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09 novembre 2007

Pricey but Perfect: Cloning Peter Gabriel's 'Studio in a Shed'

Photo: Solid State Logic

Peter Gabriel unveils The Shed at the Audio Engineering Society Trade Show in New York.

Peter Gabriel believes where you make music can be just as important as what you use to make it. With The Shed, a pricey stand-alone recording studio inspired by the one he has in the garden of his London home, Gabriel hopes to help musicians on both fronts.
"Sometimes a creative environment affects what happens within it," said Gabriel, who unveiled the home studio this month at the Audio Engineering Society Trade Show in New York.

Though Gabriel acknowledges that, for most musicians, outfitting a recording studio is a personal, mix-and-match process, he thinks there is a market for the one-stop shop nature of The Shed, which will sell for around $250,000. Still, it's a rarified chunk of musical real estate in an era when anybody with a cheap PC and a copy of Pro Tools can get decent results with home recordings.

"If you don't have the time, but you have a lot of money, you can say, 'Do it to me' and the whole thing will arrive and off you go," said Gabriel, laughing off the idea that The Shed could be seen as the ultimate "get" for his fans.

The studio -- a 240-square-foot Summerwood structure outfitted with an $87,000 Solid State Logic analog workstation, assorted outboard gear, a digital audio workstation from Guitar Center, Auralex acoustic treatment and Argosy studio furniture -- is designed to give artists a sonically sound space in which to make music.

Windows on three walls and plenty of space to hang inspirational items help make The Shed a comfortable workplace. (The display model is personalized with artwork by Gabriel's friend, Evru, which, obviously, is not included.)

"I want it," said Phyllis Fast of New Jersey to her husband, Larry, as they walked past The Shed in the middle of The Javits Center. "It's such a great idea having it all in one place."

"Well," Larry Fast said, shaking his head, perhaps as he thought about the price, "we'll have to see."

Gabriel said the expensive studio clone is designed to give musicians a positive environment to get the creative juices flowing.
"Studios always seem to be in basements without natural light and with black everything," Gabriel said. "We went to the opposite direction. The Shed is the outdoor, organic approach to studios. As many an architect will tell you, human behavior changes according to the environment."

Sitting in The Shed as conference attendees peer in at him through the windows, Gabriel says the structure's design reminds him of his setup at home. Though it's not his main recording studio, it does serve as a creative center in his life, he said, especially for writing lyrics.

Fans will get to hear some of Gabriel's fondest memories from The Shed soon, as his Real World Records releases Big Blue Ball, a compilation of collaborations from the 1990s with world music acts including Karl Wallinger, Natacha Atlas and Papa Wemba, written in his garden studio.

Gabriel said the creativity fostered by The Shed is related to brain function. "I think there's an old instinctive response from when we were all running around in the forest, that when you're getting a lot of peripheral-vision stimulation that the brain is kicked into a higher gear," he said. "I noticed that on airplanes I don't feel very creative, but I get a lot of ideas in trains and cars."

Gabriel said train travel feeds the brain in an especially creative way. "I've talked to a lot of artists -- painters, writers, musicians -- many of whom have had great ideas on trains," he said. "The only explanation I have is all that stuff is coming at you while you're relaxed, so somehow it kicks you into hyperspace in terms of brain function."

Of course, this leads Gabriel, who became a major shareholder of Solid State Logic a few years ago, to a new idea for The Shed 2.0.

"Future versions of The Shed should definitely be on a railway carriage," he said. "We'll have to work that out."

By Glenn Gamboa /Wired

08 novembre 2007

Mapfumo gets UK visa after two-year exile

Thomas Mapfumo is to stage his first UK shows after a two-year absence due to problems with his visa, he confirmed. But more problems could be looming in the horizon for the Chimurenga music guru with at least three UK promoters lining up to claim thousands of pounds in outstanding advance payments for shows that never happened. Mapfumo confirmed he would be arriving in the UK later this month for the three gigs in Leicester (November 23), London (November 24) and Leeds (November 25).

