Tag Archives: world music

Illustrated Lunar Folk Tales

Lunar Cape band – Lunar Folk Tales (ArtBeat Music, 2019)

Russian act Lunar Cape band has released a beautifully-packaged album titled “Lunar Folk Tales.” The music defies boundaries. In some cases Lunar Cape is described as a progressive rock band even though this recording contains deep folk music influences. The group clarifies that it doesn’t associate its music with any style or subculture and identifies itself as “popular instrumental music”.

The album is a series of fairy tales inspired by the moon, Russian and English traditions. The LP-sized set contains three discs: a Russian language album, an English-language CD and the third disc features the instrumental version of the tracks. The package also includes beautiful artwork with illustrations and lyrics in Russian and English.


Lunar Cape band – Lunar Folk Tales

Band members include Olga Scotland on flute, recorders, tin whistle, mandolin, spring drum, sound effects, VSTi; Andrey Shashkov on bass, vocals; Roman Smirnov on guitars, washboard, vocals.

Guest musicians: Paul Bulak on keyboards; Grigory Shelehov on drums; Alexander Koval on drums; Shahid Rashid on vocals.

Storytellers in English: Ozma Nagatovna and Trey Gunn.

Guest storytellers in Russian: Nastya Postnikova and Maxim Kucherenko.

Buy Lunar Folk Tales from amazon or from lunarcape.bandcamp.com

Guitar Charm on The Alluring Ascent

Pete Oxley & Nicolas Meier – The Alluring Ascent (MGP Records, 2019)

Pete Oxley and Nicolas Meier continue their guitar collaboration with The Alluring Ascent, an album that presents an outstanding set of musical pieces. The two European guitarists mix jazz sensibilities with contemporary influences and Middle Eastern sounds. The sequencing of the album features upbeat tracks followed by laid back, melancholic works.

Pete Oxley & Nicolas Meier – The Alluring Ascent

The interaction of the two guitarists is delightful and varied, showcasing virtuosity and melodic creativity. The two guitarists use a fascinating mix of guitars, ranging from acoustic 12-string and nylon guitars to electric 12-string guitars and the captivating sitar guitar, which is one of the highlights of the album.

The two guitarists are joined by a solid rhythm section that takes the music to a higher level. The lineup includes Pete Oxley on sitar-guitar, jazz guitar, nylon acoustic, steel, slide and electric guitars; Nicolas Meier on acoustic 12-string guitar, nylon guitar, glissentar, steel guitar; Raph Mizraki on acoustic and electric basses, darbuka; Paul Cavaciuti on drums; and Keith Fairbairn on percussion.

Captivating Progressive Innovations from Steve Hackett

Steve Hackett – At The Edge Of Light (InsideOut Music, 2019)

At The Edge of Light is Steve Hackett’s 26th studio album. The multifaceted guitarist continues to fascinate with a set that brings together progressive rock, pop, classical music, and world music.

The album opens with a high energy piece titled “Fallen Walls and Pedestals,” where Hackett showcases many of his influences: Eastern strings, superb progressive rock guitars and heavy drums.


Steve Hackett – At The Edge Of Light

Next, Hackett continues with the song “Beasts in Our Time,” where the listener is treated to rich, dramatic and dream-like cinematic symphonic moments intertwined with peaceful acoustic guitar sections, a sax solo and a memorable electric guitar wild ride with outstanding symphonic parts.

Track 3, Under the Eye of the Sun” features ornate vocal harmonies, fast-paced rock, epic guitar segments, mesmerizing Armenian duduk and ambience. Progressive rock meets world music. Can’t get better than that.

It is no secret that Steve Hackett also loves the blues.  “Underground Railroad” is a blues gospel tribute to African American traditions and the route some slaves used to escape from the southern USA.

“Those Golden Wings” begins with a charming neoclassical symphonic piece with Steve Hackett’s gorgeous signature acoustic guitar and vocals. It progresses into a cinematic sections with magnificent choirs and strings. Classical meets progressive rock and shredding guitar.

