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Suphanburi Soul

Bangkok’s Zudrangma Records Presents Crucial Compilation Of Rarities By The First Lady Of Lae

All the way from Bangkok comes a fantastic new compilation, featuring a selection of rare and "crucial cuts" by Kwanjit Sripajan, aka "The First Lady of Lae Music". Lae is a vocal genre that is generally performed [...]

All the way from Bangkok comes a fantastic new compilation, featuring a selection of rare and "crucial cuts" by Kwanjit Sripajan, aka "The First Lady of Lae Music". Lae is a vocal genre that is generally performed at initiation ceremonies for monks and focusses on the teachings of Buddha as well as communicating traditional values and "exhorting listeners to a righteous life."

Born to a farming family in 1947 in the Suphanburi region of central Thailand, Kwanjit Sriprajan's road to music was a windy one, seeing as her father opposed her pursuing a career in music. It was actually her younger sister who received training in the plang puen baan tradition. But Kwanjit found ways to observe singing techniques and receive valuable tips along the way.

When she heard of a competition taking place on a Bangkok radio station in 1966, she managed to participate and actually won, providing her with an opportunity to perform and record with a local band, which led to her connecting with key producers from the era (Jiew Pijit and Porn Pirom). 

"Recognising her talent and unique vocal delivery, [Porn Pirom] arranged a series of recordings for [Kwanjit] to perform on. He assembled a band of different players from military and police groups, who created an uneven mix of traditional arrangements coupled with elements of R&B and latin percussion. Such flourishes were not so surprising for luk thung, but less common for lae, which tended to be played on Thai percussion and wind instruments."

These recording sessions were eventually released on an LP ("Sin Haa") as well as four EPs and although "they weren't big hits commercially, they were hugely popular with the religious community" and "spread her notoriety as a performer and artist." Kwanjit continued to perform with different groups and self-release her music, until she became pregnant in 1973 and returned to Suphanburi, where today "she runs a centre from her house for anyone who wishes to come and learn about the music and culture for themselves."

"Suphanburi Soul: Kwanjit Sriprajan - The First Lady Of Lae Music" introduces listeners to eleven tracks from her storied career, compiled by Nattapon Siangsukon, aka Maft Sai, and Chris Menist of Paradise Bangkok.  

You can stream/buy the full release via the Bandcamp page of Thai record store and label Zudrangma Records and watch her perform live at the Paradise Bangkok fifth anniversary party in 2014 below.

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Cantos Campesinos

Olindo Records Complete Trilogy Of Venezuelan 45s With EP By Isaac Sasson

This Friday marks release day for part three of the Venezuelan trilogy of 45s on Olindo Records. The series started back in 2017 with the release of "Abeja b/w Black & Decker" by Monsalve Y Los Forajidos, was [...]

This Friday marks release day for part three of the Venezuelan trilogy of 45s on Olindo Records. The series started back in 2017 with the release of "Abeja b/w Black & Decker" by Monsalve Y Los Forajidos, was followed by Insólito UniVerso's "Vuelve b/w Décima" in 2018 and now concludes with Isaac Sasson's "Cantos Campesinos".

The EP features two original, folkloric compositions by Caracas-based multi-instrumentalist and composer Isaac Sasson, which previously appeared on his self-released 2017 album "Memorias del canto campesino", as well as a remix by London producer and drummer Hector Plimmer (Albert's Favourites). 

On Side A we find the short composition "Paseo en un sueño", a dreamlike tune, riding the melodic flute of Tomasito Garcia, before we are carried away by "Canción para mi familia, Venezuela", "a sort of mantra prayer dedicated to Venezuela and Isaac's family an friends; it's spiraling guitar riff and various percussion instruments quickly descending towards a chaotic state of bliss", the description reads.

The flipside features Hector Plimmer's remix of Sasson's "Cantos Campesinos": "Hector retunes the rhythm to his purposes, building tension and borrowing a bell sound to raise it even further, before releasing a skittering drum pattern, [eventually] adding sensual synth chords a flute-like synth solo to complete this musical trip." 

Isaac Sasson's "Cantos Campesinos" releases today. Head over to the Olinda Records Bandcamp page to stream/buy the release in full. There will also be a limited run of 300 vinyl records available. 

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Slavic Spirits

Polish Jazz Septet EABS Teams Up With Tenderlonious On New Contemporary Jazz Album

Hailing from the city of Wrocław, Polish seven-piece EABS (Electro Acoustic Beat Sessions) just released a new full-length of original material. Two years after their well-received debut album "Repetitions (Letters [...]

