Andy Akiho
The Bulgarian Voices Angelite with Huun-Huur-Tu & Moscow Art Trio
John Sund
Julian Julien
Larry Porter
Mike Hovancek
Turlu Tursu
Nana Vasconcelos
Orchestra Of Spheres (link)

Jaro Medien The Bulgarian Voices Angelite with Huun-Huur-Tu & Moscow Art Trio : 
Legend (BG/RU,2010)****°

What a super group of world music ! Bulgarian voices are renowned and unique for its vocal harmony approach for which the best talents of the country are assembled during national folk contests ; this is part of a tradition. Suitable are especially colourful vocal characters that add a unique voice with its own personality to the group’s singing. Bulgarian voices participated before with other musical styles now and then. In Belgium for instance we had the “Flamma Flamma” project of Nicolas Lens combining professional personalities as classical singers with some Bulgarian voices impressively. Angelite is featured here in a small setting of voices. Huun-Huur-Tu is a traditional folk group from Tuva (now Russia), like all Tuvan groups known also for its specific and very special use of overtones, usually sing traditional songs accompanied by mostly traditional string instruments. The Moscow Art Trio are a jazz group.

Angelite already cooperated with Huun-Huur-Tu before, on “Fly, Fly My Sadness” (1995), and on “Mountain Tale” (1998). This is a double live CD from a concert in Belgrade. For such performers with a vision on performing with an awareness of deep sound harmony, and some ability to improvise they join forces with no hesitation anywhere. Sometimes Huun-Huur-Tu leads backed by Angelite or the other way around, both as separate entities that attach strongly with joined force to its common music sense. We can sense the sheppard’s visions. A few time the jazz trio leads . Surprising were some of the vocal arrangements with less power contrasts than I am used to hearing from Bulgarian voices, but with a tempered and a more contemporary but playful vision, overlapping their voices or with Gregorian-sort of harmonies creating a new sort of music. On the last track of the concert suddenly a jazz theme and a piano solo takes the listener completely out of the hall and communal setting to a rather long and speeding up, rather nervous solo vision to conclude with, only to make the three different groups return with a “bis” track separately, in which Angelite showed another humorous new vision on choir arrangements. A successful cooperation, a recommended recording.

Video :
Angelite & Huun-Huur-Tu audio :
Info Huun-Hur-Tu : 
& homepage : & &
Angelite : &
First CD :  &
Label info release : & audio :

Flowfish Rec. Larry Porter : Silk Road Blues (US,2010)****'

To some degree this album has something of a lost jazzfusion album from the 60s or so, being respectful to jazz and using different instruments and different musical ideas to it with world fusion references. What is unusual in its nature is that one of its main instruments to make such jazz fusion possible is the Afghan rebab, not really an instrument which you expect too easily for jazz fusion. The rebab is a short-necked lute with 18 strings. It is very more or less associated with Afgan folk music. In 1976, (-from the time before the Taliban-dingdongs forbade with violence and force music and equal rights for women amongst other things-), Larry Porter had studied with Ustad Mohammad Omar in Kabul. Larry Porter is also known as a jazz pianist, and he has an attractive transprarent improvisational jazz style. He has released jazz and fusions albums before with fusions with Afgan and Indian music, often with either jazz or some folk element dominating. On this album he focused mainly on the fusion itself between Afgan music, and playing on the rebab, and American jazz. But of course also Indian raga has been used. I loved especially the adaptation of the raga element, taken over in the theme, after a jazz swing intro by the piano on “Todi in the groove". And there is also use of Indian tabla. Sometimes the rabab leads the tunes, in duet with the piano or with improvisation by the piano, in jazz style, or rebab style, or occasionally the theme is divided between the piano, rebab, sax and double bass, leaving space for a few lightly swinging solos. The music often is formed from melodic themes, a few times leaves a bit more free improvisation. A rewarding album to remembered. Should also be released on LP some day.

Larry Porter on rebab, piano, tamboura ; Scott White on bass (1,3,4,5,6,8,9,10,11), Heinrich Köbberling on drums (1,4,6,9,10,11), Solayman Alizo on tabla (3,5,8), David Beecroft on soprano & tenor sax (3,4,6,11), Stefan Jezierski on french horn (6), Barbara Sadowski on violin (6), Ori Kam on viola (6), Elena Drath on flute (8).

The band will tour in Germany and Europe in the fall of 2010 under the name ‘Silk Road Blues Project’ with Bene Jahnel on piano, Scott White on bass, Ulli Bartel on violin and mandolin and Yatziv Caspi on tabla and percussion.

The CD will be distributed by Groove distributions in the US and by Broken Silence in Europe.

