A World Music Magazine

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 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.


Andrew Cronshaw finds it full of memorable material, beautifully arranged and played.

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.


world music

world music

Terje Isungset is a Norwegian percussionist who has long explored the sound-making potential to be found in the natural materials of his homeland, whether it be birch wood, lumps of granite, slate or, as we find here, ice. Over twenty ago years ago he began staging an annual ice music festival each February in Norway, and Glacial Poetry is his ninth Ice Music album. For these recordings and for live performances of his ice music, Isungset insists on using natural ice - tap water just doesn't sound right – and this latest recording was made in a specially built igloo high in the mountains over one winter. Read Mike Adcock's review and listen.

Terje Isungset's work with ice recognizes and draws attention to the endangered fragility of the medium. Stefan Östersjö and Mats Edén are creating music from the other end of the process on Wind, water, strings, bow. We learn from the accompanying booklet that Vombsjön, a lake in southern Sweden, was formed (albeit 14,000 years ago) from the melting of glaciers, but now of course that process is accelerating rapidly. Fiddler player Edén and guitarist Östersjö place the emphasis on free improvisation in partnership with sounds from the natural world. They recorded next to the Vombsjön, and the instrumentation might be thought of as a deconstruction of a jazz quartet format: two front players and a rhythm section. The latter is provided here by the sound of water lapping on the shore along with wind roaring through the strings of a specially adapted guitar suspended from a tree, a contemporary take on an aeolian harp. Stand on the shore and listen while you read Mike Adcock's review.


world music In the ancient world, Babylon was a happening place. Founded some 4,000 years ago in Mesopotamia, between the Tigris and the Euphrates Rivers, it was a sprawling, multicultural metropolis where art, science, music, mathematics, astronomy, and literature flourished. But for the Abrahamic faiths, Babylon represents worldliness and sensual excess, oppression, and evil... That Babylon is not what Antonio Castrignanò had in mind when he titled his latest release Babilonia. For Castrignanò, a singer, percussionist, and composer from Salento, the southern part of Italy's Puglia region, the Mesopotamian capital is a metaphor for "a collective journey outside the Salento borders to discover different languages and cultures." Salento is the point of departure (and return), but Castrignanó's Babilonia reaches Sub-Saharan Africa, Turkey, the Balkans, and the Middle East. Babilonia comprises ten new compositions performed by Castrignanò and an ensemble of Italian and non-Italian musicians... Castrignanò has created a personal style rooted in traditional Salentine music, and not only pizzica but also work songs and love ballads. He's been immersed in it since his childhood in Galatina, once a center of tarantismo.

George De Stefano reviews an album that "takes the listener on a voyage on which every stop offers pleasure, surprise, excitement, and often stunning beauty. It's Antonio Castrignanò's masterpiece and a highwater mark in contemporary Salentine music."


Music of the Month

world music Olav Luksengard Mjelva is a Norwegian fiddler whose second album Hugnad features almost exclusively his own compositions. The CD comes with a booklet illustrated with color photographs and containing short notes in Norwegian and English on each of the tracks. Mjelva is from Roros in the east of Norway, close to the Swedish border, an area known for its standard fiddle tradition. However, following in the footsteps of celebrated fiddle-player and authority on Norwegian folk music Sven Nyhus, who also came from there, Mjelva has embraced styles from a wider area of the country, playing both standard fiddle and the Hardanger variety with its added sympathetic under strings. Mike Adcock takes you through some of the albums tracks.


world music

Music of the Month

The Mtsogo and Punu forest-dwelling tribes of Gabon have practiced Bwiti, a religious practice involving psychedelic root bark ingestion, for hundreds of years or longer. And like many rituals around the planet, music plays a role. In the case of these Gabonese tribes, the mungongo (mouth bow) and ngombi (harp) play a central role in Bwiti ritual. As participants surrender to a psychoactive state, the ngombi can often be plucked at a manic pace, inducing hallucinations. Ngombi master Papé Nziengui mixed ritual with commerce when he released Kadi Yombo in 1989. Here, on tracks such as "Ngonde," furious harp and mouth bow accompany Nziengui's lead vocal, which is answered by a female chorus. This is the vocal approach on much this album, and as such, represents aspects of Bwiti performance. "Ngonde" is representative of the second half of this LP, which focuses on the traditional instruments and vocals and comes as something of a surprise after the first half of this album... where you will hear the ngomi engulfed by drum machines, electric bass throb, and synths, rendering the ceremonial as dance floor pulse. The blend works well, connecting straight to the club, which has its own rituals of surrender, drug use, and movement as interconnected slices of a collective experience. Read Bruce Miller's review and listen to some of the music

