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Archive for the ‘Red Baraat’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: TINY DESK PLAYLISTS (2019).

As on October 1, NPR has started the Tiny Desk Playlist page.

As of today there are 9 Playlists on the page.  I’m not going to comment on them, as I’ve already posted about all of these shows (except CHAI as of now).  I might disagree with some of these lists, but whatever the case they are a good introduction to Tiny Desks if you haven’t already seen one.

5 Tiny Desk Concerts That Will Literally Make You Cry
• Julien Baker (read more)
• Yusuf/Cat Stevens (read more)
• Bernie and The Believers (read more)
• Rev. Sekou and The Seal Breakers (read more)
• Barbara Hannigan (read more)

The 5 Most Uplifting Tiny Desk Concerts
• Lizzo (read more)
• Superorganism (read more)
• Fragile Rock (read more)
• Dan Deacon (read more)
• Mucca Pazza (read more)

The 5 Wildest Tiny Desk Concerts
• Gogol Bordello (read more)
• Red Baraat (read more)
• The Cristina Pato Trio (read more)
• George Li (read more)
• Dirty Three (read more)

The Best-Sounding Tiny Desk Concerts, Vol. 1 [selected by “the guy mixing the performances and bopping his head along just off (and sometimes on) screen” Josh Rogosin].
• Monsieur Periné (read more)
• Andrew Bird (read more)
• Nick Hakim (read more)
• Tedeschi Trucks Band (read more)
• PJ Morton (read more)

The Best Of The Very Beginning Of Tiny Desk Concerts
• Laura Gibson (read more)
• Vic Chesnutt (read more)
• Tom Jones (read more)
• Thao Nguyen (read more)
• Dr. Dog (read more)

The 5 Best ‘Before They Were Stars’ Tiny Desk Concerts
• Brandi Carlile (read more)
• Anderson .Paak & The Free Nationals (read more)
• Adele (read more)
• H.E.R. (read more)
• Mitski (read more)

Tiny Desk Trick Or Treat: Our 5 Favorite Concerts In Costume
• Neko Case’s Halloween Special (read more)
• Blue Man Group (read more)
• Mucca Pazza (read more)
• CHAI (read more)
• Preservation Hall Jazz Band (read more)

#ElTiny: The Best Latinx Tiny Desk Concerts, Vol. 1
• Natalia Lafourcade (read more)
• Jorge Drexler (read more)
• Juanes & Mon Laferte (read more)
• iLe (read more)
• Café Tacvba (read more)

Lianne La Havas’ 5 Favorite Tiny Desk Concerts
• Tank And The Bangas
• Anderson .Paak & The Free Nationals
• Noname
• Tamino
• Mac Miller

[READ: October 28, 2019] “God’s Caravan”

This story opens with boys crouching in the dirt shooting marbles.  I assumed it was set in the 1950s, so I was surprised to see that the boy knew of Michael Jackson’s moonwalk.  But it is set in Memphis, Tennessee–“Soulsville the black part.”

Earl was kicking butt and winning marbles left and right when the boys heard an ice cream truck trundle up.  But this was no ice cream truck.  Rather it was a van and it was playing “I’ve come from Alabama with a banjo on my knee.”  On the side of the van, painted in “blood of Jesus” red were the words “God’s Caravan.”  The speakers then broadcast “When I say, ‘Ride or die’…you say ‘Amen.'”

The voice said “Ride or Die” and Earl and the other boys all shouted back “Amen.”

The door opened and there was the pastor, dressed in black judge’s robes.  He said he had sweets for their hearts. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: PHILIP GLASS FLASH CHOIR-“The New Rule” (Field Recordings, July 10, 2012).

One of the first Field Recordings I posted about was with Philip Glass.  So I thought it would be fun to complete the Field Recordings (this is the last one)  with Philip Glass as well [A ‘Flash Choir’ Sings Philip Glass In Times Square].

This is one of those super-fun, public Field Recordings.  And it’s more public than most.

