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The University of Hartford

Voices from the Village
World Music at WWUH
By Brian Grosjean

"Global peace through cultural Understanding"

Randy Armstrong
Dinner on the Diner
Ellipsis Arts (www.ellipsisarts.com, www.randyarmstrong.com )

For those who saw the PBS show "Dinner on the Diner", aired in June, this soundtrack recreates for you the feeling of whizzing past exotic landscapes sampling local cuisine in antique luxury dining cars. Randy Armstrong, whose earlier group Do'a blazed significant trails in crossover world music, produced this two CD album to accompany the show. Here he uses jazz based melodies, flamenco guitar, synthesizers and a variety of local percussion to follow the dining cars of classic trains through Spain, South Africa, Scotland and Southeast Asia. The jazz and ambient modes for his songs are well suited for backgrounds for TV shows. However, on this audio album, his compositions tend toward ambient noodling augmented with traditional instruments. Forward through the early songs to sample more authentic South African gospel choirs and Highland reels.
Ellipsis Arts' wonderful 64 page booklet includes recipes by four TV gourmets with photos, descriptions of the journeys, local eating establishments and trains, and the songwriter's music notes. An interesting but not spicy entrée.

Giovanni Cascio and Arnaldo Vacca
Boom Boom Language
Cous Cous (www.cnimusic.it)

This Italian percussion duo exploit the latest technology to bring life into a variety of ancient Mediterranean themes. With Italian lyrics sung by Elvira Impagnatiello on the best tracks and eight backup instrumentalists providing melodic exchanges with the ever present percussion, the group experiments with techno dance rhythms, double Bhangra beats, and Medieval arrangements in a satisfying blend. The drums and clarinets predominate. However, when the experimentation runs out about halfway through the album, the group resorts to percussion jamming, which is much less interesting. Get this for the unique rhythms and new ideas in Mediterranean music.

Mystic Fire Video and Baraka Foundation (www.baraka.net)

The Jilala religious brotherhood of Morocco is one of many sects of Sufi Islam. It was begun in twelfth century Baghdad and still retains vestiges of pre-Islamic healing rituals and ecstatic dance. These lovingly packaged raw field recordings of performances from 1965 come with helpful liner notes and good production qualities.
Sufi religious music falls into a genre along with Native American drum circles, Tibetan chanting, and Qawwali singing. It's aim is to create a musical atmosphere which blots out the present world. In that way the dancer can overcome this world and reach for the next. Incense, special foods and drinks help establish the mood. The shebaba (reed flute) establishes the song. Bendir (hand drum) tempos rise and fall. Intricate percussion from double castanets fills in the rhythms. Chanting and vocalizations drive the dancers on.
Since ancient times prophets in many cultures have danced in ecstasy to exorcise evil spirits and cleanse the body and soul. Sometimes in this ecstasy, they exhibit their talents for overcoming this world by fire-eating, walking on hot coals, and self-mutilation, all in the name of getting closer to God. But always there were the musicians who acted as guides, protectors and assistants in the journey. On this album you can follow their journey to the ecstatic and back, and feel the power of this primeval act of mankind.

The Electronic World Of Music

Music labels have been quick to jump onto the internet because their job is to communicate. Electronic mail (email), web sites, and the like offer inexpensive ways of communicating with record stations and the general public. In addition, this also helps level the playing field by providing equal access to labels no matter what their size. An email or web site for the smallest independent label is as accessible as is Sony, Capital, or any of the major brands.

Send your favorite World Music links to me at grosjean@neca.com. Or start your browsing for World Music links at www.Rootsworld.com/rw .

Copyright©WWUH: January/February Program Guide, 2001

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