Albert Mazibuko of Ladysmith Black Mambazo

For over 50 years, South Africa’s Ladysmith Black Mambazo has warmed the hearts of audiences worldwide with their uplifting vocal harmonies, signature dance moves and charming onstage banter. With a deep respect for both their cultural and personal history, Ladysmith Black Mambazo is ever-evolving with an eye toward their long musical legacy. Over the years, the original members have welcomed a younger generation in their mission, passing along the tradition of storytelling and spreading their message of peace, love, and harmony to millions of people. The newer members, in turn, have infused the group with their youthful energy and the promise of a bright future. Ladysmith Black Mambazo founder Joseph Shabalala looks to these young men to carry on his dream to “keep South Africa alive in people’s hearts” for years to come.

I had the honor of talking with Albert Mazibuko, who has been with the group since the early seventies, as Ladysmith Black Mambazo makes their way to Madison on February 24, at the Overture Center for the Arts. Albert and I discuss the two latest Grammy nominated albums, “Songs of Peace and Love for Kids & Parents Around the World” and “Shaka Zulu Revisited” and how handing off the group’s mission to someone other than Joseph Shabalala became the new way, without forgetting the way it has been. and what a young kid could expect from their first time being a part of a show. We walked down the path of creating an album for children and something real interesting, was the conversation about how new members are invited to try to become a part of this worldwide cultural legacy. Fascinating.

The Subject Tonight Is Love

Kate McGarry looks ahead with optimism born of the many facets of love on her first trio album featuring Keith Ganz and Gary Versace. On The Subject Tonight Is Love, out February 2 via Binxtown Records, the trio conjures an alluring cinematic approach to a wide-ranging spectrum of love songs. Kate is as versatile a songwriter and singer out there who is able to translate feeling into sound, with words and with the way the words are drawn outward. She is someone who has taking in many lessons from life, music, and love to help paint the expressions into song.

I had the opportunity to talk with Kate about the new album. How the magic moments took place and just when was it that the three artists did the best research and development behind the compositions. We take time to dissect one of my favorite tunes on the album and get a chuck of interesting insight into the flow of the album. Each arrtists brings a sense of how to do the things they set out to accomplish, this conversation will give you a very strong idea how Kate and Keith and Gary all were able to take advantage of each others rare time, energy and devotion to the project. We even get a little peek into some of the music Kate is turning to these days, as a listener, herself.

Jorma’s Coming To Town

Whether you know Jorma Kaukonen from his legendary hall of fame work with bands like Jefferson Airplane or Hot Tuna, or as a singing/songwriting troubadour spinning and telling his tales as a solo artist, his dynamic style is captivating. Jorma has a natural way of making the music, and the story not only sound good, but it feels right and relate-able. He is one of those artists that makes it comfortable to get a look at life from his take. Fortunately, we will get to take a shared ride down the same path as Jorma heads to the Stoughton Opera House on February 15th.

I had the honor of talking with Jorma about how the music and the times do some changing. We chat a bit about storytelling and storytellers, even sharing which book remains one of those we were first introduced to that stuck. The thing I have always liked about Jorma is the things he dies for music and to enhance the learning experience of those around him. The work being done at Fur Peace Ranch is just one example of some of the cool going on in his scene. We share thoughts about three of his friends and instructors, and friends of the proGram, Mr. Tommy Emmanuel, Teresa Williams & Larry Campbell. While learning why Jorma prefers live music and what makes a good show, in his opinion…Jorma shares a nice word or two about the Stoughton Opera House.

Max ZT of House Of Waters

House of Waters forms a rare and dynamic soundscape. They incorporate elements of West-African, jazz, psychedelic, indie rock, classical and world music into their astonishingly unique sound. House of Waters’ music is both complex and easy to enjoy, a musical exploration that invites listeners to open themselves to new sounds. One of those sounds is that of Max ZT‘s instrument, the hammered dulcimer, a percussion/stringed instrument that takes years of study and spans dozens of cultures around the globe. Most often associated with traditional American and Irish folk music, Max has taken the instrument in entirely new directions. But to truly experience House of Waters, see them live. The reward of this band’s versatility is that they easily fit in so many different spaces within a diverse listener group. We are fortunate to have them coming to the Stoughton Opera House on February 17th to do some ear and mind opening.