This album is a RootsWorld Music of the Month selection. You can subscribe or make a one time donation and receive this CD as our thank you. The CDs were donated by the artist and the label, Awesome Tapes from Africa. I thank them, and YOU, for supporting RootsWorld.
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world music Tone of Voice Orchestra is a 10 piece group out of Copenhagen, and includes a cittern, bagpipes, drums, double bass, flutes sax, hurdy-gurdy, fiddle and four singers. Martha Willette Lewis writes, "I must confess I was not immediately taken with this album. On my initial listen I found the vocals too redolent of the Mammas and the Papas or the 5th Dimension. And there was flute. It was too upbeat as well. I have ingrained and strong opinions, that in this case got in my way. And then I really listened. Once I got over myself and my curmudgeonly biases, I found a jazz-inflected musical gem full of sparkle and some truly fine music. The stand-up bass and fiddle with the sax really do it for me. I felt really good listening to this. I fell for all of the instrumental parts, and the lyrics are whip smart, witty and surprising. The songs reflect on stereotypes, daily life, bittersweet love and it's clearly and strongly voiced from a female perspective." Read Martha's full review and hear a number of songs from this surprising new album.


world music Peter Knight & John Spiers are Both In A Tune on the second album from this venerable duo of fiddle and accordion, and shows that the art of deep listening is very much alive and well in music. Yes, it's a folk album of sorts, but one which explores and reimagines traditional tunes, making them into something quite new and often daring. There's also a strong sprinkling of original music, filled with delicate and sometimes breathless improvisation. Chris Nickson reviews an album he finds beautifully performed and thought out.


world music The Henrys are one of those curious little Canadian enigmas. They periodically emerging with new albums containing staggeringly good, inventive music, maybe playing a show or two, then vanishing back into Toronto like northern ninjas. They're one of those bands where 'if you know, you know' is true, and if you don't, well, you really should... Shrug sees a small change, with leader/guitarist Don Rooke now handling most of the vocals, helped by Maggie Keogh, over one of the tautest rhythm sections in music, plus occasional guests. But everything remains honed, sharp, and ready to entertain and sometimes confound. Read Chris Nickson's review and listen to some songs.


world music Whether through brawny assertiveness or by embellishing happenstance, we are now being gifted by more and first-rate access to what women have to say and how they choose to say it in music. While working recently on a review, I had a mini-revelation: I had inadvertently (or maybe not) filed my last ten or so articles for RootsWorld top-loaded with the efforts of women from around the world who have been pivotal in elbowing men from their ages-old monopoly over the artistry, center stage, and business of music, arguably the most influential of all of the arts. These women boast supreme and engaging musicianship, as well as growing savvy independent of and with equal agency as men.

Read about how Sofia Rei, Siti Muharam, Les Filles de Illighadad, Amparo Sanchez, Ladama and Luedji Luna are changing the musical landscapes of the world in Carolina Amoruso's article, I will show you what a woman can do.


world music Passionately soaring, thrilling, slithering violins, rolling piano, surging bandoneón, double bass, in lurching, hesitating rhythms - the sounds associated with tango. And indeed this is the traditional formation of a tango orchestra, an 'orquesta típica'. But only one of the fifteen tracks on La Típica Folklórica's La Diablera is an actual tango. All the rest are the zambas, cuecas, chacareras, escondido, rasguido doble and bailecito of rural Argentinian dance and song music, arranged for the orquesta típica line-up. The melodies, and the four songs, are from the repertoires of a variety of Argentinian musicians and groups... The Argentinian founder, leader and arranger of this Paris-based ensemble, Alfonso Pacin, plays guitar, violin and bombo, and is a sensitive, light-voiced singer, while the other musicians and guests are an international mix. Read more about this unique ensemble in Andrew Cronshaw's review.