Two years after Mapfumo -- who had been booked to perform at the Womad Music Festival -- was barred from the UK, he still heaps the blame on his ex-manager, Savanna Madamombe.

Mapfumo told AfrosoundsFM: “The lady who was managing us there last time caused a mix-up, otherwise we have no immigration problem. We have the right documents. The reason why we failed to come there was because somebody applied for work permits for six months and the UK authorities said if we give these people visas for six months, maybe they will stay on. I have nothing against the UK government, and the UK government has no problem with me.”

Mapfumo confirmed he was in the studio polishing up his latest album to be released soon. He also revealed that most of his original band members had left, and his music was now a fusion of old and new sounds. He said: “We don’t stop making music; we are constantly busy making music. The band has changed a lot, the music is not the same the people used to listen to. It’s still Zimbabwe-style music, but there are a lot of changes.”

Apart from Womad Festival organisers, Mapfumo will have some explaining to do with at least two other promoters who say they booked him for gigs but he never showed up. A source close to one of the promoters revealed: “Never has someone so much looked forward to Thomas Mapfumo’s arrival in the UK.”

Simpson 'Mhofu' Mpofu, another promoter who paid Mapfumo a deposit for five shows, said he had still not be reimbursed. He estimates the money he is owed at £12000.

He said: "We paid the guy a deposit for five shows. We had paid in full for the venues and the PA system. We had already bought the air tickets, and not a penny of that money has been recovered. When I spoke to Mapfumo, he suggested that we should organise another show. But my question to him was 'who is going to pay for the venues, the air tickets and the PA system?' We are considering our options."

Another promoter owed by the singer said: “We have some outstanding business to discuss.” Chris Gondoza, who is bringing Mapfumo to the UK, said Tuesday: “I got the work permits, and the band got the visas.” Gondoza insisted that as far as he knew, Mapfumo owed no-one a show. He said: “I talked to him (Mapfumo) before, and he says he knows nothing about it. I have just booked an artist to perform, and paid venues to host him. If there are people owed money, one would think pursuing the legal route would be the right course of action to take.”

Tim and Susan join fellow star campaigners at New York fundraiser

Renowned in Tinseltown for lending their support to social issues close to their hearts, Tim Robbins and his partner Susan Sarandon were backing another good cause this week. The couple – who have been together for just over three decades – joined some of the film industry's most passionate campaigners at a gala benefit in New York.

Hosted by Stranger Than Fiction actress Maggie Gyllenhaal - well known for her work with civil liberties organisations - and musician Peter Gabriel, the event raised funds for human rights charity Witness.

Other famous faces lending their star clout to the evening were women's rights campaigner Meg Ryan, who's returned to the spotlight recently after taking time out to spend with her adopted daughter Daisy, and Goldie Hawn.

The couple mingled with some of the industry's most socially minded stars at the gala benefit in the Big Apple

Goldie Hawn expresses support for film programs to promote global culture and human rights

NEW YORK: Actress Goldie Hawn expressed support Wednesday for two film programs aimed at showcasing amateur and professional films as a way to promote cultural understanding and uphold human rights.

The "Private Benjamin" star and Academy Award winner met with organizers of Pangea Day, a one-day event which is named after what scientists believe was the giant land mass that encompassed all of today's continents. Organizers of the program, scheduled for May 10, 2008, will present a variety of amateur and professional films in an effort they hope will "encourage humanity and catalyze positive change."

"This threads together commonality and it brings together something in a deeply polarized world," Hawn said of the project in a phone interview with The Associated Press. She said she was drawn to Pangea Day "because everyone has a story and film is a very emotional medium" to tell it.

Plans for the program include linking screening venues in New York, Cairo, London, Ramallah, Rio de Janeiro, Tel Aviv; Dharamsala, India and Kigali, Rwanda, for television and Internet broadcasts.

