FolkWorld Issue 42 07/2010
FolkWorld CD Reviews
Eric Vloeiman’s Gatecrash "Heavens above!"
For all you folkies, this is not a folk record at all, but jazz and there for a bit out of place in this magazine. But when I get a record like this for review I don’t care a bit if it’s folk or not. This fantastic music and even folkies should be interested in any other form of music that got quality. Eric Vloeimans is a Dutch trumpet player and probably one of the best Dutch jazz artists of this moment. This new album shows exactly why. Together with his band including fender Rhodes, keyboards, (electric) bass and drums, Vloeimans brings a fantastic piece of modern jazz. His fluent style is great to listen to. Not only in the slow tunes he convinces with beautiful play, but it are the Raw and progressive pieces that gives this music something extra. In the folk we often hear trumpets in Balkan or Klezmer music, often played loud and messy. This is a totally different thing, as if Vloeimans sings through his trumpet. Every nuance, every feeling he wants to express rolls perfectly out of his instrument. Into some great modern jazz with progressive edges? Get this album, it’s great!
Terje Isungset "Winter songs"
In the last episode of Folkworld there was an article about the intriguing ice projects of Terje Isungset
(FW#41). His latest part of the project has just been released and is called Winter songs. This album contains eleven new compositions all played on ice instruments and vocals. Isungset is helped by seven musicians, including the singer Lena Nymark who sings beautiful (ice cold of course) ballads. Her soft voice fits perfectly with the gentle sounds and fragile compositions of Isungset. I think this winter songs is one of the stronger parts of the ice project. It is more melodic, has a rich sound and a perfect harmony between soundscape’s and music. Interesting for those who like minimalistic kinds of music, experimental avant-gardistic and for those who love Nordic fragile folk.
Al-Yaman is a Czech duo playing Arabic inspired folk-rock that is impossible to resist. Ashwaq Abdulla Kulaib is the female singer of the duo who came from Yemen to Prague in 1990 to study and never left. The other part of the duo is composer and musician Ales Hyvnar. The duo is backed by a drummer, percussionist and bassist. Their eleven new compositions are modern rock songs, deeply rooted in (Arabic) tradition and old fashioned (Arabic) pop/rock. Kulaib is a great singer and her full, powerful voice is backed by a nice band and a strong blend of electronics, samples and beats. It’s an album that takes energy to listen to, so much is going on and a bit more moments of rest and peace would have made it stronger I think. But that’s only a small feeling by a very nice rock album.
Eugene Ruffolo & Doc Schneider "Songs & stories live"
Own label; 2009
Two men with a guitar, as self released live album, I have to admit that I was a bit sceptic when I first put my eyes on the album. I think I see dozens CD’s of guitarists both solo and in duo each year and only a few know to surprise me. Thankfully this is such an album. Ruffolo I know from his great lead vocals on the song Win back your love which you can find on one of my all time Dutch American folk albums Elsewhere bound by the Very Girls and the Watchman. Ruffolo has a warm, beautiful voice that calms me down and which I love to listen to. He knows how to sing his sings and really makes me want to hear what he is singing about. Sometimes with a good sense of humor, other moments more serious or a small love song, he always now to convince me. The good thing about this album is that he is joined by Doc Schneider which was totally unknown to me. His fine backings and lead vocals show a bit more shyness, but sound natural and convincing. On this album the singers match, the guitars match and the atmosphere is good. Thirty four songs (it’s a 2-cd set) is a bit much to listen to on one evening. But I like to choose one of them and just listen a few and catch this good, positive vibe these two albums have. An album that makes me curious to hear more from both artists both solo and together.
Ragnheiður Gröndal "Tregagás"
Sena; scd438; 2009
Icelandic singer Ragnheiður Gröndal is one of these remarkable voices of Iceland. Her debut album from 2003 Was a collection of jazz standards, but after that her focus came more and more towards the folk music. Although she still sings jazz occasionally and she is part of a klezmer group as well, this new alb um with the Icelandic folk ensemble, contains traditional songs from Iceland, but in new arrangements with influences from Balkan, Celtic and of course Nordic music. The album is based on an old book by a priest and Gröndal brings the songs in a powerful way. It takes a while to get used to the dynamic, Icelandic way of singing in combination with the Balkan style clarinet by Haukur Gröndal, but after getting used to this combination I find it a great mixture of styles. It doesn’t sound like a natural couple, but like two strangers in love dancing around each other and creating new energy. Give this album time and discover it’s well hidden treasures.
