FolkWorld #50 03/2013

CD & DVD Reviews

Rodrigo Romaní "As Arpas de Breogán"
Fol Musica/ BOA, 2012

Breogán, Breoghan or Breachdan, son of Brath (Briganos Maccos Brattae in Gallaic), was a mythical Celtic king from Galicia. According to Gaelic legends compiled in the eleventh-century Lebor Gabála Érenn ("The Book of the Taking of Ireland", also called "The Book of Conquests" or "The Book of Invasions"), King Breogán constructed in Brigantium (an ancient Celtic town, whose location is presumed to be either in the Galician town of Betanzos or A Coruña), a massive tower of such height that his sons Ith and Bile could see a distant green shore from its top. This green shore was supposed to be the coast of Ireland. For many decades, and probably as a way to reject the centralizing dominance of the Castilian monarchy & culture in Spain, some Galician intellectuals have searched for this kind of historical (many times just legendary) connections between the ancient Celtic peoples in the coasts of NW Spain and those in Ireland, Scotland, French Brittany, etc... That trend of nationalistic thinking or simply the motivation to deepen in the arcane roots of their own differentiated tribal identity, partially explains why so many 20th century folk musicians in Galicia have been inspired & influenced by the Irish traditions. In the 1970s, artists such as Emilio Cao, or Rodrigo Romaní in the band Milladoiro, were the first ones to introduce and promote the use of the Celtic harp in the revival of Galician folk music. Rodrigo even participated in Irish-Galician concerts & recordings with artists such as Bill Whelan (Riverdance), the Uilleann piper Liam O’Flynn or the Irish RTE orchestra. After leaving Milladoiro in 2000, he released two CDs ‘Albeida’ (2001)[25] and ‘Cantos Caucanos’ (2003). Now in 2012, he publishes ‘As Arpas de Breogán’, 11 songs with the same elegance, creativity and harmonic qualities that we have enjoyed in all of his previous work. Rodrigo’s harp becomes an effective tool to enhance the melodies inspired by the typical Galician rhythms. Rodrigo is the composer of the majority of the tunes, some of them based on traditional songs such as ‘Rumba para Susi’, ‘Muiñeira de Umoso’, or an alborada that was collected by Perfecto Feijoo (1858-1935). But differently from his previous work in the band Milladoiro or the folk orchestra SonDeSeu[35][42]), this time he has avoided the use of the Galician gaita bagpipe as a complementary wind instrument to the harp. He has preferred to play the harmonica or the requinta (Galician traverse flute) instead. Remarkable songs in this CD are for example: ‘As Arpas de Breogán: Suite en Mi Bemol’, ‘Lila’, ‘Rosa desvairada’, ‘Mi Morena’ or ‘Non te fies’ with the singer Inés Lorenzo. Not to be forgotten ‘O Feitizo de Añon’ with the young singer Noelia Dosil. The percussions are played by Isaac Palacín from the band Berroguetto.
© Pío Fernández

