Tag: Grammy Award


Founded in 2014 by Fez, Morocco-born, New York-based master musician Maâlem Hassan Ben Jaafer (sintir, vocals), the New York-based Grammy Award-nominated act Innov Gnawa, which currently features core members Casablanca, Morocco-born, New York-based Amino Belyamani (chorus, qraqeb, piano) and Salé, Morocco-born, New York-based Ahmed Jeriouda (chorus, qraqeb, cajon) and a cast of collaborators, specialize in Gnawa, the ritual trance music of Morocco.

Frequently refereed to as the Moroccan Blues or the Sufi blues, Gnawa is rooted in centuries of history with the musical genre and dance being traced to the mixing of rhythms and polytheistic spiritual beliefs of West Africa — primarily from what is now known as Mali and Mauritania — with Islam and Morocco’s indigenous culture. Lyrically, Gnawa songs are prayers and invocations to saints and spirits for liberation, peace and freedom from worldly suffering and so on. Geaturing unique instruments that are often handmade, including the lute-like sintir, he three-stringed African bass, the guembri, metal castanet-like qarqaba, which are used to pound out clattering and hypnotic rhythms, symbolically meant to represent the clinking and clanking of the slaves’ chains and shackles paired with call and response vocals, Gnawa possesses a hypnotic power that has won over audiences and musicians from all over the globe, including Jimi HendrixPaul Bowles and Randy Weston. And in the band’s native Morocco, the genre is revered as a treasured, indigenous soul music, much like the blues and country are to Americans. 

Produced by Daptone Records‘ founder and self-professed Gnawa enthusiast Gabriel Roth, the acclaimed Brooklyn-based act’s forthcoming album Lila is slated for an April 30, 2021 release through Daptone Records. Deriving its name for a Moroccan term for “night,” Lila is traditional ceremony in which the group dedicates an evening of cleansing and healing through music that was recorded in an epic five hour, one-take session. 

Earlier this year, I wrote about album single “Chorfa.” Clocking in at 13:51, “Chorfa” was centered around an expansive arrangement featuring the double bass-like guembri, the hypnotic polyrhythm of the qarqaba and call and response vocals led by the collective’s Ben Jafaar. The song finds the members of the acclaimed act tapping into a deeply spiritual and universal longing for freedom, clarity, peace and healing that feels — and of course sounds — older than time. “El Ghaba” continues in a similar vein as its immediate predecessor: the double bass-like guembri paired with the hypnotic clicking and clacking of the qarqaba and melodic call and response delivered vocals before ending in an explosive flourish. “Ask a forest dweller about primordial darkness and they will say it is beginning and end, mysterious and all-knowing, dreadful and welcoming, powerful yet invisible,” the band’s Amino Belyamani says of the song.

Lila is slated for an April 30, 2021 release through Daptone Records. 

New Audio: J. Period Teams Up with Dave Chappelle, Black Thought, and Tiffany Gouché on a Soulful Banger

jJ. Period is a Los Angeles-born, Brooklyn-based producer and DJ best known for working with the likes of Q-Tip, John Legend, Nas, Big Daddy Kane, Lauryn Hill, The Roots, The Isley Brothers and Mary J. Blige on official mixtapes — and for developing an “audio-biography” style that incorporates interviews with these artists into his “Best Of” complications. He has also made original productions and remixes for film trailers for American Gangster and Street Kings. In late 2008, the Los Angeles-born, Brooklyn-based producer and DJ became the first DJ/producer ever commissioned by Activision to score and producer an entire video game soundtrack for Tony Hawk’s Motion for Nintendo DS. And before I forget, he worked on The Hamilton Mixtape — while serving as Music Supervisor for the Brooklyn Nets.

The Los Angeles-born, Brooklyn-based producer and DJ’s debut album Story to Tell is a trail-blazing musical journey in three acts — with the first installment, Chapter One slated for an April 30, 2021 release through Truelements Music/RBC Records. Narrated by Dave Chappelle, Story To Tell (Chapter One) is a collaborative endeavor that blurs the lines between song and story; between hip-hop, R&B, jazz, reggae and salsa. Collaborating with an All-Star cast of Grammy-winning writers and musicians, Story To Tell reportedly will create a vibrant world of connections — between artists, songs, stories, genres, cultures and generations in the acclaimed production’s genre and convention defying style.

