Friday 26 February 2021

SONGHOY BLUES - BBC Radio Session: 2019 (Flac)

Songhoy Blues bring their dynamic 'desert R&B' to the Music Planet studio, presented by Lopa Kothari. Staying with artists from Mali, this is a superb session I recorded some 18 months ago. The interview gives background on the band and the current political situation back home.

Music Planet BBC Radio 3 FM
Friday 30 August 2019 / 11pm-12:30am

Songhoy Blues session
broadcast 30 August, 2019

01. Ai Tchere Bellé (3:42)              
02. Desert Melody > Interview pt. 1 (8:14)            
03. Ai Du (Ali Farka Toure cover) (4:07)        

04. Interview pt. 2 (4:13)
05. Hambour Durgna (4:17)
The original version of cover track 03 appeared on Ali Farka Toure's collaboration with Ry Cooder, the superb 'Talkin' Timbuktu' album.


Thursday 25 February 2021

FATOUMATA DIAWARA - BBC Radio Session: 2018 (Flac)


Using the tools available via my home stereo equipment and those online, audio editing programmes and the means to record digitally (without cassette tapes, mini discs and cd recorders, remember them!) I began recording radio programmes for the first time in some fifteen-years during 2017. It took a bit of trial and error to get recordings that I was satisfied with. As touched on in a previous post, an indoor aerial was insufficient for the job and I invested in an FM outdoor aerial which provoked some interest amongst the neighbours. This neat piece of kit enabled some strong FM signals to be captured and I have decided to pass some of the fruits of these on to you.

BBC Radio 3 FM:

During the time I begun experimenting with recording digitally I discovered that BBC Radio 3 were trialling the use of lossless FM broadcasts.

During the proms broadcasts, all other programmes were available in compression free FM Stereo. This was of interest to me as I had been searching and testing the BBC radio schedules for programmes to record. I had spotted that contrary to most opinions Radio 3 wasn't just for classical music and there were other types of music being broadcast, primarily on 'The Late Show' and 'World On 3'.

The latter programme was eventually dropped in an overhaul of the radio schedules, taking its place was 'Music Planet' with the same alternating DJ's - Lopa Kothari & Kathryn Tickell, fronting the new look programme. Essentially because of the new compression free FM broadcasts it seemed an ideal programme to record. 

The trial ran from mid July 2017 through proms season to the first week in September taking in the renowned Womad, Latitude and Edinburgh festivals. That particular year Radio 3 devoted a large portion of the schedules with live broadcasts and interviews from the Womad festival. Find an example here: LINK

I became a regular listener to the show at this time and have some excellent sessions and live performances from the likes of: Oumou Sangare, Toots & The Maytals, King Ayisoba, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Afro Celt Sound System, Nooran Sisters & Martin Simpson.

This particular show comes from a year later, unfortunately the compression free broadcast experiment wasn't repeated and nearly four years later hasn't been put into practice. While FM through the air broadcasts remain it seems unlikely that it will become the norm although with better broadband facilities in the UK its time may eventually come.


Fatoumata Diawara in session

Presented by Lopa Kothari and featuring a specially recorded studio session by the Malian singer and songwriter Fatoumata Diawara, performing material from her new album Fenfo. 

DJ and broadcaster Alex Jordan reports from Kingston, Jamaica for this week's Road Trip with music ranging from classic ska and rocksteady to contemporary dancehall. 

Plus we have the new release from Thabang Tabane (South Africa) and the latest discovery from BBC Music Introducing.

Music Planet BBC Radio 3 FM
with Lopa Kothari  
Friday 20 July 2018 / 11pm-1am

t1 from BBC i-player, the remaining tracks are from the live FM broadcast

best of: 29 July 2018 broadcast

01. Eliana Cuevas - El Manantial | Golpes y Flores (Inakustic) * i-player recording, missed the beginning of the programme
02. Fatoumata Diawara - Don Do (Studio Session)
03. Orlando “Cachaíto” López - Redencion | Cachaito (World Circuit)

