Musical notes from here & there

A few random musical notes Khaira Arby: The singer from Mali made her first North American tour last fall. Here in Toronto, she sang at the Ashkenaz Festival over Labour Day weekend as a guest with the New York group Sway Machine (and also earlier that day live on air at CIUT FM).  I was impressed enough with her that I went to Montreal later that month to see her with her own band at the Club Balletou. A great performer (live and on her CD, Timbuktu Tarab), she’s now on her third trip to North America, but sadly, nobody … Continue reading

Award to Waleed Abdulhamid

This news is actually a couple of months old, but I just came across it today. Waleed, a native of Sudan, and one of the busiest musicans working in the Toronto African music community last may received the 2011 New Pioneers Award for the Arts. The award is organized by Skills for Change, a non-profit agency based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Our mission is to provide learning and training opportunities for immigrants and refugees to access and fully participate in the workplace and wider community.” The award “recognizes the accomplishments of remarkable immigrants”. Read more about Waleed here, and watch … Continue reading

Event notes for this weekend

Some events to consider this weekend:  See alsowww.events.to-music.cafor more Jul. 22: Sexteto Tabala at the Lula Last weekend, Harbourfront held the Colombian Diaspora Festival (see Harbourfront blog for some video & photos) Friday night, the Lula hosts the Toronto debut of Sexteto Tabala, from San Basilio de Palenque (“the first free town in America”). The Lula describes their music as “a unique mixture of Cuban son with Afro-Colombian rhythms such as bullerengue, porros, cumbia and funeral rituals.” A chance to catch some unique music (I plan to). Details, links & video on the Lula website Note: NVOZ, a Columbian acapella … Continue reading

Desandann: Receiving long-deserved recognition

Sometime in the late 90’s, I first saw Grupo Vocal Desandann, a 10-member vocal group of Haitian descendants living in Camaguey Cuba. They played that night at Harbourfront, and I fell in love with their music.  However, commercial success and wider critical notice has been sadly a long time in coming. Despite their alliance with Jane Bunnett and Larry Cramer, and periodic appearances in the Toronto area and around Canada, they were little known. The effective ban on Cuban musicians in the US did not help. In 2009, Bunnett and Cramer recorded what was only the group’s second CD (Pwan … Continue reading

Happy 100th Birthday to Big Joe Turner

Slightly belated congratulations to the greatest of the blues shouters, who was born in Kansas City on May 18, 1911.  I’m sure Joe won’t mind me being a day late, as he’s been playing a steady gig in R&B heaven since 1985. He started singing on the streets & in church, and later became known as The Singing Barman.  He and partner/pianist Pete Johnson ended up performing in the first of John Hammond’s “Spiritual to Swing” concerts at Carnegie Hall in 1938, and the pair made their first record the next year, “Roll ‘Em, Pete”. It seems a big jump … Continue reading

Bo Diddley documentary (1966)

An excellent 20 minute documentary on the late Bo Diddley, made in 1966: See also Part 2, Part 3 A number of scenes were shot in Toronto’s Le Coq d’Or (or “The Le Coq d’Or” as it was often called). The club was home to Ronnie Hawkins & The Hawks for many years. A bit more Bo: live in concert