sudan. The album, released on the late John Storm Roberts’ defunct label Original Music, featured solo oud laments as well as tunes played on the basankoob, a Beja lyre. This new Ostinato release may not be the first to reach western ears (as they claim), but Beja Power! Electric Soul & Brass from Sudan's Red Sea Coast gives this music the largest Western audience it’s likely to have. It has also introduced a hybrid instrument, the tambo-guitar, a combination electric guitar and tambour (aka the basankoob). Also, the music on Beja Power! differs radically from the OM release as it’s electric, vocal-free, and played by a band that includes hand drummers, a sax, a second guitar and bass. Noori, the tambo-guitarist, sails over the album’s six tracks as his Dorpa Band rides subtle, breathtaking vamps. Bruce Miller gives you the rest of the story.


world music The seljefløyte is a Norwegian flute made from willow and Hans Fredrik Jacobsen reckons his latest album Svadilja is the first ever to solely feature the instrument in its traditional form. Jacobsen prefers to make his own flutes, in the traditional way. “One of the things I love doing most is whittling a willow pipe. This is something I do every spring, when nature is awakening with new life, colors are appearing, sap is rising in the trees, birds are singing and the world is a better place.” Svadilja is a collection of solo pieces he chose to record in the open air, in a forest not too far from Oslo. Mike Adcock reviews, and Hans Fredrick will show you how to make your own seljefløyte.


world music New in our file of short reviews and audio introductions:

Steve Earle and the Dukes dig in to the songs of Jerry Jeff (Walker, that is). Les Amazones d'Afrique are on tour in 2022 and have released a four song EP of live songs from their shows. Echo is the third collaboration between Welsh harpist Catrin Finch and Senegalese kora player Seckou Keita. Linde is a series of compositions by cellist Katrine Schiøtt that were written in the time after her baby was born; a period of long, sleepless nights when the mind doesn't always think clearly, when time seems to pass at a different pace.

Come get a few more Sound Bites


world music Those of us who listen to music constantly, particularly jazz, wait for the next burst of creativity that further defines the music. Jazz has been influenced by so many genres, including the African diaspora, Latin music and now every other form of music. It leads to the question: “Is this jazz?” Enter Maga Bo and his new album Amor (É Revolução), which recently stopped me in my tracks one morning while listening to WPKN radio. Maga Bo is an American-born music producer who has spent many years living in Brazil and mixing indigenous Brazilian roots music with 21st Century production and an amalgamation of various music forms... On Amor (É Revolução), his music is channeled in a glorious salute to Brazil, conjuring earth and spirit. Read Lisa Sahulka's review of the album and hear (and see) some of the music.


world music Long Term Parking is made up of the Czech trio of Christineck (aka Michal Krystýnek of the band Ponk), Kolib (aka Libor Koutník), and Pavel Bríza. Their first album Luxury Luxury is dark material. At this uncomfortable moment in time, something ecstatic just sounds wrong to my ears. A bit of keening anxiety is in order, along with spoken word droning, some catchy hooks to keep humming to and a bit of experimental sound atmospherics mixed with strings to get to the heart of the zeitgeist. We are (perhaps) coming out of the covid pandemic and into who-knows- what. The album is made up of songs laying bare moral struggles of the mind in the face of technological intrusions, and the collapse of self-identity and agency within the internet age. It’s heady, deep listening stuff. Luxury Luxury has a message, delivered via elaborate lyric imagery and sonic textures. Join Martha Willette Lewis and explore a different take on Luxury.


world music Stelios Petrakis is top of the tree among Cretan musicians and instrument makers. He’s particularly known as a leading player and maker of Cretan lyras, including the lyra with sympathetic strings that he and Ross Daly developed, but he’s also master, and luthier, of laouto and saz, and here he brings in a new development of his, a bass lyra he calls ‘Cretan cello.’ This is a beautiful, richly textured, dazzlingly played album, of mostly his own compositions which, like his instruments, embrace and expand on the finest and subtlest parts of Cretan tradition, in instrumentals and songs with lyrics traditional or by his brother Yannis Petrakis.