Story To Tell (Chapter One)’s first single “All In Your Head” plays with the classic audio storybook format with Dave Chapelle serving as a mischievous tour guide, explaining the set up to the proceedings, quickly followed by a slick yet soulful production centered around tweeter and woofer rocking boom bap beats, glitchy vocal samples and shimmering Rhodes serving as a warm bed for an inspiring manifesto to overcoming self-doubt and being fearless featuring Tiffany Gouché’s silky crooning and Black Thought spitting red hot bars. Sonically speaking, “All In Your Head” effortlessly blurs the lines between neo-soul, R&B and hip-hop in a crowd-pleasing fashion.

Deriving their name from a slang phrase popularly used by Mardi Gras indian tribes that means “we’re comin’ for ya” or “here we come,” the Grammy Award-nominated New Orleans-based funk act Cha Wa — currently founding member and bandleader Joe Gelini, along with Spyboy J’Wan Boudreaux, Second Chief Joseph Boudreaux, Ari “Gato” Teitel, Joseph “Jose” Maize, Clifton “Spug” Smith, Aurelien Barnes, Eric “Bogey” Gordon, Edward “Juicey” Jackson and Haruka Kikuchi — can trace their origins back to 2014 when Gellni was first introduced to the Mardi Gras Indian tradition while attending Boston’Berklee College of Music, where he met New Orleans-born, jazz drummer Idris Muhammad, who gave Gellini lessons in New Orleans-styled drumming.

As the story goes, those lessons inspired Gellini to relocate to New Orleans after graduation. Gellini quickly became involved in the city’s beloved Mardi Gras Indian community, eventually attending rehearsals for Mardi Gras marches. Gellini met  Monk Boudreaux, Big Chief of the Golden Eagles and one of the city’s most widely known and popular Mardi Gras Indian vocalists at those rehearsals. Coincidentally, Boudreaux is the grandfather of Cha Wa’s frontman J’Wan Boudreaux.

Unsurprisingly those rehearsals eventually turned into Gellini performing alongside the New Orleans Mardi Gras Indian legend. Gellini met J’Wan Boudreaux while the younger Boudreaux was still attending high school, but shortly after, J’Wan joined the band as their frontman. Since then, Cha Wa have established a sound and aesthetic that simultaneously draws from New Orleans’ Mardi Gras Indian tradition and the city’s beloved rhythm and blues and funk sounds through the release of three albums — 2016’s debut Funk ‘N’ Feathers, 2018’s Grammy Award-nominated Spyboy and their most recent album, My People, which was released last week.

“Mardi Gras Indian tradition and culture goes back over 250 years in the city of New Orleans. And it’s a culture that derives from men of color wanting to celebrate the Mardi Gras holiday but weren’t able to at the time,” Boudreaux explained in an interview with NPR. “So what they did was they created these elaborate suits…it represented the Native Americans that helped the Blacks escape slavery, and they actually helped them throughout the swamps and the bywater to get where they needed to go. So to pay homage to those natives, these men created what we call today Indian suits.” On the album Cha Wa founder Joe Gellni adds that the group “”tapped into that collective unconscious of what it is to live in New Orleans and to see all the nuances and ways that different people of color in the band actually experience racism — what sort of plight we’re facing in New Orleans socially and culturally, and class-wise and environmentally.”

My People‘s latest single, album title track “My People” is a strutting bit of funk that’s one-part classic second line march, one part The Meters, one part Nite Tripper-era Dr. John centered around a shuffling rhythm, shimmering Rhodes, a big horn section and call and response vocals singing lyrics that remind people of the universal facts of life: the rich get rich, while the sick get sicker; that while we have our differences, we have much more in common than we expect — we’ll all experience heartbreak, despair, frustration, loss, death. And if we can see that the universe in others, it may mean we get closer to understanding someone else’s life and their pain.

Although they haven’t been able to tour, as a result of the pandemic, but they have made a recent appearance on Good Morning America and on NPR, and that has allowed them to spread the album’s music and message to a much wider audience — and not just to those who will agree with them, but as Boudreaux explained to NPR “also to the people who may not be so open…just try to open up your eyes and see the world through the lens of the next person – the person that’s next to you, being held down by these different things like systematic oppression…if we don’t say anything about it, then no one will actually understand and know that we’re with them.” 