To honor Philip Glass’ 75th birthday this year, we here at NPR Music commissioned Glass to create a short work that would be great fun for amateur and professional singers alike.  So Glass took a work he had first written for soprano and instruments as part of his 1997 3-D “digital opera” Monsters of Grace, and arranged it for soloist and eight-part chorus. And were very lucky indeed to team up with the Make Music NY Festival, member station WQXR and the Times Square Alliance to realize this project at one of the world’s most iconic spots, the Crossroads of the World, Times Square.

As with the Red Baraat Make Music NY Festival, this is a wonderful public event where all manner of people came out to sing along.

A big part of what we do is to try to make all kinds of music engaging and accessible — and wouldn’t it be great to invite anyone who wanted to come and sing in a world premiere by one of the most celebrated composers of our time? About 200 singers gathered to sing with the ebullient Kent Tritle, one of America’s most accomplished and beloved choral conductors, and soprano soloist Rachel Rosales. (And a handful of singers were folks who had simply been walking by and were swept up in the moment.)

Before the song begins you can hear someone say, has anyone rehearsed this?  And the response is no, I think that’s the point.  And indeed, 200 voices joined together, even if some are imperfect (and who knows if anyone is) sound fantastic.

On this sweltering day, the singers’ mindful intention to gather in Times Square and its visceral result — all breath and sweat and palpable effort in the middle of glossy Times Square, with stifling heat, noise and a zillion blinking distractions — was just amazing and honestly quite moving.

The chorus sings with typical Glassian aplomb (repeating doo doo notes) while Rachel Rosales sings the lyrics.  I love hearing the bass voices do their part, it’s otherworldly.

For his text, Glass selected words from the medieval Sufi Muslim poet Jalaluddin Rumi, as translated by Coleman Barks. In his poetry, Rumi urges the reader to break free of the constraints of daily life — to upend expectations and jettison traditional thinking in an unending quest to unite with the divine. “Here’s the new rule,” Rumi wrote. “Break the wineglass, and fall towards the glassblower’s breath.” And somehow — beautifully, magically and only briefly — this fleeting chorus became the heartbeat of Times Square

It sounds great and rally captivated everyone.  And that’s why I love the Field Recordings and hope they bring them back.

[READ: February 4, 2018] “In Dreams I Kiss Your Hand, Madam”

This is from a 1947 manuscript published in 2008 in Ninth Letter.  Gaddis used some of this material in his book The Recognitions.

The story is set in a lush apartment.  The host is a man named Alex P_____.  He had recently published a book, an anthology called In Dreams I Kiss Your Hand, Madam, “a collection of imaginative love stories, stories of beauty and devotion, tales of passion and gallantry…from writers of seventeen countries n the past seven centuries.”

It was dedicated to Christine Ludington.  She had just referred to Alex as a pig because of what he said about the wife of young writer he has just published.  Then she changed the subject to say she could not imagine the satisfaction in breeding basset hounds.

Alex muttered that it was because she had never been a basset hound. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: RED BARAAT-“100+ BPM” (Live in front of the Brooklyn Public Library) (Field Recordings, June 2, 2014).

Continuing with the fun that is Red Baraat, I stumbled upon this Field Recording [What Happens When 350 Musicians Meet For The First Time In Brooklyn?] from the NPR studios.

As part of the Make Music New York Festival, NPR commissioned new music from Red Baraat and Sunny Jain created “100+ BPM.”  And as the blurb informs us:

“We put out a call and they came — by the hundreds. When we invited wind, brass and percussion players to join us yesterday in Brooklyn to perform a world premiere by Red Baraat‘s Sunny Jain for the annual Make Music New York festival, we were hoping that lots of different kinds of musicians would join us. And boy, did they ever.

On this absolutely gorgeous Saturday afternoon, about 350 musicians assembled on the steps of the Brooklyn Public Library to play Jain’s 100+ BPM. Young, older, professional drumlines, community marching bands, seasoned jazz players, Indian wedding band musicians, Brazilian samba drummers and scads of amateur players came out to play. It was just incredible.

I don’t know how they managed to record the music so perfectly, but it sounds fantastic.  You can really hear the different instruments (well, except maybe the poor violins and that piccolo) as they zoom in on one section or another.

