Advertisement

World Music in 2006

topic posted Sun, January 1, 2006 - 12:05 PM by  Jacques
Share/Save/Bookmark
A new year, another exciting year for World Music!

Continuing the trend seen last year of world music (roots/traditional as well as fusion/electronica) breaking thru worldwide worldmusic.tribe.net/thread/...367eb00f

Here are some forthcoming releases this year from stellar world, world beat, and world fusion artists

Daniela Mercury - Balé Mulato (released December 27)
www2.uol.com.br/danielamercury/2005/
Audioclip of the World Cup 2006 anthem Levada Brasileira on Carnasite.com
www.carnasite.com.br/downloa...eira.mp3

Ladysmith Black Mambazo - Long Walk To Freedom (January 24)
www.mambazo.com/longwalk.html
Audoclips on Headsup.com
www.headsup.com/albums/3109.asp

Värttinä - Meiro (January 30)
www.varttina.com/
Album info on Realworldrecords.com
www.realworldrecords.com/catal....lasso
Musical collaboration with A.R. Rahman on the score for the stage version of Lord of the Rings premiering in Toronto February 2 www.lotr.com/

Buddha Bar VIII (February 14)
www.buddha-bar.com/

Karsh Kale - Broken English (March 21)
www.sixdegreesrecords.com/comingup.php
www.karshkale.com/

World Music Festivals, Events, & Happenings Worldwide!

Jaipur Heritage International Festival - Jaipur, India (January 14 - 23)
www.jaipurfestival.org/program.html

globalFEST 2006 - New York City, NY (January 21 - 22)
www.rockpaperscissors.biz/index...38.cfm

Sauti Za Busara Swahili Music Festival - Zanzibar, Tanzania (February 9 - 14)
www.busaramusic.com/

NZ International Arts Festival - Wellington, New Zealand (Febraury 24 - March 19)
www.nzfestival.telecom.co.nz/music/
www.nzfestival.telecom.co.nz/fes...lub/

WOMADelaide 2006 - Adelaide, Australia (March 10 - 12)
www.womadelaide.com.au/
posted by:
Jacques
Advertisement
  • Unsu...
     
    Wonderful tips, as always. Happy New Year to you, Jacques, and to all the cool people on this Tribe.

    waltsnipe
    • A healthy and prosperous 2006 to you Waltsnipe and everyone else, a new year that is filled with much love, joi, and World Music from all over the globe! :D

      And Waltsnipe, many thanks for the great thread on Turkish music and new world music in the past year.
      • look really forward to the release of the new Karsh Kale album after few years waiting! Hopefully this one gonna release also here.
        • Also, check out the new Anoushka Shankar 'Rise' remixes by Thievery Corporation and Karsh Kale. Outstanding!!
          • Thanx for the lovely tip, gB--Anoushka remixed by Thievery Corp and KK sounds absolutely divine!

            Here's the Giant Step webpage with audioclips on that 12" vinyl single, schedule for commercial release Jan 10.

            www.giantstep.net/releases/882

            I like the Giant Step label, they've put out some quality remixes of world artists such as Zap Mama and Los Amigos Invisibles. While these are primarily vinyl singles, individual tracks often get included on their cd compilations such as the aptly titled Simply Good Music series.

            Speaking of Thievery Corp, I asked the guys during their pre-concert instore appearance in Seattle last May if they intend to work further with South Asian vocalist Gunjan (Bally Sagoo's best-known protegee) who they collaborated with on Cosmic Game. I still can't get over how they remade Lata Mangeshkar's Bollywood classic Satyam Shivam Sundaram into a gorgeous downtempo gem with Gunjan's angelic vocals.
  • My favorite CD right now is Midival Punditz.....'Midival Times'

    You can hear a sample at www.sixdegreesrecords.com

    I am an avid collecter of World Music and off to WOMAdelaide for our family reunion in March :D Very exciting.....

    I am new here and very happy to find this group...

    Cheers and thanks

    Cas
    • Welcome to the World Music tribe, Cas!

      And have a blast at WOMADelaide--waiting for my Oz plans to confirm still yet.

      Presently in Delhi about to board a flight to Jaipur--hope to catch the PunditZ at the opening event of the Jaipur fest, followed by other shows by Paban Das Baul and Talvin Singh, among others, over the course of a week!

      That MIDIval Times album is just rad and I have a deeper appreciation for it everyday. I started off loving the uptempo numbers like 136 and Ali. Nowadays, I'm into the downtempo fusions including the Ustad Sultan Khan track. Also love the Abida Parveen number after hearing it played at many a Dhamaal event :D

      Btw, it is 5 am at Delhi airport and am already hearing the sweet sounds of bhangra over the pa, woohoo!
      • Jacques, have really a great time at the Jaipur festival seeing Paban Das Baul, Shri and Talvin Singh.
        Heard yesterday from my friend DJ Shazam that Talvin living now near Jaipur recording his next album that is set to release this summer :).
        • Bahut dhanyawab/zeer bedankt, Jurg!

          You are the ultimate in Asian Underground news on the European continent. Keep the news coming and rock on, broer!

          Will be seeing Talvin live at Culture Club tonite, report coming morgen.
  • Day 1

    After a 7-hour marathon flight from Taipei (on which I kept on rewinding the fabulous musical scenes from the Bollywood hit on the inflight movies on demand--ok, it was also useful as a Hindi listening comprehension exercise ;P), a three-hour sleep at the Delhi airport dorm (amid a backdrop of continuous Hindi pop playing, including a rather good version of a Stevie Wonder song with beautiful Indian female vocals and the whistling from opening of the title track of Main Hoon Na, among others), and a 45-min flight to the fabled city of Jaipur, it was straight to festival hub, Diggi Palace, to meet fellow world music sojourners and friends.

    The opening program for the festival on Saturday night could not have been more dramatic with the Amer Fort serving as a superb backdrop location (on a full moon night, no less) for the Sufi Kathak music and dance performance featuring the Rajasthani Manganiyars and Awadhi qawwali musicians and of course, dancer Manjari Chaturvedi. She is a renowned classical dancer who has been credited in India with expanding the dance borders of kathak by dancing to sufi, qawwali, Kashmiri, Persian, and Turkmen music.

    The musicians started doing the soundcheck at 6:30 pm and the program started at 7. A festival regular in our group remarked that it was a bigger, raised stage at Amer fort this year compared to last year when the stage was closer to ground level around which the audience sat for a more intimate performance. Nevertheless, once the qawwali musicians started and the singers started singing, we knew we were in for a spectacular night of amazing world music!

    I can attest to Darshank's comment under the L Subramaniam thread that there is indeed nothing like experiencing qawwali live! The Sufi devotional singing just soared from the stage to the night sky above Amer fort in a fitting praise of the Almighty, and dancer Manjari made her entranced, dressed in full dancer's regalia with multiple layers and dupatta veil. Her opening number addressed the unique fusion of kathak moves and Sufi-inspired moves, including whirling reminiscent of dervishes dancing, the effect of which was accentuated by her costume in motion in the cool, breezy air of a Jaipur winter night.

    The second number with the dramatic notes of that famous instrument, the sarangi, leading into a very fine performance of Indian classical dance and music by Manjari and the musicians. Here, we had a chance to identify more classical kathak moves and choreography.

    The third number was a chance for the Rajasthani musicians to showcase their unique Rajasthani interpretation of the legendary sufi qawwali compositions of Kabir. We, the audience, were enthralled by the ecstatically beautiful expressions, through the perfect tableau of music and dance, of praise for the Beloved and the Almighty. As a matter of fact, a few in our group continued discussing this aspect/theme of Sufism and qawwali music for hours into the night (and the early hours of the dawn!), long after the performance ended. More on this conversation in subsequent paragraphs.

    Next came a refreshing interlude in the form of an extended interplay between the tabla and kartal (castanet) players. Someone started passing fresh roses among our group in the audience. The honey-tinged perfume of the desi rose, the cool night air of Jaipur under a full moon, and the amazing music and dance expression of Sufi kathak was the most divine combination ever enclosed in that precious moment of time.

    The Sufi philosophy was clearly expounded in the night's performance. As the bilingual (Hindi-English) explained, the lyrics of the next number goes a little something like this

    I am him
    You become me
    I am the soul
    You are the body
    And together we will always be one

    Eight perfect numbers fusing kathak dance and Sufi-inspired music was performed that nite. Dancer Manjari's moves was a sight to behold--at times languid, at times nimble, like a doll, but always flowing--inspired by Love, mortal love for one's beloved, and immortal love for the Divine. The closing number was danced to the familiar strains of Dama dam mast kalandar which many of us overseas know as the qawwali anthem "Ali" popularized in the West by the late great Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, and in a recent worldtronica fusion version by the MIDIval PunditZ with vocalist Kailash Kher.

