Category Archives: Music

Music posts

Zakir Hussain – Ektala

Zakir Hussain - Sangeet Sartaj

Zakir Hussain – Sangeet Sartaj

More from India this week – a track from my double album Sangeet Sartaj by Zakir Hussain. For those who don’t know, Zakir Hussain is a tabla player – so those who always leave when the drum solo starts, you can head for the bar now.

But Zakir Hussain is not any old tabla player – he is “the most celebrated classical percussionist of modern times” in the words of the album notes. And this is probably not hyperbole either.

Zakir Hussain was born the son of another famous tabla player, and accompanist to Ravi Shankar, Alla Rakha and his younger brothers are also percussionists of some stature.

Apart from his playing of classical Indian music, Hussain is known for his many collaborations with western musicians. Amongst others, he has played with George Harrison, Bill Laswell, John McLaughlin, Mickey Hart, and Bela Fleck & Edgar Mayer.

He has also composed and arranged music for the cinema most notably the Merchant Ivory Film Heat and Dust.

Zakir Hussain – Ektala

N Ramani – Buntureethi

Music from Mystic India

Music from Mystic India

More Indian music this week. I’m posting a track from the compilation album Music from Mystic India. the track is Buntureethi.composed by Thyagaraja and played on the flute by N Ramani.

I’ve already confessed my complete ignorance in the matter of Indian music but, to my untrained ear, this is more authentically Indian than the music on my last post. And, consulting Google and Wikipedia, N. Ramani, or Natesan Ramani to give him his full name, is a famous and respected Carnatic flute player. I won’t copy across the Wikipedia entry but, if you find this week’s track at all interesting, hit the link above for a short but informative article on Ramani and the Carnatic flute.

N Ramani – Buntureethi

Shiv Kumar Sharma – Himalayan Dawn

Shiv Kumar Sharma - Music of the Mountains

Shiv Kumar Sharma – Music of the Mountains

Daughter dear has reached India on her round-the-world trip. She is now in the Himalayas, currently acclimatising to the altitude and enjoying the scenery. She is shortly to head off trekking with the Ladakhi Women’s Travel Company – a moderate trek initially with a more strenuous one later if muscle, bone, heart and lungs stand up! Read this Guardian article and then, if your back and knees are more robust than mine, start planning your own trip.

I’ve a few Indian music CDs in my collection so I’ll feature them over the next few weeks. It is music that I don’t really understand and so I do not play them very often. However, when they surface through the miracle of the shuffle play feature of my music player, i really enjoy them.

I’m starting with Indian if not Indic music. (Can the word Indic be used for music or is it limited to language? Answers on a postcard …) It is from an album called Sound Scapes – Music of the Mountains by Shiv Kumar Sharma.

The interwebs tell us that “Shivkumar Sharma (born January 13, 1938) is an Indian classical musician, working in the Hindustani classical music tradition. He is a master of the santoor, a folk instrument from the valley of Kashmir. It is a type of hammered dulcimer whose strings are struck with a pair of light carved wooden mallets. Before him the santoor was regarded as only an accompanying instrument.

He is credited with single-handedly making the santoor a popular classical instrument, to the extent that the santoor and Pandit Shivkumar Sharma are synonymous. Sharma modified the Kashmiri folk instrument to make it more suitable for his classical technique, increasing the range of the instrument to three full octaves and making it capable of a smoother meend (the glissando or gliding between notes required in Hindustani classical music to emulate the human voice). Besides, he also created a new technique of playing with which he could sustain notes and maintain sound continuity. Sharma has performed many concerts with renowned musicians such as the tabla maestro Ustad Zakir Hussain.”

See what you think.

Shiv Kumar Sharma – Himalayan Dawn

3 Mustaphas 3 – This City is Very Exciting!

3 Mustaphas 3 - Soup of the Century

3 Mustaphas 3 – Soup of the Century

My weekly posts from Northampton’s number one CD rack have been a bit less regular of late – apologies. I’d like to say that I have been madly busy with work, a hectic social life or travel to exotic lands but the truth is somewhat more mundane – doing bits and bobs and watching the Olympics. I may have missed a post last week but I’m back again with another tune for which I’m going to find a contrived Olympic link.

