New World/Folk/Roots duo Bethany & Rufus along with Fulani flutist Yacouba Moumouni and Afro Haitian drummer ‘Bonga’ Jean-Baptiste will release a new CD, entitled “Live A Fip” on October 22, 2009. The Bethany & Rufus Roots Quartet “Live A Fip” CD features 12 tracks, and will debut in Europe on the Daqui Records label.
The “Live A Fip” CD release was a natural extension of Bethany & Rufus’ collaborations with Jean-Baptiste and Moumouni. Bethany & Rufus, who share the same label with Moumouni, also shared the stage with him for one song during the 10th anniversary celebration of Daqui Records. They knew instantly that their political beliefs and musical chemistry would bond them together, catapulting them forward with continued performances. The trio became a quartet when ‘Bonga’ Jean-Baptiste was invited to perform with them the following summer at Les Nuits Atypique. During a promotional radio spot for the festival on Radio France in March 2009, the quartet was asked to perform live on the Live A Fip radio series, and the rest is history.
The Bethany & Rufus Roots Quartet’s Live A Fip CD’s strength lies not just in each artist’s singular talents, but in their capacity to combine their abilities in a way that complements each member of the group to bring about a sound that is unique and groundbreaking, while incorporating concerns about global injustices, violence, and inequalities. Live A Fip is the product of a world where people and societies are interconnected, converging, and in turmoil.
One reviewer describes “Live A Fip,” as “like nothing you’ve ever heard before. Styles from everywhere and anywhere come together seamlessly. One hears distinctly Afro-Cuban rhythms pop under driving bass lines, folksy lyrics and screaming flute. “Death Don’t Have No Mercy” is particularly characteristic of this mixing and meshing. The cello is inescapably funky, the bongos complexify the rhythms, the flute line seethes with fiery reverberance, and Bethany’s vocals lament the world in a way that only American folk music can.”
Bethany Yarrow’s voice has a deep resonance, a profound yearning that blends perfectly with the earthy sound of her band. Perhaps her voice sounds so good in this group because all of the instruments have a distinctly vocal quality about them. Yacouba Moumouni’s flute imparts an especially human sound, a personification of woody vibrations that conjure images of life in its rawest form. ‘Bonga’ Jean-Baptiste’s rhythms are complex and gel with Rufus Cappadocia’s funky bass lines. Cappadocia’s sound is also unique. His five string cello sound is rich in overtones that compound the earthiness of the group, and Yacouba’s chants send shivers through your spine.
The whole album feels alive and growing. These are the sounds of life piercing a dry and crusted earth, its roots twisting and crawling, crackling and snapping. This music transcends the genres in which it finds its origins. It’s not roots music, or blues, or funk, or jazz. While it contains elements of all of those styles, it is also unmistakably new and impossible to characterize in the traditional musical panacea. This pure, vibrating, swelling sound is open and honest. The Quartet is sincere and their music, all recorded live, makes you feel what they feel. This is an original and refreshing CD.
Click on the following link to listen to some of the tracks from the Bethany & Rufus Roots Quartet “Live A Fip” CD: http://bethanyandrufus.musicdish.net
About Bethany Yarrow
Bethany is the daughter of Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary – one of the leading groups of the American folk movement. Peter, literally a living “memory-man” of American songs, considers himself as much a political activist as a musician. He sees music as a way of bringing people together, of reaching into their hearts and dissolving prejudices, to create a common humanity. Bethany has maintained this vision in her music as well… even when it was rock music. Today, her voice reflects all the nuances of America: Europeans, African Americans, Native Americans, and other immigrant cultures – because for Bethany, the United States of America is a mix of all these things.
In 2003, Bethany released her debut CD, entitled “Rock Island”, to amazing (and amazed) reviews. Beautifully produced by Kevin Salem (Mercury Rev, Bad Brains, Chocolate Genius) and Knox Chandler (David Gahan, Siouxsie & the Banshees), the CD mixed the gloss of pop production with banjos, dulcimers, harmonicas, slide guitars, gospel choirs, and the sampled ghosts of some of the great blues singers in America. In totally unexpected ways, Bethany took traditional slave lullabies, prison songs, and murder ballads, and turned them into grooving electronic pop for a new generation.
