Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Amazing Range: Basia and "From Now On"

Okay, I'm pushing the boundaries of world music here, but regardless I'm going to do it anyway. Today's song is by Basia, the stage name of Basia Trzetrzelewska, who had a series of Latin-jazz-pop crossover albums in the 1980s and 1990s. Her vocal range is an astounding three octaves, and she is also known for multi-layered harmonies. A native of Poland, she started with the Polish all-female group Alibakbi between 1972 and 1974, and then joined the rock band Perfect from 1977-79. While in Chicago in the early 1980s, she met Danny White and they started the jazz-pop group Matt Bianco. In 1985 Basia started her solo career, releasing three successful albums. She withdrew from recording in 1998 until 2004, when she was persuaded to work on a new Matt Bianco album. In 2009 she released her fourth solo album. This song, From Now On, is from her first album, 1986's platinum Time and Tide.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Preserve and Protect: Razia and "Tiako Ro"

Tiako Ro by Razia on Grooveshark

Today's random tune is by Razia, which is the performing name of Razia Said. Razia gets influence for her music from Fela Kuti and Papa Wemba and incorporates R&B and jazz. Originally from Madagascar, she has lived in many places, including France, Italy, Bali and New York City. This song, Tiako Ro, is from her 2010 album Zebu Nation. The album was the result of many trips back to Madagascar and meetings with the country's most prominent band Njava. They inspired her to write songs in Malagasay, and the album is focused on preservation and conservation Madagascar's environment.

Monday, December 29, 2014

The Voice: Nawal and "Musica"

Today's random song is by Nawal, a musician from Comoros. She takes the traditional music of Comoros and incorporates influences from African and Arabic traditions. She sings in Comorian, French, Arabic and English, and she is a multi-instrumentalist. Nawal is one of the first women from her country to take the international stage and she is known today as "The Voice of Comoros." This song, Musica, is from her 2007 album Aman.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Craving: [dunkelbunt] with Raf MC and Fanfare Ciocarlia and "The Chocolate Butterfly"

Today's random tune is by Ulf Lindemann, who goes by the stage name [dunkelbunt]. A German freelance musician, producer, bandleader and DJ, he is considered a pioneer in the fusion of electronic music with South European music, klezmer, jazz and swing. He is joined by Tanzanian artist Raf MC and Fanfare Ciocarlia, a 12 person Roma brass band known for their rendition of Born to be Wild on the film Borat. You can find this song, The Chocolate Butterfly, on the CD The Balkan Club Night (2011).

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Forgiveness: Ana Costa with Oswaldo Cavalo and "Pra Que Pedir Perdão"

Today's random song, Pra Que Pedir Perdão, is by Ana Costa with Oswaldo Cavalo. The song is about asking forgiveness for pain inflicted on someone else by the singer. How often do we do things for which we should ask forgiveness, and how often do we ask forgiveness when we don't need to? For example, Megan is always asking forgiveness - in her family they learned to say "I'm sorry" for practically any time a person expresses some sort of discomfort. What it has done is make the asking of forgiveness less meaningful. On the other hand, I don't ask forgiveness enough and have many times done things that I should apologize for but have not. Pride and fear get in my way. Supposedly, my Catholic faith is based on forgiveness, but forgiveness is sorely lacking in society today - a person makes a mistake and goes to jail and does time for their crime, but lives with the crime for the rest of their life - a victim of unforgiving society which means they won't get a job, will struggle to find housing, and will find few situations where they can get a leg up. Truly, there are some people who cannot be forgiven, but I believe most can and should. I'm an optimist that way. Most of us are not, it seems.

A singer of samba, the lively Brazilian music that provided the basis for bossa nova, she is one of the newer voices carrying the samba torch. She started in rough bars in a region just north of Rio de Janeiro, and was one of the founders of the all-female samba group Roda de Saia, later known as O Roda. She joined Martinho Da Vila's daughter Mart'nalia in a band and toured Brazil, the US and Europe, and began eventually to write songs. Pra Que Pedir Perdão can be found on her 2005 album Meu Carnival, and on the Putumayo Presents: Brazilian Cafe (2009).

Friday, December 26, 2014

For the Birds: Fiamma Fumana and "La Merla (The Blackbird)"

La Merla (The Blackbird) by Fiamma Fumana on Grooveshark

Happy Boxing Day! The random song for today is called La Merla (The Blackbird) The band that plays it, Fiamma Fumana, is an Italian band that was formed 1999 and mixes traditional Italian music with electronica. Their name translates as "flame fog" or "fire mist." They started out as a trio, but added two members for their second album, and use a mix of modern, traditional and electronic instrumentation. La Merla can be found on their 2003 album Home.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Gipsy Travels: Gitanosoy and "Voyages"

Voyages by Gitanosoy on Grooveshark

Merry Christmas! As one who has just completed a three day car voyage from Albuquerque to Sarasota, Florida, following an eastern star toward the warm lights of Megan's family, I feel that today's song, even though it didn't come up as a Christmas song, does sum up my holiday. Gypsies, of course, are known for their their itinerant lifestyles and I think that in my idea of life as I would wish it, I too long for a freedom to travel and wander unfettered by the things that I now need to do to survive (i.e a job). If course the Gypsy wanderings are their jobs, their shackles in a way and what has made a lot of more established groups of people in Europe and the United States look at them with undeserved suspicion. Perhaps in retirement I can satisfy some of that itch, even if a nomadic lifestyle is supported by Social Security rather than a need to survive.

As we think of Christmas, we can also remember too that Jesus was himself a wanderer, moving from place to place to teach people about the relationship of God to humanity. So, a song by a Gypsy group from France, called Voyages, is not that far from the spirit of the day. Unfortunately, I don't know too much more about the band, Gitanosoy, other than that they have some connection with the Gipsy Kings. In any case, enjoy this song, Voyages, from Gitanosoy's 1996 album Gipsy Dance. And have a wonderful holiday!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Anciently Modern: Balkan Beat Box and "Adir Adirim"

Happy Christmas Eve! Today's random tune is by Balkan Beat Box, founded in 2003 by Tamir Muskat and Ori Kaplan in New York City. An Israeli band, their goal is to take ancient and traditional music and combine it with hip hop to create a more modern sound that would appeal to people in dancehalls and clubs. They cite as influences Boban Marković, Rachid Taha, Fanfare Ciocarlia, Manu Chao, and Charlie Parker. This song, Adir Adirim featuring experimental Israeli vocalist Victoria Hanna, is from their 2005 eponymous debut release. Listen for the "alleluia's" in the song!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Welsh Rumba: Little Rumba and "New Year's Resolution"

New Years Resolution by Little Rumba on Grooveshark

Today's random tune is a little precursor for what's coming up. The song is called New Year's Resolution by Little Rumba. Little Rumba is from Wales, founded in the early 1990s. Originally playing Welsh pubs and parties, they have begun to reach a wider audience. They describe their music as a "recognizable house style" which draws inspiration from Eastern Europe and South America as well as jazz and blues. They have also been described as Tom Waits meets Tom Lehrer. New Year's Resolution can be found on their 2012 album We Could Be Anywhere.