The whole group plays along perfectly.  And there’s even some great sax solos (how did they decide who got to solo?) an excellent trombone solo and lots and lots of drums and percussion.

I love that after the wild soloing everybody joins back in for that great melody once again.

At 6:15, the song stops (and you get to see how psyched Sunny is).  Then after a short pause he starts clapping and selects which group of instruments will keep the beat going.  First it’s drums, then percussion, then the tubas and then the brass comes into play a new staccato riff that is fun and catchy and easy to speed up. Which it does.

He drops out the drums and selective instruments until it’s just the tuba and percussion.  Then the drums come back in and he starts picking up the tempo of that riff again.  Faster and faster do they get to 100BPM? According to this excellent free BPM counter, they make it to 106/107 BPM during the main part.

Then after a breather it’s time to keep going, faster and faster until they reach 126 BPM by the end and Sunny gives an exultant leap to end the song.

What an excellent way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

[READ: February 26, 2018] “Pardon the Intrusion”

Lydia Davis stories are usually really short–a paragraph or two or three.

This one is very different.

It is a series of posts–requests and thanks for various items.  And that’s it.

It’s hard to tell if a story can be constructed from these requests–at times it seems like you can follow a narrative.  But mostly it just seems to be people requesting goods and services. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: RED BARAAT-Bhangra Pirates (2017).

Although Red Baraat’s first two albums were good, this one leaps beyond the other two.  Perhaps its the addition of the guitar–bringing a(nother) new element to their sound.  Or perhaps it’s that the whole thing just sounds so much bigger.  Half of the songs were recorded live at KEXP which might explain the fresh (and live) sound.

And as one review puts it

Clearer production makes it easier for each of Red Baraat’s chosen musical styles to stand out as they blend together. Jazz, funk, and rock and roll all play important parts on Bhangra Pirates, and it’s clear early on the album, even to newcomers, that Red Baraat is less about sticking to a genre than to doing what makes the whole band – and the whole audience — have a genuinely great time.

It’s here in their discography that I get a little confused.  Before this album, they put out an album called Gaadi of Truth which features about half of the same songs as this one.  There’s also something called Big Talk which seems to be a remix album of sorts.  Talk  is available from their bandcamp site but Gaadi is not (although it did get full on reviews when it came out).

There’s a tremendous riff that opens “Horizon Line” and the moody guitar drones really balance it out nicely.  Plus the dhol and the rest of the percussion sounds really clear–much more obvious than on the past two records.

“Zindabad” opens with a Middle Eastern guitar riff .  After a horn fueled intro the main riff kicks in.  And then the vocals come in.  No idea what they’re singing about and that’s all the better–it’s fun to chant along.  The riff after the first verse is another great brassy one.

There’s some big guitars that open “Banghra Pirates,” and once the song starts the vocals come in.  There’s lots of get your body moving sentiment and then some other words which who knows what they are, but rhythmically they’re great.   The middle has a great heavy almost metal chugging of chords for a nice slow down before the party starts again.

“Tunak Tunak Tun” is a song they recorded on their debut album.  It’s even better here.  It’s a cover of a song made popular worldwide by Daler Mehndi (and how much fun is the original).  “Rang Barse” opens with what sounds like a sitar although it’s not listed in the instruments.  “Bhangale” features guitars from  Delicate Steve.  There’s some great chanting up front that sounds like “Bhangale ooch oolay wah wah wah.”

“Gaadi of Truth” opens with a big guitar and some very cool effects (particularity on the sousaphone which has a cool underwater sound).  The middle has some interjections: “horn please” bwaaaaaaaah  “horn please” bwaaaaaaah.  There’s a pretty wild and noisy guitar solo too.

“Se Hace Camino” adds Spanish/Latin music to their reprtoire.  The song is sung in Spanish and English: “we make the road by walking.”  “Akhiyan Udeek Diyan”  goes through many different sounds and styles over its 6 minutes, ultimately with a fast rollicking pace before ending.