    When the performance ended, we felt so filled and nourished spiritually and sensorally, that even as our group returned to Diggi palace for dinner and refreshments, this world music traveler scarcely felt any hunger, opting instead for a pot of ginger-laced chai in preparation for the nightlong festivities including the opening party featuring the pride of the Delhi-based Indotronica scene, the MIDIval PunditZ.

    The official opening party for the festival was held at The Factory, Mann Industries, a converted former autofactory in the vicinity of the rail station, transformed into a cavernous dance club complete with an entrance via a groove tunnel! Arriving at 11:30 pm, we saw a packed crowd and the opening set by Jaipur-based dj Kooldeep, spinning a masalatastic set of world music-inflected urban rnb and hiphop grooves, including reggae (the dhol mix of UB40), Arabic (the DJ Manish Arabhangra remix of Shakira and Alejandro Sanz's La Tortura), Shamur's Let The Music Play (a crossover hit in Turkey last summer with its irresistible hook and that Jamaicanized sufi-inspired rap), and the Rishi Rich bhangrafied version of Ricky Martin's Que Mas Da/I Don't Care.

    At 12:15 am, the headlining act, Tapan Raj and Gaurav Raina came on stage behind laptops and mixers located on two tables located diametrically opposite each other for their live Indotronica show. The brought on a female vocalist, Preeti Manoj, who opened with the familiar opening soaring notes of Piya Bhavari. Next came male vocalist Azam who gave equally ecstatic renditions of a Khayal, a favorite from the MIDIval Times album. All along, Tapan gave a running commentary on the tracks, starting off with the downtempo numbers and working on to more uptempo grooves. The artists on the stage were also joined by musician Ajay Prasand on live flute (no less than six different ones!)

    A few on the packed dancefloor were able to get their groove on to the slower numbers, and by the time the PunditZ blasted off the backing track of Ali from their laptops with live
    singing by Azam, the floor was in a dancing frenzy. This live Indotronica showcase went on till 1:30 am, after which a dj took over the decks spinning trance and tribal/progressive dance music with a few choice worldtronica nuggets including the album version of Ali and Gaudi's Sufani (a hit in India following its inclusion in the Bollywood movie, Rog).

    Vocalists Preeti and Azam, along with members of the PunditZ entourage descended on the dancefloor to join in the revelers' dancing and before long, even Tapan and Gaurav were on the dancefloor. We danced all the waytill 2:30 am, after which an autorickshaw ride (an experience unto itself!) took us back to Diggi Palace in the early hours of Sunday morning. Still overwhelmed by the fabulous world music, fusion, and dance of the previous morning, a couple of us chatted and discussed the evening's performance, delving deeper into the main tenets of Sufi philosphy and comparative ecstasis-spiritual artforms, until sleep overcame us just before dawn.

    Next up, a report of day 2 (just yesterday!) and Paban Das Baul's stunning performance at the inaugural Culture Club event!
    • Day 2

      A late morning rise meant that while breakfast was very nearly missed, we were just on time for the morning Culture Club music performances at Diggi Palace :P

      Under a sunny (and really warm) Jaipur sky, the Rajasthani Ravanhatta folk musicians opened the first of daily, free admission, morning live musical performances of the Culture Club. On the first day, saw a trio of musicians, including one female vocalist who had the most interesting voice. This is one of the great things about this festival and its artists--they really broaden one's mind about what might have previously been narrow, or even stereotypical notions about the artistic ranges, parameters, and styles of the great and very musical country that is India.

      One of the things I love as a world music fan is to be able to compare stylistic similarities between musical traditions seemingly apart and distinct from each other. There was a way the woman sang that reminded me of the gandrung singers of Banyuwangi, eastern Java. No one doubts the close cultural links between India and Indonesia (the Indic-influenced islands as the name suggests), but a striking resemblance in the vocal style of a Rajasthani female singer and an eastern Javanese woman singing in a trance state all night till the break of down in the highlands is uncanny!

      Someone in our group mentioned seeing her fully veiled as she entered the ground of the converted palace-turned-hotel, only revealing her visage just prior to singing. The night program of the Culture Club was by the remarkable Paban Das Baul who we had seen in attendance at the morning performance! This man has to be seen in person in a live, acoustic performance to be fully appreciated. I first heard of him thru his collaboration with State of Bengal on the Tana Tani album, but watching him perform before my very eyes has multipled my appreciation of the Baul tradition of the wandering minstrels of Bengal.

      The venue for the evening Cultur Club was the ancestral hall at the Diggi Palace, normally closed to the public, an interesting hall with painted archways, chandeliers, and portraits of several generations of the owner's family adding to the ambience. We had a sense it would provide some interesting acoustics.

      Accompanied only by a woman instrumentalist, Paban started his performance by adorning ankle rattlers (whose musical purpose became clear later in the performance). What ensued was the most fascinating mix of clear-voice singing, amazing stage presence (the shock of white hair and that small, smiling face occupied the entire not-too-small stage with circular dancing and jumps), and the mastery of the most endearing little-yet-powerful instruments I have ever seen, including his legendary dubki, a tambourine-like instrument.

      Following on my morning observations of parallels between Indian subcontinent music and other musics of the Asian continent, I was pleasantly surprised at how Paban's first beat of the small drum sounded like the first beat of a Japanese hand drum--it reminded me of the similar instrument an ocean away that I remember from a childhood of watching Japanese theater, typically sounded to signify the beginning of an act or a scene. This sudden awareness about a musical parallel between Bengali and Japanese storytelling arts added to my fascination with the Baul culture.

      Also, something about the language in which Paban sings--the tone and the pronunciation are vastly different from the typical Northern Indian male singing vocal and again, takes me back to Java in Indonesia with a word he says some that sounds like "bodjo." Perhaps someone in this World Music tribe more familiar with Paban Das Baul's work and the Baul language can further enlighten us on the subject. I remember thinking as I watched the performance, Javanese and Bengalis possibly share much more in common culturally than just the masculine name "Subrata." :)

      The consummate performer that is Paban Das Baul is just a ball of energy in the form of the most adorable Baul musician ever. Whether its singing expressively, dancing in circles with his flowing white lungi, doing high jumps (an artform in itself when one is wearing a lungi), and rattling his ankle rattlers, indeed musical instruments in and of themselves, the man and the artist is a pure delight to behold. His charming introduction where he apologizes for his limited English while expressing his joy at being in Jaipur for the first time, just further endeared him to the small and intimate audience.

      Day 3

      The evening program of the Culture Club continued with Talvin Singh and guest musicians. Arriving at 9:00 pm, we had a chance to see the musicians do their sound check which is always an interesting sight and experience in itself. It wasn't until 9:45 that the doors open and it was clear from the outset that it was going to a much bigger audience in attendance many times over owing to the name recognition of Talvin who did not turn up until 10:30 with his entourage.

      By that time, it was a packed hall, overflowing beyond the doors into a standing room crowd. A visibly pale and perspiring Talvin admitted to being under the weather on account of the flu and invited his first accompaning musician, S Dutta on sarod. As he was tuning his instrument, Talvin made a comment about how at Woodstock, the audience would applaud when Pandit Ravi Shakar tuned his sitar. Both musicians hailed from the UK and study under gurus in India, and had visible rapport in the couple opening classical numbers.

      Next musicians invited on stage was a very young-looking keyboardist whom Talvin introduced as one of the young generation of highly accomplished Indian musicians that have taken on the banner of Indian fusion that he did in the early 90s. There was some problem with the microphones for the tabla and sarod, and the technician kept coming up on the stage to change equipment. Nevertheless, the parade of guest musicians continued to come including Australian vocalist Penelope who contributed jazz vocals and Souhail on sarangi. Talvin talked about his new album, due for release in a month's time, and the role his guest musicians played on it.

      Just before midnight, an intermission was called, and unfortunately for this world music fan, with a slew of early morning appointments, he had to forego the second session of the night's performance at the Culture Club. The festival continues.
    • Days 4, 5, 6, 7

      Wow! Time does really fly when you're having fun with world music! :D

      A precious little detail I forgot to mention in my report on day 3--the musical duet between Paban Das Baul and Talvin Singh and how Pabanji's little handheld drum stood up to Talvin's mighty tablas--awesome!

      As the world musical days of the Jaipur International Heritage Festival roll by, it is clear that the artist of 2006 is Paban Das Baul.

      www.mahanet.com/paban/

      Fresh from his impressive second-night Culture Club appearance and the jam session with Talvin Singh and other musicians, Pabanji was back the next morning on the expansive lawn of Diggi Palace for the daytime edition of Culture Club with Rajasthani folk musicians.

