Posts Tagged ‘oana catalina chitu’

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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Live Review | Songlines Encounters Festival, Kings Place, June 6

Posted on June 9th, 2014 in Live, News, Recent posts, Reviews by .


Photography by Haydn Wheeler

The second day of Songlines Encounters Festival at London’s Kings Place continued the theme of talented female artists with violinist Anna Pheobe and Romanian singer Oana Cătălina Chiţu.

For me the magic moment of Friday’s Songlines Encounters was the virtually spontaneous tango that Oana Cătălina Chiţu (pictured above) performed with violinist Anna Phoebe. Anna had tried it out for just a few minutes backstage, but performed it with total panache, brilliantly integrating with Chiţu’s fantastic pan-Balkan band. This was one of those great Encounters moments that comes of musicians meeting and hitting it off together.

Violinist Anna Phoebe (pictured below) opened the show and her playing was expressive and intensely physical, using all her body – particularly her shapely left leg as she prowled around the stage. Sometimes it was long lyrical lines, sometimes tight rhythmical phrases with the bow alternating with her hips. But the music was all original, composed with guitarist Nic Rizzi, and had texture and depth. Her band included tabla player Simran Ghalley in a striking Sikh warrior costume playing at one point in a magical trio with violin and acoustic guitar. They are next off to Poland to support Bob Dylan in concert there.


Romanian singer Oana Cătălina Chiţu was at Songlines Encounters purely on the strength of her album Divine, released by Asphalt Tango last year. She was performing music from the repertoire of Maria Tănase, the Romanian Edith Piaf. I was confident that the music would be good, but I was particularly delighted by Chiţu’s quirky personality on stage – “my English is very communist,” she said. She’s a sublime singer and particularly in the slow languorous numbers, but also generous in giving her band space time for lengthy improvisatory solos. Her musicians on accordion, sax, cimbalom and kit drums come from Serbia, Bulgaria, Moldova and Greece. This is really what Songlines Encounters is about, raising the profile of quality artists from around the world, and I really hope Oana Cătălina Chiţu is able to perform more in the UK. She was already talking to Anna Phoebe about recording together in Berlin!

Look back at the first and third nights of Encounters.

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Songlines Encounters Festival | Anna Phoebe and Oana Cătălina Chiţu, June 6

Posted on June 4th, 2014 in Live, News, Recent posts by .


Violinist Anna Phoebe and Romanian singer Oana Cătălina Chiţu (pictured) perform on the second night of Songlines Encounters Festival at Kings Place

Anna Phoebe delivers a power-packed punch of violin. Her charismatic energy has seen her working with Jethro Tull, Roxy Music and Oi Va Voi. In her new project Between The Shadow & The Soul, co-written with guitarist Nicolas Rizzi, she mixes Eastern and Western influences, plus a touch of Gypsy, into her lyrical and fiery playing.

One of Songlines‘ top albums last year was of the Romanian singer Oana Cătălina Chiţu singing the music of Maria Tănase (1913-1963), the ‘Romanian Edith Piaf’. Tanase took folk tunes from all over the country and performed them in nightclubs and on the radio. In her UK concert hall debut, Oana Cătălina Chiţu will bring this repertoire back to life with a fabulous virtuoso band. Her performance is kindly supported by the Romanian Cultural Institute London and the cimbalom is generously provided by the Embassy of Hungary in London.

More information and tickets.

Brand new collaborative track ‘Lume Lume’ from Oana & Anna

Don’t miss the FREE foyer performance preceding this concert at 6.50pm

Brasov String Band

Brasov String Band take their name from a city in Transylvania, a region which crosses Hungary and Romania and holds a rich history and musical tradition. The project grew organically out of Francesca Ter-Berg (cello) and Flora Curzon’s (violin) shared passion for Transylvanian music. Having played together for many years in various outfits (Sam Lee and Friends, Katy Carr, Talvin Singh), the two girls finally managed to get a set together of some of the tunes they love.

You can book your tickets by visiting the Kings Place website or by calling 020 7520 1490. We hope to see you there!

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Songlines’ Best Albums 2013 Announced

Posted on October 31st, 2013 in Recent posts by .

To be featured in the next issue of SonglinesJanuary/February 2014 (#97, out December 6), editor Jo Frost and editor-in-chief Simon Broughton select their pick of the albums reviewed in 2013

This year has been an incredibly rich, diverse and exciting one for new releases both within world, roots and folk music. With five picks each, Jo Frost and Simon Broughton have chosen their favourite albums that have been reviewed within Songlines magazine in the last 12 months. You can read more about these ten albums in the next issue, out on December 6.

And this year’s selections are (in no particular order):


Rokia TraoréBeautiful Africa (on Nonesuch, reviewed in #91)

Çiğdem AslanMortissa (on Asphalt Tango, reviewed in #96)

BuikaLa Noche Más Larga (on Warner, reviewed in #95)

Bassekou Kouyaté & Ngoni baJama Ko (on Out Here, reviewed in #90)

Oana Cătălina ChițuDivine (on Asphalt Tango, reviewed in #94)

Family AtlanticaFamily Atlantica (on Soundway, reviewed in #92)

Jupiter & Okwess InternationalHotel Univers (on Out Here, reviewed in #94)

Leyla McCallaVari-Colored Songs (on Dixie Frog, reviewed in #96)

Kayhan Kalhor & Erdal ErzincanKula Kulluk Yakışır Mı (on ECM, reviewed in #96)

Catrin Finch & Seckou KeitaClychau Dibon (on Astar Artes, reviewed in #96)

Listen to tracks from the chosen albums below:

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