Mikado Sphinx "Live"
Own label; 2010
Previte/Petrella/Salis "Big Guns"
Steve Raegele "Last Century"
Larry Porter "Silk Road Blues"
In this review a few bands that take jazz music as the basic element for their crossover style music. First Mikado Sphinx which is a quartet around the Polish singer Ewa Peouka, who also writes most of the lyrics. She is backed by composer and keyboard player Andreas Koethe, drummer Tobi Schulte and percussionist Alvaro Chevere Tarquino. The group was founded five years ago and this Live album gives a nice picture of the bands repertoire. Peouka is an expressive singer with a full, loud voice. She goes from jazz, to Balkan/Klezmer style, chanson and other styles. The musical arrangements are simple but effective with the jazz as main element. The quartet knows how to comfort the listener with easy going songs like Horyzont although I personally prefer the more expressive songs like MGK and The past. I think this live album shows the bands possibilities, but also their search for their own ‘Mikado sphinx’ identity.
Next the trio Previte, Petrella & Salis with their album Big guns. A totally different listening experience that the Mikado Sphinx album. Two Italians and an American musician bringing a soundscape of jazz, effects and just…sounds. Using the Hammond organ, fender Rhodes, trombone, piano, drums and melodic, this trio takes you on an intriguing journey in which simple melodies change into complicated sound structures with often fabulous solo’s, sometimes just wild free-improvised jazz and occasionally even a sweet, gentle melody. An album for the lovers of the more avant-garde part of the jazz and electronic music. And although it might not sound like that, the three musicians have everything under full control from the first until the last minute, a job very well done. Well, talking about weird sounding records.
Steve Raegele with Thom Gossage and Miles Perkin like a few strange sounds as well. On their album Last century they mix electric guitar with acoustic bass and drums. They freak on their instruments using jazz, blues, rock, R&B and many other styles to spice up their compositions. Intriguing for a few tracks, but after a while I have the feeling the same tricks are repeated. Still a nice record, but I take it bit by bit which gives me the best listening result.
Larry Porter is a jazz pianist who got fascinated by the Afghan music during a journey in the seventies. Now he mixes his love for both the Western music and the Central Asian and Indian music into his own kind of world jazz. Together with eight musicians he explores the possibilities with nice results. In most tunes, like the title track Silk road blues and Rock rifle, the right balance is reached. But occasionally, like in Dancing shadows It’s not clear to me what exactly the musicians want with their music, but nevertheless an overall fine album.
Matt Darriau & Paradox Trio "Matt Darriau & Paradox Trio"
Matt Darriau & the Paradox trio featuring Bojan Z on piano. Darriau is a multi instrumentalist playing clarinet, sax, kaval and gaita (bagpipe). Most people might know him as one of the Klezmatic musicians, but in the past decennia he has done a lot of other interesting musical projects. This cooperation with Bojan Z is one of them and the result is fabulous. Mixing jazz with ethnic music from the Balkan, Klezmer and many other styles, the musicians reach a high level. With professional and passionate play the band recorded eight exciting compositions. Superb is Faux clarinet with Glass which has a hypnotic drive that sometimes overwhelms me. Listen to Taipan that starts gentle, but when the cello joins in this song is like a beautiful sunshiny day that ends with a dark cloud. In La petite gitane they show their more ethnic side again in a surprisingly creative and refreshing way. The album ends with October gaida in which of course the gaita plays a central role. I don’t think you will find many gaita-jazz pieces and that makes this an interesting composition. Darriau is a master on the reed instrument, he isn’t the best gaita player around but manages to create a nice piece of music on it. This wonderful album is the best example how to mix jazz and ethnic styles in an exciting, creative and sometimes breathtaking way.
Danjal "The Palace"
Sometimes I wonder what they put in the water on the Faroer islands. How is it possible that such a small country has so many excellent musicians? The newest star is called Dánjal and his album The palace might be considered a new highlight in the musical history of the Faroer islands. He studied jazz piano in Malmö, studied West-African music and did some acting, composing and writing. This album contains twelve new compositions and together with his band he goes from fabulous brass-rock in The big wheel keeper and Hep just to name a few, two fragile songs like Gylta and Our song, a great waltz in The enemy and many other folk, klezmer, rock, weird, romantic, wild influenced songs. Danjal shows on this album to be a creative songwriter, an intriguing artist and a good musician. This album tells a story and I’m sure will surprise many listeners worldwide.
