12 May 2008

Monday's mp3: Women's Work

My family had the usual Mother's Day gathering yesterday, and following our recent trend of culinary themes, we found ourselves awash in a vast array of salads. Previous years had seen menus entirely of sandwiches and, another year, all pies. It's my grandmother, the family's matriarch, who makes the choice, so we just crank up our creativity and it usually turns out well.

As with culinary choices, musical possibilities abound -- but I decided to do a little tribute to women in world music to toast the mothers of the world.

First up is a strong recommendation for the new album by Les Amazones de Guinee. When I received this album in the mail, I had a moment of confusion because of the imminent performance at the Seattle International Children's Festival by a group with a very similar name: Amazones: Women Master Drummers of Guinea. But that group is strictly drummers, and this group of Amazones does it all, including a really sharp horn section.Les Amazones de Guinee - Wamato

Formed in 1961, their last album was released 25 years ago, so they're not very well known outside of Guinea. But they know their way around music. Guns too, since all of the original members were part of Guinea's Women's Militia. And as you can tell from this track, they ain't just blowin' Sousa.

[mp3] Les Amazones de Guinee: Zawi
from Wamato

SoundRoots reader Don asked recently about Oum Kalthoum*, after being exposed to the music and story of the great Egyptian diva via NPR. Don, I'm only too happy to oblige, not least because the great lady's birthday was last week (4 May). Were she still with us, she'd be 104. There are some albums/tracks of hers available that conform more to our contemporary idea of song length -- 4-5 minutes -- but to really hear her and appreciate her, you need to hear some of her extended work, like this 37-minute piece of art recorded in 1950.
Oum Kalthoum CD cover
[mp3] Oum Kalthoum: Robayat El Khayam (live) [download]
from Robayat El Khayam, Chams El Assil
(note: different preview/download format for this one because of the large size!)

Some of Kalthoum's albums have been reissued. You can also find a bunch of Oum Kalthoum on YouTube.

Happy Mother's Day!

*(alternate spellings of her name include Om Koultoum, Om Kalthoum, Oum Kalsoum, Oum Kalthum, Omm Kolsoum, Umm Kolthoum, Um Kalthoom, and Omme Kolsoum. Take your pick.)
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