World music is an inevitable result of the world as we know it today. Music is the universal language that translates differences into comprehensive agreements between the artists and their listeners. It has the capability of bringing it all together under a massive roof of acceptability, appreciation and soul stirring entertainment.
I realize that this may not be anything new to the lovers of the classics. The Great Masters have had their works played in famous music halls to native, God given jungles, and everywhere in-between for eons of time. But there is a new universal definition that emerged over the last three decades that is undeniably born of the womb of the world.
Taking the deepest expressions of who we are as one extended family and using sounds from every country and every culture along with their histories makes up world music. There is a genre of music coming at us today, which as little as 10 years ago, was not on the scene.
A true blending of world music can be heard from popular artists like Jesse Cook, Robert Michaels, The Gipsy Kings. These are just three of the musicians that are bringing us eclectic yet cohesive sounds that we can’t get enough of. They are top notch in their interpretations, while taking us on a stretch limousine tour visiting the sounds and movements within cultures around the globe.
Their integration of traditional, ethnic and indigenous sounds deliver primal beats and melodious harmonies that are derived from the old and make up the new. By adding their own personal flare and individual flavor to a piece, we get kick-ass compilations that rival any of the Masters.
Since there was not a term that fairly portrayed the qualities of this non-western, or for that matter, non-eastern traditional music, the industry came up with the description in the 1980s of; world music. This title allows for the expansion of expressions that cannot be reasonably categorized under any other term. Take for example one of this writer’s favorite, Nuevo Flamenco.
Since 1995 Jesse Cook has been combining Gypsy, Latin, Jazz, bossa nova, rumba along with Middle Eastern, salsa into his one of a kind creations. If you are having a down day simply put on some of Cook’s music and it will take your sorry blues out for a run, make them do sit-ups, jumping jacks, then insist they take a turn on the climbing wall. You just can’t stay down when listening to anything from his last ten albums.
The members of The Gipsy Kings were all born in the south of France, of parents who had their roots in Catalonia. They bring a Spanish gypsy flair to their unmistakable sound. Their music has been described as “Spanish flamenco and gypsy rhapsody meet salsa funk.” That pretty much says it all.
Canadian born Robert Michaels found his inspiration through his Italian roots where he spent a good portion of his young life in the town of Arpino, southeast of Rome. Influenced by the music he heard at his grandparents restaurant IL Cavaliere laid the foundation to the music he would later produce as an accomplished guitarist.
A fusion of American jazz, Italian traditional, rumba, flamenco won him the JUNO award as top instrumentalists in his international debut year, 1998 and then again in 2003. His last work of art, released in 2013 had once again brought his immense talents to center stage. Although I never tire of his work, I think I speak for all of his fans, we are ready for another album.
Bringing the sounds of the world together is what these artists do best, however world music is a product of us all. Collectively, we make the music of the world.