Posts Tagged ‘buika’

Live review | Montréal Jazz Festival

Posted on July 19th, 2017 in Recent posts by .

Photo by Michael Jackson

Martin Longley explores the abundance of global music on offer at the Montréal Jazz Festival

Like many jazz festivals, Montréal has ample room to present other musical forms, so it’s easy to experience a complete global music orientated schedule, if so desired. Most of these choices are available freely on the Canadian city’s multiple open-air stages, with abundant alternatives made possible via the sheer overload of what is famed as the world’s biggest jazz festival. The entire arts complex part of the city is completely overrun with indoor, ticketed gigs and freebie outdoor shows, creating a temporary community of thousands.

Feisty female singers were to the fore. Even in this three-day slice of the 11-day feast (July 2-4), it was possible to catch Betty Bonifassi, Buika (pictured above), A-WA and Flavia Coelho, all delivering tasty sets. The latter Rio singer/guitarist doesn’t sound massively Brazilian, spending most of her set spouting tongue-twisting ragga, dancehall and heavy dub numbers, with the occasional frothy French chanson dribbled into the cocktail. Coelho’s keyboardist and drummer helped to create a full and heavy reggae weight, the latter stepping forward during the encore to voice rugged and deep in the Prince Far I fashion. Coelho is a dynamo – singing, dancing, spouting Afro-Brazilian semi-acoustic guitar licks and transforming into a ragga gyrator, sometimes all in the space of a single number.

Buika played a ticketed show in the Place des Arts, subtly bathed in a deep crimson lightshow glow, which was presumably a deliberate aid to enhance the sultry atmosphere. Unfortunately, her audience were more inclined than most to bathe themselves in a cellphone glow, shooting and snapping incessantly, and working directly against the mood-flow. Regardless, this Spanish singer’s deep-toned power was sufficient to grasp and hold our attention, as she skirted away from her flamenco roots into more generalised song-forms. It was actually the more flamenco soaked
parts of Buika’s set which held the most power, where her band appeared to be most natural in their negotiations.

A-WA are a trio of Tel Aviv sisters with Yemenite roots, melding traditional vocal harmonies with quirky electro-pop, and progressing towards a psychedelic rock climax. Their open air set magnetised a varied crowd, many of whom appeared to be discovering these sounds for the first time. All were most emphatically converted.

The main outdoor TD stage is right next to the Place des Arts, and every night it features a pair of crowd-magnet sets, with the same act appearing at 9pm and 11pm. Brazilian combo Bixiga 70 have a samba funk core, but are just as likely to rove into Afrobeat or reggae territory, with three horns, two percussionists, drums, bass, keys and a pair of guitarists. They’re squarely directed at the festival circuit, but this makes them prone to an overload of crowd-goading tactics. One of the most appealing sequences was a percussion work-out, with djembe and cowbell, guitar and cheese-grater joining later, and the horns riffing back into the fray. Each band member gets a chance in the spotlight as the set progresses, with a particularly impressive trombone blast-off being a stand-out.

Adding to the Latin presence, Roberto Fonseca played with an added horn section, and the Peruvian ensemble Bareto started out on the smaller Hyundai outdoor stage with a slightly cheesy approach. Their tunes steadily toughened up, and their leading man drew the audience closer with some witty banter, so there was a markedly altered vibration by set’s end.

The Heineken stage (this is the fest’s beery overlord, so craft brews are not much in evidence) is the home for rootsy Americana, whether country, rockabilly, blues or rock’n’roll. The French/Québécois Youngstown trio inhabit most of those styles, but can mainly be described as countrybilly, with a high quavering singer operating on the punky Dolly Parton front. Local blues harmonica man Guy Bélanger also had a repeated midnight slot on this stage, inflating the crowd with bonus energy following their full days of music cramming.

On the actual jazz front, the ‘discovery’ of the festival was trumpeter Hichem Khalfa, residing locally, but born in France. His soloing has a pronounced Middle Eastern attack, with crisp, staccato phrases dodging around the reverberant electro-washes of his keyboardist, creating a highly effective sonic contrast. An Arabic modality scampers above tough fusion precision. The jazz purists could have their own hardcore experience by choosing different shows, and likewise with the frothy pop kids, but one of the pleasures of this Montréal festival is that the attendee
can plot completely alternative pathways through the dense number of potential entertainments.

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New issue (March 2016) on sale now!

Posted on January 29th, 2016 in Features, Recent posts by .