"Being in film and working in film you learn that the goal is to tell pertinent stories," Hawn said. She noted that the project also appealed to her because of the power of filmmaking and that it gives others a forum in which they can relay their stories and possibly touch lives.

"I've never created a film that hasn't had a resonance," she said.

Pangea Day was created by documentary filmmaker Jehane Noujaim after she won the TED Prize that provided $1 million (€680,000) and access to some of the top thinkers in technology, entertainment and the arts to aid projects with global ambitions. The award, whose winners include former President Bill Clinton and Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson, grants recipients one wish to change the world.

Noujaim, who founded Pangea Day, is best known as director of "Control Room," a film which went behind the scenes at the pan-Arab satellite channel al-Jazeera — an independent station that has garnered both strong praise and criticism for its coverage of events in the Middle East.

Along with Hawn, others who have thrown their support behind the project include Rwandan President Paul Kagame who views it as an opportunity to break the singular association many people have with the 1994 Rwandan genocide, Pangea organizers said.

"They're all trying so hard to move on from the tragedy," Delia Cohen, executive director of Pangea Day, said of Rwandans.

Noujaim has put out a call for submissions on the Internet video sharing site, "If you had the entire world's attention, just for a few minutes, what story would you tell?" the video posting asks.

After meeting with Pangea Day organizers Wednesday, Hawn planned to attend a benefit dinner and concert co-hosted by singer Peter Gabriel for WITNESS, an organization he founded that promotes the use of video and film to document human rights abuses.

Hawn, who won the Oscar for best supporting actress in the 1969 movie "Cactus Flower," also said that plans were on hold for a movie that would have scenes filmed in India.

Hawn said "Ashes to Ashes," a movie she wrote about a New Yorker who travels to India to bury her husband's ashes, was "still being financed" and that a deal had not yet been signed.

But she said she remains busy with her other projects including her work for The Hawn Foundation, whose stated mission is to establish a curriculum and pilot programs to help children understand their own thoughts and feelings and respond in healthy and responsible ways.

"One of the problems children have today is stress," Hawn said. "I sat down and said, 'What can we do?'"

The Associated Press
Wednesday, November 7, 2007

"Bosta", premier film musical libanais d'après-guerre

"BOSTA" (l'Autobus) a été filmé au Liban avec certains des acteurs libanais les plus populaires.

C’est le premier film musical libanais d'après-guerre avec des rythmes orientaux et un cachet contemporain, tels que la danse de Dabké, qui est du folklore national libanais, mixée avec un peu de techno occidental.

Ceci représente une nouveauté de production, parce que les films libanais, se fondent principalement sur les fonds culturels orientaux et arabes.

La musique de Bosta a également été un grand défi, elle a permis de joindre des efforts entre les compositeurs locaux (EL Khatib Ali) et le système d'Afro Celt, et un groupe britannique "vrai monde" de Peter Gabriel.

Une telle collaboration est la première dans la scène locale de production de cinéma libanais.
Ce film donne des perspectives positives de l'image stéréotypée de la guerre et du terrorisme.


Ecrit, Produuit & Diriger par PHILIPPE ARACTINGI...

07 novembre 2007

Peter Gabriel on the future of music

Peter Gabriel believes were headed toward a creative renaissance

World-class musician, humanitarian and dynamo behind the WOMAD world music festival, Peter Gabriel has an accomplished record in using new technology to boost the creative arts. He believes we're headed toward a cultural renaissance.

With music sales in free fall, many in the entertainment business fear technology as the death of the creative arts.

Award-winning singer/songwriter Peter Gabriel disagrees. Far from destroying creativity he thinks technology and the internet are enabling a creative explosion, connecting artists to audiences more effectively than ever before.

Music remains essential to modern life, despite falling sales, he points out. "Music is medicine. People use it as a mood altering drug, applying different music to different occasions," he explains.

Gabriel's no fantasist. He's been experimenting with technology since the moment PCs became creative tools.

