Robert Browning, New York City’s most prolific producer of World Music events shares his personal recordings, highlights from his concerts from over the last 30 years.
We’ll hear rare recordings from Abida Parveen of Pakistan, Dimi Mint Abba from Mauritania, Noura Mint Seymali of Mauritania, Said Shanbehzadeh-bagpipe from Bushear Iran a; Village group from Luristan (South West Iran), Hassan Hakmoun of Morocco, Farid Ayaz, Abu Muhammad & Brothers Qawwal from Pakistan and a rare recording from India’s master of the Rudra Veena, Ustad Asad Ali Khan.
Robert Browning has produced over 1,500 concerts of World Music, including the Musical World of Islam (1993-94, 1995-96) concert series that featured artists such as Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (Pakistan), Simon Shaheen (Palestine), Sabah Fakhri (Syria), Necdet Yasar (Turkey), Alim Qasimov (Azerbaijan), the Master Musicians of Jajouka (Morocco), Shahram Nazeri (Iran) and Dimi Mint Abba (Mauritania). The Festival of Greek Music & Dance (2000-2005) which included rembetika music as well as regional styles from throughout mainland Greece and the islands; and the New York Flamenco Festival(2001 – 2011), which featured many of Spain’s greatest musicians and dancers. Artists from Africa and the African diaspora played a major role in his concerts and included Kandia Kouyate, Oumou Sangare and Toumani Diabate (Mali). Ladysmith Black Mambaso (South Africa), Les Ballets Africains (Guinea) and Los Munequitos de Matanzas (Cuba) and the Skatalites (Jamaica).
His Festival of India featured some of India’s must celebrated classical artists, including Lalgudi Jayraman, Maharajapuram Santhanam, Hariprasad Chaurasia, Shivkumar Sharma, and Zakir Hussain. The festival continued the following year with a concert at Carnegie Hall with some of the finest Rajasthani folk musicians opening for the celebrated sitarist Nikhil Banerjee.
A real thrill: One of the most legendary musicians of Morocco, Hassan Hakmoun stopped by WKCR to give a sneak peak of his new album, Spirit, and performed live with Said Damir.
As a master musician whose vision and contributions have enabled a unique fusion and blending of traditions, cultures and genres in a world of ever-expanding global communication and exchange, his work maintains its profound and enormous capacity to joyously inspire and heal the individuals and communities it reaches, as Hakmoun undoubtedly remains a commanding and intriguing artist in the world music scene.
Hakmoun’’s musical origins are rooted in the African folk music of the Islamic Gnawa sect, descendants from West African slaves brought to North Africa several hundred years ago. Their music combines complicated West African syncopations with long, sinuous North African melodies. Tracing their roots back to the Bilal, a freed slave known for his beautiful voice and believed to have been chosen by the Islamic prophet Mohammed to serve as the first muezzin to call the people of the faith to their prayers, Gnawa musicians often express their religious devotion through their music, using it to enter into spiritual trance states.
Since moving to the US in 1987 his music has absorbed elements from a variety of popular styles, from jazz and “world music” to neo-classical contemporary Western music and cerebral pop, resulting in a diverse, award-winning and critically acclaimed body of work.
It’s been 26 years since the talented vocalist and sintir player released Gift of the Gnawa. yet the time has been spent well. Hakmoun’s latest album, ‘Unity’ is the finest example of ritual music combined with the heart of American rock, soul and blues ever recorded.