Posts Tagged ‘derek gripper’

Mali: discover the music

Posted on November 3rd, 2016 in Features, Recent posts by .

discover-mali-3

Today, Mali remains a wellspring of extraordinary music and culture. Here is our essential guide to Malian music, including revealing articles about leading musicians, from Ali Farka Touré to Songhoy Blues and Toumani Diabaté, and videos of exciting live performances. But we begin with an overview of the key artists and albums…

________________________________________________

mali-25

After much deliberation, we are proud to present the top 25 albums to come from Mali, reminding us that there is an endless amount to celebrate in its music.

Read the article: ‘Top 25 Mali albums’

________________________________________________

songhoy-new

Songhoy Blues won the Newcomer category in the Songlines Music Awards 2016. Hailed last year as ‘Mali’s Next Big Thing’, the young band have continued to ride on a much-deserved wave of success.

Read the article: ‘Songhoy Blues: Songhai Stars’ 

________________________________________________

ali-farka-new

Recorded shortly before his death in 2006, Ali Farka Touré’s Savane took him to new heights of critical acclaim. “Absolutely perfect – a truly great piece of work,” was the judgement of Ry Cooder and it’s impossible to find a single voice raised in disagreement.

Read the article: ‘Ali Farka Touré: a beginner’s guide’

 ________________________________________________

gripper-new

The South African guitarist Derek Gripper is intent on bringing new audiences to Mali’s kora repertoire. Simon Broughton talks to him, on his first visit to the country to meet the instrument’s most famous player.

Read the article: ‘Derek Gripper: kora quest’

________________________________________________

amadou-new

Is it possible for any article about Amadou & Mariam not to include the words ‘blind married couple’ in the opening sentence? There, I’ve just gone and done it again. It is an odd kind of badging when we’re talking about musical communication that, after all, engages our ears rather than our eyes. As Mariam puts it, “People know we are blind, but it is our work that counts”.

Read the article: ‘Amadou & Mariam: a beginner’s guide’

________________________________________________

imarhan-new

The young Touareg band are striking out from under Tinariwen’s shadow and doing their own thing. Andy Morgan reports…

Read the article: ‘Introducing… Imarhan’

________________________________________________

oumou-new

Nigel Williamson speaks to the Malian singer about her career, which has been dedicated to offering African women a voice and correcting gender inequalities.

Read the article: ‘Oumou Sangaré: a beginner’s guide’

________________________________________________

toumani-diabate

The kora has become almost synonymous with the music of Mali. Nigel Williamson examines the career of its chief exponent Toumani Diabaté

Read the article: ‘Toumani Diabaté: a beginner’s guide’

Tags: , , , , , , , .

Derek Gripper – Libraries on Fire | Album Review | Top of the World

Posted on July 4th, 2016 in Recent posts, Reviews by .

Derek-Gripper©Simon-Broughton-free2

Words by Nigel Williamson

Derek Gripper - Libraries on Fire Cover

Del Boy’s six strings take on a kora’s 21
★★★★

Since Songlines first championed the South African guitarist Derek Gripper following his 2012 album One Night on Earth, his transpositions of kora works by Toumani Diabaté, Ali Farka Touré and others for solo acoustic guitar have received widespread acclaim. The classical guitar legend John Williams said he thought that it was ‘absolutely impossible… until I heard Derek Gripper do it’ and Toumani himself was impressed enough to invite the guitarist to collaborate with him in Mali. This follow-up album, taking its title from a celebrated West African saying that ‘when a griot dies it’s like a library burning,’ transposes nine more kora pieces – seven of them from Toumani’s repertoire.

The results are once again spectacular, both in terms of technical brilliance and dreamy musicality. He also adds compositions by Ballaké Sissoko and Amadou Bansang Jobarteh to his project, to create an African repertoire for the classical guitar and it’s highly instructive to play his takes of these tunes alongside the original kora versions. On ‘Lampedusa’, for example, first heard on the 2014 album Toumani & Sidiki, it sounds like Gripper doesn’t miss a single note, despite having only six strings at his command against the 42 mustered by Diabaté père et fils. Breathtakingly wonderful.

logo-Amazon-uk  logo-iTunes-Download

Tags: , .

Top of the World July 2016: The best new releases

Posted on June 10th, 2016 in Features, Recent posts by .

Our selection of the top ten new releases reviewed in the July (#119) issue.

