Parallels in the development of Jazz and Ghanaian Brass Band music – a lecture of John Collins

by Charlie Crooijmans

Fela Kuti and John Collins 1977

It is fascinating to see musical changes in society. Sometimes these changes are linked to sociopolitical or economical motivations. Sometimes a culture tries to superimpose other cultures. Or sometimes music from other cultures is just a source of inspiration. It is never a one-way track, but rather back and forth, upside down, and inside out. In this article John Collins is going to enlighten us about the roots and the routes of African rhythms. This is a transcription (edited by Collins) of the lecture held at the World Blend on June 28, 2013, during the Jazz Days in Rotterdam. This World Blend carried the smart title: Bye Jazz, Hello World.
Mind you, this is a long read with lots of pictures and music.

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The Ottoman Armenian

by Hatim Suleiman

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has ordered his government to draft a new law punishing denial of the Armenian genocide. The French parliament recognized the killing of the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire during the First World War as genocide in 2001. In December 2011, The French MPs went further, approving a bill that would make denying the Armenian genocide a criminal offence punishable by a one-year prison sentence and a fine of 45,000 euros. France’s top court struck it down last month as unconstitutional. Sarkozy, running for re-election next month, stressed again to the Armenian Diaspora in France (around half a million strong) his commitment to a new law.

Away from election politics and the contradicting French official denial of France’s own dark history in Algeria, I cannot help thinking of the intertwining cultures of Anatolia (or Asia minor) and its painful twists of history, I cannot help thinking of Tatyos Efendi.

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Silvio Berlusconi’s Songs of Freedom

by Davide Grosso

Italy – Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi who recently resigned due to the severe economic conditions besetting his country, has launched the new anthem of his party. The song entitled “People of Freedom” is the latest addition to the specific marketing strategies that distinguishes Berlusconi’s party since many years. As usual, lyrics are based on the keyword of his party/organization: freedom.
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Three Songs from the Syrian revolution.

Abdul Basit Saroot

Abdul-Basit Saroot

by Hatim Suleiman

For a long time, the Palestinian plight and general Arab national themes dominated Syrian political singing. The regime of Al-Asad (father and son) left no space for songs critical of Syrian domestic politics. These days however singer-songwriter Samih Shuqair, the young Syrian singer Wasfi Massarani and the popular goalkeeper Abdul-Baset Saroot are criticizing the regime in their songs.
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Musical exchange with North Korea

by Charlie Crooijmans

Who has not seen the video yet of the performance of five young North Korean accordionists playing A-Ha’s Take on me on Youtube? This weekend the quintet from the Kum Song (Gold Star) Music School Ensemble played at the Barents Spektakel in Norway. It’s rare to hear or see anything from the most isolated country in the world. Even after the death of the Great Leader Kim Jong-Il and the succession by his youngest son Kim Jong-Un, North Korea remains an extremely secluded communist dictatorship. What made this musical exchange possible?

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Egypt: Singing a revolution.

by Hatim Suleiman

Egypt is back in the news, like one year ago: demonstrations, millions marching and sitting in Tahrir Square, clashes with security forces in the heart of Cairo. One year after  the 25th of January “planned demonstration” that turned into a revolution getting millions out, in what came to be known as “the liberation squares” around the country. Named after the biggest: Tahrir (liberation) Square in Cairo. “Occupying” – or actually – regaining control of  their squares and streets from President Mubarak’s security forces and refusing to leave until their demands are met. Mubarak eventually stepped down the 11th of  February 2011, handing over power to the army’s military commanders known as the SCAF (Supreme Council of the Armed Forces). SCAF immediately paid homage to those killed in the revolution and vowed to carry on with its demands in a transitory period.  One year later however the revolution continues, the  slogan DOWN with SCAF rule replacing last year’s down with Mubark’s rule.

All along songs are used. There’s no way to document the songs of a revolution that simply had not ended and that continuously evolves. Loads of young musicians, amateurs and professionals took the chance to present their music directly to the street public or via social media. This is only a quick sketch of some of the musical moments of this revolution that gave it part of its soundtrack and image (due to the inseparable video clips).
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