31 July 2006

Monday's mp3: The Paripatetic Ray Lema

I ran into my Congolese friend Mayal yesterday, and along with the news about Congo's first democratic election in 40 years yesterday, the nation is on my mind.

I haven't yet been to DR Congo (formerly Zaire), but its music is well known to me. It has produced a huge number of well-known artists, including Mbilia Bel, Sam Mangwana, Pepe Kalle, Franko, Tshala Mwana, Awinlo Longomba, Tabu Ley Rochereau, Papa Wemba, Wendo Kolosoy... and that's just a start. The nation's music is particularly rich in Afro-Cuban influences.

For whatever reason, however, another side of Congolese music is in my mind today. We spoke recently of the great collaborator Bill Laswell. Sharing Laswell's interest in diverse projects is Congolese multi-instrumentalist Ray Lema.Ray Lema with Chico Cesar

Biographers make much of Lema's being born aboard a train, since he has continued to travel widely in musical influences. Among those with whom Lema has collaborated are Moroccan group Tyour Gnaoua, Bulgaria's Pirin Ensemble, Stewart Copeland (of the Police), the Mahotalla Queens, and Chico Cesar. Lema is also active with the anti-censorship group Freemuse. You can read a long bio of Lema at RFI Musique.

Lema seems disinclined to include song notes or lyrics in his album notes, leaving the listener to absorb the sound more with heart than with head. As one who strives to understand the context of music, I find this practice annoying. Why not use that print real estate to at least extol the cultures and musical traditions being celebrated? Well, while I wage that battle, you can sample Lema's wares. "Allal" features Abdeslam Alikkane on the three-stringed guembri lute, which seems to me akin to the West African ngoni. It's a traditional song, but with clearly modern Lema influences (particularly the keyboards).

[mp3] Ray Lema with Tyour Gnaoua: "Allal"
from the album Safi
Ray Lema mp3 downloads

27 July 2006

Brazilian Jews, Indian Superheros, Tuvan Throats (Oh, My!)

A thousand pardons for the lack of entries this week. I could blame the weather, as after a few days of searing heat (for the Pacific Northwest), we have had blissfully warm days which I've filled with walks, soccer, and mountain biking. I could blame Tuva, the tiny Central Asian nation has sent a few of its musicians on tour and will be delightfully distracting on my radio show tomorrow. Or I could blame Denmark, a resident of which sent me a big package of music this week.

But I can't choose where the blame should lie. So instead, some news and music for you.

The whole challenge was to present it as if this was some kind of contemporary music, not something that only somebody who was interested in something far away and "exotic" would be interested in. That sometimes worked. It didn't always work. Sometimes the European and North American public like some things to be exotic and kept at arm's length. They don't want sometimes to know that foreign artists are doing something that's at least as relevant as what's being done here. But I think that's changed a lot in the last 20 years or so.

That's David Byrne in an interview largely about the re-release of the 1981 Byrne-Eno album My Life in the Bush of Ghosts. Read the interview at Pitchfork.

We're not going to get into the politics of the Middle East this morning, but we'll do the music. Like Brazilian-born Elisete, who sent this note:
Because of the sad situation we are having here I decided to give a song from my first CD 'Luar e cafe' for free download. The name of the song is 'Lifaamim'. I wrote this song in the year 2003 and I'm astonished at how much it is actual these days... I hope you enjoy it.

[mp3] Elisete: "Lifaamim"

Elisete's website is www.elisete.com, and her music is available at CDbaby.

Over to Bollywood now, where the superhero everyone's talking about isn't from Krypton or afflicted with spider bites. No, it's Krrish. It's a follow-up to the blockbuster film Koi Mil Gaya, which was billed as the first Bollywood science fiction movie. (While hugely entertaining, that film had very little science to accompany its fantasy/fiction.).

Krishna (Hrithik Roshan) is born with magical powers - a legacy from his father, Rohit Mehra. Priya (Priyanka Chopra) comes into his life and becomes his world. When she beckons him to Singapore, he follows. In Singapore, Dr.Siddhant Arya (Naseeruddin Shah), the megalomaniac scientist is on the verge of changing the future forever. Only one man stands between Dr. Arya and his destructive dreams. To block his ruthless ambitions...Krishna must become KRRISH.

Can't wait to see it.

