Issue 30 01/2005

FolkWorld CD Reviews
Swap, photo by The Mollis

Mynta "Teabreak"
Label: Pläne; No.88903; 2004
Mynta is a Swedish-Indian group who mix Indian, Scandinavian music with Arabic, African and Latin influences. The group started in 1979 but it would take until 1987 to meet with the Indian musicians Fazal Qureshi and Shankar Mahadevan who are members of the band even on this new cd. Besides the different areas of world-music the band has besides the traditional music, a big feeling of jazz music. Together with the electronic beats and the very strong musicians make from this melting pot of music a real listening pleasure. The cd starts with the title song Teabreak which is a heavy dance song with a great touch of India ready to dance the night away in some hot steamy night-club. The cd also includes a house remix of this song to make sure my feet cant follow the beats anymore. But there is also plenty of room for more subtle songs like OA's Celtic dance which, funny enough, feels like one of the most Indian songs on the cd because of the fabulous vocals. More romantic is Sunset in Beijing in which the group present a more acoustic sound with a warm feeling of late night jazz. For me Teabreak is a very open, uncomplicated cd without being to commercial. Top musicians who play strong compositions in a modern way.
Eelco Schilder

Petra Eisend "A statement of mine"
Label: Own; 2003
Petra Eisend plays the Djembe for some years now and wanted to make a solo project around the techniques of Adama Djame. On the cd she performs seven tunes from which five are traditional. Although it must be great to really go for an instrument, for me as a person who doesn't play the Djembe this is a difficult cd to judge. Already during the first tune I feel board as it's like the same rhythm goes on and on. After two songs I wished she would at least use a flute somewhere to give the cd some variation (the light background vocals on Lubanche get over-screamed by the drums so I don't count these in.) Maybe another djembe player would enjoy this cd a lot, but for me this is just to much of the same.
Contact: tel: 097268225
Eelco Schilder

Paola Lombardo, Donata Pinti & Betti Zambruno "So sol d'amarti alla follia"
Label: Folkclub ethnosuoni; No. 5341; 2004
Paola Lombardo, Donata Pinti & Betti Zambruno are three female vocalists from the Italian Piemonte region which is situated in the north/west of Italy. As many areas of Italy this region has a rich history in traditional music. Central role plays the three strong vocals of the singers. A beautiful combination of a high pitch younger vocal with two strong, almost dark older voices. The combination is close to perfect and somehow it shows the voices of three generations in all it's beauty. On the cd they recorded several traditional songs from the Piemonte region but also songs who are composed in the past fifty years. There is also a French traditional which is logic because the area is situated at the French border. The music is also a mixture of Italian and French styles. Mon amand de Saint Jean is a typical French chanson while Ama chi ti ama has a much more Italian atmosphere. Although the vocals are most important on the cd, it also contains some percussion, hurdy gurdy, accordion and a few other, more or less, traditional instruments. The musician play at the background and are pure to support the vocals. So sol d'amarti alla follia is a traditional cd of high quality. A welcome addition to the Italian big collection of folkmusic. From the first to the last tone, the cd catches me with rich, pure and quality music.
Eelco Schilder

The unseen guest "Out there"
Label: Own; 2004
The unseen is a duo that mixes Indian traditional music with folk, rock and a touch of many other places of this world. Out there is a self produced cd from two inspiring musicians who met in India a few years ago. Declan Murray who was travelling through the country with his guitar met the other halve of the duo Amith Narayan and they spend several weeks jamming together, creating their own unique music. Together with a few guest musicians The unseen guest managed to record an intense and real strong debut cd. Starting of with Let me in which has an open atmosphere and a good feeling of both the west and the east. Smooth percussion and an almost Arabic violin make this song a real opener. More down to earth and a bit darker is In the black which in spite of it's simple structure is very effective. This is also because of Declan Murray's vocals which is a bit husky and although limited in reach, he uses it very well. He creates a warm atmosphere with his vocals helped by the subtle percussion and especially the Indian elements in the music. Also some blues on this cd Listen to my son shows a whole different side of the band. Decla's vocals is different in such a happy folk-blues song. It has more body which shows that he knows how to use his voice in different styles of music. Nice song, but still I prefer the meltingpot ones. On the opposite of this song there is Mangala express which feels like an old Indian raga mixed with more Western chords and instruments. This Out there is a strong debut cd of two musicians who search for a new sound in music. It shows a lot of potential and I hope the duo will continue developing their own style and record more of their nice music.
Homepage of the artist:
Eelco Schilder