Monday, December 22, 2014

This is Good Luck: Salif Keita and "Mandela"

Hello! Today's random song is by Salif Keita, an albino afro-pop singer from Mali known as "the golden voice of Africa" and a direct descendent of the founder of the Mali Empire. Cast out by his family because of his albinism (a sign of bad luck in his culture) he moved to Bamako where he joined the renowned Super Rail Band de Bamako and then the famous Les Ambassadeurs. He moved to Paris in 1994 to reach a wider audience. In his music, he combines traditional West African styles with influences from Europe and the Americas, and uses a variety of African traditional instrumentation along with more modern instruments. He has since returned to Mali where he continues to make music and has released critically acclaimed albums. This song, Mandela, can be found on his 1995 album 'Folon'...The Past.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Deep in the Heart: Los Texmaniacs and "Viva Seguin"

Viva Seguin (Long Live Seguin) Polca by Los Texmaniacs on Grooveshark

Today's song is very appropriate since as you're reading this, Megan and I are somewhere deep in the heart of Texas. Viva Seguin is by the group Los Texmaniacs. Created in 1997 by Max Baca, Los Texmaniacs wanted to play traditional conjunto and tejano music but also incorporate rock and jazz while honoring the old traditions. Baca was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico and followed is grandfather and father in learning the accordion starting at age 5. He was invited by one of his idols, the great Flaco Jimenez, to play in Jimenez' band in San Antonio where he learned to play the bajo sexto (bass) using all six strings in the traditional style. In forming Los Texmaniacs, Baca wanted to keep alive the style of another groundbreaking band, the Texas Tornados. Viva Seguin can be found on their 2012 release Texas Towns and Tex-Mex Sounds.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Take a Deep One: Mercan Dede and "Breath"

Today's random song is by Mercan Dede. Dede is a Turkish musician living in France who draws inspiration from Sufi music. Dede is also known as DJ Arkin Allen, and is a composer, player of the ney (a Turkish flute) and the bendir (a hand drum). He fuses traditional Turkish acoustic music and other eastern musics with electronic sounds, horns, dance beats and his Sufi spirituality. Breath is the title song from his 2007 CD of the same name.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Tangoing into the Holidays: Hugo Diaz and "Mi Buenos Aires Querido"

Hello friends! For the next few days my words will be sparse as I am driving to Florida starting today. Yet, you should get a daily tune regardless!

Today's tune is a tango by Hugo Diaz called Mi Buenos Aires Querido. Hugo Diaz was born in 1927 in Santiago del Estero, Argentina, and lost his sight at age 5 after being hit by a soccer ball. He learned to play harmonica, and two years later after surgery restored his eyesight, he was already playing for a local radio station. He played mostly with friends from his youth, and after his debut in 1944 he scored a series of record contracts. He worked mainly in tango with deep roots in rural music. In the 1970s his musical legacy reached its apex. His daughter, Maria Victoria, was an important part of the Argentine rock and roll scene of the 1980s. Hugo Diaz died in 1977. Mi Buenos Aires Querido can be found on the 2012 retrospective album Tangos, on the 2006 various artist compilation Tango and Tangueros, and on Putamayo Presents: Tango Around the World (2007).

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Quebecois: Genticorum and "Le Pommeau"

Today's random song is from Canada - Quebec to be exact. Genticorum is a traditional musical trio from Montreal where each member provides percussion by clogging. They fuse modern composition of their own with elements of classic folk and Celtic music. The members came together through a love of French Canadian fiddle tunes and folk music. Their name comes from a word that one member of the trio remembers his grandfather singing, though he does not know the meaning. They sing all of their songs in French. This song, Le Pommeau, can be found on their 2009 album La Bibournoise.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Queen of Desert Rock: Khaira Arby and "Khaira"

Khaira by Khaira Arby on Grooveshark

It's not often that I get to spin a queen, but here I go. Today's song is by Khaira Arby, often called the Queen of Desert Rock and also the Nightingale of the North. An artist from the northern deserts of Mali, she is a cousin to the great Ali Farka Touré. She uses a varied assortment of instrumentation, such as electric guitar, calabash, traditional violin, acoustic guitar and drumming, and she sings in languages such as Sonrai, Arabic and Tamashek. She is the only singer in her family. She started singing when she was eleven years old. Before working with her own band, she performed with the Troupe du Cercle de Tomboctou and later the Troupe Regionale de Gao. This song, Khaira, is from her 2013 release Timbuktu Tarab.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Native Flute: Robert Mirabal and "Running (Reprise)"

Running (Reprise) (World) by Robert Mirabal on Grooveshark

Sorry folks...I thought I posted this yesterday but apparently shut down my computer before posting it. It's backdated for 12/16!, but you and I know the secret.

Today's global music random song is by Robert Mirabal, a New Mexican Native American musician. A flute player and maker from Taos Pueblo, he is a leading proponent of world music. He performs around the world with a mix of flute playing, tribal rock, dance and storytelling. He has been twice named Native American Artist of the Year, and was featured in a Grammy Award winning album, Sacred Ground: A Tribute to Mother Earth in 2006. This song, Running (Reprise) is featured on his Warrior-Magician CD from 1996.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Deconstruction: Arling and Cameron with "Shiva's Daughters"

This past year I started reading The Ramayana. I'm about a third of the way through the book and it's loooong. As you may or may not know, it is the epic tale of Rama (a Hindu deity and man), his marriage to Sita, his exile from the kingdom of Ayodhya, the kidnapping of Sita by Ravana, the ruler of Lanka, and Rama's war against Lanka to retrieve Sita. It's full of Hindu morality, including respect for parents and elders, the importance of keeping one's promises and upholding the duties and promises of one's family. In a sense, we make our own choices but we also have to abide by the choices of those who have gone before us. Anyway, that is a long introduction to the fact that I don't know much about Hinduism or its pantheon other than what I've picked up here and there and what The Ramayana is imparting to me. Shiva is one of the Hindu deities, and in fact is one of the primary forms of God. He is both benevolence and fearsome. He is a yogi and a patron of the arts, and he lives with his wife Parvati and his children Ganesha and Kartikeya. Yet he is also depicted slaying demons, and he is partly responsible for the fact that Ganesha is the elephant-headed god, because in one of his fearsome forms he accidentally cut the head off of his own son, killing him, and then persuaded a wise old elephant to donate his head so that the child might live.

Today's song is by Arling and Cameron and is entitled Shiva's Daughters, which is interesting because I was not aware that Shiva had any daughters...but he does. One daughter was apparently born when his wife, Parvati, became lonely while Shiva was away and formed Ashokasundari from the Ashoka tree. Her beauty caused her to be stalked by a demon named Hunda until her true love Nahusha rescues her and marries her. Another daughter, Manasa, was apparently born when Shiva's semen touched a statue carved by the mother of snakes (not sure why his semen was flying around but I guess this stuff happens). Manasa is thus the serpent goddess who cures snakebites, and because she was rejected by Shiva and Parvati is a very jealous and ill-tempered goddess.