Finally, I mentioned Denmark. here's one of the bands I've been listening to, called Oriental Mood. How could you resist a track that begins with beatboxing and flows into Middle Eastern percussion? Oh, and Johnny Kalsi (of the Afro Celts) plays with them. Have a listen, and visit them at oriental-mood.dk

[mp3] Oriental Mood: "On Para Etmes" (60 sec. sample)

Okay, one more since I teased you about Tuva. The group Chirgilchin will be in town tomorrow for an afternoon singing workshop and evening performance at the historic Capitol Theater. Chirgilchin is one of the up-and-coming young groups from the land known for its overtone singing, and I'm eager to see them.

[mp3] Chirgilchin: "Khoomeige Yoreel"
From the album Collectible. Tour info and CDs available at tuvatrader.com

Time to sneak off and practice your throat-singing....

24 July 2006

Monday's mp3: Gigi's Gud Fella

Among the myriad projects in which Bill Laswell has a hand, I find few more compelling than Ethiopian singer Ejigayehu "Gigi" Shibabaw. They have worked together in Tabla Beat Science, and on Laswell's own albums, including 2002's Book of Exit. Her voice is at once exotic and accessible. It just fits.

The original "Gud Fella" appeared on Gigi's self-titled 2001 album. A limited-release EP was issued in 2002, including the original mix and five remixes of the song by Restless Soul and former Fela drummer and Afrobeat pioneer Tony Allen.

[mp3] Gigi: "Gud Fella (Restless Soul Inspiration Informational Mix)"
original song from the album Gigi
A good biography of Gigi resides at africadatabase.org

If you like Gigi's vocals, check out fellow Ethiopian vocalist Aster Aweke, or other music from Ethiopia such as the marvelous Ethiopiques series from Buda Musique.

23 July 2006

The Latin Soul of Destani Wolf (CD Review)

Destani Wolf: Again and Again...
(Brave Wolf)

We first heard Destani Wolf as part of the Latin Hip-Hop group O-Maya, in which her standout vocals blended with beats, Latin roots, soulful pleas for justice ("Nothing Less than Freedom"), and even raps about George Bush ("Mentiroso"). O-Maya has since broken up, in large part replace by AguaLibre, with whom Wolf still performs.

Again and Again...,Wolf's debut solo album, further highlights this talented young woman. It is an apt vehicle for her powerful voice, whether it's the bilingual reggae stylings of "Cecilita," the funky soul of "You Should Know," or the brief-but-sweet a capella "Mind in the Way." Our favorited tracks (given our "world music" leanings) include "Cecilita," "Enchanted Soul (aka Tranquilo)," and the tabla-spiced "De Donde Eres."

Imagine Sade and Lila Downs meeting up in some little-known urban soul club and you'll have some sense of the sound. Wolf frequently performs in the Bay Area, and it wouldn't be surprising to see her find broader success with this strong album.

21 July 2006

Cape Verde...Free!

It's late notice, yes. But it's worth it. Maria de Barros is performing tonight at Town Hall Seattle, and I just found out that a Cape Verde cultural organization is giving away 130 free tickets for youth age 18 and under. You can find the details about the show and the giveaway here (click "events"), along with some Cape Verdean music samples from Cesaria Evora, Maria de Barros, Lura, Maria Alice, Suzanna Lubranno, Tito Paris, and Mindel Band.

More details on this and other upcoming world music performances in the Northwest at the SoundRoots Calendar.

The Face of Lebanon

It seems one of SoundRoots' Sisyphean tasks is to forever push against the tide of disasters -- both natural and manmade -- that would dehumanize certain segments of the population. Foremost
in my mind are the disasters in Indonesia and in Lebanon. But since we're recently talked of Java, albeit in a different context, today's cultural focus is the latter.

I'm no expert, so I recommend you read the news. What I know is that Lebanon was just starting to get its groove back after a devastating civil war that turned it from a vacation destination into a wasteland. The Lebanese are one of the most highly educated populations in the Middle East, with high literacy rates (and globally known authors such as Khalil Gibran). The country has 225 km of Mediterranean coastline, including fabulous beaches.