Please enjoy my conversation with Max as House of Waters makes their maiden voyage to play Wisconsin. We find out why Max decided to follow in the footsteps of so many others and form a Hammered Dulcimer Power Trio and follow it on a journey which makes him incredibly happy, and that feeling is bound to be shared in a live setting. Max gives a little background on his band-mates and how they are able to meld this completely unique experience into something that, at times, has as many layers as one can dream of. We go deep and learn the true meaning behind the band’s name and we walk down the process path that has gone into creates a new album’s flow. Speaking of….there’s a new album coming out very soon. We even take a couple of moments to pay respect to the inspiration a couple of artists House of Waters shared the stage with and the impact the way those artists did what they did, had on Max.

House of Waters

Joe Russo’s Almost Dead Live In Madison

Joe Russo’s Almost Dead is a cover band of sorts that takes some of the tunes of The Grateful Dead and allows them to flow out of their collective beings into a sound pool for some of the most involved fan-base there ever has been. When these five cats get toGether in this form, the momentary surprises are many and way far out. The five are: Joe Russo, Dave Dreiwitz, (friend of the program) Marco Benevento, Scott Metzger & Tom Hamilton. Each bring an incredible individual force to this JRAD scene. While Joe has been a big part of Further and played with members of the Dead, this band brings as much of themselves to the “cover” of the Dead (and a few other bands) to reform a sound and a feeling that is recognizable and exciting. JRAD has been touring and securing itself on the festival scene while constantly bringing more ears along for the ride and us in Madison are lucky to welcome them here on February 18th at The Orpheum.

I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to talk to Joe before they land here in Madison. We spend time getting to understand what dialect and language each individual brings to this group and the fun and energy that causes in a live setting. We talk about how they add the skins to the spine that is the vast songbook of The Grateful Dead, and how much of the show is based off improvised segments within that skeletal system of sound. Joe attests that this project might have started off with the idea of a one off and you can hear a little of the amazement in his voice when talking about how long the pulse has been thumping. Hearing Joe speak about the times they have had to call in a sub or two off the bench (including Oteil Burbridge) is really truly a sincere appreciation of brothers. To my brothers and sisters, please enjoy this chat.

PHOTO BY Timothy Dwenger

Museum Glass Welcome

The second portion of the proGram featured two conversations from two artists who share a space in each others lives. The meeting on this program was unintentional, just a sign of having the finger on the pulse of some scene. We have a radio debut of a young artist and the music went in and around and it is still there…somewhere:

Mambo Rapido- Orquesta Akokán
Mambo Arabia- Eddie Kochak
The Mojo- Sax Mallard
Mary- Preacher Stephens & The Foree Wells Combo

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Code Pavao- Coco Raizes De Arcoverde
Baiao Destemperado- Barbatuques
Brilhantina- Renata Rosa

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Rumbero Como Yo- Brenda Navarrete
Tsunami- Stephane Wrembel
Let There Be Light- Darshan
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Run for the Red Fort (Raga Chandrakauns)- Sameer Gupta
***Pre-recorded Conversation with Sameer Gupta***
Innocence in Harlem- Sameer Gupta
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Mystic- Youssoupha Sidibe
Vision- Youssoupha Sidibe

Tumba- Angelique Kidjo
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Salutations- Tina Turner, Ani Choying, Sawani Shende Sathaye, Mor Karbasi, Dima Orsho & Regula Curti
***Pre-recorded Conversation with Falu***
My Name- Nishaad *Radio Debut
Drugs Hallucinations, The Divine- Ravi Shanakr
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You Don’t Own Me- The Resistance Revival Orchestra

Glass Pieces Shaped

The first portion of the proGram took the pieces and fixed them into a mosaic movement:

Farm Fun Time- Tommy Emmanuel & David Grisman
This is It- The Wood Brothers

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Love & Appreciation (To Georgia)- Johnny Tucker
The Nietzsche Lounge- Peter Karp
Big Bee- Reverend Raven & The Chain Smokin’ Altar Boys
Dance In the Rain- Laurie Morvan

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Mr. Dill Pickle- Carolyn Gaines
(We’ve got to) Come Together- The Reverend Shawn Amos

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Pizza Flavored Kisses- Spice Boys
The Brontë Pin, Pt.2- Monks of Doom
How Ya Doin’?- Jane Lee Hooker
Alive- Dope Sagittarius

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Interlude 3- Todd Clouser, John Medeski & JT Bates (live at Icehouse)
*&%* You Guys- Todd Clouser, John Medeski & JT Bates
Jabberwockie- MK Groove Orchestra

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Bastille Day- Matthew Stubbs and the Antiguas
Don’t Let Pride Take You For a Ride- The James Hunter Six
Look a Py Py- Orgone
Psycheground- Calibro 35

