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Across the World

Postby Plume on May 1st, 2015, 8:35 pm

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T H E--A C C O L A D E

In the spirit of recognizing female musicians not only for their skill, but for their life choices and what they represent, I would like to offer one more aspect to consider: context. In this case, the context is that of Saudi Arabia.

I'm sure most of you know, at least in a general sense, what life for women in Saudia Arabia is like. There are mixed views and reports but over all, there is a lot of negative press because they face more restrictions than we do in...well, pretty much every where else. So when people caught wind of an all girl Saudi band in genuine pursuit of their music--just the music, and nothing more--they got excited. Like, really excited.

I remember sitting in Arabic class when our teacher first shared the news. We could actually see the light of hope and elation dancing in her eyes. A girl band! In Saudi!! Could this be true? Could a little peep of a green bud be poking out in the otherwise bleak, oppressive landscape of a kingdom nation? Could it offer some shred of light after so many years of darkness? Because something--anything positive--is better than nothing. It seems that for as long as we could remember, particularly after 9/11, the Middle East has been tied to one string of bad news after another. And for tidings as outwardly innocuous as the existence of an all girl band to be so powerfully received...well, that ought to speak volumes for our times.

Suffice it to say, my Egyptian teacher rejoiced. It didn't matter what genre they played or even how good the band was. She was just so grateful that for once, there was good news attached to the umbrella of her heritage, rather than more violence and hatred to drag it through the seemingly never-ending mire and muck.

Without further ado, this is The AccoLade:



I won't inundate you with more context or ramblings. If you would like to know more about these young, ordinary girls who just love and want to play their music, here is a 5 minute interview and debrief on the band from NPR.



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C H A T M O N C H Y

So I thought, since there isn't as much info out there regarding The AccoLade, and because the context was a bit heavy to lay on for Casual Friday, that a balanced 2fer could be offered. Something light for something weighty.

Chatmonchy is, you guessed it, a Japanese all girl band. And would it surprise you to know that they're all in their 30's as well? Eriko (vocals, 31), Akiko (bass, 32), and Kumiko (ex-member, drums, 33). I swear I'm not doing this on purpose. Also, apparently their band name was derived partly from the idea of a Monchhichi.

Most of what I could say is pretty self evident. They're a J-Rock pop band and they're darned solid with their instruments. I especially like the bass player's stage presence, cause often times bassists just kind of lamp-post-it on the side somewhere in the dark, but Akiko really rocks it out. Not to mention there are a loooooooot of girl bands in Japan these days who can't always...uh...*cough*actually play their instruments*cough*.

So enjoy some Chatmonchy, an all girl band who definitely knows what they're doing. Might not be your cup of tea (hell, none of these might) but this isn't a top 100 chart or place for Needle Drop-esque music critique. Think of it more as a...tea tasting. The cups are served one at a time and set on the table. Some are iced, some still steaming, and the types range anywhere from your ever classic earl grey to raspberry ceylon, sea salt jasmine to lavender frappes, cinnamon apple to sweet potato lattes. There are add-ins, too. The peach oolong has basil seeds and aloe vera, the almond milk egg pudding, and the white peony pear just one, blooming chrysanthemum. You might like all of them. You might like none. But they're sitting there regardless, free of charge, awaiting a curious sip or two.

But enough of the gluttony. For your listening adventurism, Chatmonchy:



Stay tuned for our fifth and final segment on female guitarists, where we will be looking at a type of musician you very, very rarely hear about, all things considered. Next time, on Music with Plume!
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Pura Fé

Postby Plume on May 2nd, 2015, 8:37 pm

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P U R A--F É

Can you feel that aura of fearless womanhood oozing forth? I know I do.

Artist, activist, and descendant of 8 generations of Tuscaroran, female singers, Pura Fé has a pretty hefty musical background. Her mother was a Wagnerian opera singer who toured with Duke Ellington and Pura herself studied music while doing little odd side jobs. Her family is Deer Clan, which also meant they were matriarchal, and passed down their music from one generation to the next. In short, Pura is serious business, and behind her stands a sea of strong, tight-knit, musical women.

To sum up Pura as a person: Sincere, mellow paced, global-culturally aware and interested, grew up surrounded by women, deeply involved and in tune with her family's history, not all that emotive, until of course she starts to sing.