Oh, and it has the misfortune to be a convenient staging ground for terrorist attacks against Israel, and an easy target for Israel's scorched-earth retaliation. Tourists and residents with any means are fleeing, including a Michigan family who paid $17,000 to escape Israel's bombing. Of the population of nearly 4 million (which is only about 60% Muslim), some 500,000 have already been displaced by Israel's attack. And with US support (despite UN and international outcry - even many Jews think Israel is overreacting), Israel is continuing the bombing campaign and considering a ground assault. It should be obvious to SoundRoots readers that we similarly condemn the random missile attacks on Israeli towns.

But SoundRoots is about culture. And Lebanon's got it. Among the most well-known musicians are Fairuz, Marcel Khalife, and Nawal Al Zoghbi.

Richard Khuzami was raised in New York, but has roots in Lebanon. He's got a great new album out that draws from many traditions, including funk, jazz, and Bollywood, most with a Middle Eastern musical foundation. This song is not the most likely to be heard on the dance floor, but is perfect today. It's a duet between Arab-American Maurice Chedid and Israeli-American Dorit. The lyrics are "a plea for sanity in an insane part of the world: If we allRichard Khuzami - Fused CD practiced the basic tenants of our related religions, then all the manipulations of demigods on all sides would have no success: Respect and tolerance: with it we can move mountains, without it we can only destroy." Read the lyrics.

[mp3] Richard Khuzami: "The Serpent"
from the album Fused - available at CDbaby

CIA Factbook on Lebanon
Music of Lebanon at Wikipedia
Lebanon's Music at National Geographic

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18 July 2006

This Is So Wrong...

How to handle ordinary everyday problems like a French football star. With a cute soundtrack.

Disclaimer: SoundRoots does not advocate the settling of disputes through violence, whether headbutting or missile attacks on neighboring nations. But we appreciate a good pointed parody now and then.

By the way, FIFA has heard testimony from both Zinedine Zidane and Italy's Marco Materazzi, and both have received suspensions. Since Zidane has retired from international play, he plans to serve his "sentence" by working for three days doing community service with youngsters. Let's hope he doesn't teach them what they all will be asking him about.

It's disturbing, though, that FIFA also suspenced Materazzi. Not that I think trash-talking should be condoned, but punishing it certainly opens up a can of worms. FIFA rules already ban ungentlemanly (or is that unsportspersonlike?) conduct. But imagine the ref trying to sort out a he-said, he-said argument on the pitch. Not to mention the responsibility of each player to be responsible for his/her own reaction to what happens during a match. I think Zidane has been sadly lacking in this regard, failing to apologize for his violent reaction, and justifying it in terms of defending family honor. Really, if he'd simply ignored Materazzi (and perhaps scored the winning goal or penalty kick), his family would have suffered much less dishonor than they face today. And it would have been a much more noble end to his career.

But that's just one guy's opinion. Read more about the FIFA verdict at BBC Sport.
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17 July 2006

Monday's mp3: Kidjo Remixed

SoundRoots has amassed a wealth of oddities, live tracks, and remixes over the ages, and you'll increasingly see these showing up on Mondays for your listening pleasure. Today, it's African diva Angelique Kidjo. Her 2004 album Oyaya! is a fantastic mix of Caribbean (salsa, calypso, ska, merengue) and African styles. We're eager to find out what Kidjo will record next; in the meantime, here's a special treat that will please fans of beat. Ayemusic provides the song lyrics.

[mp3] Angelique Kidjo: "Conga Habanera (Jez Colin Remix Radio Edit)"
buy Oyaya!

Kidjo isn't just a pretty voice, by the way. She's deeply involved in a number of issues, and recently gave a concert to benefit Control Arms (see the video). And did a fundraiser for the Ubuntu Education Fund. And has worked for/with UNICEF, Oxfam, and for organizations promoting AIDS awareness and fair trade. It's great to see such a prominent musician leveraging her influence for positive social change as well as kick-ass music.

13 July 2006

So Chilled It's Lifeless...

SoundRoots tries to keep things on a generally positive note, reviewing and sharing music we like. We prefer to ignore rather than spotlight poor musical offerings. But this album review from RootsWorld.com has us reconsidering. For a brief review, it's so wonderfully clear, and pointed, and conclusive. And funny.