New Video: London’s Mariachi Las Adelitas Cover Amy Winehouse

Rising London-based septet Mariachi Las Adelitas is Europe’s first all-female mariachi band. Founded in 2013 by bandleader Anna Csergo (a.k.a Anita Adelita), the act, which features a collection of exceptionally talented musicians and vocalists from Mexico, Cuba, Colombia and the UK, actively shatters stereotypes in an extremely male-orientated genre. Their repertoire includes the mariachi classics, as well as mariachi-styled arrangements of well-known and beloved classics in English.

In their almost decade-long history, the septet has established themselves as a highly in-demand live act. They’ve opened for Arcade Fire at London’s Earl Court. They’ve shared a stage with the two-time Grammy Award winning Mariachi Divas at International Mariachi Women’s Festival, where they received a standing ovation. They’ve also played the Victoria & Albert Museum and at The Roundhouse. And they’ve serenaded Selma Hayek on her birthday.

Late last year, I wrote about the septet’s debut single “El Toro Relajo.” Featuring a new arrangement by the band’s founder and recorded during pandemic-related lockdowns, the gorgeous Mariachi Las Adelitas rendition revealed a self-assured and super talented band that can really play– and a vocalist, who belts like a young Linda Rondstadt. The London-based septet’s latest single finds them crafting a loving Huapango mariachi arrangement of Amy Winehouse‘s classic, heartbreaking ballad “Back to Black.” Both versions are gorgeous –but interestingly enough, the mariachi rendition somehow manages to enhance the bitter heartbreak at the song’s core.

“Writing this arrangement was a delicate and controversial issue for Mariachi Las Adelitas,” bandleader and producer Anna Csergo explains in press notes. “Mariachi is a complex traditional art form that we want to preserve, revive and bring out into the wider world. Arranging a popular song from our hometown of London had to be done with the utmost respect and authenticity for the style. We decided that if we were going to cover a non-mariachi song we would arrange it in true mariachi style.

“Of course we also wanted to do justice to the writer herself, not make a bad copy of already great music.”

Much like its immediate predecessor, the song was recorded and produced remotely as a result of pandemic-related lockdowns and restrictions. The recently released video was also shot and edited in a similar DIY fashion, so we see the individual band members performing — in full mariachi regalia — in their backyards, their home studios or their dens. The video is a reminder that for contemporary artists everywhere if there’s a will, there’s a way.

Rising London-based septet Mariachi Las Adelitas is Europe’s first all-female mariachi band. Founded in 2013 by bandleader Anna Csergo (a.k.a Anita Adelita), the act, which features a collection of exceptionally talented musicians and vocalists from Mexico, Cuba, Colombia and the UK, actively shatters stereotypes in an extremely male-orientated genre. Their repertoire includes the mariachi classics, as well as mariachi-styled arrangements of well-known and beloved classics in English. 

In their almost decade-long history, the septet has established themselves as a highly in-demand live act. They’ve opened for Arcade Fire at London’s Earl Court. They’ve shared a stage with the two-time Grammy Award winning Mariachi Divas at  International Mariachi Women’s Festival, where they received a standing ovation. They’ve also played the Victoria & Albert Museum and at The Roundhouse. And they’ve serenaded Selma Hayek on her birthday.

Late last year, I wrote about the septet’s debut single “El Toro Relajo.” Featuring a new arrangement by the band’s founder and recorded during pandemic-related lockdowns, the gorgeous Mariachi Las Adelitas rendition revealed a self-assured and super talented band that can really play– and a vocalist, who belts like a young Linda Rondstadt. The London-based septet’s latest single finds them crafting a loving Huapango mariachi arrangement of Amy Winehouse‘s classic, heartbreaking ballad “Back to Black.” Both versions are gorgeous –but interestingly enough, the mariachi rendition somehow manages to enhance the bitter heartbreak at the song’s core.

