Saturday, December 31, 2016

Looking for the Exit: Buddha Sounds and "Let Me Go"

Today's random tune is by Buddha Sounds, an Argentina-based electronic group formed in 2002. With five albums under their belt, they have also had their songs featured on a number of TV shows and movies (such as Sex and the City, and they have performed in a number of countries in South America. You can find this song, Let Me Go, on their 2005 album Buddha Sounds, Vol. 2. It is a perfect end to 2016, as we let the year go and move into a new revolution around the sun.

Friday, December 30, 2016

The Light Inside: MC Yogi and "Temple Light"

Today's random tune is by Nicholas Giacomini, a Bay Area hip hop artist and yogi who promotes themes of Hindu religion and philosophy in hip hop under the name of MC Yogi. Giacomini began rapping at 13 and, while living in home for at-risk children at age 17, he became a practitioner of yoga after his father took it up. His songs are often bhajans, or devotional songs, celebrating one or another of the Hindu deities. At other times, he provides interesting history lessons on the lives of important historical figures within Hinduism, such as Gandhi. Even when he is doing nothing but beatboxing, his songs can sound like mantras or prayers. This song, Temple Light, can be found on MC Yogi's 2012 album Pilgrimage. It is dedicated to Megan's father John Kamerick, who departed this world about a year and a half ago and whose birthday is today.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

It's the End of the World as We Know It: Modena City Ramblers and "Canzone Dalla Fine del Mondo"

For Mike's birthday, we have an Italian band doing Irish music. Irish music in Italian, that's crazy talk, you say! But here it is. Canzone Dalla Fine del Mondo is by the Modena City Ramblers. Started as a hobby in 1991 by a group of friends that wanted to play Irish music together, the Modena City Ramblers (or MCR) is an Italian folk band heavily influenced by Celtic themes and is often classified as folk rock. A band with an open lineup, they have had several people leave and return sporadically. They are outspoken in their left wing politics, and their lyrics often speak out against the Mafia and fascism. They have released 14 albums and 5 EPs. Canzone Dalla Fine del Mondo is from their second album, 1996's La Grande Famiglia, and can also be found on their 1998 live album Raccolti. You can also find the song on the 1999 Putumayo compilation Dublin to Dakar: A Celtic Odyssey.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Andes-Step: Nicola Cruz and "Colibria"

Some electronica/techno inspired by the native folk music of Ecuador comprises our random tune for today, Colibria. The artist is Nicola Cruz, an Ecuadorian producer who started as a drummer and then went to school as an audio producer. Cruz draws on traditions, particularly the indigenous roots of his home country, and filters it through his contemporary vision. He has dubbed (pun intended) his music "Andes-step." Colibria can be found on Cruz's 2015 album Prender el Alma.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

So Silly: Luciana Souza and Romero Lubambo with "Muita Bobeira"

We bring you some Brazilian music for today's random tune. Muita Bobeira, is performed by Luciana Souza and Romero Lubambo. Luciana Souza is a Brazilian jazz singer and composer. A native of São Paulo, she has an impressive arts pedigree as the daughter of poet Teresa Souza and singer-composer-guitarist Walter Santos. She graduated from the Berklee College of Music with a jazz composition degree, and from the New England Conservatory of Music with a Masters. She started her career by singing commercial jingles at the age of three - and besides jazz she has worked in European classical music with a number of orchestras in the US and Europe. She has been nominated for Grammy Awards in jazz categories twelve times, and has recorded with a number of well-known jazz musicians. Romero Lubambo is a Brazilian jazz guitarist from Rio de Janeiro who has lived in the US since 1985. He has recorded with many famous jazz musicians and has most recently been playing with Trio da Paz. He might be best known for his contribution to the song Doce de Coco performed by Yo-yo Ma and Paquito D'Rivera on Ma's Apassionata CD. Muita Bobeira can be found on the Luciana Souza album Duos II (2005).

Monday, December 26, 2016

Praise: San Antonio Vocal Arts Ensemble and "Hanacpachap Cussicuinin"

Today's random song is called Hanacpachap Cussicuinin, and is performed by the San Antonio Vocal Arts Ensemble (SAVAE). SAVAE is a unique ancient vocal music ensemble that is accompanied by early and traditional instrumentation. They made their debut in 1989 presenting Latin music from the colonial period. Its artistic director, Christopher Moroney, has penned arrangements and new compositions for the group by delving into ancient history and cultures. The group has been featured on national radio shows and has toured the United States and around the world. Hanacpachap Cussicuinin can be found on their 1996 album Native Angels. It is an ode to the Virgin Mary, and is considered the oldest printed polyphonic hymn in the New World. Its lyrics are in the Quechua language and contain many metaphors about love and nature grounded in the Quechua culture.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Electric Africa: Burkina Electric and "To Mi To Zi"

Burkina Electric "To mi to zi" by pyrolator

Merry Christmas! The randomizer didn't favor us with a Christmas tune today, but here's a funky tune from the country of Burkina Faso! Burkina Electric is one of the first electronic acts from Africa. they were formed in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso in 2007 for a tour of Austria, but they are now largely based in New York City. They have released two studio albums. This song, To Mi To Zi, can be found on their 2011 release Paspanga.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Riding It Out: Kate Northrop and "Storm Clouds"

Today's random tune is called Storm Clouds and is performed by Celtic harpist Kate Northrop. She studied Celtic harp at Bennington College in Vermont and in Aberystwyth, Wales under Delyth Evans. Northrop began a touring career in 1988, and in 1992 started composing her own original works. Storm Clouds is from her debut album Roots and Wings (1992). You can also find it on the compilation CD Celtic Ladies (2008)

Friday, December 23, 2016

Icing ISIS: Bassekou Kouyate and "Abé Sumaya"

Our random tune today is from Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba, called Abé Sumaya. Bassekou Kouyate is a Malian musician who specializes in the ngoni, a string instrument made out of a calabash gourd. He comes from a line of musicians - his father was also an ngoni player and his mother was a praise singer. His wife, Amy Sacko, sings on this song. You can find Abé Sumaya on his 2015 album Ba Power. It is a song of defiance that declares that the fundamentalist Islamists will never take over Mali.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Hoofing It: Susana Baca and "Se Me Van Los Pies"

Today's random tune is by Susana Baca, a Peruvian singer who is widely credited with reviving the Afro-Peruvian musical tradition. She grew up in a small coastal fishing village and recounts on her website how black families came together with music. She heard Cuban music and the music of Celia Cruz, and as she states on her website, "....The culture, music, and our whole selves are all about the mixture of Spanish Indian and African cultures." Baca has won two Latin Grammys, and in 2011 she was named Minister of Culture, only the second Afro-Peruvian to sit on the Peruvian cabinet. She also founded the Instituto Negrocontinuo, which collects, preserves and encourages the creation of Afro-Peruvian culture, music, and dance. Her music often utilizes traditional instruments, including the jawbone of a burro, gourd, wooden box, and clay pot, and her singing has been described as "spiritual", even if she is not singing about anything religious. This song, Se Me Van Los Pies, can be found on her 2000 album Susana Baca.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

It's Bumpin': Brooklyn Funk Essentials and "Bop Hop"

Brooklyn Funk Essentials bring us the random tune for today, called Bop Hop. Brooklyn Funk Essentials is a music collective that mixes jazz, funk, soul, Latin, drum & bass, ska, afrobeat, house, Anatolian melodies and hip hop, it features musicians and poets from different cultures. The band was conceived in 1993 by producer Arthur Baker and music director and percussionist Lati Kronlund, and they have released five albums. You can find Bop Hop on their debut album Cool and Steady and Easy (1995).