“Layers” ends the dis with an upbeat almost poppy instrumental.  It’s sweet with a kind of call and answer from the horns.  It’s a delightful ending to a party disc.

The lineup is largely the same, although they’ve added the guitarist and have changed a few members:

Sunny Jain – dhol & effects/vocals; Rohin Khemani – percussion; Sonny Singh – trumpet/vocals; Ernest Stuart – trombone; Jonathan Goldberger – guitar (all tracks except 5,10); Delicate Steve – guitar (track 5); MiWi La Lupa – bass trumpet/vocals (tracks 3,5,6,8-10); Chris Eddleton – drumset (tracks 1,2,4,7); Tomas Fujiwara – drumset (tracks 3,5,6,8-10); John Altieri – sousaphone & effects (tracks 3,5,6,8-10); Jon Lampley – sousaphone & effects (tracks 1,2,4,7); Jonathon Haffner – soprano saxophone (tracks 1,2,4,7) / alto saxophone (tracks 3,5,6,8-10); Mike Bomwell – soprano saxophone (tracks 3,5,6,8-10) / baritone saxophone (tracks 3,10);  not on this recording: Arun Luthra – soprano sax ;   Smoota – trombone.

[READ: March 6, 2018] “The Poltroon Husband”

I tend to like Joseph O’Neill stories–there’s usually something in the style and the structure that is pretty enjoyable.

And that was true for this one.  I wasn’t blown away, but I really enjoyed it and there were some parts that I enjoyed a lot.

A man and his wife move from Phoenix to Flagstaff.  They build a house there from shipping containers (I love that details and I’d love to see what it looks like). He tells his wife that it is going to be their “final abode.”  Jayne doesn’t like this designation.  But he defended the merits of the phrase with “an argument from reality.” Jayne said he was using “an argument from being really annoying.”

He says that abode means a residence, of course, but it comes from an Old English verb which means To wait.  Abide comes from the same root.

One night they are in bed and Jayne hears a noise.  They listen, hear a few more noises and what sounds like a cough  However, “although the house has two stories and numerous dedicates zones…only the bathrooms are rooms.  Otherwise the house comprises a single acoustical unit.  Often a noise made in one zone will sound as if it emanated from another.” (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: RED BARAAT-Shruggy Ji (2013)..

Red Baraat’s second album feels a lot bigger than their debut.  The production is bigger, there’s (even) more diverse sounds.  And there’s a lot more vocals album.

I enjoyed the brrrrrr ah! vocals, but I’m a little less excited by the rapping. Primarily because the lyrics are pretty lame (party type lyrics for the most part). But that doesn’t diminish from the music, which is super throughout.  It feels big and solid–evidently the band was recorded playing all together with only minimal overdubs.

“Hala Bol” opens with a wild melody and some singing “bol bol bol, hala bol–RAISE YOUR VOICE!–baby baby bol hala bol.”  The song is pretty long (as most of these are and the middle features the guys chanting all manner of things in possibly different languages.

“Tenu leke” opens with a celebratory “Brrrrrrrrr ah” and chants of  “hoy hoy hoy.”  There’s a wonderful uplifting sense to the melody especially when the song takes a breath and the notes spring forth once more.

“Shruggy Ji” opens with some slow, ominous horns for about 25 seconds and then the dhol, percussion, and drums kick it up into a furious meld of go-go funk, hip-hop, jazz, and South Asian groove.  The powerful funk makes way for a good-natured rap: “Move your body and shake those hips / just feel the rhythm all under your skin / drip drop the sweat / shruggy ji lets begin.”  Nothing exciting, but fun.  The rap in the second half is less successful although I’ve read that it’s meant to be all in fun, so I guess a line like “I’m gonna ask you some question like I was Biz Markee” is just comical.  About the song band leader Sunny Jain says, “We like to think of ‘Shruggy Ji’ as that shadow lurking next to us, waiting to take over when the night falls and move our body with no inhibitions.”

“Burning Instinct” has the kind of booty shaking vibe that make you wanna move.  The dueling horn solos add to the fun chaos that the percussion is creating.