New Audio: Acclaimed Act Innov Gnawa Releases a Gorgeous and Hypnotic Single

Founded in 2014 by Fez, Morocco-born, New York-based master musician Maâlem Hassan Ben Jaafer (sintir, vocals), the New York-based Grammy Award-nominated act Innov Gnawa, which currently features core members Casablanca, Morocco-born, New York-based Amino Belyamani (chorus, qraqeb, piano) and Salé, Morocco-born, New York-based Ahmed Jeriouda (chorus, qraqeb, cajon) and a cast of collaborators, specialize in gnawa, the ritual trance music of Morocco.

Frequently refereed to as the Moroccan Blues or the Sufi blues, Gnawa is rooted in centuries of history with the musical genre and dance being traced to the mixing of rhythms and polytheistic spiritual beliefs of West African — primarily from what is now known as Mali and Mauritania — with Islam and Morocco’s indigenous culture. Lyrically, Gnawa songs are prayers and invocations to saints and spirits for liberation, peace and freedom from worldly suffering and so on. Featuring unique instruments that are often handmade — including the lute-like sintir, the three-stringed African bass, the guembri, metal castanet-like qarqaba, which are used to pound out clattering and hypnotic rhythms, symbolically meant to represent the clinking and clanking the slaves’ chains and shackles — paired with call and response vocals, gnawa possesses a hypnotic power that has won over audiences and musicians from all over the globe, including Jimi Hendrix, Paul Bowles and Randy Weston. And in the band’s native Morocco, the genre is revered as a treasured, indigenous soul music, much like the blues and country are to Americans.

Produced by Daptone Records’ founder and self-professed Gnawa enthusiast Gabriel Roth, the acclaimed Brooklyn-based act’s forthcoming album Lila is slated for an April 30, 2021 release through Daptone Records. Deriving its name for a Moroccan term for “night,” Lila is traditional ceremony in which the group dedicates an evening of cleansing and healing through music that was recorded in an epic five hour, one-take session.

Clocking in at 13.51, Lila’s latest single “Chorfa” is a centered around an expansive arrangement featuring the double bass-like guembri, the hypnotic polyrhythm of the qarqaba and the call and response vocals led by the collective’s Ben Jafaar. The song, much like the rest of their work finds the act tapping into a deeply spiritual and universal longing for freedom, clarity, peace and healing that’s seemingly older than time with a gorgeous, heartfelt sincerity.

Lila is slated for an April 30, 2021 release through Daptone Records.

Live Footage: JOVM Mainstays Altin Gün Performs “Ordunun Dereleri” with Metropole Orkest

Amsterdam-based Turkish psych pop act and JOVM mainstays Altin Gün — founding member founding member Jasper Verhulst (bass) with Ben Rider (guitar), Erdinç Ecevit Yildiz (keys, saz, vocals), Gino Groneveld (percussion), Merve Dasdemir (vocals) and Nic Mauskovic (drums) — can trace their origins to Japser Verhulst’s repeated tour stops to Istanbul with a previous band and a deep and abiding passion for ’60s and ’70s Turkish psych pop and folk, fueled by music discoveries Verhulst couldn’t find in his native Holland.

But as the story goes, Verhulst wasn’t just content to listen as an ardent fan, he had a vision of where he could potentially take the sound he loved. “We do have a weak spot for the music of the late ’60s and ’70s,” Verhulst admitted in press notes. “With all the instruments and effects that arrived then, it was an exciting time. Everything was new, and it still feels fresh. We’re not trying to copy it, but these are the sounds we like and we’re trying to make them our own.”

Altin Gün’s sophomore album, last year’s Grammy Award-nominated, critically applauded Gece further established the band’s reputation for re-imagining traditional Turkish folk through the lens of psych rock and pop. Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past couple of months, you may recall that the Dutch JOVM mainstays’ highly-anticipated, soon-to-be released third album Yol will be teh third album from the band in three years. And much like its predecessors, the album continues their long-held reputation for drawing from the rich and diverse traditions of Turkish and Anatolian folk. But because of pandemic-related restrictions and lockdowns, the members of Altin Gün were forced to write music in a new way for them: virtually — through trading demos and ideas built around Omnichord, 808 and other elements, including field recordings and New Age-like ideas by email.