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Seize It: Aldebert and "Carpe Diem"

Our random tune today is dedicated to Pauline Hess, Mike's sister who is providing great elder care to his mom. It's her birthday today, and she could kind of use a carpe diem moment once in awhile. So today's song, Carpe Diem by French singer-songwriter Aldebert, is completely appropriate. Aldebert is a native of Paris raised with the music of Georges Brassens, Serge Gainsbourg and Jacques Brel - whom he credits with influencing his own music. He studied photography, but decided to devote his talents to his love of chanson. He released his first album in 2000 and began touring Europe. He performed over 300 concerts in four years, and won the prestigious Radio France award for Best Chanson Singer in 2003. He is now considered a leading exponent of the nouvelle chanson movement. The song references the famous scene in the movie Dead Poets Society, and is about a girl who opens the eyes of the singer to a wider world view and yet teaches him humility. You can find Carpe Diem on Aldebert's 2004 album L'annee du Singe and on the compilation CD Putumayo Presents: Paris (2006).

Monday, December 19, 2016

Living the Highlife: Celestine Ukwu and "Igede"

Today's random tune is in honor of Mike's mother Shirley Hess, who turns 85 years old today. The song is called Igede, and is performed by Celestine Ukwu and his band. A Nigerian highlife musician, he began his career in the 1960s with the Paradise Rhythm Orchestra, then launched his own band called the Music Royals. The Biafran War caused the band to go on hiatus for three years, but in 1970 they resurrected themselves as the Philosophers National, and became known for several songs in the early and mid-1970s. His music is generally described as softer and more laid back than most highlife music, and he tended to feature piano, vibraphone and pedal steel guitar. The songs that his band played were generally around the topics of social evils and the need for peace. Celestine Ukwu tragically died in an automobile accident in 1977. Igede can be found on the 2003 compilation album Rough Guide to Highlife. The song is based in Igbo folklore, and was a smash hit in 1971.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Down on the Homestead: The Wicked Tinkers and "Shenavallie Farm"

Today's random song is by the Wicked Tinkers, an American Celtic group formed in 1995 at the Celtic Arts Center in Los Angeles. They have appeared on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson (Ferguson accompanied them on drum during that performance) and on the show Arrested Development. In addition, MMA fighter Keith Jardine has used one of their songs as his entrance music. They have released nine studio albums. This song, Shenavallie Farm, can be found on their 2007 album Rant.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

We Are Two: Bomba Estéreo and "Somos Dos"

Bomba Estéreo, a Colombian band, players our random tune today - a song called Somos Dos. The band's roots go back to 2001 when a loose collection of musicians began performing under the name of A.M. 770 and combining traditional Colombian rhythms with salsa, cumbia, electronic beats and dance music. The band coalesced under their current name in 2005 and released a debut album in 2006. Their followup album in 2008 led to their being voted by MTV Iggy (MTV's outlet for alternative world artists) as Best New Band in the World in 2010. They have performed in numerous music festivals in the US, including South by Southwest, Coachella, and the Austin City Limits Music Festival as well as other venues around the world. They have released four albums. Somos Dos can be found on their newest 2015 release, Amanecer. The song celebrates the coming together of two hearts.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Come with Me: Capercaille and "Coisich a Ruin"

Today's song is by Capercaillie, a Scottish band founded in the Argyll region of Scotland in the early 1980s. Known for their mixing of traditional Gaelic tunes with modern recording techniques and instrumentation, Capercaillie started as a purely traditional band. In the 1990s, they began mix in funk bass lines, synthesizers and electric guitars into their repertoire of traditional tunes, but lately have been going back to more traditional instrumentation while retaining a light fusion feel to their music. In 1992, they recorded the first Scottish-Gaelic song to crack the UK Top 40. They have released eleven studio albums, four of which have made the UK Albums chart, and one live album. They also have two compilation albums and have performed on two soundtracks. This song, Coisich a Ruin, can be found on their 1991 album Delerium, on the 1998 compilation album Dusk Til Dawn, on the 2002 live album Live in Concert, and on the 2004 anthology Grace and Pride.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Some Day: Franck Biyong and "We Shall Overcome (Yoruba Soul Remix)"

