Rarely when researching articles do I ever get the chance to see and read about good news, between the bath salt junkies in fits of cannibalism and the cheating spouses, teachers molesting students, celebrities tweeting their naked pics and students protesting, workers protesting, and people generally on a whole being dissatisfied with the state of the world, it’s actually nice to come across some feel good news. I’m all for shinning a bit of light on the masses in good fashion like Umi Says.
So for the next few remaining summer months when you’re looking for something to listen to that sounds different from all the crap on radio, here are two recent releases that prove globalization not only makes the world a smaller place but also fosters an environment where artists can create musical soundscapes that transcend borders, religion and musical styles.
Now when a master of Jazz such as Dave Brubeck says that this is the most interesting and different take on “Take Five” he’s ever heard, you tend to take notice especially when he originally recorded it in 1959 and is a classic jazz standard that many musicians have continued to put their take on. Sachal Jazz: Interpretations of Jazz Standards & Bossa Nova has taken an interesting direction whereby fusing it with eastern influences and the beautiful tempo of Bossa Nova. The album was recorded at Sachal Studios in Lahore, Pakistan and fuses some of the most famous jazz and Bossa Nova standards with the beauty and magnificence of Indo-Pakistani music. The interpretations of works range from renowned composers such as Dave Brubeck, Antonio Carlos Jobim and Burt Bacharach among others. The album creates a platform for music masters (called ”Ustads” in that region of the world) who would otherwise not have an outlet for their craft. It can easily be ascertained that this is gonna be the most eclectic summer CD you’ll hear in a while, but you’ll also crave hearing it while sipping a martini, mojito or sangria, or all three.
Knowing a lot of musicians and going to see the Roger Waters perform the classic rock masterpiece the Wall gave me inspiration for the second half of this article, I’m all in for a good story behind the music, The Wall has a great one and in part is a response and creation of an incident that happened in Montreal during a show. This is not about Pink Floyd or a rock masterpiece; it’s about a world music masterpiece that will become a guaranteed earworm if you open up your mind and ears to it. The Tel Aviv Session will remind you of old jazz records, mainly because this was not only done in one day but also recorded as the day progressed. There are so many stand out points of this album, it’s hard to just choose one, but if I was it would be that they recorded this album in one take like they did with old jazz albums of the 40’s and 50’s. The Tell Aviv Session is a professional jam session which created a wonderful world soundscape to get lost into.
So here’s why the story appealed so much to me; in November of 2008 Israeli musician Idan Raichel was in a German airport waiting for a connecting flight when he noticed Malian musician and guitar virtuoso, Vieux Farka Touré, sitting nearby and waiting for his connecting flight, so like most people waiting in an airport they struck up a friendly conversation and both being musicians discussed their mutual respect for each other and love of the others music. From this meeting was born an artistic kinship and also the beginnings of a great musical soundscape. While being interviewed about this meeting Touré said this of Idan Raichel “When I first met Idan he looked like a crazy hippie to me. But he carried himself with a lot of confidence. He was cool and relaxed. I knew there must be something powerful about this guy. Then the minute we first played together, I knew that I was right. He has deep talent and a deep soul."
Fast forward a bit into time to roughly two years later, Raichel was made the curator of a world music series at the Tel Aviv Opera House, Raichel invited Vieux Farka Touré to perform the first concert. This was an incredibly magical night, with Touré and Raichel trading riffs back and forth backed by Touré’s full band. Also joining them on stage that evening was bassist Yossi Fine(David Bowie, Ex-Centric Sound System), who shares a close relationship with both Touré and especially Raichel since he was one of his musical mentors. This taste of playing together was like a first hit to an addict, Raichel wanted more of that magical feeling so the next day he suggested jamming at a friend’s place. What ensued was 3 solid hours of jamming and creating a free flowing album. It’s a true testament of the depth of their skill and talent and overall musicianship.
That Idan Raichel and Vieux Farka Touré are respectively Jewish and Muslim is one of those wonderful things you hope to hear more often in this polarized world we live in. This is a collaboration between two talented musicians who are of different faiths but believe in One Nation Under a Groove under one G_d is something we need to read more of these days. This album is being hailed a critical smash just like those epitomized by classic albums such as: Talking Timbuktu by Ali Farka Touré with Ry Cooder, Keith Jarrett's The Köln Concert. If this wasn’t a good enough reason to check out either one of these releases, a portion from every sale goes to a nonprofit organization which will help some very deserving people get by just a bit easier. Think of it as the one good thing you do for yourself and for others. Who ever thought buying something on ITunes or at your local music store would help someone unfortunate in another part of the world. Putumayo and Cumbancha both have this ethos with their record labels, to give back to the world for it giving back to us.