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Li’l Liza Jane Interlude- Kermit Ruffins & Irvin Mayfield
Just Playin’ Kermit Ruffins & Irvin Mayfield Ft. Wendell Brunious, Leroy Jones, Leon “Kid Chocolate” Brown & Andrew Baham
Strip Tease- Alessandro Alessandroni
Night Fly- Alessandro Alessandroni

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Gave My Heart (SMBD Edit)- Omar Ft. Leon Ware

A Walk Through Falu’s Bazaar

Falu is internationally recognized for her rare ability to seamlessly blend a signature modern inventive style with a formidable Indian classically-shaped vocal talent. She was trained rigorously in the Jaipur musical tradition and in the Benares style of Thumrie. She later continued studying under the late sarangi/vocal master Ustad Sultan Khan, and later with the legendary Smt. Kishori Amonkar (Jaipur style). Originally from Bombay, Falu moved to the States in 2000 and was appointed as a visiting lecturer at Tufts University. Falu’s subsequent career in the States had led to a series of brilliant and high profile collaborations with Yo-Yo Ma, Wyclef Jean, Philip Glass, Ricky Martin, Blues Traveler and A. R. Rahman amongst, to name just a few. She has even performed for President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House. I have always enjoyed the artist, Falu but what I have learned over time is that it is also the person she is that adds to the art. Her latest project, “Falu’s Bazaar” takes families on a musical journey through South Asia, while creating the wide open opportunity to learn about the culture, everyday life and how to be a a cultivator of ones roots.

I had the pleasure of talking with Falu about the project. We took a walk through the bazaar together and discovered how the flow of the album from top down to lullaby were presented as ideas, and how the questions of a child can really lead you any/everywhere. In a first, Falu’s son Nishaad took to the conversation. He unveils what his favorite song on the album is, how grandma did with her song and there’s actually an unplugged version of the album’s opening track, as performed by Nishaad. Radio gold. Please enjoy our conversation.

Falu’s Bazaar

Sameer Gupta with A Circle Has No Beginning

Sameer Gupta is known as one of the few percussionists simultaneously representing the traditions of American jazz on drumset, and Indian classical music on tabla. Though his first few years were spent under the guidance of Ustad Zakir Hussain, his own interests and love of tabla brought him to the great tabla maestro Pt Anindo Chatterjee. Sameer has continued to build his career by combining traditional and modern improvisational styles drawing from his dual Indian and American heritage, and has already established himself as an original musical voice in jazz, world, and fusion music. From his early percussion studies in Tokyo, Japan in the mid 80s, he has consistently placed himself in many challenging musical environments. From bebop to avant-garde jazz, and European classical percussion to North Indian classical tabla, he continues to compose and perform music from a true multi-cultural perspective that now bridges several continents. As 2018 rolls in, Sameer is set to release a brand new album, “A Circle Has No Beginning”. This project brings together some of today’s finest accompanists and soloists in various styles to create a truly remarkable musical journey. With a firm Indian Classical Raga influence, the album draws on strong modern jazz improvisational roots to heighten the creative energy and spectrum of possibilities.

I had the pleasure of talking with Sameer about the project, and how he was able to follow the album from the directions it was taking him and his colleagues. We break down a couple of the artists and their important contributions and shared visions. We dissect a couple of the tracks that hit me hard in my heart’s ears as well as compare and contrast a little between the new album and his last release, Namaskar. We walk a little through the scene of the Brooklyn Raga Massive which has been hailed as “Leaders of the Raga Renaissance” by the New Yorker. I have to say that I always get a thrill out of talking about an album, a song a scene I digg, but this album took me on a new turn and I was equally opened up by chatting with Sameer about the flow, the process and the way music….in the moment….makes it happen. I hope you’ll find the same feeling about both, the album itself and the people who are behind the moments.

Musicians of the Project
Sameer Gupta – Drumset, Tabla; Marc Cary – Wurlitzer, Moog, Synth; Morley Shanti-Kamen – Vox (on Little Wheel Spin and Spin); Marika Hughes – Cello, Vox; Brandee Younger – Harp; Arun Ramamurthy – Carnatic Violin; Jay Gandhi – Bansuri Flute; Trina Basu – Violin; Rashaan Carter – Bass; Neel Murgai – Sitar; Pawan Benjamin – Tenor Saxophone; Sharik Hasan – Piano, Keys; Michael Gam – Bass