The Worldmusic Blog (Seckou Kouyate)

WorldBeatUK (3rd Show)- Broadcast Notes (14/03/11)

Tagged with: WorldBeatUK Glyn Phillips Rhubarb Radio Cheik Lô Pressure Sounds Lee Perry Ranglin Jeremy Marre Inner Circle Vampisoul Majid Bekkas Tamikrest Soundways Poly-Rhythmo Owiny Sigoma Watcha Clan Rango Oy Moutinho Fexomat Chalice Gevende

Show Notes for 3rd WorldBeatUK world music radio show with Glyn Phillips

(broadcast on Rhubarb Radio - 14/03/11)

1 Jingle 1

Great show coming up this evening with quite an influence from Africa later on, as well as new releases and pre-releases from Watcha Clan, Lee Scratch Perry, Owiny Sigoma, Soundways, Vampisoul, Tamikrest, Orchestre Poly-Rhythmo, Pedro Moutinho, Sr Ortegon and Chalice.

But first off, some African reggae from Senegal’s Cheik Lô - this is “Warico Dub”.

2 “Warico Dub” Cheik Lô

Now this one’s for the reggae and dub heads out there. Just like to say thanks to Steve Williams of UKVibe for the heads-up on this one. Pete Holdsworth and record label Pressure Sounds have collated and released a very interesting selection of Dub Plate Mixes and Rarities recorded by The Upsetter himself, Mr Lee “Scratch” Perry, dating from 1973 to 1979. The album’s called “The Return of Sound System Scratch” (Pressure Sounds PSCD70) and it’s essentially a compilation of some of Perry’s more obscure - even extreme - recordings, most from the Black Ark period.

As well as Lee Perry there are many different variations of the Upsetters on this album with special guests such as Junior Murvin, Candy Mackenzie, Leo Graham, George Faith, Jimmy Riley and Jack Lord; there are also tracks by Aleas Juve, The Unforgettables and the Silvertones. Some of the tracks are previously unreleased and many are exclusive dub plate mixes; some are very accessible commercial tracks and others are pure Lee Perry fantasy world dub weirdness.

However, the cut I’m going to play is much more user-friendly and you don’t have to be swirling in a haze of holy herbalness to appreciate it. It’s by Candy Mackenzie & the Upsetters and is a previously unreleased track called “Long Enough”

3 “Long Enough” Candy Mackenzie

[Continuous - No Break]

4 “54-46” Ernest Ranglin ft Toots Hibbert

That was legendary Jamaican ska and jazz guitarist Ernest Ranglin on one of my favourite numbers “54-46”; I’m also a big fan of 634-5789 (by Eddie Floyd and Steve Cropper), 344-3025 (by Giraldo Piloto)! They don’t write numbers like that anymore… But hey, that just me! Vocals were from the equally legendary Toots Hibbert.

Now, while we’re still on a Jamaican tip, I want to play a very rare track recorded live during a field recording in Jamaica in 1977 for a documentary called “Roots, Rock, Reggae”. The documentary highlighted the real life street level music of Jamaica at a time when, apart from Perry Henzell’s “The Harder They Come” film, there was very little real film of music and life there getting out into the mainstream and even in Jamaica, reggae was viewed with scorn by many in power. And the guy who happened to be in the right place at the right time? Jeremy Marre. M-A-R-R-E.

Ring any bells? No? Well it should do - he’s the film-maker behind the legendary late 70s/early 80s “Beats of the Heart” documentary series on world music (from which this documentary comes) - this was before we even called it world music - an incredibly influential work documenting a seminal point in the global consciousness of the world’s music outside of the mainstream. Those of us involved today owe a big debt to pioneers like this.

Is he resting on his laurels? Nope. Last Month’s “Reggae Britannia” series on BBC was his, as was the brilliant series, “Latin Music USA” and also “Soul Britannia” as well as stuff on James Brown, Marvin Gaye, Phil Spector and more. Jeremy Marre, as they say, knows his onions!

For “Roots Rock Reggae” Marre had to play a sleight of hand trick with the Jamaican authorities at the time and pretend to be making a film about calypso and jazz to be able to get permission to film. Once there the team had to try and establish contact with reggae musicians on the ground amidst many difficulties and a background of gang wars, street violence and the mayhem created by the competing factions of the politicians Michael Manley and Edward Seaga.

It’s a fascinating documentary showing the reality of the late 70s for Jamaicans and the volatility which forged conscious reggae. It’s available (as are many of the re-issued “Beats of the Heart” documentaries) via the DVD label Digital Classics at - I’ll try and put details up on my site later.

This track by Inner Circle was recorded live at an afternoon stage show in a Kingston street - complete with vocalist Jacob Miller berating the crowd beforehand for not behaving themselves! This is “Love is the Drug”.

* Inner Circle - “Love is the Drug” (audio from Roots Rock Reggae DVD)

Moving away from Jamaica we’re going to early 60s black urban America and the sound of early RnB from the vaults of King and Federal. Rhythm and Blues as world music. Yep! You’d better believe it.

The fantastic Spanish re-issue label Vampisoul has just released Volume 2 of their series RnB Hipshakers; this album’s entitled “Scratch That Itch” and this track is by a man who later was better known as a comedian, actor and film producer, Rudy Ray Moore. Most famous for his title role as the “uniquely articulate pimp” Dolemite in the 1975 Blaxploitation comedy film, this is Rudy Ray taking us all for a “Buggy Ride” . . .

5 “Buggy Ride” Rudy Ray Moore

Rhythm and Blues grew out of the Blues and here’s an example of how it all links back to Mama Africa. This is the Moroccan gnawa master Majid Bekkas from his 2002 album “African Gnaoua Blues” on the Belgian Sowarex Igloomondo label and a track called “African Blues”.

6 “African Blues” Majid Bekkas

Going south from Morocco over the Sahara you eventually end up in the desert area of northwestern Mali. We’re used to hearing the more southern sound of this vast country, but here’s a track from its Tuareg community 2,000 miles north of Bamako. Tamikrest are a young band who fuse more traditional Tuareg music and the Tamshek language with influences from Jimi Hendrix and Bob Marley.

Never underestimate the power of music - the band’s leader Ousmane Ag Mossa didn’t have access to even cassette tapes until 2000 around the time he started learning guitar - and what did he listen to? Dire Straits and Bob Marley. As he said “That changed my musical vision completely and I stopped to classify music. Music is just music, no matter where it comes from”. Amen to that.

Tamikrest’s new album “Toumastin” won’t be out until April 25th but here’s a preview from it. This is “Arantane N Tinariwen”

7 “Arantane N Tinariwen” Tamikrest

Well I’m REALLY excited about this next release - I’ve been jumping up and down for joy for a few days now. The brilliant British label Soundways specialise (amongst other things) in digging out the lost and forgotten recordings of the world’s most vibrant musical cultures. Here they focus on the music of Colombia’s Caribbean coast and the output of Curro Fuentes’ recordings from Cartagena. And this is a gem of an album, with Roberto Gyemant aided by Miles Cleret and Quantic’s Will Holland assembling some diamond moments.

It’s full name is “Cartagena - Curro Fuentes & the Big Band Cumbia and Descarga Sound of Colombia 1962-72” and it’s chock-full of goodies! Anyone who knows me knows my longstanding passion for cumbias (especially from the golden years) and I wasn’t disappointed with cumbia, porro, gaita, merecumbé and tamborera all thrown into the mix; however it was the descargas that really blew me away.

This is the wonderfully named Clodomiro Montes y el Super Combo Curro and a track called Puerto Rico Zuuuuuuumbando!

8 “Puerto Rico Zumbando” Clodomiro Montes y el Super Combo Curro

[Continuous - No Break]

9 “Pardon” Orch Poly-Rhythmo

The last track was “Pardon” from the Beninese afrobeat band Orchestre Poly-Rhythmo. Now then, that was a preview track from their new album called “Cotonou Club” which is to be released on the Strut label in a fortnight’s time. Amazingly it’s their first new album in 20 years! With five members of the original 1960s band, two from the 70s incarnation and three new members, they also invited guests Angelique Kidjo, Fatoumata Diawara and member of Franz Ferndinand on their new release.

Here’s another new release. Owiny Sigoma is a new band formed by the combination of a collective of UK musicians brought over to Kenya on a grassroots level cultural exchange programme to work with Nairobi based Joseph Nyamungu who plays the 8 string lyre, the nyatiti and drummer Charles Owoko who specialises in traditional Luo rhythms. The resulting album recorded in a disused factory outside Nairobi has subsequently been championed by Gilles Peterson and is to be released by Brownswood Recordings on April 18th with a special pre-release of the 12” single “Wires” exclusive to Record Store Day - that’s April 16th in case you didn’t know! - backed by a Theo Parrish remix. This is the original version...

10 “Wires” Owiny Sigoma Band

Staying with the London-Africa connection here’s some Township jazz from Barnet, North London by the excellent ‘Rhythm-&-Blues-and-everything-in-between’ band Big Chief recorded live outdoors at the Ealing Blues and Roots Festival last July and on their new album “On Broadway”. This tune is written by them and features a great horn section of John and Chris Fry and Ed Benstead blowing out on “Africa Rag”.