      On Wednesday night, a very special extra-late night spontaneous jam sessions, following the performance of the officially-scheduled artists, saw Pabanji accompanied by two Rajasthani Manganiyar musicians, Chaanan Khan on kamaicha and Nathu Lalji on nagara/drum (many thanks to Jaipur Festival student worker Pankaj Kumar and Delhi musician Deepak Castelino for helping this world music fan with the romanized names of the musicians and their instruments!), with Mimluji on ektara and Pabanji himself on dubki (also called bhapang locally). Chaanan Khan exhibited the most impressive vocals during the jam and the strains of Bengali and Rajasthani music merged into a beautiful sonic Grand Trunk musical journey. Performance artist and dancer Colleena, a regular at the festival with her own performance scheduled for Sunday night's Culture Club with fellow artist Bethanie, was inspired to get up and dance, managing to get Jaipur Virasat Foundation co-founder, John Singh, to get up on his feet as well!

      I had a chance to talk to Pabanji and Mimluji (Urmimala Sen) on Thursday during dinner at Diggi Palace. I asked Pabanji about the last record he was featured on which was in collaboration with State Bengal, the fusion album entitled Tana Tani, and we discussed how many newer fans such as myself, coming primarily from the world of global and Asian fusion (Talvin Singh, Nitin Sawhney, etc), basically first heard of him thru Tana Tani. Pabanji graciously recommended an older international release of his from nearly a decade ago, the album Real Sugar with guitarist Sam Mills. I mentioned to Pabanji my fascination with uncannily similar sounds between Baul/Bangla music and culture and those of Southeast (Java) and East Asia (Japan), in the way the hand drum is used in storytelling/singing. He said he was aware of it in the kabuki context and asked if I had caught a Manipuri stage play that afternoon, which I had not, that showcased artistic and cultural styles from an Indian border region with its many Asian neighbors.

      At the conclusion of this year's Jaipur festival, Pabanji and Mimluji will be in India for another week after which they will return to France where they presently reside. Mimluji is also commencing work on a film under her Kolkata-based production company, Black Maria Movies, the soundtrack of which will be scored by Paban Das Baul. Looks like we can expect more things to come in the near future from these two great artists.

      Thursday nite saw a performance by UK-based Indian fusion artist Shri and his live band which rocked the roof of Diggi Palace! We got there in time to catch the band in the middle of a live version of Tarana from the new album, East Rain, with singer Hema on vocals. The proceeded to do an amazing set of Indo fusion rock and dance with multi-instrumentalist bandleader Shri on violin, electric bass, flute, tablas, with still some energy to do vocalize with tabla bols! Besides Hema, there was also a colorful character in the form of the gritty male vocalist, a female drummer, and a keyboardist.

      www.shri.co.uk/

      Yesterday (Friday), caught the afternoon dj workshop with the legendary DJ Badmarsh. Great news for North America fans--Badmarsh will be touring with East and West Coast dates coming up in March!

      www.outcaste.com/index.cfm

      Also caught Suphala's show at the evening Culture Club.

      www.suphala.com/

      The final days of the Jaipur International Festival also coincide with the Jaipur Literary Festival. At the book fair today, I was able to purchase two publications I have had my eye on since landing in India, Light of the Universe/Essays on Hindustani Film Music by Ashraf Aziz (2003, Three Essays Collective www.threeessays.com/) and Celebrate India 2006, a personal diary entitled The Tulika Diary of Music (2005, Tulika Publications www.tulikabooks.com/home.htm)

      World Music can truly be a multimedia experience! :D
  • Another upcoming release set for spring is Trans-Global Underground "Impossible Broadcasting" remixed. with mixes done Thievery Corporation, Kamel Nitrate and DJ Rocca released on thier own Mule Satellite records.

    www.t-g-u.com/
    • Jurg, jou da man!

      Thanx for the headzup on the Impossible Broadcasting remix album--my Xmas wish has been fulfilled!
      • Yeah i'm agree with your words Jacques, look really forward to the release of "Impossible Broadcasting" remixed.

        Another album really worth to listening is the soundtrack of "Crossing The Bridge - sounds Of Istanbul" about Alexander Hacke from Einstuerzende Neubauten visiting Istanbul to discover anything from the alternative music scene. The soundtrack is full of different blends of music from grunge punk from Duman till loungy jazz from Orient Expressions to hiphop from Ceza.
        check the trailer and more info at:
        www.soundofistanbul.de


        p.s. Jacques your dutch is still pretty good :)
        • Hey JACQUES,

          Sounds amazing ! I so wish I had gone this year.
          I was lucky enough to be on the bill in 2004 which was a great experience.

          I hope to return next year for sure !
          Thanks for the reports......

          btw SUPHALA is an artist going places and it just so happens I've just remixed a track of her to look out for.

          Smiles....................
          • Salaam Pathaan!

            Your appearance at the JIH fest two years ago along with the Nasha Crew + DJ MPS last year are precisely the reason why I decided to come this year and it has fulfilled all my expectations and more--the incredible lineup of artists, the amazing city of Jaipur, and all the people I've met at the festival so far. The Pink City and its signature annual music and arts festival is a perfect way to start the year for a world music experience in a land of its birth (in this case, India) and I will be putting it on my annual calendar as well--what better reason to come back next year if you're going to be headlining the club and worldtronica portions! :D

            I can't wait to hear your remix of Suphala! And hope to see the refix of Kronos Quartet with Asha Bhosle get a wider format release (djs, the vinyl 12" is already out since last November on Nonesuch records). All the best with the Globetronica nights and look forward to new releases, productions, and events in 2006!
  • Back in the "Cidade Maravilhosa" after a decade, and having already missed concerts by world music artists the likes of Jai Uttal and Daniela Mercury in the past week alone (and doing our best to avoid Mick Jagger and The Stones who also flew in this week ;), we went off to check out Portuguese band The Gift at Teatro Odisseia in the Lapa district of downtown Rio last nite.

    The Gift www.thegift.pt/ is a five-piece Portuguese poptronica band who sing in English and describe their music as electronic, yet intimate. They were formed in the mid-90s and have released three full-length albums so far. They are Sonia Tavares (vocal), John Goncalves (keyboard and bass), Nuno Goncalves (keyboard, guitar, samplers), Miguel Ribeiro (guitar and bass), and Diego Santos (drums). They are also winner of best Portuguese band at last year´s MTV Europe Music Awards, ahead of internationally better-known names such as Da Weasel. In Portugal, they have opened shows for American acts such as The Flaming Lips.

    On a whirlwind tour of Brazil, having performed in Curitiba and Sao Paulo, they are on the Rio leg of the tour (which the group financed out of their own pockets!) before going on to Recife. For the World Music tribesters who are heading out to the world music summit in Recife that is Porto Musical www.portomusical.com/, The Gift will be performing there along with a stellar international lineup which includes Future World Funk www.futureworldfunk.com/fwf.html (as much as we would like to get our sambhangra on, we unfortunately have to miss out on Porto Musical this year on account of a date with a beach :)

    Arriving at Teatro Odisseia at 10:30 pm, we saw a good crowd beginning to gather in the 600 capacity venue which adjoins the Santa Teresa art district. We saw the opening act, Carioca punk-metal outfit Zona Zero getting their stage together. They didn´t start playing until 11:00 pm and it made for a nice change to hear rock in the Brazilian Portuguese language. In an interview with a local daily, The Gift had mentioned that part of their motivation in singing in English was that unlike Brazilian Portuguese (and Brazilian rock acts such as Legiao Urbana), peninsular Portuguese does not musically jive that well as a rock idiom. Make no mistake, however, even as lead singer Sonia sings in English, the sentiments expressed in the band´s compositions are pure Portuguese--this audience member had a better time relating to their lyrics than those of their North American and internationally, better-known counterparts.

    The Gift finally took to the stage at half-past midnite with a sizable crowd already filling the venue (pretty good for a Wednesday nite!). Lead singer Sonia Tavares´ had incredible stage presence with raven-black hair styled in a retro-feathered look, porcelain skin, a dramatic face that resembles German nu wave singer Nena, and a voice that is reminiscent of the Pretenders´ Chrissie Hynde. They started off with a couple of downtempo numbers, including the haunting number Wallpaper, which earned the band comparisons to trip-hop giant Massive Attack. Going into the more uptempo numbers, the band displayed a flair for incorporating hiphop and reggae accents into their music, making it very danceable. In fact, their second album, Film, released in 2001 on their own label, La Folie Records, fused the sounds of the sitar with the guitar.

