Archive for March, 2010
Other highlights include Feast, a brand new release from the Cape Breton Quartet, The Cottars; and a sampling from the many artists (Zakir Hussain, Bassekou Kouyate, Rokia Traoré) coming to the area soon.
World of Music is a head-spinning blend of blues, poetry, jazz, and world music every Monday from 3-5pm ET on the Radiator. Online, or at 105.9FM if you’re listening in Burlington, VT.
It’s Palm Sunday. For the next week leading up to Easter, choirs all over the world will be resounding with some of the most beautiful music ever written. The music of Holy Week includes Lamentations, hymns, motets, oratorios, Passions, and many poignant settings of the Stabat Mater – the “grieving mother”. It is some of my favorite music of any genre.
With Easter comes springtime. On the secular side of seasonal singing we have Carl Orff’s subversively wonderful collection of pagan songs, Carmina Burana. The text is Latin, and is rife with opportunities for misheard lyrics. Starting with the opening line, O Fortuna – a statement about the unpredictable nature of fate…or perhaps it’s a tribute to a quartet of canned albacore. You decide:
Nearly a year ago now, the news circulated that Marva Wright had suffered a couple of serious strokes. Friends then came together this past fall in a benefit to help pay for her medical care: George Porter, the Wild Magnolias, Tab Benoit all turned out for a sizeable benefit concert befitting the generous spirit of the ‘Blues Queen of New Orleans’. This morning Marva Wright suffered another stroke and passed away in New Orleans.
Her outstanding auto-biographical 2007 release After the Levees Broke went a long way to relate one of the many deeply personal stories of life in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina for folks along the Gulf Coast. Marva and most of her family evacuated the city before the storms hit. She watched the hurricane’s destruction unfold on television and for many days during and after the storm she was left to wonder about the fate of her son, the police officer who had stayed behind in New Orleans to help those that remained as the waters rose. (He survived.) The power of her voice and personality are inseparably fused to songs on the recording like Bruce Hornsby’s The Way It Is, and Marvin Gaye’s Change Is Going To Come.
We’ll remember the inspirational spirit of Marva Wright with a showcase of After the Levees Broke, this coming Monday on World of Music.
(Here’s Richard Marcus’ review of After the Levees Broke)
Ana Moura: Fado das águas / Leva-Me Aos Fados / World Village 468099 / (PORTUGAL) * NEW *
The Spy from Cairo: Oud Funk / Secretly Famous / Wonderwheel Recordings 8 – (ITALY)
Badar Ali Khan: Drowned in Your Eyes / Lost in Qawwali III / Media Creature Music / http://www.mediacreature.com – (PAKISTAN)
11 Acorn Lane: Live It Up / Everybody’s Here / http://www.11acornlane.com – (UK?)
Rob Curto: A Voz de Razão / Forró for All / Mezzogiorno Records 2006 – (USA/BRAZIL)
Rokia Traoré: Finini / Mouneïssa / Indigo 2524 – (MALI) * at the Flynn on 4/18/2010, 7:30pm *
Shooglenifty: Loreen’s Tune / Troots / Shoogle 6005 – (SCOTLAND)
Mariza: Há Festa Na Mouraria / Fado em Mim / Times Square Records 9026 – (PORTUGAL)
Šaban Bajramović: Vasilica / Gypsy King & Drunkard / Balkanika 13937 – (SERBIA)
Le Vent du Nord: l’Heure Bleue / Dans les Airs / Borealis 189 – (QUÉBEC)
Lágrima Ríos: El Abrojito / Canción Para Mi Pueblo / Acqua Records 78 – (URUGUAY)
Tony Mastaler: Over The Rainbow / Moonlight Expressions / (self-produced) – (MADE IN VT)
Rachid Taha: Agi / Bonjour / Wrasse Records 251 – (ALGERIA) * NEW *
Palmeras Kanibales: Internacional Socialista / La Ruta / PCDI 2006 – (VENEZUELA)
The Mitchell & Dewbury Band featuring Billie Godfrey: Beyond the Rains / Beyond the Rains / Mr. Bongo 47 – (UK)
Biakuye Percussion Group: Nana Yaa / Jumbie Sampler / Jumbie 11 – (GHANA)
Sierra Leone’s Refugee All-Stars: Global Threat / Rise & Shine / Cumbancha 18 – (SIERRA LEONE) * NEW *
Gecko Turner: Monosabio Blues / Chandalismo Ilustrado / Love Monk 15 – (SPAIN)
Charlie’s world music show was one of the inspirations behind this program. He passed away last week, after more than 30 years spent introducing radio audiences to artists like Franco, the Congolese guitarist; Portuguese fado singer Mariza; Serbian vocalist Šaban Bajramović, and many, many others.