“Dama Dam Mast Qalandar” has lyrics in Hindi (I assume) which seems to work better because I’m not trying to figure out what he’s singing about.  “Sialkot” opens with some thundering dhol paying and lots of “brrrr ahs!”

“Private Dancer” also features rapping party vocals over some slow rolling funk.  I love that it begins with someone shouting “yo, turn that dhol up!”   “F.I.P.” is full of more fun and dance and lots of call and response. “Apna Punjab Hove” has a bit of an upbeat  reggae feel and a smidge of klezmer for a change of pace.  It’s still dancing, just a different step.  Lots of chanting of “ah -ha” and the like.

“Azad Azad” is an album highlight.  It’s got great percussion and a fun riff from the horns and lots of chanting.  Unlike some of the more partying songs, this one is more political: “no borders, no walls, freedom [sings / dances / rings] through us all.”

“Mast Kalander” is a fun song which proves that the more nonsensical the lyrics, the better the party: “jump in the sauce / throw your hands up and go crazy.”  I love how it gets faster and faster as it progresses.”

“Aarthi”ends the album with a cool, jazzy melody.  The party is over and it’s time to go home so lets chill things down a bit.  I love that the song opens with what sounds like someone blowing into a bass saxophone and making vocals sounds at the same time.  It’s pretty cool.

The lineup remains the same as the first album:
Sunny Jain – dhol ; Rohin Khemani – percussion ; Tomas Fujiwara – drumset ; Arun Luthra – soprano sax ; Mike Bomwell – baritone sax ; Sonny Singh – trumpet ; MiWi La Lupa – bass trumpet ; Smoota – trombone ; John Altieri – sousaphone.

[READ: January 24, 2018] “Maps and Ledgers”

I haven’t really enjoyed the stories by Wideman that much.  So I wasn’t really looking forward to this one.  But it proved to be pretty straightforward and quite compelling.

As the story opens we meet a man who says that in his first year teaching at the university, his father killed a man.  The narrator was barely established in the school–he had no phone in his office–so the call went to the English Department chair’s office.  It was his mother, sobbing and blubbering.  He had told her to call there only in an emergency, which this was, obviously.

The chair was a southern gentlemen and he respectfully left the room once the narrator had been called down.

But the story isn’t just about him.  The narrator’s Aunt C got his father a lawyer.  Aunt C was a pioneer.  She had served as a WAC office in WWII and submitted applications for jobs through the Veterans Administration.  She managed to get a job in the city planners office before they realized she was black.

They did not convict his father–the victim was black after all.  But things got worse for him.

And this is when another one of Wideman’s stories gets confusing.

My father’s son, my youngest brother, convicted of felony murder. And years later my son received a life sentence at sixteen. My brother, my son still doing time. And my father’s imprisoned son’s son a murder victim. And a son of my brother’s dead son just released from prison a week ago. And I’m more than half-ashamed I don’t know if the son, whose name I can’t recall, of my brother’s dead son has fathered son or daughter.

Gets confusing doesn’t it?

Yes it does. (more…)

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 SOUNDTRACK: RED BARAAT-Chaal Baby (2010).

Red Baraat is one of the few bands to play two Tiny Desk Concerts. I’ve also had the fun experience of seeing them live.

The band was founded by dhol player Sunny Jain as a way to bring Bangrha music to Brooklyn.  The band speaks to many disciplines and plays a wonderful mash up of styles.  So while the foundation is bangrha music, there’s elements of funk, go-go, Afro-Cuban, Brazilian, and jazz–all designed as one big party.

This debut album features the dhol, soprano and tenor sax, trumpets, trombones, sousaphone and drums and percussion.

To my ear the sousaphone is the grounding instrument–often standing out as the bass while the rest of the brass is playing melody or soloing.  And yes, sometimes the sousaphone gets a solo or two as well.

I love the vocal interjections–whether nonsense or actual words I can’t tell, but they are often fast and fun–good punctuation to the melody.  And the band knows melody.  The main riff of “Tunak Tunak Tun” is a blast.  And the vocal phrases are there to humanize the party.  I didn’t realize that this was a cover of Bhangra pop singer Daler Mehndi’s song of the same name, but that explains the catchiness.