Hailing from the city of Wrocław, Polish seven-piece EABS (Electro Acoustic Beat Sessions) just released a new full-length of original material. Two years after their well-received debut album "Repetitions (Letters to Krzysztof Komeda)", paying homage to Polish Jazz legend Krzysztof Komeda, the group continues their free and spirited approach to "blending traditional Polish Jazz with sounds from other genres, thus creating a new and personal interpretation of modern jazz. EABS have created their unique compositions by employing an approach exercising the idea of 'reconstruction from deconstruction' where sampling and looping are merged with jazz improvisations." 

On "Slavic Spirits", EABS set out "in search of Slavic melancholy" and are joined by none other than London producer, "saxophone renegade and flute enthusiast" Tenderlonious: "The material is an attempt to radically break out of the status quo of national mythology which currently steers the collective imagination of the Polish society. The musicians turned to Slavic mythology and Polish demonology, while pondering upon the contemporary spiritual condition of Poles. [...] Slavic Spirits is an endeavour to get in touch with the world of a long- and brutally lost culture which, due to lack of sources, will never be thoroughly explored."

This also explains the album titles, i.e. "Ciemność" (Darkness) to "Przywitanie Słońca" (Sun Worship). Head over to Bandcamp for the full 44-minute experience that is "Slavic Spirits", a brilliantly atmospheric, somewhat challenging yet highly engaging tour de force in the spirit of jazz. Out now on Astigmatic Records

EABS are
Marek Pędziwiatr (Nordiska Bambino piano, Fender Rhodes MKII, Minimoog Voyager, Crumar Performer, Physharmonica E. Krauss Stuttgard, Korg Polysix, Roland DC-30 analog chorus echo)
Marcin Rak (drums)
Vojto Monteur (electric guitar) 
Paweł Stachowiak (bass guitar) 
Spisek Jednego (percussion, sound fx) 
Olaf Węgier (tenor saxophone) 
Jakub Kurek (trumpet)
Tenderlonious (flute, soprano saxophone)

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DIY Disco Molam

Bangkok's Zudrangma Records Releases Exceptional Compilation Of Khaen Sang Rarities

Say what?! We were instantly captivated by the sounds of this new compilation on Bangkok's Zudrangma Records, once again expertly put together by Chris Menist and Nattapon Siangsukon, aka Maft Sai, of Paradise [...]

Say what?! We were instantly captivated by the sounds of this new compilation on Bangkok's Zudrangma Records, once again expertly put together by Chris Menist and Nattapon Siangsukon, aka Maft Sai, of Paradise Bangkok fame. "DIY Disco Molam" presents an exceptional collection of catchy experimental molam tunes by Thai producer Soonthorn Chairatanachot, "previously only released  as a short run of 45s on his private label Khaen Sang and featuring only members of his family." 

Instantly intrigued by his music, Chris Menist and Maft Sai decided to pick their favourites and put them back into circulation with another stunning record (make sure you also check out their recently released "Suphanburi Soul" compilation): "The sparse production style immediately marked it out from other molam we had unearthed through hours of searching. [...] The records felt so ahead of their time, though whether this was intentional or not is hard to pinpoint." 

Soonthorn Chairatanachot was born in 1938 in Sarakham, a town in the north-eastern district of Isan. Both his paernets were famous molam singers and he was trained from a young age, while also learning to play the khaen mouth organ. His talent showed early on and he began to perform publicly at age twelve. During his military service in 1957 he performed on a military radio station and thereby became known "to an even wider audience." 

After a brief stint as a monk, "he joined Sun Thirat Pirom, one of Thailand’s longest running music collectives," and continued to hone his skills. "Whilst he had a huge following as a live musician he’d never released any music, and through a friend, who had a recording studio and a tape echo, he embarked on what would ultimately be his only recordings, using family members on instrument and vocal duties. It is here that an unanswered mystery begins - no one is sure when the recordings were made, or what inspired their unique sound." 

Soonthorn Chairatanachot passed away in 2004, but his musical legacy remains and sounds as modern as ever. You can stream/buy the full "DIY Disco Molam" release on the Zudrangma Records Bandcamp page and we strongly advise you do. 