    With the Portuguese market well-saturated with Brazilian music, while traditional Portuguese styles such as fado scarcely making a dent in the Brazilian market, it is hoped that this type of Portuguese alternative rocktronica, of which The Gift is a part, will lead to the success of more Portuguese acts in Brazil. And last nite, the band truly made an impression on the audience with Sonia´s sincere rapport with the mainly Brazilian audience, while graciously accepting Portuguese flags from the few compatriots in the audience. Portuguese rock has come a long way with the gift, fusing in electronica and casting a wider net across the Atlantic, and this new fan is sure their diy approach to touring will pay off for these dedicated musicians who are adding a breath of fresh air to the international pop scene.
    • Brazilian Lounge at Estrela da Lapa, Rio de Janeiro

      Second nite in the Lapa district to check out the Brazilian Lounge nite at Estrela da Lapa, a three-storey resto-bar-dancehall with checkered dancefloor. Arriving at 10 pm saw the opening act, a trio playing Brazilian bossa and jazz classics. Speaking of bossa, this marvelous city of Rio is not anything if not bossa-drenched--from the bossa serenade on our headphones courtesy of MPB FM as our flight landed at Antonio Carlos Jobim International Airport (where else do you have airports named after a country/s musical hero--a refreshing change from the typical airport named after some egotistical living politician) to the tinkling warm summer rain falling in the forests of Tijuca.

      The main act, Brazilian Lounge, come on at just before midnight. The trio of Regina Cafe (percussion), Valdi Afonjah (voice and bass), and the amazing DJ MAM put on their show at the club each week featuring different invited guest musicians. This week, they welcomed an amazing group of Brazilian musicians, each a master of his own instrument from guitar to flute, some of whom have worked with other Braziltronica acts such as BossaCucaNova and toured Latin America, and also some remarkable performance artists such as the female Afro-Brazilian poet who opened the set with a spoken word performance.

      www.estreladalapa.com.br/

      Brazilian lounge, as DJ MAM puts it, is an homage to Brazilian music, starting from indigenous music like that of the Guarani people, to African music, European colonial compositions, thru the tropicalia and MPB movements, and the funk and the beat. They started their set with a funky Braziltronica number, an homage to the great Brazilian composer and poet, Vinicius de Moraes, set along to DJ MAM´s live scratches and the beating of the batucada. The first invited guest, a guitarist with the mellowest bossa vocals, led the group into a couple of electro-bossa numbers. It was interesting to watch the audience shuffle their feet, in particular, a gentleman wearing what can best be described as Sammy Davis Jr shoes. One normally doesn´t think of bossanova as dance music, but this fan remembers a time when bossa steps were taught in contemporary social dance classes as a complement to ballroom samba. The fact that such a slow rhythm can induce people to move is a testament to its infectiousness.

      The next invited guest played the little pan drum, interchanging on other percussion with the other members of the band. Another guest musician blowed the room away by playing the indigenous Guarani flute which resulted in a dramatic number starting with DJ MAM´s spoken intro invoking the culture of the indigenous peoples which have also contributed to Brazilian music, even as they suffered the hardships of colonialism. He held up the book on which he quoted the entire text as he said his piece. As world and Brazilian music fans, it was really a special treat since we do not often hear indigenous sounds in Brazilian music, especially overseas.

      The Brazilian Lounge live set went on till 1 am thru a range of different Brazilian rhythms and instruments fused with electro, big beat, and techno breakbeat emanating from DJ MAM´s two laptops. One of the closing numbers was a rousing Afro-Brazilian throwdown with live Yoruban vocals courtesy of the female artist who had open the show with her poetry earlier. However, the party, wasn´t about to end, as the crowd scarcely left the dancefloor, and DJ MAM soon started his set of Brazilian music for dancing, this amazing blend of indigenous, Northeastern, and Afro-Brazilian folkloric styles, essentially world roots and traditional worldbeat, but mixed together to create the beautiful musical tapestry of his mix.

      We were about to leave when we heard the opening notes of the forro, the Northeastern Brazilian staple which, in this world music fan´s opinion, is the most underrated of all the Afro-Latin styles. Our feet gravitated naturally to the epicenter of the dancefloor which started to shake as all the Brazilians, one by one, couple by couple, got into this high energy dance. Now, it has been a while since this worldbeathead has danced to forro, but the moves just came back as if I had just danced it yesterday--it was the music that inspired it. I think the reason why forro hasn´t caught on internationally as have other Afro-latin styles such as salsa and bachata is that it is so hard to obtain the latest and best forro music outside of Brazil (we have in mind to return to the local music stores and pick up whatever forro we can). The truth is, the two tracks that DJ MAM played were the grooviest, most infectious, instrument-filled forro tunes that we ever heard--one of the songs even had a Middle Eastern lilt in the middle, probably owing to the Luzo-Mediterranean element in the music, and we deftly executed some Arabic bhangra as a variation to our forro steps ;D

      Unfortunately we had to leave soon after the forromania--our driver was running into overtime--but the Brazilian Lounge club nite is definitely one we will check out again in the cidade maravilhosa--it is so unusual to find a Brazilian music club nite this diverse anywhere in the world, let alone on a Thursday night. The passion of these remarkable musicians and artists for their music and their pride in their national musical heritage is quite a sight to behold--by paying homage to all the great masters and unsung contributors of Brazilian music, they are truly showing the world that Brazilian music is truly a world music that is a class unto its own.
    • After having done a tour of venues in the Lapa district last week, this week in the Cidade Maravilhosa finds us looking for more avant-garde spaces with exciting world music and worldtronica. At the advice of local dj/producer Maga Bo (currently preparing for his Europe tour www.magabo.com/), we decided to check out Casa Da Matriz, a converted house-artspace in the Botafogo district. He recommended in particular, the Wednesday nite Digital Dubs event www.casadamatriz.com.br/dubs.htm

      Arriving at 11 pm, we found we were actually early for the event since the djs were yet to arrive. Digital Dubs is normally comprised of djs Dubmaster, MPC, & Nelson Meirelles. Last nite, they were joined by special guest DJ Calbuque. The club finally opened its doors at 11:45 pm and we found that it was comprised of two floors with the main dancefloor downstairs booming to the dub and roots reggae sounds of DJ Dubmaster. On the second floor, a smaller room found DJ Aporavamento getting ready for his set www.apavoramento.com/

      By 12:05 am, there was a brief interlude of jungle ragga before fading out and transitioning to classic reggae. A sizable crowd was building steadily inside this famous Rio venue whose walls were adorned with classic sci-fi posters. We haven't had this much fun dancing to reggae and dub since the late 80s! Venturing upstairs, we found DJ Aporavamento spinning some classic electro-beat tracks (a la Planet Rock) which many will recognize as the sound that laid the foundation for the Rio sound of the moment, funk carioca. Even as the room was small, the crowd dancing did not seem to mind.He then transitioned into more electro tracks before delving into some electro-tinged breakbeats.

      The success of Casa Da Matriz's Wednesday nite is a testament to the eclectic world sounds (reggae, dub) and worldtronica that the Carioca nightclubber has an appetite for. Even as we left the venue at 1:30 am, there was still a line waiting outside to get into the club. This is one venue to check out in this marvelous city, and DigitalDubs is the best hook-up for some of the city's best reggae and dub sound systems in Rio de Janeiro.
      • Jacques, looks you had a great nite in Rio de Janeiro with dubs, reggae, elektro, funk and breakbeats mixed at one night.
        Was in touch with Mago Bo recently about give him some recommodation from where he could play here in Netherlands.
        (Jacques, say him hello me from Netherlands if you see him again).
    • On Friday nite, the eve of Carnaval (which is a five-day public holiday in Brazil), saw us in the Santa Teresa art district, a neo-hippie hangout, for the parade by legendary Carioca bloco, Carmelitas. A bloco is a carnavalesque band, and Carmelitas was formed sixteen years ago by a group of friends who would get together to play near the Parque das Ruinas in Santa Teresa. They have gained such popularity that the title of their samba for this year´s samba is a closely-guarded secret--even their parade schedule for the nite was hush-hush, in line with the wishes of the inhabitants of Santa Teresa.

      At about 8 pm, we followed the tram (bondinho) tracks down to the alley where Carmelitas were starting to play. As we approached the head of the parade, we could hear the pulsating, irresistible samba drum rhythms wafting thru the crisp evening air, interspersed with the lightning rattle of the tambourines--it would be hard for anyone not to find their inner ginga at a moment like this! There were already people dancing , some in costume, followed by the percussionists of Carmelitas. The name Carmelitas is taken from a religious order of nuns, hence the costume associated with the bloco is a piece of black cloth with a white band resembling a nun´s habit.

      The persona of Carmelitas is symbloized by an effigy of a smiling (with rouge lips) of a nun dressed in a Vegas-y purple habit, carried by a member of the bloco. Behind it came the moving band and batteria, perched atop a truck, with some great singers belting out the Carmelita anthem of this year, Balança, bonde: Carmelitas vem aí. As the passed the massively thronged crowd on both sides of the alley, they flung out these paper fans which had the lyrics of their samba on them. The song goes like this

      Balança, bonde: Carmelitas vem aí
      (Luiz Fernando Kabecao, Luiza Fernanda, & Bruno Dias)

      Balanca, balanca
      Balanca, Carmelitas vem ai
      Vem nesse bonde com esplendor e fantasia
      Dezesseis anoes a servico da alegria

      E Carnaval,
      Santa Teresa abre as portas pra folia
      Deixe de lado a tristeza
      Esqueca a magoa e o dissabor do dia-a-dia
      Vem brincar a gente
      Nessa familia tem espaco pra voce
      Daqui do alto ecoa o canto da cidade
      Sou carioca, o Rio e felicidade

      Abram as portas do convento
      As carmelitas vao sair
      Vou escorregar no trilho
      E samba ate cair
      Abram as portas do convento
      As carmelitas vao sair
      Vem me dar beijo na boca, meu amor,
      Estou aqui!

