On the program that aired the weekend of January 11 and 12, I played two pieces from the wonderful new compilation ‘Sound Portraits from Bulgaria: A Journey to a Vanished World, 1966 – 1979,’ released by Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. You can read more about the collection on the Smithsonian Folkways website. This music was recorded by educator and cultural documentarian Martin Koenig during six trips he made to Bulgaria. Here’s more from the press release accompanying the album:
Martin Koenig arrived in Bulgaria in 1966 at age 27 with letters of recommendation from fellow recordist Alan Lomax and anthropologist Margaret Mead, an educator and cultural documentarian determined to study the folk dances of rural communities throughout the country. The work of Lomax and Mead, two legendary cultural preservationists and thinkers, is an apt frame for the work documented in Sound Portraits from Bulgaria in its forthright, yet affectionate, look at the way music and dance impacted the life of rural Bulgarians and what is lost as it disappears. As Koenig writes in his introductory essay, this music and culture “should not be forgotten, as it reveals a dimension of strength and beauty in the human spirit that we, in our longing, may not even know we are missing.”
It’s an impressive album set which includes a 144-page book with detailed notes about the songs and performers as well as many photographs that give you a real sense of what Koenig experienced all around Bulgaria. I’m sure I’ll be playing more from this collection in the future.
Here are some of the albums that will be featured on this weekend’s broadcasts of The Rhythm Atlas. You’ll hear music from Bulgaria, Spain/North Africa, and Mali; Balkan Beats via Denmark, Sani folk music from China, Latin Boogaloo from NYC; and much more.
Go to the Listen page to find out how you can hear the show. I hope you can tune in!
I hadn’t heard of the New York City-based Latin boogaloo revival band Spanglish Fly until I came across their recent Tiny Desk Concert on the NPR Music website last week. I am so glad to have seen that! So glad, in fact, that I’ll be playing one of their songs on The Rhythm Atlas program that will air this weekend. (Go to the Listen menu above to find out how you can hear the radio show.)
As their website says, “Spanglish Fly is part band, part celebration: 12 musicians igniting a party that quickly spreads to the audience. Boogaloo! That mix of Latin and soul/R&B that emerged from the clubs, the street corners, the transistor radios and the pool halls of 1960s Spanish Harlem, “El Barrio.” Inspired by Latin boogaloo, or bugalú, Spanglish Fly plays irresistible grooves that blend Afro-Caribbean rhythms with the fervor, the feeling, and the harmonics of 60s soul.”
I also love what Felix Contreras, host of NPR Music’s Alt.Latino program, had to say about the band on the Tiny Desk concert page: “When the crew that is Spanglish Fly pulled in behind the Tiny Desk, the group’s vibrant version of boogaloo raised the temperature in the NPR Music offices quite a bit. Whether displaying their party spirit or even the slow burn of social consciousness on the song “Los Niños En La Frontera [The Children at the Border],” this band plays from the heart and engages both the mind and body.”
You can watch their performance here to get yourself boogalooing! And tune in to The Rhythm Atlas this weekend to hear Spanglish Fly and more fantastic music from all over the globe.
Here is the playlist for the program that aired the week of January 4, 2020, featuring selections from some of the best world music albums released in the past decade. Go the Listen page for the link to the archived audio at the PRX website.
On last week’s show, I took a look back at some of my favorite albums of 2019. As we head into 2020, I thought it would be fun to also take a look back at some of the best world music albums of the past decade. On this week’s show, you’ll hear a wide variety of brilliant music released around the world from 2010 to 2019, including cuts from all the albums pictured here.
Go to the Listen menu to find out how you can hear the program on your radio dial, listen to the live-stream online, or play the archived audio on the PRX website.
Along with the launch of this website, I’m very pleased to announce that The Rhythm Atlas radio program will now be carried by Spokane Public Radio! You can hear the show on KPBX 91.1 FM on Saturdays at 7 p.m. (Pacific time) – starting tonight, January 4, 2020. Go to Spokane Public Radio to listen to the live-stream. (That link is also available on the Listen page in the top menu.)
Michael Patoray hosted the 2-hour world music program Saturday Café on SPR for more than 30 years. Sadly, he passed away suddenly away in November 2019. I’m grateful to SPR for picking up The Rhythm Atlas, and I hope to continue in the spirit of Michael’s Saturday Café program by sharing a lively mix of fantastic music from all over the globe.
KPBX broadcasts in Spokane and the surrounding region in eastern Washington and small parts of Idaho, Montana, and Oregon. Go to the SPR website for a list of stations where you can hear it in those areas.
Tune in if you’re in the neighborhood!
Dear Music Lover,
I hope you enjoy this website I’ve created as the hub of news and information about The Rhythm Atlas radio program and about world music in general. You can find out how to listen to the show on your radio dial or online, see weekly playlists, find more info about artists and record labels, and check out links to other world music resources. Let me know if there’s something you’d like to see on the site.
Thanks for reading and listening!