Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Kala Kalo (Blow My Own Horn Part 2)

Here is the my second of five blogposts in my "Blow Your Own Horn" series where I draw attention to the five interesting recordings I played on in the last 18 months.

Kala Kalo

I play banjo in a band called So Long Seven. A little over a year ago we released our second recording called Kala Kalo. It was nominated for a Canadian Folk Music Award in the instrumental music category. Thank you to the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council for supporting this project. 

Since the release of this CD we have done our first tour of Europe which took us to four different Countries. We also just announced the dates for our June tour of Vancouver Island which includes the Victoria Jazz Festival. I can't wait to go back out there and play music!  (we are fortunate to have a great booking agent named J.P. Moisan. We couldn't do it without him!)

While I listen to our record I remember how much work and how much fun it was making this record. We recorded at Grant Avenue Studio in Hamilton with Amy King and Anthony Michelli. Anthony really encouraged us to try some new sounds and arrangements on our own compositions and it paid off. Amy too is great to work with and I highly recommend Grant Avenue. Anthony put a lot of time into making this record by both producing and mixing this CD. Thanks Ant! Also thanks to Fedge for a fine job on the mastering. 

We even rented a house and stayed in Hamilton while we were recording. It was fun and intense and I look forward to our next recording adventure. The full-on group recording experience is one I love and would recommend to other groups. 

As always, the magnificent tabla playing of Ravi Naimpally stands out on many of the tracks. Banjo Tequila is the third track and features an extended tabla solo.

Our two special guests on this record really take it up to another level. We feature Demetri Petsalakas on Oud and Salif Sanou dit Lasso on flute, kora and talking drum. These guys are so talented and fun to be around. Perfect for long days in the studio.

The other members of So Long Seven are Neil Hendry on guitar, Ravi Naimpally and William Lamoureux on violin.  All the players in SL7 are not only great players but fantastic composers. It is interesting how different we are as composers too. 

I am extra excited about this record because it came out on vinyl. I love listening to vinyl and I still do pretty much every day. The awesome cover artwork is done by Nayoun Kim who also did our first CD. (Thanks to Cynthia French for doing a great job on the graphic design!)

I still wonder how to best describe this music to others. It is certainly eclectic and it is mainly acoustic.  I listen to and play so many kinds of music sometimes I wonder what my true musical home is. All of the other guys also have many interests in different types of music. A lot of their interests in music from other parts of the world have influenced me quite deeply over the years. However, the idea of what defines world music is always a challenging one, especially for a guy like me who grew up in the suburbs of Burlington Ontario.

This CD charted at number one on Canada’s national World Music (International Music) college radio chart so I guess it IS world music.

It is too bad all the tracks from the CD didn’t fit on the vinyl. I am listening to the tune Daddy Ravi that only appears on the CD. I love Neil’s sitar-guitar solo and the way the track finishes with vocals is a nice surprise too. (well not anymore I guess...haha)

William’s skills on the violin really shine in many places on the record. I quite enjoy his performance on One Day Bigger Kitchen. It is always a favourite when we perform live.

I composed the final track Krazy Kat Goes to Manitouwadge especially for this record. It is somewhat of a tribute to the African history of the banjo. It is a suite in four parts. The opening percussion section is loosely based on the Gahu rhythms of the Ewe People of Ghana. I am pretty sure this was one of the pieces I studied and danced on with Abraham Adzenyah at the Banff school of the Arts in the 90’s. The second section is a banjo solo. The ensemble goes wild in the third section and Lasso sounds so good and then the fourth section once again features us at our acapella best. (actually I think everyone is singing here…Anthony, Amy, Lasso…)

 I should thank Laurent Dubois for writing the excellent book called The Banjo; America’s African Instrument. (Thanks to Neil for giving me the book as a gift too!) This book was a big part of my research and inspiration for writing this piece.

I enjoyed listening to our record again and I hope you do too!

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