Posts Tagged ‘anda union’
Editor Jo Frost and editor-in-chief Simon Broughton choose their favourite albums from 2011…
The Wind Horse
Undoubtedly one of the most talked about bands at WOMAD 2011, this group of throat-singing, horse head fiddle players are from Inner Mongolia, China. Musically, there are similarities with the Tuvan group Huun Huur Tu, but with the addition of two excellent female singers. Their highly evocative music conjures up impressions of vast expanses of sparsely populated grasslands, as depicted in a documentary about the band recently shown at the London Film Festival. This album is definitely one for equine fans – the whinnying sounds they make on ‘Galloping Horses’ is quite amazing. JF
It’s thanks to the late Belizean singer Andy Palacio that the culture and music of the Central American Garifuna people is known internationally. Aurelio Martinez dedicates this album to his friend and mentor, with a particularly beautiful song written in Palacio’s honour, ‘Wamada’. In addition to the drum and percussion heavy Garifuna rhythms, there are contributions from Youssou N’Dour and Orchestra Baobab – a result of Aurelio’s Rolex Mentor-Protégé initiative with Youssou back in 2007 [see #64]. These West African vocal additions were recorded on one of Aurelio’s trips to Dakar, tracing the roots of his ancestors – he describes this album as ‘a homecoming.’ Palacio’s Garifuna legacy is in safe hands with Aurelio. JF
Boban & Marko Marković Orkestar and Fanfare Ciocărlia
Balkan Brass Battle
The story is a great one – the two top Gypsy bands in the Balkans go head to head. Boban and Marko Marković, the kings of Balkan brass from the ‘Trubacka Republika’ (Trumpet Republic) of Serbia versus Fanfare Ciocărlia, the peasant upstarts, from Romania. Each band does a few of their own tunes, they each do a version of Duke Ellington’s ‘Caravan’ and they do four tracks together. A gristly gobbet of the best of Balkan brass. SB
It’s the haunting sound of the Armenian duduk on the opening track ‘Chiraki Par’ that initially got me hooked. Then there’s the fact that the musicians, from Armenia, Turkey, Mexico, Senegal and Madagascar, all now based in Belgium, recorded the album in aid of a Belgian NGO, Light for the World, who raise money for blind children in Africa. But regardless of the good cause, it’s the simplicity and sensitivity of the music they’ve created that makes this album so noteworthy. Interestingly, Muziekpublique only release one or two albums a year – their main work is putting on concerts and music classes in a small venue in Brussels. JF
Every young fado singer has got to market themselves as the new voice of fado. But Carminho is the one to watch. She has a versatile intimacy in her voice, as if she’s talking to you personally, and some of the lyrics she’s written herself, which give songs like ‘Nunca é Silêncio Vão’ a special intensity. Featuring several fine Portuguese guitar players, this CD represents a spectacular debut with the opening ‘Escrevi teu Nome no Vento’ a particular highlight with a gorgeous melody and delivery. SB
Cecil Sharp Project
Cecil Sharp Project
(EFDSS/Shrewsbury Folk Festival)
So often, well-intended collaborative ‘projects’ look great on paper but don’t work in practice, seeming forced and lacking in real musical connection. Not so with this project, which I was privileged to witness in action when the eight musicians spent a week together coming up with the songs for a series of concerts and album [see #78]. The idea is simple enough – putting into song the experiences of English folk collector Cecil Sharp during his trip to Appalachia. It’s the quality of the musicianship and their obvious enjoyment in working and playing together that is striking, particularly on tracks such as ‘The Great Divide’ and ‘The Ghost of Songs’. JF
Northern Light Gambian Night
For me the kora is the greatest of African instruments, providing a sublime accompaniment or as a marvellous solo instrument in its own right. Dawda Jobarteh comes from one of the great griot dynasties in the Gambia and, now living in Denmark, he’s produced this album in which he does both with guitarist Preben Carlsen and lots of guest musicians. One of the loveliest tracks, ‘Nkanakele’, features South Indian flute player Shashank and apparently the wild guitar on ‘Dinding Do’ is actually Dawda Jobarteh on electric kora. A great debut album from an impressive new artist and it closes with a stately duet with the supreme kora maestro Toumani Diabaté. SB
