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Bothnia Rythm Orchestra & Ulvens Döttrar – Månmors gästabud


There have been countless collaborations between big bands and artists from other genres, from pop to folk music. Some of those have been really good, others not, but often they take the shape of the solo artist/band being accompanied by the big band.

One project that I really like is the collaboration between the Finnish-Swedish big band Bothnia Rhythm Orchestra and the three singing sisters that make up the folk music trio Ulvens Döttrar from the Åland islands in the Baltic sea. What’s so great about this is that I don’t get the impression that one band is accompanying the other. In fact it does not even sound like there are two bands at all, but rather like one big unit.


The songs on this album are all written by the sisters, except two compositions, and arranged by the artistic director of the big band in a brilliant way.


These videos are from a concert at the jazz festival in Umeå, Sweden. This also includes a song that is not on the album.







This is my Lira review of the record.


Det är långt ifrån alltid det blir särskilt lyckat när exempelvis folkmusik kläs i storbandsdräkt, men så är verkligen inte fallet med Månmors gästabud. Botnia Rhythm Orchestra är ett finsk-svenskt storband som är verksamt på båda sidor av Östersjön, och folkmusikgruppen Ulvens Döttrar hör hemma mitt i densamma, närmare bestämt på Åland.

All musik i detta samarbete är nyskriven, huvudsakligen av en av trions medlemmar, och ypperligt arrangerad. Variationen är mycket stor, från den inledande, suggestiva Genom jorden, vars sångstämmor slingrar sig om varandra, till den kraftfulla Davaj, med tunga rytmer och rått nyckelharpsspel.
De tre systrarna Grüssner som utgör Ulvens Döttrar är huvudsakligen sångerskor, men deras inslag av bland annat mungigor smälter oväntat väl ihop med storbandet, och just det utgör även en otippad klangbotten till basklarinettintrot i en låt. Månmors gästabud är inte folkmusik som kompas av ett storband, inte ens upplevs det som att det är två olika grupper som spelar tillsammans, utan här smälter verkligen rösterna och BRO samman till en enhet. Därför, och inte minst tack vare starka låtar och mycket skickliga musiker, är detta en alldeles utmärkt skiva.

Snarky Puppy documentary & live show

The fine radio channel NPR Music recently made a video and radio documentary about Snarky Puppy, one of the busiest jazz-related bands around, playing up to 200 shows a year! Several live cuts from a gig in Dallas, near where the group was originally formed, are combined with documentary sections where band leader and bassist Michael League talks about his way of composing and where his inspireation comes from, among other things.

The radio piece is almost twice as long as the video, and I recommend watching/listening to both as it’s very enjoyable to see the band on stage.



Snarky Puppy has just released their most recent project, the DVD/CD Family dinner vol. 2, where an extended version of this already rather massive band performs with different guest artist on each track. Some of the videos are on youtube, and this one featuring vocalist Becca Stevens and the legendary Swedish folk band Väsen is really cool. Other guests on this project include Salif Keita, David Crosby, Susana Baca and Charlie Hunter.

The cover series: Pink Floyd mandolin covers

Have you ever been wondering what the songs of the legendary Pink Floyd aldum Dark side of the moon would sound like if they were played by a mandolin trio? Of course youe have! And now here is the answer, as Fausto Mesolella and two companions have arranged some of the songs for this rather unusual instrumentation.

Publicerat av Fausto Mesolella den 29 januari 2016

The best album of 2015: Efrén Lopez – El fill de llop

A new year has begun, so I’d like to present to you my favorite record that was released in 2015.

There are some artists that are truly one of a kind. One of them is Efrén Lopez. He is a multi-instrumentalist in the greatest sense of the word, meaning he does not play ”just” three or four instruments but several dozens. On his website around 70 (!) string instruments are listed and pictured, and Lopez has also studied many different musical traditions and styles from southern Europe, Western Asia and the Middle East.

I first heard Efrén Lopez more than a decade ago, when I discovered the wonderful medieval group L’Ham de Foc where he and singer Mara Aranda were the core members. Since then I have been a big fan and have enjoyed many of the countless groups and artists that he has performed and recorded with, including the brilliant Ross Daly, Lopez’ current medieval band Evo, the wonderful trio with Stelios Petrakis and Bijan Chemirani, and his collaboration with medieval music giants Oni Wytars.