To sum up Pura as a musician: She is a kick-ass singer, legit lap-steel guitar player, multi-cultured song writer, and over all incredibly versatile artist. Pura was born in NYC but now lives in South Carolina to be, as she explained it, closer to her people and community, the Tuscaroran tribes. And as we've covered earlier in regards to location, these geographical influences really shine through in her music. You can hear the soul, the blues, and the activism all mixed together to make Pura Fé, well, Pura Fé. She is a modern woman, but she is also a woman deeply tied to her ancestry. Pura can just as easily perform a haunting rendition of Summertime as she can dive into some R&B, or close her eyes, bring out a First Nations frame drum, and set free some traditional Native American vocables.

Check out dem lap guitar and vocal skillz:



Pura also founded a Native American woman's a capella trio, Ulali. They've done several songs for Native American films, including Smoke Signals, which is an awesome movie and available on Netflix if you haven't seen it. They also did a song called Mahk Jchi, for the movie A Thousand Roads, and it's utterly lovely. It might even make for good posting music, especially if you're playing a Chaktawe, and there are a few versions out there to choose from. I'm just going to casually leave the studio version here, since most clips of her are live.



And you know what, she's so good that what the heck, let's drop in one last clip. This one is a little longer, but it's worth it because it's mm, mm, mm, so good. Her band is called the Pura Fé Trio, featuring Cary Morin on lead guitar and Pete Knudson on percussion. They're all fantastic musicians, if you haven't already assumed so. One last, fun fact: her name means pure faith in Spanish.



Alright, that about wraps it up for today. Sunday will be the icing on the cake , as our female guitarist installment comes to an end and we bring in someone you simply cannot mention when it comes to guitarists of our times who should probably be more famous. He is the King of Gypsy Jazz and Django Reincarnate himself. Here's a hint: he's from France, the same country coincidentally that has invited Pura Fé again and again to perform.

We'll find out next time, on Music with Plume!
Last edited by Plume on October 22nd, 2015, 4:07 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Bireli Lagrene

Postby Plume on May 3rd, 2015, 9:04 pm

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B I R E L I--L A G R E N E

Bireli was born into a traditional Manouche-Romani community. By the age of 4, he started to learn guitar. By the age of 8, he was being hailed as a child prodigy.

Here is him playing ten years ago at the Live Jazz à Vienne concert:



And here is him playing both guitar and stand up bass after having barely hit puberty:



This is like comparing virtuoso and virtuoso-er. But if you really had to pinpoint the difference, I guess it would come down to the level of musicianship. Present day Bireli is more mature, sophisticated, and nuanced with his playing, with a broader range of ability. But sheezus, could Little Bireli play. And so effortlessly as well, to the point where you begin to wonder if he actually ever does anything else.

To sum up Bireli as a person: a rather laid back person, incredibly modest, not as intimidating as he might look, bit of a prankster, open minded, good humored, completely unassuming.

To sum up Bireli as a musician: Bireli is one of those people you question if they're even actually human. Maybe he's an alien from a much more advanced civilization sent to show us what we could be capable of in 50 years. Or maybe he was left by the fae to dazzle and distract us while they steal all the oreos from our pantries. Who the hell knows? Either way, he is exceptional beyond measure. Any measure. And it's not like he's playing to become rich or famous, or both. After over 30 years of inciting thunderous applause from the jazz world and beyond, he still shows up to concerts in a comfy polo and slacks. He genuinely loves and pushes what he does, and he's never afraid to goof around in front of thousands, either. Halfway through a song, he might decide to re-tune a single string to hit several notes as part of his solo, rather than just play on the other strings (or forego notes below the low E altogether) like a normal person would. And he does so on the spot, with what may as well be called the 7th sense of Guitarism. Because he can. No biggie. Psh, who likes conventionality anyway?

This guy doesn't just play jazz. He is jazz. His passion an devotion to the music, his brilliant shenanigans, his technical prowess that surpasses and defies all expectation, even his devil may care attitude--they're more than enough proof.

For the final song of the week, here is a personal favorite. Hankering for some killer gypsy violin and accordion? Well you're in luck! This version of Django's "Tears" has both, with Bireli on guitar, Richard Galliano on accordion, AND Florin Niculescu on violin. Talk about a beastly trio.



And that's all for Guitar Week, folks! Come back tomorrow to embark with me on the next installment, which will be under the theme of "Sweet 'N Low." Can you guess what instrument(s) will be covered next?

