Show #147: The Spiritual Side of World Music

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<!-- missing image -->A few weeks ago

We start with the last recording Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan ever made, this time with film composer Graeme Revell, recorded in the Blue Mosque in Istanbul.  I’ve always loved this recording, and put it on the final volume of Trance Planet, a series of five cd’s I produced 1994-2000.

We continue with the powerful voice of Tunisian singer Dhafer Youssef, who wanted to become an imam but decided on music instead after hearing the music of his countryman Anouar Brahem.  You can detect that he’s retained that powerful voice of an imam, and his music is leavened with spiritual overtones. Here Youssef works with a Norwegian string trio.

Norwegian singer Anne-Liste Berntsen is next, accompanied by a big pipe organ on a Norwegian religious folk song.  Her soaring voice is crystalline and pitch-perfect.

Mercedes Sosa follows, performing before thousands of devoted fans upon her return from exile in Spain to Argentina. The concert was held just as the brutal junta was falling, and her audience is rejoicing at hearing their beloved diva of the dispossessed again. The whole album of hers is magnificent. I put her version of Violetta Parra’s anthemic song “Gracias a La Vida” on Trance Planet Vol 1.

Jamshied Sharifi was born in Topeka, Kansas in 1960, graduating from the Berklee School of Music. I love his music; he brings many cultures together in it, as you’ll hear from the title track “One”.

Two Brazilian classics follow, Gilberto Gil singing a tribute to his candomblé spiritual guide, and Virginia Rodrigues singing Baden Powell’s deep and lovely hymn to Iemanjá (Yemanjá), the orisha (goddess) of the seas and rivers.

French keyboard composer Wally Badarou is next with a short track from the reggae film Countryman. Badarou is well-known for his work with other Island Records artists, including Grace Jones, Herbie Hancock, Joe Cocker, the Tom Tom Club and others. I wonder what he is doing now because I haven’t heard anything from him in years.

Next we ramp up the energy with some Moroccan trance music (called gnawa) recorded in Morocco by Bill Laswell and Richard Horowitz.  This is the real deal, polyrhythms galore, intense music that can transport you to another realm altogether.

We calm things down with a gorgeous track from 10th-century Armenia, part of a divine liturgy in this ancient culture. Tigran Hamasyan is an Armenian pianist; “Havoun Havoun” (The Bird, the Bird) is sung by soprano Jenni Nazarian.

I love this music and amidst all the musical confetti that surrounds us every day, this is music of spiritual expression, depth and rejoicing.  It will always be close to my heart.

Rhythm Planet Playlist for 2/26/16

  1. Graeme Revell / “Vision Ii-Spirit Of Rumi” / Trance Planet Vol. 5 / Triloka
  2. Dhafer Youssef / “Cantus Lamenticus”/ Divine Shadows / Jazzland
  3. Anne-Lise Berntsen / “Jeg Ser Dig Sode Lam, At Staae” / Engleskyts / Kirkelig Kulturverksted
  4. Mercedes Sosa / “Gracias A La Vida” / Trance Planet Vol. 1 / Triloka
  5. Jamshied Sharifi / “One” / One / Ceres
  6. Gilberto Gil / “Requiem Pra Mae Meninha Do Gantois” / The Eternal God Of Change / Warner Brothers
  7. Virginia Rodrigues / “Canto De Iemanja” / Mares Profundos / Edge Music
  8. Wally Badarou / “Guidance” / Countryman Soundtrack / Island Records
  9. Various / “Chabako” / Gnawa Music Of Marrakesh/Night Spirit Masters / Axiom
  10. Tigran Hamasyan / “Havoun Havoun” / Luys I Luso / ECM

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