Wylie & the Wild West "Hooves of the horses"
Label:Dualtone 80302-01163-2; 2004
The band Wylie & the wild west is the group around Wylie Gustafson who is a known western entertainer in the USA. On this new cd Hooves of the horses he mixes typically western music with a bit of folk, swing, country and rockabilly. All sixteen songs are easy-listening and brought in the same decent- no-risk style. Actually most of his songs, like for example I grab my saddle horn and blow, remind me of old musical songs. The same atmosphere and easy to sing along. Wylie has a warm voice which is very pleasant to listen to. Especially in the more slow songs I like the rest and inner peace he shows in his music. This is a solid cd with typically music that most people will recognise immediately as the music of the wild, wild west. It has no surprises but is of a solid constant quality. Of course you must like this special type of music to really appreciate the cd.
Homepage of the artist:
Eelco Schilder

Eddie Pennington "Walk the strings"
Label: Folkways; No. cd40146; 2004
As a big fan of the folkways label I'm always interested in what the label issues next. Having a small collection of the old vinyl records from this label full with field recordings and other authentic music, I did loose the label a bit when they stopped pressing lp's. The label just released a intriguing guitar cd by Eddie Pennington who is by now a known and awarded thumb-picker. A student from Mose Rager and inspired by Mele Travis he shows on this cd a fine collection of 20 (almost all) solo pieces. It's clear that there is a master at work. He has a full and lively playing style and his interpretation of old blues songs or other more or less known old and new traditionals is pure and rich of tradition. Great how this cd shows several sides of the instrument and the musicians. Eddie Pennington is one of the best in his style of music, that is what walk the strings proofs.
Eelco Schilder

La moresca antica "La turchi alla marina"
Label: Folkclub ethnosuoni; No. 5337; 2004
La moresca antica is an Italian group who play Italian marines songs of the past few hundred years. Together with a group guest musicians their acoustic interpretations of, often ancient, songs give a nice picture of an old tradition. Because Italy is and was a meeting pint of several cultures, on the cd many styles will pass by. Sometimes Arabic, sometimes almost Celtic and sometimes real Italian music but mostly with a Medieval character. A song like sanda nicole has the feeling of a real sea shanty while the beautiful Riturnella breaths Italian air. Same for a song like Tira tira barba nicola canto dell'argano which comes from the region of Venice and shows the typical harmony vocals which are known from this region. Further the cd contains a tarantella from Napels, prison song from Rome and a lot of songs from the Italian coast and songs who were sung on the ships while travelling on the ocean. A nice cd which besides the songs of the marines gives a good overview of the different styles the Italian traditional music has. I prefer these songs in which the ancient instruments play a role. They spice up the music a bit because I do miss the Italian fire sometimes, which I normally like so much in the Italian traditional music. The music is done really well but a bit to neatly, but don't let this stop you from getting this cd because there is enough quality here to enjoy the fourteen recordings and the extra's which can be viewed at the computer.
Eelco Schilder

Kim Sanders & friends "You can't get there from here"
Label:Own; 2002
Kim Sanders is a musician from Australia who plays several wind instruments. From different kind of gaita's up to the tenor sax which he all uses on this cd as well. He studied and performed music for a longer period in Turkey, the Balkan and West-Africa and these influences can be heard in his recorded work. On this cd he co-operates with Sabahattin Akdagcik on several lute instruments, Steve Elphick on double bass, Peter Kennard on percussion, Tarlochan Singh on tablas and Epizo Bangoura on djembe and balafon. The cd contains a collection of strong compositions which mostly find their roots in Turkey an a few in the Balkan. The music is sometimes mystic like in Segah taksim (taksim is the Turkih word for improvisation, that is what he does in this tune) or in Kabadayi. But the music can also be full of tension and real virtuous like in the Bulgarian tune Giorgi's pravo. Kim sanders shows that he knows his way on all the instruments he plays. The compositions and performance are of high quality and the mixture of instruments from different areas give a rich sound to the music. I like the sound of tabla in Blues for the Balkans. A tune from Macedonia which indeed is brought in a blues way and these tabla's together with the sax make this a beautifully, almost sad piece of music. If you would like to order this cd please visit the webpage as mentioned below, it's worth the trouble.
Homepage of the artist:
Eelco Schilder

