Noura Mint Seymali live with Jay Gandhi, Jeiche Ould Chighaly and Ehren Hanson – Podcast 108

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Podcast DownloadNoura Mint Seymali and Jeiche Ould ChighalyFresh from the inspiration of Ragas Live Festival, we tried our hand at a novel combination of styles an instruments.  Mauritania’s greatest singer, Noura Mint Seymali and her husband/guitarist, Jeiche Ould Chighaly performed live in studio with two Brooklyn-based Hindustani musicians Jay Gandhi (bansuri flute) and Ehren Hanson (Tabla).  They met at the ASAMAAN Festival of Music & Astronomy in the Gorée Island – Dakar, Sénégal on April 2013 but had never performed together until this day.

We also got a chance to share a track from Noura’s burning new album Tzenni.

Noura Mint Seymali is a nationally beloved star and one of Mauritania’s foremost musical emissaries.  Born into a prominent line of Moorish griot, Noura began her career at age 13 as a supporting vocalist with her step-mother, the legendary Dimi Mint Abba.  Trained in instrumental technique by her grandmother, Mounina, Noura mastered the ardine, a 9-string harp reserved only for women.  Seymali Ould Ahmed Vall, Noura’s father and namesake, sparked her compositional instincts, himself a seminal scholar figure in Mauritanian music; studying Arab classical music in Iraq, devising the first system for Moorish melodic notation, adapting the national anthem, and composing many works popularized by his wife, Dimi.  Reared in this transitive culture where sounds from across the Sahara, the Magreb, and West Africa coalesce, Noura Mint Seymali currently drives the legacy forward as one of Mauritania’s most adventurous young artists.

Fueled by the exploratory sound of her husband Jeiche Ould Chighaly’s emotive psych guitar lines, Noura and Jeiche formed their first “fusion” band in 2004.  Jeiche, a master of the tidinit (aka. ngoni, xalam), brings the force of yet another important line of Moorish griot to bear, translating the tidinit’s intricate phrasing to a modified electric guitar with heroic effect.  His unique sound, mirroring vocal lines and then refracting their melodies into the either, was born out of years presiding over wedding ceremonies, directing the dance often as the sole melodic instrument.  In addition to his work with Noura, Jeiche remains one of Nouakchott’s most sought after guitarists for traditional ceremonies.

After two albums – Tarabe (2006) & El Howl (2010) – released locally in Mauritania and years of experimentation adapting Moorish music to various pop formations, Noura Mint Seymali’s current band is a concise return to the roots, a light formation led by the “azawan,” a word in Hassaniya that refers to the collective ensemble of traditional instruments; the ardine, tidinit, guitar.  Backed by a declarative, funk-speaking rhythm section, composed of Ousmane Touré (bass) and Matthew Tinari (drums), the band has made a formidable debut on the international stage, releasing two EPs – Azawan (2012) & Azawan II (2013) – and touring widely.  The band’s first full-length album for the international market – TZENNI –  is set for release via Gliiterbeat Records on June 20, 2014 and to be followed by an extensive North American tour.

Though performances at events like globalFEST (USA), Festival-au-Desert (Mali), Hayy Festival (Egypt), Jeux de Francophonie (France) and Festival Timitar (Morocco) and collaborations with artists like Tinariwen, Bassekou Kouyaté, and Baaba Maal, the band is actively exposing Mauritanian roots music to the world.  In a rare merger of cultural authority and experimental prowess, Noura Mint Seymali applies the ancient musical traditions of the griot with a savvy aesthetic engagement in our contemporary moment, emerging as a powerful voice at nexus of a changing Africa.

 

 

Camila Celin, Sarod; Ehren Hanson, tabla; Ragas Live 2013 # 20 (Podcast 79)

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A musician her whole life, Camila Celin began playing guitar at age 9.   For the last 5 years she has been intensely studying the Indian Sarod.  In Kolkata she learns from sarod player Sougata Roy Choudhury, and in New York she learns from sitar maestro Pandit Krishna Bhatt.   In 2009 she was nominated for a Grammy for best world music album in a collaboration with slide guitar maestro Debashish Bhattacharya and has been a very active performer in her native Colombia, the US and in India.   She has composed music for several films, theater, as well as commercials and currently lives between New York and Kolkata, India.
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Ehren Hanson has been playing tabla for over 17 years.   A disciple of the great Pandit Anindo Chatterjee, he is an active performer as both a soloist and an accompanist.  His recent review in the “Times of India,” Kolkata called his solo performace “enthralling.”

Together, the couple have founded the Anindo Chatterjee School of Tabla in New York, where they host some of the greatest maestros of our time, hosting classes, workshops, and concerts.   Their performance is celebrated for its intimacy with the deep and fated connection between them felt in every beat.

Indrajit Roy-Chowdhury, Sitar; Ehren Hanson, Tabla – Ragas Live Festival 2013 #8 (Podcast 66)

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Indrajit Roy-Chowdhury, Sitar; and Ehren Hanson, Tabla  performed the raga Nat Bhairav at the Ragas Live Festival 2013 at 7am for the Ragas Live Festival.

Indrajit Roy-Chowdhury is a disciple of the sitar maestro Pandit Subroto Roy-Chowdhury.  Groomed in the Veen-kar style of the Senia Gharana, which maintains the Dhrupadi origins of Indian Classical music, Indrajit strives to innovate while keeping a firm connection with the past.  While completing his undergraduate studies at Duke University, Indrajit received the Bennenson Award for the Arts to further his study of Indian Classical music.  Since then he has taken the profession of a full-time sitarist and has performed on stages across the world including such prestigious venues as Gyan Mancha (Kolkata), Hammerstein Ballroom (New York), Kennedy Center (Washington D.C.) and has had his concerts telecast by Doordarshan (Indian National Television).  During the 2010 Fall semester Indrajit was a visiting faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania and taught the University’s sitar course.

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Ehren Hanson began learning tabla when he was 15 years old under Misha Masud of New York City. In 2000, he was accepted as a disciple by the great Pandit Anindo Chatterjee and has developed into an exciting performer and a dynamic teacher. Ehren then went on to teach rhythm as an assistant professor at Bard College in 2002 and in 2005 he received the prestigious Senior Performing Arts Fellowship from the American Institute of Indian Studies. He has had the honor of accompanying great musicians such as Pandit Debi Prasad Chatterjee, Pandit Subrata Roy Chaudhuri, Steve Gorn, and others. In 2012, The Time of India described his tabla solo performance as “enthralling.” Ehren currently lives in New York where he is an active performer and teacher. He is also the director of the Anindo Chatterjee School of Tabla.