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Yenkyi Taxi

Crudo Volta Teams Up With Hagan In Newish Mini-Doc On The Contemporary Ghanaian Music Scene

Building on the success of their 2016 collaborative short documentary "Woza Taxi" (on the South African club music genre Gqom) Rome's Crudo Volta collective set out on another trip in August 2017 to visit Ghana and [...]

Building on the success of their 2016 collaborative short documentary "Woza Taxi" (on the South African club music genre Gqom) Rome's Crudo Volta collective set out on another trip in August 2017 to visit Ghana and produce the follow-up "Yenkyi Taxi", covering the contemporary Ghanaian music scene alongside music producer Hagan.

In the film, Hagan recalls growing up in a Ghanaian home in London, being raised in two cultures, listening to the radio, including stations like Rinse FM, where he first discovered the UK Funky genre. "At one point I realised that this UK funky sound is so similar to music I'd grown up with like Highlife and all the Ghanaian rhythms and all the drums...the drum patterns were very similar. And I felt like it was important to understand, where this has all come from."

Thus, the team flew to Ghana to meet with contemporary producers there, including Gafacci (Akwaaba/Enchufada) and Rvdical The Kid (Soulection / Flow Fi), to find out how they fuse African and electronic music in a culture obsessed with dancing: "You know when you go to France, they have their croissants...In Africa it's dancing, in Ghana especially it's dancing. So the dance thing is what drives me to add these elements into my music," says Gafacci.

However, the team also explores the religious side to Ghanaian music culture, i.e. gospel or church music. "Now we also get a lot of our music from religion," explains Professor (owner of Vivivi Studios). "Some traditional songs have their own rhythms. When you listen to the music that is played at the shrines, the traditional religious places, you get a lot of inspiration from the rhythms. [...] These are rhythms that have remained the same over the years."

You can watch "Yenkyi Taxi" in full via the YouTube video below and make sure to watch "Woza Taxi" as well. In a recent Facebook post, the Crudo Volta crew also announced that the "Taxi" miniseries will continue shortly, covering the music scenes of Addis Ababa, Maputo and Lagos, so stay tuned! Unfortunately for us, the new episodes were produced by Italian streaming platform TimVision and will not be available on YouTube.

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Made In Amharica

Tel Aviv's Gili Yalo Releases New Four-Tracker On Dead Sea Recordings
 

Earlier this year, the phenomenal Ethiopian-born and now Tel-Aviv-based artist Gili Yalo unveiled "Sew Lesew", the first precursor to his brand new four-track EP "Made in Amharica", now out on Dead Sea Recordings. [...]

Earlier this year, the phenomenal Ethiopian-born and now Tel-Aviv-based artist Gili Yalo unveiled "Sew Lesew", the first precursor to his brand new four-track EP "Made in Amharica", now out on Dead Sea Recordings. The spellbinding track, accompanied by an equally enticing companion video, promotes the basic principle of being a 'mensch' (a decent human being), "its lyrics reflecting the issue of immigration and refugees, of borders, discrimination and newcomers." Like most of his music, "Sew Lesew" emodies his own personal story, seeing as Gili Yalo himself arrived in Israel as part of what is today known as 'Operation Moses', "the covert evacuation of Ethiopian Jews from Sudan during a famine in 1984." 

Building on the success of his 2018-released, self-titled debut LP, Yalo toured the world, gathering well-deserved critical and popular acclaim and wowing audiences with his undeniable on-stage presence. His travels eventually brought him to the United States of America, where he teamed up with Niles City Sound (the Grammy-nominated team behind Leon Bridges' "Coming Home" LP, i.e. Josh Block, Austin Jenkins and Chris Vivion) to record his new EP "Made in Amharica" in their high-end, vintage-equipped recording studios in Forth Worth, Dallas.

"Made in Amharica" is a play on words: Amharic being the language of the Ethiopian people and 'Amharica' being the place this project became a reality. Singing in both English and Amharic, Gili Yalo brings together two distinct worlds, combining a modern approach to his Ethiopian roots with influences from funk, jazz, rock and a whole lotta soul. You can stream/buy the full release over on Bandcamp or listen in the SoundCloud player above.

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Give & Take

Ukraine's DakhaBrakha Are At The Forefront Of Eastern Europe's Most Breathtaking Folkloric Fusion

We've been meaning to do a short write-up on DakhaBrakha for a while now. Why? Because they're simply outstanding in what they do and deserve to be heard far beyond the borders of their native Ukraine, where they [...]