11 “Africa Rag” Big Chief

Now then, think Brazil and you think Samba, Bossa, Baile Funk, Forro, Axe, Maracatú, etc, etc - a whole semi-continent of rhythm. However this next band look Northward to a tiny island far far away - as many of us do - for our inspiration. The Orquesta Brasileira de Musica Jamaicana are part of the latin ska phenomenon currently ripping up latin dancefloors from Argentina to Venezuela. This is from their album “Volume 1” on the Scubidu label and is a re-imagining of “Tico Tico No Fubá”.

12 “Tico Tico No Fubá” OBMJ

[Continuous - No Break]

13 “Perfection” Boogat (Geko Jones/N Ron) - cuts before proper end!


Before the break you heard the track Perfection by Boogat (big shout out going to Geko Jones and N Ron in New York for that one).

Now, remember I was talking earlier about British label Soundways and their new album “Cartagena”? Well it’s so good I’ve just got to play another track. This is Crecencio Camacho y el Super Combo Curro and a tune called “Santana en Salsa”. The background to this cut is that after a night’s playing the band have just finished a gig and are now starting to play just for fun. This is a monster tune with a heavy, heavy, groove. Just intoxicating… Pa’ to’os ellos que le ‘usten la musica colombiana de lo’ años de oro!

15 “Santana En Salsa” - Crecencio Camacho y el Super Combo Curro

[Continuous - No Break]

16 “March of the Morons” Oy Division

You just hear the traditional Jewish sounds of the gloriously named Oy Division and “March of the Morons”.

Here’s another brand new release due out on the 4th April here: this time it’s Marseille’s global beat outfit Watcha Clan and a track from their new album “Radio Babel”. They’ll be playing in London tomorrow at the Rich Mix Bar in Bethnal Green Road E1 to promote the new album. This is a wonderful piece of dubsteppy reggae worldness entitled “Im Nin’alu”.

17 “Im Nin’alu” Watcha Clan

[Continuous - No Break]

18 “Sawakin” Rango

What you just heard was a track called "Sawakin" from an album entitled “Bride of the Zar” by the Egyptian based but Sudanese descended band, Rango, (no relation to the animated gecko currently at the cinema I might add). Their back story is too long to go into here, but includes mystic healing ceremonies, Sudanese trances, Nubian weddings, a 190 year old xylophone, an Arabian vampire, ghosts, aerosol cans, chickens, sardines and recycled aerosol cans. Intrigued? You will be! Please check them out at (which is their label) and the other bands there too.

I’m a sucker for Portuguese music and fado in particular; this is the lovely soothing sound of Portuguese singer Pedro Moutinho - in a duet with the luscious Mayra Andrade from Cabo Verde from Pedro’s album “Lisboa Mora Aqui” on the Uguru label. “Alfama”

19 “Alfama” Pedro Moutinho & Mayra Andrade

OK, let’s up the adrenaline with some heart-pumping salsa dura from the very talented producer, composer and musician, Señor Ortegon from Cali, Colombia. This is right on the money - “Fiesta de la Calle”

20 “Fiesta en la Calle” Ortegon

If you like Gypsy music and also like Breakcore then this one’s for you; some diamond-tipped Balkan Hardcore from Berlin: Fexomat and Sum and a remix of “Golden Days”

21 “Golden Days (rmx)” Fexomat & Sum

[Continuous - No Break]

22 “Celick Comak” Gevende

You’re listening to WorldBeatUK with me Glyn Phillips and you’ve just heard a track that I had to move from last week’s show, the Turkish psychedelic folk band Gevende and a track from their first album “Ev” on the Baykus music label called “Celick Comack”:

OK, I’m going to take it down slightly now with some smooth Jamaican soulful reggae, this is Chalice and “Caravan of Love”

23 “Caravan of Love” Chalice

Now last week I got into terrible trouble with my missus, who threatened to beat me around the head with a fryingpan because I played a track with lyrics she didn’t approve of. It was a mash-up between Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” and something by Cobra and Beanie Man with some rather heavy Jamaican Patois. Now, to be fair I didn’t really listen to the lyrics and couldn’t understand much of it anyway, revelling instead in the musical juxtaposition of the sounds and rhythms involved (I am a drummer after all!). How was I to know he wasn’t going on about a small kitten?

So to set matters straight here’s a song with words that I completely understand and it really IS about the singer’s loving relationship with his girlfriend’s faithful feline companion. And if you choose to interpret it in any other way, then that’s your filthy minds, not mine . . . This is Robert Crumb (yes, cartoon fans, he of the steatopygically robust ladies) and the Cheap Suit Serenaders. You’ll pick the title up as you go along!

24 “My Girl’s Pussy” - Robert Crumb and the Cheap Suit Serenaders

Goodbyes, reminders for next week, thank yous, etc
NB: I'd like to thank Marc Reck for letting me have his slot!

I’m going to leave you with a real banger:

25 “Feelin Alright” Joe Cocker (Matty Blades remix)

WorldBeatUK (2nd Show) - Broadcast Notes (7th March 2011)

Tagged with: WorldBeatUK Glyn Phillips Rhubarb Courtney John Macire Sylla Sierra Leone Petrona Martinez Thornato Shawn Lee Carvalho Baba Zula Gevende Va Fan Fahre Trilhos Batucada Tabala Ophex Saf Vetex Phil Beer Hijaz Farka Toure Tango Fado

Hi everybody,

Since February 2011 our editor, Glyn, has been broadcasting a weekly world music show called “WorldBeatUK” (Wednesday 7pm –9pm, UK time) on Rhubarb Radio live from Birmingham, England. After some requests from some of our regular listeners we are going to try an experiment - we shall be posting the full show transcripts (within our WorldMusicUK Blog section) to help our listeners find references to the past shows artists and to get a feel for the vibe of the show.

It will also help any listeners that missed a particular WorldBeatUK show to catch up on all the musical gems that Glyn finds. Let us know if you find it useful, as we really do appreciate the feedback, and look forward to giving you many hours of world music pleasure.  And for any agents, world music PR staff, record labels, etc, please feel free to email us with any World Music artistes you might like us to feature.

Regards,  Dylan.

So following are the notes for the WorldBeatUK show broadcast on the 7th March 2011. (We have no notes for the first one until we can transcribe the show).

Notes for Second WorldBeatUK show (07/03/11) –

1 VOICE OVER 1 [Theme music for the show is "Intro-Mat" by Diblo Dibala's band Matchatcha from the album "Nyekesse" (Melodie)]

Welcome to another edition of WorldBeatUK right here on Rhubarb Radio with me, Glyn Phillips! Coming up on the show tonight we’ve got music from Portugal, Colombia, South Africa, Turkey, Belgium, Mali, Argentina, New Zealand, Jamaica, Sierra Leone, Guinea Conakry and even some Kizomba from Handsworth Wood right here in Birmingham!

But right now let’s kick off with some Belgian Brass Band music! Well, kind of . . . !

2 "Moliendo Cafe" - Orch Int du Vetex - 'Flamoek Fantasy'

That was the huge brass ensemble Orchestre International du Vetex and their version of an old salsa hit, “Moliendo Cafe” off the album ‘Flamoek Fantasy’.

Staying in Belgium - and why not? - this next track is by a guy called “Saf”, off his album on the Zephyrus label - also called simply “Saf. He’s been described as a sort of Belgian Tom Waits, combining Flemish wit and satire with musette, tango, waltzes, chanson and gipsy-swing. I’ve no idea what he’s singing about, - my sum total of Flemish being “Alles Kits Achter Der Rits” - but I really don’t care, because I love the way he just pulls you in to his Ghentish world. This track is called “t’Vertellement”.

3 "t’Vertellement" - Saf - 'Saf'

Here’s another face of the country that gave us Belgian chocolates, Belgian waffles and Tintin! Baloji is a rapper originally from Lubumbashi and Kinshasa in Congo and was previously the MC with Starflam. From his album “KInshasa Succursale” this is a wonderful track that goes by no less than three names: “Le Jour D’apres” (The Day After), Siku Ya Baadaye, and even “Independence Cha Cha”. Check out also the video on YouTube - B-a-l-o-j-i. Baloji!

4 "Le Jour D’Apres" - Balojji - 'Kinshasa Succursale'

Now then, if you’re into English Folk music at all, you can’t have failed to have come across the names Phil Beer and Steve Knightley of the duo “Show of Hands”. Phil was recently voted Musician of the Year 2010 in the Spiral Earth Awards, so I thought I’d play something celebrating that. This next track is off his 2010 box set album, named aptly enough, “Phil Beer Box Set One” released on his own Chudleigh Roots label. It’s the first in what should be a long series of archive material from Phil’s illustrious career, with some great fellow folk musicians thrown in to boot.

And because this is a world music show, and I like to mix it up a bit, I chose a track from the early 90s when Phil and Steve together with English accordionist and concertina player, Dave Townsend teamed up with some fine Chilean musicians Mauricio Venegas, Vladimir Vega and Sergio Avila in a project called “Alianza” (which is Spanish for “Alliance”); I was lucky enough to be able to see that show in Birmingham’s mac when I worked there - and it resonated with me on a couple of levels; firstly I was playing percussion with Birmingham based Chileno-Peruvian outfit Caliche at the time so I was very much into the folk side of Latin American music, and secondly because whilst living in South America during the mid-1980s I found out that my great-grandfather had actually lived and worked in the Atacama desert over 120 years ago.

