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musicians. Originally from Istanbul (where she sang with the University Music Club Band whilst a student), she came to Lon- don in 2003 and has broadened her range by studying with Dessi from the London Bulgarian Choir. Here she can be heard lending her beautiful, expressive voice to the sound of rebetiko, the blues of the Mediterranean, that plaintive but endur- ing music that unites the Turkish and Greek communities. At other times she can be found singing lead with The Dunav Balkan Group and the excellent She’Koyokh Klezmer Ensemble.


Kadialy Kouyate shares Cigdem’s spirit of musical openness and even came to the UK at about the same time, but he’s from a very different tradition. A Mandin- ka griot (hereditary storyteller/ musician) from Casamance, south Senegal, he’s a young virtuoso of the 21-string West African kora harp, who’s immersed him- self in the London scene (he might per- form with a Caribbean steel pan player one night, a traditional West African group the next and a symphony orchestra the night after). On his debut album from last year he plays with an unusually light and jazzy cross-cultural ensemble.

The Dhol Foundation are a West London institution, founded in 1989 by master drummer Johnny Kalsi (who also plays with Imagined Village and Afro Celts). Like The London Bulgarian Choir

ith deep cultural roots and a musically open mind, Cigdem Aslan typ- ifies the new generation of UK-based multicultural

they have an educational and a perform- ing wing. Kalsi’s canny enough to realise that a whole album or concert of dhol (Punjabi drum) bashing would risk induc- ing boredom and a headache in the lis- tener and so mixes in folk, experimental, reggae and electronic influences. Peace And Love is a rollicking slice of dancehall bhangra taken from the Foundation’s forthcoming third album; that’s Glen LaTouche from Edward II on vocals.

Although they’re from quite different musical backgrounds, the collaboration between Andrew Cronshaw & Tigran Aleksanyan appears to flow naturally, perhaps because they share a love of the contemplative and wistful. Cronshaw’s a zither player/ multi-instrumentalist (and regular fRoots contributor) with a passion for and knowledge of all kinds of tradition- al music; Aleksanyan is a master of the Armenian duduk (a woodwind instrument with a double reed frequently described as the saddest instrument on earth) who stud- ied under the great Djivan Gasparyan, before moving to London. They play live together whenever they can but, aside from a track on a previous fRoots cover- mount CD, this slice of fragile melancholic musical beauty is their first publicly avail- able recording.

The UK’s Congolese and Cuban com- munities are both well established, so why not combine the music of the two? That was the thinking of talented salsa pianist Sara McGuinness when she formed Grupo Lokito in 2006. Their dynamic live shows mix soukous with salsa and son to exhilaratingly swinging

effect, much of which has been captured on their recently released debut album from which we have the title track.

The affable and extraordinarily gifted Malagasy guitarist Modeste really should be better known amongst the UK’s African music lovers and probably would be if he was based in Paris or Brussels or anywhere other than London. Modeste Hugues Ran- dramahitasoa hails from Betroka in south- ern Madagascar and plays the unique gen- tle style of the region. Word is that there’s a new album on the way.

Adriano Adewale has played percus- sion with a whole range of visiting Brazil- ian and local jazz artists since moving to the UK from São Paulo, Brazil a decade ago. He’s also performed with Modeste and features on Kadialy Kouyate’s album. No surprise then that Sementes, the 2008 debut album by his group, features a slew of Brazilian, African and jazz influences. Kadialy returns the favour by playing in his band, firebrand Israeli saxophonist Gilad Atzmon produces and one of Adriano’s employers, guitarist Antonio Forcione, makes a guest appearance.

With deep roots in the classical Hindus- tani musical tradition, the extraordinary blind sitarist/ multi-instrumentalist Baluji Shrivastav has travelled from his home village in northern India to France and on to the UK, playing solo, teaching and col- laborating with Massive Attack, Andy Shepherd and a whole load more. His latest album, Goddess, is a musical celebration of female deities from different cultures; Journey To Sedna is based on an Inuit leg- end of the Goddess of the Deep Sea. F

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