Various Artists "Cantigas de Mulleres"
Fol Musica/ BOA, 2012

The Galician label BOA / Fol Musica has worked before in releasing other sampler records under the title Cantigas (‘songs’, ‘chants’ in Galician). The first one was Cantigas de Nadal (1998), which provided a perspective of how 11 Galician folk bands diversely performed a set of traditional panxoliñas (Galician Christmas songs)[13]). The second one was Cantigas do Camiño (2010), a compilation of tunes performed by 13 artists, being the main subject the medieval Camino de Santiago/Saint James Way[42]) . Now in 2012, Cantigas de Mulleres establishes a trilogy. This time, the common aspect in all of these tunes is that they are sung & played by 17 Galician female artists many of them already mentioned in past pages of FolkWorld (‘muller’ in Galician, ‘mujer’ in Spanish, means woman). The project is lead by the singer Uxía Senlle, and coordinated by Inma Grass. Besides Uxía, the other 16 artists are: Guadí Galego (ex-member of the band Berrogüetto, and Spido with the guitarist Guillerme Fernández), Ugía Pedreira (ex-Chouteira, Marful), María-Xosé Silvar (Sés), Mercedes Peón, two different tambourine playing & singing bands Ialma and Leilía, the duo Soas = Rosa Cedrón (cello) + Cristina Pato (gaita bagpipe, piano), the folk orchestra SonDeSeu, the gaita bagpiper Susana Seivane, the Galician-Palestinian singer Najla Shami (Lobalú), Señora Carmen & her band Malvela, Susana de Lourenzo (Doa), María Manuela, Mónica de Nut, and Sonia Lebedinsky (Fia Na Roca). The styles of music in this sampler range from the traditional Galician singing of Leilía, SonDeSeu or Señora Carmen & Malvela, to the smooth jazzy sounds of Guadi Galego, Najla Shami, or Sonia Lebedinsky & the brilliant folk-jazz band Fia Na Roca. Not to forget the more medieval & classical sonorities of Susana de Lorenzo, Rosa Cedrón & Cristina Pato. This CD is an absolute delight from the beginning to the end, and it evidences the key role of the female musicians in the Galician folk of the last decades. A few songs to specially highlight and that probably diverge from the usual Galician folk: Guadi Galego’s ‘Madama’, the Brazilian sonorities in Ugía Pedreira’s ‘Tris Tras’, Cantar 22 from the poetess Rosalía de Castro (1837-1885) sung by Najla Shami, the medieval sounds in ‘Levousa Fermosa’ by Susana de Lourenzo & Doa, or the Galician traditional ‘Por que hei de cantare’ with oriental instrumentations and the singing of Mónica de Nut.
© Pío Fernández

Sérgio Tannus "Son Brasilego"
Fol Musica/ BOA, 2012

The similarity between the languages in Portugal and in Galicia (NW Spain), has always facilitated the communication between the peoples in both sides of the Miño river. But it has also helped Galician immigrants to easily integrate in Brazil, which was formerly the main part of the Kingdom of Portugal. A couple of years ago, the Galician gaita bagpiper Carlos Núñez traveled across the Atlantic Ocean searching for the footsteps of his great grandfather, and that inspired the CD ‘Alborada de Brasil’ where he fussed the sounds of his Galician music, with those popular in the Brazilian tradition[46]). A similar exercise was performed by the Galician female singer Uxía Senlle in her 2011 CD ‘Meu Canto’[45]). But this time the fusion flows in the opposite direction: Since 2006, the Brazilian musician Sérgio Tannus lives in Galicia’s capital city Santiago de Compostela, and after several years singing & playing (acoustic guitar, electric bass guitar, viola caipira, cavaquinho, percussions,...) with a long list of local musicians, he has released the CD “Son Brasilego” . This title includes the invented gentilic ‘Brasilego’, which refers to a mixed national identity both Brazilian & Galician (Galego). The first word in the title, ‘son’ can have two meanings in Galician language: “sound” or “I am”. In “Son Brasilego”, the style of traditional music that dominates is clearly more Brazilian (samba, Bossa Nova, choro,...), although there is a long list of well known Galician folk artists that participate in the 14 songs of the album, such as: the singers Uxía Senlle and Ugía Pedreira (from the former bands Chouteira, Marful), Óscar Fernández (zanfona/hurdy-gurdy in the bands Os Cempes, bOnOvO, Doa,...), Pedro Pascual (accordion in the bands Laio, Nuke Trio, Marful,...), Berroguetto’s Xabier Díaz, Guillerme Fernández, Isaac Palacín and Quim Farinha,..., and the singer Sonia Lebedynski (Fia Na Roca), or even the gaita bagpipers Raquel Domínguez & Xosé-Manuel Budiño. There are also Portuguese musicians such as Carlos do Carmo, Antonio Zambujo or Joäo Afonso participating in Son Brasilego. The list of guest musicians (many of them probably Brazilian) is quite extensive. Son Brasilego is a brilliant CD, with songs as melodically haunting as ‘Setembro’, ‘Água Quentinha’, ‘100%’, or ‘Momentos’. Other great tunes are more rhythmical, in the characteristic Brazilian way: ‘Outros Quereres’ (hurdy-gurdy Brazilian style), ‘Eu tô Alegre’, ‘Patê’, ‘Quem disse?’, ‘Vó Genézia’ (with Galician gaita bagpipes), ‘Cavaco com Pulover’, or ‘Son Brasilego’ (the most Galician tune in the record). Most of the songs are written by Sérgio Tannus, and a few of them also by: Manoel Gomes, Adina Ioana, Raul Menezes, Aline Frazâo, Jakaré Garcia and Xoan Curiel. Son Brasilego is a sound project that perfectly succeeds on fusing the music traditions of Brazil, Portugal and Galicia. Another wisely placed cornerstone, part of a tireless effort from several Galician & Portuguese speaking artists: To celebrate & enhance the cultural ties between the western lands in the Iberian Peninsula, and their counterparts across the Atlantic Ocean.
© Pío Fernández

