Saturday, December 30, 2006
Friday, December 29, 2006
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
Monday, December 25, 2006
Sunday, December 24, 2006
Saturday, December 23, 2006
Norwegian percussionist Terje Isungset is pioneering a new genre of music, using instruments made of ice. Yes, that's right. ice. So far there are winds, an ice trumpet, and an ice harp to go with the ice percussion. The tonalities of the instruments are unique and very haunting.
Here's the title track from Isungset's Iceman Is
Thursday, December 21, 2006
Believe it or not, beachwear isn't the only popular form of dress (or is that undress?) in Brazil. Hang onto your chapéu de vaqueiro and kick up your heels to music by Helena Meirelles. She was one of the undisputed masters of the viola caipira. Its twangy, slightly metallic sound is loud and clear on this cut, Flor de Jasmin.
Back in the early 70s, I was out shopping and came across a record cover that featured the image on the left. I grabbed the LP, took it home and promptly fell for the sound of Osibisa. Here's a cut from that album - Ayiko Bia. I think you'll find the blend of highlife, jazz, funk and rock to be well-nigh irresistible.
Sunday, December 17, 2006
Friday, December 15, 2006
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
I'm reading Sandra Cisneros' novel Caramelo, and am enjoying her judicious and expressive quotes from Mexican popular song lyrics. Lila Downs' version of a Mexican classic, Naila, seemed like the right thing to post this evening.
* Photo by Alfredo Jiménez
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Today I'm featuring something that might seem a little odd to fellow Westerners: a melodic percussion work, played by Iranian drummers Djamchid and Keyvan Chemirani. Iranian classical music is closely related to the rhythmic patterns of spoken language, and I think you can easily hear the "conversation" that the Chemiranis are engaged in, though you might need to listen several times through to get the full effect. Their instrument of choice is the zarb (aka tombak).
The title: Mael Jan
Monday, December 11, 2006
Sunday, December 10, 2006
Friday, December 08, 2006
Thursday, December 07, 2006
A Canadian cold front hit us today, bringing icy winds - what better time to kick back and dream of being on the beach in Brazil? Today's song, Tarde em Itapoã, is all about the pleasures of salt, sun, and South. (Voz e violão: Toquinho.)
Monday, December 04, 2006
Sunday, December 03, 2006
Friday, December 01, 2006
Thursday, November 30, 2006
Jacob Pick Bittencourt, aka Jacob do Bandolim, was one of 20th-century Brazil's greatest composers, as well as a crack bandolim player. Here's one of his most famous pieces, Assanhado, played by Trio Madeira Brasil and percussionist Beto Cazes.
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Sunday, November 26, 2006
Trumpeter Ignace de Souza led the Black Santiagos, one of the most important bands on Ghana's 1960s highlife scene. De Souza's relaxed style and affinity for Cuban music make his music a standout. Here's one of his hits, Augustina.
Saturday, November 25, 2006
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Sunday, November 19, 2006
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Friday, November 10, 2006
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Sunday, November 05, 2006
Iko Iko is one of the best-known Mardi Gras songs - but not that many people realize that it came from the masking Indians.
The lyrics are somewhat garbled today, but a flag boy is still an essential part of every tribe.
One of my favorite things about this version - by the Dixie Cups - "found" percussion (drumsticks on a glass ashtray).
Saturday, November 04, 2006
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
Monday, October 30, 2006
Last month I posted a track written by Trinidadian composer/pianist Lionel Belasco. His music was a real find for me, and worth featuring again. The cut is a Jamaican mento song, Sly Mongoose. (And no, it's not a calypso!)
* Many thanks to Mike at Mento Music for his diligence, humo[u]r and love for the music
Sunday, October 29, 2006
Today's track comes from eastern Sudan. It's a rare example of the traditional music of the Beja people, who live along the coast (running from southern Egypt to northern Eritrea). Here's singer/'udist Musa Adem performing Yahmoit.
Friday, October 27, 2006
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Soth African township jive keeps on evolving - and one of my favorite contemporary singers, Busi Mhlongo, does it as well as anyone and better than most. Here's an original song by her, We Baba Omncane. The title translates as "if you don't obey your parents..." Hats off to Busi for being so "conscious," and for sounding so great while doing it.
Monday, October 23, 2006
Sunday, October 22, 2006
Friday, October 20, 2006
Thursday, October 19, 2006
This is one of my favorite Arabic pieces, played by Mimi Spencer (qanun) and Mary Ellen Donald (Arabic tabla). Mimi was an all-around nice person, and one of the best qanun players in the US - her improvisation here is breathtaking.
The piece is Longa Riyadh, by Egyptian composer Riyadh al-Sunbati. You can find it on In Xiniang Time
Monday, October 16, 2006
One of my favorite sambas celebrates the pleasures of the beach and nightlife in Rio's Copacabana neighborhood. It's called Sábado em Copacabana, and was written by the great Dorival Caymmi.
This version is by Zélia Duncan and guitarist Marco Pereira. (Hint: If you like this, hunt down a copy of Zélia's Eu me transformo em outras.)
Sunday, October 15, 2006
Saturday, October 14, 2006
I'm a sucker for Cuban standards - there's a certain intensity to them them that's found nowhere else. Here's a nice version of Lagrimas Negras by Trio Lissabet. This cut came from an old Cook Records LP, and is part of the Smithsonian Folkways catalog.
Friday, October 13, 2006
Thursday, October 12, 2006
I discovered gamelan music via a brief bio. of Claude Debussy. He heard a gamelan at the 1889 Paris Exposition, and the experience changed his music forever.
Today, I'm featuring Balinese composer/drummer Wayan Lotring and his ensemble, performing Gambangan. It's from an Ocora set titled Hommage à Wayan Lotring - hard to find, but well worth hunting down.
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
One of my favorite genres of Brazilian music is a well-kept secret. It's called choro - a Rio-born, Rio-based instrumental style that combines beautiful melody lines with African-derived rhythms.
The first time I heard a choro recording, I had no idea what to make of it - it was completely unlike any Brazilian music I'd ever heard. Thanks to a few in-the-know friends (with great record collections), my confusion turned into a passionate love of the music.
Here's Brazilian flutist Alexandre Maionese playing a choro by one of the style's earliest masters, Joaquim Callado. (That's his portrait above.) The piece is called Flor Amorosa.