Fanfare Ciocărlia
Onwards to Mars! (Asphalt Tango Records)

Fanfare-Ciocarlia---Onwards-to-Mars!-Cover

Balkan brass band Fanfare Ciocărlia offer 14 tracks on their latest record, released in celebration of their 20th anniversary in the music business.
logo-Amazon-uk  logo-iTunes-Download

 

Elza Soares
The Woman at the End of the World (Mais Um Discos)

Elza Soares - The Woman at the End of the World Cover

Elza Soares, now in her late 70s, demonstrates why she is considered one of Brazil’s best samba singers in a bold release that is a fiery mix of original, uncompromising tracks.

logo-Amazon-uk  logo-iTunes-Download

 

Kel Assouf
Tikounen (Igloo Records)

Kel Assouf - Tikounen Cover

Another guitar group to come out of the Touareg music scene, Kel Assouf return with a strong, rocking second album. Powerful rhythms and contagious grooves are aplenty on this feisty record.

logo-Amazon-uk  logo-iTunes-Download

 

Leyla McCalla
A Day for the Hunter, a Day for the Prey (Jazz Village)

Leyla McCalla

An outstanding sophomore album from the young cellist and banjo player. Three years on from her stellar debut, McCalla once again draws from her Haitian heritage and Creole influences.

logo-Amazon-uk  logo-iTunes-Download

 

Matthias Loibner
Lichtungen (Traumton Records)

Matthias Loibner - Lichtungen Cover

Austrian composer Matthias Loibner possesses extraordinary skill on the hurdy-gurdy; his new album shows the astonishing range this unusual instrument has in his hands.

logo-Amazon-uk  logo-iTunes-Download

 

Maarja Nuut
Une Meeles (Maarja Nuut)

Maarja-Nuut---Une-Meeles-Cover2

Fiddler and singer Maarja Nuut delivers her experimental second album – an exceptional listen that draws influences from her Estonian roots and displays her promising talent.

logo-Amazon-uk  logo-iTunes-Download

 

Melt Yourself Down
Last Evenings on Earth (The Leaf Label)

Melt Yourself Down - Last Evenings on Earth Cover

Utilising abrasive sounds and forward-thinking production, the London-based band Melt Yourself Down show they are a force to be reckoned with on this game-changing album.

logo-Amazon-uk  logo-iTunes-Download

 

Derek Gripper
Libraries on Fire (Derek Gripper)

Derek-Gripper---Libraries-on-Fire-Cover

With great aplomb, the South African takes on the compositions of the great 21-stringed kora players on his classical guitar. Gripper’s delicate transcriptions deliver beautiful results.
logo-Amazon-uk  logo-iTunes-Download

 

Mahsa Vahdat
The Sun Will Rise (A Cappella) (Kirkelig Kulturverksted)

Mahsa Vahdat - The Sun Will Rose Cover

Vahdat is one of only a few female singers living in Iran to record regularly outside the country, and here she produces a profoundly personal album with no instrumental accompaniment.

logo-Amazon-uk  logo-iTunes-Download

 

Bellowhead
Live: The Farewell Tour (Navigator Records)

Bellowhead---Live-The-Farewell-Tour-Cover

Bellowhead’s final album highlights the 11-piece big band in blistering live form. Known for their fantastic live shows, the album exhibits why these guys will be dearly missed.
logo-Amazon-uk  logo-iTunes-Download

Tags: , , , , , , , , , .

Live Review | Songlines Encounters Festival 2016, June 2-4

Posted on June 6th, 2016 in Live, Recent posts by .

Derek-Gripper-John-Williams

Simon Broughton, Jo Frost and Alexandra Petropoulos report from the Songlines Encounters Festival 2016 at London’s Kings Place
(Photos by Alex Harvey-Brown, Simon Broughton and Miriam Abdulla)


Värttinä
Thursday, June 2

“I got this bone from my grandmother,” said Karoliina Kantelinen as the audience collapsed into laughter at the thought it might be her grandmother’s thigh bone. Then there was the amusement, for us, as she realised what she said had been misconstrued. The bone for playing the shaman drum was actually from a reindeer, handed on by Kantelinen’s fondly-remembered grandmother.

Varttina-©AlexHarveyBrown-Free

The story underlined the intensely personal nature of Värttinä’s music, founded over 30 years ago by Mari Kaasinen, still at the centre of the group. There were songs they’d written about their own experiences and songs they’d learnt from old singers they had met over the border in Viena Karelia, Russia, one of the heartlands of Finnish culture.

For Songlines Encounters, they did a superb set as just three vocalists without their regular backing band. It brought a great sense of women power. They accompanied themselves on kantele (the zither that is Finland’s national instrument), flutes and superb accordion playing from Susan Aho. But the highlights were the a capella numbers, which really emphasised the superb focus and versatility of these singers. Melodies, shrieks and percussive vocals create an astonishing range of textures and make this music that is distinctly local in origin work on an international stage. And Värttinä perform it with an infectious joy.

Simon Broughton


John Williams & Derek Gripper
Friday, June 3 

This was one of the most successful concerts we’ve held at Songlines Encounters. Not only because it sold out, but because it revealed two different musical personalities exploring, mainly, West African kora music played on classical guitar. Arranging kora music for guitar has been the passion of Derek Gripper for the past 15 years or so. Kings Place is perfect for a concert like this where you can concentrate on the intricacy of the playing and enjoy the warm, rich sound.

