Posts Tagged ‘The Story’

zebu nation

March 13, 2010

Word’s getting out fast about the debut recording by Razia Said. (Just call her Razia).

This week alone the Madagascar-born singer’s new recording Zebu Nation has been featured both on The Story with Dick Gordon, and as Thursday’s “Global Hit” on the BBC’s The World. I’ve been curious which of the CD’s catchy, driving tracks are the ones being picked up for radio airplay. I wasn’t too surprised to learn yesterday that several are.

The album was inspired by a return visit to to Madagascar, home of towering baobab trees and herds of zebu, a native hump-backed cattle population. Razia still has family there, though she moved away when she was still pre-teen. On the most recent visit she was struck by the scope and advanced severity of deforestation on the island, a result of decades of ungoverned tavy, or ‘slash and burn’ agricultural practices. In the span from 1950 to 1985 alone, one half of Madagascar’s rainforests vanished.

In contrast to the bleak situation it illustrates, the music of Zebu Nation is a warm, inviting blend that reminds the listener at every turn this is music sprung organically from the tropical sunshine of the Indian Ocean. It’s made with long, tubular bamboo zithers, wooden flutes, and a variety of stringed instruments not unlike the koras and ngoni of West Africa. Song after song, the effect of these unique voices can be both uplifting and haunting. Though beautiful, it’s a little like listening to ghosts – it’s hard enjoy the music without thinking about the native wooden instruments of Madagascar being just one more of the many potential casualties of rainforest destruction if the situation doesn’t improve.

Razia’s website is a companion artistic effort, a visual extension of the passion and very personal commitment she has to this music, and to the land itself. (Ten percent of all Zebu Nation sales go to benefit tree planting projects in Madagascar.)

the week, past and future

May 30, 2009
Rupa Marya (of 'Rupa & The Aprilfishes')

Rupa Marya (of 'Rupa & The Aprilfishes')

I’m listening to New Orleans trumpeter Kermit Ruffins right now sharing his favorite BBQ recipes, on The Splendid Table. His band’s called The BBQ Swingers, and he’s known for setting up a grill near the stage to encourage spontaneous acts of audience participation in charred food. No bottles and cans allowed in the park, but what about ribs & slaw? Sounds great to me!

Seems like there’s been a lot of music in the news recently:

  • This morning NPR recognized Benny Goodman’s 100th birthday anniversary – including some discussion with Anat Cohen, who’s transcribing many of Benny’s solos AND appearing at this year’s Burlington Discover Jazz Festival, later this week. (More on that in a minute).
  • NPR arts reporter and producer Felix Contreras shared an overview of today’s new Latin music scene, by way of three new releases: Luz del Ritmo, from Argentina’s Los Fabulosos Cadillacs; Coba Coba, from the Afro-Peruvian groovemasters Novalima; and the lead singer from Yerba Buena, CuCu Diamantes’ debut solo effort CuCu Land , singing in a Dominican-flavored vernacular she calls “urban tropical”
  • About a week ago Fresh Air reprised an interview with Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, engineers of the distinct ‘Philly sound’ with classics like If You Don’t Know Me By Now
  • On The Story, Dick Gordon talked to Rupa Marya about the music that lives at the intersection of her two professions: as a singer/songwriter, and medical doctor
  • …and a couple of days ago I when woke up to BBC World Update I heard a really interesting story about a cellist and his ventures into experimental music. I wasn’t able to find more info about it at the BBC site. Too bad, I wanted to share the link here. Maybe you’ll have better luck – look for it in the BBC World Update on Thursday (5/28) morning.

Taking a look ahead, it’s going to be a really busy week with all of the music coming up around town. Monday promises my first experience on the Green at Shelburne Museum, with

Byrne's tour poster

Byrne's tour poster

David Byrne. The program description says “songs of David Byrne and Brian Eno”, and that probably means a generous dose of music from their new collaboration, Everything That Happens Will Happen Today. Is it too much to hope that we might also get the rare treat of hearing some things (“the Jezebel Spirit” – please? Please!?) from some of their earlier work together, like the landmark electro-adventure, My Life in the Bush of Ghosts?

On Thursday evening, after the opening reception for the Burlington Discover Jazz Festival, I’ll be hurrying over to UVM to catch the debut concert with trumpeter Ray Vega and his new Jazz Ensemble.

And Friday, well, that’s the start of the blur of sounds and experiences that typically characterize the time during the annual Discover Jazz Festival. As much as I usually know what I’ll be seeing and doing during the Festival, there’s often just as much that happens unexpectedly. Some of the most memorable encounters in past festivals have been the ones that weren’t planned. Like last year’s spontaneous jam session on Church Street, which started with a couple of players and picked up momentum with more and more folks stopping by, onlookers stepping aside to make way for the multiplying empty cases and trunks that accumulated in a cluttered ring around the jam. They made some noise that day!

The planned parts this week include the double-bill with Esperanza Spalding and Anat Cohen on Friday night, lots of live music and bands on Church Street and in City Park; Big Joe Burrell Day; and Belizbeha & the Country Horns next Saturday.

Stay tuned, updates coming here through the week. And by all means leave a comment here if you’re inspired to mention your own experiences or thoughts about live music this summer.

We’re just getting started, you know.

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