I’ll get right to the point for this week’s World Music Show (9/30). I’ve got a few worthwhile things going on. From a musical nod to storm and earthquake ravaged Puerto Rico and Mexico, to some new music, it’ll be a shame to miss.
There’s been a ton of natural disasters going on lately, which seems overwhelming to fathom (especially for those directly involved). But what can we do (besides of course donate much needed money, supplies and attention) to ease the trauma of such events?
Well, in past catastrophes, I’ve noticed that many who need to vent their sorry, angst or even frustration, turn to the arts. And since this being a music show, I decided to highlight some of the beautiful music from at least two areas who’ve been suffering. It’s my way of trying to share some of the love I have for places that I have—sadly—not visited—but have experienced via the power of music.
So, starting off the hour this week, we’ll hear some songs dedicated to Puerto Rico and Mexico. Beginning with Paul Simon’s lovely tune from his one and only stage musical, “The Capeman,” we’ll hear the song “I Was Born in Puerto Rico.” Now this song, however, is actually about the main character of the production, who was accused of stabbing someone. But, it’s such a beautiful song that I had to feature it.
I’ll follow that with a track off a Putumayo complication simply called “Puerto Rico.” It’s a song called “Una Mujer En Mi Vida,” or “A Woman in My Life.” It’s by one of the most important figures in Puerto Rican music, Ramito, who was an archetypical “Jibaro,” which is a powerful symbol of Puerto Rican identity and culture. His song is a bolero—and adding to that style, we’ll from another important figure in Puerto Rican musical history—Sylvia Rexach.
Sylvia Rexach was a composer in the late 40s and early 50s who wrote many of the countries favorite boleros. However because she was a woman, she wasn’t given the credit she deserved during her heyday. The local band Miramar, with their release “A Dedication to Sylvia Rexach” changes that by digging deep into Rexach’s songs and bringing them back to live. The trio, made up singer Laura Ann Singh, keyboardist Marlysse Simmons and percussionist Rei Alvarez, give a delicate and moving touch to her work.
For the newness, we’ll get a jump on a CD by a Japanese band called Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra. This band, commonly called TSPO, mix Ska beats with Latin music on their latest release called “Paradise has no Border.” In fact, they partner with the Argentine band Los Autenticos Decadentes as well as with the Mexican Ska band Inspector. In past albums, they’ve done instrumental covers of songs by Cafe Tacvba. These guys not only mix Ska and Latin together in a very unique way, but they look the part of a classic Ska band too—sharp dressed suits and stage moves. Check out this video called Pride of Lions.
In another freshly unwrapped CD, we’ll hear a moving pairing of styles. The Malian band Trio Da Kali, who some of the finest Griot musicians from Mali just released a CD with the Kronos Quartet, who are no stranger to stretching their orchestral borders. It’s a cultural cross-fertilization. Kronos leader, David Harrington, who founded the quartet back in 1973, says it’s the album is “one of the most beautiful Kronos has done in forty years.”
Griot, which basically means a group of people from Western Africa who are traveling story tellers, poets and musicians, are responsible for passing down the oral histories of their families and regions. Da Kali means “to give a pledge,” and in this case, it’s a pledge to a musical heritage that dates back to the time of Sunjata Keith, founder of the great Mali empire in the early 13th Century. You’ll some wonderful instruments too this collaboration, including the balafon (xylophone), bass ngoni (lute) and some female vocals bases on ancient traditions.
One more highlight in newness is a new album from the legendary Dub musician Lee “Scratch” Perry. Forty one years after he defined Dub music, Perry is back with a concept album. The man, who is 81 years-old now, is still wanting to express himself. The CD, called Super Ape Returns to Conquer, pairs him with Subatomic Sound System, a band out of New York.
Together, they reincarnate the classic magic from when Perry recorded in his Black Ark studio in Jamaica, meaning they rely on some heavy Ethiopian horns and percussion, while at the same time incorporating beats provided by Subatomic. Perry is even going to tour with this CD.
As for the rest of the show, we’ll hear some other Dub styles from Michael Franti & Spearhead, the Clash and even the Beastie Boys. Plus, we’ll bounce around to some new tracks from Chicago Afrobeat Project and a band called Chopteeth and one who are a touring supergroup who play the music of Nigerian funk musician William Onyeabor called The Atomic Bomb Band.
Plus, mixed into the two-hour show will be tracks from Vieux Farka Toure, Meklit, Nina Miranda, Forro in the Dark, Ceu as well as some new French music from Paris Combo.
Now that I’ve belabored the point a bit, here’s the gist—the World Music Show airs Saturday from 8-10pm on 88.9 WCVE Richmond Public Radio. You can stream the show and get live track listings by coming back to this website.