Maya Kamaty: Pandiyé

Maloya and the Creole of her native Réunion were the chosen causes of Maya Pounia’s musician father and storyteller mother—activists in the movement to preserve a music heritage long suppressed and a language long marginalized. The teenaged pink-haired Maya listened to rock and pop, wanted to be a stewardess and ultimately went to study in mainland France. But separated from her culture, she craved it, gravitating toward other students … More Maya Kamaty: Pandiyé

Nobuntu: Obabes beMbube

Zimbabwe is a landlocked country but in Nobuntu it may have found its waves—warm, rolling a cappella tides that wash over the soul. Nobuntu means “Mothers of Compassion” and Obabes beMbube (Women of Mbube) is the third—and perhaps defining—album by the female ensemble from Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second city. Their two previous records fused Afro-jazz, soul, gospel and folk, some songs featuring voice only, some backed … More Nobuntu: Obabes beMbube

Xabier Díaz & Adufeiras de Salitre: Noró

In an introductory prose-poem, Xabier Díaz identifies Noró as the north wind—with previous incarnations as stone and as woman—who fell in love with an Irishman peering at the cliffs of Galway. As wind, Noró dominates humankind because she controls the fine melodic threads we call air and entices us with music. The legend gives a binary … More Xabier Díaz & Adufeiras de Salitre: Noró

Julie Fowlis, Éamon Doorley, Zoë Conway and John McIntyre: Allt

Ireland and Scotland may be separated by the North Channel but they are also linked by a stream of inter-Celtic partnerships, leagues, festivals and initiatives. Allt, a collaborative album by two Celtic music power couples, is a grand example of this movement, a collection … More Julie Fowlis, Éamon Doorley, Zoë Conway and John McIntyre: Allt

Amira Kheir: Mystic Dance

The base camp for Mystic Dance, Amira Kheir’s third album, appears on the cover: The pyramids of Meroë, 200 kilometers (125 miles) down the Nile from Khartoum. The locale is an identity marker for the Sudanese-Italian singer-songwriter, a starting point for a musical fabric woven from classical Sudanese and ancient Nubian sounds laced with soul and jazz, rock and desert blues. On the dance-journey, Kheir, who now lives in London, visits traditional … More Amira Kheir: Mystic Dance

Balarù: Gravure

Do Baroque concertos composed for harpsichord sound as good with piano? Does a Languedoc cabernet sauvignon taste as good today as it did in 1850, before blight forced French winemakers to import American vine roots? For better or worse, music and viticulture face mergers, evolution, assimilation—and when taste is involved there are no right or wrong answers. But one fine day the four musicians of Balarù, from Piedmont in Italy’s … More Balarù: Gravure

Kronos Quartet, Mahsa & Marjan Vahdat: Placeless

Can art and politics remain separate? Can musicians avoid banning? Can corrupt leaders escape satire? Freedom is everywhere in the imagination and often scarce in the real world. Songs from a beautiful album like Placeless ought to navigate auditoriums, airwaves and digital channels everywhere; and yet, doesn’t conflict pump … More Kronos Quartet, Mahsa & Marjan Vahdat: Placeless

Kanazoé Orkestra: Tolonso

Time to discuss immigration in musical terms. Popular songs in the so-called developed world revolve mostly around romantic relationships, with an uptick in recent decades of alcohol and drug themes. Lyrics in the developing world focus more on survival, conflict, society and family. Kanazoé Orkestra is a microcosm of immigrant-music dynamics, based in Toulouse and led by Burkina Faso-born Seydou “Kanazoé” Diabaté, balafon master and … More Kanazoé Orkestra: Tolonso

Noa: Letters to Bach

No composer has motivated more artists to adapt his work than Johann Sebastian Bach. Remixing began when eighteenth-century orchestras deployed pianos in pieces JBS composed for clavichord and harpsichord; it continues today with jazz, folk and blues iterations, among others. But arguably no one has channeled Bach so audaciously—or lyrically—as the Israeli singer-songwriter Noa (Achinoam Nini). She describes Letters to Bach, her eleventh … More Noa: Letters to Bach