Curumin tocando "Compacto" no programa Radiola na TV Cultura
Audinho da Vitrola's insight:
Brazilian contemporary samba-funk-pop is one dangerous area to venture into. There is, sad to say, a lot of crap out there; things not remotely funky or sabaesque, giving pop music the bad name that its adversaries wish it forever smothered with. Curumin is an example that modern Brazilian music can be just as fresh, relevant and timeless as the classics. Taking the best from his part Euro-Brazilian, part Nippo-Brazilian São Paulo background (hailing from the largest Japanese-speaking community in the world outside of Japan), filtering the city's cosmopolitan, cultural-cannibalist and no-holds-barred (yes, it's the hometown of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu) approach to music making through both a historic consciousness and a pop sensibility, Curumin is one to watch out for as modern Brazilian music slowly takes on the world. Bossa nova being long since an old, stale and vapid formula, Curumin, like his soul brother Seu Jorge, is sure to be household names all over the world within the decade.
The Son Jarocho, from the state of Veracruz on the Caribbean coast of Mexico ("jarocho" literally means "from Veracruz"), is one of the most interesting folk music forms of Mexico. We all know "La Bamba", immortalized in Ritchie Valens's rock'n'roll version (also covered by Los Lobos), which is originally a staple son jarocho piece. The real interesting thing about son jarocho is that, in a tradition that dates back five hundred years, there are really only some 70 to 80 songs that are played over and over again. The secret, as this video tells all about, is in the improvisation. The fandangos, which the son jarocho gatherings are called, can last for a whole day or night (I've been to one, and can attest to it), and may include dozens of musicians, including dancers - whose rhythmical clacking on a wooden platform is considered an instrument in the genre. One musician starts a theme of his own choosing, the other musicians join in succession, and the music is on. This jam-stype improvisational form, the call-and-response structure of the vocals (with a fixed chorus and improvised verse) and the percussive quality of many instruments in addition to percussion itself, all point to the Afro-Mexican origin of the genre. Cumbia, reggae and salsa are all great musics, but delving into the son jarocho is a must for everyone wanting to broaden their Afro-Caribbean musical horizon.
"What Have You Done, My Brother is the only record that I've ever recorded that I could sit and listen to from the moment it was finished. Most records I can't enjoy for years. Like lots of great records, It didn't sell so well. Perhaps the irony is that after all that people actually couldn't get their heads around buying a gospel record." - Bosco Mann, producer and co-founder of Daptone Records
Otto Maximiliano Pereira de Cordeiro Ferreira, luckily known only as Otto, is one of the most interesting pop artists in Brazil today. He was born and raised in rural Pernambuco, and made a name for himself in Recife during the early days of the manguebeat movement, but only after having spent two years in Paris playing the streets and metro stations there, and a stint in Rio de Janeiro as a samba percussionist. In Recife, Otto played in both of the bands fronting the manguebeat scene, Chico Science & Nação Zumbi and Mundo Livre S/A, and recorded two albums with the latter before leaving Recife for São Paulo. He has lived there ever since, and is soon to release his fifth solo studio album "The Moon 1111" (which has been in the making for some time, with a release date yet to be set). Otto's music is cosmopolitan in sound and almost folkloric in its lyrical content, evoking the mythical characters of mixed American, African and European origins that pervade everyday life and language in the country. Here is a song from his last album, "Certa Manhã Acordei de Sonhos Intranqüilos" ("One day I awoke from uneasy dreams"), the video featuring his live performance in Salvador on 2 February, that is the day of the sea goddess Iemanjá (also known as Janaína in Brazil). The important day is celebrated every year by millions of Brazilians, preferably, of course, on the beach. The video offers a good glimpse of what that is like, not to be missed if one is in coastal Brazil on that date.
An old favorite of mine which I rediscovered today! And it's just as mesmerizing as I remembered it. From Portuguese vocal and piano duo Maria João and Mario Laginha's 2000 album Chorinho Feliz, featuring the distinct vocals and guitar playing of Brazilian pop superstar Lenine. The album is recorded in its entirety in Rio de Janeiro, Pernambucano Lenine's hometown for years. I haven't heard the whole album yet, but I sure will now.
Quantic never sleeps. His second collaborative album of the year is out, this time featuring a Buena Vista-esque cohort of Colombian musicians young and old. The idea behind the project, initiated by Quantic (aka British émigré Will Holland) and Colombian neotraditionalists Frente Cumbiero, is reuniting veteran musicians from the Golden Age of Colombian salsa, and uniting them with the vanguarda cumbiera to jam, have fun, record and reinvent tradition. Like all Quantic-initiated releases from 2007 onward, the year of his relocation to Cali, Colombia, it is a delight from beginning to end. The album was recorded in the Discos Fuentes studio in Medellin, where all the magic was put on tape back in the 60s and 70s. For those who would like to get the historical perspective on the Ondatrópica album, there are a couple of essential compilation albums that one should consult. The first is "Colombia! The Golden Age of Discos Fuentes - The Powerhouse of Colombian Music. 1960-76", released in 2008; The other is "The History of Colombian Cumbia & Porro As Told By The Phonograph. 1948 - 79", compiled by Quantic himself and released last year. Both of these are the works of Soundway Records, the very same London label that has released Ondatrópica albums. (Label boss Miles Cleret is another DJ-archaeologist-reinventor who cannot possibly have many hours of sleep at night. Check out Soundway's homepage and catalogue and get the point.)