world music Janus, the latest album from Norwegian Hardanger fiddle-player Annbjørg Lien, sets off in fine style with a rousing original tune called "Amazon." It's written in the gangar dance tune tradition of Setesdal, not where Lien is from but whose music she has long turned to for inspiration. It starts with just fiddle and what sounds like a bass drum keeping the pulse, rather than the customary stamped foot. Second time through the tune she is joined by a few of of the collection of eight musicians backing her on the album, who together help to propel the piece's great rhythmic drive. So it comes as quite a surprise, as early as the second track, to find ourselves in a quite different sound world. "The Clock Is Ticking" is another original, this time a song delivered by Lien in English. It has a gentle bluesy gospel feel with harmonica and slide guitar predominating instrumentally, both provided by Knut Reiersrud. The Hardanger fiddle isn't heard until it takes the instrumental break, but it then suffers from being rather crowded out by the other things going on, an ominous indicator of what is to come. Read Mike Adcock's review and listen.


Music of the Month
world music Beny Esguerra has an amazing story. Born in Bogota, Colombia surrounded by music, his family had to flee to Canada when his parents' work as activists and educators placed them in danger of being disappeared by the country's then-repressive government. Since then he has been a teacher, worked with a roving music studio and won a few awards. He raps, deals in spoken word, and mixes indigenous South American sounds with just about anything else you can name. On Northside Kuisi he continues to mix Colombian instrumentation such as gourds, accordion, hand drums, or Guacharaca with hip hop, Congolese rhythms, recorded speeches, horn riffs, and metallic guitar for music that focuses on North and South American Unity. In the process, both musically and lyrically, he eradicates borders. He ends up with a near-perfect gumbo of the entire hemisphere, all of it coming off as a natural extension of his own experience. Read Bruce Miller's review and listen to some of the music.


world music Polish singer Karolina Cicha has, over the last decade or so and several of her albums, been exploring the music of Poland's minorities, making arrangements and singing in their languages. Karaimska Mapa Muzyczna (Karaim Music Map) is a 2 CD project focuses on the songs of a very small minority, the Karaim people. Their history is complicated and their exact origins are the subject of dispute, but they are historically of the Jewish faith, but with differences from mainstream Judaism, and they live mainly in Crimea, Lithuania, Ukraine and Poland... Their language, which is of the Turkic group with Hebrew influences, is spoken by only a few dozen today, mainly in the town of Trakai in Lithuania.

On disc 1 Cicha sings, in the Karaim language, some of the same songs and more, in arrangements by her and the three musicians of her group Spólka (Company) using her accordion and keyboards and the band's instrumentation that includes kemanche, fiddle, cymbaly (hammered dulcimer), saz, oud, kantele and percussion... Disc 2 is twelve tracks from eight Karaim singers, unaccompanied solo or in duet. They're fine singers, male and female, most of them from Trakai, who are involved in the encouragement of Karaim music and culture. Many of the songs come from the Crimean Karaim tradition. Read Andrew Cronshaw's review and find links to all the music and the actual interactive 'map' that takes you though it all.


world music

Music of the month

Remembrance begins with the sound of a high lonesome harmonica, more in the sonic image of the American west than one might expect from Iranian-born artist Mamak Khadem. But then the rhythm section slides in under keyboards and the words of 13th Century Persian poet Saadi Shirazi come slowly to your ear. Khadem writes that Remembrance is "a musical journey to remembrance, healing the huge loss of my beloved father, Mohsen Khadem... Being unable to be by his side was profoundly difficult, yet for so many immigrants in our world, life itself is like an infinity of limitations." In these eight songs, written during the pandemic, isolated from family, the words of poets ancient and modern are brought to life in an album of rich, droning music and a voice filled with both pain and hope... Each song on the album is its own highway, each path feeling different underfoot... Read the editor's review.