The random song for today is by Cameroonian musician, bandleader and record producer Franck Biyong. A multi-instrumentalist (guitar, bass, percussion, keyboard) who made his name first in Afrojazz, he is also an innovator - creating a new genre that fuses rock, electronica and African beats that is known as Alternative Afro-Electro Rock or Afrolectric. He was born in France, but grew up in Gabon, Nigeria and the Ivory Coast. His interest in guitar stems from his fondness for American jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery. At age 14, he moved to England where he played with various rock bands. The death of Fela Kuti in 1997 spurred his return to France at age 24, where he sought to honor Kuti's death by forming a 15 piece band called Massak, but which also began to create Afrolectric. This song, We Shall Overcome (Yoruba Soul Remix) can be found on his We Shall Overcome (Yoruba Soul Remix) - EP (2009)

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Poetry to Our Ears: Rasha and "Azara Alhai"

Today's song is called Azara Alhai and is performed by Rasha, a Sudanese singer who vocalizes everything from Arabic poetry to Sufi music and even underscores with hints of reggae. Rasha worked in theater, television and radio at the start of her career but was always interested in making music her primary vocation. To gain greater opportunities, she moved to Cairo in 1991 and then went to Spain where she began working on her debut album. That album centers around oud and percussion, enhanced by bass and backing guitar, also throwing in at times violins, accordions and a Sudanese big band. Topping it all are Rasha's vocals. The album, Sudaniyat, was subsequently named by Folk Roots magazine as one of the 10 best of 1997, and is where you will find Azara Alhai. You can also find it on the compilation CD Putumayo Presents: Acoustic Arabia (2008)

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Breezy: Mercan Dede and "Moya Alitu"

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

Monday, December 12, 2016

Dreaming of You: Stan Getz and João Gilberto with Antonio Carlos Jobim and "Vivo Sonhando"

Today's random song is from a classic Brazilian jazz album by Stan Getz and João Gilberto. The song, Vivo Sonhando, also features Antonio Carlos Jobim. Stan Getz was an American jazz saxophonist known as The Sound because of the warmth of his tone. João Gilberto is a Brazilian singer, songwriter and guitarist whose recordings established the Brazilian genre of bossa nova in the late 1950s. Antonio Carlos Jobim was a Brazilian songwriter, composer, arranger, singer, and pianist/guitarist. His songs were instrumental in the creation of bossa nova. You can find Vivo Sonhando on the seminal jazz album Getz/Gilberto (1964). This is also the album that introduced the world to the Jobim classic The Girl From Ipanema. The album won Grammy Awards in 1965 for Best Album, Best Jazz Instrumental Album, and Best Engineered Album (non-classical) as well as Record of the Year for The Girl From Ipanema. It is ranked number 446 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Just a Touch: Sonzeira with Gabriel Moura and "Um Toque"

The random song today comes from a project put together by London-based producer, record label owner, record collector and DJ Gilles Peterson. A longtime fan of Brazilian music, Peterson assembled a collection of Brazilian musicians under the name of Sonzeira and recorded in Rio de Janeiro with the likes of Seu Jorge and Elza Soares. The album features old and new songs, and was hailed as a classic by The Guardian. This song, Um Toque, is our favorite from the album and features an upbeat Carnival tempo and vocals by Gabriel Moura. You can find Um Toque on Sonzeira's album Brasil Bam Bam Bam, released in 2014. Give it a listen - you will start your day, or end your day, or pick up your day with a smile on your face and dancing in your feet.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Enough is Enough: Emel Mathlouthi and "Yezzi"

Today's song is by Emel Mathlouthi, a Tunisian singer-songwriter who penned and recorded two songs, Ya Tounes Ya Meskina and Kelmti Horra, that became anthems for the Tunisian Revolution. She began writing songs as a student, but became frustrated by the lack of opportunities and the political apathy of her classmates. Eventually she moved to Paris after the Tunisian government banned her songs from radio and television. However, bootleg copies of her performances in France circulated through Tunisia, and her songs had an impact on the 2010 uprising against the government. Her debut album, Kelmti Horra, was released in 2012 to critical acclaim, and that album is where you can find this song, Yezzi (Enough).