Montreal rudebwoy producer Gislain Poirier is hailed for his minimal, Tropical, heavy dancehall-ish sounds. This song is featured on his 2010 Ninja Tune album "Running High", featuring staple collaborator Face-T. Montréal's music scene really has it all. His fellow montréalais Deadbeat is also worth checking out, with his equally Caribbean hard-ass beats.
"The astonishing Onyx Ashanti took the stage with an iPhone strapped to his arm, a brick-size controller in each hand and with a tube extending from his mouth like scuba gear — and proceded to improvise beats and loops and an orchestra of instrumentation (and explain the whole thing simultaneously in a series of PowerPoint slides)." - on Onyx Ashanti's TED presentation, to be found on TED.com. A must-see - both that video and this one!
That's right! Visiting jamaica (as well as cultivating the herb) can be inspiring stuff, and the hip hop living legend and enthusiastic herbalist is due to release a reggae album. First single out is La La La, produced by none other than Major Lazer aka Diplo. It's a dub thing, seemingly not too bass-heavy, but one might of course be fooled by the SoundCloud bitrate or this particular single mix. I am definitely looking forward to hearing the whole album. The release date is so far nowhere to be found, but tha Dogg will do his first Snoop Lion moniker's show in Toronto on August 3. Mash it!
Mou, molle, malemilemy, c'est bien le style avec "L'ami" Toto dit Mwanjani !!! Seul ce style serait adapter avec la danse dômbôlô, Et vous ? Etes-vous gros, ...
Audinho da Vitrola's insight:
A friend of mine recently stayed in Madagascar for some months. Since coming back, she's been regularly spamming me with Malagasy music, and, slowly but surely, by now I'm thoroughly hooked. There's something about Malagasy music. Something indeed. It's all brilliant. Even a random Rough Guide, Beginner's guide or whatever guide to Malagasy music, unlike any other collection of the sort, has no fillers. And I haven't heard anything like it before - and that's a first for a long time. It surely has to do with Madagascar's unique cultural mixture; being settled by Pacific Islanders, regularly colonized by Arabs and steadily settled by myriad African ethnicities, all bringing their own irresistible grooves into the mix. It's not fair, I know. Sorry about that, rest of the world. Oh, by the way, Jaojoby is the master musician of them all. Next time you're in the World Music section of your local record store, if it's still there, be sure to buy up anything Malagasy they might have. Trust me. It's gold.
Arte TV France did a story on the ZZK crew when they were in Paris in December 2009. Big ups. Check the links for more info! arte.tv/fr/Echappees-culturelles...
Audinho da Vitrola's insight:
Buenos Aires is the world's center for electro-cumbia. The Colombian national rhythm of the cumbia has longe since spread to all corners of the Latin world, including Argentina. The so called cumbia villera (already a thoroughly electronicized cumbia offshoot) is very much the in sound of the Porteño shantytowns, and the modern electro-cumbia, fronted by the Buenos Aires club Zizek and their record label ZZK, is a modern tropical-bass reinterpretation of the sound. It kicks ass, and is soon to be heard at a club near you, if it hasn't already taken over your local dancefloors! It's supposedly the most credible thing to be seen dancing to in London. Very, very underground and off-radar, that is. Go seek it out if you dare.
Cedric Watson, born 1983, is one of a kind. Born and raised in a Texas smalltown, he moved to Lafayette, cajun music capital of Louisiana, at the age of twenty, to immerse himself in the music, the culture and the language of the bayou. Today he is a master cajun/creole accordionist and fiddler, as well as a prolific songwriter, writing most of his material in the Cajun French language he learnt as an adult. His music bridges the gap (more conceptual than musical, one could argue) between Afro-Louisiane Creole music and Franco-American Cajun music - both multicultural mélanges as it is - including in the mix bluegrass music, all sorts of Afro-Caribbean sounds, and then some. As a starting point from better known Afro-global genres into the singular music of Louisiana, in my opinion there is no better choice than Cedric Watson. His latest self-released album came out this year - a taste is to be found on his webpage cedricwatson.com - and all his previous efforts are well worth listening to. There's really not much more to say. You must all hear this guy. My favorites among his recordings are "Madame Fayelle" (from his 2006 duo album with Corey Ledet), the old cajun standard "La Vielle Chanson de Mardi Gras" (from his eponymous 2008 solo début album), and, most of all, his self-penned killer "Lafayette Lala" from his group Bijou Créole's 2009 "L'Ésprit Créole" album. No DJ gig of mine is complete without this one.
