Archive for September, 2010

playlist #128 (9/27/10)-surprises

September 27, 2010
World of Music
Pgm #128 – Surprises, new and old: remixes, recent releases, and classics
Catch the show on Mondays 3-5pm EDT – at 105.9FM in Burlington, VT or online at The Radiator
Nas with Youssou N’Dour & Neneh Cherry: Wake Up (It’s Africa Calling) / Open Remix / (download) – (USA / SENEGAL)
Anadolu University Folkdance Ensemble: Çiftetelli / Turkey – Traditional Music / ARC Music 2301 – (TURKEY) *NEW*
Ana Cañas: Cadê Você / Amor e Caos / Sony Music 88697182782 – (BRAZIL)
Khaled: Oran Marseille / Sahra / Island Records 314537510 – (ALGERIA)
Luísa Maita: Lero-Lero (DJ/rupture Remix) / Maita Remixed / Cumbancha Discovery 87 – (BRAZIL)    *NEW – coming out on Nov. 7th *
Sergent Garcia featuring Bïonik: Long Time / Sergent Garcia-Best Of / EMI 5601200 – (SPAIN)
Mahlathini & The Mahotella Queens: Mbaqanga / South African Legends / Putumayo 163 – (SOUTH AFRICA)
Tipico Santa Rosa: Na Playa / Na Playa / Chirino 95 – (CURAÇAO)
Trio Azteca & De Norte A Sur: El Colas / The Best of Mexico / ARC Music 2302 – (MEXICO)    *NEW*
Clara Moreno: Se Acaso Você Chegasse / Meu Samba Torto / Farout Recordings 4460 – (BRAZIL)
Bader Ali Khan: Jano Mara Dil (My Heart) / Lost in Qawwali / Media Creature Music (N/A) – (PAKISTAN)
Maurizio Geri Swingtet: Crapa Pelata / Jazz Manouche vol. 2 / Wagram 3118072 – (FRANCE)
Tabou Combo: Wa Kite Sa / Sans Limites / Antilles Mizik 9050 – (HAITI)
Telmary Diaz: Libre / A Diario / DM Ahoroa Records 2007 – (CUBA)
Salsa Celtica: Whisky Con Ron / El Agua de la Vida / Greentrax Recordings 7010 – (SCOTLAND)
Nour Eddine: Mawal Gnawi / Morocco – Traditional Songs & Music / ARC Music 2289 – (MOROCCO) *NEW*
Josh Garrels: Never Have I Found / Jacaranda / Small Voice 2008 – (USA)
Umalali: Fuleisei / The Garifuna Women’s Project / Cumbancha 6 – (GUATEMALA)
Lobi Traoré: Anun Ka Ben / Mali Blue / Dixiefrog 8574 – (MALI)
Yakki Famirie: Faluma (ding ding ding) / Faluma / World Connection 43009 – (SURINAM)
Dobet Gnahoré: Nadodo / Ano Neko / Contre Jour 14 – (IVORY COAST)
Andy Palacio: Weyu Lárigi Weyu / Wátina / Cumbancha 3 – (BELIZE)
Salsa Chula featuring El Médico de Rap: La Duquesa / El Boom Boom / Tumi 159 – (CUBA)
Bole 2 Halem:  Bole 2 Harlem / Bole 2 Harlem / Sounds of the Mushroom 1 – (ETHIOPIA)
Irakere: Bocalao Con Pan / Si Para Usted / Waxing Deep Records 2006 – (CUBA)


September 27, 2010

I’ve decided not to give away what this week’s World of Music will hold.

Hint? OK,  I can tell you in the last week I’ve received a package of new releases from ARC Music. Each one focuses on a different geographical area: Turkey, Mexico, and Morocco. Each one is wonderful.

And don’t be surprised if you hear a special World of Music exclusive: a SNEAK PREVIEW of Cumbancha’s upcoming Luisa Maita remix CD! Shhh! It’s not being released until November, but I got a special advance copy and it’s hot.

World of Music is a surreptitious, shadowy blend of blues, poetry, jazz, and international music every Monday from 3-5pm ET on the Radiator. Online, or at 105.9FM if you’re listening in Burlington, VT.

vyo fall concert

September 26, 2010

Geese flew over downtown Burlington late this afternoon. The season’s traditional “V”s and “half-Vs” were pushed along by the lone stragglers, flying behind and honking an impatient “wait up!” to their more prescient mates.

With autumn comes the start of the concert season…I guess. That’s a qualified statement because in Vermont, it doesn’t seem like there’s ever a NON-concert season. Summers are filled with festivals and intimate outdoor gatherings while the other three quarters of the year hold their own with recitals and informal get-togethers along with the regular season concert series at all of the area venues.