Anyway, that's what I assume is the story behind the name of today's song. Arling and Cameron are a Dutch electronic duo made up of Gerry Arling and Richard Cameron. They began creating music in 1994, based on the Shibuya-kei kitsch-pop deconstructionism founded in Japan a few years earlier. They started by having parties around Amsterdam and from those parties they released 16 singles which ultimately led to collaborations with musicians such as Fantastic Plastic Machine and Bebel Gilberto. They take inspiration from French pop, spy movie themes, lounge, '70s light rock, Japanese Shibuya-kei and kitschy music genres. You can find Shiva's Daughters on their 2000 album Music for Imaginary Films, and on the compilation CD Putumayo Presents: World Lounge (2002).

PS: Today marks one half year since I started posting a random song a day from our collection. I started on June 15th with this selection from the The Touré Raichel Collective. If you like what I've done so far, please feel free to add a comment and let me know that you're out there!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Legendary: Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and "Mustt Mustt"

As an American, I was once brainwashed by the American entertainment scene. I paid no attention to what was happening around the world. I watched American movies and listened to American music, or at least music that fell in line with American styles. Which was unfortunate because there is so much going on outside of the United States! Arts are alive and well in the rest of the world, and I would argue that both inside the United States and out, the most creativity comes from those artists, writers and musicians outside of the mainstream. The musicians that I loved while growing up certainly realized this even if we Americans didn't. American music was profoundly influenced by The Beatles, who were foreign, and we accepted this. And even The Beatles gained a whole new perspective on music after being introduced to something outside of Western music; Indian spirituality, music and instrumentation. Bob Marley made reggae popular, and before that, American music was transformed by Brazilian music forms like bossa nova and samba. In fact, the history of American music is all about the importation of styles from overseas. However, convincing Americans to not take their music watered down through the entertainment industry but to go straight to the source is frustrating. For all the amazing music I've heard since Megan and I started doing the global music show, most of my friends will not even give it a listen. And I'm not talking about crap, but phenomenal musicians and music. Yet people are comfortable inside what they know, I suppose, and are unwilling to tread into the unknown, even if it might be good.

It is in this reflective mood that today's random song finds me, and particularly the artist Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Khan was a Pakistani singer of Qawwali, the devotional music of Sufism. He had an amazing range of vocal abilities, and is considered by many to be one of the greatest voices ever recorded. He is credited with being one of the early progenitors of world music, and was the first to bring Qawwali music to international audiences. A number of Western musicians cite him as a major influence: for example, Jeff Buckley called Khan his "Elvis". Peter Gabriel also lists him as a major influence, and Paul Williams included a concert performance by Khan on his list of the 40 greatest artistic achievements of the 20th century. The Derek Trucks Band covers Khan's songs on two of their albums. Khan also contributed collaborated with Peter Gabriel on the soundtrack of The Last Temptation of Christ and with Eddie Vedder on the soundtrack of Dead Man Walking. He received many awards and recognitions for his work before his untimely death of cardiac arrest at age 48 in 1997 in Britain while traveling to Los Angeles for a kidney transplant. What a shame, and what a loss for the world. Mustt Mustt can be found on his 1990 collaboration with Canadian musician Michael Brook entitled Mustt Mustt which was re-released in 2012 by Real World Records.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Getting Religion: Metá Metá with "Logun"

I'm pretty open to religious practices, and today's random selection of a song taught me about a religion that I didn't know about. Candomblé is a religion based in West African tradition and brought to Brazil by slaves. It is native to the Bahia region. It is often celebrated concurrently with Christianity, and in fact it was necessary for adherents to do so because those who practiced it were subject to persecution until the 1970s. The religion has no writings and is therefore passed through oral tradition. Adherents believe in a Supreme Being who is served by lesser gods called orishas or orixás, who also serve as individual tutelary gods to humans. Music and dance are valued quite highly in Candomblé as they are ways in which individuals can become possessed by the orishas.

Metá Metá is a Brazilian band from São Paulo with musical roots in the Candomblé religion. This song is called Logun and it's from album Metá Metá's album Metal Metal (released 2014). The album starts with a religious chant, then switches into songs dedicated to the orixás, or gods. Throughout the album are echoes of freeform jazz and punk rock, with cool vocals and passages of jazz saxophone and percussion. In other words, a holy melange that will once again make you marvel at the wonders of Brazilian music.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Goddess of Song: Yungchen Lhamo and "Gebu Shere"

Today's random tune is by Yungchen Lhamo, a Tibetan exile in New York City. Lhamo's name translates to "Goddess of Song," and was given to her by a lama after her birth in Lhasa. Fleeing Tibet in 1989, she first lived in Australia and then in New York. She tours extensively, singing unaccompanied, and has collaborated with artists such as Annie Lennox, Billy Corgan, Sheryl Crow, Michael Stipe and Peter Gabriel, to whose label, Real World Records, she is under contract. This song, Gebu Shere, can be found on her 2008 album Ama, and is about a missing lover - which she describes as the reality of a lot of Tibetans who live apart because of exile.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Shooting for the Moon: Sylvia Martens and "Fliegen wie Neil Armstrong"

Fliegen wie Neil Armstrong by Sylvia Martens on Grooveshark

When I was in kindergarten way back in the fall of 1969, my favorite piece of vinyl was a recording of the Apollo 11 moon shot and landing. I listened to that record over and over again. My parents got sick of it. It seemed that nobody but me was interested in this recording. The recording began with the communications between Houston and the Apollo command capsule sitting on top of the giant Saturn V rocket, through launch, the hundreds of thousands of miles to the moon, the detachment of the Eagle lander from the Columbia command module, the touchdown of the Eagle, and the descent of Neil Armstrong to the moon's surface. I loved it all. When I brought it to my kindergarten class, it bored the tears out of my classmates (literally - some of my classmates started crying as I insisted that we keep playing it instead of putting on Yellow Submarine). For a while, I had a scale model of the Saturn V rocket. To me the moon was wonder, and the fact that someone walked on it (the closest that we have come to setting foot on another planet) was nothing short of miraculous to my five year old mind. I don't know where that record is now, but I wish I had it - I might even listen to it again.

In late August of 2012, Neil Armstrong died. This trailblazer among trailblazers, who touched what still remains the edge of the frontier for humanity, went walking into the yet another unfathomable mystery. For our show in September I decided to try and see if I could get some global music commemorating the first man to walk on the moon. This song, Fliegen wie Neil Armstrong (Flying like Neil Armstrong)," was was one of my finds. The performer is Sylvia Martens, a German pop singer who made her debut in 2005 singing "Schlager" music, pop or electronic music that are either sentimental ballads or light pop with lyrics about love and relationships and feelings. Fliegen wie Neil Armstrong can be found on her 2011 album Spiel Mich! (Play Me!).

