Tag Archives: world music

Very Be Careful’s Daisy’s Beauty Salon

Anyone who’s paying attention to world music in the past 20 years or so knows about cumbia. This Colombian folk music style has taken the world by storm in the 2000s. But its cousin vallenato (“vai-yeh-NAH-toh”) is less well known … Continue reading

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Georges Ivanovitch Gurdjieff and Vassilis Tsabropoulos’ Chants, Hymns and Dances

The name Gurdjieff calls up images of mysticism, esoteric spiritual doctrines, perhaps to some extent a certain wild-eyed fanaticism. Georges Ivanovitch Gurdjieff was, in point of fact, one of those restless wanderers in the realm of ideas who crop up … Continue reading

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Chancha via Circuito’s Bienaventuranza

“Digital cumbia.” It’s a new thing for me, but it’s been going on in Argentina for the past decade or so. This musical style combines Colombia’s highly popular folkloric music, cumbia, one of the most popular in Latin America, with … Continue reading

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Valeria Matzner’s Anima

Uruguayan-born singer-songwriter Valeria Matzner has been a musician for most of her life. It wasn’t until after she moved to Canada as an adult that she studied jazz, and it was there that she also eventually reconnected to her roots … Continue reading

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Duende Libre’s Drift

Drift is the sophomore release from the Seattle-based Latin-jazz/world music trio Duende Libre. It builds on the elements displayed on their self-titled debut, which was one of my favorite recordings of 2017. Duende Libre is composer and bandleader Alex Chadsey, … Continue reading

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Lalezar Ensemble’s Music of the Sultans, Sufis & Seraglio, Vol. III: Minority Composers; Vol. IV: Ottoman Suite

Turkey is strategically located at one of the world’s major crossroads. This applies to religion, culture, government and the arts as well as its physical location along trade routes. And for several hundred years ending in the early 20th Century, … Continue reading

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Lalezar Ensemble’s Music of the Sultans, Sufis & Seraglio, Volume I: Sultan Composers; Volume II: Music of the Dancing Boys

The Lalezar Ensemble is part of a current revival of classical Ottoman music under way in Turkey. The group — four instrumentalists and three vocalists — have created four CDs that give a sampling of some of the best and … Continue reading

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Turkish Classical Music: An Overview

Ahenk: Turkish Classical Music (Golden Horn Productions, 1998) Ìhsan Özgen: Masterworks of Itri and Meragi (Golden Horn Records, 1998) Ìhsan Özgen: Remembrances of Ottoman Composers And Improvisations (Golden Horn, 1999) Various Artists: Ashiklar: For Those Who Are In Love (Golden … Continue reading

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Turkish Music: An Omnibus Review

Maras Sinemilli Deyisleri/Ulas Ozdemir: Ummanda (Kalan, 1998) Erkan Ogur/Ismail H. Demircioglu: Gulun Kokusu Vardi (Kalan, 1998) Kardes Turkuler: Dogu (Kalan, 1999) Turk Ritm Grubu: Ten/Skin (Kalan, 1999) Selim Sesler ve Grup Trakya’nin Sesi: Kesan’a Giden Yollar (Kalan, 2000) (This review … Continue reading

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Steve Tibbetts’ Life Of

If you’re looking for a deeply contemplative album of meditative music, look no further than Steve Tibbetts’ Life Of. As with much of the Minnesota-based guitarist’s body of work, his latest release draws on world, ambient, jazz and experimental musics, … Continue reading

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Kiran Ahluwalia’s 7 Billion

The first I ever heard of Kiran Ahluwalia was her stunning rendition of the qawwali standard “Mustt-Mustt” backed by Tinariwen on a recording from what turned out to be the final Festival au Desert. Ahluwalia was born in India, raised … Continue reading

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Beatrice Deer’s My All To You

Beatrice Deer is a singer-songwriter from Nunavik, the icy region of Quebec north of the 55th parallel and home to Quebec’s Inuit people. My All to You is her fifth record since she left her tiny hometown of Quaqtaq for … Continue reading

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The Turbans’ self-titled debut

Listening to this album is the most fun I’ve had (musically speaking) in a long time. The Turbans bring a passionate spirit of adventure and an infectious liveliness to their music. Even if you can’t understand the lyrics – which … Continue reading

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Boiled in Lead’s The Well Below EP

I’ve heard Boiled in Lead in person but one time, and that was twenty years ago when they played in a field one late summer. Lovely they were, and their live sound carries over very well to being recorded. Describing … Continue reading

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Dirtmusic’s Bu Bir Ruya

I am no longer waiting for change I am no longer trying to escape I am no longer breaking chains I am no longer on We are gone – where we belong. – Dirtmusic, “Bi De Sen Söyle” The multinational … Continue reading

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Iona’s A Celebration of Twenty

The phrase “world music” has come to be associated in my mind with a certain sound, which can basically be summed up as too much soprano sax and too many cutesy penny whistles. (I admit, I can be something of … Continue reading

