Saturday, August 12, 2017

Cesar F. Correa Cordoba: Painter, sculptor, artisan and musician.

Cesar F. Correa Cordoba
Painter, sculptor, artisan and musician.


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Check out his Soundcloud channel

Cesar F. Correa began his artistic life early, exploring painting and drawing as a child in Mexico City. He began to teach himself how to work in various media, later attending workshops at various cultural institutions to add to his expertise.

Cesar's techniques and materials are born in Mexico's land and traditions, including ceramics, woven arts, and working in wood, metal, glass, and paper along with paints. He's been exhibiing his artistic work in solo and group exhibitions in his native Mexico since 2003. Cesar's work tends to fall in a few distinct streams.

Painting
Cesar's paintings inhabit a surreal world where fantasy and reality mix, lit up by a rich sense of colour and depth. People and natural subjects are both examined, with an overarching theme of linking human nature to its environment, often through social and political themes. Street life in Mexico City is a frequent subject of his work.
Mural en "casa de colores" Guanajuato, Mèxico (2016)
Organic Sculpture
For about the last 15 years, Cesar has been developing a body of animal sculptures crafted from plants, fruits, seeds and dry organic materials that he collects from all over Mexico and other parts of the world. He's collected materials from forests, beaches, and parks in Oaxaca, Quintana Roo, Estado de Mexico, Mexico City, Guanajuato, and Veracruz, among other locales.

From them, he crafts insects, birds, reptiles, fish, and even fanciful beasts like dragons that have a lifelike, organic flow and sense of movement. They're quite remarkable. His own goal is to explore the consciousness of the natural world.

Dibujo lUz
This series explores the stark contrasts of day and night, black and white in drawings that fuse plastic, paint, and electric light. In daylight, the images appear black and white. At night, the colours emerge.
Energia - pintura acrilica, sobre plastico y lampara (2012)
Artisan Work
From the whimsical to the practical, Cesar takes his love of natural materials and forms to making novelty sculptures - like a singing skeleton music box - lamps, and other decorative objects. As with the more purely artistic work, he links the human and natural worlds through the marriage of form and function.

To add to his talents, Cesar is an accomplished composer and musician. Here's a little of the music you'll find on his Soundcloud channel.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Mû Mbana: A Music Whispered On The Wind

Mû Mbana:
A Music Whispered On The Wind


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Check out his releases at WhatAbout Music

When Westerners think of "African music" and West African music in particular, we tend to think of danceable party music - and there is plenty of that in existence. Artists like Mû Mbana, however, offer music that is more intimate and contemplative, trance-like as it builds layers of intensity.

One of the perks of working with/for a music festival is getting to know some of the artists and their music a little better than I would as an audience member alone. The Hamilton World Music Festival is how I came to know Mû.

Born in Guinea-Bissau, he traces his passion for music back to the age of three, when he first remembers dancing to the music on the radio. After stints working as a singer-songwriter in Portugal and Spain, including a jazz-fusion trio and a gospel group, he began to develop his own style in earnest by about 2001. He's been focusing on his own work as a solo artist since 2008.



His is a music that lies close to its roots, music that arises on the wind, and is whispered through the leaves and back down to the earth, translated by his body into sound. If you could call music organic, this is what it would sound like. The sounds of Guinea-Bissau and West Africa mingle with jazz flavors and complicated rhythms in a seamless flow of song.

While his songs and compositions are definitely connected to his own roots, he's always been open to collaborations in virtually any genre.

At the Hamilton World Music Festival, he easily collaborated with a Canadian roots/folk/country band, an Irish harpist, and others, and charmed them all with the sincerity of both his music and his personality.

Here, he plays with Waleed Abdulhamid, a Toronto-based multi-instrumentalist originally from Sudan.



Mû's compositions begin with a beat; like a heartbeat, they begin the life of the song, which then takes hold of his voice, eventually weaving itself into more complex rhythms and counter melodies. His voice ranges from an expressive baritone to a soft tenor that sings, sighs, speaks his lines of poetry, and even laughs at times.

He plays simbi, bensuni, and various percussion instruments which are attached to his leg and ankles, allowing him to play, sing, and add complex rhythms simultaneously. Mû's music has an intense focus, and that's what translates into the mesmerizing sounds he makes. It's not a show that you will go to see, but rather an experience you will take part in as listener.

It was his first time in North America. Here's hoping Mû will put us on his tour list for good.