So this connection between the British Isles and the far-flung reaches of South America, and the amazing journeys in sailing ships which Welsh, English and Chilean sailors took across the vast seas of the Atlantic and Pacific via Tierra del Fuego and the treacherous Magellan straits, up to central and Northern Chile, was brought wonderfully to life through this alliance of musicians. For landlubbers the seas are enormous barriers, but for the sailors they are merely pathways to another world. This track is called “Santiago”.

5 "Santiago" - Phil Beer (& Alianza) - 'Phil Beer Box Set One'

Now, if you board a ship in Chile’s Valparaiso, go up the Pacific coast of South America from Chile past the Atacama Desert and Peru, over the equator and past the mangrove swamps of Northern Ecuador you’ll eventually end up in the Colombian port of Buenaventura; from there go inland to the salsa city of Cali, and you might hear something like this . . .

6 "El Chontaduro" - Nancy Murillo - 'Tia Tova'

That was the sound of the Paris based caleña Nancy Murillo and a track called “Chontaduro” off her ‘Tia Yova’ album. You can find that on the French Label “Pure Son’g”.

More from Colombia later, but in the meantime I want to return to Belgium - or rather a mythical land that lies somewhere between Belgium, the Levant and North Africa. This is a jazzy track by the band Hijaz off their just released album ‘Chemsi’ on the Zephyrus label, and is named after an idyllic Tunisian town called “Sidi Bou Said”.

7 "Sidi Bou Said" - Hijaz - 'Chemsi'

And while we’re on a jazzy fusion tip, have you ever imagined Portuguese Fado mixed with jazz sensibilities? These guys have. This is the band Fado em Si Bemol (which translates as Fado in B minor) and a live track with a brazilianesque groove called “Fado Tropical”.

8 "Fado Tropical" - Fado em Si Bemol - 'Fado em Si Bemol'

Let’s leave Lisbon and sail South West to another great port, Buenos Aires, Argentina, and what else but the shimmering, soul-searching, sultry sounds of … TANGO! This is another band I had the honour of experiencing some years ago - one of the finest contemporary orchestras of Argentine tango, El Sexteto Mayor and a track off their ‘Vida, Pasión y Tango’ album (on the Intuition label): “Oblivión”.

9 "Oblivión" - Sexteto Mayor - 'Vida, Pasion y Tango'

Now, today, the 7th of March 2011, is exactly five years to the day of the death of one of Africa’s most famous and celebrated musical sons. I’m talking of course about the Malian guitar legend Ali Farka Toure. Born in 1939 and the only surviving child out of 10, Ali Ibrahim Toure was nicknamed “Farka” (which means ‘donkey’) by his parents in respect of his tenacity and stubbornness, presumably in managing to survive. He found international success relatively late in life and was still working as a sound engineer until 1980. The British record label, World Circuit (of subsequent Buena Vista Social Club fame) took him on board in 1990 and the rest as they say is history.

After the amazing success of “Talking Timbuktu” with Ry Cooder, Ali practically gave up his international career and went back to being a farmer on the banks of the River Niger, where he felt happiest. It was five years before he cut another album, 1999’s “Niafunké” and Ali refused to leave his village, let alone his country, so World Circuit built a studio on his land and recorded the album there!

A few years after that a French film crew went to find Ali in his village and shot a documentary about his life on the farm, interspersed with impromptu footage of him playing music. This absorbing film, shot by Marc Huraux and called simply “A Visit to Ali Farka Touré”, has been re-released on the Digital Classics label and can be found on their website or on Amazon, etc. It’s beautifully shot and really gives you a feel for what grounded this great guitarist in the soil of Mali. This next track was recorded not long before he died of bone cancer and is a duet with the great Malian kora player Toumani Diabate; it’s called “Ai Ga Bani”.

10 "Ai Ga Bani" - Ali Farka Touré - '2006 BBC Radio 3 Awards for World Music'

From Mali to South Africa now and probably the most famous acapella group ever to come of out Africa, the legendary Ladysmith Black Mambazo, survivors of the apartheid era who shot to fame after being featured on Paul Simon’s “Graceland”. Like Ali Farka Toure they express their love for the land and agriculture on their new album called “Songs from a Zulu Farm" (out on the Proper Records label). This track is typical of their vocal style and is all about “Uthekwane” - an ugly bird who believes in her own beauty.

11 "Uthekwane" - Ladysmith Black Mambazo - 'Songs from a Zulu Farm'

Complete change of direction now: Ever wondered what you’d get if you crossed Bach with Brazilian Baile Funk? Ophex has . . .

12 "Bach Goes Baile Funk" - Ophex


13 "El Toche y La Cotorra" - Sexteto Tabalá - 'Con Un Solo Pie'

Ok, that last track was called “El Toche y La Cotorra” (‘The Bird and the Parrot’) by the afro-colombian palenqueros Sexteto Tabalá (it’s from their album “Con Un Solo Pie” on the OM Producciones label). They play a mix of bullerengue, porro and baile cante as well as son palenque music, which is related to - but distinct from - the more famous Cuban son: there are no guitars, or tres, and the double bass is replaced by the tumba drum and the marimbula (similar to the marumba box of jamaican mento). In fact the cultural traditions of the area of San Basilio de Palenque have been considered so important that the entire region and its traditions have been declared a “Master Piece of Oral Heritage” by UNESCO in 2005.

Now Colombia is bursting with unbelievable rhythms and musical traditions, the most famous of which is ‘Cumbia’ from the country’s Caribbean coast. So, let’s take some cumbia and drop it thousands of miles away in New Zealand in the hands of the Batucada Sound Machine and see what happens: it changes, it becomes... “Cumbia del Cambio” . . . !

14 "Cumbia del Cambio" - Batucada Sound Machine


15 "El Choclo" - Fabricio Gatta

16 Voice Over 2

Welcome back. Before the break you heard the beautiful tango “El Choclo”, performed by the Argentinian pianist Fabricio Gatta.

Next up, just to prove that it’s not just fado that comes out of Portugal this is “Celta 1” by Trilhos off their album “Avariação

17 "Celta 1" - Trilhos - 'Avariação'

So, a shout out going to Michael de Schryver over in Ghent - hope you’re enjoying the show so far; if not then this should buck you up: More Belgian brass madness - Va Fan Fahre’s first tune off their second album (“Zet Je Maar”): This is “Mashki”!

18 "Mashki" - Va Fan Fahre - 'Zet Je Maar'


19 "Celick Comak" - Gevende

The last track was from Turkish psychedelic folk band Gevende entitled “Celick Comack” who sing their songs in a language they’ve completely invented themselves;

Following that, we’ve got their stablemates on Pasion Turca roster, pioneers of Turkish psychedelia and an amazing live band, Istanbul’s very own Baba Zula. Imagine if Hawkwind and Gong had been genetically transplanted into Asia Minor replete with electric saz, mind-zapping visuals and costumes, psychebelly dancers and some heavy-weight moustaches that make even Lemmy look like he’s only got teenager’s bumfluff on his top lip! Look for them on the Doublemoon record label. This track is called “Abdulcanbaz”.

20 "Abdulcanbaz" - Baba Zula

You think all world music is made elsewhere”? Then think again. Birmingham is just dripping with great musicians brimming with ideas. Handsworth’s Rob Carvalho has offered us up this Kizomba track: “One More Dance”.

21 "One More Dance" - Carvalho

Staying in Britain, London-based American composer Shawn Lee once again brings out his Ping Pong Orchestra to record another album on the Ubiquity label, this time called “World of Funk”. Featuring Clutchy Hopkins and Dengue Fever’s Cambodian singer, Chhom Nimol this is “Ghost In The Rain”:

22 "Ghost In The Rain" - Shawn Lee’s Ping Pong Orchestra - 'World of Funk'

I’m sorry, I can’t resist it anymore - I jus’ gots to go back to Colombia! Right back to the village of San Basilio de Palenque and the Thornato remix version of “Sepiterna” by the great afro-colombian singer Petrona Martinez - la reina del bullerengue

23 "Sepiterna" - Petrona Martinez (Thornato rmx)

Last week I played a strange sexy tune called “Jungle Fever” by the Belgian based afro-Colombian band, Maguaré, which got some good feedback from you guys out there. The singer of that band, Paola Marquez, is also in another band on the Zephyrus label called ‘El Sur’, but they come from a very different Latin American tradition, that of the nueva trova. This is a beautiful ballad entitled “Canción de las Simples Cosas” - Song of the Simple Things . . . Esto es para ti, Marangita...

24 "Canción de las Simples Cosas"  - El Sur - 'Música con Fundamento'


25 "Living Stone" - Sierra Leone Refugee All Stars - 'Rise and Shine'

You’ve just heard the Sierra Leone Refugee All Stars from last year’s hit album on Cumbancha, ”Rise and Shine”, and a track called “Living Stone” - geddit? We are the Living Stone? Livingstone? “Livingstone, I presume”… Well, I enjoyed the pun, thanks guys.