Geyers "Lästerzungen"
Label: Own; 2004
The German band Geyers plays, according to themselves historock. A mixture of rock and traditional music from several kinds. A remarkable group who have been chosen musicians of the year in 1999, their name at that time was Geyers schwarzer haufen which they changed in 2000 into Geyers. The band combines electric guitars and drums with ancient instruments such as hurdy gurdy, bagpipe, flutes, crumhorn and many others. The band puts a lot of time and care in the sound of their music which is of a high quality. Also the compositions are mostly strong and really catchy. One of the highlights for me personally is their interpretation of several Gavotten by the composer Praetorius. A really strong composition which starts in a light, happy folkrock style with merry flutes and a pretty violin. But halfway bursts into a heavy electric guitar solo which leads to a medieval hardrock final with crumhorn and all. On the cd they also recorded several songs. The low vocals remind me sometimes of the throat singing from Tuva like in the start of Herori matori. I find that the songs can be divided into two categories. Songs like the earlier mentioned Herori matori but also Lasterzungen are nice and easy to listen to rock songs with traditional influences. I prefer songs like God's gospel or Karmeliter where the group really creates a full sound and reaches a great symbioses between modern and ancient music. Here the group also shows their quality in harmony singing. Which is of a simple structure but very effective. For me Geyers is one of the best bands in this field of music in Europe. At some moments they drive me nuts with great tunes like the earlier mentioned Gavotten. But each of the songs and tunes is above average and shows a group that grows better and better each new cd I hear by them.
Homepage of the artist:
Eelco Schilder

Jeff Callahan "Woebegone"
Label: Own; 2004
Jeff Galahan is a singer songwriter from New Jersey, USA. Together with a big group of musicians he recorded his second cd Woebegone after four years of heavy touring. He plays the acoustic guitar himself while other instruments such as violin, drums, flutes and other electric and, more or less, traditional instruments are played by the many guest musicians. To make it complete he also has Kathy Philips doing the female second vocals, a strong addition to Callahan's own, nice voice. I'm very surprised that this is a private pressing as the music easily could be issued on any major folk interested label. A good sound, positive atmosphere and strong compositions. Often the music has a light Celtic sound, a bit of Americana but mostly it's straight and honest rock songs with a good traditional touch. Sometimes a bit psycho like in Together alone on other moments with a light oriental touch like in Pawan kaur. This Woebegone is a pleasure to listen to. Somehow it makes me think back to the music of the Scottish band Runrig, although it's not the music that makes me write this but the fresh and open atmosphere of the that makes me make this comparison. If you like a easy to listen to, friendly cd with a good mixture of folk and rock with some sideways to other styles - this might be exactly what you are looking for.
Homepage of the artist:
Eelco Schilder

Stefano Valla, Attilio Rocca & Attore Losini "Tilion"
Label: Folkclub ethnosuoni; No. 5339; 2004
This Italian trio Stefano Valla, Attilio Rocca & Attore Losini started as an idea to honour the great Italian accordionist Attilio Rocca, who is a interpretator of traditional music for ages. Together with the two other musicians on pifferi (an Italian reed instrument) and guest musicians on vocals, hurdy gurdy, guitar and other instruments, the great accordionist recorded 21 traditional tunes and songs. The cd has an extreme pure sound and is brought directly from the heart. Beautiful example is Il pover luisin in which young and old voice, accordion and guitar, create a beautiful ancient piece of music with a great final on accordion and pifferi. To enjoy this cd you must like accordion music in the traditional way. Not like the instrument is often used by modern bands, here you here the instrument like it has been used for the past decades. Also the sound of the pifferi is very specific and won't be liked by all people.
Eelco Schilder