Sheng "Derriere la façade"
CUP; 8039; 2009
Turdus Philomelos "Ici maintenant la pouf!"
Wild boar music;
Sophie Cavez & Baltazar Montanaro "Sophie Cavez & Baltazar Montanaro"
A collection of albums from Belgium, but with mostly non-Belgian music. First Sheng a trio on lute, harmonica and percussion amongst others. This new album has fifteen new compositions, most of them by harmonica player Olivier Poumay. The three musicians are supported by Sigrid Vandenbogaerde on cello and Christel Borghlevens on bass clarinet. The compositions are a blend of folk, jazz, world, blues, tango and similar styles. Nice, easy going, acoustic music of good quality. The first half of the album the music amuses and surprises me, but halfway I get the feeling the trio repeats itself at moments, it’s not so refreshing anymore as the first part of the album. Nevertheless a fine album by three professional musicians with the harmonica in the center of the attention.
Next is Turdus Philomelos with their second album Ici maintenant la pouf! This quintet mixes acoustic music with electric guitars. Drums and electric bass. Their music is funny, sunny and has an anti-depressive vibe. It might remind you of Circus music, klezmer, jazz, folk-rock or just creative mixture of sounds including a good dose of humor. Their inventive music will put a smile on your face, although I have to say that their musical arrangements are limited and the same structures in melody and rhythms do return in several songs. Fortunately that doesn’t matter much, because this band brings it with the right energy and sometimes funny, unexpected sound additions.
The third one is on the Wild boar label by the quartet Txütxükan. Their album Acoustic is already two years old and contains East-European influenced acoustic folk music. With musicians coming from Brittany, Ireland and the Basque country, this really is an internationally orientated group. This album shows a bunch of musician with passion for the (East) European music played relaxed and open minded. The music has a fresh kind of pureness and is without any false pretentions. A pleasure to listen to, with moments of virtuoso play, but mainly honest acoustic music.
Well, we had a private release, the home records label and the Wild boar label. The next is a third known Belgian (folk) label called Appel Rekords. This album by accordionist Sophie Cavez and violinist Baltazar Montanaro. Their album without title shows two wonderful musicians who joined together and bring each other to great heights. The combination of the accordion and violin work very well. With French, mediterean and South-American influences the album bring enough variation and the professional quality of the duo does the rest, an album of constant high quality. They deserve a compliment for this, it’s not easy to keep the quality this high for eleven tracks with only two instruments.
El Boy Die "The black hawk ladies"
New album by Canadian/French musician El Boy Die who clearly loves spacey, dreamy psych-folk. With eight new compositions El Boy Die spreads his musical vision over us. I can enjoy a good album in this genre, but somehow this album does not match with my personal taste. I hear beautiful acoustic guitar parts, but because of the added noise it’s almost impossible to enjoy them. His, sometimes almost symphonic approach, sounds to artificial to me. I get the feeling that too much is made behind the mixture table.
Zachary Richard "Last kiss"
Singer-Songwriter Zachary Richard, comes from Louisiana and now lives in Montreal. He recorded his first album in 1974 for the famous Electra label, but it would take thirty years before it was released. He did release a few French albums in the late seventies and early eighties. It was quiet for many years, until he started recording again in 1994 and has released a few albums since. This latest work Last kiss includes twelve compositions (including a duet with Celine Dion, although I’m not sure if that is a recommendation for folk-lovers, but believe me it’s a great end to a nice album) Richard makes pop music with influences from folk, jazz, blues, Americana etc. Well produced, warm vocals, strong in both the piano-vocal songs and in the more rock orientated ones. It’s not hard to imagine Richard has a lot of fans who loves his warm folk-pop music.
Anna Wolfe "Love"
Muddy sunshine music;
Sometimes I start listening a CD for the first time and it’s like the whole world around me fades away and everything is silent. It’s only me and a beautiful song. That is exactly what happened with the opening track of Anna Wolfe’s album Love. This Nashville based singer-songwriter recorded ten new songs including the song Little mustard seed, the opening track, which is the best song on the album. On this one both her vocals, the composition and her piano play are perfect. Wolfe plays piano and guitar and she is backed on a few tracks by Anthony Lamarchina on cello. These are songs straight from the heart. Sweet, sometimes a bit naïve, sometimes serious but always with hope shining through. All ten songs are worth a listen, but she never reaches the perfectness of the first track. Sometimes she comes close like in For granted which is another highlight on this peaceful, sweet album.