Info & audio :
Info with audio :
Label info :

I have reviewed the 'Purvi Parikh, Girish Sanzgiri & Larry Porter Trio' on
Home Rec. Turlu Tursu : The All Weathers Country (B/TU/SK,2011)****

This is the trio's third release already and as far as I know it has the most independent and grooviest sound of the band to date. It is a strong quality that none of the used inspirations from any traditions are too clearly separated so that all these elements find a new form in the band's sometimes more jazzy, sometimes folkier improvisations, showing elements of waltzing, world-rock and even funk. The rhythmic section is fast, subtle and complex, feeling entirely one with what is happening while the accordion leads more often, with groovy changes by the bass. The Bansuri flute is also used as a jazz instrument mostly. The music is dynamic, spontaneous and ever changing. The instrumentals are very melodic like song ideas. Still it is the groove in them is what makes them vivid.

Info & audio : ; Band info :
Homepage :
Cristal Rec.   Julian Julien : Strange (F,2006)**°

This album of Julian Julien is a mixture of something more ambitious : mixing chamber music arrangements with world music elements, especially successful on the first track thanks to the contributions of several guests and secondly and also a bit secondary, simplified arrangements based upon rhythmical ideas with some colourful arrangement ideas but basically in content not expressing much more than a relaxing and entertaining Goa Trance condition with a lounge trance setting. This last part is not taking us very far inspirationally. There's use of world music samples, more keyboards and less contributions. The tabla player is from the group Massala Spirit, the percussionist from the group Iroko and the sitar player from the group Mukta. 

(Julian Julien's later band Fractal sounds a bit more improvised melodic music with more inner jazz). 

Audio : "Leh", "What's democratie", "Cosmos" & on
Info :
Label info :
German/English review :
French review :

Innova Rec.   Andy Akiho : No one to know (US/JAP,2011)****

Andy Akikho makes contemporary music with the steelpan as his main instrument, not afraid to change its sound occasionally just like a prepared instrument, with the addition of magnets cutting off the frequencies and range of the pitch, or by attaching rubber bands for snapping pizzicatos (in the Bartok sense) or just to change the timbre. 

On each track a different set of colours of sounds are part of the plan. Often his approach hangs between the playing with strong accents, melody and power in a jazz sensibility, with baroque associations in melody and arrangements, mixed with a feeling for a song-like approach, even though these are all instrumentals except one track where the song approach is present, I still prefer it to find its other ways with surprise. 

On the second track some strange minimalist ideas are incorporated too, like repetitions, even as much as like a skipping CD. Andy Akiko said a certain colour of sound reminded him of the skipping. 

Other places the vibraphones take some more exotic swings (gamelan-like or with Caribbean sun) without being placed really outside a contemporary classical feel. The harmonies and orchestrations are with harp, string and some wind instruments and piano, drums and here and there some electric bass add more rhythmic accents, something changing within one rhythm with lots of strange prepared surprises in the detail. Instead of steelpan some chamber instruments can lead some themes at times as well. 

Two pieces or so sound a bit more contemporary classical. An album with a whole variety of idea which overcomes the academic side by its strong and accessible melodic swings and all these surprising changes but which has those academic ideas as well.

Audio on
Other compositions audio on
Homepage :
Label info : ; Info on pdf

Infinite Number of sounds  Mike Hovancsek : Turbulent Calm (US/..,rec.2010, 2011)***'

This is the second release of Mike Hovancsek I have heard. It shows the simple enjoyment of improvisation on somewhat more exotic-sounding instruments in combinations that aren’t heard before so easily, like the zither/koto-like instruments, like the kayagum, then also Indian tabla or frame drum, native American flute, and violin and Indian singing and bells. Mostly the improvisations are slightly melodic with some spontaneous harmonies and a bit of progression, the result is safe and simple like warm ups into a combined new world music mood. The last track has a trumpet improvisation. One short improvisation is more free.

It features guest appearances by Joe Culley (tabla, ragini), Hee-sun Kim (kayagum), Samuel Salsbury (violin), Jim Cole (harmonic singing), River Guerguerian (frame drum), Margot Milcetich (vocals), and John Kuegeler (trumpet).

Audio: "Fugaku Hyakkei","Vespers","Septology"
Homepage :
Label info :
& (with audio):

Previous release on
Exlibris  John Sund : The Open Road -a travelogue in four parts-(DK/GH/N/IND,2011)****

This new album by John Sund gives the impression of the journey of a few years work and with this there have been some changes of evolutions. The band starts very much in a warm outside milieu of some African country, playing close to the easy and warm atmosphere and very close to that African sound that breezes from it. But there’s a Jazz Fusion band involved which shows its abilities upon returning. The second half is going closer towards that fusion style, after having been infused with life experiences. Then it shows the Indian musicians participation and influence with a few moods hanging slower there and with one funky groove to conclude with.

This was what I experienced before having looked at the titles and concept idea. There really was a distinction present in four parts, an African, a European, a Balkan Islands and an Indian part, and a musical story of influences going from one dominant area to the next without predestined results.