We've been meaning to do a short write-up on DakhaBrakha for a while now. Why? Because they're simply outstanding in what they do and deserve to be heard far beyond the borders of their native Ukraine, where they already enjoy cult status. Don't be mistaken. We are not the first to fall captive to their mesmerising and mystical charm as well as to their innovative blend of "soulful Ukrainian folk with jazz and trance sounds" and more. DakhaBrakha are the real deal, the full musical package in terms of the highly conceptual, performative and visual approach they take to their art.

Over the past 15 years, the quartet has played over a thousand concerts and festivals, bringing their self-proclaimed "ethnic-chaos" to unsuspecting international audiences. And by unsuspecting we mean that until you've heard them live, you literally don't know what you've been missing: "A shadowy procession to the pounding of drums, to the murmur of a cello, morphs into an anthem, an invocation, a wild and wacky breakdown. Drones and beats, crimson beads and towering black lambs-wool hats all serve as a striking backdrop for an unexpected, refreshingly novel vision of Eastern European roots music."

DakhaBrakha in the old Ukrainian language means "give/take". Created in 2004 at the Kyiv Center of Contemporary Art (DAKH) by avant-garde theatre director Vladyslav Troitskiy, it comes as no surprise that the multi-instrumentalist group's performances verge on scenic theatre productions as they combine the more traditional sounds of their native Ukraine with a plethora of influences from around the globe: "With one foot in the urban avant-garde theatre scene and one foot in the village life that nurtured and protected Ukraine’s cultural wealth, DakhaBrakha shows the full fury and sensuality of some of Eastern Europe’s most breathtaking folklore."

You can watch their full 2017 performance on Seattle's KEXP in the video below (or their previous 2015 KEXP performance right here) to get a better idea of the actual sonic experience we are trying to put into words. More infos and videos here

DakhaBrakha are
Marko Halanevych (vocal, darbuka, didgeridoo, accordion)
Iryna Kovalenko (vocal, djembe, bass drum, accordion, percussion, bugay, zhaleyka)
Olena Tsibulska (vocal, bass floor tom, percussion)
Nina Garenetska (vocal, cello, bass drum)

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Parallel Persia

Tehran-Based Sound Artist Sote Unveils Mind-Rattling New Album On Diagonal Records

Is this the past or is it the future? With Tehran-based electronic music composer Ata Ebtekar, aka Sote, it is hard to tell. Fact is, he has been honing his craft for three decades and counting, an explorer, a [...]

Is this the past or is it the future? With Tehran-based electronic music composer Ata Ebtekar, aka Sote, it is hard to tell. Fact is, he has been honing his craft for three decades and counting, an explorer, a scientist, a sound artist in an ever-changing sonic environment. He "composes music with a deeply-held conviction that rules and formulas should be deconstructed and rethought", as he "alters musical modal codes from their original tonality and rhythmic tradition to achieve vivid synthetic soundscapes." 

Sote's musical vision is acutely experimental in form, yet eerily organic in nature and constantly in motion. You might remember his CTM-commissioned album "Sacred Horror In Design" released on Opal Tapes in 2017, which had us wondering, what exactly we had just listened to. And trust us, his latest album is likely to keep you guessing, with musical surprises lurking at every twist, turn and flourish. Preceded by the standalone single Artificial Neutrality, Sote recently unveiled his mind-rattling new full-length on Oscar Powell's Diagonal Records, entitled "Parallel Persia".

Created in early 2018, "Parallel Persia" features an electro-acoustic "series of compositional structures", combining "various synthesis techniques with Iranian acoustic instruments [Arash Boulouri (santour) & Pouya Damadi (tar)] that are pushed beyond ordinary operation." Or in the words of Sote himself, these are "snapshots of an apocryphal Iran [...] presented via sonic schematics for a synthetic 'Meta-Persian' experience," an experience that could be taking place "in our present-day life or maybe somewhere else somehow differently in a parallel world..." We'll let you decide.

You can stream/buy "Parallel Persia" in full on Bandcamp and make sure to check out the magnificent visuals to album track "Brass Tacks" by Pedram Sadegh-Beyki below.

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Hana Mash Hu Al Yaman

A-WA Drop Thought-Provoking Precursor To Forthcoming Second Full-Length

We first covered the Yemenite sisters back in 2016, when they teamed up with Loco Hot on APE Records. That was after they released their breakout single "Habib Galbi" (which has so far amassed over 12 million views [...]