Swiss based, but Conakry Guinean-born chanteuse Macire Sylla’s latest album ‘Talitha’ on the French Pure Son’g label is full of bubbling grooves and catchy afro-pop. This is a new version of an older song of hers called “Aidara”.

26 "Aidara" - Maciré Sylla - 'Talitha'

Getting near to the end of the show now. I’ve been receiving some really interesting releases and pre-releases from Jamaica recently and very much ‘hot off the press’ is Courtney John’s album “Made In Jamaica” and the wonderful lovers’ rock tune (with a great video to boot - check it out on YouTube), “Lucky Man”.

27 "Lucky Man" - Courtney John - 'Made In Jamaica'

*** Well thanks for listening. See you all next week!

I’m going to leave you with this ‘interesting’ little track. Enjoy the rest of the evening!

28 "Don’t Worry, Be Happy"-  Bobby McFerrin, Cobra, Beanie Man


No Longer Poles Apart

Tagged with: Poland Polish Dagadana Folkoperacja Mariusz Kus Mosaic Paluki Hambawenah Esus Maria Pomianowska Chopin Beltaine Warsaw Music Pakt Transetnika Ritmodelia Ostroda Folk Krotoszyn Warsaw Glyn Phillips Review indialucia

No Longer Poles Apart

Over the last few years Poland seems to have come out of the cold and entered into the World Music market with some vigour. At the globe’s leading world music trade fair, Womex, last year, Polish artists were well represented by agencies and musicians. This is a round up of some of the CDs, DVDs and samplers that I picked up or have been sent to me.

First out the bag is:

Dagadana - “Malenka” (Offside Records 005; 2010)

"If this is the new face of Poland, then I want to kiss it."

This a confident album full of beguiling, quirky tunes from these three young Poles/Ukrainians, mixing a seeming endless amount of genres and influences into wonderfully accessible music. It’s almost pop music sometimes, at others art house, with warps and wefts spun from jazz, tango, hip-hop, film noir, funk, samba, traditional musics, classical . . . If this is the new face of Poland, then I want to kiss it.

Sadly I can’t understand any of the sleeve notes (apart from the only lines in English: “Friendship can cross borders and overcome obstacles. Poland Ukraine. Love and music. Dreams do come true!”), but there’s lots of lovely pictures of children’s toys like plastic dinosaurs, a wind-up crocodile, a wooden tortoise, a child’s windmill and Thunderbirds dolls to go with the sight of Daga, Dana and Miko rolling about on the floor hitting each other with a plastic mallet and having a lot of fun! And that shines through the music. Very enjoyable album.

Maqama - “Maqamat” (sampler CD)

Dark rock/metal stuff. Why, oh why do agents persist in sending us stuff that is not relevant? Just because you live in the world and record music, doesn’t necessarily make it ‘world music’. And please don’t engage me in the old world music definition debate. Just accept it. Send this to Kerrang instead.

Folkoperacja - (7 song sampler)

Folkoperacja are a 6-piece band (drums, bass, guitar, vocals, accordion, flute, violin) from Slaskie in Poland. This is a 7 song sampler as they’re are still working on their album. Overall it sounds like 1980s folk-rock - nothing wrong with that (anyone remember South Yorkshire’s “Oscar The Frog”?). Some tunes are very much in an old school rock vein, others with a more middle-european folk feel and some a mixture of both with ska and reggae undertones. Competently enough played, quite enjoyable, probably a good pub band and be fun for festivals. I’m slightly confused as to whether they are in fact the same band as “Bartnitzky” - the musicians all look the same and have the same name, have the same management. I’ll put a link to them as well anyway.

So far, so good. But then I realise I have been given a second CD by Folkoperacja. The omens aren’t good: it’s a Christmas CD. Against a background of computer generated snowflakes our six heroes come wading through a waist-high computer-generated snowfall in black shades, white shirts, black ties and black leather jackets. Smiling. It’s not a good look. Like a 90s boy band with a dodgy manager. The guy on the left looks like they’ve brought their old science teacher along for the photoshoot. Hmmm.  The CD titles translate as: “Festive Folkoperacja. Carols and Pastorals. Highlander Folk Screen”. No I don’t know either (good old Google Translate!). But fair enough, some traditional Polish Folk Carols for Christmas. Let’s give it a whirl.

Oh dear. Oh, deary, deary me! I’m guessing they are supposed to be traditional carols and songs and I can hear a penny-whistle somewhere, but it’s all set against a background of cheesy rock, funk-lite, electro, pseudo hip-hop, africanesque guitars, and quasi-Chris Rea mood music . . . Oh dear. Don’t get me wrong, I am not at all a ‘purist’. I’m all for mixing it up and seeing what happens. But, sometimes ‘this’ happens. And it’s not good. Maybe you have to be Polish to know the tunes, understand the history and culture and to appreciate the lyrics in their new ‘world’ settings. But it’s not for me.

Hold on a moment. I’ve worked it out. I get it now! Have you ever been to a family do at Christmas and someone gets out one of those mass-produced, Tesco checkout CDs of ‘Brendan O’Somebodyorother’s Irish Christmas’ and sticks it on to get everybody ‘in the mood’ - a few standards, a few singalongs, some dreary laments . . . Well, it’s like that. But Polish. No, I’ve never been to a family do like that either, but I’ve seen it on the telly. Honestly, it’s bargain bin music. Go to any charity shop in the UK and you will see racks of cassettes of this type of stuff, usually next to the cardboard box full of old vinyl - you know Classical records, 1970s TOTP compilations and Val Doonican. Maybe Folkoperacja make a killing recording and selling this type of stuff in Poland - maybe it even supports their ‘real’ music, who knows. But, please, I’m begging you: don’t bring it to Womex with you next year!
Booking: Mariusz Kús at 4 Events Music Agency (

And just to show that I really haven’t got anything against fusions in world music (good ones!), this next album proves my point:

Mosaic - “Ludo Va Va”

"a beautiful album: deftly arranged, inspiringly performed"

Mosaic fuse traditional Polish songs with oriental instruments, creating “a remarkable marriage of Slavic wilderness and melancholy, oriental mystery, sounds of nature, urban chaos, the old world order and contemporary eclecticism”. On this album, “Ludo Va Va” (which translates as ‘folk-ish’), the five musicians play a bewildering combination of medieval fiddles, swedish and galician bagpipes, dulcimer, oud, mandola, flutes, ney, recorders, duduk, tampura, udu, darbuka, tombak, foot bass, frame drums and hurdy gurdy as well as wonderful vocals. It really is a beautiful album; well thought out, deftly arranged, inspiringly performed. Very much recommended.
Management: Maciej Szajkowski,

Paluki Quartet - Lilija (Sampler)

"And what a strange offering this is."

This is a five track, home-burnt CD (recorded at a concert in Wagrowiec in July 2010) with no liner notes, apart from a sentence which says: “music based on the traditional melodies from Wielkopolska region”.   And what a strange offering this is.   The first track “Lilija” seems to be a traditional melody formed from multilayering bagpipes and some form of zither/dulcimer/harp (I think!), with a saxophone played in an almost Caribbean jazz style, very muted drums and a bass guitar that sounds like it’s been recorded with an old towel stuffed into the speaker, and quite possibly some other instruments. Not what I expected, but quite jolly nonetheless.

The second track, Chopin’s “Wiosna” (Spring), is meditative with lovely haunting saxophone, vibraphone, double bass and violin. And then, “Polka od Szczuczyna, a folkdance piece using, I don’t know, is it a clavichord, some form of dulcimer, I’m not sure - I’m at the limit of my knowledge here; but very enjoyable anyway. “Siwy Baran, Czarny Baran” (Shiva Ram, Black Sheep) is much more safely in jazz territory - alto sax over ¾ time, bass and vibes. In the words of the Fast Show’s Louis Balfour: “Hmm, nice… Jazz!”

And to finish: “Swieci Miesiunc” (Holy Month). What’s this? Country Blues harmonica, dodgy vocals, some shuffling badly recorded slightly out of time drums and that strange bass guitar played inside a sock draw; oh, and now a not so cool vibraphone solo. Guys, honestly, you should have stopped at Track 4. I was ready to condone the idiosyncracies up to that point. What an anticlimax. Still, some nice bits beforehand.

Hambawenah - “Turururu”

Hambawenah are a much more traditionally orientated folk band. They’ve been around since 1996 and have long concentrated on the work songs and recreational music of the Polish bargemen who use their rafts to transport timber and other goods up and down the River Vistula. Researching this lifestyle through oral traditions, ethnographic sources and archives, they have invested much work in trying to preserve the original melodies, dialects and characteristic jargon of the bargees. Although they do use bass, electric guitar and drumkit alongside the violins and accordion, and you can hear elements of jazz and rock sensibilities, it is done sympathetically and to make the music “more attractive to contemporary listeners, yet not depriving it of its folk character”.

