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Latin America (Africa, Meet Spain. And Portugal. And France….)

All Around This World Latin America "Everywhere Map"

This week’s online class takes us to Latin America where people from two continents collide in historic devastation…and we dance. In learning about the origins of of Afro-Latin music we acknowledge the coldness of colonialism and the darkness of the Dark Passage — yes, this is a music program for kids! Be wise in your telling . . . — while at the same time celebrating the creation of new forms of music and dance that merge Spanish storytelling with the African beat. Though we nod to the past, we power on. Let’s go.

George, Meet Ravi. Ravi, Meet George.

When music fans who came of age in the 1960’s hear the term “East meets West” our guess is that their mind shoots right to the musical friendship of two dudes — Ravi and George. Of course Ravi is Indian classical sitar master Ravi Shankar, and George is the Beatles’ George Harrison. They met in the mid-1960s when Harrison implored Shankar to teach him sitar, bringing Indian classical sounds and sentiments into the most popular rock band of all time. Their collaboration opened the gates for musical explorers everywhere to leave their comfort zones, and, like George, maybe end up playing sitar on the coast.

Next week we start our “Connecting the Dots” season in earnest, connecting African rhythms with songs from Spain.

 

Bombino BURNS With Desert Blues

BOMBINO reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeally ROCKS. Born in Tidene, Niger, Bombino is a member of the Ifoghas tribe of the Kel Adagh Tuareg. Raised amid Tuareg rebellions and all sorts of family and international turmoil (you must read his bio), Bombino took refuge in the craft of Western guitar masters like Jimi Hendrix. Watch him on YouTube and you’ll hear Hendrix reborn, back and better than ever, wrapped in a shawl of African Desert Blues.

 

Moskitto Bar — our Canadian Friends

Moskitto Bar is exactly the kind of cross-border musical endeavor All Around This World loves. Formed in 2016 by three adventurous Canadian musicians who perform in three seemingly disparate traditions — Middle Eastern, Ukrainian/Balkan and Celtic/Romani — the band is an ever-expanding, consciously genre-bending experiment that has the lofty goal, as the Moskitto Bar Facebook page says, of bringing “a message of love, hope and compassion with members from all over the world.” Right on.

From Jamaican Ska to British Punk

During our “Connecting the Dots” season we’ll find fascination in forms of music that originated in one part of the world, take root deeply in another, then grow in that new place into something entirely unexpected. That is a big part of the story of ska, Jamaican dance party music that became popular in the islands in the 1950s. In the 1970s, “2 Tone” musicians in England took ska, added fast tempos and an attitude, and used it as the foundation for punk rock. How did such a thing happen? The clips in this video give us a clue.

Spoken Hand Percussion Orchestra

One of my favorite performing ensembles of all time does just that. Based in my town of Philadelphia.  The Spoken Hand Percussion Orchestra features four distinct but inspiringly complimentary “batteries” of drummers – West African djembes, Brazilian samba drums, Indian tabla and Cuban bata. Their compositions deftly ebb and flow between giving each set a drummers the chance to show the strength of their style and connecting all the drummers in the powerful universal pulse. Spoken Hand has posted a few live performances on YouTube and they’re well worth your time. This is a good place to start.

Did Ancient Future Invent “World Fusion?”

As you can imagine, especially as we start our season called “Connecting the Dots,” All Around This World is a big fan of music called “world fusion.” What’s that? The band Ancient Future claims to have originated the term when they formed in 1978 with the goal of combining jazz and rock with “African, Balinese, Indian, Middle Eastern and South American percussion, the rich harmonies of Europe, and the beautiful melodies of Asia.” Whether or not they came up with the term, they certainly make dreamy music.

 

This Season we Connect the Dots

All Around This World Global "Everywhere" map

This week we begin a whole new season of our All Around This World online class for kids — “Connecting the Dots!” Each week in “Connecting the Dots” we’ll begin with a geographic region, identify an element that’s key to that region’s music, then seek out similar musical happenings in other parts of the world. Over the next three months we’ll blur boundaries and blast through borders. Huzzah!

Happy Happy Joy Joy

We end our South and Central Asia bonus week with pure bliss. If you’re ever feeling low, watch this video of jhoomer bhangra dancers from Khalsa College in the Indian state of Punjab and I promise you’ll feel better. In fact, I know you’re sad that this is truly our last day of adventures in South and Central Asia — we start our new online class season tomorrow. So watch the bhangra dancers, give yourself a boost, and watch them again. I’ll see you tomorrow, on the other side.

 

Ringa Dinga Dinga Dinga

Munda Jatda” may be your our kids’ very first introduction to bhangra. In music class we sing about legendary heroes known as “munda jatda” and celebrate them by dancing, throwing our hands in the air, bhangra-style. Make sure to hoot and cheer and laugh to encourage the dancers, especially when you’re one of them.