Leading youth choirs from four continents will descend upon the Royal Albert Hall in London for a unique concert this April. Entitled A Celebration of World Voices, the occasion aims to bring together some of the premier young ensembles from across the globe for musical exchange.
Among the performers are the Soweto-based Mzansi Youth Choir (pictured) who famously performed at the FIFA World Cup opening ceremony in Johannesburg. Sourcing performers from underprivileged areas, it has consistently offered life-changing opportunities for artistic development and its involvement in this project acts as another exciting venture for the highly-talented ensemble, consisting of 45 choristers. The event is part of a wider festival that features a dedicated outreach programme in primary schools across the UK.
Deputy artistic director of the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain, Greg Beardsell, is hopeful that the occasion and its educational programmes can act as a catalyst for further occasions. “We want to play a role in welcoming other cultures to the UK and building bridges to the worldwide choral community. The Royal Albert Hall was the obvious partner, and I’m thrilled that the venue shares our vision for what this festival can achieve.”
A Celebration of World Voices takes place on April 15 at the Royal Albert Hall
Ed Motta has been a familiar face to many for over two decades now, and on the basis of this superb performance there seems little evidence that he’ll be fading away anytime soon
Motta performed to a packed and highly attentive audience at London’s Jazz Café for nearly two hours and was a consummate showman throughout. It was the first chance for many fans to see some of the tracks from his new album Perpetual Gateways performed live, and his band – sourced from in and around Europe – were exemplary, considered and possessed a great group dynamic.
The performance opened with ‘Captain’s Refusal’, a track inspired by Alfred Hitchcock’s classic detective thriller Sabotage: a delicately conceived piece that both carried a compelling narrative while grooving majestically. Indeed, his own ability as a storyteller really stood out as he took time to elaborate on the tales behind each tune as the evening progressed.
Much of his recent work – including 2013’s AOR – has been inspired by his fascination with both film soundtracks and times gone by. The track ‘Flores da Vida Real’ was influenced by TV series intros, and his verging upon encyclopaedic knowledge of arcane TV series from the UK – including The Avengers and Captain Scarlet – elicited a huge cheer from the audience, and this sense of camaraderie imbued this performance with a feeling of community.
“Motta simply loves music, and to see him in his element was a real pleasure”
It was a musically wonderful occasion, too. His hilarious story about meeting Peter Falk (the star of Columbo) in Nice and declaring his undying love to him via a vino-tinged haze was immediately followed by an energetic rendition of AOR cut ‘Farmer’s Wife’. Motta has always been bold with harmony and it’s his use of rock-tinged balladry with jazz sensibility that has seen him cut a unique figure on the musical landscape. New track ‘Forgotten Nickname’ was a real stand out; opening with expansive chords on his Fender Rhodes, Motta’s vocal soared above the ensemble, and the subtle instrumentation in accompaniment allowed his prowess as a performer to stand front and centre. Other tracks such as ‘Reader’s Choice’ – written in Amsterdam, a place Motta regularly visits for inspiration – carried a similarly slow, yet emotive feel.
There was plenty of vigour, also, with the full on funk onslaught of ‘Drive Me Crazy’ and the groove of ‘Smile’ offering up a fine balance with these slow ballads; a special mention should also be paid to musical director and pianist Matti Klein, whose solo on ‘Good Intentions’ was dazzling.
Upon finishing with his classic track ‘Columbina’ and AOR favourite ‘Dondi’ I was reminded of why I first fell in love with Motta’s work. He radiates passion for music and even with his most accessible tracks there is always something intriguing around the corner, be it a rhythmic nuance, quirky chord substitution or even a powerful roar from his inimitable voice. Motta simply loves music, and to see him in his element was a real pleasure.
On April 16 over 200 stores across the UK will be holding concerts and selling unique pressings in a mass celebration of all things vinyl. We’ve highlighted a few choice releases that you definitely shouldn’t miss out on.
Full listings are available on the Record Store Day website.
Bixiga 70 – The Copan Connection: Bixiga 70 Meets Victor Rice (Glitterbeat)
Mixed in the Copan studio that sits high above the bustling streets of Sao Paulo, this release sees Bixiga 70’s glorious Afro-Brazilian album III get a dub-reworking from their producer Victor Rice.
Fela Kuti & Afrika 70 – I Go Shout Plenty (Knitting Factory)
This exclusive 10” release features a 1986 recording of ‘I Go Shout Plenty’ in addition to a rare B-side entitled ‘Frustration’. The piece originated from a session recorded in LA from 1969, with the version included here captured in a subsequent re-imagining with Afrika 70 in 1976.
Hannah Peel – Rebox 2 (My Own Pleasure)
Six years on from her debut Rebox EP that featured re-workings of contemporary songs on her music box, Peel returns to this minimal set up for a special gold vinyl release. She will perform at eight different record shops across the day.
The Hot 8 Brass Band – Sexual Healing (Tru Thoughts)
The New Orleans funk masters have a 7” coming out of their playful take on Marvin Gaye’s ‘Sexual Healing’ that made them a household name. They’ve also just been announced for this year’s WOMAD festival at Charlton Park.
Ibrahim Ferrer – Buena Vista Social Club Presents Ibrahim Ferrer (World Circuit)
This is the first time that Ferrer’s debut album will be available on double vinyl. It sold over one and a half million copies on its release.
Martin Simpson & Friends – Green Onions/Willie Taylor (Epic)
Scunthorpe’s finest presents a rip-roaring version of a Booker T & The MGs standard for this 7” offering. For the B-side he is joined by Nancy Kerr and Andy Cutting for a rendition of Anglo-American folk song ‘Willie Taylor’.
Skatalites – Soul Jazz Records Presents Skatalites (Soul Jazz)
Presented in a beautifully ornate box set, Soul Jazz have compiled a collection of 10 singles from the Skatalites’ early period, 1963-1965.
Various Artists – Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten: Cambodia’s Lost Rock & Roll (Dust to Digital)
Following on from the 2015 documentary film of the same name, this double gatefold release chronicles the Cambodian rock’n’roll boom of the 1960s and 70s.
Gilles Peterson‘s latest project with Havana Cultura is an insightful look at rumba music from the island of Cuba.
Peterson has joined forces with documentary film-maker Charlie Inman – who directed his last feature on the music of Brazil – to present a comprehensive look at the music, the dance, and the culture surrounding the rumba form. Expert batá drummer Ade Egun Crispin Robinson and singer Daymé Arocena accompany Peterson for the duration of the trip.
This film is also accompanied by a remix album – entitled Havana Club Rumba Sessions - which features some wonderful remixes by a diverse roster of artists, including débruit, Motor City Drum Ensemble, and Japanese duo Daisuke Tanabe and Yosi Horikawa. The tracks are based around samples of the three principal drumming styles within rumba - guaganco, yambu, and colombia - that were recorded during Peterson’s stay in Cuba. Arocena’s vocals also feature, most notably on the beautiful track from 22a label head Tenderlonius, entitled ‘Rumba Tierna’.
Havana Club Rumba Sessions is released on March 11 via Brownswood Recordings, and you can catch the documentary throughout February at the ICA, the Lexi in Kensal Rise, and the Phoenix in East Finchley. Check out the trailer below: