The WORLD MUSIC Radar (Episode #1/2019)

My personal statistics say that in the case of World Music it’s not so common to find records that are really worthy of attention, compared to other genres of music. But when we manage to come across a valid and meaningful album, we are usually in front of an extraordinary work of art, gifted by impressive quality and intensity. This is the reason why the list of records that I’m presenting in this article is particularly important.

In the following I’m presenting four albums of World Music that I selected among all those released in the firsts part of the year, specifically between the beginning of 2019 and the middle of March. Four artists, four different ways to intepret world music, but the same deep research for the maximum quality of the musical expression.

Enjoy this digest and don’t forget to come back periodically to check for updates.



“Bosque Magico – Tu Tiempo”, by Bosque Magico

In music, as well as in many other art forms, the fusion of different styles and cultures often produces the most surprising and spectacular results. This is certainly the case of Bosque Magico, the new project founded by German guitarist Ralf Siedhoff together with the Ukrainian oboist Mykyta Sierov. Two languages, approximately 2000 km of separation, but the two artists managed to meet on the musical level.

The music of Bosque Magico is absolutely elegant, delicate, varied and exciting. The presence of the oboe is certainly the most particular element: we are used to listening to this instrument in the context of classical rather than world music. The songs of the album range between quite different genres and styles: we have in fact influences from Indian music, flamenco, pop and jazz. For recording the LP, Siedhoof and Sierov were also supported by a group of skilled musicians: percussionists Karthik Mani (from India) and Ernesto Martinez (from Spain), drummer Magnus Dauner (from Germany), flamenco guitarist Manuel Delgado and his daughter Carmela on and bandoneon.

In short: this is a record that contains many innovative elements and it also presents multiple cultural elements fused together in an excellent manner. Not to be missed!



“Reminiscence”, by Aukai

Among the most interesting releases we had in the first weeks of the year there is an album that although originally included in the category of electro-acoustic records, it still features so many components of world music that it’s absolutely possible to mention it here. This is called Reminiscence, and it’s the new album produced by Aukai, which is the acoustic ambient project founded by American composer and instrumentalist Markus Sieber.

Reminiscence has the capacity to capture the listener’s attention with the elegance and the gentleness of its songs, which are relaxing but also engaging and moving. This album is ideal for every moment when you don’t want anything else than enjoying beautiful instrumental music, and let your mind travel.

I’ve published a dedicated review of the LP, you can read it from here.



“Elephantine”, by Maurice Louca

Another album that has caught my attention in the last months is Elephantine, the newest LP released by Egyptian musician and composer Maurice Louca, who is known also for being a member (and co-founder) of a number of formations such as Bikya, Alif and Dwarves. Elephantine was introduced by Louca as his most ambitious project to date, and in effect the LP sees him guiding a 12-piece ensemble.

The disk seems to be the result of two different compositional processes. On the one hand, we have a series of experimental songs mostly relying on the improvisational skills of the musicians. These songs are on the border between world music and pure experimentation and, to be truly honest, these are not among my favourites tracks the album. Then, there are other “classical” world music songs which are still based on the elaboration of an initial sequence of notes, but where the improvisation is kept more controlled and the development of the piece is made through the progressive introduction of different instruments. In these cases, in my opinion, the album reaches the highest, and impressive, levels of quality level. The opening track of the album, named The Leper, is representative of this second kind of songs, and it’s also one of the best pieces of the whole LP.



“Black Blank”, by Laurent Assoulen

Today, we’re very much used to listen to musical hybrids, and that between Jazz and World music is actually one of the most common ones. Nevertheless, when we enjoy a new album which manages to make us travel so naturally between different genres of music, it’s always a very nice and exciting experience.

Laurent Assoulen is a talented French pianist, but what impresses of his work is not much his technique, but rather the fact that he’s a great lover of fascinating melodies, ethnic sounds and popular tunes. And what he does with his ensemble is basically to share with us these beautiful themes by transforming them into catchy but still intriguing and poetic Jazz songs.

