13 September 2010

Monday's mp3: Give Me That New Ethnojazz

Something is afoot.

In the past week or so, I've received no fewer than a half-dozen albums with unique combinations of ethnic roots and modern jazz. Coincidence? Trend? The future of world music? I'm not ready to draw iron-clad conclusions, but I'll share some of the music with you this week, starting with a Zimwegian band.

In truth, Monoswezi goes beyond Zimbabwe and Norway, wrapping in artists from Sweden and Mozambique as well. Apparently based in Norway (the album is on Scandinavian label Parallell), the quintet notes that the repetitive nature of traditional Shona mbira/marimba music shares characteristics with, say, Phillip Glass and Steve Reich. Whether you consider such loopy music entrancing or soporific, if you're a fan of Zimbabwean music you should give this a try.

The self-titled album starts with "Tsvimborume," anchored by traditional Zim music & singing and enhanced with subtle reed work. On the other end of the spectrum are "Xai Xai," a swinging percussive number, and the sparse "Matalana," which could appear in a jazz club without turning anyone's thoughts toward southern Africa.

Perhaps the track "Ndendende" shows the midpoint at which jazz and Zimbabwean music meet on relatively equal terms. Check it out. And leave a comment if you think the current burst of ethno-jazz is a trend, or just coincidence.

[mp3] Monoswezi: Ndendende
from the album Monoswezi

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