      The lyrics of the samba and the high energy of the parade and revelers really put us in the mood for five days of that quintessential celebration of Brazilian samba and music that is carnaval!

      Saturday, 1st day of Carnaval. Having barely recovered from the previous nite´s shenanigans, Saturday morning saw us in downtown Rio de Janeiro at 11 am for the parade by legendary bloco Cordao do Bola Preta. Known as the most traditional of all the blocos, it has been in existence since 1918, and it has participated in Rio´s carnaval ever since, belting out tunes from atop their trio eletrico. Their track record is amazing and once we got to hear their sound, it´s not hard to see why they reign supreme in the very center of Rio de Janeiro and pull in the massive crowds that they do on a Saturday morning.

      First, it was a question of getting near the bloco. Downtown Rio and the Cinelandia was completely packed with peope--it seemed like the entire diverse Carioca family and all the visitors in town were out in full force yesterday morning. As we got nearer to the bloco, the crowd became this sea of partially-clothed bodies and we felt as if were molecules of the same one humongous, throbbing samba organism. The bloco played their famous marchincha (marching song) Quem nao chora nao mama, written by Vicente Paiva and Nelson Barbosa. As a matter of fact, they play the same tune year in and year out, so it was not hard to see why it seemed like everybody knew the words to the song and were singing along as they timed their feet to move with the rhythm of the music.

      Cordao do Bola Preta´s longevity can be seen in the members of their bloco. They had one singer that looked like he must be in his 80s, and yet singing at the top of his lungs. There were also other singers that represented the new generation. An amazing rhythm section playing percussion of every imaginable size and persuasion, and wicked horn section including saxophones and trumpets. A couple of hours passed by as if in a trance, moving (or being moved by) with the massive crowd of paraders down the streets of Cinelandia. Many were dressed in white with black polka dots, symbolizing Cordao do Bola Preta. We saw a group of people holding up a sign in Portuguese that referred to samba as a form of cultural resistance. On another street corner, we saw a group people getting down to some improvised street funk carioca.

      A lunch break saw us in an Arabic restaurant (Brazil has a large population of folks of Lebanese and Syrian descent--matter of fact, among our group of friends, we count two Lebanese and one Syrian, all of them native Cariocas) where we saw a framed newspaper article hanging on the wall of when Algerian rai singer Khaled toured Rio and stopped at the restaurant to order kibbe! I confirmed with my Brazilian friends that Khaled too has had a hit in Brazil, although they weren´t sure if it was Aicha or Didi.

      After lunch, it was off to the Avenida Imperatriz Leopoldinha (named after the consort of Emperor Dom Pedro I) to catch a smaller desfile (parade). Even though it was a smaller one, there was something about this group that made it very organic and interesting. It is said that the bloco was formed by the city´s prostitutes who clearly had their own fan club. It was really a treat to march with this bloco. It was absolutely a diy affair, from the female flag bearer who wore a miniskirt in red and black to the singers who sang on microphones with the equipment trailing behind them in a van. We deftly minded the passing city buses which came up along our sides as we samba´d our way around the city block.

      The first night of Carnaval also had us heading back to the beach district of Ipanema for the parade by another legendary bloco, Banda de Ipanema. It was founded by another big historical name in the Rio art and culture scene, Albino Pinheiro, also admired for his courageous performances during the time of the military dictatorship in the 60s. Banda de Ipanema continues his legacy by performing songs that contain irreverent critiques and humorous jabs at the establishment. Banda de Ipanema was inducted into the Carioca Cultural Patrimony in 2004 and this year marks their 42nd parade in Rio´s Carnaval. This year, their parade also features Joao Roberto Kelly as padrinho and he is known in Brazil as the king of the marchinhas (marching songs). This year´s madrinha is the first flag-bearer of the band, Maria Vasco.

      At 7 pm, a crowd was already dancing down Avenida Viera Souto, not to Banda de Ipanema, not yet, but to the sounds of the bandinha--a dj inside a pick-up truck playing all the classic marchinhas booming from the massive speakers on the back of the truck! Now there is some skill involved in pick-up truck djing, as can best describe this phenomenon--he needs to know when to turn off the volume so the pumped up and frenzied can hear themselves singing the lyrics that they know so well! As the bandinha snaked its way into a side street, we headed back along the beach to find the desfile with Banda de Ipanema. We found it behind a massive crowd of half-naked revelers, many in costume and drag, and the experience was pure theater!

      Tracing our steps back along Avenida Viera Soto, past Posto 9 (synonymous with the beach associated with the sighting of the Garota da Ipanema--Girl from Ipanema--which inspired the famous bossanova tune), we turned up Avenida Fame de Amoedo to hear the familiar strains of Axe Bahian music, that catchy rhythm from the Brazilian Northeast that is usually associated with the carnaval in Salvador da Bahia. The crowd was feeling no pain as they dance in extremely tight proximity to one another and sang along to Axe Bahian anthems of years past. One that we recognized, a hit back in 2004, famously composed by Fernando Mendes (originally from the soundtrack to the film Lisbela e o Prisioneiro) and sung to the Axe rhythm by Gilmelândia, entitled Você Não Me Ensinou A Te Esquecer.

      Não vejo mais você...
      faz tanto tempo.
      Que vontade que eu sinto...
      de olhar em seus olhos...
      ganhar seus abraços,
      é verdade...eu não minto.

      E nesse desespero em que me vejo
      já cheguei a tal ponto...
      de me trocar diversas vezes por você,
      só pra ver se te encontro.

      Você bem que podia perdoar,
      e só mais uma vez me aceitar.
      Prometo agora vou fazer por onde
      nunca mais perdê-la.

      Agora...
      que faço eu da vida sem você.
      Você não me ensinou a te esquecer...
      você só me ensinou a te querer
      e te querendo eu vou tentando te encontrar.

      Vou me perdendo...
      buscando em outros braços...
      seus abraços.
      Perdido no vazio de outros passos
      do abismo em que você se retirou,
      e me atirou...e me deixou aqui sozinho.

      Agora...
      que faço eu da vida sem você.
      Você não me ensinou a te esquecer...
      você só me ensinou a te querer,
      e te querendo eu vou tentando
      me encontrar.

      E nesse desespero em que me vejo,
      já cheguei a tal ponto
      de me trocar diversas
      vezes por você,
      só pra ver se te encontro..

      As the Brazilian music party raged on, we decided to call it a nite and conserve our energy for more Brazilian sambas, marchinhas, and axe bahia to savor in upcoming days.
  • In the historic Pelourinho district of the capital of Afro-Brazilian culture and music that is Salvador da Bahia, we arrived during the ressaca (post-carnaval hangover) period which serves up its own musical delights. Coming from the airport, we saw the roadside billboard advertising concerts by the reigning queens of Bahian music--Margareth Menezes, Ivete Sangalo, and Daniela Mercury--for dates leading up to and during carnaval. Undeterred that we might have missed some of our fave Brazilian artists, we decided to explore Bahian music thru a different approach, that of its relationship with other performance arts, during the ressaca weekend.

    Intrigued by a poster of a film featuring singer Maria Bethania (one of the female voices closely associated with the Tropicalia movement, alongside Gal Costa)www.gachot.ch/gachot_bethania_cine.html we stopped by to check out a neighboring venue, Teatro XVIII, where there was a performance by Companhia Axe do XVIII of A Comida de Nzinga, a stage play about the life of Nzinga de Matamba (1582-1663), the warrior queen whose dominion over Ndongo and Matamba (present-day Angola) during the 17th century put her into conflct with the invading Portuguese colonists. The life of this brilliant African female icon, very much a woman before her time (she outlasted her brother, the heir to the throne, and was fluent in Portuguese) is told thru stage dramatization accompanied by live percussion and digital backing track to provide ambience of 17th century Ndongo.

    The 13 member cast of exceptionally talented young Afro-Brazilian men and women did a marvelous job of telling the story of Nzinga thru spoken word, song, dance, and live percussion using some of the most ingenuos instruments, indeed household implements. The performance started with the story of Nzingas birth, heralded by the men beating on the boxes they were sitting on and slapping their thighs. Nzingas childhood, as a strong young girl who loved to eat (hence, the title of the play) was told accompanied by percussion in the form of the palmfrond fans that the women use for stoking the cooking fire! The only other time I have seen palmfrond fans used as percussive is in traditional Fijian music.

