Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan; World Music


Pakistan’s top classical singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, who mixed traditional mystic music with modern fast beats, died Saturday in a London hospital, a close British friend said.

Iftikhar Quaisar said Khan, 49, died of cardiac arrest after being admitted to a hospital a few days earlier suffering from hepatitis.

Pakistan’s official APP news agency said the singer was taken to the hospital after he suffered “complication of renal failure due to diabetes.” He had left Pakistan for the United States last week for a kidney transplant but stopped over for a few days in London, where his condition deteriorated, APP reported.

The scion of a family known for its attachment to classical music, Khan popularized the region’s traditional mystic Qawwali form of music and semi-classical Pakistani music in the West by mixing it with popular modern fast beats.

He composed music for several foreign films, including Hollywood’s “Last Temptation of Christ” and India’s controversial Hindi film “Bandit Queen.”

Though Khan has long been cited as an inspiration by such Western pop-rock stars as U2, Sting and Peter Gabriel, the singer’s visibility in

Justin Bieber debuts ‘All Around the World’ music video


Justin Bieber has released his latest music video, “All Around the World,” and is giving fans and critics a glimpse of his life during his “Believe” tour.

The video plays out as a mash-up of footage from the 19-year-old’s world tour and his performances of the song at various venues. It also shows the tour from his point of view. So it’s fitting and fairly clever that his team approached the song in this manner.

The YouTube sensation-turned-global pop star teased to the video on Twitter Thursday and finally made the big reveal on Friday.

“Blessed and grateful to do what i do #AllAroundTheWorld. Thanks,” he wrote, linking off to the video.

The video also illustrates breathtaking vistas from the places he’s visited and documents a what’s where of national monuments including Big Ben (er, Elizabeth Tower), the Eiffel Tower, the Sydney Opera House, Taj Mahal, pyramids of Giza, the Coliseum and Christ the Redeemer statue in Brazil. Just to name a few. Ludacris, who was featured on Bieber’s breakout hit “Baby” joins Bieber in the video during the rap portion of the track.

When The Street Pianos Gets Its Click

Every now and then, there comes a point in everyone’ life when motivational words or inspiring story could not work. Not for permanently or forever, it could be just for that moment, when the power of those good words and stories are forgotten. Thus, all that we need is just something that could make us remember it. Inspiring stories never lose their power and motivational words are kind and timeless, it only takes a right rhythm to get to them again. And, sometimes, we do not find things when we intentionally seek for them. When we choose to move and strive on, we could really find good things unintentionally, and at that time they will be such a blessing.

More often than not, good music works that way. We would love it when we heard the music we did not expect coming. Compared to music we intentionally play, spontaneous music is more entertaining. We are all love good surprise, and when it has something than mere a beauty in skin deep, there is a value in it. That is why street pianos are there. It is when people just do their ordinary daily walk, living

Jazz, world music find a place at new hall

Determined to diversify programming at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Los Angeles Philharmonic introduced jazz and world music series at Thursday’s announcement of the inaugural season in the house that Frank Gehry built.

The schedule, the first under the stewardship of singer Dianne Reeves, consists of four concerts: Keith Jarrett, Gary Peacock and Jack DeJohnette (Nov. 12, 2003); Reeves with George Duke, the L.A. Philharmonic and special guests (Jan. 24, 2004); Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra (March 15, 2004); and the Herbie Hancock Quartet with the L.A. Philharmonic, performing a Gershwin program (May 1, 2004).

Reeves describes the schedule as intending to “pay homage to many of the great architects of jazz, some of the great jazz artists today, as well as a few voices of the future.”

Very few “voices of the future,” as it turns out, and literally no surprises — other than, perhaps, the scheduling of a concert by Reeves, rather than, say, such a higher-visibility vocal attraction as Cassandra Wilson.

Will the Disney Hall scheduling of artists such as Jarrett and Hancock — staples of the UCLA Performing Arts schedules — trigger any sort of booking

Gipsy Kings Still the Crown Princes of World Music

How many guitar players does it take to get a Hollywood Bowl crowd to their feet? Seven, if they’re the Gipsy Kings. And on Saturday night the body-moving rhythms of the veteran ensemble would have filled the aisles with dancers if the fire marshals hadn’t intervened.