Today we have This City is very Exciting! by 3 Mustaphas 3. I’ve just been listening to the latest fRoots podcast, much of which is devoted to re-broadcasting a Folk Roots Radio programme first broadcast 30th September 1985. The programme was presented by Ian Anderson (fRoots) and featured an interview with guest Ben Mandelson of 3 Mustaphas 3. Great stuff – I shall listen again in the car tomorrow as I head down the motorway to a family birthday party.

Listening to the podcast I was inspired to post a track from the 3 Mustaphas 3 CD, Soup of the Century. It’s a fun record with so many musical styles, you get jet-lagged just listening to it. Wikipedia says “With tracks ranging from a Country song in Japanese to a Mexican traditional sung in Hindi, and going through a mix of Irish, Scottish, Greek, Albanian, Klezmer and many more styles, the Mustaphas had broken the last barriers separating ethnic music styles.”

From the CD I’ve chosen This City is Very Exciting! – a sentiment I’m sure many of the Olympic teams, Olympic tourists and Londoners enjoying the Olympic vibe will agree with.

3 Mustaphas 3 – This City is Very Exciting!

Jon Boden with Sam Sweeney – Sweet Thames Flow Softly

Various Artists - This is Proper Folk Too!

Various Artists – This is Proper Folk Too!

For a change we’re not having a Lucky Thirteen post. I don’t seem to have bought a new CD for a while so I went mad and spent £1.99 on a 10 track sampler album. It was the least I could do in these times of austerity to do my bit towards kick-starting the British economy.

I like sampler CDs, and so do many others. I always have since the days of Bumpers, Nice Enough To Eat, You Can All Join In, The Rock Machine Turns You On etc. If you remember these albums you are over 60 or a rock music historian! (I started a mini project a little while ago to recreate some of these samplers in mp3 downloads. I really must get round to finishing it.)

The rationale for releasing samplers was and is to encourage listeners to discover new music and to go on to support the artists by buying their full albums and attending their gigs. It did work in the past and I’m sure that it works today. So go on, do your bit to kick-start the British economy, and support these artists in a club, pub, concert hall or festival and / or in the privacy of your own home.

On with the music; I’ve chosen Sweet Thames Flow Softly by Jon Boden with Sam Sweeney. I Love this song, this is a great version and a song set in London seems timely just prior to the start of London 2012.

Jon Boden with Sam Sweeney – Sweet Thames Flow Softly

Miles Davis – Flamenco Sketches

Miles Davis – Kind of Blue

Miles Davis – Kind of Blue

This week Martin Carthy gets a well earned rest and we’re back to Miles Davis.

I sometimes wonder if, when I grow up and become a “proper” man, I’ll have a complete collect of everything that an artist / group has recorded. If I ever do reach this stage, I will not have assembled the complete works of Miles Davis; Amazon is currently listing 1059 albums. June Tabor (59 albums), Martin Carthy (30 albums) or James Carr (14 albums) are more likely candidates!

Today I’m posting Flamenco Sketches from Kind of Blue. If I had posted this a month or so back I could have dedicated it to the fabulous Spanish football team that lifted the Euro 2012 trophy. As I’m posting it now, a little while after the tournament, I’ll dedicate it instead to all those in Spain who are suffering in the fall out to the financial crisis, especially those who would dearly love a job and cannot find one.

Miles Davis – Flamenco Sketches

Martin Carthy with Dave Swarbrick – Ramblin’ Sailor

Martin Carthy with Dave Swarbrick - Second Album

Martin Carthy with Dave Swarbrick – Second Album

Late again – I blame Andy Murray. Or David Cameron. Or both!

Lucky Thirteen has brought us from Martin Carthy with Brass Monkey to Martin Carthy with Dave Swarbrick on his Second Album. It is really interesting to hear how Martin Carthy’s style has changed over the years. Everything on this album seems much more studied and formal than on later records. He is definitely working his way from the accepted “folk singer” style of singing and playing to something more personal and unique. The track that I have chosen, Ramblin’ Sailor, is the nearest in style to the later albums that he and Dave Swarbrick released.

The sleeve notes say this about the song: “Also known as Young Johnson, this is a typical story of a sailor home from a long voyage and a rather frisky whore who robs him of all his possession, leaving him with a physical reminder of the exchange; or, as “Measure for Measure” puts it, “Impiety makes a feast of him.””