    There was also an actual percussionist who was in charge of the berimbau, two drums, and a pot that when slapped, sounded incredibly like the beat of the tabla. The backing track for the play consisted of electronic drums fused with the sounds of the berimbau that provided a great ambience to the presentation. At one point, when the story took a tragic turn, the recorded vocals of singer Virginia Rodrigues could be heard singing a soulful chant.

    After the play, it was on to the Praca Teresa Batista to catch a performance of Dida, this amazing all-female group of very young female percussionists and vocalists

    www.maria-brazil.org/dida.htm

    The first set of twenty girls put on an hour long performance accomopanied by a single vocalist who, even as the drumming drowned out most of her song, her opening lyrics served to set the rhythm for the percussionists. Another band of adults accompanied by a female vocalist came on for the next hour belting out covers of some of the hottest Axe Bahian songs that are ubiquitously heard all over the city, including Margareth Meneze~s Dandalunda and Daniela Mercurys Maimbe Danda and Olha O Gandhi Ai, off the new Bale Mulato album. The crowd dance, jumped, and sang along to the songs. At 11 pm, another set of girls from Dida, a little older and whom we recognized on the dancefloor earlier in the evening, took over the stage with two singers. Their repertory included many of the same songs done by the previous adult band, but their presentation had the zing of youth and vigor in it that the crowd wholeheartedly took in many of the famous Axe songs including Elegibo and Levada Brasileira. The dancing went on till way past midnite and the crowd swelled into even bigger numbers. It was very uplifting to see a new generation of Salvadoran musicians, especially young girls, get into the music which is very positive for their growth and self-esteem. And it was clear that they had the support and approval of the crowd which consisted of their friends, locals, and visitors alike.
    • Earlier in Rio de Janeiro, we caught the tailend of a documentary playing on HBO Brasil about the four Brazilian artists quintessentially associated with the Tropicalia movement and their lives today. so, when we saw that a film about Maria Bethânia was playing in the movie theater in the historic district/Pelourinho where we were staying, we jumped at the chance to see it :D The movie is entitled Música é perfume www.gachot.ch/gachot_bethania_cine.html It chronicles the life of the singer thru present-day interviews and recent concerts, giving an insight into the early influences and collaborations with other artists that have shaped Brazil's second-best selling female singer of all time.

      Maria Bethânia is the sister of Caetano Veloso, another living legend of Brazilian singer, four years his junior. The documentary takes us intimately into the world of the artist and reveals interesting details such as how Maria initially did not take to bossanova, which developed a "cool" persona, in juxtaposition with the more passionate samba. During an interview in the film, Maria utters that famous definition of the samba as "a tristeza que balança," or sadness which dances, a reference to the music's African origins and the sad history of how Africans were brought to Brazil and the new world. In regard to samba, the movie also posits that Rio de Janeiro is still the capital of samba with the musicians of the cidade maravilhosa having the tradition and the swing of the samba in their veins.

      A great part of the movie are the scenes of Maria collaborating with her fellow musicians, whether it was her band, live shows with other amazing Brazilian women singers such as Nana Caymmi and Miucha, and especially, legendary singer-songwriters such as her brother Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil and Chico Buarque. There was a moment where Maria recounted the story of how a female companion had been astonished that a song which she sang, perfectly describing a woman's love sentiment, had been written by Buarque, a man!

      There were also scenes of Maria and Caetano accompanying their mother thru a church procession, followed by an interview with her mother who talked about her daughter's musical childhood growing up in Santo Amaro, Bahia. Maria also utters her famous quote about how music is akin to bread in Brazil, and is ingrained in the spirit of every Brazilian, irrespective of class or color. All in all, a very insightful and enjoyable documentary which so happens to also be making the rounds in the film festival circuit in Europe and North America.

      Our last nite in the Salvador, we caught a performance by world-renowned Balé Folclórico da Bahia www.balefolcloricodabahia.com.br/ which promised to be a remarkable night of Afro-Brazilian music and dance performances. Arriving ten minutes late on account of a rerouted ferry from Morro S. Paulo, we managed to sneak in to the theater in time to see Xango chase Iansa across the stage. It turned out that the performance opened with an artistic depiction of the dance of the orixas, the Yoruban deities of the Afro-Brazilian religion that is candomble. Candomble no doubt has had its influence on Brazilian music, particularly in the genre known as afoxé. The drums and percussion associated with Candomble ceremonies sound the rhythms that survived the Middle Passage from West Africa into the New World, in this case, Brazil. Our attendance at a candomble ceremony a few weeks earlier had given us some insight into the role of percussion in candomble--while it is the preferred method to call upon a Yoruban/Nigerian orixa, it was not the case when involving Angolan orixas. It was interesting to compare the percussion at the candomble ceremony at a terreiro and at the Balé Folclórico, with the latter being more dramatic in its use of artistic license. There are also obvious similarities with the pa'lante (straightforward) drumming style in Afro-Caribbean music, in particular, Cuba, home to Candomble's Hispanic counterpart, Santeria.

      Balé Folclórico da Bahia employs two female singers who sang in Yoruba, only occasionally singing in Portuguese. They exhibited an interesting contrast in vocal range, with the senior singer sounding very similar to Virginia Rodrigues. There was a solo performance of that famous Brazilian instrument, the berimbau, which led to the capoeira segment of the nite's performance. It was an incredible performance by this music and dance troupe which has brought the sounds of Bahia to the world thru frequent international touring.

      While having a typical Bahian dinner in the historic district, we could hear the sounds of the drums and vocals emanating from the Praça Teresa Batista. Heading over, we discovered it was a concert by Cortejo Afro, one of Salvador's famous carnaval blocos, a very high-spirited group of musicians and vocalists. One of the songs they performed was the smash hit of Salvador Carnaval 2006, Café com pão, originally sung by the group Afrodisíaco. The lyrics go something like this

      Por essa nega
      Eu ponho roupa nova
      Uso oculos escuros
      Desce do muro
      Ela sabe me fazer feliz

      Nega! (fiu fiu!)

      Oculos escuros
      Na parede, na parede, na parede do meu sonho
      Ela pintou alegria
      Arrumou tudo em mim
      Cafe com pao e bom
      A brasileira a brasileira a brasileira

      Vixe mainha, neguinha
      Tudo tao bom
      Vixe mainha, neguinha
      Tudo e tempo
      E tempo e tudo
      Tudo e tempo
      E tempo e nada

      We remembered Maria Bethania's description of music as bread for the Brazilian and smiled as we got down to the infectious lyrics and happy beat. One of their vocalist did an entire repertoire of afoxe sung in Yoruba and other songs incorporated elements of other African and African-influenced styles such as soukous and zouk. To the right of the stage were the maracatu drummers and there was a carnavalesque figure holding an umbrella and dancing circles around the crowd. Somebody passed us a coupon for, what else, a free Pilsner "Bossanova" beer. For our last nite in the world music heritage city of Salvador da Bahia, the epicenter of Afro-Brazilian music, art, and culture, things couldn't have gone down any better!
  • saw today that Barcelona Raval Sessions 2 is released, saw again amazing aritsts in the tracklisting like Ojos De Brujo remixed by Martin Morales, La Kinky Beat with an amazing DJ Rude remix, Temple of Sounds, Hakim with Fermin Muguruza and Cheb Balowski (and many more barcelona hottest music).
    www.kindustria.com/
    Spring here is filled already with sunny music from Barcelona with upcoming gigs from Ojos De Brujo this weekend, next month La Kinky Beat in Tilburg and in the summer @ Sfinks festival in Antwerp.
  • In Miami with my host DJ Micsto of the EarthNoize Groove Collective www.earthnoize.com, panelist at the WMC session on world music, President of the Miami chapter of MECDA, and DJ of the EarthNoize/Six Degrees Club Night in the Miami/South Florida area. On a Tuesday night in the second week of April, we went to check out one of the events of the third annual Latin Funk Festival www.latinfunkfestival.com which was Battle of the Bands at Little Havana nitespot Hoy Como Ayer.

    On the bill were three bands--Otrolado, Prato Principal, and Kayak Man. We arrived just in time to see Otrolado perform. At first sight, the band might be mistaken for just another guitar and drum ensemble, but as they started to perform, singing lyrics as fluidly in English as in Spanish, with hints of Afro-Cuban son in their repertoire, it was apparent that this wasn't your typical adult oriented rock band.

    Kayak Man is an Argentinian trio whose keyboard-heavy, reggae-inflected sound (sung with English lyrics) has attained a certain level of maturity in recent times, according to my host who has followed the band's development since their early inception www.myspace.com/kayakman

    Prato Principal www.pratoprincipal.com/ www.myspace.com/pratoprincipal also sing predominantly in Spanish, despite the Brazilian Portuguese band name for this talented quartet of musicians based in Miami. They play their version of the hybrid of Latin-influenced sounds that run the gamut from Latin ska to Brazilian rock.