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Asian Crazy: A.S. Kang and "Terian Gulabi Buliyan"

Terian Gulabi Buliyan by A. S. Kang on Grooveshark

When I first started getting into world music outside of Irish music, I relied a lot on the Putumayo collections of music. This actually came about because of a chance meeting. When we lived in New Orleans, Megan was doing some stories for inclusion in a collection called something like Music Lived Here. She would go to the places where famous New Orleans musicians lived and try to learn about the houses and talk to the people who owned them, were responsible for preserving them, and the like. One day we were walking in the Bywater and since we were near one of the houses, she wanted to go take a look. We were walking around the house, just taking a look at it when a young woman inside noticed us. Megan explained what she was doing and she invited us in and showed us the renovations taking place inside. It turned out that she was the wife of Dan Storper, the founder of Putumayo World Music. He wasn't there so we didn't get to meet him, but she handed us three or four Putumayo CDs on our way out. One of the CDs was Asian Groove, which was my favorite of that little windfall. It was also the backbone of some the music we played when we first started DJing the Global Music Show. We now own about 35 Putumayo CDs, and they are excellent musical surveys of world music.

All this comes to mind because I first heard today's chill Asian song from that selfsame Putumayo Asian Groove CD. Terian Gulabi Buliyan is by renowned bhangra and UK-based Punjabi singer A.S. Kang. Born to a Sikh family in the Indian Punjab, he moved to the United Kingdom while a teenager. He is responsible for some of the biggest Punjabi hits over the past four decades. Kang got his start in the 1970s, and his first ever recording was a major hit in the United Kingdom. In 1978 he recorded the biggest ever Punjabi hit, Giddian di Rani, and in the process became the first UK-based Punjabi singer to break through in the Indian music market. He was the main inspiration behind the UK bhangra revival of the 1990s. He continues to put out hit songs to this day. Terian Gulabi Buliyan can be found on his 2000 CD release Gani, and, as previously mentioned, on the Putumayo Presents: Asian Groove CD (2002).

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Rescued: Gjallarhorn and "Sylvklar"

Sylvklar [Silverbright] by Gjallarhorn on Grooveshark

Today's song is by Gjallarhorn, from their 2006 album Rimfaxe (2006). The song, Sylvklar (Silverbright), is a mediaeval ballad about Prince Roamtree who, after looking through seven kingdoms for his sister Silverbright, learns that she is kidnapped by a mermaid. When he finally arrives at the ocean demesne of the mermaid, he finds Silverbright serving as her maid. He tricks the mermaid by using seductive words and rescues Silverbright, and the mermaid becomes so enraged she splits into pieces.

Gjallarhorn was formed in 1994 in a Swedish-speaking portion of Finland and performs world music based in the folk music and traditions of that region. As such, their music tends to be Swedish in nature, but based in acoustic folk music unique to Ostrobothnian area. Gjallorhorn is also known for their use of the hardanger fiddle, an 8 or nine string violin (as compared to four strings on a standard violin), and lead singer Jenny Wilhelm's singing technique called kulning, a technique based on Scandinavian cattle herding calls consisting of high pitched wordless tones designed to be heard over long distances. While Gjallarhorn was on hiatus for a number of years after the release of Rimfaxe, they began touring again in 2011 and were expected to release a new album in 2013, though there is still no mention of it on their website.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Beware of the Dog: Cave Canem ! and "Le Renard"

When I first heard this band I was looking for world music with a theme - specifically, Megan wanted to do a global show with a theme of tricksters. Tricksters are common in many mythologies, and are often gods who have a wealth of knowledge and who use it to play tricks, wreak havoc and upset the normal balance of things. Examples of tricksters are legion, including coyote and raven in Native American mythologies, Eshu and Anansi in African mythologies, Saci in Brazil, Papa Legba in Haiti, Koshares among the Pueblo peoples, Loki among the Norse mythologies, and a myriad of others. Most of us of a certain age in the United States know of the African American stories of Br'er Rabbit, or his cousin Bugs Bunny, literary and popular culture tricksters.

In French folklore (and Dutch), the trickster figure Le Reynard is a popular figure - a peasant-hero archetype that continually butts heads and gets the better of the more noble animals such as the lion and the bear. In most cultures, we tend to admire the trickster who pulls down the pants of the high and mighty and gets away with it. We identify with these characters just as we can identify with a real-life character such as Banksy, who defy authority for years and never seem to get caught.

Today's song is about that sly fox. Le Renard is performed by Cave Canem !, a group from Brussels, Belgium that plays traditional folk with jazz and rock mixed in, with a hint of Swedish and mazourka and a bit of improvisation. I couldn't find a lot more about them. The name means "Beware of the Dog" but is also, according to the Urban Dictionary, a set of five or so sexual positions performed in order. (I bet that has spiced up your evening and sent you running to find out more!) Cave Canem !'s first album, Cave Canem !, was released in 2010. Le Renard is from their second album Kaïseki, released in 2013.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Irish Magic: The Chieftains with Van Morrison and "Have I Told You Lately"

The Chieftains are pretty fearless in their crossing over into the realm of other genres and doing it well - and in some cases, even giving old hits new life or making them seem better. It must be that Irish magic. Today's random song, Have I Told You Lately by The Chieftains with Van Morrison, is a good example. While The Chieftains were one of the first traditional Irish groups that I ever heard, I came late to the Van Morrison party, but growing up I never really was exposed to Morrison because I didn't really have any older brothers and sisters to introduce me to him. I think I might have, sadly, first heard a rendition of Moondance in a television commercial. But I really like Van Morrison, and over the years have enjoyed all that work I missed, even if I was a johnny-come-lately.

I could write pages on both The Chieftains and Van Morrison. Suffice it to say that The Chieftains are one of the greatest ambassadors of Irish music to the world, and since they've been highlighted on this page before, I've given some history about them already. Van Morrison, from Northern Ireland, is a singer-songwriter and musician who has been described as mystical and transcendental. Some of his albums have appeared near the top of many lists of the greatest albums of all time. He has released 39 albums. The collaboration between Van Morrison and The Chieftains goes back to at least 1979, when they met at the Edinburgh Rock Festival, and agreed to record an album together. The result, 1988's Irish Heartbeat, received positive critical acclaim, including 4 stars from Rolling Stone and one of the best albums of the year from The Village Voice. Have I Told You Lately is Van Morrison's hit song from his 1989 album Avalon Sunset. The song is often sung at weddings, though Van Morrison apparently first wrote it as a prayer, as the lyrics about a "love that's divine" might indicate. On The Chieftains collaborative album The Long Black Veil, where they perform songs with others such as Sinead O'Connor, The Rolling Stones and Tom Jones, they cut this version with Morrison. The result is...well, listen for yourself.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Chill Out: Hüseyin Bitmez and "Her Daim (Zi Punt Sufidelic Remix)"

I don't have much to say today on the song, because it's a chill Saturday and I'm feeling pretty easy. So I'll let the sounds of Hüseyin Bitmez's Her Daim, as remixed by Zi Punt, just do the talking.