04. Road Trip from Kingston, Jamaica:
a Bob Marley & The Wailers - Simmer Down (Coxsone)
b The Kingstonians - Singer Man (Song Bird)
c Wayne Marshall - Glory to God (ft. Tessane Chin & Ryan Mark) (Kingston Hills Entertainment)
d Amindi K. Fro$t & Tessallated & Valleyz - Pine & Ginger (Big Beat)
e Chronixx - Likes | Chronology (Soul Circle Music)

05. Mélissa Laveaux - Nan Fon Bwa | Radio Sywel (No Format)
06. Fatoumata Diawara - N'Terini (In Session)
07. Fatoumata Diawara - Fenfo (In Session)
08. Waaju - Maroc (BBC Music Introducing)
09. Miriam Makeba - Kilimanjaro (Mixtape) | Lovely Lies / Kilimanjaro (London)
10. Fatoumata Diawara - Sinnerman (In Session)
11. Fatoumata Diawara - Kanou Den Yen (In Session)
12. Thabang Tabane - Nyanda Yeni | Nyanda Yeni (single) (Mushroom Hour Half Hour)

running time: 80:19


01. Eliana Cuevas – El Manatial | Golpes y Flores (Inakustic, 2017)

Eliana Cuevas was born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela. In 1996 she moved to Canada and currently resides in Toronto, Ontario. Her latest album, Golpes y Flores is her sixth and has been described as a love letter to her troubled homeland. It won

the award for ‘World Solo Artist of the Year’ at the 14th Canadian Folk Music Awards in 2018.

The drumming and percussion on this track immediately draws you into the song and blends perfectly with her lilting vocal melodies.

Fatoumata Diawara - In Session for BBC Radio 3,  June 6, 2018

02. Don Do, 06. N’Terini, 07. Fenfo, 10. Sinnerman & 11. Kanou Dan Yen

Fatoumata Diawara was born in the Ivory Coast to Malian parents. As an adolescent, she was sent back to their native Bamako in Mali to be raised by an aunt. She moved to France to pursue acting and later took up the guitar and began composing her own material, writing songs that blend Wassoulou traditions of southern Mali with international influences.

She sings primarily in Bambara, the national language of Mali. Her second studio album, Fenfo (Something To Say) was released in 2018 on Wagram Music/Shanachie Records. This promotional session ostensibly to promote the album saw her appearing solo. As often happens with BBC sessions, the artist often opts to add something different to their performance and not content with appearing solo with her guitars and effects pedals, Fatou provides a version of Sinnerman, itself made famous by Nina Simone’s extended cover and by several versions from Bob Marley, Peter Tosh & Bunny Wailer.

Diawara is regarded as one of the most vital standard-bearers of modern African music, her new album is boldly experimental yet respectful of her roots, it’s a record that defines her as the voice of young African womanhood – proud of her heritage but with a vision that looks confidently to the future and a message that is universal. DJ Lopa Kothari discusses the themes and meaning of the selected songs for this session with Fatou in the short interview.

03. Orlando ‘Cachaito’ Lopez – Redencion | Cachaito (World Circuit)

‘Cachaíto’ was a Cuban bassist and composer, who gained international fame after his involvement in the Buena Vista Social Club recordings. In 1996 he was hired by Juan de Marcos González for his Afro-Cuban All Stars, signing to World Circuit, and at the same time becoming a member of the resulting Buena Vista Social Club project and appearing in Wim Wenders' documentary Buena Vista Social Club.

Cuban bassist Orlando "Cachaíto" Lopez, gained international fame as the bassist with Buena Vista Social Club. More importantly, Lopez's fluid, supple playing accompanied six decades of exceptional Cuban music-making - jazz, classical, mambo, salsa and fusion. In 1996 the young Cuban musician Juan de Marcos González hired Lopez as part of his Afro-Cuban All Stars. This large band was signed to the British label World Circuit. When the World Circuit boss Nick Gold turned up in Havana with the American guitarist Ry Cooder later that year, they initially hoped to record Cuban and Malian musicians playing together. Visa problems sabotaged this project, so they employed González to put together a band of veteran Cuban musicians. He brought Lopez in on bass and the resulting sessions were called Buena Vista Social Club.

World Circuit's 1997 Buena Vista CD proved a phenomenal - and unexpected - hit, selling over eight million copies and setting almost all the album's participants up with solo careers. Lopez was the only musician from the original sessions to play on all the following albums by the Buena Vista alumni.