“We were basically stuck at home for three months making home demos, with everybody adding their parts,” Altin Gün’s Merve Dasdemir says in press notes. “The transnational feeling maybe comes from that process of swapping demos over the internet, some of the music we did in the studio, but lockdown meant we had to follow a different approach.” As a result of the new approach, which featured Ommichord and 808 driven arrangements, the album finds the band crafting material that’s a bold, new sonic direction: sleek, synth-based, retro-futuristic Europop with a dreamy quality, seemingly informed by the enforced period of reflection. Additionally, the album finds the Dutch act working with Ghent, Belgium-based production duo Asa Moto — Oliver Geerts and Gilles Noë — to co-produce and mix the album, marking the first time that the band has collaborated with outsiders.

I’ve written about three of Yol‘s released singles:

“Ordunun Dereleri,” a mesmerizing re-imagining of an old folk standard and a fitting example of the act’s new sound: glistening synth arpeggios, four-on-the-floor and motorik groove. While the song finds the acclaimed Dutch act taking their sound to the dance floor, there’s an underlying brooding and dreamy introspection to the song.
“Yüce Dağ Başında,” a coquettish, dance floor friendly strut featuring Nile Rodgers-like guitar, glistening synths, a sinuous bass line, bursts of mellotron, copious cowbell and percussive polyrhythm centered around lead vocals from frontwoman Merve Dasdemir. Sonically, the infectious new single — to my ears, at least — reminds me of Evelyn “Champagne” King’s “I’m In Love” and “Love Come Down,” and Patrice Rushen‘s “Forget Me Nots.”
“Kara Toprak,” a sleek reworking of a classic folk song by Turkey’s legendary and beloved, blind poet and musician Âşık Veysel featuring wah wah-pedaled funk guitar, sinuous disco-influenced bass lines, shimmering and atmospheric synth arpeggios, copious amount of cowbell serve as a lush bed over which Merve Dasdemir’s gorgeous and sultry lead vocals, ethereally float over. Much like its predecessors, the song is swooning and coquettish seduction — a gentle tug of the sleeve from a new, potential lover/a new situationship that says “Come on, let’s dance already! Show me what you’ve got!” But ironically enough, while it’s an infectious, dance floor friendly rework, the song is about life’s transience and the inevitability of death.

The Amsterdam-based JOVM mainstays have quickly established themselves as a must-see live act, selling out headlining shows across the US and the European Union, and playing sets across the major global festival circuit, including Coachella and Bonnaroo before the pandemic. Now, as you may recall Yol was officially released today through ATO Records/Cadence Music Group — and to celebrate the occasion, the band released a highly desired taste of a concert they recorded with the Grammy Award-winning Dutch jazz orchestra Metropole Orkest at Amsterdam’s Koninklijk Theater Carré last October.

So we have some live footage of the JOVM mainstays performing a gorgeous and incredibly cinematic rendition of album single “Ordunun Dereleri” — and the footage is very much a glimpse of a world that seems so far away.

Amsterdam-based Turkish psych pop act and JOVM mainstays Altin Gün — founding member founding member Jasper Verhulst (bass) with Ben Rider (guitar), Erdinç Ecevit Yildiz (keys, saz, vocals), Gino Groneveld (percussion), Merve Dasdemir (vocals) and Nic Mauskovic (drums) — can trace their origins to Japser Verhulst’s repeated tour stops to Istanbul with a previous band and a deep and abiding passion for ’60s and ’70s Turkish psych pop and folk, fueled by music discoveries Verhulst couldn’t find in his native Holland.

But as the story goes, Verhulst wasn’t just content to listen as an ardent fan, he had a vision of where he could potentially take the sound he loved. “We do have a weak spot for the music of the late ’60s and ’70s,” Verhulst admitted in press notes. “With all the instruments and effects that arrived then, it was an exciting time. Everything was new, and it still feels fresh. We’re not trying to copy it, but these are the sounds we like and we’re trying to make them our own.”

Altin Gün’s sophomore album, last year’s Grammy Award-nominated, critically applauded Gece further established the band’s reputation for re-imagining traditional Turkish folk through the lens of psych rock and pop. Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past couple of months, you may recall that the Dutch JOVM mainstays’ highly-anticipated, soon-to-be released third album Yol will be teh third album from the band in three years. And much like its predecessors, the album continues their long-held reputation for drawing from the rich and diverse traditions of Turkish and Anatolian folk. But because of pandemic-related restrictions and lockdowns, the members of Altin Gün were forced to write music in a new way for them: virtually — through trading demos and ideas built around Omnichord808 and other elements, including field recordings and New Age-like ideas by email. 