Eoghan Neff "Week One"
Own Label, 2011

Article: To Achieve a Personal Style

This issue number 50 of FolkWorld contains an extensive interview with the great Irish fiddle player Eoghan NEFF. Although his musical background in his hometown in County Cork is firmly based on the traditional style of Irish fiddle playing, in this first CD as a solo musician Eoghan has decided to push the borders of his creativity far beyond any initial expectations. All the songs & sounds in this album are created by Eoghan and his violin. The range and diversity of sonorities is extremely broad, and many times taken to new fields that usually belong more to the electric guitars as played in jazz or rock music (like in the song ‘Barrel’). Many times the instrument strings are not vibrated by the friction of the bow, but plucked as in a guitar or a mandolin, like in the tune ‘Hag’. Or the body of the instrument is lightly taped as a delicate a bodhran (in the song ‘Wandering’) . Many of these sounds are then recorded an immediately replayed in loops, that become the foundations, the pillars and the beams for the construction of a larger modern structure that then supports rhythms & melodies of the most traditional Irish personality. As Eoghan says, except for the polka ‘Nóra’, “all other tracks have a traditional impetus. Usually, I recompose substantially the traditional tunes that I add to my repertoire”. If you ever had the chance to see Eoghan playing on stage, you immediately realize that his great skills and his capability to improvise and experiment with new ways to perform the violin, are very well reflected in this album. It comes in an intriguing hand-made art-box CD, containing some photographs in black & white, an ace of hearts as taken from a card deck, and an info sheet where Eoghan provides all his contact data, and describes in some depth the techniques and the process followed for the development & recording of ‘Week One’. Some tunes that I especially enjoyed are for example the reel ‘Abbey’. It starts with a buzzing or whistling wind-like sound, then followed by a background melody played by the plucking of the strings, and finally the song is fully developed by their friction with the bow. The jig ‘Krater, with a kiss’ is another nice example of this combined technique that is used all along the album. It is not used in the sad but enchanting slow air ‘Sfor’. Eoghan NEFF’s ‘Week One’ is a powerful display of violin playing talent, pointing at new horizons for creativity on Irish fiddle.
© Pío Fernández