The root part of their name (hamba) translates as ‘journey’. The musicians obviously feel a great affinity to this folk culture and to their specific chosen field and this comes across on the album which has all the pride and assurance of the current generation of Welsh and Scottish folk bands. “Turururu” sweeps you along with the band as they travel along the Vistula of their music.
Management: Grzegorz Switalski

Esus - (4 track sampler)

"a sort of Polish Piazzolla"

Esus is a four piece ensemble that grew out of the Polish Chamber Orchestra AUKSO in 2007 (and not to be confused with Esus the French ‘Black Metal’ band!). They mix classical music with jazz, having replaced the standard cello with a double bass and included percussion and electric instruments alongside the two violins as well. Esus reminded me of a sort of Polish Piazzolla both in terms of the use of chamber instruments and the rich array of musical influences incorporated - luckily none of it feels forced.

I must admit though, the first track, “Wirus” (Virus) I found a bit impenetrable at times, although there are plenty of opportunities to play ‘spot the quote’ as the track rushes around from one musical thought to another - it’s jazz, baby, just not as you expect it. “Riffballabiff” after a dark start turns into a cheerful, snappy swing piece to get your toes tapping. I think track 3, “Przebudzinie” (Awakening), is my favourite piece - electric guitar joins them with shades of Phil Lynott and Gary Moore’s “Parisienne Walkways” over tango and bossa rhythms - very enjoyable indeed. To finish off “Dla Zoneczki” (For My Wife) is gentle, wistful and pretty. I had to listen to this sampler a couple of times before I tuned in to what they were about, but it was worth it.

Maria Pomianowska & Friends: “Chopin on 5 Continents”

"a real labour of love and beautifully executed ... a marvellous album"

Now, here’s an idea! Take one world famous Polish composer steeped in the folk/classical oeuvre of the Mazovia region and perform his music on the traditional instruments - and in the styles - of some of the richest musical cultures to be found around the globe. This is a real labour of love by multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and composer Maria Pomianowska and beautifully executed. Classical music is definitely not my strong point and Chopin to me was always just another ‘old dead white man’; but . . . this just brings it alive. I was able to come to terms with the compositions because the unusual instrumentation forces you from the familiar settings you expect to hear these pieces in and gives you a fresh set of ears to hear through. A marvellous album - and I say this as a complete outsider to Chopin.

Imagine Chopin’s Prelude “Raindrop” (Op 28, No 5) against an African backing of balaphone, djembe, kora, ngoni, beat-box vocals and children’s choir, or the Etude “Chanson de L’Adieu” (Op 10, No 3) sung in Chinese (don’t ask me which dialect!) against the bowed er-hu, gongs, dulcimer, harps and dizi (transverse flute), or even the Krakowiak Rondo (Op 14) performed with the Siberian input of Jews’ Harp, and Khoomei (Tuvan throat singing). And yet, it works!

The album places the Largo from Fantasie Impromptu in India, the Waltz (Op 64, No 2) in Andalucia, the Nocturne (Op 9, No 2) in Brazil and even gets on the steamer all the way to New Orleans for the “Minute Waltz”; Persia, Japan, Arabia, Bulgaria, Armenia and the Balkans all get visited by Chopin until we arrive back home in Poland with the song “A Young Girl’s Wish (Op 74, No 1).

"The performances are exemplary and the instruments fascinating"

Pomianowska isn’t purist either in the selection of instruments for each track since, for instance, the Australian didgeridoo appears on the Siberian track and her beloved Polish suka appears on 11 tracks altogether. But each interpretation has its own distinct flavour and it’s a feast for the ears. The performances are exemplary and the instruments themselves are fascinating: the Armenian duduk (an oboe that sounds like a cross between a saxophone and a cello), the Tuvan doshpuluur (a trapezoidal plucked instrument), the Iranian kemanche (spike fiddle), the Polish hurdy-gurdy, the Balkan kaval (end-blown flute), the Iranian setar, the Bulgarian gadulka, the Slovakian koncovka (a shepherd’s duct-blown overtone fipple flute) . . .

Such an array of sounds. Riff, daff, zarb, ney, saz, oud, shawm, sarangi, koto, cajon, tabla, morin-hur to name but a few, and all explained in the accompanying booklet. There are three special Polish instruments here too: the Miedzyleska Pipe is an experimental instrument made from a wooden tube; the Fiddle of Plock is a copy of a 16th C birchwood instrument uncovered by archaeologists; and the Suka of Bilgoraj - reconstructed on the basis of nothing more than an 1895 watercolour painting, carved out of a single piece of cherrywood and played using the lateral touch of a fingernail.

"This is a great album. Impressive on so many levels."

I didn’t know what to make of the album at first. A Polish composer I knew nothing about, a brave (almost foolhardy) attempt to assemble a ridiculous amount of musicians and often obscure instruments from all over the world, before even mentioning arranging the music for them, and then to market it with a picture of Chopin sporting dreadlocks! Seriously! (I even met the girl who supplied the original locks whilst in Copenhagen last year!). And yet, this is a great album. Impressive on so many levels. Even if you don’t like (or don’t think you like) Classical music or Chopin in particular, this could just be the album that changes your mind. Hat’s off to Ms Pomianowska!

"Hat’s off to Ms Pomianowska!"

Beltaine - (DVD)

"high-octane performances"

If you feel more comfortable with British Celtic folk-rock bands then you’ll feel immediately at home with globe-trotting Polish band Beltaine, who mix traditional Celtic tunes and instruments with a more modern sound and global instrumentation. With a great reputation as a live band, Beltaine deliver high-octane performances and were nominated for the Top Celtic Rock Band in the the Irish Music Awards in 2010.

Nu - PL (sampler - various artists)

"full of surprising stuff!"

This 17 track sampler is - as its name suggests - a glimpse into the contemporary state of Polish world music. It is full of surprising stuff! Two of the artists here I have covered already in separate (and highly complementary) reviews above: Mosaic and Maria Pomianowska. Highly regarded folk outfit Transkapela’s track “Joc Dans” is led by fiddle and a strange buzzing flute over drone guitar, bass drum and bell. Swoja Droga (translates as “His Way”) offer haunting jazzy contemporary folk (with very effective spooky bass clarinet) which contrasts with Lao Che’s folkpunk. Nina Stiller’s sophisticated dubby electro-folk mixes arthouse with lush balladry and Middle Eastern seasonings. The Village Kollektiv similarly mash-up jazz, dub and trance with folk whereas Trebunie Tutki (Poland’s oldest folk group) are a family coming from the Podhale mountain region; famed for their collaborations with the Jamaican Twinkle Brothers amongst others, here they perform a more typically East European piece using violin and cymbalom over a driving rhythm.

"a delicious menu"

The upclose voice of Maria Natanson over the dry chuk-chuk of a muted guitar leads us into the next artist: Caci Vorba are a Polish-Ukrainian band that serve up a delicious menu of “Roma Swing” from gypsy, Carpathian and Balkan sources recreating the craziness of a Balkan wedding on traditional instruments such as the Hungarian bracsa, the Turkish kemence, Greek bouzouki and Romanian cobza. Very good indeed! Bubliczki are another Polish folk band that look towards their surrounding cultures for extra inspiration bringing in gypsy, Balkan and klezmer influences to play in a very danceable mix with their Kashubian roots. Orkiestra Sw.Mikolaja (The St Nicholas Orchestra) have been going since 1988 and are often cited as repopularising Polish folk music at a time when it was neglected and considered an irrelevance. The seven musicians use a large array of instruments to create their original and meticulous compositions.

The highly polished, immaculately produced music of singer/violinist Joanna Slowinska is very much at odds with the full-on hip-hop folkpunk of Masala. The dark, biometal neofolk sound of Pyschoteka mixes closely harmonised female vocals against some very dark swirling organ, pounding drums and heavy bass. Still in the heavily experimental, Gadajaca Tykwa’s track “Mantra” pits didgeridoo, khoomei throat singing and pulsating balafone against djembe drums, drones, bagpipe-sounding organ in a driving trance track (their name means “Talking Gourd).


And then, joy of joys, hosannah to the highest, I’m in musical heaven! I can’t believe this: I’d been trying to find a certain track I heard a few years ago on YouTube with no luck whatsoever and then, out of nowhere, it turns up on a Polish compilation CD: Michał Czachowski’s Indialucia and the spinetingling combination of Spanish rumba flamenco with Indian sitar, tabla and syllabic percussion that is “Raag’n’Olé”. I cannot praise this tune highly enough. Even if it’s the only one they ever make, for me it will be sufficient to justify their existence. Speechless. Just listen.

To finish this Polish sampler album, the ‘double duo’ quartet of the Lutoslawski Piano Duo and the Hob-Beats percussion duo come together to create the band Kwadrofonik. Their track on this compilation is “Obere-kuku” - which I can best attempt at describing as like a Philip Glass style piece of jazz minimalism.Żywiołak/_/Psychoteka

Warsaw Music Packt - (Sampler CD & DVD)

“he who does not get on the tram sports a moustache"

This is another sampler from the same people that put together the “Nu-PL” one above. Some of the artists are repeated here (with different tracks), but there are some more new ones to me.

The Prusinowski Trio play typical village music in the style of the wandering musicians that were once common from Tadjikistan to Brittany, using violin, bass, small drum, shawm and flute; as opposed to Pablopavo i Ludziki, who is at the other end of the spectrum with a sound that is more urban and owes more to hip-hop and dub than folk.

