Thursday, March 23, 2017

Desert Trance: Steve Shehan and Baly Othmani with "Tarre (Awalin Almad Saras)"

Today's tune, Tarre (Awalin Almad Saras) is by Steve Shehan and Baly Othmani. Steve Shehan is a Franco-American composer and percussionist known for his mastery of the percussion instrument known as the hang. He has released eight solo albums, seven albums as part of the Hadouk Trio, and three with collaborator Baly Othmani. The late Baly Othmani was an oud player, poet and singer and a legend in the Djanet region of Algeria. Tarre (Awalin Almad Saras) can be found on their album Assarouf, initially released in 1997.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

It Probably Helped: The Specials (The Special AKA) and "Nelson Mandela"

An 80's dance tune by The Specials is our random tune for today. The song Nelson Mandela had political significance, as it called for the South African government to free the political icon who founded the African National Congress. The Specials, also known as The Special AKA, are an English 2-Tone and ska band with political and social themes in their songs and characterized by their mod rude boy outfits. They had 7 consecutive UK Top 10 hits 1979 and 1981, but split up after three original members left the band to form Fun Boy Three. In 1982 remaining members of the band renamed it The Special AKA but the band had numerous lineup changes. In 1993, the original lineup reunited, and the band has come together for various events since then, and even released a live album in 2013 - though a studio album has not been released since 2001. Nelson Mandela can be found on The Specials (The Special AKA)' 1984 release In the Studio. The song is upbeat and draws on South African musical influences, and has been listed by The New Statesman as one of the top 20 political songs ever recorded.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Chickenhawks: Vieux Farka Touré and Julia Easterlin with "Masters of War"

A new take on an old classic is our random tune for today. Masters of War, written by Bob Dylan, is performed by Malian musician Vieux Farka Touré and American singer-songwriter Julia Easterlin. A Malian singer and guitarist. Touré first took up guitar in secret because his father disapproved and enrolled in the National Institute of the Arts in Bamako. He released his first album in 2005 after getting permission from his father and the great Malian musician Toumani Diabaté He has since released seven albums and has collaborated with other musicians from around the world, including Israeli Idan Raichel in the Touré-Raichel Collective. Julia Easterlin has been described by the Boston Globe as a one-woman a capella group due to her use of a looping machine that allows her to layer her own voice. Her musical style includes jazz, gospel and Southern folk, and she lists Björk and Philip Glass as influences on her music. Masters of War can be found on Easterlin's and Touré's album Touristes (2015).

Monday, March 20, 2017

Two Traditions, One Voice: The Touré-Raichel Collective and "Ai Houde Bakoi"

The Touré-Raichel Collective performs today's random tune, called Ai Houde Bakoi. The Touré-Raichel Collective developed out of a chance airport meeting between singer and guitarist Vieux Farka Touré of Mali and pianist Idan Raichel of Israel. Promising to perform together, they fulfilled the promise in 2010 at the Tel Aviv Opera House. An impromptu session the day after at a recording studio led to three hours of improvised musical recordings and was the birth of the collective. You can find Ai Houde Bakoi on The Touré-Raichel Collective's 2012 debut release The Tel Aviv Session.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Many Shades: Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble featuring Roomful of Teeth with "Green (Vincent's Tune)"

Today's random tune is by Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble, accompanied by Roomful of Teeth. The song is called Green (Vincent's Tune). Yo-Yo Ma is a Chinese American cellist, a child prodigy who has performed with orchestras around the world, and has also ventured out of traditional classical music to record American bluegrass music, traditional Chinese music, Argentine tangos and Brazilian music. His Silk Road Ensemble is a project to bring musicians together from countries associated with the historical Silk Road. Roomful of Teeth is a vocal ensemble whose mission is to mine the potential of the human voice. In pursuit of their mission, they study with masters of various vocal traditions including Inuit and Tuvan throat singing, yodeling, belting, Korean p'ansori, Georgian singing, Sardinian cantu a tenore, Hindustani music and Persian classical singing. One of their members, Caroline Shaw, received a Pulitzer Prize in 2013 for her composition Partita in 8 Voices. You can find Green (Vincent's Tune) on the 2016 album Sing Me Home, which Yo-Yo Ma describes as a tribute to culture and how it helps people meet, connect and create new things.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

A Tiny Peep: Malika Zarra and "Little Voice"

Our tune today, Little Voice, is performed by Malika Zarra. Zarra was born in Morocco to a Berber mother and a Moroccan father and she grew up in Paris though her family remained culturally Moroccan in the home. She became interested in jazz because she noticed its improvisational similarities to Arab music, and studied jazz in Tours and Marseilles. She began getting attention when she started singing jazz standards with her own Arab translations. She is influenced by styles such as traditional Berber music, Gnawa music, Chaabi, French popular music, jazz, house, funk, dance, and traditional African music, and her personal influences include artists such as Farid al-Atrash, Um Kalthoum, Warda Al-Jazairia, Ella Fitzgerald, Bobby McFerrin, Thelonious Monk, Stevie Wonder and Aretha Franklin. You can find Little Voice on her 2011 CD Berber Taxi.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Missing Her Sailor: Karen Matheson and "Mi Le M' Uilinn"

Today's random sung is by Karen Matheson, a Scottish folk singer. A founding member of the band Capercaille, she has also had a successful solo career. She was also part of the acclaimed folk group L'Héritage des Celtes, with whom she sang lead vocals and as part of that group represented France in the 1996 Eurovision Song Contest. Karen Matheson sings most of her songs in Scottish Gaelic, and has been counted as one of the most famous voices in Celtic music. In 2002, she was awarded the Order of the British Empire for her contributions to music and arts. This song, Mi Le M' Uilinn, can be found on her 1996 album The Dreaming Sea, as well as on many compilation albums such as Putumayo Presents: Women of the World Celtic II (1997), Holding Up Half the Sky: Voices of Celtic Women (2005), and Celtic Women 4 (2010). The song is the lament of a woman whose man has gone to sea.