On track 6, “Shadow and Flame,” Hackett returns with the world music influences by adding Indian elements. It’s spectacular progressive rock highlighting Hackett’s electric guitar along with remarkable sitar work performed by the wonderful Sheema Mukherjee, who used to play with Transglobal Underground.

“Hungry Years” is a sing along pop song with a toe tapping beat.

Track 8, “Descent” consists of an ominous march with orchestral drums and exquisite strings that give way to Hackett’s extraordinary guitars folowed by “Conflict,” a short symphonic piece.

The album ends with a tranquil ballad called “Peace.”

The lineup:  Steve Hackett on acoustic, 12-string and electric guitars, dobro, bass, harmonica and vocals; Durga McBroom on vocals; Lorelei McBroom on vocals; Nick D’Virgilio on drums; Simon Phillips on drums;     Sheema Mukherjee on sitar; Gulli Briem on drums, percussion; Malik Mansurov on tar; Jonas Reingold on electric bass; Paul Stillwell on didgeridoo;     Rob Townsend on saxophone, bass clarinet, duduk; Amanda Lehmann on vocals; John Hackett on flute; Gary O’Toole on drums; Roger King on keyboards, programming and orchestral arrangements; Ben Fenner on keyboards; Dick Driver on double bass; and Christine Townsend on violin, viola.

The album is available in several formats, including a Mediabook CD with an extra DVD with a 5.1 surround sound mix and behind the scenes footage; double vinyl LP and CD, jewel case CD and digital version. The CD booklet contains lyrics, credits and great photos.

GroundUp Music Festival 2019


The GroundUp Music Festival

The GroundUp Music Festival will take place this weekend, February 8-10, 2019 at the North Beach Bandshell. Snarky Puppy will play all three nights, and music fans will also get a chance to see Andrew Bird, David Crosby, Tank & the Bangas, Richard Bona, Lalah Hathaway, and many more.

Snarky Puppy’s discography includes Live at Uncommon Ground (2005), The Only Constant (2006), The World Is Getting Smaller (2007), Bring Us the Bright (2008), Tell Your Friends (2010), groundUP (2012), Amkeni with Bukuru Celestin (2013), Family Dinner – Volume 1 (2013), We Like It Here (2014), Sylva with Metropole Orkest (2015), Family Dinner – Volume 2 (2016) and Culcha Vulcha (2016).

Click here for more details and a link to buy tickets. The North Beach Bandshell is located at 7275 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33141.

Groundbreaking Band Dead Can Dance Releases Dionysus

Dead Can Dance, an acclaimed genre-defying duo has a new album titled Dionysus. The recording is the duo’s first album in six years and consists of two acts across seven movements that represent the different sides of the Dionysus myth.

“The Mountain” is the first movement of the album’s second act, where, explains Perry, “listeners will find themselves visiting Mount Nysa. This mountain was Dionysus’ place of birth, where he was raised by the centaur Chiron, from whom he learned chants and dances together with Bacchic rites and initiations.”

Formed in Melbourne in 1981 by Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry, Dead Can Dance released several spellbinding albums that incorporated African polyrhythms, Gaelic folk, Gregorian chant, Middle Eastern scales and art rock.

Buy Dionysus

David Cross Crisscrosses The Tracks

David Cross – Crossing The Tracks (Purple Pyramid, 2018)

Groundbreaking electric violinist David Cross, best known for his work with King Crimson, has released a new album titled Crossing The Tracks this month. This album is an unconventional project for Cross. Cleopatra Records and German producer/composer Jürgen Engler approached him to complete 12 tracks by Engler and some well-known songwriters.

Crossing The Tracks is a mix of progressive rock instrumentals featuring superb electric violin solo work and electronic arrangements; and songs that highlight female vocalists.

The most captivating pieces are the instrumental performances, which is where Cross gets to showcase his talent as an instrumentalist, adding the melodies, string sections and electric violin solos.

 

 

The two vocal tracks that stand out are the ones featuring the late Yemenite-Israeli vocalist Ofra Haza and the Dead Can dance-flavored song with Sonja Kraushofer. The world music air goes well with the electric violin and electronic keyboards.