Martin Carthy with Dave Swarbrick – Ramblin’ Sailor

Brass Monkey – Riding Down to Portsmouth

Brass Monkey - The Complete Brass Monkey

Brass Monkey – Doctor Fauster's Tumblers / The Night of Trafalgar / Prince William

It is just thirteen steps from Santiago to Portsmouth, well it is in my record collection anyway. Thirteen steps from Alianza – Alianza! to Brass MonkeyThe Complete Brass Monkey. And, as today I’m riding down to Bognor Regis, I’ll post Riding Down to Portsmouth. Bognor, Portsmouth – they are close enough for me!

The Complete Brass Monkey is a compilation of the first two Brass monkey albums – Brass Monkey (1983) and See How It Runs (1986). Since then they have released Sound and Rumour (1999), Going and Staying (2001), Flame of Fire (2004), Head of Steam (2009) as well as another compilation, The Definitive Collection (2005). I don’t know these albums other than the odd tracks that have been played on the radio. I really should get round to buying them.

And if you enjoy this track (and the others off this album that I have posted, buy the CDs yourself or take yourself off to one of their gigs – yes they are still gigging from time to time. This summer’s gigs can be found on John Kirkpatrick website.

Brass Monkey – Riding Down to Portsmouth

Alianza – Santiago

Alianza - Alianza!

Alianza – Alianza!

Lucky Thirteen brings us back to the beginning of me collection for a second pass. And we arrive at Alianza! by Alianza – well I think that that is correct.

According to an early Show of Hands website, “Alianza was a unique Anglo-Chilean collaboration between three English musicians, Steve Knightley, Phil Beer, and Dave Townsend, and three exiled Chilean musicians, Sergio Avila, Mauricio Venegas and Vladimir Vega. The group sought out the common rhythms, themes and melodies to produce a blend of songs in English, songs in Spanish and songs in both languages ,and dance music from both sides of the Atlantic. The group produced one album Alianza in 1992, which included a number of songs that later became part of the repertoire of Show of Hands, the acoustic roots duo formed by Steve Knightley and Phil Beer.”

The current website of Show of Hands describes the venture this way, “During 1992 Steve and Phil were invited to join an inter-cultural music project which involved working with three exiled Chilean musicians. Out of this the band Alianza was formed and an album made. Alianza toured throughout 1992 and 1993 and influenced Steve and Phil greatly. They were introduced to a new range of rhythms and instruments and Steve was inspired to write songs that are now favorites with Show Of Hands fans including ‘Santiago’, ‘Armadas’ and ‘Columbus Didn’t Find America’. Some of these found their way onto the first Show Of Hands studio album ‘Beat About The Bush’ which was released in 1994.”

Show of Hands are an English folk phenomenon. They tour widely, release albums regularly and engage their fans at every level. If you want to catch them this summer, their summer dates can be found here.

The track I am posting is the fans’ favourite – Santiago.

Alianza – Santiago

Abdel Gadir Salim – Mal Wa Ihtagab

Various Artists - World Circuit Presents ...

Various Artists – World Circuit Presents …

I’ve been neglecting my duties as a blogger recently – sorry for that. My weekends have been taking up moving furniture round to house to allow new carpets to be laid and re-building my computer. And I shan’t be blogging for the next two weeks either as I am escaping this cold, wet country for a (currently) warm, wet one – Italy. Normal service should be resumed later on this month.

But I must post before I go as Lucky Thirteen has brought me to the end of my CD rack and unless I find a reason to post anything else, I’ll start again at the beginning. (It is a good job that the number of CDs I own is not divisible by 13)!

This week’s track is Abdel Gadir Salim’s Mal Wa Ihtagab from CD1 of World Circuit Presents … The track was originally release on the album ‘The Merdoum Kings Play Songs of Love’.

The sleeve notes tells us this: “Sudanese headmaster and master of the Merdoum rhythm, Abdel Gadir pared right down during this live performance which was recorded at The Queen Elizabeth Hall in London. It’s an incredibly easy, loping performance with a beautiful little bounce from the percussion, and some great oud playing by Salim. A very sweet, natural piece where there’s a spontaneous interaction between the performer and the audience which contained a large Sudanese contingent. Salim would ask for meticulous breakdowns of his song royalties, so that he could take those royalties back to the villages the song had come from, and give the money directly to the village school.”

A very sweet, natural piece indeed. I hope that you enjoy it.

Abdel Gadir Salim – Mal Wa Ihtagab