They opened with the two of them playing together, then Gripper doing a solo set, followed by Williams, and then joining together again at the end. The fundamental question is why listen to kora music arranged for guitar when you can easily listen to Toumani Diabaté, Bassekou Kouyaté or Seckou Keita playing the real thing? This concert clearly demonstrated why it’s worth doing. It becomes rich and beautiful concert music on the guitar with a totally different acoustic. Gripper brings a whole variety of textures to his playing, delicate harmonics, snapping  the strings, abruptly stopping them and knocking the neck of the instrument. These come from kora techniques, but never just imitate them.

John Williams took an accompanying role in the duo repertoire but showed the smooth and refined style that he’s famous for in the singing legato melody by Paraguayan composer Agostín Barrios in the first of his solo pieces. And followed with some dance-like Venezuelan repertoire.

Together they created a rich and intricate sound that is beautiful and absorbing. I think we all felt it was something very special.

Derek Gripper plays Thursday June 9 at Wyeside Arts Centre, Builth, Wells and Friday June 10 at Theatr Mwldan, Cardigan.

Simon Broughton

 

Vula Viel
Friday, June 3

After the serene intensity of Friday night’s first billing of Derek Gripper and John Williams’ guitar duets, the concert in Hall 2 proved to be a wonderful foil. Vula Viel are a London-based quintet, led by Bex Burch, a classically-trained percussionist. Burch became interested by the minimalism of Steve Reich and how Ghanaian music influenced him, so she went to Ghana and spent three years studying the Dagaare gyil (xylophone). Gyil music is mainly ceremonial, in particular it’s played at funerals. “Dagaare funerals aren’t about consolation: it’s an opportunity to confront difficult truths and explore your grief. The harshness of mourners’ judgements often sparks a renewal,” Burch told Songlines in June 2015.

Vula-Viel-©Miriam-AbdullaVula Viel means ‘Good is Good’ – and it’s the name Burch was given when she had finished her apprenticeship. The focal point of the band is the gyil, with the two drummers – Dave de Rose and Simon Roth – sat on opposite sides of the stage so that they could eyeball each other as they played with incredible precision. George Crowley swayed back and forth behind Burch on sax and Dan Nicholls looked unassuming yet has an integral part in creating the band’s hypnotic sound on synth and keys. I was initially stood at the back of the hall and was convinced that Burch had smuggled a trampoline onstage as she bounced up and down, left and right Zebedee-style, a completely compelling figure. I found myself drawn to the front to join in with the crowd who were dancing and soaking up the incredible energy emitting from the musicians. They played tracks from their debut album and also some new compositions, with Burch giving brief introductions and fascinating insights into Ghanaian life. One of the tunes translates as ‘You’re Sitting with Your Enemy, You’re Sitting With Your Drink,’ and Burch explained that it’s a common occurrence in Ghana to put poison in drinks, so you never accept a drink from someone without them drinking it first – so there was much amusement when just after this explanation, the stage manager came on with bottles of water for the band.

Vula Viel really embody what Songlines Encounters is all about – music deeply connected to a tradition, yet new, exciting and innovative at the same time. There’s no denying that they really are very good indeed.

Jo Frost


Roby Lakatos
Saturday, June 4

On Saturday afternoon, Kings Place was treated to a second performance by the sublime pairing of John Williams & Derek Gripper after a sold-out show the previous night. What followed later that evening was something completely different – flashy music from Hungarian violinist Roby Lakatos. 

Lakatos is a descendant of the legendary violinist János Bihari (1764-1827). Bihari’s playing, rooted in traditional dance music, became the sound of 19th-century Hungarian music. He would go on to inspire composers like Franz Liszt and Johannes Brahms, so it seems perfect that Roby Lakatos straddles the line between classical and traditional performance, though for this show he focused mainly on his Gypsy repertoire.

The flamboyant violinist came out on stage dressed in bright red trousers, a long blue jacket and his signature halo of grey hair, and he was joined on stage by Jenő Lisztes (cimbalom), Kalman Cseki (piano) and Vilmos Csikos (bass). Lakatos paced himself, starting with an elegant opening over a shruti box drone that sounded as if it could have been improvised. But it wasn’t long before he launched into his trademark nimble fingerwork for an uptempo Gypsy swing piece, complete with slap bass from a giggling Csikos.

Roby-Lakatos-©Miriam-Abdulla-Free

Throughout his set, Lakatos’ unbelievable playing was definitely on display. His fingers can certainly move faster than you expect is possible, and he showed off the most impressively fast double-fingered pizzicato playing I’ve ever seen. But the virtuosic playing didn’t belong to Lakatos alone: Lisztes’s cimbalom playing was out of this world, especially on his arrangement of ‘Flight of the Bumblebee’; Cseki’s playing on the piano was expertly jazzy or classical whenever the mood called for it, and Csikos put on an excellent show on the bass, and the fact that he seemed to be thoroughly enjoying himself – even throwing in a joke glissando in the middle of one of Lakatos’ solos – meant he was a joy to watch.

Unlike any other Songlines Encounters Festival performances to date, this was an evening of mind-blowing virtuosic technique from a quartet of musicians who are certainly not only at the top of their own game, but at the top of anyone else’s game too.

Alexandra Petropoulos

 

Tags: , , , , , .

« Older Entries                Newer Entries »