The African part is driven by guitars, lots of percussion and real African participants singing and some incorporated environmental sounds. “Oasis” is led by kora, with additional percussion and acoustic guitar. On the last part the main acoustic guitar piece and group singing returns, the full group adds body. On this first part we had John Sund (on “trash”guitar, for the main lead theme, electric guitar, bass, keyboards, drum programming, saples of natural sounds), Ayi Solomon (percussion, vocals, narrative voice), Dawda Jobareth (kora), Akinyi Nyawade (vocals), Moussa Diallo (bass) and Nano Osibio (bass) participating.
On the chamber-like “A Northern Song” we hear a very nice jazz skatting and improvised singing with sax harmonies (all by the Nordic Sissel Vera Pettersen) and acoustic guitars and some additional subtle arrangements with John Sund on electric and 12-string guitars, pads and percussion programming, John Ehde on cello, Morton Lundsby on contrabass and Andreas Markus on contrabass. It also has a small separate section with arpeggio-ing electric guitar outro with textures.
The next section starts with a chamber-music like intro. It turns quickly into a Zappaesque Rock/ In Opposition-like folk-chamber composition with very fast accordion, brass arrangements and some electric guitar improvisations. It grooves and increases with a wild but very controlled and tempering energy during the composition with improvisational energy.
This section has John Sund on electric guitar, darbuka and drumming, Lelo Nika on accordion, Andrzej Krejniuk on electric bass, Zolan Csorsz on drums, Rasmer Kroyer on clarinet and bass clarinet, Kasper Wagner on alto sax and Hans Nybo on tenor and barition sax.
The last section, “Sandy’s Journey” has several atmospheric parts, which totally loses itself in time, with use of environmental recordings and absorbing energies of instrumentation in the background. It works through these spheres towards a jew’s harp swing with Indian rhythmic vocals and rather funky accompaniment, which after a few dreamier deeper slumber moments comes to return with this energy and groove. Here we have John Sund on acoustic guitars, bass, pads and drumloop programming, keyboards, “real sounds” and natural sound effects, Sandipan “Sandy” Chatterje on jew’s harp, tabla, bansuri, narrative voice and vocals, Palden Sherpa on lead vocals, Simon Andersen on slide guitar, Andrzej Krejniuk on electric bass and Zoltan Csorsz on drums.

Audio :
Homepage :
Label enty :

Sissel Vera Pettersen :

Previous John Sund release reviewed on
Two releases with Acoustic Sense reviewed on
With Special Venture on
With World On A String on

Far Out Rec.  Nana Vasconcelos : 4 Elementos (BRAZ,rec.2012,pub.2013)****

It’s good to hear from Nana Vasconcelos after all these years. I especially remember him from the unforgettable fusion trio who made the Codone Trilogy on ECM (1978, 1981, 1983, reissued as a box in 2008) with Don Cherry (trumpet,..), Nana Vasconcelos (percussion, bermibau,..) and Collin Walcott (sitar,..). When I saw the introduction video for this new release, where I saw him accompany a few youngsters modestly on berimbau at a local African dance School, I immediately felt a huge sympathy.

I have the impression that this new album is about making us aware of the musical Elements which we experience at the moments when we allow ourselves to be confronted with what we hear and then start to play with it in all its colours and shapes. I guess that there is no deliberate extra rational structure based upon the Elements in this album, while a few themes still return, like the leading track does. The first track of a few seconds is a kind of minimal sound percussion of grabble from a sandsack (?) (later on its mention a sack of chips) and a silent whistle between the teeth, a small track that also proves how less can be more, and that an ear towards things is the basics of all expressions.
“Vinheta-Fogo” shows another reference to the Elements, thanks to a bowl or calabas-in-water percussion with its differently rounded deep tones. This by water influenced percussion is combined with picked violin and some chamber music arrangement. This track with water reminded me of another, unforgettable Brazil track, from Hermeto Pascoal in “Música da Lagoa”, where this master plays flute in and with the water brilliantly, a unique moment in the midst of the Brazilian forests that has been used for a film. 

“Legua Tiranna” is a medieval sounding song accompanied by hand percussion, a violin solo and cello harmonies, deep hand percussion and a gong, with Nana doing the singing. The violin here sounds medieval music orientated, while the cello’s have a chamber-music setting, the arrangements also have an ‘African soul’ via the various singing contributions, its vocal sounds and percussion that we also hear in this track, which makes tohgether a brilliant combination.

Several other tracks play lightly with the singing and are playing with wordy sounds and combinations, with the same effect of bringing solmething of a hidden African soul in them to live, in a well arranged way, that almost has a contemporary music vision, but the with a lighter, warm, and lifelike effect. A bit of chamber-music arrangements add a serious touch to it, while they still keep the energy happy and warm.

A few other tracks recall the Brazil spheres of music with percussion, singing and trumpets, while also here the African elements finish its sound and purify it to a level of pure inspiration.

At first hearing I though the album was just light and its essence was related to keep all expressions to the minimal of what is needed, bringing everything to the most workable essence but that’s only just the surface. The arrangements are really carefully constructed. There’s even a bit of well picked sounds of keyboards here and there hidden in the background.

I consider this is a very good album that shows the best of atmospheres from Brazil and Africa with a touch of some other,-like European- elements combined with it, with a light and pleasurable end result.

Other review:


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