His quartet consists of himself on the aforementioned instruments, with Dimitris Sideris (laouto and vocals), Michalis Kontaxakis (mandolin) and dancer Nikos Lembesis. For this album they’re joined on some tracks by singer Vasilis Stavrakákis, great Iranian percussionist Bijan Chemirani on zarb, daff and bendir, Charalambos Paraskakis on askomandoura (Cretan bagpipe), and Valencian musician and recording engineer Efrén López on pandero. His latest recording is titled Spondi. Read Andrew Cronshaw's review of Spondi and listen to some music.


world music The mere concept of a bunch of white folks from the states or Europe deciding it would be a great idea to collaborate with the Black musicians who inspired them is worrisome. From white-boy “blues” musicians such as Clapton playing with Howlin’ Wolf to Jon Spencer’s party record with RL Burnside, these collabs might have helped the aging bluesmen gain a larger audience, but they couldn’t help but come off as patronizing... There’s no escaping the dilemmas this inequality places on such pairings. Globally, there was the well-intentioned but problematic Real World Records run by Peter Gabriel, which, while introducing African musicians to the west, also seemed to sonically flatten what many of them had on offer, suggesting western production values were somehow more palatable.

But sometimes we simply hear something and like it, finding familiarity and letting the influences wash over us. And that’s precisely what happened when Belgium’s Crammed Discs started releasing records in the West by raw, Congolese tradi-modern, electric ensembles who jacked their instruments into homemade-out-of-necessity amplification for a sound teetering on punk-rock sensibilities... What sets Congotronics International apart from the troubling white/Black collabs of the past is that Western artists featured here- Deerhoof, Juana Molina, Skeletons, Wildbirds & Peacedrums aren’t enlisted by the label to give Konono #1, who reunited for these sessions, or Kasai All-Stars any larger audience. Instead, they’re here to work their way into the Congolese bands’ tonal and rhythmic spaces out of sheer love. As a result, Where’s the One? truly feels like a more global celebration... Listen along while Bruce Miller gets deep inside this unusually successful collaboration.


world music Meneet, the long-awaited follow-up to Maija Kauhanen’s remarkable 2017 solo debut, Raivopyörä, might well be even more satisfying that its predecessor. No other musicians this time around, it’s simply her on various kanteles, both natural and prepared, along with all the voices and percussion, including “stuff from flea markets.” Working alone is demanding, but Kauhanen has been careful and precise with the arrangements, yet still allowing space to work up a real fire. That’s most apparent on the deviliish “Käärme” (“Snake”) where she spits out the words like venom over the heavy bassline from the kantele, and a rising crescendo of instruments, erupting in a snake charm chant that pulls from several historical texts. The evil slithers along, insidious, dangerous and deadly, and the track becomes a musical battle. Who wins? Well, you'll just have to listen and read Chris Nickson's review to find out.


world music

world music

Percussionist Manongo Mujica, who began playing in Peruvian rock bands in 1970, went on to fuse jazz with the country’s roots-based music in the 1980s, has composed, improvised, and collaborated with the likes of Acid Mothers Temple and Richard Pinhas. In 2020, he received the news that his dear friend of nearly 50 years, visual artist Rafael Hastings, had died, prompting the musical travels on Del Cuarto Rojo, as he tried to detail their friendship in sound. The results are evocative, touching, and sadly beautiful.

Territorio del Eco compiles key Peruvian musicians who were at the forefront of the country’s sonic innovations during the second half of the 20th Century. The focus here is on players who meshed the country’s Andean traditions into some truly far-reaching explorations. Read Bruce Miller's reviews of these two recordings and listen.


world music Unsurprisingly, even a global pandemic could not keep Oumou Sangaré from expressing her musical heart and soul. Visiting the U.S. in 2020 from Mali, Sangaré got caught in the covid-19 lockdown and decided to stay put in Baltimore, where she bought a house, and started to write and record songs for her latest album. From across the Atlantic, Sangaré sings words of praise and caution to folks back home in Mali, particularly its women. For Timbuktu, Sangaré teams again with Mamadou Sidibé, an old friend and her accompanist on the kamele n’goni African lute. But on this new album, she has an inspired partnership with Pascal Danaë, a Paris-based guitarist and leader of the band Delgres, where he unites his Guadalupe roots and gritty electric blues. Danaë fits perfectly into the Malian electric-acoustic hybrid blues sound, contrasting nicely against the dry twang of the n’goni... Throughout, Sangaré’s voice is a celebratory delight – silk and smoke, honey with a bit of grit, powerful and lithe. Read Marty Lipp's review, watch 2 videos, and listen to some of the music.