Assoulen’s new album, called Black Blank, features a number of pieces that reflect the modern canons of contemporary Jazz, but there are also many other songs where the pianist ventures into the field of World music, mixing the typical dynamics of Jazz with deeply suggestive ethnic sounds and melodies.

I’ve published a short review of the LP, you can read it from here.



If you liked this selection of albums, you will love THE VOYAGER, the playlist that I’m curating on Spotify with the best of World Music. Almost five hours of the most exciting and fascinating music from all over the world.


AF-RUI-KA. Feel the warmth and passion of the African Continent

I’m launching today a new playlist on which I’m working since a couple of months. The name of the playlist is af-rui-ka and it was conceived as the special place for all the best music coming from the the African continent. You’ll find here ethiopic jazz, afro-beat, desert blues, and every other special music bringing to us the warmth and the passion of this magic land.


 

According to many historians, the term Africa comes from the egyptian word “af-rui-ka“, which means “to turn yourself toward the opening of Ka”. The Ka is the energetic double of every person and “opening of the Ka” refers to a womb or birthplace. Africa then would be, for the Egyptians “the birthplace” — the “motherland” of the Black people, Earth’s oldest known humans.

 


At the time of its launch, the playlist features both famous and emerging artists from the African continent. The list of contributors includes incredible artists such as Ethiopian singer and lyricist Girma Bèyènè, Tony Allen and Afri Kuti from Nigeria (the latter is the son of afrobeat pioneer Afri Kuti), Grammy-Award-winner singer Oumou Sangaré and guitarist Samba Touré, from Mali. There are also many interesting bands such Ba Cissoko from Guinea, the Tuareg formations Tinariwen and Tamikrest, and also the multi-ethnic group Monoswezi (with members from Mozambique, Norway, Sweden and Zimbabwe).

The list of artists is however going to increase because this playlist, as all the others managed by this blog,  will be updated frequently with new tracks and contributors.

Enjoy the playlist and follow it to keep yourself updated!


 

 

THE VOYAGER – Special Selections in World Jazz

Music is magic, especially when it allows you to travel with your mind through distant worlds. There are songs, then, that tell you of distant and special places, and when the art of music is married to a particularly inspired artist it seems really to be in a foreign city, tasting the scent of an oriental spice or feeling the warmth of the sand of the desert around your body.

This playlist celebrates and presents the best songs among those that encapsulate this magical ability to make us travel.  Enjoy this journey into foreign cities and exotic landscapes, and come back periodically because new songs are added frequently to make the experience always new and more exciting.

 


 

March 2017, Best Jazz Album: Transparent Water by Omar Sosa & Seckou Keita

OMAR SOSA - 1280 x 300

Cuban-born jazz pianist Omar Sosa has already played on various projects with world musicians from all around the globe, often travelling outside the standard of jazz traditions. In his last album he joined the efforts with the Senegalese drummer, vocalist and kora player Seckou Keita, who is today one of the most charismatic musicians from Africa .

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The duo has released a beautiful album, Transparent Water, which sees contributions from other musicians from the most disparate areas of the world with their characteristics musical instruments: we have among the Others the Japanese koto player Mieko Miyazaki, the Chinese sheng player Wu Tong, and Venezuelan percussionist and batá player  Gustavo Ovalles. But like magic, what may seem at first a chaotic mix of sounds, influences and instruments, is here transformed into a celebration of simplicity and an ode to the very essence of music. The experience of listening to this beautiful album is really a journey through sounds and enchanting melodies, with the different musical traditions which manage to complement each other providing the listener with varied nuances of the same basic tune.

Each of these very different artists come from deep traditions that border more on classical music than folk, which might account for the rather compositional feel of the work. There’s little emphasis on the improvisation or syncopation you’d expect from Sosa or Keita. Instead everyone is focused on fitting together seamlessly around a melody, often a gentle, sung refrain (Paste)

Those keen on analysis will be tempted to try to break this music down to its component parts, disentangle instruments, and assign strict definitions to what’s happening here. That’s not advised. Part of the magic in Sosa’s music has always been his ability to operate behind the curtain, working the seam where music and magic coexist (All About Jazz)

Guerino’s rating: 8 / 10.