Two new Rough Guides are released on 23 June: The Rough Guide To Latin Music For Childrenand The Rough Guide To Arabic Jazz. Both albums come with a bonus album and are available as a one off purchase or as part of your World Music Network Subscription service.
The music of Latin America combines Spanish guitars, African percussion, and indigenous flutes to create some of the most vibrant music on the planet. The children’s songs on this Rough Guide take the lively Latin styles and add stories of ancient kingdoms, mythical journeys, natural wonders, and of course a host of wild animals.
The culture of Latin America has its roots in three continents. It can be traced through history, language, religion, and even children’s stories. The cultural roots are, perhaps, most prominent in the music. The combination of Spanish guitars, African percussion, and Native American flutes has given rise to some of the most vibrant music on the planet: salsa, merengue, mambo, cumbia and scores of other styles. Similarly, children’s songs from Latin America are based from the music of these three sources. They often draw inspiration from European nursery rhymes, as well as African and Native American folk tales.
On the opening track, Afrocubism gives us a modern twist to the magical journey theme on ‘A La Luna Yo Me Voy’, a song about a trip to the moon. Cuban band Vieja Trova Santiaguera are dedicated to traditional musical forms, including son, that are at the root of contemporary salsa. Here they sing about an age-old favourite mode of children’s transportation, the train in ‘El Tren’. In most parts of the world, and Latin America is no exception, songs about animals are adored by children young and old. Here, Ray Ramos’ salsa classic, ‘El Perro Rumbero’ describes the loyal dog.
Some of the most captivating songs deal with fables and myths of the supernatural. On the traditional folk song, ‘La Bruja’, Dan Zanes is joined by extraordinary Mexican vocalist Lila Downs. ‘La Bruja’ is a witch. The song describes what can happen if the witch catches you: she can turn you into a flowerpot, or a pumpkin.
Of course, what collection of Latin American children’s songs would be complete without songs about ‘La Fiesta’ (The Party)? Salsa diva Yoko sings about starting the party while legendary Colombian vocalist Totó La Momposina gives a scorching rendition of the folk song ‘Pacantó’, inviting everyone from nearby villages to join the street fiesta to sing and dance, a call that seems to have the same effect on the young ones that helped choose the tracks on this CD.
Includes Bonus Album by Wayne Gorbea's Salsa Picante
Jazz improvisation, syncopated beats and counter-culture attitudes have been swinging in the Arab world since the early twentieth century. This Rough Guide explores today’s thriving scene, revealing how blending jazz and Arabic music has created the most beautiful of musical concoctions.
The syncopated beats and counter-culture attitudes synonymous with universal jazz culture have been swinging in the Arab world since the early twentieth century. The western Arabic region, the Maghreb, has historic ties with Andalucian Spain and the stamping off-beats heard in flamenco, which feeds back into local jazz expressions. The eastern Mashriq region has a solid jazz heritage underlined by the careers of musicians such as drummer Salah Ragab who worked with outer-planetary superstar Sun Ra. The oeuvre of the Beirut-born Rahbani brothers, did much to expand the jazz vocabulary of Lebanon. Jazz is still pulsing through the veins of Arabic homelands and this Rough Guide offers up an insight in to the scene.
Lebanon’s rich musical melting pot is to thank for many of the tracks on this album. Lebanese trumpeter and composer Ibrahim Maalouf’s opener, ‘Nomade Slang’, is anchored by an undulating double-time drum pattern with sharp stinging horn lines and inquisitive rising bass figures. It was Ibrahim’s musician father Nassim that altered his trumpet to four valves making it quarter-tone and allowing him to play Arabic maqamat(modes). Another Beirut-born musician contributes ‘A Better Tomorrow’. Rabih Abou-Khalil is a master oudplayer who brings out a slinky, seductive flavour with brushed drums and a languorous wind solo. The haunting track ‘Harrama el-Nawma’ is performed by Rima Khcheich, a singer from Khiam in the south of the country.
Ahmad Kaabour is also from Lebanon and a prominent cultural figure in the Middle East: his 1975 hit ‘Oundaikom’ became the anthem of the Palestinian struggle. ‘Abou Afif’ was released in 2012 and is a peppy, almost saccharine number that encapsulates the feel of modernist 1970s jazz with bright-toned funk-inflected keyboard and a chorus of female backing vocals.
Le Trio Jourban hail from Nazareth, Palestine and offer up the track ‘Masâr’, a gently pulsing performance that illuminates the iridescent delicacy of the stringed oud. Daramad count in the proceedings with the track ‘Tigris Eye’. The band’s line-up features a mix of Persian and Australian musicians allowing them to create a delicate musical dialogue that discusses the confluence of traditional Eastern music and improvised jazz.
Omar Faruk Tekbilek was born of Turkish and Egyptian parents and currently resides in America. ‘Dark Eyes’ is inspired by Sufi devotional music and ambient electronica. Maurice El Médioni stirs a potent punch with Cuban percussionist Roberto Rodriguez on the closing track ‘Ana Ouna’. The piano part ripples around Arabic melodic patterns, turning and twisting in small oscillations, while a countering trumpet hammers home the Cuban big band aesthetic.
Includes Bonus Album 'Chemsi' by Hijaz