The Warsaw Village Band are probably the best known of the Polish bands on the world music scene, having successfully reinterpretated the music of the Central Mazovia region updating the sound whilst remaining faithful to the performance styles.

Cukunft (Yiddish for ‘Future’) are a four-piece that perform and reinterpret pre-war Jewish music amidst their own spontaneous original compositions, for instance mixing rock’n’roll electric guitar with klezmer clarinets over dancehall reggae inspired percussion.

Vavamuffin as the name implies is a Warsovan raggamuffin band with a crazy live reputation all over Europe. As their publicity has it Vavamuffin is a tram linking Warsaw with Kingston - “he who does not get on the tram sports a moustache”(!). Uh? What’s wrong with moustaches . . . Poland has many fine examples.

Czessband are an acoustic band from Warsaw that mix up folk music from all over the world: Bohemian polka, Argentine tango, the drive of American bluegrass, Oriental themes, Balkan melodies, Hungarian stomp and Polish energy. Here they play an adrenaline-pumping czardas on some crazy instrumentation.

The music of Roberto Delira & Kompany has been described in many ways: folkrock, heavy folk, burdonrick, dronpunk, psychofolk all of which hint at Robert Jarowski’s dark arrangements of Baltic folk performed on violins, baraban, hurdy-gurdies, hybrid experimental instruments and even his recreation of an archaeologically recovered find.

The terenNowy Project is an open collective of musical artists who create spontaneous pieces, a sort of free music expression. And that’s about all I can comment on that one.

Ritmodelia - “It’s Not Batucada!"

"a wealth of ideas ... excellently and inventively played"

Polish percussion band, Ritmodelia’s debut album is an exploration of what the 10-piece outfit can achieve with nothing but a studio full of percussion and a pile of rhythms. Ironically, there are actually a couple of batucada-based tracks on here, but that’s not surprising as the group grew out of the fascination with Brazilian street samba of a number of Warsaw based percussionists. They soon found that creating their own rhythms and combinations was far more satisfying musically than slavishly copying batucada.

There’s a wealth of ideas contained within this album and it’s excellently and inventively played by the percussionists; but I can’t help feeling that an entire album of it is a little much to sit down and listen to at home - and I say that as a percussionist myself (and long-standing sambista). Unless you’re actually performing the music yourself, or at least watching it unfold in a live situation, it can start to lose its hold on your concentration and imagination. The pieces are almost all played using combinations of Brazilian samba instruments (surdo, agogo, tamborim, chocalho, snare, repinique, cuica, reco-reco, whistle, etc, etc), admittedly with the addition of djembe, chekere, karignan and other assorted hand percussion. This lends each track a certain sameness of overall sound, even when the rhythms are distinct. After a few tracks my attention was starting to wander and I found myself wanting to hear something even more original in the sonic texture.

But that’s just my opinion. As an introduction as to what these talented percussionists are capable of, and a calling card for their live shows, it’s a good album and well produced. But I’d just like to see them stretch their creative capabilities with far more variety on the next one. Their members have an enviable background in different percussive styles - afro-cuban, african, folk, rock, pop, reggae, jazz, classical, hip hop, dancehall, funk, soul - not to mention being integral members of some of Poland’s best young bands outside of Ritmodelia, so there’s no paucity of skill or inspiration amongst them. Come on guys, show us what you’re really capable of.

As well as selling their album on a wide variety of sites (see link below for more details) they are also offering free samples from the tracks as ringtone downloads. Surprise your friends with a pocketful of rhythms!

Ostroda - (sampler - various artists)

The Ostroda Folkowo Festival started as a festival in 2006 to promote the local folk music and to include some of the bands from Director Marius Kuz’s mountain homeland in the Beskidy region. After five years it now features bands not just from all over Poland but from as far afield as Kenya, Nepal and the US. The sampler to accompany the festival includes a large varied selection of styles and artists split into electric and acoustic groupings over 2 CDs. The festival is usually held in June - further details from the link below: or Director Marius Kuz’s events company

Krotoszyn Folk Festival - (sampler - various artists)

This festival held usually in August has a very international leaning. The sampler contains tracks from the Heptones (Jamaica), Russkaja (Austria/Russia), The Dhoad Gypsies of Rajasthan (India), Huun Huur Tu (Tuva), Mahala Rai Banda (Romania), Fanfara Kalashnikov (Germany), Mu (Portugal) and the Czech bands Gipsy.CZ and Al. Yaman; Polish bands represented include Mosaic, Beltaine, Bubliczki, Tolhake, Psio Crew, Kroke, Kwartet Jorgi and Papadram. For more info contact the link below.

Finally, Warsaw is trying for European Capital of Culture 2016.
For any more info on this, check out:

Glyn Phillips

Uguru - World Music from Portugal

Tagged with: Uguru Portugal Fado Amelia Muge Ana Lains Ana Moura Citania Gnomon Jorge Fernando Karl Seglem Laura D'Alma Maria Berasarte Pedro Moutinho Rão Kyao Rodrigo Leão Fabia Rebordão Cristina Pato review world music Glyn Phillips

 Just listening to a sampler from one of Portugal's leading world music Management and Booking Agents, Uguru.  They are actively promoting little known sides of Portuguese music that live in the shadow of the overwhelming national music, fado, as well as promoting music from outside their borders. 

"Portugal has been pouring out rivers of good music over the last few years"

Portugal has been pouring out rivers of good music over the last few years and is definitely worth checking out.  Having said that, on this sampler most of the works are what I would term 'midnight music' - alone, in the velvet of the night, to dimmed lights and with closed eyes - and that inevitably includes fado as well as ballads.

"beautiful songs shot through with sadness and longing"

I'm particularly enjoying the work of Amelia Muge who sings beautiful songs shot through with sadness and longing "Quem a Janela" and "Nevoeiro", as does the confusingly named group Laura d'Alma (which contains not a single women named Laura, being a band fronted by singer Catia Oliveira).  

I would also recommend the Spanish speaking, Basque-born Maria Berasarte singing the tango-esque "Cosas Que No Sé" and the more traditional "Dos Pajarillos".  Ana Lains also contributes two tracks, the sparse voice and piano of the haunting "Parolagem da Vida" and the definitively Portuguese sounds of "Não Sou Nascida do Fado".  

"stripped-bare honesty and integrity"

For the men, the award winning fadista, Pedro Moutinho, sings the jaunty title song of his latest album," Um Copo de Sol" as well as bringing a stripped-bare honesty and integrity to his treatment of "Vou-te Levando em Segredo".  Moving away from song, the legendary Portuguese bansuri flautist and saxophonist Rão Kyao is worth checking out on "Na Graça".

In the equally legendary Rodrigo Leão (Cinema Ensemble, Madredeus, Sétima Legião), Portugal has an inspiring, idiosyncratic composer of international level whose name can be mentioned in the same sentence as Michael Nyman and Ryuichi Sakamoto.  ("Voltar" and "Vida Tão Estranha").

"a truly sumptuous duet on "Vida"

The fabulous singer and composer Fernando Jorge teams up with Fábia Rebordão for a truly sumptuous duet on "Vida", which also features the guitarwork of Custodio Castelo.  Jorge then appears alongside Ana Moura on another track "Por Um Dia".

The sampler rounds off with offerings of late night jazz from Karl Seglem ("Portugal"), two tracks by Citânia (one featuring Galician bagpiper Cristina Pato), and the bagpipes and drums of Gnomon on "Alvura" amongst other tracks.

I'll be blogging some more on the wealth of Portuguese talent in the weeks to come...

Glyn Phillips

Message from Brazil6 - Rappin' Da Rua!

Tagged with: Jota 3 J3 Rap Hiphop Vitoria Espirito Santo Rap Rasta Sou Da Rua Rappin Hood Racionais MC Gabriel Pensador Marcelo D2 MC Marechal Cidade Negra Ja Rule Reggae Tessa Burwood

 Last night I met up with Jota 3 ( - a hard working and well respected MC, singer and producer, originally from Rio, who was brought up in Vitoria. Totally chilled out and full of good vibes. He’s worked alongside some of Brazil's best known hip hop and reggae artists, including Racionais MCs, Gabriel Pensador, Marcelo D2, MC Marechal and Cidade Negra, as well as Ja Rule. He's just returned from Barcelona, where he recorded his latest album “Rap Rasta”.

The coolest thing about “Rap Rasta” - apart from the unabashedly positive, rootsy vibe and quite natural production, is the way Jota 3 has chosen to distribute his work. The album is available for R$6 (about £2.50) at news stands across Espirito Santo, along with a double sided fold out fanzine called “Sou da Rua” (I'm From The Street), which features articles about local street artists, an interview with Rappin' Hood  ( - who is also the special guest on “Rap Rasta” - along with Jota 3's biography, and information on the hip hop and music workshops he carries out in state schools across Vitoria.

This is a truly indie hip hop way to get one's work out into the world. Jota 3 will be touring Europe again next year, if I have any small say in it, he's coming to Brum for sure!