This fall’s two opening concerts with the Vermont Youth Orchestra were especially anticipated events as they also marked the debut of the Orchestra’s new conductor, Ronald Braunstein.

He’s offered a vision that includes a focus on core orchestral repertoire, and self-empowerment of the Orchestra’s young musicians through dedicated coaching and personalized training sessions. The approach seems to be working so far.

While the maestro stuck strictly to the music in today’s concert and didn’t offer any words of introduction to his new audience, the Orchestra spoke volumes in Dvořák’s colorful Op. 46 Slavonic Dance #8, Bach’s stately Air on the G String, Bernstein’s brilliant Overture from Westside Story, and – occupying the entire second half of the program – Beethoven’s regal Symphony #5.

I’ve never heard the VYO’s brass and winds sound better than they did today in the Bernstein and Beethoven (the final movement of the 5th was outstanding!). Principal cellist Joshua Morris’s solo pizzicato passage in the Westside Story Overture showed supreme musicianship, as did the clarinet/bassoon tradeoffs in the 2nd movement of Beethoven’s 5th, and many percussion moments throughout the entire concert. Bach’s familiar Air was glassy and serene (if not memorably interesting), while Dvořák’s potent Slavonic Dance delivered satisfying syncopation of  joyful abandon and metered precision.

This “concert season” is off to a great start!

chandler’s open house

September 25, 2010

It’s official: Chandler Center for the Arts in Randolph is ready for business again as of today’s community open house, only 15 months after the first ceremonial spade of dirt was turned on the historic building’s major renovation project.

The thing is, though, Chandler never closed. Not even when the building lost heat in the heart of subzero overnight winter temperatures last February, causing the piano to throw a tuning tantrum on the day Simone Dinnerstein and the American Contemporary Music Ensemble were scheduled to perform.

Programs at Chandler also continued as usual through this spring and summer, when the planned expansion in the rear of the building became an UNplanned major-scale engineering feat to build a retaining wall, create a switchback driveway, and add drainage pathways to the street below.

The result of all this volunteer labor, generous community contributions and hard work is nearly 6,000 additional square feet of space, a new elevator that provides access to every floor, greener operations (in the lights, insulation, and water systems) and many other improvements for the 1907 building.

I arrived at the open house just as the party was getting started around 10 this morning. There were already music groups playing on all three floors and several tours were underway, guided by volunteers who I recognized from their dual roles as ushers from my many past visits to the music hall. As I came down the stairs just off the lobby I was especially curious to see the downstairs hallway. I recalled the drywall, plastic sheeting and dusty plaster that decorated the hallway last winter, when that space housed the reception following Simone Dinnerstein’s concert. That evening Chandler’s Board President Janet Watton reassured everyone about the progress that was being made on the renovations, and promised a spiffy new space when it was done. She was right! The handsome gray slate floors, silver fixtures and soft lighting completely transformed the hallway into an elegant transitional space. Walking further along, I encountered the new ‘green room’ kitchenette, the spacious new guest restrooms, and the impressive storage rooms afforded by the expansion.

Backstage – that is, the immediate backstage – remains as it ever was, with heavy black velvet curtains hanging at the periphery of the stage along with the usual assortment of gear and equipment. The backstage behind the immediate backstage is all new, another product of the expansion. The house piano looked comfortable in its new, dedicated temperature and humidity-controlled storage space and ample, light-filled dressing rooms with large mountain view windows make the vision complete. Not bad!

Chandler’s 2010/2011 performance season officially opens this coming Friday, October 1st with the bluegrass duet Tim O’Brien and Brian Sutton. The next night, the Vermont Symphony Orchestra’s “Made in Vermont” tour makes a stop there, and then the season will be well underway.


September 25, 2010

Ronald Braunstein and me

I wasn’t sure what to expect this past Thursday morning.

Ronald Braunstein, the new permanent conductor of the Vermont Youth Orchestra, was due in the VPR Classical studio at 9 to talk with me on the air about his new job with the Orchestra. In the conversation we’d had a week earlier in his sunny office at the VYO building, I couldn’t get a good read on him at all. When I arrived that day I found him standing in the office lobby, in conversation with a young man who may have been an Orchestra member. Ronald greeted me, but he seemed distracted. Had I interrupted his conversation? Did he need to get back to that before the two of us talked? I said, “I hope I haven’t interrupted – do you have time?”  He glanced at his wrist, and still with a very serious face he looked me in the eye: “yes, it’s 2 o’clock!” Good news, he has a sense of humor!

And our time together that afternoon ended as it had begun. After an hour or so of intense discussion that ranged from conducting technique to contemporary music and art, and Braunstein’s personal history – I was on the way out of his office when he said “that’ll be 50 cents.” I must have looked puzzled. “For the pomegranate juice,” he explained, deadpan, pointing at the now empty glass he had brought to me earlier. (Um, OK…)  I gave him my best ‘indignant diva’ voice: “I don’t PAY for interviews!” and we both had a good laugh.