We first covered the Yemenite sisters back in 2016, when they teamed up with Loco Hot on APE Records. That was after they released their breakout single "Habib Galbi" (which has so far amassed over 12 million views on YouTube) and followed that up with their eponymous debut album. Blending traditional Yemenite folk with urban beats and electronic soundscapes, Tair, Liron and Tagel Haim have made quite a name for themselves across the globe, as they confidently continue to propagate their role as strong and modern women in the rather conservative Middle East. 

Just recently A-WA released their new single "Hana Mash Hu Al Yaman", based on the real-life experience of their great-grandmother, who fled her home in Yemen in 1949 during what is today known as "Operation Magic Carpet" and immigrated to Israel to escape persecution and violence. However, upon arrival in Israel, said Yemenite Jews were placed in camps and regularly discriminated against. The lyrics of "Hana Mash Hu Al Yaman" reflect these early tensions and struggles:

"Where will I stake a home? (You have a tent for now) / Or at least a small shack (along with four other families) / And here I will raise a family (Don't let them take your daughter) / I'll find myself a job with an income (either in cleaning or working the earth) / And I will learn the language (Lose the accent) / With time I'll feel like I belong (Here is not Yemen)."

Reminiscent of the song "America" from the musical "West Side Story", the catchy single is led by the sisters' melodic chants, while driven by intricate rhythms and a beat produced by Tamir Muskat (Balkan Beat Box) that is clearly purposed for the dancefloor. The companion music video, which you can watch below, was shot in the streets of Tel Aviv and directed in collaboration Omer Ben-David. It features an array of powerful dance moves as well as a modern take on popular looks of the time. 

After "Mudbira" (unveiled earlier this year), "Hana Mash Hu Al Yaman" is the second promising precursor to A-WA's forthcoming full-length "Bayti Fi Rasi" (transl. My House Is My Head), to be released on May 31st (S-Curve/BMG). Preceding the album release the siblings will be on tour in Germany (see below). Check here for more dates. 

May 23rd Leipzig, Werk 2
May 24th Hannover, World Music Festival
May 25th Berlin, Gretchen Club

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Terrouzi

Mauritania's Ahmedou Ahmed Lowla Releases Extremely Limited Edition Tour Cassette

After two weeks in Turkey, our hearts bleed Arabesque. So it may not come as surprise that we have developed somewhat of a soft spot for songs in a minor key and melodies dealing with unfulfilled love and the likes. [...]

After two weeks in Turkey, our hearts bleed Arabesque. So it may not come as surprise that we have developed somewhat of a soft spot for songs in a minor key and melodies dealing with unfulfilled love and the likes. Under any other circumstances we most likely would have filed away Ahmedou Ahmed Lowla's instrumental electronic keyboard flourishes as 'kitch'. But that would have been a mistake. 

Ahmedou Ahmed Lowla is one of the Saharan country's biggest stars. Born into a musical family (his father being a renowned tidnit [four-stringed lute] player) he is today considered one of Mauritania's premiere keyboard performers, whose music can be heard "blaring from taxi caps and cassette shops across the country". As a regular at lavish weddings in the capital city of Nouakchott, Ahmedou Ahmed Lowla made a name for himself with his indubitable energy and "evocative theatrics, accentuating notes by playing with his elbows, or tapping the keyboard with his head".

On "Terrouzi" he combines classical Mauritatian music, aka WZN, with an abundance of outernational styles as he presents a future vision of the sounds he grew up with, from "90s slow jam R&B, to bass-heavy boom bap and minimal trap, [...] hypnotic and tranced out". There would seem to be no method to his musical madness, which makes his plastic sounds all the more intriguing and no doubt engaging. Head over to Bandcamp for the extremely limited cassette accompanying his recent tour of Europe, organised by Planet Rock. And for more insights, head over to Sahel Sounds

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Echoes Of Japan

The Minyo Crusaders Combine Traditional Japanese Folk Songs With A Plethora Of Global Styles

Well here's for a little something off the beaten path. All the way from Japan comes this big band that is quite unlike anything we've ever heard. The Minyo Crusaders just recently released their debut album on UK [...]