After a career spanning some 60 years, Cachaíto made his debut solo album in 2001 the producers recorded Lopez's bass as the lead instrument, pairing him with musicians from across the globe and pushing his sound until it took on elements of dub reggae, ambient jazz and hip-hop. While the album was critically acclaimed, it proved too challenging to be a large seller.

04. Road Trip To Jamaica

featuring Bob Marley & The Wailers, The Kingstonians, Wayne Marshall, Tessellated & Chronixx

The road trip series is a regular spot on the Music Planet programme. A different country is selected and a resident discusses the local music scene and presents some tracks that give an idea of either the history and/or current styles of music. It’s an impossible task to select five tracks that encompass the history of Jamaican music, so we move rapidly from ska and early reggae’s past into the future with today’s newest dancehall and reggae rebel frequency artists. I can strongly recommend the Chronixx album 'Chronology' and if you are wondering what the rebel frequency is about see the new John Masouri book 'Rebel Frequency: Jamaica's Reggae Revival.'


05. Melissa Leveaux – Nan For Bwa | Radio Sywel (No Format) 

This track is from Haitian-Canadian singer-songwriter Mélissa Laveaux’s new album ‘Radyo Siwèl’. It was conceived around the songs sung during the American military occupation of Haiti from 1915 to 1936. Through her music Mélissa proudly explores her roots and brings back to life the stories, the songs, the crafts and the dreams of Haitian folklore and Voodoo culture.


08. Waaju - Maroc (BBC Music Introducing)

BBC Music Introducing is BBC Radio's platform supporting unsigned, undiscovered, and under-the-radar UK talent. It gives artists the opportunity to be played on BBC local radio and nationally. Tonight’s selected artist was Waaju, a London-based groove-centred world jazz ensemble that encapsulates many influences from West African music, with a particular focus on the music of Mali. The band plays the original music of drummer & percussionist Ben Brown which combines the exceptional spirit of the likes of Ali Farka Toure, Oumou Sangare, Tinariwen & Baba Sissoko with the spontaneity of jazz harmony & improvisation - resulting in an undeniably energetic performance!


09. Miriam Makeba - Kilimanjaro | Single B-side 1956 (London)

Miriam Makeba gave a voice to millions of oppressed fellow South Africans suffering from apartheid. She was banned from the country by the white government regime, who revoked her citizenship. Her voice continued to sing and protest against the regime putting South African music on the map from exile in Guinea.

12. Thabang Tabane - Nyanda Yeni | Single (Mushroom Hour Half Hour) 

Son of the late, legendary Dr Philip Nchipi Tabane and heir to the malombo sound that he originated and pioneered in the early 1960s, Thabang has been touring the world, playing with his father’s band and other South African luminaries since he was 8 years old.

Emerging into his own with his debut solo album, Matjale, this energetic percussionist carves a driving, joyous and worldly version of the malombo genre that takes in his continental travels. The album brims with ambition and an appetite for life. Employing brisk tempos, nimble basslines and intersecting polyrhythms, Thabang crafts songs cognisant of the hardships of life, but chooses to deliver them with an irrepressible optimism.

Expanding the parameters of what is essentially an artform patented by his father, Thabang and his cohorts infuse the sound
with a modern sensibility. His reverence for the vibrational resonance and drive of the bass guitar, not to mention his explosive bursts of hand drumming, gives the album an undeniable, cathartic exuberance. 

This was the first single taken from the upcoming album, 'Matjale' scheduled for release on 14 Sep, 2018.

If you have made it to the bottom of this post well done it's a bit lengthy but for good reason. 

If you are tired of listening to your usual favourite kind of music, give this a try it may set you off onto a different musical route. 

The artists that appear on this programme go virtually under the radar of the mainstream. When was the last time you picked up a copy of a music magazine and saw an African artist smiling back at you. Never! Well that's more than likely. 

There is an abundance of artists in Mali, as an example of one African country, setting the music scene alight. I've spotlit Fatou Diawara but there are numerous more, Tinariwen, Songhoy Blues, Mokoomba, Oumou Sangare & Tamikrest are also particular favourites of mine.  

