Posts Tagged ‘Sharq Taronalari’


I met the band Ffynnon in of all places, Uzbekistan, where they were performing at the Sharq Taronalari festival.  I fell in love with Lynne Denman’s beautiful voice, and later found myself singing along with the band, as I reviewed the video footage I had taken of them. As it turned out I spent 8 days in South Wales the next month, and that gave me the opportunity to capture two songs by the band.  This one, “Hiraeth am Feirion” is a gorgeous ballad about a homesick sailor who longs to see Wales again. The term “hiraeth” is similar in meaning to the Portuguese/Brazilian sentiment of “saudade,” that is, a feeling that combines regret, nostalgia, stoicism and yearning all in one.

This is an admittedly homespun video. It is entirely acoustic.  I wish we had had access to a boom mic, but we didn’t. We just set up in the meeting house of an old church on the top of a mountain and the band played the tunes.  The sunlight came and went, it rained and stopped, colors changed…..

I shot the clouds that appear in the video during one of the breaks, and the seascape is from Llangranog.

Second camera: Eva Skalla

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I met Maria Pomianowska in Samarkand, where she attended the Sharq Taronalari festival as a guest speaker. But as you can see, this woman could well have been not only one of the musicians performing, but one of its finest. I heard her jamming out on the terrace of the Afrasiyob hotel, and immediately knew that I wanted to get her and that unusual instrument of hers alone for a solo videotaping. We found a room between the basement floor lobby and the kitchen that had decent acoustics and was reasonably quiet (considering its proximity to the kitchen). I just said “play” and off she went. The room was not that well lit, so please forgive the somewhat grainy image.
Maria’s credentials are impressive. She graduated in cello at the Chopin Academy of Music in Warsaw. There she was granted a scholarship to learn the sarangi under the guidance of maestro Pandit Ram Narayan in India. From 1997-2002 she lived in Japan, and in 1999 she started composing cross cultural works which were commissioned by cellist Yo Yo Ma. In her continuing efforts to find connections between Asian music with her own cultural heritage, together with Dr. Ewa Dahlig and violin maker A. Kuczkowski she managed to successfully reconstruct a Suka from Bilgoraj which is what you see and hear in this video.
There are many kinds of “fusions” happening in music these days. Maria seems to be her own personal reactor, following her love of western classical music to an equal devotion to Indian classical music, and then adding a dash of Polish gestalt to the mix.
Ms. Pomianawska teaches music and runs a festival of world music in Warsaw. For more information on this amazing woman and musician, visit:

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I met the Welsh group “Jadu” when they performed at the Sharq Taronalari festival in Samarkand, Uzbekistan.

I had no idea what to expect when the group’s music was first described to me, and admittedly I do have an initially suspicious response to musical hybrids.  There are too many self-conscious ensembles cobbled together from different musical influences pushing themselves as credible fusions, (don’t get me talking about the misappropriation of the term “gypsy” music!).  At this point they must all prove themselves to me.

As it turns out, Jadu (“magic” in Hindi) is a band that has come together naturally and as a result the sound is completely cohesive. Pete Stacey on soprano sax and flute is a solid jazz musician who has studied the tonalities and rhythms of Indian music with the masters. Mumbai born Rajesh David  is a velvet voiced crooner whose renditions of the material give it much of its gravitas.  Kelly Smith on tabla  Bryan Smith on tamboura are a son and father who have been playing –and meditating– together since ‘way back. Paul Uden on guitar rounds out the ensemble with sensitive rhythm and chords. His guitar work within this setting is completely about the instrument as a vehicle for the music, and it is a shame that the microphone on my camera did not pick up more of his sound…but that’s as good a reason as any to check out the band’s latest LP “Aberaeron Sunset,” where you can really hear his contribution.

There was no way I was going to pass up videotaping them in a perfect place like Samarkand; as a crossroads of religions and cultures it is an uncanny match for the music.  When the opportunity presented itself to do a shoot in the gorgeous setting of the courtyard of Tamerlane’s Mausoleum, we jumped. It was a sunny, hot day and as we taped the band, a small group of folks gathered around and listened attentively.   It was a magical session. But then again, “Jadu” means magic.

About the music: Kabir was a great mystic poet saint in India in the 15th century. Rajesh sings Kabir’s words:
‘When the mind is immersed in the Divine, there are no words, only Silence. All saints and wise men say your God is within you, then why are you looking outwards?’

For more about JADU go to

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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.