Friday, December 9, 2016

Backrub: Nilgül and "Pış Pışla"

The random tune for today, Pış Pışla, is by Turkish singer Nilgül Badakal, who goes by the stage name of Nilgül. She began her music career in Istanbul in 1998 after attending college in Izmir, Turkey. The Wikipedia translation is difficult to follow, so we cannot find much more information on her. She has released five solo albums. Pış Pışla can be found on her 2005 album Pervane, and on the compilation Putumayo Presents: Turkish Groove (2006).

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Not Contradictory At All: Teresa Cristina and Grupo Semente with "Para Não Contrariar Você"

Today's tune is by Brazilian singer Teresa Cristina and Grupo Semente. She began singing in bars in Rio de Janeiro, doing interpretations of samba by various artists. In 1998 she began singing in the Bar Semente, accompanied by a band. The bar adopted her as their prime attraction, and her group became known as Grupo Semente. You can find this song, Para Não Contrariar Você, on the 2009 compilation Putumayo Presents: Brazilian Cafe.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

No Tatonka: Zakir Hussain and Mickey Hart with "Dances with Wood"

Zakir Hussain and Mickey Hart bring us today's random tune, a percussion tune entitled Dances with Wood. Zakir Hussain is an Indian tabla player, producer, actor and composer who has won many awards in both India and the US. Mickey Hart is an American percussionist who was one of two drummers for the Grateful Dead, and who has been very influential on the global music stage as an archivist, recording global musical traditions on the edge of extinction. Hart recorded an album called Planet Drum in 1991 on which Hussain was a featured performer. In 2007, both drummers along with Nigerian percussionist Sikiru Adepoju and Puerto Rican percussionist Giovanni Hidalgo released Global Drum Project to great acclaim and backed it up with a successful world tour. You can find Dances with Wood on the Global Drum Project (2007).

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Stop This Killing: Baracutanga and "Deja de Matar"

New Mexico's Baracutanga and their song Deja de Matar (Stop This Killing) graces our random tune for today. Made up of musicians from Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador and the United States, they are past winners of the New Mexico Music Awards Albuquerque Song Competition. They play infectious music of South America incorporating rhythms of Brazil, Peru, Colombia and more, and their name is an African voicing that means "people dancing," and hearkens back to the percussive instruments brought by Africans to South America. Through their music, they hope to overcome barriers of discrimination by building bridges between the north and south. You can find "Deja de Matar" on their 2015 debut album Importados. This award winning song is a plea to stop violence written in the aftermath of the James Boyd killing by the Albuquerque police, and includes a rap by Albuquerque poet Hakim Bellamy.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Romani Dreaming: Kočani Orkestar and "Sahara Dreams"

Today's song, Sahara Dreams, is by the Kočani Orkestar, a Macedonian Romani brass band. The band takes Balkan brass band styles that are descended from Ottoman army brass bands, along with gypsy tunes, Turkish rhythms, and a little bit of Latin styles, and really funks it up. You may recognize their music from the movie Borat - a song was used without their authorization and they are currently suing for compensation. Sahara Dreams can be heard on their 2008 CD The Ravished Bride.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Arun Almighty: God Tussi Great Ho soundtrack and "Tujhe Aksa Beach Ghuma Du"

