ABDULLAH CHHADEH & NARA (Syria)
Born in Damascus and trained in the traditional Arabic as well as classical Western musical traditions, Abdullah Chhadeh has built his international career both as a soloist and composer. A relentless musical adventurer, Chhadeh has spent the last five years introducing the qanun’s distinctive sound to new and occasionally unexpected settings. With his ensemble ‘Nara’ he has developed an original sound that blends the unmistakably Arabic qanun with jazzy double bass and drum kit as well as nay flute, darbuka and Oriental accordion. The result is an enticing melange of evocative melodies and dense rhythms, true to the lucid style of classical Arabic music, yet laced with surprising twists and original textures.
“At once a generator of excitement, and a skilled manipulator of silence.”
[UK/Eire bookings only - in cooperation with Pachamama]
At first sight the all-acoustic instrumentation might lead you to expect an orchestra tipica of the classic tango style, but when they start to play, the music of Astillero surprises: forceful, vertiginous, violent and breath-taking. Inspired by the golden age of tango, when this was a music reflecting popular culture, they bring this spirit up-to-date with their own vision of tango, reflecting the times we live in. Rough, intense and incisive, this is contemporary tango without any recourse to beats, loops or electronics. Finely-honed arrangements project the classic sounds of the instruments with the force of a rock-band: brand-new, wild and heavy, tango for the 21st century.
“More musically daring and athletic than any other Tango Orchestra around.” (TimeOut)
CHANGO SPASIUK (Argentina)
Winner of the ‘Best Newcomer’ BBC Award in 2005, and nominated for a Latin Grammy for his first international release, Argentina's young chamamé hero is ready for the world! At home 'El Chango' is celebrated as the guardian angel of chamamé, the powerful folk tradition of the Argentine Northeast and the "music with the deepest swing in Argentina". A fiery and sensitive virtuoso on the accordion, Spasiuk produces a rich mix of sound and rhythm, where improvisation and composition, tradition and modernity play equal roles, making his music an intense listening experience that moves beyond boundaries of style and genre.
“The best live performance this year” (Charlie Gillett, BBC)
LaXula leads audiences on a journey of wonder and decadence.
Songs drift effortlessly from the dusty sun-baked routes of Southern Spain to the urban vibrancy of east London underground happenings. There is a plaintive fiesta of influences from Flamenco to Arabic, Tango to Roma, all interwoven with indie-rock psychedelia. Deeply routed in an ancient feminine spirit, this travelling band of captivating musicians and alluring performers present sensuous and bewitching music, with a remarkable stage presence that brings together neo-burlesque glamour and gypsy defiance. After a couple of years spent performing off-beat venues and events In London, Madrid and Barcelona, a few high profile support slots (BBC World Music Awards, Los de Abajo) and rave reviews for their first album In-Xile the world is now taking notice.
“Why was this group not named best European Artist?” (Charlie Gillett, The Observer)
MAURICE EL MEDIONI (Algeria/France) [in cooperation with Run Productions]
Some call him the 'Ruben Gonzales' of the Maghreb: born in the Algerian port of Oran in 1928 Maurice El Medioni has led a remarkable life crammed full of music. His inimitable pianOriental style never fails to charm: his left hand boogies on the rhythms of the New World, his right hand paints the alluring melodies of the Old. The result is an evocative cocktail of Cuban rhythms, French cabaret chic and Oriental mellowness. The swinging melodies rekindle the cosmopolitan atmosphere of the Oran of the past, when it was a sparkling melting pot of religions and cultures.
“The genial maestro of North African swing” (Songlines)
In a fast-changing Indonesia a new generation of musicians are taking on the task of redefining their rich musical heritage for the new millennium. SambaSunda are an irresistible 17-piece ensemble bringing together a pan-Indonesian array of instruments and influences to create a new style Gamelan orchestra where the sounds and grooves of bamboo and percussion dominate. The classic sounds and shapes of the traditional instruments evoke not only the past but also the bustling, urban energy of the West Javanese capital Bandung today. With two European tours and a much-praised international release under their belt, this extraordinary group convey an exhilarating, infectious energy that is hard to forget.
“Subverting Indonesian musical stereotypes with gusto...” (Evening Standard)
SIDI GOMA (India)
The mysterious, little known Sidis are the descendants of Africans who travelled across the Indian Ocean from East Africa to India over the last 1000 years. As Sufi Muslim devotees to an African saint and symbolic ancestor, their sacred songs praise the gift of joy he collected from the waves of the sea on his mythical journey. Sharing this sacred gift through their music and dance is their divine calling and life-affirming talent. The exuberant energy and joyful presence Sidi Goma bring to the stage is captivating and powerful. With three years of worldwide touring and celebrated international performances already under their belt, Sidi Goma continue to bring their fascinating and unique African-Indian heritage out to the light of the world.
“ecstatic power… building slowly and steadily to a fever pitch” (New York Times)
TARTIT (Mali) [UK/Eire bookings only]
Nothing is more evocative of the fascinating expanses of the Sahara desert than the music of Tartit. With their long-awaited new CD out this fall, the five women and four men from the Timbuktu region of Mali decisively put themselves on the front line of the current desert music craze. Tartit play hypnotic, trance inducing music: with their voices accompanied by simple instruments and hand-clapping, their beautifully austere melodies offer a rare glimpse into the ancient traditions of the enigmatic Tuareg people. Ensemble Tartit (the name means 'united') was originally formed in a refugee camp in Mauritania. For the past forty years, the Tuareg have been struggling for survival, yet thanks to their poetry, music and dance, the culture of this desert nomad people lives on. To hear their 'desert blues' ballads is to be transported into the endless expanses of the Sahara.
“Tartit deliver the white light, white heat of the desert.” (The Independent)
VOCAL SAMPLING (Cuba) [in cooperation with Prime Tours]
It may sound like a full salsa band but in reality this unique sound is created by the six-piece a-capella group Vocal Sampling. Using only their voices, their cupped hands and their own bodies they create a full range of timbres, textures and rhythms to dazzling effect. All the instruments of the Latin Orchestra - percussion, horns, keyboard, bass - are vocally reproduced with astonishing accuracy, virtuoso technique and real imagination. Add to this a dynamic, theatrical stage presence and the infectious swing of Cuban music and you get a performance as funky and exciting as it gets.
“jaw-dropping, crazy stuff” (Evening Standard)
WAI (Aotearoa/New Zealand)
With a consistent international presence an ever growing fan base, WAI are at the forefront of modern Maori music. Inspired by their ancient Maori roots and language, as much as contemporary sounds and modern life, WAI’s music is flowing with emotion, rich with soulful melodies and beating with complex rhythms. Using the basic ingredients of rhythm and voice, their unique sound features traditional style vocal harmonies, and indigenous poi body percussion complemented by contemporary beats & samples, transporting the sound firmly into the 21st century. Stronger than ever WAI features a new line-up and tracks from their long awaited new release planned for 2007.
“powerful, trailblazing stuff...designed to please the ancestors
and inspire those who follow.” (Jazzwise)