Nothing new about that, of course. Since the release of their self-titled debut U.S. album on Elektra in the late ’80s, the Gipsy Kings have been a dominant force in the world music market, purveying their rumba flamenca, a style rich with guitars, flamenco-tinged vocals (by Nicolas Reyes) and surging rhythms.

Saturday was no exception. Backed by a rhythm section consisting of drums, bass, keyboards and two percussionists, the group cruised through a set of Gipsy King hits, tossing in an occasional unfamiliar item, and featuring Reyes in a rendering of “My Way” that took the song back to its French origin.

Despite the overflow crowd’s clamoring response to the full ensemble’s driving rhythms, some of the more appealing moments of the performance took place during an essentially unplugged set at the start of the program’s second half.

Working without their heavily amplified rhythm back-up, the Kings–who are

A Look at World Music, Don Cherry Style

The third segment of the seven-part “Birdland” series, airing at 7 and midnight tonight on the Bravo cable channel, concentrates on Don Cherry, an eclectic and controversial figure who came to prominence 30 years ago in the original Ornette Coleman Quartet.

In recent years, Cherry has drawn on a broad variety of sources that reflect his extensive travels, his interest in world music rather than jazz per se, and his taste for exotic instruments and unconventional sounds.

In the course of the program he moves unpredictably through many functions: He sings, hums, chants, claps, plays a bamboo flute, a melodica, a Malian hunter’s guitar known as the doussn’ gouni, and occasionally returns to his original vehicle, a pocket cornet. It is on this horn that his technical deficiencies are most evident: Lacking the range, facility and technique required for cornet improvisation, he rarely achieves any sense of melodic continuity or creativity.

He is, nonetheless, a fascinating figure with a ready smile and the ability to draw his sidemen into diverse areas. The group, known as Multikulti, includes Peter Apfelbaum on piano, synthesizer and tenor saxophone; Hamid Drake on drums; and Bo Freeman on electric bass.

A world of music at Flights and Sounds Summer Festival in O.C.

Bluegrass legend Del McCoury has been touring for more than 40 years, but the 73-year-old still likes to shake it up when he performs. “I do an all-request show where the audience shouts out what they want to hear. The band doesn’t know what we are going to do, I don’t know what we are going to do. That’s what keeps it exciting,” he said, speaking from his home in Nashville.

With his distinctive high-ranged vocals, some nimble guitar picking and sons Ronnie and Rob on mandolin and banjo, the Del McCoury Band are returning favorites at this year’s Flights and Sounds Summer Festival, a world music feast that spans five themed weekends during the month of August at the Orange County Great Park in Irvine.

“He was one of our most popular performers last year. He has an extraordinary band and to see them play and harmonize really gets the crowd going,” said Douglas Rankin, president of Irvine Barclay Presents, which curates the festival. McCoury will be featured at the Made in America weekend on Aug. 23-25 that will showcase blues, swing and great guitar music.

Now in its fifth year, the free concert

World Music Movement Owes Much to Hovhaness

Alan Hovhaness, who died Wednesday in Seattle at age 89, lived a long life and wrote a lot of music, more than 500 pieces. He was, in fact, irrepressible. I once remember a conductor complaining that he had commissioned one new symphony from Hovhaness (who wrote some 70 of them), but Hovhaness had submitted two! A good deal–two for the price of one–you might think. But it meant learning twice as much new music, required the expense of extra rehearsal time and wreaked havoc with the orchestra’s programming. And there was, between the two symphonies, maybe one good one.

It is easy and common to dismiss Hovhaness as a music machine, a purveyor of pretty but slight pieces–which more often than not evoked a kind of sugary mysticism.