John Wort Hannam "Brambles and Thorns"
Borealis records, 2012

Nelson Wright "Still Burning"
Own label, 2012

The Toy Hearts "Whiskey"
Own label, 2012

The Coal Porters "Find the One"
Prima records, 2012

The Red Dirt Skinners "Home Sweet Home"
Own label, 2012

Osborne Jones "Out of Blue Wonder"
Lowbrow records, 2012

David Evans "Live at Alte Post"
Blind lemon records, 2012

Cina Samuelson "The Fast Road Home"
CCM, 2012

John Wort Hannam is a singer-songwriter and since he started spreading his music ten years ago, he won several prices and released five albums. He lives in Canada and his self-composed songs combine several (folk related) styles from Canada, the USA and the UK. Backed by six musicians on mandolin, banjo, melodica, fiddle amongst others, he creates a wonderful sound. I like his calm, storytelling voice and his songs sound like small stories softly song in my ear. The backing musicians are of high quality and the group creates a great, well balanced sound. I immediately understand why his albums are liked by so many. It has an original, but recognisable sound. Sung with passion and played at a high level. The second album has an even more introvert sound and at least the same passion and personality.
Nelson Wright and his album Still Burning is such an album that is perfect for a late evening with a good glass of wine. His voice has a bit of a raw edge and somehow his songs are more straight forward. A very effective way of composing and performing. Time to choose is a great example of the power of his music. Lovely electric guitar at the back, uncomplicated, bluesy folk-rock hat really does it for me. But also more acoustic songs like Unfinished business show a passionate singer and songwriter. A very nice album indeed.
The Toy Hearts is a band fronted by two sisters and this is their fourth album since their 2006 debut. With the uncomplicated mixture of Americana and roots pop, they choose the safe and uncomplicated way of making music. Easy going, almost a bit middle of the road styled, songs that are recorded top lease. Great on a sunny weekday, but I prefer a more outspoken style.
The Coal Porters released a new album twenty years after the start of this Bluegrass/Americana band. Twelve new recordings including their version of David Bowie’s Heroes and the Rolling stones classic Paint it black. Backed by a fine bunch of guest musicians, including Richard Thompson, the coal porters do what their good at. Sunny, uncomplicated music. A bit conventional, but never boring or old fashioned. Definitely suitable for those who like a recognisable (bluegrass) sound by a quality band.
The Red Dirt Skinners is a UK based, country and folk inspired husband and wife duo. This Home sweet home is their second album. Ten new compositions. Nice (harmony) singing and simple, but effective musical arrangements. Sometimes a bit jazz-pop inspired music but often with a touch of country and folk. Some songs are a bit standard while others surprise me with inventive twists and beautiful atmospheres. Nice album, hope they keep on developing their own style more and more.
Osborne Jones recorded two albums in a very short time, this is his album from last summer on which he plays together with a small bunch of fine musicians. This Out of blue yonder contains twelve original songs in an easy going country-folk-pop style. Friendly, accessible roots pop album which is suitable for a bigger audience.
Next a live registration by David Evans, a legendary name in traditional country-blues music. These are live recordings from a German concert in June 2012. Thirteen tracks, old time country-blues on guitar and vocals, as pure as you can imagine. With his raw, aged voice Evans puts emotion in his songs and shows that he is still a master on the guitar. A nice document from a living legend.
Cina Samuelson is not a legend (yet?) but a Swedish country singer. Together with her band she brings mainstream country rock. Nothing released his second album and he chooses a sugar sweet country pop style. Nice guitar play, warm voice, but all put into a middle of the road pop style that, for me personally, kills all emotion and doesn’t do right for his strong singing and guitar play. But I know many people who will love this kind of Country-pop, so as I wrote often before, don’t take me serious in any way and visit the webpage to judge for yourself. I’m sure some of you will love this one.
© Eelco Schilder