2015 saw the release of Efrén Lopez’ very first solo album, El fill de llop, which includes almost only his original compositions. They are inspired by diffferent traditions, and sometimes specific geographic places, from Turkey, France, Greece, Portugal and other regions. Lopez plays around 20 instruments on the album, such as oud, hurdy-gurdy, santur and banjo, and several guest artists provide percussion, flutes, bagpipes, vocals and bowed string instruments. All the arrangements are very elaborate, and five of the eleven tracks are around eight minutes or longer, with the whole record being 76 minutes!
Below is the entire record on Spotify. For those of you that donät use Spotify, one full tune and short snippets of all the other album tracks are on the soundcloud page.



To celebrate the release of the album, Lopez put together a band that he named Abracadabra to perform the music live. This playlist includes six of the tunes. As you can see, there are quite a few instruments being used…



Below is my Lira review of El fill de llop.

Det finns två alternativ. Antingen lever Efrén López i en värld där dygnet har många gånger fler timmar än för oss andra, eller så är han groteskt talangfull. Sedan drygt femton år har denne katalan turnerat och gjort skivor med sanslöst många artister och egna grupper inom folkmusik och medeltida musik, och han har lärt sig bemästra otaliga stränginstrument och traditionella musikformer från Mellanöstern, Sydeuropa och Asien (på hans webbsida listas ett sjuttiotal instrument och ungefär lika många artister respektive plattor).
Trots, eller kanske snarare på grund av, denna digra produktion har han inte gjort någon soloskiva förrän nu. El fill del llop ger en bred men oundvikligen inte komplett översikt över López mångsidighet. Här nöjer han sig med att spela omkring tjugo instrument, bland annat oud, vevlira, bandlös gitarr, gotisk harpa, santur och flera instrument ur den turkisk-kurdiska saz-familjen. Dessutom får han hjälp av en mängd gästmusiker.
Låttitlarna är på ett flertal språk, från farsi till franska, och här finns inspiration från traditionell musik från Grekland, Turkiet och många andra platser. Alla utom ett spår är skrivna av López, ibland tillsammans med gästerna. Spelskickligheten och kompositionerna håller förstås högsta klass rakt igenom, och för mig som har följt Efrén López karriär under många år är det en ren njutning att lyssna på El fill de llop. Helt lysande!

Tribecastan – Christmas EPs

Christmas is not even a week away, which means that for the past weeks there has been Christmas songs playing on the radio, TV, and almost everywhere. I absolutely hate Christmas music! If I could make one genre of music vanish forever, this would definitely be the one.

But there are, however, two records of it that I actually not only like, but really enjoy. Probably the most eclectic band I have ever heard, New Yorkers Tribecastan do their very personal take on a bunch of classic Christmas songs on their EPs Coal again and The twisted Christmas. In the usual Tribecastan style, they mix countless styles and instruments from all over the world, including yayli tambur, mandocello, trombone, congas, marimba, baritone sax, lap steel, accordeon, sitar, steel pans and many more.


The cover series: First Aid Kit & Black Sabbath

The early Black Sabbath is one of my favorite bands of all time. I started listening to them when I was about 14, and many of those songs are still absolutely amazing. I am, of course, not the only one to think so, since practically the entire metal genre is based on what Black Sabbath created more than 40 years ago. Several of their songs have been covered by countless metal bands, resulting in the tunes becoming extremely worn out. Therefore it is very refreshing to hear artists from completely different genres do their take on these great songs.


In the last few years, First Aid Kit from my home town Stockholm has become one of Sweden’s biggest bands, selling loads of records and touring heavily in Europe, North America and Australia. Their country pop with their trademark vocal harmonies is miles away from heavy metal, but occasionally, in tunes like The lion’s roar and Wolf, they show that there is also a rockier side to them. Still, it was quite a surprise when First Aid Kit added one of Black Sabbath’s most covered songs, War pigs, to their setlist on their festival shows in the summer of 2015. They actually do not just a good version but a really great one, and rock out quite hard!