The meeting of Indian music and flamenco isn’t new, but this is one of the best products of that fusion. Sitar player Anoushka Shankar (daughter of Ravi) worked with guitarist and (Grammy-award winning) producer Javier Limón on an album that really does chart a musical and emotional journey, if not a geographical one. There are great vocals from Buika, Duquende and Sandra Carrasco on the flamenco side and Shubha Mudgal and Sanjeev Chimmalgi on the Indian side and spectacular sitar duets from Anoushka and flamenco pianist Pedro Ricardo Miño and flamenco guitarist Pepe Habichuela. An exuberant recording which is one of the highlights of the year. SB
Söndörgő – hard to say, but easy to listen to – are a fabulous young band from Hungary. They have now started to make an international impact and this CD and their spectacular live shows are the reason. On delicate plucked tamburas, they play the music of the South Slav minorities in Hungary – virtuoso dance tunes that are fiery, but delicate. This CD, featuring Gypsy tambura master József Kovács, from whom they’ve learned many of their tunes, is a great calling card with a cross section of their repertoire as played in the southern city of Mohács. In addition to the tambura repertoire they play some great Macedonian tunes – notably the popular ‘Zajdi, Zajdi’ with their secret weapon, fabulous vocalist Kátya Tompos. SB
City of Refuge
To describe Abigail Washburn as a singer-songwriter and banjo player seems woefully inadequate when you realise this is a woman who has become an unofficial US goodwill ambassador to China (she speaks and sings in Chinese). The illustrative album artwork, depicting a multitude of exotic-looking places and faces, is a good indication of what you’re going to hear. It’s an enchanting treasure trove of musical treats, featuring a host of instruments, from double bass, viola, guzheng (zither) and the beautiful yet rarely heard cello banjo (on ‘Bring Me My Queen’). JF
Following on from yesterday’s blog, here are some more Celtic Connections recommendations for the latter half of the festival.
The Angolan-Portuguese DJ Pedro Coquenão, aka Batida (pictured left, photo by Manuel Lino), released his debut album on the hip Soundway label (a Top of the World in #84) and he’ll be supporting French Gypsy-swingers Caravan Palace (January 24, O2 ABC).
The premiere of a sea-themed collaboration, Dán, by some top-notch Celtic and Breton musicians including band members from Kan and Guidewires and Gaelic singer Alyth McCormack (January 24, Old Fruitmarket).
Burns Night sees a specially-commissioned evening of music, courtesy of Scots Trad Music Award-winners Breabach and Kathleen MacInnes, together with Blazin’ Fiddles and Dougie MacLean (January 25, Concert Hall).
If anyone has mastered the art of cloning, it’ll come in very handy for the night of January 26 when there are no less than 13 artists who I’d go and see without any hesitation. They include: Sarah Jarosz, Baloji, Katy Carr, The Be Good Tanyas, The Halton Quartet, Mike McGoldrick’s band and Duncan Chisholm (whose latest release Affric was one of my favourite albums of 2012) (Various venues).
Last issue’s cover star Bassekou Kouyaté and his band Ngoni ba team up with fellow Malians Sidi Touré and Tamikrest for Sahara Soul (January 27, Concert Hall).
The Radio 2 Folk Awards will be broadcast live from Glasgow for the first time, hosted by Julie Fowlis and Mark Radcliffe, plus performances by some of the winners (January 30, Concert Hall).
Songlines faves Anda Union are bound to go down a treat in Glasgow. They’re on the same billing as the equally impressive Frigg who have a Top of the World review in the next issue, #90 (January 30, Old Fruitmarket).
The highly-acclaimed Scottish singer Karine Polwart and US stars Anaïs Mitchell and Jefferson Hamer (also with a Top of the World in #90) (February 2, City Halls).
The final day sees singer-songwriter and guitarist Sorren Maclean from Mull take part in the New Voices initiative that showcases new talent (February 3, Mitchell Theatre).
On top of all that, there are workshops galore, an open stage and a late-night festival club – so many reasons why I wouldn’t want to be heading anywhere else this month. Now, how quickly can I get myself up to Glasgow…
The three-week festival boasts truly Olympic proportions – 2011 saw a record-breaking 2,542 different shows, staging 41,689 performances in 258 venues by 21,192 performers.
This year looks like another mind-boggling affair, so here’s a selection of some of the musical highlights the Songlines team would be making a beeline to (if we weren’t all holed up in London, putting the next issue together):
Now that you’ve had a chance to read about all the exciting music featured in the current issue of Songlines, don’t forget that you can watch it and listen to it too. Each issue, we create a YouTube playlist of featured videos to help give the full interactive experience. You can view the playlist here.
Some of the highlights of this issue’s videos include:
News: One Nation Two Anthems (read more on p14)
Steppe Up: Anda Union performing at the Songlines Tent (read more on p46-51)