Hüseyin Bitmez is a Turkish musician about whom I couldn't find any information. He appears to be an oud player, but that's all the information I can glean on the internet about him and is mostly based on photos of him holding his instrument. If anyone from Turkey or familiar with Turkish musicians sees this, perhaps you can supply more information?

Zi Punt, who remixed the song, is a Turkish group made up of Oguz Kaplangi, Chi K. and Orange who mash up electro and rock. Her Daim (Zi Punt Sufidelic Remix) can be found on the 2007 compilation Istanbul Calling Vol. 2 and on the 2009 soundtrack for the Turkish coming-of-age film Ayakta Kal.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Oud Dog, New Tricks: DuOud and "Nude for Death"

The great master oud player Rahim AlHaj once told us (Megan and me) about the relationship he developed with his oud. To him, the oud was like a living person, like a friend or parent or even a lover. When he first got one, he couldn't be separated from it and even slept with it. That to me encapsulates the kind of passion that the oud inspires in its players and adherents. As I've gotten to know some of the music and history of the oud, it seems to me that it is analogous to western classical guitar. I've heard a lot of oud in Arabic classical music, and it always came across to me as a stately, refined instrument. Then comes DuOud, which incorporates the oud into modern music, and yet does not diminish the elegance of the oud at all.

Now that might seem strange given today's song. Nude for Death is by the Paris-based DuOud. DuOud is made up of Algerian Mehdi Haddad and Tunisian Jean-Pierre "Smadj" Smadja, who specialize in Arabic fusion and a desire to reinvent the image of the oud, one of the traditional instruments of Arabic music. What DuOud do is mix oud with all kinds of stuff - jazz saxophone, guitar, samples, beats, and even African vocals. And yet still, at the base of it all, sits the majestic oud. Nude for Death appears on their 2009 CD (Not sure why on this video, but even though the video is over 7 minutes long, the song ends at about 4:50 in and then it's just silent)

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Occupied by Brazilian Music: Bixiga 70 and "Kalimba"

I have waxed rhapsodic about how much I have enjoyed discovering Brazilian music, in its many styles and rhythms. While I have yet to go to South America, I feel like it is a bucket list destination for me, even if I just went for the music alone. In one country Brazil has an astounding variety of music. Of course, early in my musical education I thought Brazil was all bossa nova and samba. However, I didn't take into account the variety of African influences in Brazilian music, even though the clues are plain for anyone who scans a Brazilian crowd and sees the various hues of skin pigmentation. The Brazilian music that I most often heard was of the type that was heavily jazz influenced (jazz itself is very influenced by African music as well). Growing up in the 70s, it was certain types of Brazilian music that made it to the radio waves - types that would appeal to the American listening palate.

Groups like Bixiga 70 have opened my eyes in the way that they have consciously drawn on African roots of Brazilian music and made its rhythms front and center along with other genres. An example is today's tune Kalimba. Using an African guitar backing melody with African drums and a Latin style melody driven by horns, but also allowing for a modern rock style guitar solo, the song is a melange of styles. And in fact, that's what Bixiga 70 does - they combine African, Brazilian, Latin and jazz rhythms and music into a comprehensive worldbeat. The name of the band is taken from the neighborhood and street number where the band was born in Sao Paolo in 2010. The band has a wide range of influences, from Brazilian musicians such as Gilberto Gil, Pedro Santos and Luiz Gonzaga, among others, but also African musicians such as Fela Kuti and Mulatu Astatke. The band released its first album in 2011, which was listed by Rolling Stone as one of the best of that year. Kalimba is from their newest album, Ocupai, released in 2014. The video is a live version of the song.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

DakhaBrakha in Albuquerque Video 2

Here is the second video of DakhaBrakha's performance in Albuquerque on December 1, 2012 at the Dirty Bourbon Dancehall and Saloon. This song is Sho z-pod duba, one of my favorites by them. I hope you enjoy it too! Shot on my Samsung Galaxy phone and edited on YouTube - it has good sound!

Dawn Glory: Värttinä and "Aamu"

Dawn, when I actually am awake or paying attention, is a glorious time. It is a time of discovery, or rediscovery of things that we may have noticed before, but when we see it in a different light or at the beginning of the day it takes on a whole new significance. In a way, exploration of global music has been like that for me, and even as I listen to a song again that I may have heard before, I can also hear something new in the song. Värttinä is one of those groups - a group that I was listening to in the 1990s but when I go back to that initial album, I still love it and still hear new things.

Värttinä is a Finnish folk group founded in 1983 by sisters Sari and Mari Kaasinen, who had performed together reading poetry in the 1970s. In 1983, the sisters formed Värttinä and entered a youth arts contest with their poetry reading. They made it into the finals that first year, and the next year changed the group to focus on singing and won the event. They brought on some male members in 1985 and entered the Kaustinen Folk Music Festival, becoming known as the group that sings high and loud. In 1987, at the Kaustinen Folk Music Festival, they were chosen "Ensemble of the Year," and in 1988 they released their first album. In the early 1990s, they moved to Helsinki and began training at the Sibelius Academy and perfecting their skills. At first, the band stuck to traditional Finnish folk songs, but in the mid-1990s began playing its own original compositions. Over the years the band has had many forms and lineup changes, and is currently made up of three female vocalists and three acoustic musicians. They have performed worldwide to international acclaim and have released 14 albums, including 3 compilation albums and one live CD. This song, Aamu, is from their 1998 album Vihma.

DakhaBrakha in Albuquerque Video 1

The Ukrainian group DakhaBrakha performed in Albuquerque on Monday, December 1 at the Dirty Bourbon Dancehall and Saloon and I was glad to see them for a second time. The performance was arranged by AMP Concerts and Avokado Artists. I first saw them at Globalquerque two years ago. They seemed to be in a playful mood as they wowed the crowd with a variety of genres, often in the same songs. This video is of their opening number, and was filmed on my little Samsung phone and edited with YouTube. The sound is very good quality.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Sooner or Later: Beausoleil and "Carencro"

Carencro by Beau Soleil on Grooveshark

At some point, when you work with Cajun/Creole music involving Louisiana artists, you will run into Beausoleil. And you should. This group is one of the preeminent groups in music of this genre. I think that possibly the first Cajun/Creole/Zydeco album I owned was by Wayne Toups and Zydecajun because I had seen them perform in concert. But I'm sure the second album of that genre that I owned was a Beausoleil album. They are a bit more low key than some of the more animated zydeco bands, though they draw on that tradition. This probably comes from the fact that they tend to be a bit more rooted in traditional folk. However, the music they present is exciting and fun, and because of their efforts, they are one of the few bands in this genre that have won a Grammy award.

Beausoleil was founded in 1975, released its first album in 1977 and became one of the most well-known groups from playing traditional and original music in the Creole tradition of Louisiana. They have also gone beyond the traditional, incorporating rock and roll, jazz, blues, calypso and other genres. They are an extensive touring band, and they sing in both English and Colonial Louisiana French. The band takes its name from Joseph Broussard dit Beausoleil, who led the Acadian resistance to British deportation from Canada and led 193 exiles to safety in Louisiana. The band almost didn't come to be - Michael Doucet, one of the founders, was going to New Mexico to study Romantic Poets, but he won a Folk Arts Apprenticeship sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts. As he puts it: "I traded William Blake for Dewey Balfa," and he sought out every living Cajun/Creole performer to learn what he could about Cajun music and their techniques. He even encouraged some to resume performing. They are one of the few Creole/Cajun groups to win a Grammy. This song, Carencro, is from their 2013 CD From Bamako to Carencro.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Two of the Top 100: Ali Farka Touré and Ry Cooder with "Diaraby"

When two of the top 100 of anything show up at a party, it immediately goes from run of the mill gathering to gala event. Just like an awards show advertised on television, where some second tier stars are scheduled to perform or read the award winners and then someone like Scarlett Johansson or Bruce Springsteen commits to appearing and the awards show suddenly becomes "star-studded" and "a very special night." Well, today's random music selection has all of that, because we have Ali Farka Touré and Ry Cooder. In case you wonder why that makes it so special, well, let's just forget for a moment that these two musicians are world renowned. Let's put aside that Touré helped define "world music" and that Cooder has made significant contributions of his own through his explorations of roots music and his collaborations with international artists such as Touré and the Buena Vista Social Club. Let's also not consider, for the moment, the huge international appeal that these two musicians had and continue to have.

No, let's rest it on this. In 2003, David Fricke proposed a list of the top 100 guitarists of all time. Ry Cooder is #8, and Ali Farka Touré is #76 on his list. In 2011, Rolling Stone came out with a list made up of the opinions of a number of music critics, and Ry Cooder made #31 on that list. Touré was not on that 2011 list, probably (in my opinion) because many people hadn't heard him or heard of him and didn't appreciate his contributions not only to African and world music but also our understanding of the blues. Of Cooder, Rolling Stone said:
As a sideman, Cooder has brought true grit and emotional nuance to classic albums by Randy Newman, the Rolling Stones and Eric Clapton. Cooder is also a soulful preservationist, keeping vital pasts alive and dynamic in the modern world. A good example: the night Bob Dylan showed up at Cooder's house asking for a lesson on how to play guitar like the bluesman Sleepy John Estes.

Of Touré, Fricke wrote:
The Malian singer and guitarist is often compared to John Lee Hooker, though that's too easy. He has clearly been influenced by rural blues, but Toure is a technical marvel, and his delicately plucked clusters and blindingly fast runs gather influences from African hymns to folk songs.

Ali Farka Touré was a Malian singer, multi-instrumentalist and one of the most renowned African musicians. His music fits right into the intersection of traditional Malian music and North American blues. Known as the "African John Lee Hooker," he sang in several African languages. In 2004, he became mayor of a small town and spent his own money on improving infrastructure. He died in 2006 of bone cancer. Ry Cooder is an American producer and guitarist known for his slide guitar and his interest in roots music. He has collaborated with many musicians both from the US and abroad, and his albums have covered many different genres, including folk, blues, Tex-Mex, soul, gospel and rock among others. He also produced the worldwide hit album Buena Vista Social Club.

This song, Diaraby, is from their Grammy-award winning collaboration Talking Timbuktu (1994). Enjoy your star-studded, very special daily tune!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Psychadub: Baba Zula and "Fayiman Cuneyt"

On a trip to Turkey about four years ago, Megan and I had a choice. Baba Zula was playing a concert, but a Sufi group was doing a service where outsiders were allowed to come. Eventually we decided on going to the Sufi service. It was fascinating, but we were also left with wondering what the Baba Zula concert would have been like.

Today's random song is by Baba Zula with Mad Professor. Founded in 1996, Baba Zula is a Turkish alternative group that creates a psychedelic sound combining traditional Turkish instruments, electronica, reggae and dub. At the core of their sound is the saz, a Turkish bouzouki-like stringed instrument with a bright, high-pitched sound. Baba Zula became well known outside of Turkey when they appeared in the 2005 documentary Crossing the Bridge, and have since performed in many high profile world music festivals. They have released eight albums. Mad Professor is a Guyanese dub music producer and engineer known for original productions and remix work. He is a leading figure of dub's second generation and as such has been a leader in bringing dub into the digital age. Fayiman Cuneyt is from Baba Zula with Mad Professor's 2003 album Psychebelly Dance Music.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Eastern Themes: Paul Avgerinos and "Lily of the Valley"

The Global Music Randomizer appears to be on an Eastern theme. Today's random tune is Lily of the Valley by Paul Avgerinos. Avgerinos is an American composer, performer and producer whose genres include new age, ambient, space, world, World Fusion, electronic and drone. Avgerinos attended Johns Hopkins University's Peabody School of Music where he studied bass violin. His albums are blends of well known and obscure acoustic and electronic instruments. He is known for using Romantic and Impressionist techniques, and he has worked with such artists as Aerosmith, Jewel, Run DMC, Willie Nelson, Deana Carter and The Celtic Tenors. Lily of the Valley is from his 2007 CD Garden of Delight.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Turkish Tragedy: Zi Punt and "Sunset From Maiden's Tower"

Sunset from Maiden's Tower, by Zi Punt, is a little interlude song that is our random tune for today. Zi Punt is a Turkish group made up of Oguz Kaplangi, Chi K. and Orange who mash up electro and rock. Oguz Kaplangi produces Zi Punt as well as other groups and gives concerts in Turkey and abroad. Chi K is originally from Turkey but she spent five years in New York City singing at Bard College. Orange is the stage name of Istanbul based, New Zealand born musician and video artist Reuben de Lautour. He studied music at Princeton and DJ'd in New York and New Jersey before moving to Istanbul. He is on the faculty of the Istanbul Technical University. Sunset from Maiden's Tower can be found on the 2007 compilation Istanbul Calling Vol. 2.

The title refers to an Istanbul landmark. The Maiden's Tower legend is that a Turkish emperor consulted an oracle and learned that his daughter would die from a snake bite on her 18th birthday. To protect her, he built the tower, which sits on a small island about 200 feet from land, and kept her there. On her 18th birthday, the emperor brought a basket of fruit to his daughter. Delighted, she reached in to get some fruit and was bitten by an asp which was hiding under the fruit in the basket. She died in her father's arms, thus fulfilling the prophecy.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Ancient Truckstops: Loreena McKennitt and "Caravanserai"

Today's song will take us to the east. Caravanserai is by Loreena McKennitt, a Canadian known for her soprano voice. She is a composer, harpist, accordionist and pianist who writes and performs world music with Celtic and Middle Eastern themes. She released her first album in 1985, and since then has gone on to release nine studio albums and five live albums which have sold 14 million copies worldwide. Her songs have also been featured in television and movies. The title of the song refers to way stops for caravans of goods traveling along the Silk Road. They were, in essence, protected ancient versions of the truck stop where the caravans could bring their camel trains and goods inside for the night to protect them from outlaws, and where other goods could be traded or purchased. Megan and I visited a rug shop in Kuşadası, Turkey that was located inside a former caravanserai and it was pretty cool - it looked like small walled castle - which it essentially was. Caravanserai is from McKennitt's 2006 album An Ancient Muse, in which she explores Celtic and Arabic musical elements as she imagines a journey along the Silk Road.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Club Moon Rising: Jason Rivas and "Black Moon (Original Club Mix)"

A bit of the club comes to you today for our random world tune. Black Moon (Original Club Mix) is by Jason Rivas. Jason Rivas is a professional DJ who began his career in the 1990s and has released over 300 records as a producer of house music for various labels. He has also been remixed by many international artists. Black Moon can be found on The Balkan Club Night Vol. 2 (2011).

