Posts Tagged ‘WOMEX 2011’


From his daycase at WOMEX 2011 in Copenhagen:

I would l never have guessed that a solo hand drum performance could hold me for 40 minutes. But Mortazavi’s extraordinarily melodic approach to the hand drums he plays, coupled with an amazing technique had me riveted.

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(A few measures of the central section have been edited out.)

Maalouf was one of the more surprising of the musical “hybrid” choices at WOMEX 2011. His sound was certainly electric and jazz fusion oriented, but underneath it all, there were references to maqqam, the system of tones that characterize music of the Middle East and Central Asia. He plays a microtonal trumpet that was invented by  his father, which enables him to play the quarter tones that are essential to the performance of maqqam.  You can hear this readily  in his improvisations, although the head of this nostalgic song is fairly Western in sound. “Beirut” is somewhat schizophrenic in its composition, and this seemed to be a running motif in Maalouf’s presentation. Perhaps it is indicative of the pull between Western and Eastern, tradition and modernity in both the city of Beirut and the composer?

Stage lights were pointing directly at the audience (!) making shooting from orchestra and mezzanine areas impossible. I ended up in the “nosebleed section” but liked the way the sound seemed to fill up every bit of the Koncerthuset’s great hall. It made for some grainy and slightly jittery shots, but still captures the feel of the piece, and the space of the hall. Funny how all those world music mavens react to the “Led Zeppelin” section– you’d think they were just WAITING for that electric guitar to rock out!

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This is a performance from one of the daycases at WOMEX 2011 in Copenhagen.

Laima Jansone plays a Latvian lap harp called the kokle. It is a variant on the psaltery, an instrument that stretches back thousands of years. Jansone’s way of playing the kokle is decidedly personal and non-traditional. Her improvisations go from dynamic strumming patterns to delicate fingerpicked motifs. The slide show above her was a plus, as she is so engrossed in her playing that she has no stage presence beyond that one thing. I was very lucky to get a separate audio file from the mixing board, as there was so much noise from the trade fair floor below, that her music was barely audible. Now with a clean track one can hear everything she is doing and how between the projected images and the music coming from the kokle, this is a strong, ambient presentation.

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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.