Various Artists: Chill Out World: The Highlands Edition

This compilation bears so little resemblance to actual world music, you would honestly get a more international musical experience by phoning a series of embassies and being put on hold. Each track is like flying to a different far off land, and never making it past the duty free shop. Everything has been sanitized and pre-packaged for your consumption. Except I'm using "consumption" in the tuberculosis sense. One can only assume that the producers spent so much time in the highlands, that hypoxia has damaged their brains.
- Louis 'please hold for an operator' Gibson

Don't be put off; you can find a lot of great music (and more complimentary reviews) at RootsWorld and sister site CDroots.

12 July 2006

Where Are YOU From?

SoundRoots seems to be getting increasingly popular, with a surge in daily hits and many more sites linking to us. So we wanted to say thanks to all the regulars, and welcome to all the newcomers.

A few months back, we added a visitor map think to SoundRoots, and it's been fascinating to watch the little red dots display the location of our visitors (see example map at right from 9 July). While the majority of visitors originate in North America and Western Europe (presumably because of the abundance of computers and high-speed Internet access in these areas), SoundRoots has truly achieved a global presence. Visitors arrive here from all over Asia, South America, the Middle East, various islands....

If you're visiting from a small nation or otherwise lesser-known location, please take a moment to leave a comment and introduce yourself, your culture, your music.

Now, for your listening pleasure, a few songs gleaned from various places around the world.

from France
[mp3] Tapok: "Lot Bor Somin"
from the album Tapokopat

from Canada
[mp3] The Paperboys: "All Along the Watchtower"
their newest album is The Road to Ellenside

from Israel
[mp3] Elisete: "Capoeira"
from the album Luar e Cafe

from USA
[mp3] Taarka: "Tutu Tango"
their newest album is Even Odd Bird

from Jamaica
[mp3] Skatalites: "Fidel Castro"
a different version of this song appears on the double album Stretching Out

from Mexico
[mp3] Alma Villegas: "Quizas"
more artist/album info at almavillegas.com

10 July 2006

Monday's mp3: Salut D'Italia!

With a defense that held up for another 120+ minutes, a defense that in this entire tournament gave up only one own goal and one penalty kick goal, Italy hoisted the golden Cup today while France tried to figure out what went wrong, both with their team in general, and in Zidane's head specifically. Speculation about the latter aside, here's our final installment for the 2006 World Cup.

I've posted several Italian songs recently, and here are two different sounds, both from the album Travellin' Companion 2: A Musical Journey to Italy. First, Folkabbestia, who mix rock, tarantelle, canzone Italiana, Irish folk, and ska. Second, Daniele Sepe of Naples, who has played all manner of music and here combines rap and ragga with Italian folk traditions.

[mp3] Folkabbestia: "Azzurro"
[mp3] Daniele Sepe: "Raggatruffen"

Yesterday, a SoundRoots reader asked "Who knows the name of the song that was played in every stadium at the end of every game?"
Goleo IVi - World Cup 2006 album
Well, after extensive research, our crack team of investigators has uncovered the truth. It's a cover of a cover. Sort of. The Village People did a song called "Go West," which was then re-done by the Pet Shop Boys, and ultimately it became the song "Stand Up (Champions Theme)" done by Goleo VI & Patrizio Buanne. You can find this and related songs on the album Goleo VI, though it apparently has not been released here in the USA, the land of football non-believers.

How and why this disco-rooted song became the tune played at the end of every World Cup 2006 match remains something of a mystery. Can anyone shed some light on this?

09 July 2006

Italy vs. France: world cup music showdown

Okay, I got a little criticism for yesterday's selection of music to represent the Germans. So today I'm going out of my way to be further inflammatory. Naw, seriously, there's no way that one song can represent the music of a nation, so I'm not even going to try. What I will do is post a couple of songs that are, perhaps, entertaining or amusing or amazing. And if you don't like them, or like other songs better, feel free to post a comment (or start your own much more serious and culturally appropriate blog).

So, on to our contenders. From Italy, the women's vocal group Faraualla (Cristina Palmiotta, Gabriella Schiavone, Maristella Schiavone, and Teresa Vallarella). Their self-titled 2001 album features songs from several European traditions, plus modern bits (including "Fescenne," which is based on "Furahi" by Zap Mama's Marie Daulne).