Derek Knott "Speak less, say more"
Own label, 2012

Tamara Schlesinger "The Procession"
Tantrumrecords, 2012

Roy Schneider "Walls that talk"
Own label, 2012

Sneezy Waters "Sneezy Waters"
Eating crow records, 2011

Tammy Ingram "Love War"
Solaris empire, 2012

A bunch of fine singer-songwriter albums this time. Starting with Derek Knott and his album Speak less, say more. This US songwriter and guitarist recorded thirteen new songs. His warm voice and intimate guitar play make this a really nice album. With a mixture of folk, contemporary, Americana and a bluesy edge now and then. His songs are easy going and without any doubt accessible for a big singer-songwriter audience.
Second album is by Tamara Schlesinger and this The Procession is her debut album. This Scottish singer was lead singer of the indie folk band 6 day riot and now she went solo. Backed by a band on drums, bass, violin, cello, electric guitar and more, she sings her atmospheric pop songs and plays the electric ukulele (which I didn’t even know they existed). Schlesinger chooses a bit dreamy pop-folk repertoire that is lovely to listen to, but somehow after five songs I get the feeling she stays to much in the same structure and I don’t hear the difference between one or the other song any more. It’s definitely a nice album and Schlesinger has a voice and style that will be liked by the lovers of the neo-psych folk repertoire. But I personally miss some variation on this album.
Roy Schneider is a US singer-songwriter who, together with seven musicians, recorded thirteen of his own compositions. With his rich voice he plays a mixture of light-rock, folk, bluegrass, Americana and sort like styles. A storyteller with a pleasant voice and music that has a comfortable kind of lightness. Nice one!
Fifteen years after his last release, Canadian artist Sneezy Waters returns with a new album. With his aged voice he sings thirteen songs in the tradition of folk, country, old time roots and contemporary style. He mainly sings covers by other great names including Waits and McCaslin and he does this in a sober, but effective way. A nice, honest album with personal versions of beautiful songs.
Australian singer-songwriter Tammy Ingram is Berlin based now and released her debut album recorded in her home town. After being the front lady of a rock band, on her solo work she chooses the indie-folk style to express her thoughts and feelings. Backed by a great band, Ingram surprises with well composed songs and strong musical arrangements. With her warm voice she combines folk with slight jazzy influences and small pieces of pop music. From small, intimate songs, clearly influenced by legendary singers such as Drake and Merchant, she released a small pearl in the big stream of singer-songwriter albums. This debut promises a lot for the (near) future, some sincere song writing and singing here!
© Eelco Schilder

Illangó "e.g.y"
Folkbeats, 2011

Although the band released a second album last December, the one I got for review is their debut album from two years ago. Three Hungarian female singers give their interpretation of eight traditional songs. Their repertoire comes from the regions around the Karphatian Mountains. The album is vocals only except for one song with Cimbalom and one track with full traditional band. The trio shows the beauty of the rich vocal (Hungarian) tradition. Well sung, modern sounding folk music. A fine debut album which makes me more than curious to hear their latest album
© Eelco Schilder

Conrad Bauer "Live im Völkerschlachtdenkmal"
Amiga, 1988/2012

Fun Horns "Natural Music"
Amiga, 1988/2012

Sinti-Swing Quintett "Bei mir bist du schön"
Amiga, 1987/2012

Hannes Zerbe "Blech Band"
Amiga, 1984/2012

Fez "Fez"
Amiga, 1977/2012

Ulrich Gumpert "‘N Tango für Gitte"
Amiga, 1982/2012

Jazz-Werkstatt Orchester
"Retrospektive 100x Jazz in der Kammer"
Amiga, 1977/2012