    In between live sets, MC LanceO kept the audience enthusiastic for more, and DJ Rastael (who my host informs me, if I'm not mistaken, is manager for the band Locos Por Juana) spun a slammin set of Latin dancefloor grooves ranging from electro-cumbia to dancehall and reggaeton www.myspace.com/rastael

    In attendance amongst the audience that night was local Miami entrepreneur and nightlife impressario, David Rodriguez, who runs Oyenlo.com oyenlo.com/, a site that covers Latin artists and music in the Miami area. Incidentally, my wonderful host, who is a talented writer herself (Que pasa, Micsto! :), also covered this same event for Oyenlo.com You can check out DJ Micsto's coverage of the event in the Oyenlo blog oyenlo.blogs.com/latinfunk2006/
  • Just got back from Indigo in Chinatown where they had DJ Amar www.electricvardo.com spinning as guest dj of Electro-Lyfe, the Saturday weekly event in the Opium Den of Indigo resto-bar-lounge. Arriving at 11:15 pm, I was pleasantly surprised to see a more luminous decor for the space that is Opium Den (the last time I was there was for a Cheb i Sabbah show two years ago which was packed and pitch dark; his subsequent show at Indigo last year was held in the more expansive dining hall of the restaurant that had been cleared of chairs). DJ Vince, a co-resident of Electro-Lyfe along with the husband and wife team of DJ Monkey and DJ Toki (of legendary Honolulu all-female collective Sisters In Sound fame), was spinning on vinyl decks and transitioning from a downtempo set to a more midtempo world music-inflected electronica set.

    At a little past 11:30 pm, DJ Monkey took over the decks to announce the performance by local tribal dance troupe Shakti Dance Movement www.myspace.com/index.cfm who opened with a graceful lone bellydancer performing a perfect number to Lorin Bassnectar's Everybody. This was followed by a group danced to Panjabi MC's Mundian To Bachke. The ladies of the Shakti Dance Movement performed wonderful routines and took full advantage of physical diversity among the dancers to execute the beautiful choreography.

    Listening to Panjabi MC's huge bhangra crossover anthem, it never ceases to amaze me the level of success and appeal this tune holds to diverse audiences. Its success in Europe, and Germany in particular was attributed to its broad appeal to the Turkish community which embraced the joyous celebratory Punjabi anthem as its own.

    At 11:45, DJ Amar took over the cd decks and opened with Karsh Kale's Manifest. The midtempo underground vibe was carried thru the next track, the Bassnectar remix of Cheb i Sabbah's Alkher Illa Doffor. The modest crowd in the opium den really started to move when he dropped the breakbeat remix of Mehndi Laga Ke Rakhna, the familiar Bollywood anthem which the crowd recognized and appreciated.

    Although I have caught DJ Amar's sets previously at Dhamaal's Worldly events in San Francisco, where he customarily opens and closes the front room of 1015 Folsom, this is the time I have had the opportunity to relish a full two plus hours of the founder of Bay Area global club nite Electric Vardo. The Eastern Gypsy sounds that have characterized this world music club nite can thankfully be experienced in Honolulu last night. As if following the tribal bellydancer on their dance odyssey, the sounds emanating from the Opium Den of Indigo shifted from India to North Africa and the Balkans. Tunes heard that nite included Shantel's interpretation of the familiar rai theme of exile, Ya Rayah, sung by a Bulgarian Rom singer and featuring musicians of the Boban Markovic Orkestar to Duy Duy, the dancefloor smash from Serbian Romani band, Kal, entitled Duj Duj.

    Two hours went by easily as DJ Amar spun a flawless mix, taking the dancers deeper into the night and the sound of the Asian Underground with several drum n bass and speed garage numbers, culminating in that delightful sonic gem that is the Janaka Selekta remix of Cheb i Sabbah's Im Ninalou. The luxuriously extended dubby outro, spiced with Middle Eastern percussion, naturally called to the Shakti dancers as they returned to the dancefloor after having changed to their own clothes. At 1 am, a reworked sleaze electro-tango number with South Asian female vocal samples signalled the beginning of the final quarter-hour set which ended with the track Under Palms by US Conductors. Even as the lights came on, the remaining dancers on the floor kept dancing until the last beat faded out from. Truly an exhilarating night of world beats and electronica fusion from one of the stellar djs of the genre on the US West Coast.

    At a little past 11:30
    • Ln
      Ln
      offline 93
      Ok, Jacques, Mr. Globetrotter, can you please explain how, on the same day you posted about events in Miami and Honolulu? Was one written earlier and you just posted it? Or did you literally fly from one event to the other?
      And I want to thank you, with your tips on the world music scene, I don't have to leave my house and I can explore the whole world in music thanks to your comments and links.
      Happy trails,
      Ln
      • Hola Ln.

        The Latin Funk Festival 2nd day of Battle of the Bands took place a month ago. Which is why in the first paragraph, I wrote "a Tuesday night in the second week of April." Somehow I neglected to post my notes on the event much earlier.

        Sorry, I keep missing you and T on the mainland. I really need to make an effort to get to the LA area. You are very fortunate to have, not only so much homegrown talent in the Barcelona area, but also so many world artists come to perform in your beautiful city. Thanks again for turning us on to Atash last year and the new Ojos De Brujo as well Juanlu's Calima Colores.

        Look forward to dancing to world beat music with you on the rooftop of Casa Asia one of these days! :)
    • Thanks for the wonderful review Jacques. I had a Great night. Loved Toki's opening set and Shakti Dance Movement. Thank you for being there, and for being a wonderful host for the weekend.

      Big Thank yous to DJ Monkey And DJ Toki of ElectroLyfe, and to you Jacques for your support and enthusiasm. It's people like you who keep the world music scen expanding into all the corners of the globe.

      See you in Portland.
      • Jacques - It's always a pleasure & a lot of fun having you hanging out down here! I'm still jamming to the CD's you gave me & just stopped by Tap Tap this weekend! EarthNoize is moving to Sundays (same place) just more of a laid back atmosphere. I'm also including a variety of other things like local vendors, artists, musicians etc. Indoor & outdoor entertainment so we'll see....BTW, The Daves say hi! Where are you heading to next? LOL! Take care!
        • <just stopped by Tap Tap this weekend>

          Oohh, I'm ono for some Haitian grindz right now! LOL

          Next time in Miami, we have to go into Little Haiti and explore its musical side, maybe pick up some Djakout Mizik or T-Vice cds.

          See you out West before the winter solstice, or in Miami, whichever transpires first ;)

          And keep rakkin' those Alla Turca nites!
  • It is said that music inspires dance. One of the relationships between world music and dance I wanted to explore this year was that between world fusion music and tribal fusion dance. A chance meeting with DJ Layla www.djlayla.com/ and her spouse, DJ Jeffe, at Amira SF during the weekend of the Dhamaal Sights & Sounds Festival, during which this remarkable young female world fusion dj from Oregon extended an invitation to come up to Portland at the end of May for a weekend of world fusion and tribal dance, led to a trip to P-town for what turned out to be a fantastic weekend of music and dance in Portland's very fertile music scene.

    The first event on the Friday nite was Serpentine's East Meets West, subtitled Kali's Boudoir at Sabala's at Mt. Tabor www.myspace.com/eastmeetswestpdx This event was in its second year; I remembered seeing a listing for the first one last year which was held at the Egyptian Club. Billed as a nite of thrilling performances by a who's who of Oregon-based tribal bellydancers and artists, as well as special guests from elsewhere on the west coast, it seemed the perfect event to witness the connection between world fusion music and the dancers/performers who are inspired it, particularly since it included two of the best world fusion djs on the scene, one being DJ Layla, and the other, DJ Amar, founder and resident of Electric Vardo SF www.electricvardo.com

    Arriving at the venue (incidentally, Sabala's has become quite a hotspot for underground dance events in Pdx since the East Meets West event) at 10:30, we saw that the performances were well underway. DJ Amar and DJ Layla were both manning the decks as performer after performer, troupe after troupe, went up on stage and gave a brilliant show to the music that was a sizzling fusion of electronica with world and ethnic elements. Also performing with DJ Amar was female Egyptian tabla virtuoso SooozhyQ who flawlessly accompanied the djs on her darbouka. Like Amar, she, too, hails from the Bay Area; another special guest performer from the East Bay that nite was tribal bellydancer Frédérique David www.bellygroove.com/ , known for her tribal remixed style and, along with the collective she danced with, pioneering the use of Asian Underground and Middle Eastern-influenced electronica leading to the birth of the tribal fusion style in contemporary bellydance.

