Posts Tagged ‘Lobi Traore’

2010 in the rearview: what’s to love in music, part 2

December 31, 2010

The year-end survey continues – a few more of my favorite recordings from 2010:

Stile Antico: “Media vita” – This is the fourth recording from the young choir Stile Antico. They’re 14 members strong with a singular strong artistic vision that’s wasting no time establishing them in good company with groups like Anonymous 4. “Media vita” features choral music by the Tudor composer John Sheppard, a oft-overlooked contemporary of higher profile composers Thomas Tallis and (the somewhat younger) William Byrd. The real appeal of Sheppard’s outwardly austere harmonies reveals itself in washes (rather than flashes) of color, and the occasional dissonance and disharmony created with passing tones. The pure performance aesthetic of Stile Antico assures you hear every complexity and nuance in the various layers of music. This is one of two recordings from Stile Antico this year, the other is “Puer natus est” for Christmastime. I enjoyed both but prefer “Media vita” for its handling of the unusual repertoire.

Luisa Maita: “Lero-Lero” and “Maita Remixed” – This is actually two-in-one. Luisa Maíta’s debut album “Lero-Lero” was released in July, and it almost immediately spawned (in November) a remix treatment from notables like Maga Bo, Seiji, and DJ/rupture. Whether your tastes run to traditional Brazilian samba and bossa sounds (on “Lero-Lero”), or to the contemporized versions of the same material on the “Remixed” album, Maíta delivers her original songs with understated sultry flair. There is consistency of quality from track to track on these recordings, but not at the sacrifice of variety in tone and flavor. The message is clear: this is Brazil NOW.

Vijay Iyer: “Solo” – For an artist with a decade and a half experience it’s a little surprising it’s taken Vijay Iyer this long to offer the world a solo recording. I wasn’t sure what to expect with “Solo”, given Iyer’s artistic involvement with everything from hip-hop to improvisational collaborations and larger ensemble (orchestral) work. It’s worth the wait, and the question about all of those previous influences is answered by the fact that Iyer’s solo work is a rich blend of all of them. There’s the recording’s simple introduction with “Human Nature”, a song that digs deep into Iyer’s emotional abilities and reminds me of the supreme sensitivity and awareness heard with pianists like Bill Evans (always) and Keith Jarrett (in his best playing). And then you can hear Iyer’s spirited homage to Duke Ellington with “Black and Tan”, and his moving take on Monk’s “Epistrophy”. There is nothing about “Solo” that doesn’t ring true, from the standards (and not-so standard “standards”) to Iyer’s own forward-looking compositions. Look for more great things from this evolving young pianist.

Roland Tchakounté: “Blues Menessen” – What if John Lee Hooker had called his home West Africa? Cameroon’s Roland Tchakounté offers an answer to that thought – at least in part – with his searing bluesy guitar and deep, affecting vocals. And, he’s cool. But the John Lee Hooker comparison can’t be carried too far, Tchakounté is very much his own artist. He recorded two albums in Douala before he left Africa to live in France a few years ago. “Blues Menessen” was released this past May as his latest, most commercial recording. It is blues, but it’s not the West African/Sahara Touareg (think: Tinariwen) blues we’ve become familar with in recent years. This is fairly straightahead American Delta-style blues with an African accent, sung in Tchakounté’s native West Cameroonian language bamileke. It’s both unusual and familiar at the same time. The songs run a wide range of styles, from consistently rhythmic to more free-ranging and moodily interpretive. I love this recording.

Lobi Traoré: “Rainy Season Blues” – I couldn’t mention Roland Tchakounté without also talking about fellow Malian blues man Lobi Traoré. It was quite a shock this year to learn of his June 1st death. The circumstances aren’t completely clear (and of course, not especially important anyway). We do know that Traoré was 49 years old and had enjoyed great success in recent years. A year prior in the summer of 2009, he had met with producer Chris Eckman to lay down tracks for a new recording  featuring just his voice and guitar. What an ideal opportunity for an artist. The result is the new posthumous collection “Rainy Season Blues” – a quietly personal insight into Traoré’s art, featuring exclusively original material.  Traoré sings in Bambara on themes of peace, politics, and family. “Rainy Season Blues” is something like the ‘unplugged’ counterpart to the earlier “Mali Blues” album, and its rewards are equally sweet. Make that bittersweet, since this is also Traoré’s final musical statement. He will be greatly missed.

There are a LOT of other recordings I could mention…here’s a short list:

Mayte Martin: “Cantar a Manuel” – gorgeous flamenco singing from Spain.