Well here's for a little something off the beaten path. All the way from Japan comes this big band that is quite unlike anything we've ever heard. The Minyo Crusaders just recently released their debut album on UK imprint Mais Um and we highly recommend you give it a listen. Led by guitarist Katsumi Tanaka, the 10-piece successfully reworks Japanese folk songs, also known as min'yō, with Latin, African, Caribbean and Asian rhythms, from cumbia, to Ethiopian jazz, Thai pop, Afro funk and reggae.

As Tanaka puts it, "for Japanese people, min'yō is both the closest and most distant folk music. We may not feel it in our daily urban lives, yet the melodies, the style of singing and the rhythm of the taiko drums are engrained in our DNA.” In the wake of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake, he began researching Japanese roots music and was drawn to mid-late 20th century acts the likes of Hibari Misora, Chiemi Eri and the Tokyo Cuban Boys. "I was captivated by their eccentric arrangements and how they mixed min'yō with Latin and jazz,” he recounts. Min'yō was originally sung by fishermen (Kushimoto Bushi; Mamurogawa Ondo), coal miners (Tanko Bushi) and sumo wrestlers (Sumo Jinku), dealing with topics of a now forgotten Japan.“As a traditional performing art, min'yō is considered highbrow, yet these are mainly songs for working, dancing or drinking - we want to return them to their literal meaning as ‘songs of the people’,” he adds.

Intending to revive this style and combine it with world music, Tanaka decided to form a band and slowly but surely the Minyo Crusaders came into being. Their debut effort "Echoes of Japan" is out now. It is about "bringing 'highbrow' min'yō back to it's 'lowlife' roots" as well as to the global stage for it to be heard by a wider public and most importantly "everyday people". And one thing is for sure: You've got to hear this! 

Minyo Crusaders are:
Freddie Tsukamoto (vocals) 
Meg (vocals, melodica)
Katsumi Tanaka (guitar)
DADDY U (bass)
Moe (keyboards)
Sono (timbales)
Mutsumi Kobayashi (bongos)
Yamauchi Stephan (trumpet)
Koichiro Osawa (sax)
Irochi (congas)

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Strange Heat

Berlin/Potsdam-based Nine-Piece Wanubalé Releases Blazing Two-Tracker On Agogo Records

Hailing from Berlin/Postdam, the young nine-piece collective Wanubalé (Swahili for "Brothers") just released its debut EP "Strange Heat" on Agogo Records and is now set to perform live in Berlin tomorrow (Thursday [...]

Hailing from Berlin/Postdam, the young nine-piece collective Wanubalé (Swahili for "Brothers") just released its debut EP "Strange Heat" on Agogo Records and is now set to perform live in Berlin tomorrow (Thursday May 9th, 2019) at XJAZZ

Drawing inspiration from jazz and club culture, Wanubalé bring an amazing energy to the stage, as they meld jazz, neo soul, funk and electronic influences into a cohesive and absolutely ecstatic whole. With all nine members in their early twenties, some fresh out of high school, you might be prone to expect less, but don't be fooled. They are great musicians and more than able to flip the switch in an instant. Their carefully structured arrangements are intricate, but hardly boastful, while each and every track is a team effort. 

You might find yourself reminded of acts the likes of Snarky Puppy, Fat Freddy's Drop, Hiatus Kaiyote or Nubiyan Twist, but at the end of the day, Wanubalé are all about doing their own instrumental thing, without relying on vocals. With an album in the making, the brand new two-track EP "Strange Heat" is a testament to their ability and a serious groover that you can stream/buy on Bandcamp. Watch the studio session to a previous track called "Something Green" below, which was recorded at the Jazz Institut Berlin studios back in 2017. 

You can also catch Wanubalé live at Gretchen in Berlin for Fête de la Musique on June 21st. 

Wanubalé are
Gabriel Rosenbach (trumpet, flugelhorn)
Niko Zeidler (tenor/alto saxophone, flute)
Anton Kowalski (bari saxophone)
Jonathan Steffen (trombone)
Max Feig (guitar)
Moses Yoofee Vester (keys)
Moritz Schmolke (bass)
Heinrich Eiszmann (drums)
Philip Schilz (drums) 

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Szolnok

Daniel Weltlinger’s New Album Tells A Story About A Violin, A Story For The Ages

Yesterday marked release day for Australian-born and Berlin-based violinist Daniel Weltlinger and his brand new album. On “Szolnok” Daniel tells the amazing and true story of his grandfather’s violin, on his [...]