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Saz’iso’s At Least Wave Your Handkerchief At Me

This is a momentous collection of folk music. Not least because it’s the first project produced by the renowned Joe Boyd in 17 years (and also apparently resulted in his getting married to one of the participants). This album of … Continue reading

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Anouar Brahem’s Blue Maqams

There’s a moment a couple of minutes in to the title track of Anouar Brahem’s exquisite new album Blue Maqams that is the kind of moment I long for, like a thirsty person in the desert longs for a cool … Continue reading

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Björn Meyer’s Provenance

The energetically strummed funk of a tune called “Squizzle” is more or less what I expected when I approached an album of solo bass guitar music. It’s a quick in-and-out of a tune, just the electric bass and some subtle … Continue reading

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Saffron Ensemble’s Will You?

I can’t get enough of the music made by Shujaat Husain Khan and Katayoun Goudarzi. Fortunately, they make a lot of music, whether as a duo or in ensembles with other musicians. The thread that runs through their music is … Continue reading

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Coyote Oldman’s Tear of the Moon, Compassion, Floating on Evening: Songs from Otter River

I learned a very important concept about making art in a dance class, studying butoh, the contemporary Japanese dance-theater that is at once highly abstract and fundamentally impressionistic: evocation. Our movements were not to describe an action, but to evoke … Continue reading

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Perry Silverbird’s The Blessing Way; Tokeya Inajin’s (Kevin Locke) Dream Catcher; Mary Youngblood’s The Offering; Bryan Akipa’s Mystic Moments: Dakota Flute Music

As I listen to more traditional music and more music from non-Western sources, I begin to realize that the blithe use of the word “traditional” is tantamount to making your own noose and putting it around your neck. This was … Continue reading

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Ustad Shahid Parvez’s Magnificent Melody: A Tribute to Dulal Babu (Raga Darbari, Raga Shahana)

Shahid Parvez began studying the sitar at age four, and gave his first performance at age eight. He belongs to the seventh generation of the Etawa gharana, a tradition begun in the early nineteenth century by Sahebad Khan. In Shahid … Continue reading

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Various artists’ Uzelli Psychedelic Anadolu

This vinyl and digital release is a sampler of sorts for a new project by the German-based Turkish music label Uzelli. The Uzelli brothers started the label out of their Frankfurt import shop in the 1970s, releasing cassettes of all … Continue reading

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Various Artists’ Afghanistan Untouched

I have to admit to a certain feeling of helplessness when faced with a collection like Afghanistan Untouched: it is, much more than entertainment, an ethnographic document, as much as a study of northwest Australian wangga or a collection of … Continue reading

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Vieux Farka Touré

There were, in the middle of the last century, over 1,000 languages spoken in Africa, grouped into four large families, not counting creoles and pidgins (estimates have actually ranged as high as 3,000 altogether). This does actually have something to … Continue reading

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Ani Cordero’s Querido Mundo

Ani Cordero is a Puerto Rican-American singer, songwriter and musician (and a Latin American music researcher) living in New York. I became a fan of her eponymous alt-Latin indie-rock band in the early 2000s, which led me to the Mexican … Continue reading

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Jon Balke and Amina Alaoui’s Siwan

People sometimes remark on my taste in music (as in “What on earth are you listening to now?”), and I’ll be the first to admit it’s rather broad. I figure it’s all just music, and half the fun of it … Continue reading

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Various Artists’ Gamelan of Central Java XIV: Ritual Sounds of Sekaten

Ritual Sounds of Sekaten is a pendant to Volume II in the series Gamelan of Central Java, presenting three more examples of the music played for the Islamic religious festival of Sekaten in Java. The first two tracks are the … Continue reading

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Various Artists’ Gamelan of Central Java XII: Pangkur One/XIII: Pangkur Two

“Pangkur” denotes a kind of music in the Javanese classical canon that can take many forms — sung poetry, court dances, and many other idioms — and can be performed in either slendro or pelog scales. It is perhaps the … Continue reading

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Pandit Ram Narayan’s Raga Puria-Kalyan

Pandit Ram Narayan was born in 1927 in Rajasthan, the fifth generation of a family of musicians. At the age of seven he began formal training on the sarangi, a bowed string instrument traditionally played to accompany singers. Narayan was … Continue reading

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Various Artists’ Gamelan of Central Java, XI: Music of Remembrance

This volume of the series Gamelan of Central Java presents an interesting conundrum: in a cultural tradition that has ideas of death, dying, and commemoration that differ radically from those we in the West hold, what is music suitable for … Continue reading

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Antonio Carlos Jobim’s Symphonic

Antonio Carlos Jobim, known widely as “Tom,” was one of the key figures in the popularity of the bossa nova, a style he and his fellows — particularly Joao Gilberto, Luiz Bonfá, and Vinícius de Moraes — created from the … Continue reading

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Marcel Khalife’s Andalusia of Love

Reams have been written about Lebanese musician, composer and singer Marcel Khalife, who is one of the most popular and controversial musicians in the Arab world today. He’s made his name by expanding the possibilities of the Arabian lute, called … Continue reading