Galactic: “Ya-ka-may” – down home SUPER funky sassy, brassy soul grooves from New Orleans…in fact, New Orleans gave the world several other hot releases this year too, including albums from Trombone Shorty (“Backatown”), Kermit Ruffins (“Happy Talk”), and Dr. Michael White (“Blue Crescent”).

Antonin Dvořák’s complete Symphonic Poems, with Charles Mackerras & the Czech Philharmonic (on Supraphon) – this is the contemporary recording of the Poems we’ve been waiting for.

Gil Scott-Heron: “‘I’m New Here” – gritty, original, real, with all the usual great observations about life and our society. Scott-Heron’s first recording in 15 years, and WHAT a return.

Joan Soriano: “El Duque de la Bachata” – singing, blistering guitar-driven melodies from the Dominican Republic.

Frederic Chopin’s late masterpieces with pianist Stephen Hough (on Hyperion) – a perfectly crafted recording to celebrate Chopin’s 200th anniversary year.

Oswin Chin Behilia: “Liber” – politically-infused, lyrically Caribbean songs from a soulful guitar master.

I guess it has to end somewhere, so that’s it for this year’s wrap-up. Cheers to another year of good listening in 2011!

playlist #140 (12/20/10)-listening to 2010, pt. 3

December 20, 2010

World of Music
Pgm #140 – Number three of four shows dedicated to some of the best international music of 2010
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)
Dengue Fever & Ros Sereysothea: Cold Sky / Electric Cambodia / Minky Records 1 – (CAMBODIA)
Gorillaz: White Flag / Plastic Beach / Virgin 27547 – (USA)
The Mayapuris: Shiva Shiva / Mridanga / Equal Vision Records 190 – (INDIA)
Trio Azteca & de Norte a Sur: El Colas / The Best of Mexico / ARC Music 2302 – (MEXICO)
Hot Club of Detroit: Equilibrium / It’s About That Time / Mack Avenue 1051 – (USA)
Tumi & The Volume: Asinamali / Pick A Dream / Sakifo Records 3216165 – (SOUTH AFRICA)
Oswin Chin Behilia: Zikinzá / Liber / Otrabanda Records 10 – (CURAÇAO)
Lena Ka: Fais Semblant / Cinquième Saison / SACEM 31075120478 – (FRANCE)
Raúl Paz: Gente / Havanization / Naïve 2010 – (CUBA)
Emad Sayyah: Raksat Loubnan / Bellydance from Lebanon / ARC Music 2278 – (LEBANON)
Balval: Mamo / Le Ciel Tout Nu / Whaling City Sound 53 – (FRANCE)
Diabel Cissoko & Ramon Goose: Totoumo / Mansana Blues / Dixiefrog 8683 – (MALI/UK)
Master Drummers of Africa: Dagwamba / Master Drummers of Africa vol. 2-Ubuntu / ARC Music 2280 – (GHANA)
Nour Eddine: Laafou / Morocco-Traditional Sounds and Music / ARC Music 2289 – (MOROCCO)
Lobi Traoré: Moko ti y lamban don / Rainy Season Blues / Glitterhouse Records 711 – (MALI)
Giulia y los Tellarini: Ay Mi Niña / Eusebio / Music to Measure 2008 – (SPAIN)
Mike Mainieri & Charlie Mariano: Bye Bye Blackbird / Crescent / NYC Records 6041 – (USA)
Trombone Shorty: On Your Way Down / Backatown / Verve 14194 – (N’AWLINS)
Sierra Leone’s Refugee All-Stars: Dununya / Rise & Shine / Cumbancha 18 – (SIERRA LEONE)
Dr. Michael White: King of the Second Line / Blue Crescent / Basin Street Records 504 – (N’AWLINS)
Kermit Ruffins: Ain’t That Good News / Happy Talk / Basin Street Records 111 – (N’AWLINS)
Galactic: Katey vs Nobby / Ya-Ka-May / Anti- 87002 – (N’AWLINS)
Toots & The Maytals: Higher Ground / Flip and Twist / D&F Music 2010 – (JAMAICA)
The Whitefield Brothers: Pamukkale / Earthology / Now Again Records 2010 – (GERMANY)
Lil Queenie & The Percolators: My Darlin’ New Orleans / Treme / HBO Music 14910 – * 2010 Grammy nominee * – (N’AWLINS)
Sonia Brex: Good Times / Naif / Piranha 2442 – (GERMANY/ITALY)

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)

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