From the cultural and ethnic diversity, this month of February have emerged creations where the reality of migrations, the traditions of a continent and the ability to create over any barrier converge.
They are all actors, each in different scenarios, the guitarist Ignacio Lusardi Monteverde exploring ancient Andalusia and its influences, a new Afrika Mamas album produced by team members of Ladysmith Black Mambazo (great story), and the trio Jon Hemmersam, Asal Malekzadeh and Evelyn Glennie’s album Open Barrier.
“Del Canto Gitano – Music of Ancient Andalusia” is the debut album from award-winning guitarist and producer Ignacio Lusardi Monteverde.
Inspired by connections discovered on his travels to India and the Middle East, Ignacio has composed this album to share the unique and historical blend of influences that combine to make Andalusian music such a rich tapestry of sound.
Greek, Roman, Sephardic, Castilian, Indian and Arabic are some of the many cultures and traditions that form the body of Ignacio’s passion, infused as one to create a collection of songs that signify the mystical symbiosis of Ancient Andalusia.
The themes of travel and cultural influence are prominent in the journey through the songs.
Recorded mainly in India, the album is arranged for flamenco guitar with interplays of baroque guitar, Greek violin and original Iberian rhythmic interactions merged with vocals from Victoria Couper and tenor Rupesh Gawas.
On the other hand, there is Afrika Mamas, who return with their fifth release – “Ilanga (The Sun)” – co-produced by Xolani Majozi of Ladysmith Black Mambazo.
As its centrepiece, a deeply emotive cover of John Lennon’s peace anthem Imagine echoes the album’s overall themes of love and humanity.
Nomvula Dlamini’s powerful vocals lead an arrangement that is respectful to Lennon’s original, while adorned with a cappella choral singing. Adding a coda in their own arrangement, the Mamas call for unity at a time when the world appears stricken by division and tribalism.
The musical genre isicathamiya is a diverse combination of Zulu acapella singing, Christian choral singing and theatrical entertainment originated in the 20th century and most typically performed by men. The fact that the field is predominately male did not deter Afrika Mamas from forming a rare female isicathamiya group and, with their high energy and incredible vocal range, they have blossomed in this style.
The story of Ilanga began in 2019 when Afrika Mamas were given an IMbokodo award by the legendary group Ladysmith Black Mambazo.
The ladies were invited to Ladysmith’s academy to learn more about isichathamiya.
Ilanga was then created as part of a student project undertaken at the Academy, were there were only five groups of students – Afrika Mamas being the only female group. Some of the tracks are written by the sons of the late Joseph Shabalala – the founder of Ladysmith Black Mambazo – for example, the title trackIlanga by Sibongiseni Shabalala and Hlonipha and Tshelamina by Thulani Shabalala.
The ladies have been performing together for over twenty years. Their European tours have taken them to countries such as the UK, Germany, Poland, Belgium and The Netherlands, and they have participated in various projects to promote intercultural exchange with other parts of the world.
And there is a third creation, ““Open Barrier”, an improvisational álbum portraying the idea that there are no barricades in improvised music, only an ‘open barrier’ that allows for music from around the world to come together in any desired form or structure.
World-renowned guitarist Jon Hemmersam joins forces with international daf-player Asal Malekzadeh and virtuoso percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie, CH DBE. Together, they combine 7,000 years of Persian musical culture with ancient and new sounds from Scotland and Denmark.
As highly accomplished stand-alone improvisers, the inspiration for this album was to make an entirely impromptu recording that brings together music from various cultures and places of the world.
“No plans, no arrangements or agreements, just pure improvisation in the moment! – Jon Hemmersam.