The pajarillo cautivo, the little captive bird.

Mestizo is the historical/traditional way to denote a person of mixed indigenous American and European blood.

A yaravi is a song form in triple meter, in the minor tonality, sung in the Peruvian Andes mountains; these are songs of passion and loss, complicated love affairs etc.

I put this song on today and, against a backdrop of full sun and slightest browning leaves, a bit hot and humid too, it completed a feeling which I cannot explain, but which this beautiful music would explain to anyone with love in their heart.

It sounds like a three piece to me: harp, guitar, singing.

There is an old fire to this music which I have never experienced in person, and might never. And what a shame that most of us living now together in the future will never either.

Music of Peru, Ethnic Folkways – Pajarillo Cautivo (mestizo yaravi) <<<PLAY

Brazilian composer Paschoal Melillo doing a characteristic baiao, which is the name for the basic rhythym of this music. Baiao, samba and bossa nova are the three most important structures in Brazilian folk sounds.

On the Rio de Janeiro label Copacabana from the early 50s, Ciganinha is a right example of this type of music and its intentions: warm, virtually always in a major key, and ever so swinging. A perfect warm weather tune, with or without the caipirinha.

Paschoal Melillo e Seus Guitarristas-Ciganinha <<PLAY

Chester Arthur Burnett, otherwise known as Howlin’ Wolf, was born in 1910 in White Station, Mississippi; he would go on to become one of the most important blues musicians of any era. His sound was hard and direct, the sand-grit howl and tough delivery would eventually transform music in the 1950s, laying foundation for sounds to come. Rock n’ roll and the inevitable British invasion in the 1960s, for examples, owe much to Wolf’s recordings and aesthetic.

He made records mostly for Chicago’s Chess label and his 78s are gems to anyone interested in blues shellac.

This particular side, recorded in 1958, was my first ever introduction to Howlin’ Wolf and it has a special place in my heart. I still listen to it often; the raw, wild energy sounds fresh every time.

Howlin Wolf – Moanin For My Baby  <<<PLAY

John Lee Hooker, blues legend, doing the self-penned Dimples.

Recorded 27-March-1956 in Chicago, Illinois. Session:

Eddie Taylor (guitar), George Washington (bass) and Tom Whitehead (drums).

John Lee Hooker – Dimples <<<PLAY

Sabah (born Jeannette Gergi Fighali in Lebanon, 1927) is a world-renowned singer, movie star and stage actress. Her repertoire of songs is in the thousands,somewhere around 3,500; but I have also read that she has upwards of 4,500 (!) in her songbook. She is a polyglot, fluent in Lebanese, Arabic, Turkish and the Egyptian tongue, which is now Egyptian Arabic but has the shadings and history of the original Coptic language. Unfortunately, not enough of her movie and stage career has been released in any medium: you had to have been in the theatres and movie houses of the middle east to have seen her, although a few movies can be still be found if you peep around.

Sabah’s musical output, however, is fairly well documented and she can be found on over fifty albums: plenty of CDs and 45s to be dug up; but to hear her on a 78 is rare. Her perfectly intonated, confidently sung phrases are such a thing of beauty, undulating and water like, as the Arabic scale is apt to be in the hands of a master.

This song, Wassaltina Lilbir, is a two part-er, and a short epic, on the Voix de L’Orient label.  It was recorded and manufactured in France sometime in the 1940’s. I have “glued” the two sides together with the agency of GarageBand, only the slightest tick happening at the beginning of what is the bridge(?) section. Sabah’s voice during this pivotal part of the song has to be one of my favorite female vocals of all time: her control, compassion and honesty shine, bringing the gravity back to the final swing through the main themes and ending.

Sabah – Wassaltina Lilbir (parts 1 & 2) <<PLAY

I have not been able to find anything about this Turkish 78 except for the name? of the performers? which is written in English on the label. An intense piece of music which a scratchy recording only serves to make even scarier, it has voices, an insistent hand drum and the horn/flute instrument sounds like an ancient mey. A captivating, maybe uneasy listen (war song?heroic allegory?),this appears to be from the late 1910s, on Victor’s “bat wing” label.

Seni Ghiardukdje titreyor ghureim – Song in Turkish <<PLAY

As a part of history, Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington transcends any localizing. He traveled the world with his famous orchestra, playing his compositions for the fox trotters at Harlem’s Cotton Club, the British queen and her family, Carnegie Hall concerts, television appearances, Argentine “hot” dancers etc. Igor Stravinsky went to hear him many times. His orchestra broke down racial barriers for “the Race”, playing for the first time in countless as-yet segregated venues. Many of Ellington’s compositions have become canonical, and many became Standards in his own time.

For this one, I have picked two: Creole Rhapsody, recorded in January 1931, and Swamp Fire from 1946.

Duke Ellington and his Orchestra – Creole Rhapsody (parts 1 & 2)<<PLAY

Duke Ellington and his Orchestra – Swamp Fire <<PLAY