And that certainly has been the attitude of the Eastern establishment. For the liner note to Fritz Reiner’s Chicago Symphony recording of “Mysterious Mountain,” one of Hovhaness’ best known and most respected compositions, Chicago critic Robert C. Marsh wrote, condescendingly: “For me this is the mountain of the Blue Moon that soars above the Shangri-La of ‘Lost Horizon,’ the place where the world cannot intrude and beauty and

Where World Music Is the Star

Belly-dancer Aisha Ali vibrates her silver and silk-clad hips to the sharp, sensuous trill of Souhael Kaspar’s tar drum. Fellow musician Ali Jihad Racy tosses aside his oud, a Middle Eastern lute, to take up the beat with another drum.

The audience of 60 or so Tuesday night regulars claps Ali and company on to a rousing, swirling, shimmering finale.

The scene is International Bandstand–not a nightclub, but a 7-to-10 p.m. UCLA Extension course taught by local world-music guru Tom Schnabel, who has hosted “Cafe L.A.” on public radio station KCRW since 1992. Schnabel has been a musical fixture in Los Angeles since 1979, when he instituted KCRW’s “Morning Becomes Eclectic,” which he hosted until 1990.

The nine-week class, offered once a year, takes on a different region of the globe each week, and Schnabel regularly supplements his witty, personal lectures with live performances by dancers and musicians. Here are nine parties for which you don’t need to find a date.

“Tom Schnabel has been my most important influence musically,” says student Clive Baillie, who works in advertising and pursues music as a passionate hobby. “But this has turned out to be a very

Trio Unearths the Nature of World Music

There was a remarkable moment Sunday night during a concert by Paul Winter, Oscar Castro-Neves and Arto Tuncboyaciyan at the Skirball Cultural Center.

Winter, whose singular musical journey has taken him through performances employing sounds from the world of nature, played a work titled “Wolf Eyes,” in which his soprano saxophone was blended with the recorded sound of wolf calls. At the close of the piece, he asked the audience to join in a collective response via their own howls and cries (described by Winter as a “Howl-e-lujah Chorus”).

After a bit of initial embarrassment and giggles, the mood shifted and, as the lights were gradually dimmed, the sounds blended into a torrent of collective expression–perhaps, in its own way, similar to what takes place in the communal soundings of the wolf pack.

At that instant, one could sense something that seemed directly in touch with the primal urge for music. Something like the manner in which the human species found ways to organize sound–for its expressiveness, its communication and its sheer magic–by emulating the aural eloquence of creatures that had already achieved similar goals.

Given the range of music present in the concert–from

World Music’s Evora Offers Soulful Repertoire

It’s probably not too far off to describe Cesaria Evora’s concert at Veterans Wadsworth Theater on Friday as a triumphant return. When the Cape Verdean singer appeared a LunaPark a year ago, she was barely known in this country, even though she had already become a major star in Europe.

In the interim, the woman known as the Barefoot Diva has become highly visible to American fans of world music. And she and the plaintive songs–mornas–that are the foundation of her repertoire were greeted by a cheering Wadsworth crowd (and a ticket demand so strong that another date at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre was added the following night).

Evora’s presentation was a model of austerity. Backed by five musicians playing guitars, bass, violin, cavaquinho (a small guitar) and piano, she simply strolled on stage, picked up a hand microphone and began to sing.


There were a few numbers that have been heard widely on world music radio–“Sodade” “Petit Pays” and “Miss Perfumado”–but most were unfamiliar. Yet, without offering more than a word or two in English, Evora managed to communicate in a fashion that had the audience hanging on every phrase.

Hollywood Bowl announces 2013 season, anticipating summer’s glow

For many native Angelenos like Gail Samuel, summertime concerts at the Hollywood Bowl are a Southern California ritual as eagerly anticipated as the opening-day bite of a Dodger Dog.

This year Samuel will be taking her lifelong Bowl-going habit to a new level in her recently appointed role as chief operating officer of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, which spends its summers at the Bowl. Her programming prescription for the venue, Samuel said, will hew closely to the Bowl’s decades-old philosophy.

“I think that at the Bowl we want to have something for everyone,” she said. “We want to reach as wide of an audience as possible.”