Music of the Month

world music Calabria is home to composer/musician Ettore Castagna. It’s a place that’s been buffeted by influences from all around the Mediterranean over many centuries. You can hear strong hints of that history in the music here; bits of Greece and North Africa, along with that dry, dusty sound that typifies the entire south of Italy. It makes for a heady rhythmic and often hypnotic combination, one that multi-instrumentalist Castagna gleefully explores. Eremìa started life as a completely solo project, just Castagna’s voice and playing, but quickly grew far beyond that, as he brought in musicians and instruments from around the world to add their own colors and textures to the material. Yet, for all the guests, the core of the sound remains constant to Castagna’s original vision. Come listen and read Chris Nickson's review.


world music Alazhymny (My Alash) is a newly released collection of Tuvan recordings made by Vyacheslav M. Shchurov between 1967 and 1977 focused on the singing of Khunashtaar-ool Oorzhak. It includes field recordings made on the high mountain pastures of Aldan-Maadyr in the Chöön-Khemchik region in 1967, others recorded for Moscow Radio in 1977, and some from a private collection.

Andrew Cronshaw writes, "Khunashtaar-ool Oorzhak was the first Tuvan throat-singer I ever heard, sometime around 1980 I think. It was an astonishing sound, and I couldn’t have started with a better practitioner. It was a track recorded for Moscow radio back when Tuvan khöömei, known as throat-singing but really made with the vocal cords and mouth, was only just beginning to be heard outside the southern Siberian republic of Tuva. He was doing a sygyt, one of the particularly striking and iconic split-voice forms of khöömei that have a whistling melody made with harmonics over a deep growling drone." Read more about this important set of recordings and hear some of the music in Andrew's full review.


Music of the Month

world music The (former) French colonials will not let their history rest, and they’ve been known to express their rancor through art. Both their literature and music have proven incisive, serving as vehicles of agitation against the dehumanization and abuses of French rule. Writer, polemicist and psychiatrist, Frantz Fanon, as well as his mentor Aimé Césaire, and writer Patrick Chamoiseau, are part of a cadre of musicians and intellectuals from the French Caribbean, and from the Maghreb as well as Sub-Saharan Africa, who have contributed to the truthtelling of the history of colonialism and neo-colonialism. On Insula, Martinican jazz pianist Maher Beauroy pays homage to Fanon, featuring salient excepts from his writings, most notably the iconic "Black Skin, White Masks" (1952) and "The Wretched of the Earth" (1961). The selections are read by Florence Baudin, and Beauroy has amassed a diverse assemblage percussion instruments, oud, mandolin, flute, violins, cello, acoustic bass (the emerging Martinican standout, Sélène Saint-Aimé) and vocals. Each tune is a voyage, with straight-ahead jazz at the helm, undulating through musical idioms mostly as if by sea, informed by Caribbean rhythms and by passages through the Maghreb as well. Rather than mimic the argument and accusations of Fanon’s text in the narrative of Beauroy’s music, Insula is a free standing companion to Fanon, one that gives the listener room to contemplate, and to enjoy the music in its own right. Read Carolina Amoruso's article on the music of Maher Beauroy, and the texts of the writer who inspired his new work, Frantz Fanon.


world music Galicia, in north-west Spain, is honored with skilled musicians strongly rooted in its living tradition, and they’re making ever-diversifying music, embracing ideas and approaches from present-day musics and bending them to the Galician way. A prime example is the band Os d’Abaixo, formed in 2010 to play for dances and fiestas in Santiago de Compostela. Its name translates from Galego to English as ‘those from below,’ or – given that its members are often to be found in the excellent gigs and sessions downstairs in Compostela’s roots-music hub Casa Das Crechas - those from downstairs. For their new release, Somos A Pedra, the six-piece ensemble comprises Quim Farinha (fiddle), Gom Goás (guitar), Santi Cribeiro (accordion - he and Farinha were both members of well-known Galician band Berrogüetto), Richi Marín (percussion), and Roberto Rama (who was in another influential band, Fía na Roca) and Xacobe Varela on Galician gaitas, bouzouki, sax, and pandereta. Varela takes lead vocals, and on this third album there are other vocal leads from guests Eliseo Parra and Portuguese singer María João. Andrew Cronshaw finds it full of memorable material, beautifully arranged and played.


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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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