 

Buy Crossing The Tracks

Artist Profiles: Joe Zawinul

Joe Zawinul

Few keyboardists in jazz history matched the creativity and eclecticism of Joe Zawinul. He was a true innovator in the world of jazz and one of the originators of today’s world fusion sounds.

Joe Zawinul was born on July 7, 1932, in Kirchbach, a small village near Vienna. His first instrument was the accordion. At the age of 12, he started to learn the piano, which became his main instrument. After World War II, Zawinul continued his musical education at the prestigious Vienna Conservatory. He moved to the United States in 1959 on a scholarship to the Berklee School of Music in Boston.

In the United States, he inevitably became involved in jazz, playing as a sideman to artists such as Slide Hampton, Dinah Washington, and Cannonball Adderley. He met and collaborated with Miles Davis while the latter was moving into his electric era and was essential in the outcome of Bitches Brew (1970), Davis’ first electric project.

After releasing his debut solo album on Atlantic in 1970, Zawinul and saxophonist Wayne Shorter put together one of the most important jazz groups of the 1970s, Weather Report. Drawing on the power and theatricality of rock and R&B, while maintaining allegiance to jazz and the pure spirit of improvisation, they were pioneers of the fusion movement of that decade while carving out their own unique niche.

Even though band members came and went, Weather Report’s spirit prevailed over the course of 17 albums, including the groundbreaking Black Market and the enormously popular Heavy Weather, which included Zawinul’s infectious song “Birdland.” That song, in versions by Weather Report, Manhattan Transfer and Quincy Jones, won separate Grammy awards in three successive decades. Weather Report itself won a Grammy for its live album, 8:30.

In 1985, after he and Shorter finally agreed to go in separate musical directions, Zawinul continued to create adventurous new grooves in the group known as Weather Update and then the Zawinul Syndicate, whose albums included My People in 1996 and the two-CD, World Tour in 1998.

Other special projects included an adventurous solo electronic album, Dialects (1986), and work as producer and arranger on Salif Keita’s landmark album, Amen (1991). Meanwhile, as another side project of his creative life, Zawinul also pursued classical composition, writing his ambitious Stories Of The Danube in 1993 and working with renowned classical pianist Friedrich Gulda. His special solo project “Mauthausen,” released in Europe in 2000, is a memorial for the victims of the Holocaust, and was performed on the site of the Austrian concentration camp after which it is named.

Zawinul had honorary doctorates from Berklee School of Music, and is the official Austrian goodwill ambassador to 17 African nations. In January 2002, Zawinul received the first International Jazz Award, co-presented by the International Jazz Festival Organization and the International Association of Jazz Educators. In 2002, he released the CD Faces & Places.

The live album Vienna Nights came out in 2005.

Zawinul was a pioneer in the use of electronic keyboards, ranging from synthesizers to samplers. He incorporated global sounds into his keyboards, developing cutting edge world fusion.

Joe Zawinul died in Vienna on 7 August 7, 2007.

Discography:

To You with Love (Strand, 1959)
Money in the Pocket (Atlantic, 1966)
Rise & Fall of Third Stream (Vortex, 1968)
Zawinul (Atlantic, 1971)
Dialects (Columbia, 1986)
The Immigrants (Columbia, 1988)
Black Water (Columbia, 1989)
Lost Tribes (Columbia, 1992)
My People (ESC, 1996)
Stories of the Danube (Polygram, 1996)
World Tour (ESC, 1997)
Mauthausen – Vom großen Sterben hören (ESC, 2000)
Faces & Places (ESC, 2002)
Joe Zawinul & The Zawinul Syndicate – Vienna Nights – Live at Joe Zawinul’s Birdland (Heads Up, 2005)
Brown Street (Heads Up, 2006)
75 (Heads Up, 2008)

Interview with Finnish Keyboardist and Composer Juha Kujanpää

Finnish musician and composer Juha Kujanpää recently released an album titled Niin Kauas Kuin Siivet Kantaa (To Where My Wings Will Take Me), where he continues his brilliant combinations of progressive rock with jazz, classical and folk music.