From France, we have the DJ known as Dmitri from Paris. A deep admirer of classic disco and old-school dance genres, Dimitri began his training as a DJ by spinning U.S. 12-inch imports and soon became a pioneer of what would soon be called "bedroom culture." Don't know what he's up to these days; this selection is from a 1998 album subtitled "Viva la France, viva Monsieur Dmitri!"

[mp3] Faraualla: "Maha Te Song"
from the album Faraualla

[mp3] Dmitri from Paris: "Sacre Francais"
from the album Sacrebleu

Honestly, I have to say I never would have picked these two teams for the final, given their spotty play in the early rounds of the Cup. But a little luck here, a great play there, and suddenly a mediocre team finds themselves winning their way to glory. My logical side is behind Italy, whose victory would make the US draw with them (while playing with only 9 men) all the more impressive (admittedly, perhaps the only impressive thing about the US appearance...). But my heart is available to the team that shows the best play with the least play-acting.

08 July 2006

Germany vs. Portugal: world cup music showdown

De Black Fooss: Morje, MorjeJust a few hours until the pivotal World Cup third-place match. Well, not as pivotal as the championship tomorrow, but still -- it's the one chance for these two teams to leave the tournament with a win instead of a loss. Just two of the 32 participating nations get to finish with a win, so that's something.

So we usher in the day with music. First, something I picked up on a trip to Germany long ago. You'll have to excuse the audio quality -- it was converted from a cassette tape. But the provincial charm of this group, who sing primarily in the regional dialect of Cologne (Kolsch) that even other Germans have a hard time deciphering, still comes through.

Portugal's entry is just about as quirky. Dead Combo was featured on the Charlie Gillett compilation Sound of the World, originally from the group's album Vol. 1. I don't know much about them except that the band consists of Tó Trips on electric guitar and Pedro V. Gonçalves on double bass, melodica and electric guitar. Don't know much about them, but I like the moody tone.

[mp3] De Black Fooss: "He Du an da Quetsch"
from the album Morje, Morje


[mp3] Dead Combo: "Rumbero"
from the album Vol. 1 | also available as mp3 downloads from Calabash

Other soccer news: Disney units Miramax Films and ESPN have acquired US theatrical and TV rights to the documentary Once in a Lifetime: the Extraordinary Story of the New York Cosmos. The documentary chronicles the rise and fall of the New York Cosmos of the defunct North American Soccer League (NASL), with appearances by former Cosmos stars including Pele, Franz Beckenbauer, and Giorgio Chinaglia. The movie opens across the US in the weeks following the world cup, and ESPN2 is scheduled to air it on Wednesday September 20. Having been a rabid child fan of the NASL's Seattle Sounders, the very thought of this brings back the sights (and smells) of the Kingdome.
Movie website | Trailer

U.S. Under-21 Women’s National Team head coach Jillian Ellis has named the 18-player squad that will travel to Norway for the 16th Annual Nordic Cup being held July 16-22 in five small venues in and around Stavanger, Norway, in the southwestern part of the country. Read more...
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07 July 2006

The Rough Guide to Planet Rock (CD Review)

Various Artists: The Rough Guide to Planet Rock
(World Music Network)
buy CD/hear samples
Live Locally, Rock Globally.
What defines rock? Guitars? Drums? A driving energy? Maybe we just know it when we hear it. And if you're still under the delusion that rock is confined to Anglo-American circles, listen up. From the opening guitar-organ riffs of Dengue Fever's "We Were Gonna" to the frenetic punk beats of the closing "I Would Never Want to Be Young Again" by Gogol Bordello, this disc proves that the rest of the world can rock. Admittedly, those two tracks are from US-based groups, but between them you'll find artists from Niger, Tuva, India, Portugal, Algeria, Hungary, and beyond (but no Rachid Taha, curiously). A few of the tracks are so far out on the edge of the "rock" umbrella that they're getting wet (La Reunion's Yela, Ukraine's Haydamaky, and Congo's Konono No. 1, for example). And aren't the Hip Hop Hoodios less rock and more, um, hip hop? Still, if rock can't be inclusive, what can? Just be advised that if you're using this disc as a launching point into more world rock, you might find the full albums of some of these artists (particularly Palestine's Rim Banna and Guinea's Ba Cissoko) a far cry from Van Halen.

05 July 2006


A little something to listen to before/while you watch the World Cup semi-final match today.