I am pleased to present this album as our selection for Music of the Month for March, 2022. These recordings are donated by the artist and labels to help you support RootsWorld with your contribution of 20.00 a month, or a one-time purchase of 22.00. I want to thank Mamak Khadem and Six Degrees Records for helping me bribe you to help RootsWorld.
Find out how you can subscribe and support us.


world music In a pop landscape populated with singers who wield the kind of gob-smacking, roof-raising voices celebrated by TV shows like "The Voice," Brazil's Marisa Monte is a voice apart. On her latest, Portas, Monte more than ever leans into creating music of quiet beauty – a pop star who declines to be ear-popping. Her latest album shows her in gentle mode – more bossa nova sweet sophistication than street party samba. While the album ends with several vivid, upbeat songs, the album seems to be Monte's balm for a Brazil and world that has been wracked by the Covid pandemic... For her first solo album in 10 years, Monte returns to form, but in an unexpectedly quiet way. Read Marty Lipp's review and listen to some songs.


world music Traditionally the province of men, a young woman from a semi-nomadic scrubland village in Niger, Fatou Seidi Ghali, had the temerity to steal away with a cousin's electric guitar and taught herself to play. Ghali has become the first professional female guitarist amongst the Tuareg. With Alamnou Akrouni and Amaria Hamadalher, Ghali formed Les Filles de Illighadad (The Daughters of Illighadad, their native village), in 2017, the first female Tuareg band. A cousin of Ghali, Abdoulaye Madassane, plays more or less rhythm guitar, but his key role is to negotiate for the women in situations where they may not, and to act as their de facto chaperone. Carolina Amoruso delves into the Tuareg women's music called Tendé.


world music Ruky na Dudách offers a thrilling mass of grainy instruments and strong vocals, in music of the Moravian-Silesian Beskyd mountains in eastern Czechia (the Czech Republic). Bagpipe, fiddles, kontra (rhythm viola), koncovka, hammered dulcimer, trúba (long wooden Carpathian trumpet), high-pitched pistalka (wooden whistle), various gutsy folk percussion instruments and more, are joined by wild full-voiced male and female singing. It's music full of the energy and spirit of village tradition, but these aren't field recordings; they're tracks, new and from previous releases, featuring bagpiper Vlastimil Bjacek in arrangements by his longtime colleague, musician, ethnomusicologist and producer Marian Freidl. Andrew Cronshaw offers a full review, plus a little tutorial on the Lydian mode.


world music As UK-based Matsuli continues its journey to unearth music from South Africa's 1970's-era funk, jazz, and disco hybrids, One Night in Pelican serves as both primer for and extension of what we know about Soweto's fertile scene. As it turns out, the Pelican, a venue that opened in 1973, located in an industrial park near railways and warehouses, and run by bootlegger Lucky Michaels, was Soweto's first club. As such, it had its own house bands as well as a VIP-section full of the city's cross section of celebrities and hot shot musicians. And while the Pelican's weekend sounds focused on top 20 hits, the rest of the week was open for jamming, which is where this collection comes in. Bruce Miller listens to the late night sounds of Soweto.


world music Lima, Peru-based Buh Records has been releasing reminders of the massive, multi-cultural, geographically astounding South American country's vast experimental music scene for the better part of the last 20 years, unearthing treasures of the country's music beyond more well-known Amazonian Chicha or coastal Afro-Latin rhythms. Buh has exposed a country that has boundless experimentation on par with anything from Europe or the states. So, it only makes sense that they have decided to release two collections of more foundational tracks from the rainforest or rainforest-adjacent areas of the country. Around the Humisha focuses on ensembles from the country's vast Amazon region. However, what they show are musical forms that had long ago hybridized to included sounds from the coasts, the mountains, as well as the Amazon, which means to hear whatever Peruvian Amazonian "traditional" music is to hear a stew of the country's vast assortment of instruments and rhythms... The music of the Lamista Kechwas focuses on a single ensemble, the elderly Los Abuelos del Wayku, who are from a region of Northern Peru where mountains, jungle, and wide valleys converge. Everything in this collection was recorded between 2017 and 2020 by Percy Alexander Flores Navarro and shows off the most hardcore indigenous music from this Quechua-speaking area. Bruce Miller delves into two albums of the living tradition of Peru.