Yesterday marked release day for Australian-born and Berlin-based violinist Daniel Weltlinger and his brand new album. On “Szolnok” Daniel tells the amazing and true story of his grandfather’s violin, on his grandfather’s violin. Playing that same instrument from the eponymous Hungarian town (a name written on the label inside the violin itself), which his grandfather, Zoltan Fyszman, carried with him to the far reaches of the globe through the turmoil of world history, Daniel now embarks on a musical journey through time and across the continents:

“First from Hungary on foot to France between 1920-1922, then across Morocco and to Australia, where he died in 1998 as ‘Zoltan Fishman’ at the age of 96. Until the very end he was still playing his violin. His grandson [Daniel] inherited the violin from him, and brought it back to Europe on October the 11th, 2017. Two days later he inadvertently performed the German national anthem on the violin together with a Turkish ensemble at Schloss Bellevue as part of a concert for the Federal President.”

The album can be seen as a timeline, beginning from the instrument’s origins in Szolnok up to the present day in Berlin, where the violin now resides. Composed mainly of original material, “Szolnok” blends jazz, classical, folk and improvised music, as Daniel is accompanied by his quartet, namely Uri Gincel on piano, Mathias Ruppnig on drums and Paul Kleber on bass. "My reasoning for choosing Uri, Mathias and Paul to create this quartet has to do with their truly open sense of sound, which to me is when musicians can play outside of a conventional style of music and have the creative freedom to do whatever they hear and want in the moment that fits, which is exactly what these guys are capable of.”

For Daniel, the dream of starting a jazz quartet under his own name in Europe to record and perform his original music and ideas had been a long time coming. It just so happened that said violin and one of his grandfather’s old set lists provided the proverbial spark and the musical story began to take shape in Daniel’s mind.

A 2017 workshop with renowned Indian violinist L. Subramaniam inspired the pizzicato album opener, reminiscent of an old clock. Track two, “Ernő”, is dedicated to his grandfather’s brother, who fell victim to the Spanish flu in 2018. “1921” is a jazzy track with a dark and brooding Hungarian-Romanian bass line and eerie violin tremoli, alluding to his grandfather’s passage from Hungary to France. French chansonist Henri Alibert’s “Bonjour, Bonsoir, Adieu Marseille” represents Zoltan’s time in the south of France, working in café orchestras. Anna Marly’s magical “Le chant des partisans” and Weltlinger’s “North Africa” reference Zoltan’s escape to the African continent, where he settled in Casablanca after the war and met his future wife, whom he serenaded with the "Barcarolle" from Jacques Offenbach’s “Hoffmann’s Tales”. “Mr. Fishman” then is dedicated to Zoltan’s time in Australia, his “twilight years”, and incorporates field recordings of birds and insects, followed by “La Famille” and “Tranquille à Sydney”; peace at last. Finally, “2018” embodies the philosophy behind this album of “time, survival and continuity”, as it slowly leads listeners to Berlin, where the album concludes with Manuel María Ponce’s “Estrellita”, which we unveiled a few weeks back.

“My grandfather loved to serenade people – often with a bottle of Slivovitz, Pernod or Johnny Walker Black close at hand – and his style of playing was heavily influenced by the café orchestras he had worked in as a semi professional musician in France […]. I grew up totally entranced by both him and his violin playing, his smile and that twinkle in his eyes whenever he played is something that remains in my heart forever. He had two violins: the violin from Szolnok that had been his brother’s, as well as a Bohemian violin that my mother bought for him at an auction many years before. These violins were his babies. After he passed away in 1998 I inherited both his violins, but chose to play the Bohemian violin as I actually preferred it out of the two instruments as it has a sweeter tone and is easier to play as opposed to the dark somber tone of the violin from Szolnok. The violin from Szolnok remained in its case with the same strings on it for almost 20 years, before I took it to Europe with me in October 2017,” Daniel recounts.

Szolnok” releases today on DMG Germany/Rectify Records and is a truly remarkable story about moving forward, brought to life by Daniel and his quartet. The Daniel Weltlinger Quartet will be on tour in Germany this May. 

Tour dates:
May 3rd/4th Lindenberg, Dorfkirche
May 8th Berlin, Wabe
May 12th Oderau, Theater am Rand
May 15th Worms, Synagogue
May 16th Koblenz, Kulturfabrik
May 17th Lollar, Studio Kirchberg
May 18th Eltville, Die Salongesellschaft
May 19th Lauenau, Kesselhaus
June 6th Berlin, Zig Zag Jazz Club

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