Posts Tagged ‘Lincoln Center’


The Black Earth Boys are Justin Adams, Juldeh Camara and Ben Mandelson. The band is an aggregate of two others- with Adams as the link between. Justin and Juldeh –now touring internationally under the name “JuJu” have recorded two CDs, “Soul Science” and “Tell No Lies.”  Camara, who is from the Gambia, is a singer, instrument maker, and master of the ritti, a single stringed, violin-like instrument. Adams is well known for his long association with singer Robert Plant.  His great strength is groove; no flashy mile-a-minute riffs, simply a guitar style that FEELS just right, and is an excellent partnering with Camara’s flights of improvisation.
Ben Mandelson is not just a fine musician, he is a real life hero of world music. Back when I was first listening to recordings of what would eventually be called “world music” it was Ben’s productions I often found myself checking out. Here we see him comfortably supplying tasty fills, textural motifs and rhythmic drive on mandolin.  Adams, Mandelson and Lu Edmonds (unavailable for this performance) have their own ensemble “Les Triaboliques,’ a project that has them gleefully galloping through all the musical influences they have gathered in their past and present lives.
This performance, from Lincoln Center’s Out of Doors series took place in Damrosch Park. The repertoire was primarily a melding of American folk and blues with Camara bringing the West African flavor. His ritti at times sounded like a fiddle, and eerily, at times like a harmonica. It was a surprisingly cohesive sound, reminding us once again of the debt that our music owes to African culture. While Adams’ gritty voice sang a simpler, countrified interpretation of this Carter Family standby “Sow ‘Em on the Mountain,” Camara’s vocal takes a soaring, melismatic approach. Great stuff.

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On Earth Day the Atrium at Lincoln Center presented Susie Ibarra and Roberto Rodriguez’s Electric Kulintang. Both of these well-known Downtown musicians have been involved in researching the indigenous culture of the Philippines, and have been working on a film about their efforts called “Song of the Bird King.” I had tried to find examples of Filipino “roots music” a number of years ago with very little success, and in this film (a fragment of which was presented that night) I heard some spine-tingling stuff, so I am really looking forward to the film’s completion and getting the full immersion! The film focuses not only on the challenges of keeping a culture alive in the face of globalization, but on the physical degradation of the ecosystem that has supported life on the island, affecting man, fauna and flora.

Electric Kulintang call their music “Eco-Electronica.” Rodriguez is the partner percussionist, programmer and beatmeister, while Ibarra plays drums and various xylophones as well as the Kulintang, a traditional Philippine instrument comprised of a series of gongs, and reminiscent of those found in an Indonesian gamelan. The concert debuted material from their forthcoming CD “Drum Codes” which Ibarra describes as “musical stories and dedications to ancestors and the environment.” This video is of “Drum Code #3,” which they presented toward the end of their set. Ibarra says “I play on the Philippine Kulintang gongs, Taggungo style. This traditional Southern Filipino Maguindanaon style is performed in respect to spirits and used in healing.”

Electronica, as Rodriguez composes it, contains an invitation to trance that is an appropriate matrix for the shamanistic meditations inspired by the Kulintang. One could focus on the musician’s performance, but the experience was also interactive with the Atrium itself. Rodriguez’ digitally generated sounds resonated into and off the various surfaces of the hall, creating a cocoon for Ibarra’s percussive, minimalist motifs, and I could easily imagine the music as an installation piece. I have brought many architectural images from the Atrium itself into the video, as this seemed the best way to convey the experience as a whole , including one of the Green Walls (living tapestries of plants) that adorn the Atrium. I recommend listening to this video with headphones, to get the full effect, as there are some subtle electronic sounds that are fairly low in the mix.

Rodriguez and Ibarra are engaged citizens of our planet whose music attempts to express how our inner and outer worlds relate. Electric Kulintang’s merging of ambient/shamanistic/experimental music was a singularly appropriate programming choice for Earth Day.

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This is an excerpt from Daorum’s concert at the Atrium, as part of Lincoln Center’s Target Free Thursdays. Kim Seok Chul was a Korean shaman, and national treasure, or “intangible asset” as is it is termed in Korea, where these artists are given identifying numbers.
Barker is a well respected jazz drummer in his own right, and after his solo, he describes the odyssey that brought him face to face with Intangible Asset Number 82.

Barker describes the solo thusly: “(the) solo features an introduction that includes rhythms from a form of secular music related to Buddhism. The second section is an improvisation on a “farmers music” rhythm called Ch’il Ch’ae. The third section is an improvisation featuring sticking patterns from all over Korea and my own things as well. Section five is based on rhythms performed (within) Kim Seok Chul’s music.”

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Here’s where you’ll find my weekly original world music video blogs that appear on Huffington Post, as well as an archive starting in April of 2009.

This is also the place where you will find video that is exclusive to my site. I’ve traveled to places like Uzbekistan, Morocco, and Taiwan and no matter where I go I have found amazingly talented and creative people working in every genre from the deepest traditions to the cutting edge.

It’s been incredibly rewarding to interview them and to capture some of what they do on video. Enjoy what you see and hear, and let me know what you think. I welcome your feedback.