Straight outta Bollywood comes this random tune for the day. Tujhe Aksa Beach Ghuma Du is from the 2008 movie God Tussi Great Ho, a flop at the Indian box office but moderately successful on home video. Starring Salman Khan, Priyanka Chopra, Sohail Khan and Amitabh Bachchan, it is the story of a man named Arun who wants to win the love of a woman he works with named Alia, but as things don't go his way, he blames God and claims he can do better. God grants all his powers to Arun for 10 days to see if he can prove himself. Arun first makes things better for himself, but God intervenes and chastises him. After listening to prayers, Arun decides it is too time consuming, and grants everyone's wish, thereby losing Alia to a rival. God steps in and gives the chastened Arun a do-over in life, and as expected, he wins Alia. If this sounds like an Indian version of the Jim Carrey film Bruce Almighty, the similarities have been noted by critics. Tujhe Aksa Beach Ghuma Du is sung by playback singers Wajid and Amrita Kak. You can find it on the God Tussi Great Ho soundtrack (2008)

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Tugs at the Beard: The Chieftains and "An Poc Ar Buile (The Mad Puck Goat)"

Today's tune is by The Chieftains, an Irish ensemble formed in Dublin in 1962 and who developed their music primarily around the distinctive sound of the uileann pipes. They took their name from the title of a novel by Irish author John Montague. Besides releasing several critically acclaimed albums, they are just as well known for their collaborations with such artists as Van Morrison, The Rolling Stones, Madonna, Sinead O'Connor and Roger Daltry. They have released 44 albums. This song, "An Poc Ar Buile (The Mad Puck Goat)" is from their 1999 album Water from the Well. The song's lyrics are a humorous tale of a man who meets an angry goat that chases him. Somehow he ends up on the back of the goat, causing a priest to mistake the man for the Devil himself.

Friday, December 2, 2016

What Should I Do: Los Tradicionales de Carlos Puebla and "Dilema"

Today's random song comes from a revolutionary band, in more ways than one. Along with his band Los Tradicionales (or sometimes Sus Tradicionales), Carlos Puebla defined the sound of Fidel Castro's Cuban Revolution. A largely self-taught musician on guitar, he began performing in the 1930s, and soon began singing about the hardships and oppression that existed in Cuba. In 1959, when Castro entered victorious into Havana, it made such an impression on Puebla that he began writing songs that chronicled the revolution and disseminated its values. His success in Cuba led to a tour of over 35 countries and the band's reputation as the unofficial musical ambassadors of Cuba. The departure of Che Guevara from Cuba in 1965 led him to write his most famous song, Farewell. Puebla retired due to ill health in 1988 and died a year later - the band's leadership passed to Octavio Abreua and the band renamed themselves Los Tradicionales de Carlos Puebla. This song, Dilema, is recorded by Los Tradicionales de Carlos Puebla, and is a reflection on seeing someone cry and the depth of feeling that results in the one who is observing the other's grief. It can be found on the 1997 compilation CD Putumayo Presents: Music from the Coffee Lands.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Bosnian Beauty: Divanhana and "Emina"

Today's song, Emina, is by Bosnian band Divanhana. Formed in 2009 by students of the Sarajevo Music Academy, Divanhana presents the traditional music of Bosnia and Herzogovina, and the wider Balkans, with influences from jazz, pop and 20th century classical music. They were invited to perform at WOMEX in 2012, and have released three albums to date. Emina can be found on their 2013 CD Bilješke iz Šestice. The lyrics are by the Bosnian Serb poet Aleksa Šantić (1868-1924) who wrote about the beauty of his neighbor, the Muslim girl Emina Sefić. The song is a svedalinka, a type of traditional music from Bosnia and Herzogovina which is slower in tempo and sung with great passion and fervor. Some of the lyrics:

"A wind blew from the branches down her lovely shoulders
Unraveling those thick braids of hers.
Her hair gave off a scent of blue hyacinths,
Making me giddy and confused!"