In fact there are several covers on the album.  “Hey Jamalo” (a reworking of Malkit Singh’s popular “Hey Jamalo Tootak Tootak Tootiyan”) opens with a rousing introduction with a solo from dhol.  I rather wish there was more obvious dhol playing (which is so much fun to watch live) but it blends in pretty perfectly with the rest of the music and fits perfectly with the percussion solo in the middle of this song.

They play three Bollywood soundtrack hits “Dum Maro Dum,” “Samaro Mantra,” and “Mehndi Laga Ke Rakhna.” “Dum Maro Dum” has some cool percussion sounds an a real jazz feel–I love the way they stretch out the notes in the middle.

The word Baraat (Hindi: बरात) (Urdu: برات‬‎) means a groom’s wedding procession in North India, West India and Pakistan.  Unsurprisingly, they play two covers of traditional Indian wedding songs “Punjabi Wedding Song (Balle Balle),” which has some fun stop and start melodies and a real marching band kind of vibe and “Aaj Mere Yaar Ki Shaadi Hai” which opens with some dramatic percussion before settling into some very pretty processional music.

But it’s not all raucous party music.  “Arcana” slows things down with a cool riff or two and nice accompaniment.

However, other songs like “Drum and Brass,” escape easy categorization with a clarinet reminiscent of Eastern Europe combined with percussion and melodies from Western Asia.

The title song “Chaal Baby” has some great chanting and dramatic horns moments which I saw described as “the Dirty Dozen Brass Band gone Bollywood” or belonging at a Punjabi football halftime show.

Speaking of marching band, there are a few moments on this album that felt kind of like a marching band to me.  “Mehndi Laga Ke Rakhna” was an example of a marching band vibe.  That kind of sound is hard to avoid (if indeed they are trying to) with that kind of instrumentation, although perhaps that is the inevitable comparison to processional music. My experience is that it works better live than on record.

But songs like the original “Baraat to Nowhere,” showcase a great original melody and some fun soloing.  Nearly every song features a solo by one or more members of the band allowing everyone to show his chops.  And back to that sousaphone–I’ve never heard anyone make sounds like that from an instrument before.  Great stuff.

“Samaro Mantra” the Bollywood song, ends the album on almost a down note.  The melody is somber, the drums are martial.  It’s kind of an odd choice for an otherwise upbeat and celebratory album.  But maybe it works as a calm down after an exiting wedding–time to go home everybody, party’s over.

Sunny Jain – dhol / drumset / percussion ; Rohin Khemani – tavil / doumbek ; Tomas Fujiwara – drumset ; Arun Luthra – soprano sax ; Mike Bomwell – tenor sax ; Sonny Singh – trumpet ; MiWi La Lupa – bass trumpet ; Smoota – trombone ; John Altieri – sousaphone

[READ: January 14, 2018] “Pieces”

I rather enjoyed Hye-Young Pyun’s previous story and was intrigued to read another one.  This one was translated by Sora Kim-Russell.

The previous one was thoughtful and disturbing and so is this one.

In this story, which is surprisingly unspecific about the characters, a man’s wife went missing a month earlier.  She slipped off off of a gorge and was presumed drowned.

He has just gotten a call from the police that a body part has been found and they would like him to identify it.  The part that was found was a right leg. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: October 1, 2017] Red Baraat

Sarah sent me a link to “World Music Day” a free festival at a park just 15 minutes from our house.  I love multicultural events, so I was of course interested.  And then I discovered that the headlining band was Red Baraat, a band whose Tiny Desk Concert was amazing and who I wanted to see live, although who knew when that would happen.  Well, here they were at a free show right around the corner from me!

Tabby had a field hockey game earlier that day and we made it to the park with plenty of time to eat empanadas from the empanada truck and get a great seat right up front.

It took a few minutes for the band to get set up (and the sign they had taped to the wall fell on the poor drummer), but once the band got started, they sounded fantastic. (more…)

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