Tessa Burwood for

(Photos of street art and graffiti in Vitoria, by Tessa)

Message from Brazil5 - Espirito Santo & Fenova

Tagged with: Espirito Santo Sebrae Instituo Quorum Espirito Mundo capixaba Fenova Nova Almeida Ticumbi Folia de Reis Baile de Congo Sao Benedito Conceição da Barra Tessa Burwood

 "There's a phrase I've been hearing a lot recently around these parts - "Eu vou summer do mapa!" (“I’m disappearing from the map!”). Well, as far as Salvador's concerned, that's just what I did. I caught the first bus I could out of town to Vitoria, in the State of Espirito Santo, (400 miles to the South). Three years ago I was leaving Seville almost as quickly, in a taxi shared with two lovely Brazilians - Aline and Berto. We spent the night in Granada together, wandering into the Boogaloo Club, playing snooker, negotiating spontaneous mountain trips with slightly surprised and unassuming students. The next morning, Berto said, "One day, you'll come and stay at mine," and that's just what I've ended up doing.

Berto works for SEBRAE ( - a national governmental organisation that exists to support and encourage the growth of small businesses. Specialising in the area of tourism and culture, Berto worked with Aline Yasmin from Instituto Quorum ( to start up the Espirito Mundo project ( three years ago, which aims to strengthen relations between the cultural production of the state of Espirito Santo and their expressions in other cultures around the world. Today he's organising the office barbecue, which also seems quite stressful, so I left him to it. Instituto Quorum is a third sector, not-for-profit cultural production company that works to promote "musica capixaba" (music from Espirito Santo), as well as bringing music from all over the world to the state.

"Here", smiles Aline, (who founded the Institute back in October 2005), ”We’re a family, we laugh and cry together, give each other lots of support, and create really beautiful projects."

Right now, Aline, Samya and Zappie Pimental are in the final stages of organising Fenova (Festival Internacional de Musica de Nova Almeida) - a festival held in February each year. 50,000 people come together for five days at Igreja dos Reis Magos in Serra, Nova Almeida, about 20 miles North of the state capital, Vitoria. The church stands on the site where evangelist missionary Brás Lourenço began preaching to the native Tupiniquin tribe back in 1557, in a palm leaf hut. During the day, workshops on everything from baroque violin to Brazilian piano, trumpet and folklore within education are held in the church, along with orchestra rehearsals with children from local schools.

During the night, ‘musica erudita’ (erudite music, which I suppose equates to what we'd call 'high art'), popular and folkloric celebrations are performed on a series of stages in and around the church. On the closing night, the children's orchestra comes together to perform the piece they've spent five days learning together. The lineup for February 2011 is yet to be confirmed, but the 2010 event featured the folkloric performances of 'Ticumbi' and 'Folia de Reis'.

Otherwise known as Baile de Congo de São Benedito (St. Benedict's Congo Dance), Ticumbi is a traditional celebration that takes place each New Year in the town of Conceição da Barra, which is further North (near the border of the States of Espirito Santo and Bahia). Afro Brazilian legend has it that o Rei de Bamba (King Bamba) asks o Rei de Congo (King Congo), for his daughter's hand in marriage. King Congo is not best pleased, and they have a big old battle. Somehow, this is all mixed up with a competition to see who is more devout to St. Sebastian - in the grand Brazilian tradition of plural religious symbolism, which has already fried my small brain. This is commemorated with a musical procession through Conceição da Barra. Folia de Reis is a traditional Catholic procession of the Three Wise Men brought to Brazil by the Portuguese, and still practiced widely in both countries.

FENOVA is a massive event to organise, which is why Instituto Quorum (whose earnest tagline is 'Organising with Responsibility') is one of only three cultural institutes across Brazil chosen by the government as professional representatives to meet regularly in Brasilia at the Ministry of Culture. As well as being a great responsibility to act as an ethical voice for Brazilian culture, it is also recognition of the Institute's best practice. I know this may sound like the naive point of view of a foreigner who sees things from the outside through rose-tinted spectacles, but cultural production here in Brazil (and especially here at Institute Quorum) is of a very high calibre, and I think the UK has a great deal to learn from it. Attitudes are much more proactive, there's more of a 'can do' culture. I asked Aline about this yesterday, explaining how things work in the UK, and the recent changes in the Arts Council.

She was pretty forthright in her response: "Brazil has always been in crisis, so we just get on with it. There's always a way, it's always a battle, but you just have to believe in what you do, and things turn out well."

Instituto Quorum plan to open an internship next year for a student from the UK, to work within their organisation. If I were back at uni now, I'd jump at the chance."

Tessa Burwood for

Photos by Zappie Pimental

Message from Brazil4 - National Samba Day

Tagged with: Samba Bahia Brazil Salvador Pelourinho Mercado Cultural Sinho Ary Barroso Na Baixa do Sapateiro Luis Monteiro de Costa Black Style Chuva de Perereca Tessa Burwood world music pagode

December 2nd was O Dia Nacional do Samba (National Samba Day). I missed it, having just arrived here, and wanted to find out more about it, so I've been doing some research, and asking around. Its origins and motives make an interesting comparison to the Mercado Cultural music festival.

Mercado Cultural is a really interesting concept for a festival – the culmination of a year-round caravan of musicians, producers, managers and cultural representatives from various genres, who travel throughout Brazil and abroad, to perform, discuss and disseminate their work.  The aim is to explore the challenges of maintaining a truly fruitful intercultural dialogue. Beyond race and language, this caravan also unites people across the most obvious, yet nuanced and difficult barrier we face today – the socioeconomic divide.

Here in Brazil, this divide is much more difficult to cross, although in recent years the expanding middle class has begun to link the two uncomfortably coexisting worlds – the very rich minority, and the penniless majority. Sharing music is a fascinating, at times problematic, but ultimately positive method of bringing these worlds together.  Brazil is, after all, synonymous with samba, and samba evolved from the work songs and spirituals sung by African slaves in Bahia.  As I briefly touched on in the previous article, it was the influx of poor Bahian workers into Rio during the late 19th – early 20th century that first brought samba to the ears of well off, white Brazilians.

Sinhô and his contemporaries became the intermediaries between these two cultures, because they were tacitly accepted by both worlds. That said, a good measure of prejudice has always tempered this upper class fascination with samba.  Sinhô's derogatory comments on Bahian people, and his willingness to appropriate their music while taking the credit, polarise the dividing line between Bahia and Rio, rich and poor, black and white, through cold rejection.

But there is another, more subtle and ultimately sinister way to exclude a culture, and that is to exoticise and objectify it. While Sinhô stole from Bahian samba singers and claimed their songs for himself, while openly criticising what he saw as an uncultured and backward Bahian race, his contemporary and neighbour Ary Barroso described a scene of sexual longing between a white woman from Rio and a dark skinned man from Salvador, in a city he had never seen.  "Na Baixa do Sapateiro" is the story of a woman looking for love in Salvador. She meets a dark skinned Bahian man lazing in the shade in Baixa do Sapateiro, and tries unsuccessfully to seduce him.

Now a busy shopping district between Pelourinho, Saude and Barroquinha, Baixa do Sapateiro was, at one time, the home of an Italian shoe manufacturer – hence the name ('sapateiro' means shoemaker).  It's fame spread throughout Brazil when three cinemas ran there simultaneously, and Ary Barroso (who wrote music for film) presumably identified with the area, despite not setting foot in Bahia, let alone Salvador, until years later. Here's a translation of the samba he wrote:

Bahia, happy dark skinned land,
I miss you like mad!
Our Lord of Bomfim,
Find me another man with dark skin
Just the same, just for me.
In Baixa do Sapateiro
I came across one day,
A lazy dark skinned man from Bahia
I asked him for a kiss, he refused
An embrace, and he just smiled
I asked for his hand
He would not give it
And ran away...
Bahia, happy dark skinned land,
I miss you like mad!
Our Lord of Bomfim,
Find me another man with dark skin
Just the same, just for me.

In the 1940s, this samba's fame spread to the ears of a local councillor in Salvador, whose name was Luis Monteiro da Costa. Inspired by the song – or perhaps frustrated, who knows - he founded O Dia Nacional do Samba (National Samba Day.)  This day falls on December 2nd, and was originally only celebrated in Salvador – in recognition of samba's origin. More recently, it became a national holiday, and is now celebrated across Brazil.

Meanwhile, 'Na Baixa do Sapateiro' entered decisively into the Brazilian canon, interpreted by famous singers like Elis Regina and João Gilberto. It is emblematic of a vision of Bahia repeated in Brazilian popular music – that Bahian people are docile, lazy and sexually available.  Although in the case of this samba, the Bahian man refused such advances, there's something sinister in the air here in Salvador. Sex tourism is rife here, and male prostitution is particularly noticable.

I walk through Terreiro de Jesus in Pelourinho, past the men practicing capoeira in the square and calling out to female tourists.  In Praça da Sé, a leather skinned Italian woman drags a local mixed race guy by the hand into the entrance of a hotel. In Baixa do Sapateiro, I hear music blasting from speakers on a pirate CD salesman's truck: a song from Bahian pagode star Black Style's latest album (eponymous), called "Chuva de Perereca" (‘It’s Raining P**sy’). On the front cover of the CD, Black Style sings to a stadium packed out with screaming female fans. I feel quite embarrassed – more of a prude than I thought  :)

Tessa Burwood for

Message from Brazil 3 - Sunday Afternoon Telly

Tagged with: Brazil World Music Sinho Fala Meu Louro

 This is what a Sunday afternoon in Brazil looks like, through a slightly dodgy gogglebox.  What? This little bird can't always be on the wing, you know what I mean? Plus, if I venture outside in this heat, I may evaporate. Pass the remote.

