18 October 2011

Mickey Hart: 25 Albums, 10 free songs!

Mickey Hart (Photo: Michael Weintrob)
People of a certain age will always think of the Grateful Dead when the name Mickey Hart pops up in conversation. But those of us with an ear for global music know that Hart went on to record, produce, and otherwise get his thumbs into a wide variety of music from around the planet from the early 1980s right up to the present.

Now Smithsonian Folkways has put together 25 of these albums as The Mickey Hart Collection.

Airto Moreira, The Other Side of This
Babatunde Olatunji, Drums of Passion: The Beat
Babatunde Olatunji, Drums of Passion: The Invocation
Golden Gate Gypsy Orchestra, The Traveling Jewish Wedding
Hamza El Din, Eclipse
Mickey Hart, Airto Moreira, and Flora Purim, Däfos
Mickey Hart, Taro Hart, Music to be Born By
The Gyuto Monks, Freedom Chants from the Roof of the World
The Gyuto Monks, The Perfect Jewel: Sacred Chants of Tibet
The Latvian Women’s Choir, Dzintars: Songs of Amber
The Rhythm Devils, The Apocalypse Now Sessions
Ustad Sultan Khan, Sarangi: The Music of India
Various Artists, The Spirit Cries: Music from the Rainforests of South America & the Caribbean
Various Artists, American Warriors: Songs for Indian Veterans
Various Artists, Honor The Earth Powwow: Songs of the Great Lakes Indians
Various Artists, L.H. Correa de Azevedo: Music of Ceara and Minas Gerais
Various Artists, Living Art, Sounding Spirit: The Bali Sessions
Various Artists, Music For The Gods: The Fahnestock South Sea Expedition: Indonesia
Various Artists, The Arthur S. Alberts Collection: More Tribal, Folk, and Café Music of West Africa
Various Artists, The Discoteca Collection: Missao de Pedquisas Folcloricas
Various Artists, The Music of Upper and Lower Egypt
Various Artists, The Yoruba/Dahomean Collection: Orishas Across The Ocean
Various Artists, Utom: Summoning the Spirit
Various Artists, Voices of the Rainforest
Zakir Hussain & Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia, Venu

Something for everyone? Yup. I've long been a fan of the coastal cafe recordings of Arthur Alberts, so it's great to see those back. And there's everything else from Indian classical music to Nubian folk songs to Nigerian drumming to bamboo gamelan from Indonesia.

Hart's involvement in these projects varies, from co-writer and co-producer of the Babatunde Olatunji albums (which feature Airto Moreira and Carlos Santana), to providing the means to record sounds in unusual locations, as on the album Voices of the Rainforest:
Voices of the Rainforest is a recorded soundscape of a day in the life of the Kaluli people of Bosavi, Papua New Guinea. As the day progresses, one hears birds, water, insects and other ambient voices of the rainforest interspersed with Kaluli songs and instrumental sounds of work, leisure and ritual. The album was recorded with Mickey Hart's advanced field recording gear by anthropologist and ethnomusicologist Dr. Steven Feld. Feld's closeness to the Kaluli people afforded him a unique recording opportunity, and the quality of the recording equipment yielded among the clearest aural experiences of the rainforest short of being there. Voices of the Rainforest was issued in 1991 as part of "THE WORLD" series.

For his part, Hart says:
Music is our talking book, our portal to the spirit world. I hope you will enjoy these audio snapshots of my musical journey. It's an honor to have my recordings at Smithsonian Folkways alongside the greatest songcatchers of our time.
Our new technologies are part of a powerful civilization which is rapidly transforming the world around us. It changes the environment, often in ways that endanger the delicate ecological balance nature has wrought over the millennia. It also brings radical change to cultures. Sometimes that change is empowering. But all too often it endangers precious human ways of life, just as surely as it endangers the environment within which those ways of life flourish. This series is dedicated to the hope that with education, empathy, and assistance, imperiled cultures can survive.

For a short time, you can download 10 free mp3s (in exchange for your email address) from the collection, which was officially released in digital format October 11. That's a generous preview of an amazing body of work.


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