This Thursday morning, we were scheduled to bring that conversation to the air on VPR Classical. Would his understated sense of humor come through in an interview setting? Would mine? And how could we get at those personal details that make his life such an interesting story, without making this private, quiet man audibly uncomfortable on the air? Or worse yet, make him want to discontinue the discussion. No need to worry, I soon found out. The conversation we’d had a week earlier had apparently gone some way to break the ice and he was ready to talk when he got to the studio.

Braunstein is 55, he came to Vermont from (most recently) New York City after a career that included studies at Juilliard, teaching at the Mannes School of Music, and studies with some big names in 20th century music: Herbert Von Karajan, Leonard Bernstein, Elliot Carter and Milton Babbitt. So, why Vermont? And with credentials like that, why take a position with a Youth Orchestra? “Well first of all it was the Orchestra’s incredible reputation, I’d heard about them for years. And I always wanted to go somewhere beautiful, to be the music director. It never quite worked out, I was always in places like Houston or other places that were not so green or not so nice to live.  And the other thing that was really interesting to me was that it was not connected, it was free-standing. It didn’t have any connections to any other institutions, and therefore to be the music director there I could really use my creative opinions, my philosophies and  what not to shape and guide the organization.”

Here’s something you didn’t hear if you listened in to our conversation on Thursday morning: the recording I chose to fill out the rest of the hour was the electrifying 1962 classic of Beethoven’s 5th, with Herbert von Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic. At the downbeat of the first iconic opening notes, Ronald asked off-air, “wait – which recording IS this?” I said, “there IS only one,” and handed him the CD jewel case. For the next half hour we listened to that magnificent recording together, Ronald occasionally sharing von Karajan anecdotes and leaning in excitedly and pausing to say “listen to that!”. I’d turn up the volume, and then he would go on to point out some masterly nuance: von Karajan’s omission of the repeat in the first movement; the bassoon sixteenth notes that quietly act as the engine in the third movement; the dotted eighth notes of the celli that support the second movement; and the heroic horn entrance in the fourth. I had never listened to a piece of music before with a conductor. And I will never be able to hear to Beethoven’s 5th again now that I’ve had that special experience.

One of the best stories Ronald told was a recollection of Herbert Von Karajan’s reaction to the first time he observed the younger conductor in a performance of Beethoven’s 5th. (Imagine Ronald speaking in the elder master’s thick German accent here –) “”I have one thing to tell you,” von Karajan said, “you don’t know this piece.” I just shook my head, trying to imagine what it would be like to have a comment like that aimed my way as a young musician. It could be devastating. For Ronald it was a challenge. He smiled, “Yah, well I do NOW! And I’m younger than he was!”

Maestro Braunstein makes his debut with the Vermont Youth Orchestra in two concerts this weekend. The first took place last night in St. Albans, and the next one is tomorrow at 3 at Burlington’s Flynn Center for the Arts. Keep a close eye on his conducting gestures, Braunstein often talks about “elasticity” being one of the guiding principles of his journey through music. I wonder how that will translate to his time on the podium, and his interpretation of the classics they’ll be playing like Beethoven’s 5th Symphony, and Bach’s Air on the G String?

Oh – and don’t look for a score on his music stand, he doesn’t use one. In fact there won’t be a music stand at all. The reason why goes a long way toward giving some insight on the relationship he plans to have with this motivated, exceedingly talented group of young musicians:  “I don’t want anything between me and the Orchestra.”


September 23, 2010

I’ve always wondered if it was a coincidence that John Coltrane’s birthday falls around the time of the autumn equinox, and the fact that he wrote a jazz classic by that name.

For your listening/viewing pleasure today, September 23rd, 2010 – the 84th anniversary of the great man’s birth AND the first official full day of autumn, enjoy Equinox:

big hands!

September 21, 2010

chants de vielles

September 20, 2010

It was a nice day for a drive – last Sunday (9/12), with a warm breeze and a sky full of silver clouds.

Early autumn is filtering into the landscape now with shades of gold trimming the green trees and fields that thrived in this year’s hot summer.

This time the destination was north: around 45 minutes outside (northeast) of Montreal, out in the Canadian countryside. The small village of Calixa-Lavallée is named after its most famous resident, the composer of the Canadian national anthem. The town is also the site of the Chants de Vielles Festival, an annual three-day celebration of Québecois history and culture realized through music, dancing, and local arts.