Give this recording a listen and leave a comment if anything in particular has changed your musical outlook.

Monday 1 February 2021

FRAZEY FORD - Live In Session (2020) Flac

Celtic Connections 2020
Another Country with Ricky Ross
BBC Radio Scotland FM Stereo

Tuesday 21 January 2020 / 9-11pm

Live music with Frazey Ford, Pieta Brown and Robert Vincent performing 'In The Round' at Cottiers Theatre as part of Celtic Connections 2020, Glasgow's annual winter music festival.

I missed the beginning of the programme and only kept the Frazey Ford section of the show. At the outer edge of FM reception for this BBC radio station, sometimes my recordings are marred by a poor signal depending on weather and atmospheric conditions, fortunately the sound on this one is really A+++

If you are familiar with the Americana genre you will know that Frazey was a member of the Canadian all-female band 'The Be Good Tanyas'. She went solo and released her first album Obadiah in 2010. Four years later it was followed by Indian Ocean and a further six years later by U Kin B The Sun in 2020.

This was one of the last pre-lockdown live sessions on British radio before the ban on live music. The interview is very interesting too, as Frazey discusses her methods of songwriting and her love of Memphis soul, whose influence shines throughout her last two albums and this performance. The musicianship on this live session is stunning and its well worth spending thirty-minutes of your time listening to it. An exclusive on the blog and hasn't circulated elsewhere. Following below the tracklisting are notes by the presenter, DJ and singer-songwriter, Ricky Ross.


Frazey Ford - In The Round Session
Recorded at Cottiers Theatre, Glasgow on 21 January, 2020.
xx. Holdin' It Down (missed, not recorded)

01. Interview pt. 1 (1:42)
02. Money Can't Buy (4:04)
03. Interview pt. 2 (1:42)
04. Let's Start Again (5:03)
05. Interview pt. 3 (2:20)
06. Runnin' (5:43)
07. The Kids Are Having None Of It (5:15)
08. Azad (4:34)

recorded 21 January, 2020
by thebasement67

Denon tuner TU-250L > DAC > Audacity 2.1.3 > 16bit 44kHz Wav > WavLab6 > (tracking and editing) > TLH > Flac 8



There’s something about a round which is very special. To the initiated it’s a Nashville, Tennessee tradition. In truth I’m not certain where it started but its most celebrated home is The Bluebird Cafe on Music City’s west side. On any night of any week you’ll find a first and second house filled up with music loving locals and increasingly, visitors to the city, keen to experience one of the most celebrated experiences the home of country has to offer. The interesting adjoined to all this is that the songwriters in the round may not be familiar to any of the audience; it’s the songs that are the stars.

The format is simple. The writers gather in the centre of the room and seated round them at tables and a few (latecomers only) rows of chairs and a couple of bar-stools are the audience. One of the four will launch into a number and for the best part of two hours with a short intermission four songwriters will tell stories, sing songs made famous by a variety of artists (sometimes including themselves) and your heart will get broken and put back together as you walk out to the cool of a Tennessee night. For $20 or so, it’s possibly the cheapest, best night out ever.

There are legendary stories too. A couple of years ago Kacey Musgraves told us the great story of how she met Ruston Kelly after spying him one night at The Bluebird. It was music of course… but love and marriage followed. We are not expecting that at our annual Celtic Connections round this week although we have had one or two great friendships. We think John Murry met his next producer on a smoke break after one of the nights we hosted. At the Bluebird the story goes that one night in a quiet corner of the room an up and coming singer called Garth Brooks was in to see what was happening. It was there he heard a song he knew was perfect for him. On the night he heard The Dance he told the writer, Tony Arata, ‘When I get a record deal, I’m going to record that song.’ You probably know how that one worked out.

In the AC round this year we have three great writers and some fabulous guest musicians. From Idaho along with guests John McCusker and Michael McGoldrick Music, we welcome Pieta Brown. From Vancouver, for a return to our round, Frazey Ford and her band. And all the way from Liverpool, Robert Vincent. There are stories, a few laughs, the occasional tear and two hours of song after song from three wonderful artists. It was all recorded in Cottiers Theatre in Glasgow on Tuesday night.  (Ricky Ross, 24 January 2020)