Joanna Chapman-Smith "Contraries"
Woundup records 1849; 2008
Canadian singer-songwriter Joanna Chapman-Smith is a rising star in Canadian folk. The last five years she appeared on quit a few albums from known and lesser known (folk) musicians and her second solo album Contraries was released. Together with a bunch of (guest) musicians, Chapman-Smith surprises me with fresh folky music. The album starts nicely with Urbanity and the great song Arbitrary lines with this nice frivol clarinet melody. Catchy and making the sun come out! The album is full with this kind of well played, creative folk songs. Body language shows her vocal quality in all its glory, Things are gonna go wrong has a nice jazzy touch, while Klezbian mother is a happy instrumental intermezzo with of course Klezmer influences. Contraries is a strong album with music that surprises. Somehow I get the feeling this is only a fraction of what Chapman-Smith is capable of. I hope she keeps on developing her own style more and more and within a few years she might be one of the bigger Canadian (folk) names.
Crai Nou Ensemble "Les flutes roumaines"
A new album by the ‘folk music for millions’ label Airmail music. This time Romanian folk by the Crai nou ensemble. In their music the pan flute plays the leading role expect to get twenty two traditional, known and lesser known, melodies with the sound of the pan flute as the main ingredient. Nicely played, very easy going sunny music for moments of relaxation. If you don’t like pan flutes, don’t buy this album. If you are more experienced in Romanian folk music, I think this album won’t have much new to offer.
Coronal Rain "Memories of Suns"
Own label; 2009
Coronal Rain is a German duo with Nerissa Schwarz on harp and Andreas Hack on keys, samples and drum programming. Together with three female guest vocalists they published ten compositions which are recorded between 2005 and 2009. The music changes from nice acoustic harp solo pieces like Strange dreams to electric harp solo pieces like Pining. Most songs are combinations of Hack’s sounds and rhythms and Schwarz her harp. Sometimes with a good, Celtic, vibe like in Dandelion ghost, but sometimes a bit too dreamy sounds like the new age like composition Remus. Strangely enough the album also contains some heavy electronic, dramatic music like the opening track On my own which makes me wonder what Coronal rain actually wants with their music. Seen the fact that it’s a collection of recordings from a five years period, I understand why so many different styles and atmospheres are on this album, but it makes the record a bit unbalanced and somehow it makes it sometimes a bit difficult to listen to.
Nim Sofyan "Agora"
Nim Sofyan is a sextet from Vienna and Agora is the bands fourth album. Half of the songs on this album is traditional Turkish, one is traditional Greek and the rest is original material composed by the band members. The lead singer and guitarist Alp Bora is from Turkish origin, that might explain the choice of repertoire. The album starts with two excellent Turkish piece called Ramizem and Yüksek, yüksek tepelere. Especially the openings track is of high quality. Strong vocals, good brass arrangements and a perfect balance between the musicians. But not only in these two traditional pieces, also in their self written songs, the band shows their top quality. Crossroads is a fine jazz piece with traditional influences. Strong violin and brass instrument solo pieces on this one. Daydreamer is very jazzy to, but this time in a more Balkan brass style composition. With Alli turnam the band ends this strong album in style. A nice Turkish traditional brought in the recognizable Nim Sofyan style. I don’t know the other albums by this band, but if they have the same quality I think it’s time I add them to my collection. Because this new album contains good songwriting and excellent music.
Les Pommes de ma Douche "Five men swinging"
Le chant du monde;
Les Pommes de ma Douche is a French quintet on guitars, accordion, violin and bass. It’s their seventh album and this time they focus on American swing music. With fine finger picking, sunny accordion, solid bass and a moody violin the group plays honest, fresh and happy acoustic music. The choice of repertoire is perfect, the songs fit together and that makes this album an ideal listen for a warm evening sitting in the garden, with a glass of white wine and the feeling that life isn’t so bad after all. Solid craftsmanship, nothing less and nothing more than that. Recommended for lovers of the ‘swing’ genre.
NDR1; DMG54.218096.2; 2010
Panorama is the fourth album by the acoustic guitar duo Rangin. On this album they have Christian Flohr as special guest on the double bass. Nine new compositions and like their previous output, inspired by worldwide traditional music styles. Besides guitar, the bouzouki is also played occasionally. This album is very easy going with friendly music, well played and with a good touch of the Mediterranean and Southern American countries. This sparkling album might be interested for all those acoustic guitar fans and for those who are looking for the right summer evening CD, stop looking, this is your album!