The Cajun people are the descendands of the Acadians, who were expelled by the Brits from Nova Scotia, Canada in the mid 18th Century to find their new home in South Louisiana's swamp and bayou country. Their home language is as of today still a variety of French, and though - as is the case in lots of immigrant communities - the younger generations often grow up speaking only the majority language, all authentic cajun music is still overwhelmingly sung in French. In this TV clip you meet cajun music performers Dennic McGee, Dewey Balfa and Sady Courville, home on their front porch and in the house playing their music and passing it on to their children and grandchildren. As this story attests to, cajun music is real folk music, driven by accordeon and violin - and almost always intoxicatingly danceable - from a unique American people, and it is still alive and kicking down on the bayou. New generations expand on the traditional folk songs to invent new songs, new rhythms and new directions in cajun music. Check out the artistes Cedric Watson & Bijou Créole and Michael Doucet & BeauSoleil, my two personal favorite cajun bands, and find something altogether different from - well, anything else. (And then, of course, there is the zydeco - but that's a different story.)
Many know the sound of Daptone Records, the NYC label at the very forefront of both the soul and the afrobeat revivals sweeping the lands - few have met them at home. Well, now you can. In Bushwick, Brooklyn, the Daptone family have created their space, complete with studios, offices and distribution facilities, from a worn-out apartment building. Pretty much all the work was done by the members of the Daptone family themselves - it might come as no surprise that Charles Bradley and Sharon Jones, the current lead voices of Daptone Records, are apt handiworkers. It's no Taj Mahal, but it's their own, and it is world-renowned for its authentic retro sound, evoking the golden era of Motown, Chess and funk/soul in general. Thomas Brenneck, Menahan Street Band frontman and omnipresent Daptone guitarist, says it best in the video: "There's nothing too magical about that place as far as it goes to sitting round there and playing music, it's kind of dusty and raggedy and kind of like 'get me the hell out of here' - but, you know, it sounds like magic." And for those of us not to inclined to believe in magic, we might, in explaining the music that comes out of Daptone's House of Soul in Bushwick, Brooklun, give due credit. To the amazing musicianship of the Daptone family, as well as the producing skills of Gabriel 'Gabe' Roth, aka Bosco Mann, tweaking the sliders and buttons of this unique, all-analogue studio. If the sound of Daptone Records hasn't yet accomplished it, this video might just make you fall in love.
"Charles Bradley, commonly referred to as "The Screaming Eagle of Soul," is a funk/soul/R&B singer signed to Daptone Records. His performances and recording style are consistent with Daptone's revivalist approach, celebrating the feel of funk and soul music from the 1960s and 1970s. One review stated that Bradley "echoes the evocative delivery of Otis Redding".
He is the subject of a documentary, Soul of America, that premiered at SXSW in 2012."
Banda Black Rio live in action, 1981! This group pretty much defined the Black Rio sound back in the late 70s, with their irresistible mix of Rio de Janeiro's homegrown samba-funk sound and comtemporary North American hard brassy funk. The Black Rio parties in the shantytowns of the Cidade Maravilhosa have survived until today, with various musical backdrops through the years, today dominated by the, shall we say, post-Miami Bass-sound known as Baile Funk. Banda Black Rio is recently resurrected, through the efforts of William Magalhães, son of original BBR frontman Oberdan Magalhães, and today features contemporary samba-funk stars Márcio Local, Elza Soares and Seu Jorge. They might just embark on a Northern European tour any time soon. They just might. They sure just might.
"The first single from No Ground Under (ZEN138 / ZENCD138). Ghislain adds Face-T, a Montrealer by way of Jamaica, who provides some ragga bravado on vocals, to an impressive list of collaborators: Beans, TTC, Lady Sovereign, Champion, Buck 65, Lotek Hi-Fi, Pole, Radioinactive, DJ/rupture, DJ Collage, Omnikrom, Diverse, Bassnectar, Les Georges Leningrad, Cadence Weapon, so on and so forth. Ghislain Poirier is a resident of Montreal, Quebec and has been releasing music since the turn of the century on labels such as Chocolate Industries, Shockout, Rebondir, Intr_version, Musique Large, and 12k."
Snooping around Bandcamp for some new inspiring music, I stumbled upon these guys from Atlanta, Georgia. Dialect Trio is an energetic and eclectic combo consisting of bass player and producer Matt Mansfield (aka Piper Street Sounds, very worth checking out in his own right), drummer Robby Astrove and electric guitar player Russ Bledsoe (and always plenty of guest musicians). Their power trio format reveals little of their music, which is a mélange of chicha (Peruvian psy-cumbia) and afrobeat with a gritty southern blues rock sensibility. I was instantly taken by their sound, and look forward to hearing more from them in years to come. This video shows percussionist Dr. Rasheed first warming up for a take, then (from 1:12 onwards) playing along to the song "Cumbiarus" , taken from Dialect Trio's debut album. Available both physically and digitally from dialecttrio.com and bandcamp.com, of course!