Artist & Master Printer: Agustin Rolando Rojas

Artist & Master Printer:
Agustin Rolando Rojas

Agustin Rolando Rojas is an artist and printmaker. Born and educated in Havana, Cuba, he now makes Toronto his home.
"Cuanto tiempo espere para abrazarte" from the HUGS series, a drypoint selected by the jury of The Bucharest International Print Biennial, November 2016.
Agustin studied Fine Art Printmaking at Instituto Superior de Arte, Cuba, and prior to that, graduated from the Higher Art Institute of Havana, Cuba (where he has also taught printmaking,) and Friends Select School. In 1997, Agustin won an Artist Residency at the Banff Center for the Arts in Calgary and came to Canada. After stints in both Canada and the U.S.A, he settled back in Toronto, Canada since 2007.
"Zona del Refugio", etching, selected by Ourense International Print Biennial 1994.

His earlier works from about the mid-1990s are largely representational and realistic. In 1995, Agustín received the Prize Pilar & Joan Miro & Sothebys Foundation for Techniques and Development of Creative Projects with a series of six etchings which had been exhibited previously at The Fifth Biennial of Havana in 1994.
"Balca cerca de la costa", one of the prints that received a Prize Pilar & Joan Miro & Sothebys Foundation for Techniques and Development of Creative Projects in 1995.

Newer pieces are more abstracted or expressionistic. His work is evocative, with a lovely sense of texture, and engaging compositions that draws on the viewers emotions.
Etching and drypoint, printed with special handmade Japanese papers - selected by the jury at The 6th Douro International Print Biennial 2012.

Augustin's work has been shown in solo exhibitions all over the world, including the Fyns Grafiske printmaking studio in Odense, Denmark, Banff Center for the Arts, Alberta, Canada, and Stuyvesant Fine Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York. He's also shown extensively in collective exhibitions from Japan to Serbia to Miami and back.
Etching and drypoint, printed with special handmade Japanese papers - selected by the jury at The 6th Douro International Print Biennial 2012.
Along with his own work, gallery and exhibition submissions, he teaches and conduct Intaglios workshops both privately and publicly. Augustin's works are part of the collections at the National Fine Art Museum of Havana, Wolfgang Shreiner, the Private Collection of the Ludwig Foundation, Lowe Art Museum, Cuban American Permanent Collection and others.
Etching by Agustin Rolando Rojas

Saturday, August 5, 2017

CD Review: Rich Lerner & the Groove - PUSH ON THRU (Independent, May 5, 2017)

CD Review:
Rich Lerner and The Groove - PUSH ON THRU
(Independent, May 5, 2017)


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Buy on CDBaby

This latest from North Carolina band Rich Lerner and The Groove continues in the Southern-tinged rock vein the band has been plumbing for many years and through many releases. A flair for hook-laden songwriting and tight musicianship give it an instant likability factor.

Push On Thru, the title track, has a bit of a country swing, with twangy guitar lines and lyrics about just keeping on.

There's a little bit of glory on the avenue
Ya we're gonna drive it, that's what we're gonna do
We're gonna push on thru

The songs cover life and love from a working man's perspective, something that the band's local following no doubt connect with. She Kept My Room Warm is another track that leans towards country rock, with a wry, down to earth message about relationships. It's Always Something turns to classic rock for inspiration, with a nice guitar solo in the middle.

Lord Have Mercy is one of the stand out tracks. The band's easy groove translates perfectly into the retro vibe of the song. They've had largely the same personnel for the past several years and you can hear that loose/tight swing in the music.

Love Monkey is another interesting song with a stripped down, bluesy feel that layers in a wailing steel pedal together with a prominent bass riff and inventive drumming. The lyrics mine the well worn territory of love with insight and hard earned wisdom.

I stumble to submission
I'm falling through the cracks
Should've seen it coming
Like a full on freight train running
Got this monkey on my back

Soul Sistah is a radio friendly song in a mournful minor key that sticks in your head.

Back in the 1990s, Rich recorded and released four solo albums on the Rockduster label. Since 2000 Rich Lerner and The Groove have released four more albums on their own Freethemusic label. As longtime members of the community, the band founded their own annual Groove Jam Music Festival to benefit their local homeless shelter and food bank. The festival has been running since 2012.

If you're looking for solid rocking blues with a dash of country played with an upbeat groove, this is your album.