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Picture This: Brother and "Photograph"

Photograph by Brother on Grooveshark

A little bit of a rock song for your random tune of the day. Photograph is by the Australian band Brother, which incorporates Celtic rock, mongrel rock, Australian rock, didgeridoo and vocals into a melange of interesting music. The band is made up of the Richardson brothers, who grew up in Bathurst (120 miles west of Sidney) and attended the Scots School where they learned to play pipes. They formed Brother in 1992 and began playing pubs in Sidney. After their first album was released, they were invited to open for Joe Walsh during his tour of Australia. Two of the brothers have since left the band, and it mainly tours the United States while returning to Bathurst for regular performances. Photograph can be found on their 2005 album Pax Romana MMV.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Big Fun: Warren Storm and "Jambalaya"

Happy Monday! Today's post is a nice little number - a Cajun/zydeco version of Jambalaya by Warren Storm. Storm is a drummer and vocalist who is a pioneer of the style known as "swamp pop." Storm was born Warren Schexnider in Abbeville, Louisiana and learned to play drums and guitar from his father. In the 1950s, he performed with Larry Brasso and the Rhythmaires. He also befriended Bobby Charles, and often went to New Orleans to hear R&B which greatly influenced his drumming style. He founded his own R&B and early rock group in the mid 1950s and had a couple of songs break into the Billboard Hot 100. He continued to perform swamp pop and rock, and was a founding member of The Shondells (not the Tommy James group). During the 80s and 90s, he performed regularly at various Louisiana dance clubs, and underwent a resurgence in popularity in the early 2000s when he joined the Lil' Band O' Gold, a sort of Louisiana all-star group. He was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame in 2010. Jambalaya can be found on the 1992 compilation Cajun and Zydeco Mardi Gras.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Wassup?: Samite and "Wasuze Otya?"

Folks, for the next 8 days or so this is going to be short and sweet because as you're reading this, I am probably on the road to Texas for the US Thanksgiving holidays. I will return with my searing wit, my cutting analysis, my lyrical posts that seem almost like unto poetry, on December 1st. However, I have scheduled these posts to occur every day while I'm gone, so you will not miss out on one day of your random world music tunes (unless the Internet fails me).

The random tune for today is Wasuze Otya? by Samite. Samite Mulondo is a Ugandan percussionist who grew up in the city of Kampala as a member of a socially prominent family. Though his mother's side of the family was musical, his father took a dim view of a musical career. Samite continued, and after Idi Amin's rule he fled the country (his brother was killed during this time). He ended up in Nairobi, Kenya where he became a musician. He taught himself the saxophone in six days after lying to the African Heritage Band about his ability to play it. He eventually turned to the thumb piano and kalimba of his native Uganda. While in Nairobi, he met his American wife and eventually moved to upstate New York. In 1997 he returned to Uganda as part of a PBS documentary, and was reunited with his family. His father asked him to speak at his brother's memorial service, and he asked if he could play his flute instead. His father reluctantly agreed, and then cried when he heard his son play for the first time and gave him his blessing. Wasuze Otya? can be found on Samite's album Silina Musango (originally released in 1996) and can also be found on the Putumayo compilation Music from the Coffee Lands (1997)

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Unknown Turkish Musician: Nur Ceylan and "Böyle Olur Mu"

Böyle Olur Mu by Nur Ceylan on Grooveshark

For those of you who actually read this blog, I want you to know that posts are going to be short and sweet for the next week. I am currently traveling, and will be in Texas until next weekend. That means that you will notice a lack of my wit, wisdom, bon mots, humor and other sundry items that make this blog the powerhouse of the global music world. I will be back with all of that by December 1st, but never fear, I have posts scheduled to take you through this week, with all the wonderful randomness out of my world music library that you could hope for.

Today's random tune is by Nur Ceylan. Unfortunately, I can't find any real information on Nur Ceylan for you, other than that the individual is a Turkish musician. This song, Böyle Olur Mu, was one of the featured songs on the documentary Crossing the Bridge: The Sound of Istanbul (2005), a film tapestry of the sounds of Turkish music in Istanbul. The film was narrated by German musician Alexander Hacke and songs were recorded using a portable recording studio. Böyle Olur Mu can be heard on the soundtrack to the documentary (2005).

Friday, November 21, 2014

Ancestral Trance: Christine Salem and "Komor Blues"

The random song for today is Komor Blues by Christine Salem. Salem is from the island of Réunion in the Indian Ocean, a French territory about 120 miles southeast of Mauritius. Her music centers around "maloya," the traditional music made up of work songs and chants of the former African slaves of the island. These songs are percussion driven and of the call and response type and are often used to induce a trance where one communes with their ancestors in a musical gathering called "servis kabaré". The music was illegal on the island until 1981, as it was considered by the Catholic Church to be "devil's music" and by the authorities as a political threat. In fact, a woman singing this type of music upset some of the older generation, because it was also generally seen as "men's music." Salem came upon the music while attending a servis kabaré, and she became hooked. She has received international acclaim for this music, and has performed at WOMAD. Komor Blues can be found on her 2013 release Salem Tradition.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Blowing Out the Eardrums: The Battlefield Band and "The Moleskin Kilt/The Empty Glen"

The Moleskin / The Empty Glen by Battlefield Band on Grooveshark

It was bout three or so years ago, maybe four, that we had an opportunity to have The Battlefield Band on our KUNM Global Music radio show. Megan and I didn't know what to expect. It was a last minute request by a concert promoter that we knew to bring them on the show - they were going to be playing a concert the following evening in Albuquerque. When they came in, probably about 10:15 pm, they looked like ordinary guys carrying instrument cases. We got them set up around the studio, and they sat at the mics with their instruments out. Megan interviewed them a little after throwing together some information about them. They were promoting their new album called Zama Zama: Try Your Luck. At some point they began playing, and that's when things got interesting. The bagpiper took out his pipes and began to warm them up, silently breathing into the mouthpiece. When they were ready to go, a drone started as he began to squeeze his bag and then they started, and he started really blowing. He had placed himself in the corner of the room, away from any mics, but the sound was deafening. If you've never been close to a set of bagpipes indoors, it's enough to blow the top of your head off when they really get going. Needless to say, Megan was trying to adjust the mic levels to come to a point where you could hear the guitar and the fiddle and the other instruments over the bagpipes, and to keep the levels at a decent place without going too hot and causing the mics to cut out. It was a pretty amazing evening. At another point, they played The Auchengeich Disaster, a song that I find extremely haunting. No bagpipes in that, but fiddle and a haunting voice. I won't easily forget that evening.