His Real World Studios have been instrumental in introducing music from across the world to Western audiences. Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan is just one example of such an artist. 1993 saw associated company, Real World Multimedia, ship one of the world's first interactive CD-ROM's, a musical adventure called Xplora 1: Peter Gabriel's Secret World.

Xplora gave users a multimedia glimpse at life as a musician on the road - Gabriel was touring his highly-successful Us album at the time - along with a chance to explore the world music genre which was relatively unknown in the UK at the time, as well as insights into his personal life.

Produced on a Mac, the Windows version was prone to bugs, as the multimedia power struggle between Microsoft and the rest of the computer industry saw creators and consumers pay the price.

In spite of the technological barriers, Real World Media followed up Xplora with another CD-ROM, EVE, a touching interactive exploration of the loneliness of the human condition. Gabriel wrote the music.

On the face of it, it's some distance from 1967, when Gabriel founded UK music act, Genesis, a band he quit in '75 to go solo.

But pushing the envelope of what technology can achieve runs in Gabriel's family.

The son of an inventor, Gabriel admits: "New technology has always excited me." While he agrees the internet has killed off conventional music retail, it also presents: "Many wonderful opportunities", he says.

"Never before has an artist been able to reach out and build an audience so easily - without needing record companies and their marketing departments. Equally, you've never been able to explore all kinds of new music in the instant way the internet allows," he observes.

Gabriel isn't just paying lip service. In 1999 when upstart US college student Shawn Fanning launched the original Napster, Gabriel invested in On Demand Distribution (OD2), one of the world's first legitimate online music download services.

"I co-founded OD2 with Charles Grimsdale as I thought there were many exciting opportunities for digitally distributed music," Gabriel said in 2004. "As a musician, I believe strongly that all artists should have access to this powerful new means of getting music to people."

Purchased by Finnish mobile giant, Nokia, for US$38.6 million in 2004, OD2 offered over a million tracks for sale through different European online services.

"I was convinced digital music was going to be the main means of distributing music when we set that firm up," Gabriel said. "I've been surprised how long it has taken."

The impact of legitimate music sales on the internet is huge. In the UK, an astonishing 90 per cent of all singles sold are sold through online music services, claims music label trade body, the BPI (British Phonographic Industry).

Album sales through online services are climbing slowly. Labels continue to see their annual turnovers shrink as physical sales decline.

The side-effect of file-sharing has been that many young people have lost the habit of buying music legally.

They've seldom purchased any music, so the notion of doing so no longer exists in youth culture. Young people grab music for nothing where they can. Labels are threatened by this because teenagers are tomorrow's mature music shoppers.

Some believe that moves by major labels to launch legal action against music file-sharers have politicised illegitimate music downloads.

Disaffected teenagers, they argue, see music theft as a rejection of the establishment. But even file-sharers are committed to the songs and artists they embrace.

"Many young people don't seem to be buying music legally but even so, the culture and passion for music both new and old has never been greater and this is partly down to the internet," he observes. "Music is becoming more of a commodity, people are expecting it for free and I'm not sure this attitude is going away."
The industry is changing, with music labels moving focus from music sales toward touring and merchandising, he says.

When Prince gave his album away for free with a UK daily newspaper, he was able to sell enough tickets for 21 sell-out shows in London.

Bruce Springsteen and Paul McCartney also have given songs away for free, while Nine Inch Nails frontman, Trent Reznor, makes his music available to fans for remixing.

Exploring the possible, Gabriel recently invested in ad-supported free music download service, We7. This works by popping advertisements on the front of tracks, based on a user's personal information - age, location and gender. Consumers can give the system extra information if they want to receive more appropriate advertising. They can also buy tracks ad-free.

Noting this form of advertising means music fans hear fewer ads than they will on radio, Gabriel says: "Ads disappear after a few weeks, so consumers end up with a collection of free music."

Gabriel says: "I'm convinced well-filtered ads can carry useful information to the right listener or viewer." We7 users can set things up so the system sends them ads for things they are looking for.