Juha Kujanpää talks about his music with Progressive Rock Central’s Angel Romero.

On your latest album, Niin Kauas Kuin Siivet Kantaa, you collaborate with members of Frigg and other Finnish folk musicians. How did you come in contact with these artists?

Juha Kujanpää: The Finnish folk music scene is relatively small, everybody knows each other. The violinists in my ensemble, Esko Järvelä, Alina Järvelä and Tommi Asplund are playing with Frigg, but also with many other ensembles.

I’m playing piano in trio Karuna with Esko Järvelä and accordionist Teija Niku (who also plays on all of my three albums). With Karuna, we released our second album “Whirlwind” last year, and it also contains several compositions of mine.

I’ve been also touring as a guest musician with Esko and Tommi with another great Finnish ethno band, Tsuumi Sound System.

 

Juha Kujanpää – Niin Kauas Kuin Siivet Kantaa – To Where My Wings Will Take Me, album cover by Teemu Raudaskoski.

 

Tell us about the recording process in terms of location, rehearsing, and other details.

Many of the musicians were rather busy with other bands and projects – sometimes it was little bit tricky to get to whole ensemble to rehearse together at the same time. But we did some practicing with the rock band, and then with the violin section alone.

The recording sessions took place in two separate studios in Helsinki, plus I did some overdubbing myself at my own studio space. Most of the tunes were recorded in two parts, drums-bass-guitar-keys first, violins afterwards.

How did this experience affect you?

The sound engineer and the musicians were the same as in two previous albums of mine, so I pretty much knew what to expect, everything went rather smoothly.

There are some tricky things to consider when combining rock and Nordic folk music – the way of groove, in these genres is a little bit different, and it takes some adjusting to get everybody to think about the rhythm in the same way. But I’m very lucky to work with top-level musicians, which are able to adjust their playing easily as needed.

 

Juha Kujanpää Ensemble – Photo by Kujanpää

 

Will you be doing more collaborations with folk musicians from Finland and other musical traditions?

Personally, I’m not actually thinking of doing collaborations. I believe that the folk music influences on the new album are simply part of my musical language. When I’m composing, I don’t necessary have any specific musical genre in my mind. Then again, I’m sure I’ll be working with folk musicians, jazz musicians and classical musicians in the coming years.

Nowadays, the borders of these genres are more often blurred, and I believe that’s also where new and original music is often born. The younger generation of folk musicians is more familiar with playing music between different genres such as jazz and classical.

 

 

What do you consider as the essential elements of your music?

Melody. A friend of mine had a theory that the reason I became interested in folk music is the importance of melody. If you think of Nordic folk music, the melody is pretty much everything: you have to be able to play a tune with a single violin.

Who can you cite as your main musical influences?

I began listening to music relatively late, when I was about 13-14 years old. The first albums that opened my ears were progressive rock: Keith Emerson, Mike Oldfield, Pekka Pohjola, Gentle Giant. I also used to listen to jazz a lot, Keith Jarrett has always been one of the greatest for me. There are many innovative jazz musicians I appreciate: Thelonious Monk, Ornette Coleman, Bill Frisell, Ahmad Jamal, Charlie Haden, Carla Bley, Chick Corea.

I “found” Nordic folk music later, first groups like JPP, Väsen, Forsmark Tre, musicians like Timo Alakotila and Maria Kalaniemi. Later I’ve been happy to get to know some of these musicians, also work with some of them. Nowadays I’ve been intrigued by some minimalist or classical composers, like Arvo Pärt, Philip Glass, Nico Muhly. But back to the question: it seems impossible to pick one or two!

Tell us about your first recordings and your musical evolution.

As a teenager I used to compose music on computer, Commodore Amiga. Tracker-style sequencer, 8-bit samples. Only much later I’ve realized how important the experience was for me, in many ways: I learned about making tunes, got some feedback from friends who listened to my music, made friends who were also making music on the same platform.