I can tell you I’ve never seen more hurdy-gurdys in a single place than at this festival: strapped in their distinctive trapeziodal cases on people’s backs, lying around on the picnic tables behind the artisan’s tent, and best of all – being played, often, all over the place. Fiddles, bagpipes and wooden flutes rounded out the instruments of the day, all in the service of traditional Québecois music that ranged from lively and rollicking to plaintive, and poignant.

At the end of the day when the last notes had resounded in the converted stable and the tents around the corn field, all of the artists gathered together and paraded from the festival grounds to the Church in town for a grand final concert. I was there as a bystander, and was still invited to join the procession! What fun.

Can’t wait to go back next year, except I’ll probably plan on spending more than a single day there.

playlist #127 (9/20/10)-more new tunes

September 20, 2010
World of Music
Pgm #127 – More new tunes from Jamaica, Germany, Curaçao…
Catch the show on Mondays 3-5pm EDT – at 105.9FM in Burlington, VT or online at The Radiator
Nas with Youssou N’Dour & Neneh Cherry: Wake Up (It’s Africa Calling) / Open Remix / (download) – (USA / SENEGAL)
Sara Tavares featuring Ana Moura: De Nua / Balancé / Times Square Records 9054 – (CAPE VERDE/PORTUGAL)
Diabel Cissoko & Ramon Goose : Mansana Blues / Mansana Blues / Dixiefrog 8063 – (MALI/UK) *NEW*
Los Macosos: Spill the Wine / Shades of Brown / six degrees 1049 – (USA)
Bendeniz: Kirmizi Biber / Turkish Groove / Putumayo 248 – (TURKEY)
Dr. Michael White: Crescent City Calypso / Blue Crescent / Basin Street Records 504 – (N’AWLINS) *NEW*
Lena Ka: Fais Semblant / Cinquième Saison / SACEM 31075120478 – (FRANCE) *NEW*
Debashish Bhattcharya: Priyatameshu / O Shakuntala! / Riverboat 1053 – (INDIA)
Joan Soriano: Su Lado de Cama / El Duque de la Bachata /  iASO 5 – (DOMINICAN REPUBLIC) *NEW*
Anura Jayasingha & The Balladeers: Kaju Gas Sewane / Welcome to Sri Lanka / Arion 64087 – (SRI LANKA)
Malena Muyala: Golondrinas / Viajera / Agadu 3667 – (URUGUAY)
Dota und die Stadtpiraten: Utopie / Bis Auf Den Grund / Kleingeld Prinzessen Records 12708 – (GERMANY) *NEW*
Los Fabulosos Cadillacs: Demasiada Presión / Lo Esencial Los Fabulosos Cadillacs / Norte 8869706443 – (ARGENTINA)
Red Baarat: Tunak Tunak Tun / Chaal Baby / Sin Records 110 – (NY CITY, USA) *NEW*       
Angélique Kidjo
: Seyin Djro / Oyaya! / Columbia 89063 – (BENIN)
Black Uhuru: Hey Joe / Now / Mesa Records 79021 – (JAMAICA)
Dengue Fever: Don’t Speak / Electric Cambodia / Minky 1 – (CAMBODIA/USA) *NEW*
Oswin Chin Behilia: Den Bo Kushina / Liber / Otrabanda Records 10 – (CURAÇAO) *NEW*
Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars: Oruwiebie / Rise & Shine / Cumbancha 18 – (SIERRA LEONE) *NEW*
Rale Micic: Thirty Three / 3 / CTA Records 8 – (SERBIA) *NEW*
Degas-Weiser: Heideröslein / Heimat-von fern so nah / Piranha 2008 – (GERMANY/BRAZIL) *NEW*
Calima: Gatito perdido (Lost kitten) / Azul / EMI 94877 – (SPAIN)
Lee “Scratch” Perry: Weatherman / Revelation / Megawave 342 – (JAMAICA) – *NEW*
Lila Downs: El Corrido de Tacha “La Teibolera” / La Cantina / EMI 34248 – (MEXICO)
Haitiando: Gròg Mwen / The Rough Guide to the Music of Haiti / Rough Guide 1067 – (HAITI)
Vieux Farka Toure (remixed by Fabian Alsultany): Courage / UFOs Over Bamako / Modiba 5 – (MALI)

new tunes for autumn

September 20, 2010

Fall is bringing in a harvest of new releases! We’ll hear many of them on this week’s World of Music.

Included in the show: Revelation, the latest from dub legend Lee “Scratch” Perry; Blue Crescent, an homage from N’awlins clarinetist Dr. Michael White to his native city; and ‘older’ new recordings (all 2010) by Dengue Fever, Red Baraat, and Sierra Leone’s Refugee All-Stars.

World of Music is a mailbox stuffing, new tunes dance party of blues, poetry, jazz, and international music every Monday from 3-5pm ET on the Radiator. Online, or at 105.9FM if you’re listening in Burlington, VT.

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