The answer shall be revealed. Next time, on ♫ Music with Plume ♫
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Ear Foodz

Postby Plume on May 4th, 2015, 11:18 pm

Busy busy bees

Alas, Monday turned out to be busier than I expected. Also a full set of super anally chosen musicians with commentary and everything was a lot more demanding than I thought it'd be. So instead of starting a new installment this week, Imma take it easy and alternate with a collection of random, pleasant listening. Whatever feels good at the moment. And since it's such a nice, sunny, perfect day here in Southern California, and bees have been mentioned, how about some Persephone's Bees?



More chill songs to come, and Sweet 'n Low will be covered next week!

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Ear Foodz

Postby Plume on May 5th, 2015, 8:50 pm

Gloomy Tuesday

Today is weirdly overcast, cold, and bleak looking, despite yesterday being so chipper. That's California weather for you. Always keeping us mildly on our toes :p But here's a song I sometimes put on when there's gloomy weather, and if it happens to fall on a Sunday then hell it has to be played at least once. It's gotten flack for not being spartan and heartwrenching like it's supposed to be, but I think this version has its good moments. Listen for yourself and see what you think.



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Ear Foodz

Postby Plume on May 6th, 2015, 8:23 pm

Drifting

Yet another gloomy day. Well, one version of Gloomy Sunday is depressing enough. How about something to chill out with instead?



Have been listening to this on loop to maintain inner peace
during da leagues :D

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Ear Foodz

Postby Plume on May 7th, 2015, 11:45 pm

Indecisive Weather

It's supposed to rain today. Want to see something cool?

Chell in the Rain

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Esperanza Spalding

Postby Plume on May 11th, 2015, 9:36 pm

♫ Sweet 'n Low ♫


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E S P E R A N Z A--S P A L D I N G

If you guessed it ahead of time, props! This week we'll be covering all kinds of bass and alto stringed instruments, starting from the bottom and working our way up. And today, we're gonna be all about dat double bass, double bass, double bass...

To sum up Esperanza as a person: Mellow, endearing, sweet, humble, completely easy going and open minded, makes interesting shapes with her mouth when she talks, impossible not to like, and let's not forget dat Afro.

To sum up Esperanza as a musician: It should come as no surprise that she has a thorough, classical foundation. This lady played violin for ten years until she discovered the double bass at the age of 15, and from there she fell in love with improvisation and jazz. After that she went on to study in Boston, under some incredible mentors, and worked to write her own music and find her own sound. The result is a combination of solid skill and fluid creativity. Whether you enjoy jazz or not, you just have to sit there for 10 seconds listening to her and you can't not go, "yeah, that lady knows what she's doing, and she's loving every second of it." Because that's what music, what the arts in general, is right? Loving what you do, what you create, and passing that passion on like some kind of contagious, feel good virus. (Or, you know, maybe a depressing virus, whatever it is you're going for.) You want it to infect people, to become a part of their lives. And I think Esperanza is as infectious as musicians get.



The funny thing about jazz is that it has a reputation for being snobby, where in reality the very nature of its existence, of its creation, is to defy convention. I've seen people roll their eyes, jam the seek button to change stations, and even call it "music that people only listen to to feel like they're better than other people." And as someone who used to be exactly the same way, I say that is just silly.

Jazz is freedom. Whether you love it or hate it, that is what it is for a lot of musicians. You quite literally get to break free from the notes on the page, to make your own style, to just do what feels good and right in the moment. And that doesn't sound very elitist to me.

What's really fascinating about jazz, though, is that you actually kind of need classical training to truly understand its mechanics. Not to enjoy it by any means, but to really comprehend its inner workings. I guess that's maybe where the elitism might come in, but it's pretty much like having to know the laws in order to break them. To a lot of people's ears, some jazz might just sound like nonsense, because they don't know why it's being done the way it is.

Think of it this way. You're eating the same kind of chocolate chip cookie for 2 months straight, and then suddenly someone introduces to you oatmeal and raisin. It's not that the chocolate chip one suddenly sucks, but you get excited because there's something new to try, a new flavor and texture in your mouth. And even if you don't like oatmeal and raisin, the door to a whole world of cookies has been opened to you. What will you try next? Snickerdoodles, white chocolate and macadamia, peanut butter? And those are just the ones you can get from the Mrs. Fields at the local mall. There's an ocean of different cookies out there, in stores, on the internet, in a family member or friend's oven if you're lucky enough, waiting to be sampled.