Big Low "The junction of the two rivers"
The big low is a trio from the Netherlands with one third of Australian blood. I remember a long time ago, their album No tears in paradise somehow came into my hands but it’s been to long ago to remember if I liked it or not. This new album called The junctions of the two rivers makes me wondering why I never play the old one as this is a beautiful CD. With the fine vocals of Dan Tuffy, good finger picking and subtle percussion the trio creates a kind of alternative country-folk with a dark edge. Songs like Brother Joe feel like an ancient dessert ballad, Sweet rain is beautiful in its simplicity and One kind favour (one of my favorites) is a lonesome blues song sounding like something sad is about to happen. The junction of the two rivers is a strong album where three musicians give all they have. They stay close to the soul of their songs and with less, they create more.
Ophiusa "Sen planeta"
Own label; 2010
Al Andaluz Project "Al Maraya"
CM c039; 2010
Two albums from Spain, two totally different kind of music. Ophiusa is a sextet from Galicia and this Sen planeta is their second album. Together with eight guest musicians the band recorded nine new compositions in a tasteful folk-rock style. With the rich Galician culture as their main influence, the musicians mix traditional (European) styles with jazz and rock. They do this with passion and strong craftsmanship and the albums has a good selection of songs that fit together and create a nice, balanced sound. With solo parts on accordion, saxophone, mouth organ, (electric) guitar and may other instruments, this album has enough variation to offer. From , more or less, common folk rock to modern sounding folk-electronica. But always recognizable as Galician, the band felt free to create the music they liked and they did a very nice job indeed.
Al Andaluz Project released their second album after a successful debut. The three female vocalists from this band recorded thirteen new songs rooted deeply into the rich musical heritage of Southern Spain. With Arabic, African, Spanish and influences from all over Europe, this CD shows important geographic position of Andalusia as the bridge between North Africa and Europe. I liked the first album but this second one is even of a much higher quality. The three great vocalists are backed by an excellent team of musicians and the music is exciting, emotional, happy and colorful. Impressive how they kept the soul of ancient Andalusia and brought it into the 21st century. Highly recommended!
Ophiusa "Sen Planeta"
Own Label; 2010
OPHIUSA is a modern folk band from Galicia (NW Spain) that takes some traditional instruments such as accordion, bouzouki, zanfona (hurdy-gurdy), flute or gaita (Galician bagpipe), and fuses them with the core of their music, based on electric guitars, mandolin, sax, drum set, programmed loops,... They develop a style that cannot be considered folk in the most frequent fashion that you can normally listen to in Galicia. It incorporates elements usual in trad music, but associated to others maybe from modern jazz or progressive rock. I guess the innovative Celtic sound of the Scottish band Shooglenifty, would be a fair comparison. For a listener more focussed on traditional folk, the approach to OPHIUSA has to be made with an open mind. You have to enjoy these greatly played jazzy or funky rhythms that eventually turn into passages where guests such as: the ‘gaita midi’ from Bieito ROMERO (LUAR NA LUBRE), the zanfona from Oscar FERNÁNDEZ (BONOVO), the acordina from Pedro PASCUAL (ex-X.M.BUDIÑO’s band, LAIO, NUKE TRÍO, MARFUL,...) or the English horn from Benxamin OTERO, progressively take you towards the more familiar melodies of a muiñeira jig or a vals. ‘Sen Planeta’ is OPHIUSA’s second CD, after their first one in 2008, ‘Paos’, where they fused Galician music with reggae or bluegrass.
