Friday, August 5, 2016

Mazhar and Fuat - "Adımız miskindir bizim" (1974)

This song's Sufi-tinged title translates to "they call us mystics," and it's the kind of alluring Turkish folk-rock I could spend a lifetime listening to. An online translation of the first verse leaves me entirely satisfied: "We're called mystics, our enemy is called malice. We hold grudges about no one because all creation is one." The bad news: Mazhar and Fuat eventually added a third member, whose first name was Özkan, which turned them into MFÖ, a trio who represented Turkey twice in the '80s with two synth-cheese entries.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Zainidin Imanaliev - "Gül (Flower)" (2006)

This Folkways Kyrgyz release includes a number of performers, but it's Zainidin Imanaliev, the man on the cover, who's doing the song I'm linking to. He plays the komuz, a pear-shaped instrument with a long neck that you see players holding upside down (as he does in the photo) or cradling guitar-style.

The song tells of hollyhocks and nightingales who "cling to the flowers" like dew and "exchange glances." It's written by Atai Ogonbaev, the region's best-known bard, who lived from 1904 to 1949. Songs such as this, according to the notes, express a general optimism wafting through early thirties Kyrgyzstan, notwithstanding Soviet occupation. ("Our spirits rise and we open up [like fine flowers] in this new era," goes the final verse.)

Listening to this mountain music, with its sunny strums and falsetto phrase-endings, I wonder how it might sound coming from an Appalachian interpreter.  

Zainidin Imanaliev - "Gül (Flower)" (2006)

Monday, August 1, 2016

Lionel Loueke - "Rossignol" (2007)

On his 2007 Virgin Forest album, guitarist Lionel Luoeke mixes his West African roots and his jazz chops into an especially fine puree. As you can hear on this track, the sound is entrancing and organic, featuring chanted vocals that could be sung in Fon or French - the prevalent languages in his native Benin. Or Loueke could be using a lexicon of his own invention, for all I know. Whichever it is, it gets my attention. (The female voice on "Rossingol" and others on the album belong to Gretchen Parlato.) Loueke is currently based in New York City.

Lionel Loueke - "Rossignol" (2007)

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Khalifa Ould Eide and Dimi Mint Abba - "Art's Plume (Sawt Elfan)" (1990)

The late Moorish singer Dimi Mint Abba's clarion vocals relayed key cultural info in songs that stretched out like the sand-dune landscapes of her native Mauritania. Her 1990 album on the World Circuit label, a collaboration with Khalifa Ould Eide on the West African lute, gave her a boost in overseas recognition. This song features especially dextrous instrumentation and lyrics to live by: "Art's plume is a balsam, a weapon and guide enlightening the spirit of men."

Khalifa Ould Eide and Dimi Mint Abba - "Art's Plume (Sawt Elfan)" (1990)

Friday, July 22, 2016

Grand Papa Diabaté - "Mamaya (15ième partie)" (1999)

Grand Papa Diabate is the oldest of the four Guinean guitar-playing Diabate brothers (who include Sekou, Sire and Abdoulaye, known collectively as the Classic Guinean Guitar Group). His high esteem as a traiblazing guitarist secured the instrument's status as a standard component of Guinean music at the dawn of the country's independence (1958). Grand Papa Diabate wouldn't record his first album, Guitar, Extra Dry, until 1999, though, when he was 63 years old. A collection of his brothers' music (African Guitar Virtuoses, most of it recorded in the early 1980s) wouldn't see widespread release until 2007. The vocalist on "Mamaya" is Sona Diabaté, who's the sister of Bembeya Jazz guitarist Sekou, but no immediate relation to Grand Papa.

Grand Papa Diabaté - "Mamaya (15ième partie)" (1999)

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Génesis - "Señora del Silencio" (1974)

The Colombian band Génesis were led by Humberto Monroy, who'd previously played with a rock band called the Speakers. This haunting Andean headtrip appeared on their self-titled second album and is a Spanish iteration of E.E. Cummings's poem "The Lady of Silence."  A few more albums, reunions, and solo recordings by Monroy would all materialize in the following years, but this album would stand tall as the truly legendary one.

Génesis - "Señora del Silencio" (1974)

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Miguel Angel Martin - "Carmentea" (1978)

Miguel Angel Martin, from the Arauca region of Colombia that borders Venezuela, composed and recorded a version of his song "Carmentea" in the early sixties, after which it caught fire and metamorphosed into regional folkore. Martin went on to develop a name for himself as a celebrated musician, folklorist and journalist, while the real life subject of his paean, the woman with "black eyes that kill" (Carmen Teresa Aguirre), inspired a number of written investigations. This 1978 version of the song features a lead harp along with a call-and-response chorus (with female voices), and it's a treasure. The sound and instrumentation of this recording, which includes David Paralas and "Los Copleros del Auraca," is of the "joropo" genre more typical of Venezuela.

Miguel Angel Martin - "Carmentea" (1978)