Last call "10"
Label: music and words; mwcd 2031; 2004
Last call is a Dutch blues group who play original material. Sometimes beautiful raw blues like in the title song 10 but also accordion blues like in thinkin about you which, as most of the songs, is a straight easy to listen to song. I do miss a bit of rawness in the vocals and sometimes the mix sounds a bit easy but that doesn't change the fact that this is a nice cd. A bit to common to get above the other blues recordings, it just misses a remarkable own sound. Although I must say again that they convince me in the earlier mentioned song 10 and Ramblin in which the music suddenly has tension and is a bit wilder than the other songs.
Eelco Schilder

TMO "Me & my raincoat"
Label: Extraplatte; No. 584-2; 2004
TMO is a 100% blues band who focus on pure acoustic blues. This trio exists out of Hubert Dorigatti on vocals and guitars, Egon Niederkoffer on bass and Adrian Kirchler on percussion. The cd Me & my raincoat is the bands debut cd although all three musicians have been active in the blues music for several years. All tracks are self-penned and have a authentic atmosphere. Dorigatti has a nice voice, although a bit more roughness would upgrade the music a bit more, his voice is powerful and warm at the same time. A nice cd which I enjoy listening to, it's relaxing and pure and although this is a folkmagazine, I do enjoy listening to such cd's like this one now and then. A pity for the band that we don't have real blues experts, they would probably be able to put much more sense in this review. I can only pass on the feeling I get by listening to TMO, and that is a good feeling. Honest music with soul played by three fine musicians.
Eelco Schilder

Radošov "Láska a vojna"
Label: Indies; No. mam224-2 2003
Moravia has a long tradition in traditional music. The central instrument in this area is the Cimbalon and the last few years it was especially Iva Bittova and the band teagrass who made the Moravian music more known outside the borders. Radošov is a group of traditional musicians who perform with a choir up to twenty singers. The music is very intense and this cd is of high quality. It shows several sides of the Moravian traditional music. The cd starts with a mystic almost sacred piece of music. In Nepujdu já za takého it is a women choir who sing a powerful song with help on fiddle, cimbalon and bass. This song has a more light and uplifting atmosphere. In between these two extremes the group recorded intense songs and great instrumental pieces with vocals of several soloists from the Choir and from first violin player Radim Havlicek. I find the music on many parts close to the Transsylvanian music. The way the bass is played, the sound of the violin but also the way the cimbalon sounds reminds me more to this tradition than to the music of any other area near Moravia. Láska a vojna is pure traditional; experience of the highest quality. The cd touches me on many occasions. It 's sometimes dramatic, sometimes happy but often a bit sad and melancholic. Highly recommended.
Eelco Schilder

Karl Ritter "Atmen"
Label: Extraplatte; No. sp-027-2; 2004
Karl Ritter is a guitarist from Austria who just released his latest cd Atmen. He started his musical career on violin and switched to guitar in 1972. He recorded his first work in 1980 and has issued a impressive collection of music since. On the cd he plays solo, with his guitar and every sound you hear is real, without any overdubs. It's a strange collection of songs in which Karl often surprises by his innovating view to music. I also understand that his music is created by improvisation only, which opens a whole new area of possibilities. He plays pure blues orientated songs together with intriguing "sound searching" pieces of music. With this I mean that he tries to find the limits of his instruments, what sounds can it make in bot the conventional and unconventional way and how can I turn these sounds into a piece of music. Good example is the song Zim. I think Atmen will be liked by finger-picking lovers but also by people who are into more improvisation, experimental music in a not to extreme way.
Homepage of the artist:
Eelco Schilder

Tenores di Bitti "Caminos de pache"
Label: Felmay; No. 8088; 2004
The Tenores di bitti are representators of a unique vocal tradition from the island of Sardinia. The group was founded in 1974 and although their music is very specific and the group had periods when only a small audience appreciated their music, they have always been there devoting their time and talent to the beautiful vocal tradition of the island. They founded the first school for Canto a tenore to train others the specific way of singing. This way they kept the traditional music alive. The new cd is the first recording of the current line up. Which includes two founder members and two new vocalists. The basic of the music can be explained as two bass voices form the basic for the songs by repeating vocal sounds during a song. The bass vocals add small changes in the rhythm and the pitch of the voice. On top of this bass vocals another singer will sing the lyrics sometimes on the foreground, sometimes almost drowning in the bass vocals. The music is pure and breaths a long history. It is amazing what techniques the singers use and the music has a hypnotising character. The low vocals penetrate deep into my body while the lead-vocalist give the songs extra emotion. A true musical experience which is of high value to the world of traditional music.
Eelco Schilder