March (#115) Edition

Spanish singer Buika; Irish-American group The Gloaming; Burkina Faso hip-hop artist Smockey; Colombian electro-cumbia pioneers Sidestepper; and veteran English folk duo Show of Hands

The March (#115) edition is on sale in the UK from today. The free exclusive 15-track covermount CD features ten tracks from our latest Top of the World albums and a guest playlist by BBC’s China editor Carrie Gracie.

This issue also comes with bonus CD, Polish Radio Folk Festival, which includes 16 free tracks by the finest Polish acts who have performed at the event since its inception in 1998.

Featured on the Top of the World CD are new tracks from Senegalese musician Baaba Maal, Grammy-Award winning band Grupo Fantasma and Iranian singer Mamak Khadem.

• Buika – We talk to the singer about the music she discovered after confronting her fears.
• The Gloaming – The Irish-American five-piece talk about their forthcoming second album.
• Sidestepper – The Colombian group return with a fresh new sound on their latest album.
Show of Hands – We speak to the Englis
h folk stalwarts about the people behind their songs.
Smockey – Bram Posthumus finds out how the artist used reggae and rap to change Burkina Faso’s political course.




• Beginner’s Guide to The Chieftains.
• My World: A playlist and interview with BBC China editor Carrie Gracie.
• Postcard from Alter do Chão, Brazil.
• Introducing… Imarhan and Dubioza Kolektiv.
• Spotlight on The Other Classical Musics.
• Quickfire: Jane Beese, Nolwenn Leroy and James Yorkston.
• What’s New, including the upcoming Red Cross benefit album The Long Road; Mali’s Festival on the Niger; Sandblast’s benefit concert at London’s Bolivar Hall; and the Zaatari refugees.
• Reviews of the latest CD, book and world cinema releases.

Buy the new issue here.

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New issue preview: March (#115)

Posted on January 15th, 2016 in News, Recent posts by .

March (#115) Edition

Living Without Fear; Buika speaks to Alex Robinson about the music she discovered when she confronted her fears and found freedom from the expectations of what she was meant to be

Other features include Colombian band Sidestepper, who talk about the fresh sound of their latest album Supernatural Love; English folk duo Show of Hands chat about the people behind the songs on their new album; we find out how rap and reggae changed the political course of Burkina Faso; plus the latest CD, book and world cinema reviews to get stuck into.

The issue’s Top of the World covermount CD includes brand new tracks from Baaba Maal, Grupo Fantasma and Smockey, plus an exclusive playlist from BBC’s China editor Carrie Gracie, who talks about the sadly under-appreciated folk music traditions in China, the natural and cultural beauty of Tibet and her Scottish heritage.

This issue also includes a bonus CD showcasing some of the finest Polish folk acts to have been associated with the New Tradition Polish Radio Folk Festival since its inception in 1998.

The issue is on sale in the UK from January 29. Click here to purchase your copy now.

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The 50 Greatest World Music Albums of the Last Five Years (Part 2)

Posted on August 23rd, 2015 in Features, Recent posts by .

Editor Jo Frost and editor-in-chief Simon Broughton choose their favourite albums from 2013…


Oana Cătălina Chiţu


(Asphalt Tango)

A real treat this one to mark the centenary of Maria Tănase (1913-1963), the Romanian Edith Piaf. Chiţu brings these songs alive with an excellent ensemble of violin, accordion, sax, guitar, cimbalom and bass. The songs are nostalgic and romantic and given a dark, Oriental tone by Chiţu’s chiaroscuro alto voice. There’s a tasty Romanian tango in ‘Habar N-ai Tu’ and the way she draws out the introduction to ‘Aseară Ti-am Luat Basma’ surrounded by filigree cimbalom flourishes is gorgeous. SB



Family Atlantica

Family Atlantica


This band is a product of the fertile, multicultural metropolis that is London. The charismatic vocalist, Luzmira Zerpa, is Venezuelan and the other key members are London-born Jack Yglesias and Nigerian/Ghanaian percussionist Kwame Crentsil. Not surprisingly Family Atlantica’s self-titled debut follows an ida y vuelta between Africa, South America, the Caribbean and Europe – with some spectacular percussion at its core. Guest artists include Senegalese Gnawa Nuru Kane and the wonderful Mulatu Astatke, who Yglesias got to know as a member of Ethiopian band The Heliocentrics. A life-affirming debut. SB



Catrin Finch & Seckou Keita

Clychau Dibon

(Astar Artes)

This isn’t the first kora collaboration to be featured in our Best of the Year list but it’s certainly the first to include the harp. Classically trained Welsh harpist Catrin Finch has joined forces with Seckou Keita, Senegalese UK-based kora player, and they’ve produced an album of real beauty. The album’s title sounds like it could be either Welsh or Wolof, in fact clychau is Welsh for ‘bells’ and dibon is a West African hornbill, but also the second bass string on a kora. There’s a wonderful symmetry to this music – at times it’s hard to distinguish between the two instruments, held in such high esteem in their respective cultures. This is an album of real class. JF




Jupiter Okwess International

Hotel Univers

(Out Here Records)

Lead singer Jupiter Bokondji was the subject of a French documentary called Jupiter’s Dance back in 2006, so this international debut has been long anticipated. Jupiter has the swagger and looks of a bona fide rock star yet at the same time there’s an ageless wisdom to his expression. The album is a hard-hitting critique about the Congo’s history of colonisation, independence, dependence and corruption – Jupiter feels his country is still at war because of the avarice of its people. Despite the serious nature of the songs, there’s a raw energy to this edgy and funky music, and live, this band simply rock. JF



Çiğdem Aslan


(Asphalt Tango)

This is London-based Aslan’s debut disc. She is a lioness of Greek and Turkish rebetika, and focuses on the smyrneika style from Smyrna (now known as Izmir) that was shared by Turks, Greeks, Armenians and Jews. Alongside Aslan’s idiomatic vocals, there are excellent instrumental contributions from Nikolaos Baimpas on kanun, Pavlos Carvalho on bouzouki, and Meg Hamilton on violin.




La Noche Más Larga


A sumptuous, emotionally charged set of songs from Concha Buika, a flamenco singer from Mallorca who has turned more towards jazz for this highly polished release recorded in Miami. Buika’s live performances can at times be unnerving with her no holds barred approach on stage. But she’s pulled out all the stops in the studio and her voice sounds better than ever. 




Kayhan Kalhor & Erdal Erzincan

Kula Kulluk Yakısır Mı


The only drawback with this album is the hard-to-remember title (if you don’t speak Turkish). It’s a folksong, which translates as ‘how unseemly it is to follow anyone slavishly,’ advice that both of these master musicians have always taken to heart. This is a largely improvisational duo performance by Iranian kamancheh (spike fiddle) player Kayhan Kalhor and Turkish saz player Erdal Erzincan. The two musicians create a tapestry that unfolds organically over an hour with moods ranging from introspection to elation. It was recorded live in Turkey and the contrasting textures of bowed and plucked strings sparkle brilliantly off each other. SB



Bassekou Kouyaté

Jama Ko

(Out Here Records)

This recording demonstrates exactly what puts Mali at the top of the African music charts. Jama Ko is a fiercely contemporary album produced by Howard Bilerman (Arcade Fire), though it is rooted in the nimble, yet rough-edged sound of the ngoni, the desert lute that goes back centuries. The extremely catchy title-track is a call for unity and peace, while ‘Kele Magni’ features the magnificent Khaira Arby from Timbuktu, under Islamist control when the album was recorded. ‘Sinaly’, with Kasse Mady Diabaté, refers to a historical Malian king resisting radical Islam. Powerful content and a thrilling sound. SB See also: Top 25 Mali Albums



Leyla McCalla

Vari-Colored Songs

(Dixie Frog)

This is the debut solo release from the newest member of the Carolina Chocolate Drops. Born in New York to Haitian parents, McCalla grew up reading the works of American poet and social activist Langston Hughes and in tribute, has set some of his poems to music. In addition to these poem-songs are some beautiful a capella Haitian-Creole songs. Besides her beguilingly languid singing style, McCalla is an impressive cellist and plays a mean banjo too. An album steeped in the Caribbean and Haitian roots of America’s South. JF



Rokia Traoré

Beautiful Africa


Ever the innovator, Rokia has, for her latest album, hooked up with producer John Parish who is best known for his work with PJ Harvey. Perhaps it’s his influence as Beautiful Africa is certainly a rockier affair – but still innately Malian, with some fabulous ngoni from Mamah Diabaté, and some feisty female backing vocals. You really get a sense that Rokia has a determined intention of getting her message across, whether singing in Bambara, French or English. Standout tracks include ‘Mélancholie’ and the title-track. Another class act from Mali’s first lady of song. JF See also: Top 25 Mali Albums



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