“We were basically stuck at home for three months making home demos, with everybody adding their parts,” Altin Gün’s Merve Dasdemir says in press notes. “The transnational feeling maybe comes from that process of swapping demos over the internet, some of the music we did in the studio, but lockdown meant we had to follow a different approach.” As a result of the new approach, which featured Ommichord and 808 driven arrangements, the album finds the band crafting material that’s a bold, new sonic direction: sleek, synth-based, retro-futuristic Europop with a dreamy quality, seemingly informed by the enforced period of reflection. Additionally, the album finds the Dutch act working with Ghent, Belgium-based production duo Asa Moto — Oliver Geerts and Gilles Noë — to co-produce and mix the album, marking the first time that the band has collaborated with outsiders. 

I’ve written about two of Yol‘s released singles:

  • Ordunun Dereleri,” a mesmerizing re-imagining of an old folk standard and a fitting example of the act’s new sound: glistening synth arpeggios, four-on-the-floor and motorik groove. While the song finds the acclaimed Dutch act taking their sound to the dance floor, there’s an underlying brooding and dreamy introspection to the song.
  • Yüce Dağ Başında,” a coquettish, dance floor friendly strut featuring Nile Rodgers-like guitar, glistening synths, a sinuous bass line, bursts of mellotron, copious cowbell and percussive polyrhythm centered around lead vocals from frontwoman Merve Dasdemir. Sonically, the infectious new single — to my ears, at least — reminds me of Evelyn “Champagne” King’s “I’m In Love” and “Love Come Down,” and Patrice Rushen‘s “Forget Me Nots.

Yol’s third and latest single “Kara Toprak” is a sleek reworking of a classic folk song by Turkey’s legendary and beloved, blind poet and musician Âşık Veysel featuring wah wah-pedaled funk guitar, sinuous disco-influenced bass lines, shimmering and atmospheric synth arpeggios, copious amount of cowbell service as a lush bed over which Merve Dasdemir’s gorgeous and sultry lead vocals, ethereally float over. Much like its predecessors, the song is swooning and coquettish seduction — a gentle tug of the sleeve from a new, potential lover/a new situationship that says “Come on, let’s dance already! Show me what you’ve got!”

Interestingly enough, the song’s title translates into English as “black soil” and the song is about life’s transience and the inevitability of death. And as a result, the Altin Gün take manages to be sensual and rapturous. And in a world, in which every one of our actions is seemingly imbued with death, it’s a hauntingly gorgeous reminder of the fact that our mortality is inescapable.

Yol is slated for a February 26, 2021 release through ATO Records/Cadence Music Group.

Throughout the course of this site’s decade-plus history, I’ve spilled quite a bit of virtual ink covering the acclaimed New York-based Grammy Award-nominated, electro pop duo and longtime JOVM mainstays Sofi Tukker. Sofi Tukker — Sophie Hawley-Weld and Tucker Halpern — can trace their origins to when the duo met while studying at Brown University and since their formation, they’ve been widely celebrated for crafting an inclusive, global take on electro pop/dance pop centered around self-empower, unity and liberation.

The longtime JOVM mainstays cap off 2020 with a new single “Caröl Von Holz,” which finds them collaborating with HOLZBLÄSER, a.k.a. Holz. The collaboration has rather unique origins: HOLZBLÄSER initially emerged as a mysterious member of the Freak Fam, a devoted community that has emerged around the New York-based duo’s daily DJ set livestreams.

After some time, HOLZBLÄSER began sending the members of Sofi Tukker edits of their songs, featuring his dryly German accented vocals. Hawley-Weld and Halpern loved his work so much that they began to include his edits into their DJ sets — and it eventually grew into a collaboration between the trio. The end result is a swaggering, fierce as fuck, house music take on a beloved Christmas classic — “The Carol of the Bells,” with a tweeter and woofer rocking temp. House music all night long, even during Christmas.

“Never did we ever think we would do a Christmas song, let alone a Christmas song with a mysterious stranger over email. But when in 2020!” The members of Sofi Tukker share in press notes.