Tag Archives: World

A Beginner’s Guide to Contemporary Jazz From Japan

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Ronin Arkestra

American jazz was forbidden in Japan during World War II, when the swing era and the stirrings of proto-bebop were afoot, but listeners embraced it in secret. As the music continued its steady global expansion in the decades that followed, though, Japan’s jazz obsession was anything but hidden. William Minor, in his 2004 book Jazz Journeys to Japan: The Heart Within, cites a comment from veteran producer Michael Cuscuna: “Japan almost single-handedly kept the jazz record business going during the late 1970s.” And beyond consumers and fans, Minor elaborates, the country also produced its own wealth of jazz players: those who relocated abroad and flourished, those who remained and nurtured local scenes, and those who went back and forth, doing both. Continue reading

Album of the Day: Mdou Moctar, “Ilana (The Creator)”

Tuareg nomads traversed the Saharan Desert and the greater Sahel region of North and West Africa for a full millennium—freely and without confrontation—before the postcolonial era caught up with them. When new borders formed in the early 1960s, the Tuareg people faced religious exile, as hundreds of thousands were violently driven out of the desert into the city. The soundtrack to this widespread urban immigration was desert blues: a genre that borrows from early Americana, the Southern Belt blues tradition, Woodstock-era rock, and age-old Tuareg folk. It’s music that echoes the droning stillness and overwhelming tranquility of the Sahel region’s unforgiving landscape. Continue reading

Album of the Day: Chocolate, “Peru’s Master Percussionist”

Learning that an artist named Chocolate recorded music in Las Vegas back in 1990, one would assume the recordings contained big-band swing, cosmic funk, or some other style that would play well in classic downtown Vegas. But this musical odyssey to Sin City was made by Julio “Chocolate” Algendones, the brilliant percussionist and star of Afro-Peruvian music, who passed away in 2004. Mostly recorded during a trip to the U.S. with his group Perujazz, Algendones’s Peru’s Master Percussionist (Perspective on Afro​-​Peruvian Music. The Collection) connects festejo rhythms—a festive form of Afro-Peruvian music—with the traditional Yoruba sounds of Western Africa and spiritual patterns of the Santeria religion. Continue reading

Ibibio Sound Machine Radiate Genuine Positivity on “Doko Mien”

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Photography by Angela Stephenson

It’s a fraught task to take on, combining and innovating traditions, sounds, and languages belonging to specific regions of the world in order to create a universal piece of art. However, London’s Ibibio Sound Machine (featuring members from Nigeria, Ghana, Brazil, Trinidad, Australia, and elsewhere) have effortlessly done just that over the last few years, drawing upon elements of groove-heavy funk, Afrobeat, American soul, and Ghanaian highlife, and blending those influences with Ibibio folk story and British’s penchant for partying.

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Ifriqiyya Électrique’s Healing Sound Melds Tunisian Banga Ritual With Post-Industrial Noise

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Photo by Renaud de Foville

“I’m a curious guy! I like music that I don’t understand!” exclaims French artist François Cambuzat. The avant-rock guitarist is explaining the genesis of co-founding Ifriqiyya Électrique, a quintet that is currently the only Tunisian band on Western tours. Quite possibly the sole “adorcist post-industrial therapeutic” band in the world, Ifriqiyya Électrique takes their name from the area of “Ifriqiya or Ifriqiyah,” between Tripoli and Tangier, that includes today’s Tunisia.

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Album of the Day: The Scorpions & Saif Abu Bakr, “Jazz, Jazz, Jazz”

The ninth installment in the stellar Arabic music series Habibi Funk unearths The Scorpions & Saif Abu Bakr’s obscure album Jazz, Jazz, Jazz from the rarefied archives. First released in 1980, original copies are said to go for anything up to $1,000, making the LP something of an almost-lost scroll in Sudanese music and an essential exhibition of the northeast Africa nation’s pop ingenuity.

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On “Mama Funny Day,” Veteran Producer Sarazino Charts His Global Path Home

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“Pack your bags—we’re going to Burundi tomorrow!” declares Lamine Fellah, aka Sarazino, recounting how his dad greeted him one day when he returned from school. As a member of a diplomatic family, the 48-year-old musician explains that “home” changed at a moment’s notice. Born in Algeria, Fellah has now lived in Ecuador for the better part of two decades, but before that lived in Spain, Burundi, Burkina Faso, and Canada as well as his homeland. As a quintessential globetrotter in both his life and his music, all of his journeys pour into his music in one way or another. “Immersion [into other cultures] forces us to adapt,” he says. Continue reading

Big Ups: Drew McDowall On His Top Five Recent Musical Discoveries

Drew McDowall

Photo by by Gordon Haswell

“There’s an essay by Jonathan Lethem called ‘The Ecstasy of Influence’ that I really love, based on the idea that we’re constantly influenced by everything that other people are doing. That’s the heart of what you’re immersed in, but also it’s a fine line and a very delicate balancing act.”

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