Various Artists "Cantigas do Camiño"
Do Fol Música/Boa;
This is a sampler launched with the sponsorship of the Xunta de Galicia (local Government from Galicia, NW Spain), with a double purpose: to celebrate the Xacobeo 2010 (special year to commemorate the medieval pilgrimage way to St. James burial place in Santiago de Compostela), and to promote 13 of the many top folk artists from Galicia . The artists are: Susana SEIVANE, FALTRIQUEIRA, Guadi GALEGO & VAAMONDE, LAMAS E ROMERO, Uxía, LEILÍA, LUAR NA LUBRE, SonDeSeu, FUXAN OS VENTOS, TREIXADURA, MILLADOIRO, Emilio RÚA and BERROGÜETTO. The CD is edited with a 78 pages booklet, nicely illustrated by’O Pastor’, with texts in Galician, Spanish & English, that introduce : the history of ‘El Camino de Santiago’ (the pilgrimage way tradition that started in the early 800s), its connection with medieval & traditional music, and today’s Galician folk artists featured in the album. Each of them plays a song whose subject is specially related to the ‘Camiño’ (Galician for ‘Camino’ (SP), ‘Way’ (E)). All the songs have the characteristic beauty & musical quality that has taken Galician folk music to a level that causes both, admiration & jealousy in the rest of Spain. Songs to specially recommend? Not ignoring the more traditional tunes from FUXAN OS VENTOS, TREIXADURA or LEILÍA, I would highlight: ‘Dum Paterfamilias’ by Guadi GALEGO (ex-BERROGÜETTO) with the folk trio VAAMONDE, LAMAS E ROMERO. Also the beautiful Alborada de Pontecaldelas, played by the great folk orchestra SonDeSeu. And ‘A Ruta Esquecida’, by BONOVO (the band from Oscar FERNÁNDEZ, ex-OS CEMPES) playing Jotas from Galicia & Zamora together with Carlos BECEIRO & Jaime MUÑOZ from the Castilian band La MUSGAÑA. A really inspiring CD for those who want to discover Galicia’s folk music, maybe while walking towards it along Northern Spain.
Do Fol Música/Boa;
The celestial Galician folk music orchestra SonDeSeu (FW#35) comes back with their third CD that they are presenting in 2010, in Spain and in Lorient’s Celtic Music Festival, with a wonderful dance show. This is again the result of the efforts of Rodrigo ROMANÍ (ex-MILLADOIRO), Anxo PINTOS (BERROGÜETTO), Xaquín XESTEIRA (TREIXADURA), Xosé LIZ (LIZGAIRO), Alfonso FRANCO and Javier FEIJOO, leading the talent of more than forty young: singers, harpists, fiddlers, hurdy-gurdy players, bagpipers, flutists & percussionists. This time they have a special guest singer: Rosa CEDRÓN, with her song ‘Romance de Mirabella’. In my view, compared to their two previous CDs (‘Mar de Vigo’ and ‘Trastempo’), this time SonDeSeu has gone one big step forward in their orchestration of Galician traditional songs, reaching an excellent balance between all the different sections of instruments & voices. Too bad that this CD does not include a DVD, since the music & dance show they are presenting this year together with the trad Galician dance group O FIADEIRO is a great visual experience. SonDeSeu is one of those cultural initiatives that should be increasingly supported by their local governments, since they help to present a distinctive & top quality image of the rich traditional culture made in Galicia.
Linho do Cuco "3"
Own Label; 2010
LINHO DO CUCO (meaning something like: ‘the flower of the gorse’) is a folk band in the most traditional Galician way but with several really interesting instrumental innovations. Street & tavern dance music with gaita bagpipes, traditional drums, zanfona (hurdy gurdy), diatonic accordion, but also tuba, oboe, English horn, flamenco guitar, traverse flutes, vibraphones,... In their second album named ‘3’, they show their clear intention to make simple & well played traditional Galician dance tunes: alborada, pasodoble, mazurka, rumba, vals, muiñeira,... The first song ‘Os Mozos do Penedo’ (some Italian flavours in it?), is a good example of folk style that LINHO DO CUCO tries to revive: the kind of dance music probably traditional in the late 19th & early 20th century, where the most rooted Galician ‘wood & leather’ instruments became fused with more ‘modern’ bellows & brass ones (plenty of metals on the winds, but also on the percussions). It has to be remarked the version of the happy pasodoble Mallou, with elegant solo passages for the oboe together with the zanfona (hurdy gurdy), while you hear fireworks whistling & exploding in the background. Just as in any good traditional Galician ‘Romería’ (village fair). There is also a version of Gilles CHABENAT’s song for hurdy gurdy ‘Les Beaux Jours’. The vals (Maruxa), has a smooth prelude with flamenco guitar (Ivan GARCIA), then followed by the oboe, tuba, accordion,... A typical Galician rumba (rhythm imported by the Spanish immigrants coming back from Cuba) here is played with accordion and hurdy gurdy, and incorporating new Caribbean sonorities with traverse flutes & oboe. Well known guest musicians in ‘3’ are: Pedro PASCUAL (ex-X.M.BUDIÑO’s band, LAIO, NUKE TRÍO, MARFUL,...) and Óscar FERNÁNDEZ (OS CEMPES, bOnOvo). In the beginning you may think that LINHO DO CUCO’s ‘3’ is the CD from ‘just any another Galician trad band’. But after checking inside out its enigmatic cardboard casing, and listening carefully to each of its 11 songs, it actually becomes a box full of good surprises.