Hans-Günther Wauer & Günter Sommer
"Verschränkte Konstruktion"
Amiga, 1986/2012

Axel Donner Quartet "Axel Donner Quartet"
Amiga, 1987/2012

German CD Review

Over 65 years ago, the (former East) German label Amiga recorded their first jazz recordings. Now they released a bunch of their finest jazz albums on CD and nine of them are bundled in this review. Most of them not folk or tradition at all, so a brief overview only.
First Conrad Bauer with a live abum from 1988. An intriguing album by this trombonist, he plays a kind of duet with the acoustic of the concert hall which results in a kind of alternative jazz without getting to freaky. Not for everyday hearing, but absolutely a beauty.
Second album is from 1988 as well and by the band Fun Horns. A totally different sound than the Bauer album. Starts with a classical sounding piece, which is followed by a self composed minimalistic kind of composition which I like a lot. They keep changing styles, from old fashioned dancehall jazz, to more contemporary styles. Nice, but this second minimalistic style song is definitely my favorite although I like the way they switch styles. The third album is probably the most folk orientated one.
The Sinti-Swing Quintet plays a mixture of traditional Sinti styled songs and evergreens such as the title song Bei mir bist du schön, Cole Porter’s Night and day and Django Rheinhardt’s Nuages. Easy going sinti-swing from 1987. Easy listening, nicely played but dated and not as refreshing as many of the modern music in this vein.
Number four comes from 1984 and is by the Hannes Zerbe and is called Blech Band. Interesting album with guest performance of Willem Breuker and many others. Free jazz with freaky music, fits perfectly in the early eighties alternative jazz world. The thirteen musicians know how to create both chaotic, almost bombastic sounds in combination of sober solo parts. For freaks a must.
Fez is a jazz quartet from the seventies and this are their 1977 recordings. Part of this band is the earlier mentioned pianist Hannes Zerbe. One of the more appealing albums in this review. Well played jazz rock with free-jazz moves and a nice soulful sound. Almost 35 years after the recordings are made it still sounds modern and is a real pleasure to listen to. More mainstream than many of the other albums, but quality stuff.
Pianist Ulrich Gumpert recorded his album ‘n Tango für Gitte in 1982. Five original compositions, piano only. With an avant gardistic touch, Gumpert gives his very own interpretation of the tango. So for those who like the more controversial piano solo this is a great album, but don’t expect traditional tango music as the title might suggest.
The Jazz Werkstatt Orchester are a collective of thirteen jazz musicians. On this 1977 recording they play compositions by band member Ulrich Gumpert (yes, the pianist) who got inspired for the tunes by German folk songs. Not that you will recognize much of any folk style in this music, it’s more free,-avant-garde jazz with chaotic, expressive music. Another one which will be loved by the freak-jazz fans. But not folky at all.
The album by Hans Günther Wauer and Günter Sommer from 1986 is another one of my favorites. This is a duet between church organ and percussion. The richness of the organ, dark and expressive, is beautifully joined by the more dry and down to earth percussion. This is sometimes almost a kind of doom-jazz without getting to depressive. Strong compositions, passionately played and a combination that works for me.
The final album in this review comes from the Axel Donner Quartet. Recorded in 1987, this is one of the more accessible albums in this review. Fine jazz with light rock influences, Latin sounds and sometimes dreamy melodies. Nice flute parts, decent piano and good bass and drums complete the sound of this band. For your late evening jazz listening experience.
© Eelco Schilder

Bolero Berlin "Nocturna"
Jawo, 2012

Michael Sagmeister & Antonella D’orio "Nell’anima"
Jawo, 2012

World Percussion Ensemble "Common Heritage"
Jawo, 2012

Three new albums released on the German Jawo label. Starting with the sextet Bolero Berlin and their album called Nocturna. Four years after their first appearance they released their third album. Eleven classical jazz compositions with a Latin temperament. Songs like Tico tico, Carmen and several Piazzolla and Ellington songs are played with a pleasant lightness. Played at a high level, this band creates a warm and sparkling sound. Interesting for world music lovers because of the fine balance between jazz and global sounds.
German CD Review The second album is recorded by Michael Sagmeister & Antonella D’orio and is called Nell’anima. The collaboration between the German guitarist Sagmeister and Italian singer D’orio results in an intimate, well played and sung album. Twelve contemporary and original songs brought in a sober, beautiful way. The Chrystal clear guitar play by Sagmeister fits perfectly to the warm voice of D’orio. More jazz orientated, so not really suitable for a folk magazine, but nevertheless worth to give a try.
German CD Review The last album is by the World Percussion Ensemble and called Common Heritage. An album that surprises with a fresh mixture of jazz, world beats and jazzy songs. The album is at its best in the more percussion orientated songs and occasionally the piano is a bit too much in the center of the music and takes to much attention from the fine percussion and vocals. Nevertheless a fine album with moods from all over the planet.
© Eelco Schilder

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