Donovan "Beat Cafe"
Label: Appleseed; No. 1081; 2004
Donovan, the known singer-songwriter is still very much alive. He just released his latest cd beat cafe which is full of intriguing new songs. Helped by Jim Keltner on percussion and the very recognisable sound of Danny Thompson on the bass. Donovan mixes popmusic on the opening track with jazz and blues on most of the other songs. Sober musical arrangements make the music speak for it self. His lyrics are often almost spoken, like in Shambala. It works because it forces to listen closer to what he is singing. Especially in this song it's like he is sitting next to you whispering in your ear. On the cd he also sings one traditional called The cuckoo. I know several interpretations of the song and always loved Jean Ritchie's version. But where she makes it sound like a sweet, sad song, Donovan turns it into a more dark, bit up tempo jazz song. Both versions are so different that I'm so amazed bot are the same song. That's what I like of traditional songs, making it your own and turning it into a new song although it's decades old. Beat cafe is a strong cd on which Donovan seems to do what he likes to do. He sounds relaxed and unforced the only thing is that I find his lyrics often a bit to obvious. Especially when you compare them with the two songs somebody else wrote the lyrics for, the earlier mentioned The cuckoo and Dylan Thomas lyric Do not go gentle. It's the way Donovan brings his lyrics that make them make sense. Still that doesn't change the fact that this is a beautiful cd which I enjoy listening to a lot.
Eelco Schilder

Strepitz CDs "no. 0" (1999); "Suns naturai" (2003); "Vangeli apocrifi 01 la nativita" (2003); "Vangeli apocrifi 02 passione" (2004); "Iluoghi della cornamusa" (2004)
Label: Nota; Nos. cd320 - cd437 - cd508 - cd515 - cd518
Strepitz is a group of Italian musicians who play both jazz and folk music in an exciting way. I had a two song cd reviewed by them last spring and ended the review with the words that I was so sorry the cd contained only two songs. Now I got hold on their entire catalogue and in this review I give you an short impression of one of Italy's most creative music groups. Strepitz likes to search for new adventures in music. Their cd's have often a theme or are made within a special project. The band had some change in members but the basic of their sound is a mixture of jazz and traditional music. Not old fashioned jazz but modern jazz, sometimes very experimental.
In 1999 the band released Strepitz no 0. (Nota cd320) a collection of five traditional and selfwritten pieces of music. Here the band sounds very open and they play the tunes and songs in a refreshing way. The music is of the happy kind and technically very balanced. But still far from experimental although I can hear several small ideas in the music which will be used in a more intensive way on their later cd's.
The cd is followed by the cd Suns naturai (Nota cd437) from 2003. On this cd the band reaches a fascinating high level of music. The heavy, dark opening song Furlana ends in a dreamworld of sounds full roaring wind and brass instruments. Right at the beginning the band makes it clear that they got much more experimental but still they keep the recognisable sound of jazz and tradition. Sometimes I hear clearly Italian folk theme's coming out of the passionate music. What follows are twelve other pieces of music which seem to be connected to each other. It's like the band tells a long and lost story, sometimes furious, sometimes sweet and harmless, often mysterious. An amazing cd, a highlight in the bands history.
In 2003 they also recorded another cd called Vangeli apocrifi 01 la nativita (Nota cd508) The band combines literature and poetry with music. It has both spoken word and music, which can make this cd less interesting for people who don't understand Italian. But than, again the music is of such high quality, it would be a pity not to hear this work as well. I find that this cd has a much more traditional feeling than the others although it's the same band. In una capanna will be recognised by many as Italian folkmusic while a song like e dal cielo un paraninfo is more in de chanson style. These two types of music get mixed in many of the other songs. It's less experimental, more back to basic. Again a beauty of a cd which would be liked especially by the lovers of the more traditional Italian music in stead of the experimental kind.
In 2004 the group continued with two cd's. First Vangeli apocrifi 02 passione (Nota cd515). This cd starts almost sacred with beautiful female lead vocals backed by male voices and a string instrument. Again the music is back to the experimental type again and this time it's like jazz entered the middle-ages. It has a less traditional sound, this time it's the jazz side of the band that comes first. Exciting, but a bit like Suns naturai.
On their latest cd there are only three members left. This Iluoghi della cornamusa (Nota cd518) is another highlight in the works of this group. It's a journey through Europe by backpipe. The band takes several type of European backpipes and show their sounds by playing from the tradition the instruments come from. It starts very recognisable, the intro is what I was used from the band. The same sound, same structure but with this difference that the music was is more sober and has a purity that stays during the whole cd. Beautiful vocal part on this song as well. What follows is an Italian piece, starting of on two Zampogna's only the drone is heavy and the sound takes over the whole room. No instruments added, pure the Zampogna bagpipe solo or as duo. This Italian part is absolutely fabulous and still gives me goose-flesh all over. I could tell you about all the songs on this cd but it's much better to get one yourself.
I hope I made clear that Strepitz is a band which is worth having the cd's from. They play amazing music and have the guts to try new things. I'm very enthusiastic about all their work but Sans naturai and Iluoghi della cornamusa are in my opinion their two masterpieces.
Eelco Schilder