The disappearance of conventional music retail leaves a vacuum. "Sometimes people who loved music worked in those stores and when they knew you they'd introduce you to wonderful stuff you wouldn't have come across otherwise," Gabriel observes.

"We're drowning in choice and we're going to need the tools to find the stuff that excites, surprises and inspires us."

To fill the gap, Gabriel's invested in a new service called The Filter, software that analyses your digital music library to understand your tastes. It generates playlists based on selected tracks and can recommend music chosen to match your tastes.

With film, television and literature moving online, solutions that help people find exactly what they want could become essential.

Artists should benefit. Personalised recommendation means they could achieve a direct link with appropriate audiences - great for non-mainstream arts.

"It could and should lead to a creative renaissance in which the oppressive filtering of the mass market is turned upside down," Gabriel says.

In future, he sees three levels of digital media delivery: free, paid for with extra content, and high cost physical products.

The latter could be: "Small limited edition sculptures that when placed on a computer open up a library of an artists material or is personalised for the fan in some way," Gabriel says.

Xplora 1 worked a little like that. As users solved puzzles, new sections of the experience were opened up, unlocking live concert video and more.

As an artist, Gabriel continues to experiment. "I'm excited at using the internet to do new things with my music - inviting people to remix my songs, or my Full Moon Club, where I try and do something for my fans when there's a full moon," he says.

Jonny Evans

KU’s Dance Company Previews Fall Concerts

Twyla Tharp’s Torelli headlines the University Dance Company’s 2007 fall concerts. Tharp came to national prominence with her choreography for the films Hair and Amadeus and the Broadway shows Singing in the Rain and Movin’ Out.

With Torelli, she has given dance companies permission to stage a work from a DVD. KU dance faculty members Jerel Hilding, who performed in three Tharp works as a member of the Joffrey Ballet, and Patrick Suzeau, are guiding students through the process of learning the dance, set to Giuseppe Torelli’s Concerto in d minor. Choreographed in 1971, it illustrates the early Tharp style. Eight highly structured movement phrases begin the dance and form the basis for the subsequent improvisations by the dancers.

New offerings by the dance faculty will spin the performance in a variety of directions. This past summer, KU dance professors Muriel Cohan and Patrick Suzeau witnessed the ecstatic celebration of the summer solstice in Lithuania. Interspersed with ubiquitous pop music, ancient polyphonic chants could be heard. In their choreography for Cycles, Cohan and Suzeau attempt to capture the poetry and wild abandon contained in these chants. The dance features Suzeau as a soloist. Suzeau also has choreographed an exuberant ballet for five dancers to the music of Bela Bartok. He plays with rhythms and fast-paced energy in his Pas Très Classique, which is not altogether très classique.

Michelle Heffner Hayes, associate professor of dance, will perform a traditional Soleá, choreographed by Kansas City flamenca Miel Castagna, with live guitar accompaniment by Beau Bledsoe. Soleá is one of the basic flamenco song forms, from which many others descend. Majestic and lean, Soleá explores soledad, an intimate, often painful or ironic solitude. The dancing develops like a slow-burning flame with displays of intense carriage of the arms and complex footwork.

Hayes also takes a new look at an old Greek myth in Cradling Persephone to music by Peter Gabriel and Bjork. Placing Persephone at the center of the narrative, the work for eleven female dancers explores adolescence as a point of entry into the adult world. Through the athletic partnering and phrasing of the voluptuous movement, the piece imagines a space of transcendence beyond the moment of trauma.

Willie Lenoir, instructor of dance, takes us in yet another direction with After the Harvest. Lenoir himself says: “About the dance—the harvest is over. Three young women decide it’s time to celebrate. No more tilling the soil! No more planting! No more reaping! The party is on!” --

06 novembre 2007


L'une des voix africaines les plus reconnaissables revient sur le devant de la scène avec son huitième album 'Rokku Mi Rokka (Give and Take)’. Mais Youssou N'Dour n'est pas seulement une voix chantante, c'est aussi une voix respectée dans le monde, un timbre chaleureux qui véhicule nombre de valeurs éclairées.