Personnel:
Rich Lerner - guitar & vocals; Sammy Smith - guitar & vocals; Craig Pannell bass & vocals; Sam Seawell - drums; Bob Sykes- pedal steel & guitar; Steve Taub - keyboards

Websites:
FREETHEMUSIC.US
GROOVEJAMGREENSBORO.COM

It's a blurry live video, but the sound is not bad on Lord Have Mercy

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Rock Review: Chrystyna Marie - LIFE (Independent - July 24, 2017)

Rock Review:
Chrystyna Marie - LIFE
(Independent - July 24, 2017)


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LIFE is the solo debut release from Chrystyna Marie, a full length album full of rock and blues hooks. Chrystyna says she's inspired as much by classics as contemporary singers and musicians, from Janis Joplin, Ottis Redding and Etta James to Selena and Christina Aguilera. Born in Toronto, Canada, she now makes her home in Los Angeles.

I Want That Boom Boom, the lead single, is a straight ahead driving rocker with her strong, clear voice threading through the heavy guitar licks. Chrystyna attacks vocal duties with a strong rhythmic sense and while she has the obvious control of a trained and experienced vocalist, she knows when to let a sense of abandon take over, as in the bouncy, bluesy Devil The Angel Eyes.



She's been active in the music industry since the age of 18, when she began as a demo singer on indie label. She's also an actress, and has appeared in local community plays like West Side Story as Maria and Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, along with accumulating a long list of smaller roles in music videos, and TV. She was the lead singer in an LA founded pop group called Greencat.

Mr. Insecurity, the second single, is a torchy ode to Mr. Wrong, with some nice guitar riffs from David Gavin Baxter. Stylistically, she takes from the rock/blues/classic rock genre, but adds polished vocals and harmonies that create a different effect - more sophisticated and urban. Special props to drummer Michelle Josef, who provides not only solid beats but some impressive fills.

She covers the old blues classic Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out. It's a version that plumbs the vocal virtuosity rather than the bluesy irony inherent in the lyrics. If that's the one critique I'd make, it's that the vocals are a little too polished for truly convincing blues expression.

Chrystyna sounds more at home on A Woman Knows, an original song about...well you can pretty much guess. It's always about that damn man, but here she really connects with the sense of the song. Mama's Blues goes into a traditional 12-bar blues mode, her vocals alternating between sultry and strident. It's one of the stand out tracks on the release.

If you're into rock and blues with a polish rather than an edge, this is a release you'll want to dig into.

Personnel: Artist: Chrystyna Marie; Bazil Donovan: Bass; Michelle Josef: Drums and Percussion; Jason Sniderman: Piano, organ, guitar; David Gavin Baxter:  Guitars, Banjo, keyboards and percussion; Paul Reddick: Harmonica; Jim McGrath: Trumpet; Philip Oleksiak: Background Vocals; Joanna Medeiros: Background Vocals

Tracklisting:
1)  I Want That Boom Boom
2)  Devil With The Angel Eyes
3)  Mr.  Insecurity
4) The Witching Hour
5) Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out
6)  Stop Stoppin' Myself
7)  A Woman Knows
8) MaMa's Blues

Websites:
Facebook:  www.facebook.com/chrystynamariemusic
Soundcloud:  www.soundcloud.com/chrystynamariemusic
Twitter:  Chrystynamarie
Instagram:  Theonlychrys

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Prog Rock Review: Jacqui L - PLANET PARALLEL 5 (Independent - 5 May 2017)

Review:
Jacqui L - PLANET PARALLEL 5
(Independent - 5 May 2017)


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Prog Rock gets a bad rap these days, but in this era of canned and pre-packaged music created to play well to marketing research, maybe a return to virtuosity and imaginative theatricality is in order.

PLANET PARALLEL 5 is that rare of beasts, a concept album. Jacqui L is a character, an alien scorpion-like creature from the planet PP5, known as Planet Parallel 5ians by its inhabitants, if we are to take Jacqui L at her word. Jacqui L only knows about Earthlings from TV shows like Keeping Up With The Kardashians and The Simpsons.

The results are quite interesting. Happy Birthday, the lead track, is a spooky, alien-esque little ditty, featuring sweet, high vocals with a weirdly dissonant chorus that swings right into the next track, Frankenstein. She's got an eccentric sense of instrumentation that works nicely with the theme.