Gorchestra Cantarchevai "In concerto"
Label: Folkclub ethnosuoni; No. ES5334; 2004
An Italian Christmas concert live on cd. This orchestra with choir brings traditional (celebration) songs from all over Europe. It's a real Christmas cd full with light choir works like on Noi siam i tre magi dell oriente, no se si sera el amor and esodi biblici. On these songs the choir sounds closer to the choir music from classical orchestra's while in songs like Vo girand per le osterie it is much more traditional music that sounds through. I definitely prefer the last style. The cd contains for example Hungarian, Italian, French music songs and sometimes some spoken word set on music like in Notte oscura / melodia curda. A nice atmospherically cd but not more than that. A bit to standard and the sound quality isn't always at it's best. This might be caused by the hall they played in.
Eelco Schilder

Tarak Nath Mishra and Keshava Rao Nayak "Varanasi Concert"
Label: Fragment Recordings; CD001; 2004
My first reaction when I saw the name of sitar-player Tarak Nath Mishra was: never heard that name before. When checking out the information on the cd and the website of the recordlabel I became more clear. "Fragment Recordings" is a new and small label with no direct intention to release known artists. Besides the "Varanasi Concert" they brought out a cd with recordings of New York-street sounds. Although slightly different, this cd has the same idea behind it. The recordings are far from hifi, but probably recorded with a small device, like MD, or DAT. The concert consists a sitar-performance of Raga Kervani. After a short alaap the tabla comes in, and they soon go to the faster part. A good choice, as his playing technique in the slower part lacks the subtle touch of the real masters. Before and after the concert-registration, there are two tracks called "Atmosphere". The last track is a recording with the subtitle "a boat ride across the Ganga". Besides that, the booklet consists pictures made around Dasashwamedh gat in Varanasi. The whole idea is to create the illusion you are really there, walking around, seeing the city and hearing the music. This cd does not bring the highlight of Indian classical music, but it is what God must have meant, when he created ethnomusicology.
Luther Zevenbergen


Ustad Shahid Parvez "Magnificent Melody"
Label: Felmay; No. fy8086; 2004
Shahid Parvez is one of the leading sitar-players at the moment. As a nephew of the late Vilayat Khan, he also plays an important role in spreading the sitar-style of the Imdad Khan-tradition. On this cd the main piece is Raga Dabari. This is a very old night-raga, and has been brought to fame by the singer Tansen at the court of the Moghul Akbhar. The first part of the raga, called alaap, is played without tabla. The way Parvez floats slowly from the low to the high register from note to note shows a very fine touch. Still, listening to Pervez, I always miss something. It is not his technical scale, there is nothing wrong about that. What lacks is fire, or passion.
Luther Zevenbergen