You try new things because you can, so why not? I think that's pretty much jazz in a nutshell. But hey what do I know :p

Back to Esperanza! Wudya know, she also plays electric bass. Here is a song you can really groove to, and one that was released for Black History Month and directed specifically toward young boys.



Thanks for tuning in on this most marvelous of Mondays. If you know the instrument that comes after a double bass, and if you love its rich, haunting sound as much as I do, then you know you have to stick around for the next segment. And speaking of infectious musicians, I promise you'll be blown away by the thunderous energy of these two very incredible, very skilled dudes. Next time, on Music with Plume!
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2Cellos

Postby Plume on May 13th, 2015, 8:06 am

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2 C E L L O S

Prepare to flip your shyke. Or Luka Šulić and Stjepan Hauser will do it for you. Smolder smolder.

Let's just skip right to the badassery. Because everything I want to say you can see well enough for yourself. Also, who know Calvin Klein models could shred at cello? :P

(pro tip: you might want to full screen and HD this. it's worth it.)


Ok, so a bit of background. Luka and Stjepan are both Croatian and classically trained. They met at a master class when they were teens, went on to study at a bunch of prestigious music academies, and then went viral after their killer cover of Smooth Criminal. They are ridiculously photogenic, can play tender, heart felt melodies just as easily as they can shred the living bologna out of some AC/DC, and each go through about a million bows every time they play.

I feel like it's about damn time someone did this right. This whole fusing the modern and the classic together. Others before them have tried it, from Bond to...others (honestly there aren't even that many who have been terribly successful). And they can be good. I like Bond, especially the song Oceanic. But THIS good? Pfft. PFFFT.

They're also hilarious. Don't take my word for it, go listen to one of their interviews. And when you're done, enjoy some powdered wigs and cellists rolling around on the ground, because c'mon how is that not already compelling enough of a description:



Well I hope these two fellows properly rocked all of your socks and mesmerized you with their really, really symmetrical faces. Coming up next is my personal favorite out of the orchestral string family, in the form of a movement that doesn't usually get much spotlight. Check it out tomorrow, on Music with Plume!
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Ear Foodz

Postby Plume on May 13th, 2015, 9:54 pm

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THE--V I O L

I was trying to put up the next segment when I got horribly distracted by more cello. And who ever wants less cello? I know I don't. So we're going to take a tiny detour today and cover an instrument that very much exists, but doesn't often get talked about. It's worth giving a listen to, though, as you'll see soon enough.

Okay, so everyone knows what a cello is. People play it all the time, in orchestras, in school, on the streets, as members of PTX because Kevin is definitely an alien sent to enlighten us in the ways of celloing and beat boxing. They even do beautiful GoT covers like below (extra points if you know the Chinese instrument that got snuck in the second half):



But what in the name of all the gods and goddesses is a viol? Well, you can claim one for an instrument to be proficient in as a Bard in DnD, and sometimes you can spot one in an old, Renaissance or Medieval painting. But what makes it different from the cello and the viola, between which it so curiously and comfortably rests?

According to wiki, the viol, or viola da gamba (viol of the leg) is a family of bowed, fretted, and stringed instruments that first appeared in Spain in the mid to late 15th century. It was most popular during the Renaissance and Baroque periods and can be traced back to the Arabic rebab (which we will definitely cover) and medieval vielle. Viols look like they'd share a lot in common with the cello since they are similarly shaped and played, but don't be fooled. They are vastly different in numerous aspects. Viols have flat rather than curved backs, sloped rather than squarely rounded shoulders, c holes rather than f holes, and six or seven rather than four strings. They also have different tuning strategy (in fourths with a third in the middle—exactly like a lute—rather than in fifths), the presence of frets, and underhand rather than overhand bow grip (keep this underhand grip in mind for the segments to come ;)).

The result? Absolute, haunting, mellow, sometimes dark and almost always breathtaking sound. If you don't believe me, have a listen:



There are of course many many different kinds of viols. Some are Spanish, others Celtic, and they come in more shapes, sizes, embellishments, and levels of elaborateness than there are colors in the rainbow. If you want more there's much to be had, including the seemingly endless renditions by Jordi Savall. Here's a ten minute one for your listening pleasure:



And that's all for our little detour today. Come back tomorrow for some orchestral grandeur and more random tidbits as we get back on track down the line of low and lovely stringed instruments. Next time, on Music with Plume!
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