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Carol J. Oja’s Colin McPhee: Composer in Two Worlds

The music of the East, particularly the gamelan of Indonesia, and even more particularly that of Bali, has a longer history of interaction with the music of the West than many might imagine. Claude Debussy first encountered the gamelan in … Continue reading

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Various Artists’ Gamelan of Central Java, X: Sindhen Trio

“Sindhen” refers to the solo part in a gamelan, usually sung by a woman pesindhen (soloist). In this collection, part of the extensive series produced by John Noise Manis on the gamelan of Central Java, we are presented with two … Continue reading

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Eljuri’s La Lucha

The New York-based guitarist, singer and songwriter Cecilia Villar Eljuri, who performs under the name Eljuri, compulsively fuses genres in a way that’s not entirely unusual for a Latino musician. She is, however, rather unusually a Latina rocker and electric … Continue reading

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Various Artists, Gamelan of Central Java, Volume VIII: Court Music Treasures/ Gamelan of Central Java IX: Songs of Wisdom and Love

Volume VIII of the excellent and ongoing series of Central Javanese Gamelan produced by John Noise Manis is a pendant to the sixth volume, subtitled Kraton Surakarta. It represents an elaboration on the classical traditions of Javanese court music and, … Continue reading

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Various Artists, Gamelan of Central Java, Vols. V-VII

Vol. V: Gaya Yogyakarta (Felmay, 2005) Vol. VI: Kraton Surakarta (Felmay, 2006) Vol. VII: Edge of Tradition (Felmay, 2006) Within that huge congeries of islands that we know as Indonesia are two major traditions of classical music, those of Bali … Continue reading

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Various Artists, Gamelan of Central Java

Vol. I: Classical Gendings (Felmay, 2001) Vol. II: Ceremonial Music (Felmay, 2002) Vol. III: Modes and Timbres (Felmay, 2004) Vol. IV: Spiritual Music (Felmay, 2004). It occurs to me, embarking on the exploration of central Javanese gamelan, that some explanation … Continue reading

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Mahmoud Fadl’s The Drummers of the Nile in Town: Cairosonic

Mahmoud Fadl is a well known percussionist and advocate of the music of Nubia, that region in southern Egypt largely forgotten in the contemporary world. Raised in Assuan and Cairo, he is today based in Berlin, not coincidentally a traditional … Continue reading

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Çudamani: The Seven-Tone Gamelan Orchestra from the Village of Pengosekan, Bali

Implicit in the subtitle of this CD is a bit of information that is important in Balinese gamelan music: most orchestras come from particular villages, working in the traditions of those villages. They also compete for honors, reflecting glory not … Continue reading

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Richard O. Nidel’s World Music: The Basics

Part of Routledge’s “The Basics” series, this book purports to give a survey of world music in an accessible, readable fashion. It largely succeeds, but may prove frustrating for those with more than a passing knowledge of any of the … Continue reading

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Uun Budiman and the Jugala Gamelan Orchestra’s Banondari: New Directions in Jaipongan

One realizes, after a while, that popular music, while it may appear in many guises, has certain things in common. Sometimes it is subject matter, sometimes it is more elusive. But, more on that later. Jaipongan is a newly designated … Continue reading

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Golfam Khayam and Mona Matbou Riahi’s Narrante

Narrante is an utterly fascinating album, and it’s like very little else that I’ve ever heard. Golfam Khayam and Mona Matbou Riahi, who perform as Naqsh Duo, are Iranian musicians making their debut on the German jazz and classical label … Continue reading

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Various artists’ Hungarian Noir, A Tribute to the Gloomy Sunday

If you’re familiar with the song “Gloomy Sunday” it’s probably from Billie Holiday’s version of it, which popularized it in the U.S. in 1941. The BBC banned that record from the airwaves because its mood was deemed too somber for … Continue reading

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Steindór Andersen’s Rímur: A Collection From Steindór Andersen

If linguists can postulate the existence, sometime in the distant past, of an “ur-language,” a Mother Tongue from which all other languages have descended, can there not as well be an “ur-music” from which all of our modern music derives? … Continue reading

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Eliades and Maria Ochoa’s Guajira Mas Guajira

This is a very special recording for all lovers of Cuban music. Siblings Eliades and Maria Ochoa have teamed up for a showcase album of songs of romantic yearning and upbeat danceable numbers focused on the style known as guajira … Continue reading

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Endah Laris & Dedek Gamelan Orchestra

I’ve often maintained that tradition is a living thing — it grows and changes, or it dies. Another example of the truth of that idea crossed my desk in the form of the CD Endah Laris & Dedek Gamelan Orchestra. … Continue reading

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John Noise Manis’ Trance Gamelan in Bali

“Trance” as denoting a specific type of music is pretty much a Western concept, although it recognizes the power of music to alter our mental state. In other traditions, music is not always, or even usually, a separate event — … Continue reading

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