1) Pastor Jonatas Câmara addresses an enormous congregation at Igreja Evangélica Assembléia de Deus no Amazonas ["The Assembly of God Evangelical Church in Amazonas"], on their very own TV channel.  In defence of  'o dízimo' (an obligatory payment to the church of ten percent of each worshipper's salary), the charismatic Evangelist preacher affirms, "I don't need your money, God doesn't need your money, but we need it for His Work."

On the church's plans for a new mission across the Atlantic:  "Europe is preparing itself for the Antichrist's new global governance. As incredible as it may seem, we are taking God's work to the fallen kingdom that once ruled over Africa.  It's interesting to note that, after all those years that Europe spent over in Africa, it is now African missionaries who are taking God's Word to the land of their former aggressors."

He goes on to tell the story of a church he visited in Spain, where a dwindling congregation divided by infighting and lack of resources was "saved" through his intervention, and the adoption of a Cuban missionary.  "Ten years later, I returned to the same church to find they had payed back their crippling debts, had a united congregation of 150, and had sent 56 missionaries to Africa."  Above Pastor Jonatas's head, the word JESUS is emblazoned in red, and at his feet flashes a telephone number for donations to the church.

2) De Volta Ao Passado ["Return to the Past"] (Rede Recorde)

In front of a live studio audience, the nervous and statuesque Katia from Sergipe is reunited with her first love - Emerson (24), who now works as an analyst in Sao Paulo.  They shared a first kiss at the age of 12, under the watchful eye of Emerson's grandmother, and in spite of Katia's strict upbringing. Life led them in separate directions, and now they're reunited thanks to Rede Recorde's Programa do Gugu.  Emerson's reaction to Katia is pretty ambivalent - maybe it's because she's about two feet taller than him (my mum calls it "small man syndrome").

3) Fluminense v Guarani (Globo)

Globo is by far the most watched channel in Brazil and part of Rede Globo, the largest broadcaster in Latin American, and the fourth largest in the world.  Don't ask me about the football, I have no idea what's going on, all I know is there will be no ad breaks, and that the guy downstairs was so gutted by the score (whatever it was), that he had a little cry. Bless.

4) Meanwhile on 1001 Noites, ["1001 Nights"]  it's teleshopping - just what the magpie ordered. The watches are on sale for four payments of £500 or so each, I wonder what it's like at the call centre - with all those rings on the one hand, how do you explain your chosen purchase? Not really my style, so I flick to…

5) De lá pra cá (TVE) A documentary about Sinhô - also known as 'The King of Samba'. Born in Rio in 1888, he was catapulted to fame during carnival of 1920, with his samba "Fala Meu Louro" ["Talk To Me Blondie'].  At a time when music from Bahia accompanied economic migrants in search of work in "the marvellous city", it was common knowledge that Sinho covered as many songs as he penned.

He was openly prejudiced against people from Bahia - famously saying, "I like Bahia - it's up there and I'm down here." This attitude must have seemed pretty rich to the Bahian musicians who complained he stole their tunes.  In the face of constant accusations of plagiarism, Sinhô remained indignant, and quick-witted: "Samba é como passarinho. É de quem pegar" (Samba is like a little bird. It belongs to whoever catches it.)

(6) Talking of which, check out this video: - perhaps a nod to The King of Samba and his equivocal take on cultural appropriation.

Phew, well there you have it - football, faith, love, shopping, culture and a tiny pinch of cynicism on a sticky hot Sunday afternoon in Salvador, and I didn't even have to go outside. I wonder what time the telenovelas* start...

[* 'telenovelas' = soap operas]

Tessa Burwood for

Festa de Santa Barbara - Photos

Tagged with: Junior Rocha Santa Barbara Salvador Brazil Bahia Rosario dos Pretos Barroquinha Candomble Umbanda Caruru Iansa Ogum Pelourinho orixas Xango

 Here are some photos taken at the annual Festa de Santa Barbara, Pelourinho, Salvador, Brazil, to go with the blog below - "Message from Brazil 2 - Viva Santa Barbara (Que Viva Xangô)" - taken by Junior Rocha.

1 The Sao Francisco Church and crossroads

2 Typical Bahian Costumes

3 A 'bahiana' in typical costume

4 Two more Maes da Santo

5 Young girl in bahian costume

6 Statue of St Lazarus being carried on a bed of flowers

7 Mass in the Square

8 Participants in the procession

9 Participants in the procession

10 The Flag of Santa Barbara

Message from Brazil 2 - Viva Santa Barbara! (Que Viva Xangô!)

Tagged with: Santa Barbara Salvador Brazil Bahia Rosario dos Pretos Barroquinha Candomble Umbanda Caruru Iansa Ogum Oaxaguia Pelourinho orixas Xango

 On December 4th each year, 'soteropolitanos' (people from Salvador) devoted to Catholicism, Evangelism, Candomble, Umbanda and various other religions come together to celebrate A Festa de Santa Barbara - one of the most popular festivals of Salvador's religious calendar. Today's the day, and it's RIDICULOUSLY HOT! I may actually melt, but hearing about the snow back home, reckon I should keep schtum!

The day begins early at 5am with fireworks at dawn, (I missed this part, for some reason), then there's a mass at Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Rosário dos Pretos (Our Lady of the Black People's Rosary), at 7am.

So many people come from across the city to pray that another mass is then held outside in the square. Here, devotees of Santa Barbara are joined by tourists, street vendors, camera crews and reporters, and almost everyone is wearing bright red and white. These are Santa Barbara's colours, and I wish I'd known - I felt a little embarrassed dressed in green and brown!

In Catholic hagiography Saint Barbara was a Greek who was tortured, mutilated and made to walk naked through the streets, and eventually executed by her own father Maximino Dioscoro, after he discovered her conversion to Christianity. On her way to the prison cell, Barbara asked her guards to break off a cherry tree branch that was yet to flower. She spent the days before her death praying and talking to the angels that she saw in her cell, and on the seventh day, the cherry branch burst into bloom. Barbara took this as a sign that she had chosen the right path, and went calmly to her beheading. Legend has it that the moment her head fell from her body under the axe, a beam of bright light or maybe lightning speared her father from above, killing him instantly.

Santa Barbara is the patron saint of firefighters, so naturally the procession takes a pit stop at the fire station in Barroquinha. She also looks after mountaineers and geologists - I guess there aren't any climbing walls or universities en route. As far as I know, revellers and devotees do not take it in turns to slide down the pole, but in my head that's what happens - I may write a letter to the local council and suggest the idea, what do you reckon?

When the procession arrives at Santa Barbara Market, the crowd is served with a traditional candomble dish called caruru. Made from okra, hot peppers, dried shrimp and palm oil, this simple and tasty dish is made in enormous amounts by communities throughout the city in the run up to December 4th, and there are hotly disputed contests to see who can cook the most, as their sign of devotion to the saint.

[Editor’s note: Santa Barbara is however also synonymous with the Warrior God, Xangô, of the Yoruba-derived afro-latin religions Candomble and Umbanda; Xangô’s colours are Red and White and he is also the orixa of Thunder and Lightning and virility, likes okra, and wields weapons such as the sword (like Barbara) and in particular the Double-Headed Axe; Xangô is an incredibly popular orixa (being the god of Music and Dance) especially with latin percussionists!].

Intermingled with the figure of Xangô/Santa Barbara is the Candomble goddess Iansã (orixa of hurricane and change). According to one legend, Iansã was once the wife of the blacksmith Ogum, who served Oxaguiã - a powerful king who reigned over an enormous and much disputed land. At Ogum’s side, Iansã's powerful breath fed the flames of his forge, so that he could make enough arms for King Oxaguiã to win wars against his enemies. When Oxaguiã paid an honorary visit to Ogum, to congratulate him for his war efforts, he fell instantly in love with the beautiful Iansã, and seduced her into leaving her husband to join him in his castle.

When war came again to Oxaguiã's kingdom, he returned to the blacksmith in need of more arms. Ogum protested that without Iansã by his side, forging so many swords would prove impossible, but the king reassured him that he could fix it. Returning home, he made his stolen mistress climb the highest tower of the castle, from where Iansã found the courage to blow so hard that her breath became a wind, before which the entire kingdom lay prostrate, as Ogum set to work above the fires of his now blazing forge, on the other side of the city. Her breath arrived at his forge at exactly the correct amount to fan the flames. The weapons were made, the war was won, and the king was happy. Not happy enough, apparently, to return Iansã to her rightful and deserving husband, but there's something quite refreshing about an ancient legend involving open and complicit relationships, don't you think?

Anyway, the procession is still going on outside, in fact there are several cavalcades of dancers, brass bands and giant puppets parading around Pelourinho - and more red lycra than you could shake your booty at. I'm off across town to get my some hearty food, outside of this craziness - I feel a plate of caruru and a cheeky slide down the fireman's pole coming on!

Tessa Burwood for

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