    At 11:30 pm, at the conclusion of the individual and troupe performances, the floor made way for the open dance as all the dancers from the night came up to dance and revel with each other. It was quite a joyous sight to behold with the dancers spontaneously performing ATS moves in unison to the track Bhang Ragga by Kush Arora www.kusharora.com/ served up by DJ Amar. For this very lucky spectator, the syncretic way in which world fusion and tribal bellydance came together in the night's performances showed a very special relationship between the music and the dance it inspires. Having previously enjoyed world music club nites in Portland that attracted a very diverse crowd from the city's denizens, it was definitely a treat to be able to gain a more in-depth look at the city's equally vibrant tribal fusion dance and bellydance scene. And the appearance of many of the Bay Area's artists and performers also denoted the significance of the Bay Area in producing much of the music, musicians, djs, and performance artists associated with the world fusion, including Arabtronica and Asian Massive, scene in the US today, a phenomenon that has not escaped many other writers and observers of the world music landscape.

    After the open dance segment, the floor opened up for more dancing by audience and performer alike, going well into the nite. At 12:30 am, DJ Layla came on with a set of world fusion stormers that ranged from Panjabi MC's Mundian To Bachke to the Sandeep Kumar remix of Cheb i Sabbah feat. Brahim Elbelkani's Toura Toura. Tag-teaming with DJ Amar, who spun everything from Kush Arora to Dhamaal SF, it was a memorable night of dancing to world fusion music, one that this worldbeathead will always remember even as he stepped out into the crisp, cold spring pre-dawn hours at 3 am!

    A special word of gratitute to DJ Layla's spouse, DJ Jeffe, who besides being a professional dj up and down the west coast, is also a very talented videographer which is evident in the footage he took at Tribal Fest that he previewed for us out-of-towners earlier in the day. The next evening, on a rainy Saturday nite, feeling somewhat under the weather, I decided to remain in Portland even as the group had moved on to Eugene, OR, for the second nite of tribal bellydance performances at Global Infusion, an event organized by DJ Layla herself. However, a duo of world music club events that very nite proved too tempting to just stay in bed and at 11 pm, I went to the grand opening of the hybrid gallery and lounge, Pi-rem www.pi-rem.com/ which boasted none other than the legendary Cheb i Sabbah www.chebisabbah.com/ officiating on the sound system.

    Upon descending the stairs to the basement venue, we could hear the rolling basslines of Hel Aeynik by Moroccan electro-trance group, Amira Saqati, and we knew Chebi was already playing inside the club den. What ensued was three hours of the most mindblowing world beat set that we had the pleasure to dance to all year. True to his triple-A (Asia, Arabia, Africa) playlist aesthetic, we dance to such worldbeat classics as Swami's Challa (feat. the dulcet Punjabi tones of Lehmber Hussainpuri), Natacha Atlas' Feen, Magic System's Un Gaou A Paris and Ambiance A Go Go, and Emmanuel Jal & Abdel Gadir Salim's Elengwen. Later in the nite, he also launched into an all-out Maghrebi trance set that started off with Cheba Zahouania chanting "ALGERIE!...SAN FRANCISCO!" and the Temple of Sound remix of Esh 'Dani, Alash Mshit and the Dar Beida 04 remix of Alla Al 'Hbab, thru Marrakech X-Press by Amira Saqati to the Steve Hillage remix of Momo's Digital Garab. The crowd on the floor reflected a diverse grouping of Portland revelers, something we have come to appreciate :) During the last half-hour, Chebiji himself joined the dancing crowd, looking very pleased and in his element, and the group of dancers, including some Arab youth, stayed with him thru the last song which inspired many to sing along, the song being the veritable world classic that is Khaled's Aicha.

    Exiting Pi-rem at 2:00 am, I rushed to fulfill an invitation by DJ Anjali www.anjaliandthekid.com/ , conveyed on the dancefloor of Sabala's during East Meets West the previous night, to visit her other signature Pdx world-themed club nite, besides the very successful ATLAS www.anjaliandthekid.com/ ,of which I am already a fan, namely Andaz at the Fez Ballroom www.anjaliandthekid.com/ which is currently in its fifth year of reveling and doing the balle balle, being the only Desi/South Asian diaspora-themed party in Portland (ATLAS being their signature across-the-board and around-the-world world/global/international-themed nite). Since this falls into the category of world music-themed club nites, I will post a mini-review as well as an update review of ATLAS under the other thread. However, I will say that dancing to Bollywood and bhangra in the ambience-perfect Fez Ballroom was definitely the right way to end a Saturday nite of world beat dancing in Porltand! :)

    With the weekend drawing to a close, Sunday nite provided an opportunity for an encore performance by DJ Layla, this time joined by her spouse, DJ Jeffe, as they opened for Lorin Bassnectar at The Greek in downtown Portland. I relished in the opportunity to dance to Layla's brilliant mix of Arabtronica and Asian Underground, and DJ Jeffe even opened his predominantly breaks set with a bhangra 2-step number :) It was a good crowd dancing on the second level of The Greek before the promoter signalled the ending of their two-hour set as Lorin was starting on the top floor/main dancefloor with what sounded like The Punjabi Hit Squad remix of Beenie Man's Dude followed by his own remix of Cheb i Sabbah's Alkher Illa Doffor. As I said goodbye to the amazing duo of Layla and Jeffe in anticipation of an early flite out the next morning, I felt energized and blessed to have experienced so much great world music, fusion, and dancing in the equally amazing hotbed of world music, fusion, and arts that is Portland ~*~

    Having experienced the sonic sensory and artistic delights of Portland, we ventured further north in the Pacific Northwest to British Columbia and the cities of Vancouver and Victoria later in the summer. Arriving smack in the middle of JazzFest, we were thrilled to be able to attend not one, but two concerts by Indo-Persian fusion group, Niyaz www.niyazmusic.com/ The first concert took place on Granville island, as part of Vancouver JazzFest. A seated audience was witness to singer Azam Ali, resplended in a red dress, and the brilliant group of musicians that accompanied her including Loga Ramin Torkian on various string instruments, Indian tabla player Satnam Ramgotra, and DJ Carmen Rizzo on console and keyboard. It was great to listen to all the Niyza tracks in a live presentation, including a song from Azam's recently released solo album. She was very gracious and thanked the audience, speaking in English and Farsi, while addressing the local Persian community that had come out to see her, and also thanked the Canada Council for the Arts which sponsored the entire Canadian leg of their world tour (She remarked that it was the first time in her career that a North American government institution had ever sponsored her)! The group performed a couple of encore songs in response to clamor from the audience and stayed behind to sign autographs.

    The second Niyaz show I saw was at the ICA Folkfest in Victoria on Vancouver island www.icafolkfest.com/ . Azam had traded her red dress for a long-sleeved ensemble for the cooler stage in the Inner Harbour, but the group performed the same repertoire as the other night in Vancity. Other performances I caught at ICA Folkfest included Canada-based Somali rapper K'naan www.thedustyfoot.com/ who wowed crowds on the European festival circuit this past summer following his Folkfest appearance, and venerable Latin ska rockers Ozomatli who closed out the festival. Again, we felt lucky to have experienced the roster of artists at ICA Folkfest which is going on hiatus next year--ten days of amazing local, national, and international artists and music for the price of a festival pass that must have been the lowest in the world!

    Back to the first Niyaz show, following which I decided to check out a Beats Without Borders club nite www.beatswithoutborders.com/ featuring special guests Sub Swara www.subswara.com/ all the way from NYC! (After all, a Vancouver world fusion nite would not be complete without a nite at a BwB party :) Arriving at 11:15 pm, we saw the Sub Swara crew in full swing, with Haj behind the decks, Dhruva on live tablas, and Sunder on the turntable doing live scratches. I had been very excited to catch a Sub Swara show live in action and they certainly did not disappoint. Dhruva's skills with the tablas that nite matched the beats without borders theme perfectly, transcending rhythms from distinctly Indian to a more nuanced pattern that sounded almost Afro-Latin. Sunder's live scratching is a sight to behold, enhancing the electronic sounds emanating from Haj's decks as well as the acoustic sounds of Dhruva's tablas. When he took over the decks, his signature mix of various styles of South Asian Underground dance kept dancing feet happy as we whirled around the dancefloor to Nasha Flute Fantasy. As a world electronica-live combo, a Sub Swara show is not to be missed!

    In the next post, this worldbeathead's roundup of 2006: An Amazing Year in World Music! :D
  • Our very own Jurgen recently sent me a link to the Michael Franti concert that I saw in Portland last year. Apparently, their soundman, Versace, has been uploading all their live shows worldwide online for fans to listen back!

    www.musicwebtown.com/versace/46232

    I have vivid memories of that concert. How the audience threw white, long-stemmed roses at Michael from the balcony where everyone was up on their feet and dancing as well. Two of my absolute fave numbers from the Yell Fire! album were performed in very special, extended concert versions--Hello Bonjour (which had everyone dancing) and One Step Closer, a very emotional acoustic guitar version by Franti as compared to the lighter pop-reggae album cut. Beautiful, beautiful song as befits the entire vibe of the concert.