We’ll hear from some of Charlie’s favorites along with the Underscore Orkestra, which is visiting Langdon Street Cafe in Montpelier tonight on their current Northeastern tour.
New releases this week include Quadro Nuevo’s Tango Bittersweet (a 2006 release, but something we just picked up); Portugal’s Ana Moura in her fourth recording for World Village records; and Rise & Shine, the latest from Sierra Leone’s Refugee All-Stars – it’s being released in the States tomorrow.
World of Music is a reverential, groove-shaking mashup of blues, poetry, jazz, and world music every Monday from 3-5pm ET on the Radiator. Online, or at 105.9FM if you’re listening in Burlington, VT.
What a gift, soft springtime flakes falling this morning!
I got up early to get ready for a recording session with the Underscore Orkestra at the VPR performance studio. They’re six players strong from Portland, OR., taking a tour of the Northeast now with a couple of stops in Vermont (Radio Bean tonight; Langdon Street tomorrow night) before hitting Montreal near the end of this week.
This is where, if I were Pandora, I’d be making similar sounding recommendations for groups like Gogol Bordello, Balkan Beatbox, The Squirrel Nut Zippers, or maybe the Fishtank Ensemble. All good recommendations.
But if you have a chance this evening or tomorrow night, I recommend checking out their set and seeing (hearing) what creative new twists the Underscore brings to the genre.
Unofficially, it’s already been here for a several weeks lurking around in the wings and waiting for a proper introduction. If you’re thinking about all of the dramatic reports of heavy winter snow in the mid-Atlantic states, and all along the Eastern seaboard in the last couple of months: none of that made it to northern Vermont. In fact it never got cold again this year after the annual “January thaw”. The rivers broke up in late January and never froze again. The only significant snowstorm we’ve had this winter came in late February, and within a day or two the warm torrential rains and sunshine came and it’s been early spring mud season ever since.
Along with the sagging snow pack of this winter’s whimpering conclusion, has melted away my anticipation for the ice-breaking, the sunlight-fueled springy optimism, and the visceral Rite of Spring rejuvenation that usually pulses through the landscape at this time of the year. I’m trying to get on board with the general glowing sentiment around here and join the frothing over the 60-degree days of the past week, but I keep coming back to “What’s the big deal? It’s been warm for the last two months – and we have at least five more months of this stuff coming!”
I am a diehard winter-lover – the more, the better- so it’s not surprising I’m feeling a little ambivalent about all of this. I never got cold enough, snowbound enough, winter-weary enough to accept the early spring as the kind “relief” other folks are expressing these days.
At least a couple of the season’s transitional mile-markers are on cue this year. We reset clocks last weekend to Daylight Savings Time. The Green Mountain Film Festival is underway in Montpelier. It’s also sugar season now, with little wood houses all over the landscape puffing out clouds of steam as vats of maple sap boil away late into the night. And the Vermont Symphony Orchestra’s annual Farmer’s Night concert at the State House came right on time this past Wednesday – the “Luck of the VSO” concert, with a lovely program of faves from the British Isles for St. Patty’s Day.
Today I’ve been doing some reading and thinking about the music of springtime as I get ready to host tonight’s Musically Speaking session before the VSO Masterworks concert this evening. I’ll be talking with guest conductor Sarah Hicks and composer Richard Danielpour. Among other works, the program includes On Hearing the First Cuckoo of Spring, an optimistic work by Frederick Delius; Copland’s bouyant ballet music, Appalachian Spring; and Danielpour’s new double concerto – A Child’s Reliquary – featuring VSO conductor/violinist Jaime Laredo and his wife, cellist Sharon Robinson, as the soloists.
How I love the opportunity to refresh myself in the history of a piece like Appalachian Spring, and recall the non-intuitive nature of its title. Copland was ready to call the work “Ballet for Martha” (after Martha Graham, the choreographer who had commissioned the piece), until Graham suggested that he call it “Appalachian Spring” after a verse from The Dance, one of the fifteen poems in Hart Crane’s, The Bridge:
O Appalachian Spring! I gained the ledge;
Steep, inaccessible smile that eastward bends
And northward reaches in that violet wedge
The ballet itself revolves around a newly wed couple in the Pennsylvania Amish country, and the friends and neighbors who have gathered to help the couple to raise a new barn.
Interesting, that the orchestral suite made from the Copland’s original ballet music has nothing to do with either the Appalachians or the spring of “springtime”. In fact the “spring” in the title is actually a reference to the water source in Crane’s poem, which only incidentally became associated with the music through an offhand, last-minute suggestion from a friend. Yet it works. Can you even consider hearing that music now and not calling it by that name?
Looking forward to sharing (and learning, I’m sure!) more about the program in this evening’s event. I’ll hope to see you there.