It’s an archetypal Bowl lineup of classical concerts led by A-list conductors and soloists on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, including two concerts conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas.

Los Angeles Philharmonic Music Director Gustavo Dudamel will conduct an all-Verdi week that includes an operatic turn with “Aida,” on Aug. 11, with soprano Liudmyla Monastyrska singing the title role.

Other highlights include a fully staged musical (“Chicago,” July 26-28); jazz and world music offerings, including a Sept. 11 Nat King Cole tribute hosted by George Benson and Dianne Reeves,

David Bowie: His glam still rocks

As the high-profile worlds of fashion and music collide at the Grammy Awards on Sunday night, one need only consider David Bowie to see why the two will be forever intertwined.

Five decades after he introduced the first of his myriad manifestations, Bowie and his stylistic influences still reverberate from Hollywood red carpets to glossy magazine covers to the runway shows going on now at New York Fashion Week.

And, if the first month and a half of 2013 is any indication, there’s every reason to believe that the Thin White Duke will cast a long shadow across popular culture this year.

Part of it will be due to the natural halo effect of his first new album in a decade, “The Next Day,” due out in March and announced with the stealth release of the single “Where Are We Now?” on Jan. 8, the musician’s 66th birthday.

But it’s more than that. A half-century in, the androgynous look he pioneered so perfectly is once again a major fashion influence, with gender-bending models like Lea T and Andrej Pejic inspiring high-end designers like Riccardo Tisci and Jean Paul Gaultier, and a boy-meets-girl tomboy chic

A Lebanon crooner’s journey from heartthrob to militant fugitive

BEIRUT — With his pouty lips and soulful eyes, he was a stylish figure known as the King of Romance, a crooner of amorous ballads often seen cavorting with would-be starlets in MTV-style videos filmed on yachts, in upscale cafes and in swank homes.

But Fadel Shaker’s latest video — without a note uttered — may become his swan song, portraying the balladeer in a new and disturbing incarnation: hunkered down defiantly with a militant sheik and his armed followers, holding out against Lebanese soldiers he derided as dogs and pigs.

The extraordinary transformation of Shaker — who once rode atop the Arab world’s charts as a kind of Lebanese Harry Connick Jr. — is surely one of the strangest examples of how the Syrian civil war has spilled over into Lebanon, deeply dividing Syria’s small neighbor.

Shaker, 44, is a fugitive wanted by Lebanese authorities in connection with the deaths of 18 soldiers in a shootout in June with well-armed supporters of the militant sheik, Ahmad Assir, at his heavily guarded compound outside the southern city of Sidon. Authorities say the onetime heartthrob was alongside Assir during the assault and that the two men

A World Music Top 10 Sampler

We asked Tom Schnabel, host of “Cafe LA” on KCRW-FM (88.9), to create a guide for the novice looking to sample and explore the world music landscape. Here are Schnabel’s top 10:

  1. Caetano Veloso, “Livro” (Nonesuch)

This is one of the most elegant albums I know of, combining European chamberistic finesse, a la Ravel and Debussy, with subtle but insistent African rhythms, all anchored by Brazilian Caetano’s ultra-suave voice.

  1. Olatunji, “Drums of Passion” (Columbia Legacy)

A landmark in world music, it is one of the first African CDs to be studio-recorded (it came out in the mid-’60s). Today this classic of Nigerian percussion is as fresh and powerful a drum orgy as the day it was issued, and some may remember it from Carlos Santana’s cover of one of its songs (“Jin-go-lo-ba”). This classic inspired John Coltrane (who studied with Nigerian percussionist Babatunde Olatunji and wrote the song “Tunji” in his honor), Dizzy Gillespie, Mickey Hart and many others.

  1. Peter Gabriel, “Passion” (Real World)

This album was the soundtrack to the Martin Scorcese film “The Last Temptation of Christ.” The project was produced by Peter Gabriel, and the amazing sounds

Share your Walt Disney Concert Hall memories and photos

Walt Disney Concert Hall’s 10th-anniversary season is fast approaching.