Bethany’s brand of folk has certainly struck a chord across the country, and ears are beginning to perk up noticeablyâ€¦ HBO recently featured her version of “Black is the Color” in their series Cat House, and listeners have been knocked out by her “fascinating” and “dramatic” interpretations. Her voice has been called, “mesmerizing”, “intense”, “powerful”, “spell-binding”â€¦. “A cross between PJ Harvey and Annie Lennoxâ€¦ Dido and Grace Slickâ€¦” Bethany has been dubbed a “musical medium”, crossing genres and time, and in re-inventing these deeply American songs, Bethany has not only taken them into the future, she has made them deeply her own.
About Rufus Cappadocia
Rufus Cappadocia comes from Canada, where he studied the Japanese Suzuki method of learning music by ear, after which he trained classically with the Czech cello master Zdenick Konicek. But Rufus, who now lives in New York, says that he plays the folkloric music of New York; in other words, music from around the world: the Middle East, Asia, Africa, the Caribbean…
About Yacouba Moumouni
Yacouba Moumouni is a singer and flautist, leader of the jazz-ethnic band from Niger, Mamar Kassey. Moumouni is probably the best known Nigerien musician outside the country, and is much beloved in his home country.
Mastering the traditional flute, he joined the Ballet National of Niger and then formed Mamar Kassey, an eight man group featuring Moumouni and guitarist Abdallah Alhassane. Together they have toured West Africa, Europe, and the United States, and have become the most popular musical group in Niger.
In 1986 Yacouba accepted an invitation to join the traditional band Zongo. Together, they toured and performed in Korea, Libya, Algeria, and West Africa. Transferring to Orchestre Takeda, the house band at the musical academy Centre de Formation et de Promotion Musicale (CFPM), in 1990, Yacouba was mentored by the group’s director and lead guitarist, Abdoulaye Alhassane. He remained with the band for five years. Together with other CFPM musicians, including Ahlassane, Yacouba formed Mamar Kassey in 1995. The band’s debut album, Alatoumi, released in 1999 on the French Daqui label, was followed by Denke-Denke two years later.
About ‘Bonga’ Jean-Baptiste
Gaston Jean-Baptiste, known as “Bonga”, is a musical virtuoso who has been performing and studying traditional Haitian drum, dance and song since the age of seven. He began playing drums in his family’s peristil in his hometown of Croix-des-Mission in La Plaine, an area of Haiti known for culture and history.
Bonga is regarded as a master of the Afro Haitian drum, sought-after for his extensive repertoire of pan-African rhythms. A dynamic performer, accompanist, session player and educator, Bonga works on stage, in the recording studio, and in educational settings. He is one of the few drum experts and craftsmen outside of Haiti who continues to build traditional drums using techniques that are centuries old.
As a core member of the seminal Haitian roots bands, Boukman Eksperyans and FoulÃ , Bonga was invited to the U.S. in the ’90s when musicians were becoming a strong voice for the Haitian people. Since then, Bonga has continued to play solo and in ensemble and at numerous worldwide venues. He is a featured performer with Peter Yarrow, Grace Jones, Dan Zanes and Urban Tap, to mention a few. His drums opened the NY premiere of the Rolling Stones “Voodoo Lounge” tour and he is prominently featured on recordings by Wyclef Jean and Salif Keita.
Bonga’s first CD, Kanzo (2000), incorporates elements of jazz, blues, and funk to create a dynamic version of mizik rasin. The recording features Lou Reed, bassist Fernando Saunders, and trumpeter Frank London. Bonga’s second CD, Ayiti Afrika (2006), received critical acclaim.
To request mp3 tracks for review as well as interview requests, contact:
Eric de Fontenay