[mp3] Paris Combo: "Danse des Espirits"
from the album Attraction

Strange France factoid: Pigs had to live by human laws in medieval France, where they were allowed to roam the streets. One was hanged in 1394, in Normandy, for injuring a child. A sow and her six piglets were accused of a similar crime in 1547. The sow was executed, but her family was spared because of what the judge said was their youth.

[mp3] Miguel Capucho: "Lisboa e Senpre Lisboa"
from the album Fado & Fadistas

Strange Portugal factiod: In the Festa de Sao Joao in June, everyone dances through the streets, hitting each other over the head with leeks. Also, Portugal captain Luis Figo had a pig's head thrown at him by furious Barcelona fans in 2002 after he left the club to join Real Madrid.

There. Now you're all ready for the match.

04 July 2006

Seeding the future

Has it really come to this? Is the world in such dire straits that we need to lock away our valuables, just in case? We're not just talking about locking your car when parking in a seedy neighborhood. No, we're talking about locking up the world's seeds. The Global Crop Diversity Trust is rounding up supporters to build a huge seed vault.
The high-security vault, almost half the length of a football field, will be carved into a mountain on a remote island above the Arctic Circle. If the looming fences, motion detectors and steel airlock doors are not disincentive enough for anyone hoping to breach the facility's concrete interior, the polar bears roaming outside should help.

The idea is that in case of a global catastrophe, the survivors wouldn't have to wait for evolution to re-invent, say, Thai basil and Italian prunes. You can read about it in this PDF, or at croptrust.org. If we all did a little more backyard gardening and bought a little less corporate-agriculture "food" we could contribute to preserving biodiversity. And no danger of bear attacks!

Driven from some flower and veggie planting by a freak July 4 rainstorm (okay, I live in Washington State, so no rainstorm is really a "freak"), I'm finding global stories of seeds and plants. Though it may be cut short by the US Supreme Court's recent ruling against the Bush administration, Reprieve has launched a campaign to supply Guantanamo gardeners with seeds. The men have apparently tried to start a garden, but haven't been allowed any seeds. "[T]he prisoners have striven to make a garden without their [the guards'] help. One, Saddiq Ahmad Turkistani, told his lawyer: 'We planted a garden. We have some small plants -- watermelon, peppers, garlic, cantaloupe. No fruit yet. There's a lemon tree about two inches tall, though it's not doing well.'"

If you don't happen to have a piece of land to garden yourself, don't despair. Instead, join up with the ranks of Guerrilla Gardeners. Despite the talk of "seed grenades," these guerrillas aren't interested in violence. Just a green revolution. The idea is to sneak plants into public spaces where they are needed: neglected planting boxes, barren roadsides, weedy traffic islands, and the like. In my neighborhood, I've noticed corn growing in roundabouts, and sunflowers next to the new bridge. It's a wonderful and highly recommended random act of beauty.

Finally, speaking of beauty, how about that ending to the Italy-Germany game? Italy looked strong throughout the match today, though I was waiting for that one injury-time counterattack when Germany would poke in the winner. They seem to have such a knack for that. Instead, our little gathering erupted in cheers for the astounding goal of Italy after nearly two hours of play. Then another goal a minute later. The Italians deserved the win, and Germany gets the consolation of playing one more match before the home crowd. Tomorrow we find out whether Italy will face up-and-down France or scrappy, surging Portugal in the final. If Figo can keep from head-butting anyone, my (strictly hypothetical) money is on Portugal. Tune in tomorrow for some head-to-head music.

03 July 2006

Monday's mp3: Ska Cubano's Caribbean Stew

Ska Cubano: Ay Caramba! (CD Review)
Cumbancha Records

Ska Cubano has been a distant blip on my radar for some time, a song heard on the internet here, another on a compilation there. Only with the recent album Ay Caramba! does the shape of this incoming musical missile become clear. No high-arcing ICBM, this album is a low-flying projectile of roots fun.

Ay Caramba! (official release date 11 July) will have musicians of all kinds slapping their foreheads and wondering why they didn't come up with what seems a natural mix: ska horns & vocals, Cuban mambo beats, and calypso storytelling. Each of the 14 tracks bring different proportions of these ingredients, including a cover of the innuendo-laden classic "Big Bamboo" and a re-imagining of "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)."