The Battlefield Band is a Scottish traditional music group founded in 1969. They are noted for the mix of bagpipes with other instruments, and their renditions of traditional songs and new material. While the band has gone through several lineups, their formula remains the same - bagpipes, electric keyboards (unusual for a traditional band) and no percussion (again, unusual). They have released 31 albums and have been nominated for many awards. The Moleskin Kilt/The Empty Glen can be found on their 2006 CD The Road of Tears, which has a theme of displacement and voluntary and forced emigration.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Dances: Mexican Institute of Sound and "La Kebradita"

"Come on baby, let's do The Twist." One of the first songs I think I remember in my life was The Twist. As I did a little reflecting on today's random song, which is named after a dance called La Quebradita, I started tallying up some songs in my head. I was amazed at how many I could think of that were named after dances. The Twist, obviously but then there were others. I can remember the Loco-Motion, the Hustle, the Electric Slide, the Boot Scootin' Boogie, the Watusi, the Time Warp, and the Macarena, to name a few. There are a lot. Just listen to the song The Land of 1000 Dances and you can hear Wilson Pickett go through a whole list of them. It seems like we like to sing about dancing and styles of dances almost as much as we like to sing about love, or women.

And what is La Quebradita? It is a dance that requires a lot of strength to perform. It's name refers to a "little break," in which the male partner lowers his female partner almost to the floor and then jerks her back up. However, there is a lot more going on there. The dance is very fast, and the examples I've seen make it look like the male partner whips the female partner around on her feet, with lots of acrobatics such as throwing her in the air and catching her. Sometimes she is thrown into spins, sometimes into flips. It's not an old person's dance by any means.

In La Kebradita, the Mexican Institute of Sound slows the beat down a bit. The Mexican Institute of Sound is Mexico City-based producer and DJ Camilo Lara's electronic music project. Fusing Mexican folk music with modern sounds, MIS is part of a growing movement in Mexican music. Lara started with mixing music for holiday mix tapes, and after getting enthusiastic receptions for his creations, began making musical collages under the moniker Mexican Institute of Sound while relying on samples of Mexican classical music. He has released four albums, with a fifth due next year. La Kebradita is from his 2007 CD Piñata.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Tropical Fever: Sergio Mendes and Brasil '66 with "Pais Tropical"

Pais Tropical by Sergio Mendes on Grooveshark

I remember back in the 70s and listening to AM radio because that's all we had back then, and being fascinated by a song called Fool on the Hill. I didn't realize it was a Beatles song at the time, I just thought that the song was exotic (probably due to the bossa nova beat) and those lovely female voices. The song was a cover, actually a reinterpretation, by Sergio Mendes and Brasil '66. The two female singers were Lani Hall (wife of Herb Alpert) and Karen Philipp (later to play Lt. Dish on two episodes of MASH). Listening to the song in the present, I am still very captivated by the rendition, largely because I love Brazilian music and largely because it takes me back to that turbulent but hopeful time. While the Beatles version of the song is melancholy, it seems impossible to have a bossa nova or samba song that is anything but upbeat with a touch of naivete and very little of the saudade that characterizes some other types of Brazilian music. I mentioned it once before in this blog and I'll mention it again: if I go to heaven I want to hear lots of Brazilian music there.

Of course, perhaps such a feeling about life comes from living in a "pais tropical" like Brazil. Today's song, Pais Tropical, is a throwback and also from the legendary Sergio Mendes and Brasil '66. Mendes is a Brazilian musician who plays bossa nova infused with jazz and funk. One of the early practitioners of bossa nova in the late 50s in Brazilian nightclubs, he played with his mentor Antonio Carlos Jobim as well as many American jazz musicians who toured Brazil. He formed and played in some Brazilian bossa nova bands, but it was Brasil '66, which featured two American female singers (Lani Hall and Karen Phillipp) and songs in both Portuguese and English but with that bossa nova beat, that brought him to the attention of the world. Their first album, Herb Alpert Presents Sergio Mendes and Brasil '66, went platinum and the band had successive hits performing songs by Burt Bacharach, John Lennon and Paul McCartney, and Simon and Garfunkel. His later work has featured collaborations with R&B, pop and hip hop artists such as The Black Eyed Peas, Erykah Badu, India.Arie, Justin Timberlake and Stevie Wonder. Pais Tropical is a song celebrating life and music in a tropical country, and is from the 1971 album of the same name and the 1972 album Foursider. I dare you not to dance or at least sing along!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Remembrance of the Road: Dervish and "The Trip to Sligo"

The Trip to Sligo by Dervish on Grooveshark

The Trip to Sligo, today's random song, is one that I can identify with because I made the trip to Sligo from Belfast by bus one beautiful sunny day in the late 1990s. Ireland is a beautiful country, and we rolled through the hills of Northern Ireland toward the coast. I was with three Germans, and our plan was to get out at Sligo and hitchhike down to Galway. For a number of reasons this was a bad idea but we did it, splitting up into two groups of a man and a woman so that we would be able to get rides. It took a long time.

Because of this, I never stopped in Sligo, which was a pity because Sligo was the childhood and spiritual home of one of the most illustrious poets of the English language, William Butler Yeats. Despite the fact that he only really spent his childhood there, Yeats was buried in County Sligo after a long literary, political career and somewhat tempestuous personal life. Here is a poem by him that I think relates to today's song and mentions Sligo as well:

The Fiddler of Dooney
by William Butler Yeats

When I play on my fiddle in Dooney.
Folk dance like a wave of the sea;
My cousin is priest in Kilvarnet,
My brother in Mocharabuiee.
I passed my brother and cousin:
They read in their books of prayer;
I read in my book of songs
I bought at the Sligo fair.
When we come at the end of time
To Peter sitting in state,
He will smile on the three old spirits,
But call me first through the gate;
For the good are always the merry,
Save by an evil chance,
And the merry love the fiddle,
And the merry love to dance:
And when the folk there spy me,
They will all come up to me,
With "Here is the fiddler of Dooney!"
And dance like a wave of the sea.  

Fiddling (and fluting with guitar accompaniment) is a part of today's song.  Dervish is a traditional Irish band from County Sligo described by the BBC as an "icon" of Irish music. Formed in 1993, they represented Ireland in 2007 in the finals of the Eurovision song contest. They have also been known to stand for their principles. In 2012 they canceled tour dates in Israel and announced a cultural boycott of the country, which in turn led to a negative backlash at home. The Trip to Sligo is from their 1997 album Live in Palma, and is a set of reels.