Extrait: (...) J'ai commencé à faire de la musique à l'âge de 14 ans, dans un orchestre qui s'appelait le Big Star Band de Dakar ; dans un club qui, ne rigolez pas, s'appelait le Miami, un club mythique. Quelqu'un m'avait dit qu'ils embauchaient des musiciens pour animer une boîte et moi je suis passé par là. Il y avait cinq chanteurs et puis je suis devenu choriste pour d'autres. J’ai attrapé le virus de partager le micro. Quand j'ai rencontré Peter Gabriel pour la première fois, j'avais entendu parler de Genesis mais beaucoup plus de Phil Collins. Il est venu d'abord à Londres. C'était mon premier concert à Londres, en 1984 ou 1985 je crois. Trois jours après, je jouais dans un club ici en France à La Défense. Après le concert, on m'amène quelqu’un. On me dit "C'est un chanteur anglais qui est très connu, il s'appelle Peter Gabriel, il aime beaucoup ta voix, il a vu ton concert à Londres, il est venu ici pour te voir." Après, quelqu'un du staff français me dit : "Tu connais la personne qui vient de te rendre hommage ? Eh bien, c'est un Dieu dans la musique !" Alors je lui réponds : "Je veux bien te croire sur parole, mais tant que je n'écoute pas sa musique, je ne peux pas vibrer." Le lendemain, on m’a fait écouter : j'avais des frissons. Il y a des chansons comme ça, qu’on aurait adoré écrire... Un mois après, il arrive chez moi, dans la Médina ! Il est resté quinze jours à Dakar ! Quelque chose s'est lié musicalement, le respect que ce gars-là a eu dès le départ pour mes idées. Les autres rencontres se sont passées différemment : la première fois que j’ai vu Neneh, elle était très jeune, elle m'avait demandé si elle pouvait chanter avec moi. J'avais dit oui comme ça, sans y réfléchir. Et je la vois quelques années après avec 'Manchild', et je dis "Oui Neneh, je veux chanter avec toi parce que tu es jolie…"

Paula Cole On Stage in Annapolis

(...) Wednesday and Thursday night find two incredible singers gracing the Rams Head On Stage in Annapolis.

Wednesday night it's Paula Cole, who returns to the stage after seven years of reflection and focus on her new daughter (8 p.m.). After touring as a singer with Peter Gabriel, Ms. Cole followed with the huge success of her own hit songs such as "I Don't Wanna Wait" (the theme song from television's Dawson Creek) and, of course, "Where Have all the Cowboys Gone?"

She also earned a Grammy Award as New Artist of the Year before later making the decision to take time off. Since her return to recording and performing, Paula Cole has released a new CD and performed on numerous CDs and a concert DVD by trumpeter Chris Botti. Ms. Cole is an introspective songwriter with finely honed jazz chops. Seeing her at Rams Head On Stage will be a very special treat. (...)

Rams Head On Stage, 33 West St., Annapolis, 410-268-4545 or Moonalice 6 and 9 p.m. Tuesday; Paula Cole

Paula Cole
Wednesday, November 7

Paula Cole was one of the many female singer/songwriters who rose to prominence in the mid-'90s in the wake of alternative's commercial breakthrough. Following her high-school graduation, she went to the Berklee College of Music to study jazz singing and improvisation. After she graduated from Berklee, Cole became a professional musician in order to make a living. Drawing heavily from the ethereal, pretty sound of Sarah McLachlan and Tori Amos, Cole created songs that relied equally on dreamy melodies and poetic, introspective lyrics.