At the same time I was taking piano lessons and also played in some bands. Rock, pop and jazz music. At some point I was practicing jazz piano quite a lot and I thought my goal was to become a jazz musician. Later things changed, I started to work more with folk musicians, got more interested in that direction. Nowadays it’s hard for me to decide how to categorize myself as a musician, I’m somewhere in-between the genres.

 

Juha Kujanpää – Photo by Kujanpää

What keyboards and other instruments do you use?

My main instrument is the piano, and I usually prefer acoustic instruments over digital or sampled pianos. But there are situations where it’s more practical to use electric keyboards.

For live playing I’ve been very happy with Nord keyboards by Clavia for the last years. I’m using Nord Stage and Nord Electro. I do have a pile of old analog keyboards, but I use them mainly in studio.

Playing some old quirky instruments can be also a source of inspiration and some unexpected musical ideas! I also play reed organ, an acoustic instrument used in Finnish folk music.

 

Juha Kujanpää

 

If you could gather any musicians or musical groups to collaborate with, whom would that be?

I’d love to collaborate with any new musicians to get and share some fresh ideas. That’s one of the things in music I love – to be in the process of creating something new – something you are not sure which direction it’s going to take.

Here’s a wise quote from a John Zorn interview I recently read: “You can ask someone to do something that maybe they can’t do. Or, they’ll do it differently than how you would have done it, but you’ve got to learn to accept their spin. That’s the secret of a Duke Ellington concept, where you give something to someone and they transform it through their personal filter. And when you find someone whose filter interacts with yours in a very creative, helpful way, then you’ve got a member of the group.”

What music are you currently listening to?

Currently, it might be Arvo Pärt, Einojuhani Rautavaara, Nico Muhly. But ask me next week, and it might be something very different. Basically, I’m always trying to listen to some new music to open my ears, something I haven’t heard before.

What new projects are you working on?

I’m in the middle of composing new material, but it’s too early to say anything about it yet – I’m often a little bit reluctant to tell about things that haven’t been finished. I’m also composing tunes for a children music album I’ll be also playing on. This autumn I’ve been performing quite a lot live with different groups, bands and an improvisation theater ensemble.

 

 

 

 

Discography:

Tales and Travels – Kivenpyörittäjä (2013)
Goldwing – Kultasiipi (Eclipse Music, 2015)
Niin Kauas Kuin Siivet Kantaa – To Where My Wings Will Take Me (Eclipse Music, 2017)

websites:

www.juhakujanpaa.com
www.karunatrio.net

Klaus Hoffmann-Hoock Dies at 66

Klaus Hoffmann-Hoock

 

German progressive rock and electronic music guitarist, keyboardist and composer Klaus Hoffmann-Hoock died October 14th, 2017 of kidney failure.

Klaus Hoffmann-Hoock was born January 30, 1951 in Duisburg, Germany. In 1971 he formed a psychedelic rock band called Impuls. During the 1970s, Klaus Hoffmann-Hoock experimented with electronic keyboards and built his own studio.

In the early 1980s, Hoffmann-Hoock co-founded the band Cosmic Hoffmann. In 1982, Hoffmann-Hoock traveled to India. His music started to incorporate Asian influences from India and Bali.

 

 

In 1986, Hoffmann-Hoock founded Mind Over Matter, an iconic band that mixed electronica with music of the Far East. Klaus Hoffmann-Hoock played electric guitar and keyboards, as well Indian sitar.

Mind Over Matter released 12 recordings with various lineups.

 

Spellbinding Logical Drift

Logical Drift – “Sands of Time” (NYC Music, 2017)

Logical Drift is the project of remarkable musician and composer John Matarazzo. His album “Sands of Time” is a fabulous mix of acoustic rhythms, samples, voices and cutting edge electronics.

Logical Drift takes you to distant lands. The artist’s creative arrangements add a progressive music element to “Sands of Time” that makes it deeply satisfying.

“Sands of Time” is a spellbinding musical voyage to a world of exotic vocals and musical instruments.

Buy the Sands of Time MP3s