Alice Cooper is the only obvious comparison in terms of the cemetery inspiration, but his delivery was decidedly more bombastic seventies rock. Jacqui L veers into the classically inspired territory of progrock confidently, using complicated keyboard lines and orchestral arrangements, but still with an insistent rhythmic drive. She goes for haunting and ethereal as opposed to bombastic.

Scared to throw my eggs in your basket
Shocked at how wrong I could be...

is the odd refrain to the song Frankenstein.



Jacqui L is based in Sydney, Australia. Vocally, she has a lovely, soft soprano voice that floats effortlessly and dreamily above the complicated texture of the music. Vocals are low key rather than strident, weaving into the music rather than rising on top of it. Some of the lyrics offer social commentary - from the alien point of view, naturally.

From Rich Man,

Keep them sick,
Keep them stupid,
Inside your machines...

I'll Covet is a stand out track, opening with a syncopated rhythm that breaks into a jazzy, contemplative song. It's quite compelling.



Decaying Orbit has a dancey, almost disco feel, with an insistent synthy beat underneath it all. Could Be is probably the most conventional track, a rock ballad with a seductive and hypnotic beat. Distraction is another languid, trippy song with an interesting rhythmic complexity.

Forget the labels - if you're into imaginative and melodic music that's out of the ordinary, you'll want to give it a listen.

Personnel:
All songs written by Jacqui L; All vocals and keys - Jacqui L; Produced/drums/percussion - Joe Accaria; Produced/guitars/engineered and mixed - Marty Hailey; Bass on all tracks (except Rich Man and Could Be) - Dave Symes; Bass on Rich Man and Could Be - James Haselwood


Tracklisting:
1. Happy Birthday
2. Frankenstein
3. Rich Man
4. I'll Covet
5. Cold
6. Decaying Orbit
7. Under the Noise
8. Could Be
9. Stroke It
10. Distraction

Websites
http://www.jacquil.com/
https://www.facebook.com/PlanetParallel5/

Review: Freddie Nelson - Shake The Cage (Independent - July 7 2017)

Review:
Freddie Nelson - Shake The Cage
(Independent - July 7, 2017)


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Shake The Cage is the first solo effort by veteran Pittsburgh, PA musician, composer, and producer Freddie Nelson.

Turn You On, the first track, sets the tone with hard driving guitar and a punk rock vibe, with sonic hooks to keep the ear entertained, and flashes of clever phrasing.

I wanna turn you on
Instead of working it out...

Freddie's guitar playing turns seamlessly from minimalist hard rock power chords to nimble melodic riffs. Hey Doll, the first single, veers into pop rock territory with a catchy melody and chorus. Seventies influences are abundant on the release, along with shades of Eighties and Nineties power rock.



Vocally, his literature compares him (several times) to Freddy Mercury, but I'd say he might be a bit closer to Ian Astbury of The Cult fame in terms of tone and sound, especially on tracks like All Night Long. He's said to have a four-octave range; certainly, he has range, power, and fluidity.

It's not surprising. Freddie first took the stage as an 11 year-old in his native Pittsburgh. After establishing himself as a working musician, Guitarist, singer, songwriter, and producer Freddie Nelson caught the attention of renowned guitarist Paul Gilbert (Racer X, Mr. Big) in 2009 and collaborated on an album titled United States. It was released on Mascot Records and the two toured Japan and Europe in support of the CD.

Freddie began work on Shake The Cage, his first solo effort, in 2015. He does all the writing and producing on the album, along with all of the musical and vocal performances, with the exception of drums performed by the legendary Thomas Lang (Peter Gabriel, Kelly Clarkson, John Wetton, among others).

Light is definitely inspired by Freddy Mercury and Queen, and he does achieve the right sound both musically and vocally. My Girl is a stand up track, sexy and strutting like a good hair rock band from the 1980s.

The Show is one of the album's slower ballads, with a twangy slide guitar lick, a slow waltz time, and a story about the woman who let him go.

The musicianship and vocals are next level, making this a must hear release for punk, rock, or retro metal addicts out there.

Tracklisting:
01.  Turn You On
02.  Hey Doll
03.  Light
04.  Never Fight Alone
05.  Keep Running
06.  Let You Go
07.  My Girl
08.  The Show
09.  All Night Long
10.  Monster In My Room
11.  For Those Who Die

Get Connected:
www.freddienelson.com
www.facebook.com/freddienelsonofficial
www.twitter.com/imfreddienelson
www.instagram.com/freddienelsonofficial
https://open.spotify.com/artist/6StoGBtfxI9DjqUncrvjZQ