Pìvari Trio + Compagnia del Maggio di Frassinoro "E ghè pü temp che vita / C’è più tempo che vita"
PÌVARI TRIO & the COMPAGNIA DEL MAGGIO DI FRASSINORO come back with this new album where the efforts of the instrumental trio & the vocal group, put together a new selection of 17 traditional songs from the northern Italian council of Frassinoro in the Appennines (province of Modena, Emilia-Romagna region). The trio of Fabio BONVICINI (flute, accordion, ocarina, vocals), Mario NOBILE (violoncello, accordion, vocals) and Renzo RUGGIERO (nyckelharpa, hurdy gurdy, vocals), together with the clear voices from the Frassinoro singers, play these compilation of traditional dance rhythms (march, polka, tarantella, waltz), and melodic slow songs. The central subject is the cycle of life in the repertoire from the Emilia Romagna region childhood, youth, marriage, old age. The start of the album is a happy dance march from the early 20th century. It is followed by a lullaby. There is even a song original from the southern city of Napoli. Some of the slow songs are truly beautiful such as ‘Ambasciata d’amore’ or ‘Il disertore’. Although my favourite one is the soldier’s story ‘Santa Liberata’, where the vocal and instrumental parts alternate each other in a strongly emotional way. There are also dance rhythms such as ‘The bride’s Polka’ that to me it sounds a bit like Spanish pasodoble. It is also significant to mention PIVARI TRIO’s incorporation of keyed & fretted string instruments such as the ghironda (hurdy gurdy) and the Swedish nyckelharpa, whose ancient resonances are not so often found in these styles of repertoires from the early days of the past century.
Quempallou "Polo Aire!!"
QUEMPALLOU is a folk band born in 1999 in Pontevedra, whose aim to perform dance music in the purest Galician traditional way: muiñeiras, pasodobres, jotas, fandangos, polkas, rumbas, mazurkas,.... The instruments they play are: Galician gaita bagpipes, clarinet, accordion, wooden flutes, mandolin, bouzouki, harp, traditional drums,... There is plenty of talent in their music, but the party attitude that QUEMPALLOU transmits to the audience is their biggest asset. We had the chance to experience it during & after the exciting concert at the past May 29th in the Galician Shellfish Fest in the village of Fuenlabrada (Madrid). During their last song, the band walked down from the stage to mingle & dance with the audience while playing their instruments. We have quite a few amateur Galician folk musicians here in Madrid who attended the concert, so a lot of them joined the party singing & dancing, others playing their pandeiretas (frame drums) or even their gaitas. ‘Polo Aire!!’ (‘In the Air’) is QUEMPALLOU’s fourth CD, is a set of 18 songs well representative of the party mood that they want to share.
Nevertheless, there is also a relaxing waltz beautifully played with Celtic harp and traverse flute: ‘Unha nova vida’ (‘A new life’). There is even room for the political claims. There is a short ska version of Scottland the Brave (song no.11). The underlying message is some criticism to the attempt from some local Galician authorities, to financially support the introduction of a ‘martial’ style of piping partially copied from the militarized Scottish bagpipe bands. That style may look very elegant & solemn in those ceremonies that some politicians enjoy so much. But it clashes with the humble, rural, relaxed & friendly traits of the most rooted Galician trad music, that bands such as QUEMPALLOU represent so well. There is a folk rap/hip-hop (Quempa-hop, hip-folk) song: ‘Ningeuén!!’, played with Celtic harp, pandeireta, bass, guitar, traditional drums,... The lyrics complain about the damages that oil spillages and careless construction projects have done to the Galician landscapes & wildlife. There is also a mazurka (‘Con lìngua de fóra’) vindicating the use of the Galician language, and its concurrency with the Castilian (Spanish), which is becoming a recurrent topic for debate, in Galicia but in other parts of Spain as well. Leaving politics aside, QUEMPALLOU’s ‘Polo Aire!!’ is a powerful source of fun, in the most Galician traditional way.
© The Mollis - Editors of FolkWorld; Published 07/2010
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