world music For quite a few of the early years of this century, Maria Mazzotta was the female vocalist for the estimable Italian group Canzionere Grecanico Salentino, using her powerful but supple voice on their songs. She has branched out in a couple of directions since then, in a collaboration with the Toulouse-based jazz group Pulcinella on Grifone, and also her 2020 solo release, Amoreamaro. Together they showcase very different sides of her personality. Listen to some of the songs and read Chris Nickson's review of these two albums featuring one of Italy's finest voices.


world music A simple electric guitar pattern, over which the fiddle plays a phrase, develops as it repeats. Then in with the full band, big chunks growing into a huge loping riff and screaming guitar, before subsiding to the opening fiddle phrase and guitar pattern. It is a satisfying opening to the first album in a long time from one of the leaders of Sweden's folk-rock phase of the 1990s. Trad is a full-blooded, energizing and very welcome return for Hoven Droven, up there with their finest. Read Andrew Cronshaw's review and listen to the music.


world music Bonga Jean-Baptiste, a Haitian-born master vodou drummer now living in New York City has been performing and teaching children rhythm in an attempt to make sure the music's practice lives on. Boula shows the drummer, singer, and Houngan (priest) exploring rhythms he learned as he traveled his home country as a young man. The record allows snapshots of the various regional rhythms, as well as lyrical themes shaped as songs. What they can't possibly capture is the experience one gets from a vodou ceremony; instead, they showcase Jean-Baptiste's vast knowledge of this music and offer an authentic recording of a centuries-old tradition. Read Bruce Miller's review and listen.


world music The trio plays traditional Swedish music (except for one track), but quite honestly, it's unlike any take on the past you've heard. This is the lumpity-bumpity version, a gleeful rise through it all by a trio using violins, saxophones, and clarinets. Not your standard line-up, but there's nothing standard about Massiv. Read Chris Nickson's review and listen to a few of those bumpity tunes.


world music Two Estonians appear in dark suits and white shirts without ties. One looks like a doctor or lawyer, the other a renegade rocker. But it's what's in their hands that completes the picture and makes it unusual: each has a hiiu-kannel, the Estonian variant of the Baltic bowed lyre, close kin to Finland's jouhikko and also known as talharpa, tagelharpa or in Swedish stråkharpa. The duo - Ramo Teder (hiiu-kannel, vocal, looper, effects) and Marko Veisson (hiiu-kannel, vocal, effects) - are cunningly, palindromically named Puuluup. 'Puu' is Estonian and Finnish for tree or wood, and 'luup' is a fortuitous re-spelling of the English loop. Those two hiiu-kannels, looped and processed, provide the source of all of Puuluup's instrumentation. Their second album - Viimane Suusataja - offers danceable grooves in songs with surreal lyrics, wittily presented. Listen in and read Andrew Cronshaw's review.


world music Hazama is the second album from Mitsune, a Berlin-based band featuring an all-female trio of shamisen players who also provide the vocals, supported by double bass and percussion. Whilst it has its roots firmly in Japanese traditional music, Hazama presents a decidedly modern take on that tradition, not in its technology - the instrumentation is purely acoustic - but in its brazen eclecticism. The band members hail from Japan, Germany, Australia and Greece and that is reflected in their global approach to things... What is so endearing about this album is its sheer energy and rapid changes of direction, the unexpected shifts continually taking the music into new territory while at the same time remaining cohesive throughout. Read Mike Adcock's review, listen to some samples and see an animated video by the band,


world music Some recordings are hard to capsulize in a quick blurb. Brazilian composer and singer Juçara Marçal's Delta Estácio Blues is one of those. Martha Willette Lewis found "a sonic feast of surprises: by turns discordant, whooping, crunchy, soulful, brassy and supremely confident. It's a daring tour-de-force that squarely deserves a place as one of the top albums of the year. Yes, there is pain, anger, and political critique but also… Liveliness, curiosity, a sly sense of humor, and marvelous vocals. Join Martha and dig in to what both she and your editor find to be one of the more intriguing releases in recent memory.


world music The subtitle of Please Re-adjust Your Time is 'the early blues & psych-folk years,' but more apt might be 'growing up in public.' With this four-CD box set, pretty much everything of Ian A. Anderson's is now available, I believe. It really does show the maturation of an artist who's proved important to English roots music over the decades. While his very early releases aren't here in their entirety, the first four LPs are, with some of the other items cropping up among the bonus tracks. Played one after the other, it offers a fascinating insight into Anderson's development." Chris Nickson explores one aspect of the world of Mr. Anderson.