Knut Reiersrud Hans Frederik Jacobsen Vajra "Himalaya Blues"
Label: Grappa Musikkforlag AS; HCD7191; 2004
Himalayan Blues is a co-operation between Vajra, a folkgroup from Nepal, and the Norwegian group "The Funky HomoSapiens". They played together on a jazz-event in Kathmandu, and after that, they made the 'nearly live'-recordings, we can hear on this cd. The Nepali group consists a tabla-player, sarod, and bansuri (bamboo-flute). Although music from Nepal is based on the Indian tradition, it is more a folk-tradition. Their melodies and arrangements are more straightforward and not following the strict rules of raga. The Norwegian musicians have a funky background, at least that's what they tell themselves in the cd-booklet. I cannot find many sources of funk in the music. The whole thing is very tame, and the most notable moments are the pieces where the Nepali musicians take the front-role. It seems that they followed mostly the pieces of Vajra, and the nice thing about fusion-projects like this, is to aim at building a bridge between two different traditions.
Luther Zevenbergen

Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan "Regal Resonance"
Label: Felmay; No. fy8080; 2004
On "Regal Resonance" we can hear 50 years old recordings of a singer from Pakistan: Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan. Although the recordings are very poor, it is nice to hear the music of India/Pakistan, as it was performed 50 years ago. It is the main goal for a musician of the Indian tradition, to recreate the music that his guru taught him. The music therefor doesn't change much over the years. Still, you can hear that things have changed. Indian music has moved, after the independence of India and Pakistan, from a court-culture to a concert-culture. The music on the cd sounds very rough and the showing of virtuosity seems not as important as it is today. Also the slow tempo, is much slower, than it is in a slow piece today. It is not easy, at the start to listen to this cd, but after taking this gap, it is very fascinating.
Luther Zevenbergen

Dr. N. Ramani & Hariprasad Chaurasia "Together"
Label: Felmay; No. fy8087; 2004
Not many people know that Indian music is divided in two main traditions. The north Indian music (Hindustani music) and the South Indian music (Karnatic music). They use different instruments and also play different ragas. Sometimes musicians from north and south play together. On this cd, the famous North-Indian bansuri-player Hariprasad Chaurasia plays together with Dr. N Ramani. Ramani like Chaurasia plays a bamboo flute. But the South Indian flute, is smaller and therefor has a different sound. Also the ranges of the flutes are different. Chaurasia's flute covers the lower octave, and Ramani the higher one. They play together in a way that when Chaurasia starts low and goes up, Ramani picks it up when the melody goes to the higher octaves. They can cover the whole broad range an instrument like a sitar can produce. As main piece they chose Raga Malkauns/Hindolam. Malkauns is a raga from north India, Hindolam from the south. But the ragas share most of their main characterics, like the scale. This cd really is one of the best Indian cd's I have heard last year.
Luther Zevenbergen


The Unusual Suspects "Live in Scotland"
Label: Footstompin; No. CDFSR1727; 2004; Playing time: 64.53 min
"The Unusual Suspects" could be seen as the Scottish response to the genius Norwegian folk big band Chateau Neuf Spelmansslag - they perform Scottish traditional music in a big band format, with contemporary music influences. Directed by the acclaimed duo Corrina Hewat (harp & vocals) and David Milligan (piano), the band brings together 22 of the most talented musicians from the Scottish music scene, with representatives from most of the important Scottish folk bands. I can count in the line up, apart from harp and piano, six fiddles, three pipes/whistles, two accordions, four singers, a brass section with 2 trumpets, a sax and a trombone, plus guitar, bouzouki, drums and percussion. To pick just 6 musicians, to give you a flavour of the profile of the band: Chris Stout, Bruce MacGregor, Rory Campbell, Phil Bancroft, Annie Grace, John Morran.
The result is often impressive, a wonderful piece of noise, with a combination of wild tune sets, and excitingly arranged traditional songs, several of them actually very quiet. In particular the combination of brass and folk instruments makes often a very groovy sound. However, some numbers sound incredibly shrill, like the Bass Strathspey Set, where you have a number of pipes and brass instruments competing in who sounds more noisy and shrill - not necessarily a delight for the ears. While several tunes are very high profile and arranged with great ideas, The Unusual Suspects do not have yet the same sophistication that Chateau Neuf Spelmanslag has.
The album was recorded live, and this is also what the Unusual Suspects are about. No doubt in live this band is unforgettable, full of fire and inspiration. The CD gives probably only a bit of an idea what this band is about - yet I would not have liked to miss out on this special album.
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Michael Moll

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© The Mollis - Editors of FolkWorld; Published 01/2005

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