Paula Cole

05 novembre 2007

Strong Norwegian line-up at London Jazz Festival

Saxophonist Jan Garbarek returns to the capital for an appearance at the London Jazz festival where other Norwegian names include renowned musicians Ketil Bjørnstad and Tord Gustavsen Trio. London Jazz Festival, in association with BBC Radio 3, takes place from 16 - 25 November and includes the following Norwegian concerts:

Ketil Bjørnstad & Wolfgang Puschnig
Friday 16 November
PizzaExpress Jazz Club

Often described as Norway’s Renaissance man, Ketil Bjørnstad is a writer, poet, pianist and composer. His duet with the brilliant Austrian saxophone/flautist and favoured Carla Bely soloist unites two of Europe’s major jazz figures. Tonight’s set offers an opportunity to savour the music from Ketil’s new Universal CD Devotions, evoking powerful resonance of memory.
Supported by the Norwegian Embassy

Jan Garbarek
Sunday 18 November
Southbank Centre's Royal Festival Hall, 7.30pm

With his unmistakably intense sound, melodic themes and sculptural sonic landscapes that resound with the spirit of his native Norway, saxophonist Jan Garbarek has come to epitomise the sound of ECM, the label he’s called home since the early 70s. Throughout, he’s pushed the boundaries through his work with the Hilliard Ensemble, forays into Asian music and an ongoing fascination with Scandinavian folk melodies. Tonight’s concert sees a revamped quartet with a brand new addition, French drumming sensation Manu Katché, who, alongside high-profile work with Sting and Peter Gabriel, has appeared on several Garbarek releases, including 2004’s In Praise of Dreams. Expect sounds both timeless and modern, ethereal and earthy from this defining voice in European jazz.
Supported by the Norwegian Embassy

Tord Gustavsen Trio plus Stefano Bollani & Enrico Rava
Wednesday 21 November

Avoiding showy technique in favour of clearly stated melody, Norwegian pianist Tord Gustavsen's performances shine with a mesmerising lyricism. Tonight, his acclaimed trio performs pieces from their latest album, Being There, the third part of 'a trilogy that could be the most essential jazz document of the last ten years.' Independent on Sunday. Italian pianist Stefano Bollani gained glowing reviews for his debut British tour earlier this year. This evening he's joined by his mentor - Italian jazz's most globally renowned figure - trumpeter Enrico Rava.

Related persons:
Ketil Bjørnstad, Composer, Pianist, Writer
Jan Garbarek, Jazz muscian, Saxophonist, Composer, Flute, Arranger
Tord Gustavsen, Jazz pianist, Composer

04 novembre 2007

Joji Hirota on World Music Central

Percussionist, composer, singer, flautist - Joji Hirota joyously eludes definition. Trained as a classical musician in Japan, he has now spent over half his life in England freely blending instruments and influences to create a music that is uniquely his own. His flute sounds like singing, his singing sounds instrumental, and his drums sound like nothing on earth.

Joji Hirota was born in Hokkaido in North Japan. His father played the shakuhachi flute and gave him his first flute - a small child's version - when he was five years old. Joji began to study percussion at the age of eleven and by the time he was thirteen he was composing his own music. He then went on to study at the Kyoto Municipal Arts University.

In 1972, he was invited to be Musical Director and Percussionist of the Red Buddha Theatre in England by the illustrious Stomu Yamashta. Joji himself says, if not for that invitation, he might have stayed with the Nagoya Philharmonic Orchestra playing Beethoven's 5th for the rest of his life. This was a turning point that led Joji, in 1987, to become Musical Director and Solo Percussionist for the Lindsay Kemp Dance Company, which presents shows in Europe, Canada, South America, and Japan. In 1991, the company won the Time Out award for Best Dance Company for their production 0nnagata, for which Joji wrote and performed the music.

Joji settled in England and has lived there ever since. The serious interest in folk music in the West inspired him to explore the folk music of his own culture long before it was taken seriously back in Japan. He denies that he is mixing traditions.

"I happen to be a Japanese man - but as a musician I am drawing on all these traditions to create my own style."