world music

world music

In 2016, the accordionist Riccardo Tesi and musicians such as Lucilla Galeazzi, Elena Ledda, Ginevra Di Marco (all providing vocals), Alessio Lega (voice, guitar), Gigi Biolcati (percussion, voice) brought to life the fiftieth anniversary of the monumental folk program of the 'Nuovo Canzoniere Italiano.' The re-mounting of this program proved to be a huge success, and the strong emotions evoked led the core of this 'Bella Ciao' group to continue its research and performances. Nando Citarella (voice, tambourine, jew's harp) and Claudio Carboni (saxophone) added to the recording ensemble. Where the original emphasis of the 2016 repertoire had been from northern Italy, it was perhaps natural that attention should then pivot towards the south. What emerges over the course of A Sud di Bella Ciao is an incredible travelogue, one forged by impeccable musicianship. Lee Blackstone takes you on a journey to the south.

A Sud di Bella Ciao is a RootsWorld Music of the Month selection. Find out how you can support the magazine and get the CD as our gift.


world music Emmanuel Iduma's A Stranger's Pose is so rich with images: written, documented, suggested and lyrical, that it just begs the exaltation of music. Consequently, Nigerian born Iduma collaborated with Portuguese composer and vocalist Sara Serpa, who has written a score to a number of especially evocative or illustrative passages. Serpa, alone, or with vocalists Sofia Rei and Aubrey Johnson, sing the lines, or they are recited by Serpa and Iduma. Though intrinsic to the album Intimate Strangers, the music is especially distinguished, riding on undertones and simple melodic lines expressed by the piano (Matt Mitchell), with sotto voce electronics (Qasim Naqvi). It sometimes feels as if the pace in the quiet expectancy of the arrangements, were the footfalls of the perambulating Iduma, as he follows one step with another, seeking discovery. Carolina Amoruso explores the book and it's musical collaboration in her review.


world music

Harr is a beautiful shape shifter of an album. Part a portrait of a landscape, part the opening of a veil on some family history, part nature walk in Norway. It's satisfying and strangely elusive, all at the same time. The music follows winding paths of the imagination, mixing Benedicte Maurseth's Hardanger fiddle with subtly-placed electronics and other instruments to create a moving, inviting bed of sound. "Heilo," for instance, the longest piece on the disc, presents an utterly different artist from her 2019 solo release. Or does it? The music certainly isn't traditional by any means, but the nature, the history that goes back generations – what is that but tradition? Read Chris Nickson's review and listen to some excerpts from the album.


world music Ssilfie-Bondzie, aka Mr. Essiebons, had founded the Essiebons label and record pressing plant- West Africa's first- in the late 1960s... The label's 1970s heyday coincided with changes in Ghanaian popular music, as typical highlife rhythms gave way to edgy, stuttering Afro-funk, mirroring Nigeria's more well-known but no-more-important developments in this area. Essiebons Special 1973 - 1984 Ghana Music Power House shows off some lesser known sides and needless to say, the music presented here continues to show the relentless consistency the Analog Africa label is known for. Read Bruce Miller's full review and hear a few tracks.


world music

Some music seems to arrive by stealth, made by someone entirely unknown who manages to beguile the ears and the heart. Stella Ariente is one of those albums. It seems to exist out of time; the music could equally have appeared in the 16th century as the 21st and felt completely at home. This is religious singing, from the oral tradition of Alta Murgia in Bari, just above the heel of Italy. Maria Moramarco, from a family of singers, seems to have been collecting songs since the 1970s. She appeared on a 2007 album with the group Uaragniaun, but this seems to be the first release under her own name. Quite sublime it is, too, musically hewing out a space between sacred and folk music, where late Renaissance music can mingle with hints of North Africa, all adding to the oral tradition that Moramarco so obviously reveres. Read Chris Nickson's review and listen to some of the songs.

Stella Ariente is our choice for the first Music of the Month selection for 2022. Find out how to subscribe and get music in your mailbox every month as our thank-you for your contribution to 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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