Saturday, November 3, 2012

Music video round-up for 1st wk of Nov--Musical Prescriptions

Some day in the near or distant future, we will visit music doctors who prescribe a particular music or composer for whatever ails us.  I don't know about you, but I don't feel like waiting.  So here are music prescriptions for basic dis-ease situations we all face.  As usual, I will include 5 music videos here.  Listen to at your own discretion and see a doctor when faced with a serious health concern.

1. Stress Relief:

Claude Debussy, "Prelude to the Afternoon of the Faun" The descending passages will help you relax deeply and the ascending lines will uplift your mood.

Drink a cup of chamomile or passion flower tea and also drink in this gorgeous music

2. Repressed Anger/Powerlessness/Helplessness:

Beethoven's entire Fifth Symphony--this symphony starts out with fate knocking on the door and the release of repressed anger.  The last movement ends in triumph or victory.

3. Boost Immunity:

Third movement of Italian Impressionist Ottorino Respighi's The Fountains of Rome.  Dr. Masaru Emoto recommends this movement for boosting immunity.  So do I.

4. Release of Excess Energy: Belly dancing or Arabic Drums (substitute west African drums).  The point is to actually dance to the drums for 10 to 20 minutes.

5. Mood-Lifter: The Beatles' Here Comes the Sun or Stevie Wonder's You are My Sunshine

If these tunes don't lift your mood, then something heavier is going on such as grief, serious depression etc...See a health practitioner in this case or for the grief, join a support group.  Definitely keep music as part of your healing tool kit.

Stevie Wonder:

The Beatles:

Monday, October 29, 2012

In review--Atlantic Crossing

Antonio Zambujo
World Village

The waves of the Atlantic ocean, lost loves, and family nostalgia color the poetry of Portuguese fadisto Antonio Zambujo’s second World Village release, Quinto.  Certainly, you can hear the trembling, aching fado voice here, but you can also hear strains of Brazilian bossa nova.  I watched a few of Zambujo’s live performances on YouTube where the artist collaborated with a Bulgarian women’s choir, a duet with Raquel Tavares and a performance with a Portuguese traditional men’s choir, Rancho de cantadores da Aldeia de S. Bento (who also appear on What has become of her? on Quinto).

Clarinet, Portuguese guitar, ukulele (which finds its origins in Portugal), classical guitar and double bass accompany Zambujo’s sexy vocals.  Flagrante sounds like it came out of Brazil’s Bahia region with its lilting rhythms and spritely melody.  José Miguel Conde’s clarinet takes a Brazilian flavor too and only the shimmering Portuguese guitar and ukulele (cavaquinho) remind us of the song’s Portuguese origins.  A Day is worth no more sounds like an American jazz standard or even an Elvis Presley ballad sung in Portuguese.  However, if you hunger for fado, then listen to The Edge of Night, which recalls old school fado, and the two opening tracks, Disconcerto Fado and The Abandoned House.

I’m happy to include this new fado voice in my small collection of fado CDs.  Although I have heard fado sung by men previously, this marks my first review of a fadisto (fado singer).  This could easily become a habit, especially, if the men possess the velvety elegance of Antonio Zambujo.  He’s not just a fado singer, but a musician with world music in his hands.  And with his versatility and willingness to explore global music traditions, listeners expand their musical worldview too.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

In review--Happy birthday, Le Vent du Nord

Le Vent du Nord
Tromper Le Temps
Borealis Records

Hailing from Quebec, Le Vent du Nord also performed at the Vancouver Folk Music Festival in 2003, as part of a celebration of traditional Quebecois music.  I interviewed the quartet, who at the time had a different line-up than the band has today.  Six albums and ten years later, Le Vent du Nord (the north wind) still rallies on, fired by founding members Nicolas Boulerice (hurdy-gurdy, piano, voice), Olivier Demers (violin/fiddle, feet, mandolin, electric guitar, voice), and Simon Beaudry (guitar, voice, bouzouki) and Réjean Brunet (accordion, bass, piano, jaw harp and voice).  Even when these musicians sing sober lyrics, you still feel like you have been invited to a soirée.

Take a listen to the rousing opener Lettre À Durham, in which the singers address the 19th century English diplomat who inspired the Union Act bringing Lower and Upper Canada together, despite the Quebecois wishes.  However, tongue and cheek tunes such as La Soirée Du Hockey, and Le Winnebago appear long side historic love songs, Toujours Amants and Adieu Marie (which sounds like a Cajun waltz).  Similar to the Native American (Navajo-Ute) musician R. Carlos Nakai, Le Vent du Nord has also given traditional music a facelift, while keeping the roots intact.  Le Vent even brings in Celtic influences with a jaw harp.  Take a listen to the jig Le Rêve D’Adrien.

Happy anniversary Le Vent du Nord and here’s to the next decade.

Here's my 2003 article on Traditional Quebecois Music, originally published on Cranky Crow Whole Music.

In review--Welcome to Island Manx

Harry Manx
Isle of Manx
The Desert Island Collection
Dog My Cat Records/World Village

I had the pleasure of meeting Harry Manx at the Vancouver Folk Music Festival in 2003.  And Manx introduced me to the music of Pandit Mohan Vishwa Bhatt (inventor of Indian slide-guitar), while also reacquainting me with American blues.  Manx created his own sound that combines the spiritual sounds of India with earthy blues.  But more than that, Manx is a born-storyteller, traveler, and a Canadian bluesman.  I allowed too many years to pass by, before revisiting Manx’s songs and then Isle of Manx (a best of album) arrived in my post office box.

My favorites, Coat of Mail, Don’t Forget to Miss Me, Bring that Thing, and Lay Down My Worries appear here, along side songs I’m hearing for the first time.  Indian slide guitar, warm acoustic guitar, and American slide guitar frame Manx’s folk-blues vocals.  Sadly, musician credits don’t appear in the liner notes so the men’s gospel singers that appear on A Single Spark and The Great Unknown or the fiery woman vocalist that lends her vocals to Make Way for the Living, remain a mystery.

Isle of Manx hit the spot last night as rain pelted the window and I felt cozy tucked away in my warm apartment.  Manx provides us with mood music and there’s something here to satisfy every mood from self-empowering (I’m Sitting on Top of the World), to regret (Coat of Mail), to meditative (True to Yourself), romance (Don't Forget to Miss Me) and to relationship quirks (Bring that Thing). If Bob Dylan had traveled to India and studied with a musical master, he’d probably sound a lot like Harry Manx.  But as it is, Manx’s unique songs should please just about anyone stuck in traffic of life or stranded on a desert island of their dreams.