The hall’s resident orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, begins a season of celebrating with four free community concerts later this month and a red-carpet gala on Sept. 30. The commemorations continue all season, highlighted on Oct. 23 — the actual anniversary of Disney’s opening night — with the world premiere of Frank Zappa’s “200 Motels.”

For music lovers, Disney Hall is a place to hear the L.A. Phil, led by Gustavo Dudamel, Esa-Pekka Salonen or one of countless guest conductors. Or they come to listen to the Los Angeles Master Chorale, jazz, world music, organ playing, solo recitals and, on occasion, rock.

For architecture lovers, Frank Gehry’s stainless steel building is a sight to behold, with twists and turns awaiting every perspective.

For others, the hall is a treasured civic landmark, something to gawk at or show off to visitors.

What are your memories of Disney Hall? What concerts do you remember? What does the hall say to you?

Robert Plant captures Mali trek in ‘Zirka’ documentary

The thought of home movies of a trip abroad can elicit groans, unless they happen to be taken by somebody like Robert Plant.

Using footage from a 2003 trip to Mali to take part in the Festival of the Desert, Plant  assembled an eight-episode documentary called “Zirka,” which boasts a soundtrack that features Ali Farka Touré, Tinariwen and many others.

Plant’s images — yes, he did the bulk of the filming himself — capture the people and landscape of the African nation during a trip he describes in a statement as “a journey of revelation … one of the most illuminating and humbling experiences of my life.” A new episode premieres each week on Plant’s official YouTube channel.

The Led Zeppelin singer has long incorporated disparate elements of world music into his own, from those of central Europe and Africa to strains out of the rural Southern regions of the U.S. Many of those elements surfaced during Plant’s recent world tour with his latest band, the Sensational Space Shifters, which played Los Angeles last spring.

Fool’s Gold is the real thing in world music

In April, Fool’s Gold, the Afropop-influenced outfit led by singer/bassist Luke Top and guitarist Lewis Pesacov, played a monthlong residency at the Echo that burns bright in their memories.

“Those were our best shows ever,” Top said on the phone from Eugene, Ore., a stop on the band’s current North American tour with fellow buzz act Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. “We got to design our own bills, our own lighting and DJs. Every week we packed it with our people. It was an amazing awesome dance party.”

The residency also spurred Fool’s Gold into action. The Echo-Park based group, which can swell to include as many as 15 players in concert, acquired a manager in Troubadour booking head Brian Smith and decided to record their long-gestating, self-titled debut album, which was released in September.

Comprising eight warm and sprawling songs, the collection amalgamates Ethiopian folk, Ghanaian Highlife, the Malian desert rock of Tinariwen, roller-skate rink R&B and the early ’80s punch of Adam Ant and Duran Duran. Anchoring the brew is Pesacov’s squiggly lead guitar lines and Israel native Top’s melismatic vocals, nearly all in Hebrew.

Singing in a foreign language,” Top

Critic’s Pick: Kronos and Arditti String Quartets

When the chamber music revival of the 1960s and early 1970s — a kind of classical music response to the folk music revival a few years earlier — had passed its peak, the string quartet as a medium was still strong. But the progressive musical world had moved on to electronics, the new Minimalism and radical experimentalism. The string quartet stood for stuffy, old-fashioned efforts.

No one could have imagined that two ensembles could change all that, renewing the repertory with well over a 1000 new pieces over the past four decades. By a special coincidence, UCLA’s Center for Performance Art will be celebrating the Kronos Quartet’s 40th anniversary at Royce Hall Friday and Saturday nights. Two days later the Monday Evening Concerts will celebrate the Arditti Quartet’s 40th anniversary at Zipper Concert Hall in the Colburn School.

For a short while the Kronos, a quintessentially West Coast ensemble, and the quintessentially British Arditti might have seemed competitors. They both began by concentrating on Modernist 20th—century repertory, such as the quartet music of Berg and Schoenberg, Elliott Carter and John Cage.

But very soon the Brits went the way of high European Modernism and experimentalism