Any duet album featuring Brazilian string masters Yamandu Costa and Hamilton de Holanda is worth taking note, and for enthusiasts who have been following these two consummate instrumentalists, the 2008 São Paulo recording "Live!" on Adventure Music represents another gem to add to the Brazilian duet canon.
If one plays the sitar, pygmy sitar, electric sitar, tanpura, as well as the guitar-zither, piano and Fender Rhodes, a career as a jazz musician is usually not the first thing an audience would expect to hear. That is, however, precisely the direction Jonathan Mayer has embarked on. Mayer is the son of the late Indian composer and Indo-jazz fusion founder John Mayer, so the choice of which instrument he wanted to study is logical. That Jonathan would move towards jazz is not.
A group of Berklee College of Music students and alumni, and Newton North and Needham, MA, High School students are using the summer break as an educational opportunity. The students will participate in a cultural exchange program in Kenya (June 25—July 15) through local organization Global Youth Groove (GYG), whose mission is to transform the lives of youth through music, where they will teach, perform, study Swahili, learn about traditional Kenyan music, instruments and dance, and be immersed in Kenyan culture. The program is spearheaded by Berklee staff member Sam Lutomia, co-founder of GYG and co-founder of Acacia in Kenya, a fundraising effort that provides support for girls education.
The GYG group will spend two weeks in Kakamega, Western Kenya, teaching music and giving workshops at the Matende Secondary School, founded by Lutomia's father Francis. They plan to bring a full ensemble setup—including donated guitars, bass, violin, alto saxophone, clarinets, drums, and keyboards—on which the students will teach and perform. The students will also give presentations in their fields of expertise. Berklee film scoring major Dave Chapman's demonstration of music production software using desktop gear will give people without access to recording studios the tools to self-produce on computers.
Making technology more accessible, the group will bring eight MacBook Pros, donated by the college's IT department, loaded with GarageBand and ProTools. At the end of the trip, the laptops and instruments will be given to a community center in Kakamega, allowing talented local youth to continue developing their skills. Lutomia explains, “Unfortunately, we can't leave the laptops at Matende School because of security. The school is still struggling to buy windows and doors for their classes, which is the case for most public schools in Kenya."
They also plan to visit other schools and orphanages in the area and will perform at the Kenya Schools and Colleges National Music Festival in Kakamega, June 29-July 2.
GYG includes students from Kenya returning home for the trip, and students from the US making their first trip to Africa. “I am really excited because students from Berklee and local high schools get to come to my country and have a little taste of my culture," says Nairobi native Wambura Mitaru, who studies at Berklee on a full Africa Scholarship. “It allows me to share a part of my life that is close to me—my home. I hope to learn from both worlds and see musicians interacting and having a great time speaking the universal language of music."
The group will also spend time in Nairobi meeting with Berklee alumni and other musicians, giving workshops, and performing in concert. After returning, the students will give a public presentation in Boston where they will perform, speak about their experiences, and show a documentary produced from the trip.
How often do four talented African guitarists come together to play acoustic onstage? Putumayo Records, a unique company, not only brought together such a remarkable supergroup but put them on tour. "Acoustic Africa's" three main guitarists were Afel Becoum and Habib Koité from Mali and Oliver "Tuku" Mtukudzi from Zimbabwe. They were backed by the estimable Mamadou Kelly, Becoum's highly-talented regular guitarist and other musicians.
Born in Argentina (1978). Rodriguez arrived to Spain in 1986, where he spent most of his childhood. At an early age, he began to study modern and classical music.
Between the years of 1993-1999, Rodrigo tutored at home enrolled with several teachers of classical guitar until he was 22 years old. Rodrigo's professional music career began in Spain. It was there that he discovered his first Asian instrument the Shakuhachi flute.
Fascinated by Japanese music, he travelled to Japan several times to enhance his knowledge. He studied classical and traditional Japanese music under the lineages of Katsuya Yokoyama with the Master Kakizakai Kaoru in the International Shakuhachi Kenshu-kan School. His interest in traditional and ethnic musical instruments began before he reached his teenage years.
As a young child, Rodrigo had a vision for imitating the music and sounds he heard in his mind. His many and diverse travels enabled him to acquire a rare collection of experiences from which to create his unique compositional language.
Since 2004, Rodrigo has been the first musician in Japan to introduce innovative and developed instruments from European countries.For example, the Hang Drum, which significantly influenced his music and its composition, altering Japanese audiences' perception of 21st century sounds and their textures.
In 2006, several compositions from his album "Inner Thoughts" were licensed, arousing the interest of a well known record label, Gemini Sun Record based in Los Angeles, CA. Rodrigo's compositions can be divided into three basic categories :New Age, World Music and Contemporary Music.
In recent years, he has performed numerous concerts in both the West and the East, at legendary stages like Imperial Hotel Tokyo and NHK Culture Center of Japan.
In the late 2009, Rodriguez started to study with the renowned master of Japan's leading players of shakuhachi Miyata Kohachiro,interested in Contemporary and Koten Shakuhachi. Rodrigo showed deep interest and dedication to Miyata's compositions and repertoire.
He is also is working as full-time instructor for the Ministry of Education and Culture of the Balearic Island in Spain(Conselleria d'Educacio i Cultura) spreading the Shakuhachi tradition,culture, and philosophy.
Thereafter, he resolved to study all types of traditional Japanese music, paying special attention to the differences between the two very different musical traditions.