The group is a collaboration between South London ska singer Natty Bo, British entrepreneur Peter Scott, and Cuban musician/singer Beny Billy (born Juan Manuel Villy), along with a slew of London-based Cuban and Jamaican musicians. Of particular note is the gusty playing of Japanese saxophonist Megumi Mesaku.

Ska Cubano has been featured on The World's Global Hit, and seems poised to make cross-genre inroads into mainstream musical consciousness.

By the way, Cumbancha is the brainchild of Putumayo's Jacob Edgar, who launched the label to focus more on individual artists. "We used to say at Putumayo that doing compilations was like dating," says Edgar," and signing artists was like getting married. After years of flirting with some of my favorite artists, it's nice to finally make some commitments and settle down."

This song talks about a longing for the African homeland: "Soul of distant Africa / Fills my chest with fire / And the poor child of the slave / Always longs for the palm trees / Of the primitive jungle / Of gods of mystery and war/ Ifa, Ochun, Obatala, for Chango and Yemaya

[mp3] Ska Cubano: "Tabu"
from Ay Caramba! | buy CD | buy mp3s
Three unreleased tracks from the Ay Caramba! recording sessions are available as mp3s at skacubano.spintheglobemusic.net

02 July 2006

World Music Top 10 - July 2006

SoundRoots / Spin the Globe Top 10 Albums
June 2006

2. Orchestre Baka Gbine:
Gati Bongo
3. Sara Tavares:
4. Salif Keita:
5. Think of One:
Chirgilchin: Collectible
7. Ska Cubano:
¡Ay Caramba!
8. Maurice el Medioni meets Roberto Rodriguez:
Descarga Oriental
9. Gotan Project:
10. Fantazia:
Mul Sheshe

World Music News Roundup:
What's the difference between a radical Muslim and a Islamic extremist? Perhaps it's all in the definition. Pakistan-born, UK-raised Aki Nawaz has been putting his radical interpretation to music under the auspices of Fun-Da-Mental (an in collaboration with the Mighty Zulu Nation on the album Abantu). His latest project, entitled All Is War (The Benefits of G-Had) is embroiled in controversy even before its release. Are the lyrics a call to extremism or simply a blunt challenge to cultural norms? Two executives at Nation Records have threatened to resign if the label releases the album as planned on July 17. "We stand strong against a society which creates conflict and division amongst us all," Aki says in a recent email to SoundRoots.

The 5th International Jew's harp Festival will take place in Amsterdam from July 28th through July 30th, and will include performances, lectures, a marketplace, and everything else Jew's harp fanatics could dream up. Great for those who recently discovered the festival via the recent album of highlights from the 2002 festival.

Jamie Foxx, who starred as Ray Charles in the Oscar-winning Ray, is set to play Bob Marley in a new film focusing on the reggae icon's early life. Director Rachid Bouchareb says, "I've always liked the story of what made Marley the man. I want to look at him as a child through to a young man, and how he became interested in Africa." In other Bob news, Latin artists including Los Cafres, Fidel, Mimi Maura, and Resistencia Suburbana cover less well-known Marley tunes on the new album Tributo a Bob Marley, just out on Delanuca Records.

Freshlyground will open a world tour at the 2006 FIFA World Cup finale in Berlin on July 7, where they will perform alongside fellow South Africans Johnny Clegg and Sibongile Khumalo. They're promoting the European release of Nomvula, which hits British, French, German and Italian stores in August.

Brazilian star Marisa Monte has announced a long-awaited USA tour in November 2006, with her 10-piece band making stops in San Francisco, LA, Miami, and New York. Read more...

Abhi Performing Arts is now officially online at www.abhiperformingarts.org. "'Abhi,' a Hindi word meaning 'now,' expresses Abhi Performing Art’s dedication to promoting current music, dance, and all aspects of the performing arts in Seattle and the Puget Sound area," says founder Sarah Lin Bhatia. "We aim to do this by providing a free online publication with event announcements, an artist directory, and feature articles highlighting solo and collaborative efforts."

Lovers of global sounds have a new radio show to catch starting tomorrow, Monday July 3. Island Time will include Hawaiian, pan-Polynesian, and other music from the Pacific Islands. Catch it Mondays 10am-noon Pacific time (of course!) on KAOS-fm, or streaming live via kaosradio.org