In 1992 Joji collaborated with Clannad's founder Pól Brennan and Chinese flautist Guo Yue to form Trísan.

Joji Hirota pursues several different lines of musical work. He carries out solo-based Japanese percussion performances, with drums and shakuhachi. Sometimes the program also includes vocal performances of Japanese folk songs. In Great Britain, Joji often performs with Mark Alcock and James Barrow as 'Joji Hirota and The Taiko Drummers'. In Europe and the world, Joji has performed as part of the WOMAD Festivals.

Another project Hirota was involved is the world percussion duet Taiko To Tabla' with Peter Lorkett. The group is a fusion of percussion from all over the world - contemporary music with drum-based percussion blending traditional techniques and sounds with modern influences. The instruments include Taiko drums, tablas, congas, bongos, jembe, drum kit, gongs, and many hand percussion instruments. The duet recorded their first live concert in February 1998 at The Brugge Festival in Belgium, which was released on CD on Nov. 9.

Hirota has also collaborated with The String Orchestra, which consists of Dai Emanuel and Deborah Widdup on violin, Andrew Brown on viola, Caroline Dale on cello and Clare Tyack on double bass. Joji arranges and performs Japanese folk music for The String Orchestra - involving traditional Japanese singing, shakuhachi flute and Japanese drum-based percussion - blending pure folk melody with new classical string harmonies. Joji also composes classical music especially for the Orchestra, which occasionally includes the involvement of special guest musicians.

In addition to these projects, Joji has composed and performed for Anglia TV's series of 'Survival' wildlife programs, in collaboration with Anthony Phillips. This collaboration work has also extended to numerous pieces of library music.

In February 2004 Joji Hirota received a commendation from the Japanese ambassador for his contribution to the introduction of Japanese culture in Britain through the medium of taiko drumming and other musical activities,

On 7th July 2007 Joji and his Taiko Drummers, along with approximately 100 drummers, played for the opening of the "Live Earth Concert" at Wembley Stadium (London). This concert, similar to the "Live Aid" event, was covered by BBC radio and TV. Groups in the event included Madonna, Genesis and others.

Official Web Site:

Cream of SA musicians to perform at 46664

More than forty of SA’s biggest artists and musicians will join Nelson Mandela’s call to performance for the forthcoming 46664 World Aids Day Concert.

“It is always an honour playing for a cause that helps heal the continent,” artist JOZI.



The concert is the fifth 46664 event staged at points across the world since the founding in 2002 of the HIV AIDS charity which carries Nelson Mandela’s prison number and has been made possible through the support of Joburg City.

An announcement earlier this month brought news of global support for the event from a host of international artists including Peter Gabriel, Annie Lennox, Corinne Bailey Rae, Razorlight, Ludacris, Goo Goo Dolls and Jamelia.

The event confirms additional appearances by a further fifteen acts drawn from the biggest names in South African music, as well as a return by World artist Angelique Kidjo, who made a well-remembered appearance at the first 46664 concert back in 2003 and has since taken on the role of an international ambassador to the charity.

Says Angelique: “I visited Robben Island just before the first 46664 concert and I understood that Nelson Mandela could not have spent all these years standing up for his continent just to let it be hurt by a disease that can be prevented and cured if there is a strong political will. That’s the message we will be sending this time: we will not forget about this until change is made!”

The South African bands and artists being announced between them account for millions of record sales each year and in their diversity reach out across the entire mixed population of the country.

“The 46664 message is one that needs to be heard in every corner of our country, and indeed, the world. These artists between them reach into every one of our communities – upholding Mr. Mandela’s message that HIV AIDS is not a local issue, but a universal one”, said a spokesman for 46664.

The artists range from such seasoned South African performers as Johnny Clegg, the Soweto Gospel Choir, Just Jinjer and rocker Arno Carstens to hot new acts such as rock bands The Parlotones and Cassette, and R & B female trio Jamali.

As well as performing their own sets, some of the artists are expected to be seen in collaborations with visiting artists....