Monday, 11 July 2011

This Week's Picks #46

This week's picks are inspired by some funky Ethiopian sounds. Please enjoy!

"Guragigna" - Dub Colossus

A band of musicians from London and Addis Ababa, these guys fuse dub and reggae with Ethio-Jazz to create some kicking tracks. I have been really enjoying the most recent album Addis Through the Looking Glass, of which this is the best track.

 "Yekermo Sew" - Mulatu Astatke

I've featured another track by Mulatu, but here's one more. Mulatu is the father of Ethio-Jazz, though he might as well be the father of cool. *Sorry, that was pretty lame, but it's getting awful late and I'm really enjoying the chill factor of this track*

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Meet the Musicians: Glenn Sharp

In this series, we get to hear from the musicians themselves. This month, we hear from multi-instrumentalist Glenn Sharp.

Glenn has been working as a guitarist for many years and world music is his passion. His recent performances include flamenco, Latin, Arabic and African music.Glenn has worked as a session guitarist on numerous albums and has been a producer for many years. In addition to his solo performances, Glenn is the guitarist for flamenco group Calaita with singer Chico Pere. He has gigged and toured with numerous world-music artists including Nitin Sawhney and Aref Durvesh, and has colloborated with musicians from Nigeria, Sudan, India, Spain, Palestine and Egypt.

1. How long have you been performing and what inspired you to get into music? 
I have been gigging now for 20 years. All sorts of performances, from events groups to solo classical recitals, hip-hop, jazz, experimental electronica and finally ‘world music’, flamenco in particular. When I was eight years old, I heard my next door neighbour playing guitar. I don’t think she realised at the time that she was to be my teacher every week for the next five or so years! I discovered flamenco in 1996. I saw a Paco Peña gig and the next morning I changed everything and dedicated to myself to learning flamenco guitar. Been hooked ever since!

2. What or who are your influences? 
Far too many to mention, so I will just concentrate on the more recent ones. My guitar hero is Gerardo Nuñez, who is also a fantastic composer, my saz hero is without doubt, Erkan Oğur (also a wonderful composer) and my oud favourites are Simon Shaheen, Nasser Shamma and Nizar Rohana.  I would say my biggest influences are Erkan Oğur, Trio Joubran, Yasmin Levy, Vicente Amigo, Goksel Baktagir, Yair Dalal as well as classical composers such as Gorecki, Duruffle, Verdi and Arvo Pärt.

3. What are your all-time favorite albums? 
Anadolu Beşik and Gülün Kokusu Vardı by Erkan Oğur
Duquende y la guitarra de Tomatito 
Ganoub - en arabe vent dire sud 
Maqamat Ziryab by Simon Shaheen
Koyaanisqatsi by Philip Glass
Ciudad de las Ideas by Vicente Amigo
Vision by Tarik Banzi
Verdi Requiem 
East meets East by Nigel Kennedy and Kroke
Miles_Gurtu by Robert Miles and Trilok Gurtu
Power to the Women by Madosini
Sounds of Sudan 
Berber Blues by Cherifa
Rise by Anoushka Shankar
Everything by Le Trio Joubran, Camarón, and Gerardo Nuñez

4. What are you listening to right now? 
The Silimbo Passage by Seckou Keita–amazing combination of kora and Egyptian violin with some flamenco vibes!

5. Have any upcoming gigs/shows we should know about?
Working on a collaboration with percussionist Guy Schalom for gigs later this year; a fusion of Flamenco and Arabic music with Flamenco dance. All my other forthcoming dates available at

Hear samples of tracks from Glenn's latest album with the Jadid Ensemble:
Read my review of the Jadid Ensemble review:

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

This Week's Picks (#45)

I just got back from a fantastic show at the Barbican featuring Angelique Kidjo, Dianne Reeves and Lizz Wright, three of the most amazing voices on one stage. So, here are a few videos for this week's picks before I head to bed. Enjoy!

"Malaika" - Angelique Kidjo

"I Put a Spell on You" - Dianne Reeves

"Amazing Grace" - Lizz Wright

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Album Review: Resonance/Dissonance by Khyam Allami

Album: Resonance/Dissonance
Artist: Khyam Allami
Release Date: On sale (June 2011)
Genre/Region: Middle Eastern

The oud (Middle Eastern lute) is a beautiful instrument to begin with, but when combined with Khyam Allami's musical sensitivity, it is divine. Resonance/Dissonance is the debut album of a young artist who has already had quite an amazing career. With degrees from the School of Oriental and African Studies, he has gone on to be the first recipient of the World Routes Academy scholarship from BBC Radio 3 and world class performer.

I attended Khyam's album launch on May 4th and was impressed. He ran through each track in order and offered a beautiful preview of the upcoming album (which was to include a DVD of performances). I couldn't wait to get my hands on a copy of his album. When I finally did, I was not disappointed. 

Though this is Khyam's debut album, he did not treat it as such. It is bold and ambitious. Risky for a first release, it was a risk worth taking. Khyam's solo oud weaves poetic melodies, at times dark and soulful. Joined by percussionist Vasilis Sarikis, Khyam pieces together an album that is meaningful and intense. His website states, 'conceptually, it is filtered through a life in London influenced by myriad figures; the work of C.G. Jung, the mysticism of Jorge Luis Borges, the independence and forward thinking of Frank Zappa, and Secret Chiefs 3, the ingenuity of various masters of Middle Eastern music such as Hossein Ali Zadeh, Naseer Shamma and Riyadh al-Sunbati.'

As an album with such a range of inspirations, it comes as no surprise that it takes the listener for a ride through a variety of emotions. A quiet and thoughtful beginning, the album opens with the track 'Individuation'. Building upon a very simple and yet elegant melodic theme, the track is pensive but not calm. Then the album moves through semi-improvisations that are all as intense and thoughtful. It features graceful moments of simplicity as well fiery passages of virtuosity. Ultimately, the album rests and reflects with final track, 'Reverie.'

If this all sounds like flowery, over-indulgent praise, have a listen for yourself. Khyam is not only blessed with a virtuosity for which all musicians strive, but a sense of musicality and musical passion that cannot be learned.

You can hear a preview of the album on Khyam's website: