[by Ken Hunt, London] Britain’s folk clubs must seem strange to anyone visiting them for the first time. They are an exceedingly British institution, only found on English, Northern Irish, Scottish and Welsh soil – or, allowing for poetic licence, on foreign soils as British forces’ transplants, such as RAF Luqa’s Malta Folk Club and the British Army on the Rhine. To interject a personal observation, the folk club equivalents in Eire, Germany, the Netherlands, Germany and the USA all have altogether different characters.
[by Ken Hunt, London] This fascinating gathering of writings from Israel G. Young appeared in 2013. The elder of two sons born to Polish Jewish parents in March 1928 on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, he reveals himself as a clear-sighted and sometimes curmudgeonly commentator, catalyst and chronicler of the New York folk scene. (California and Europe barely get walk-on parts.)
[by Ken Hunt, London] As years go, 2015 was one that over and over again plucked some remarkable rabbits out the magician’s hat. That’s what keeps me keeping on. A note on the process when it comes to these decisions. Part of it is to do with whittling.
[by Ken Hunt, London] This month’s collection is a mixture of project-related listening and music listened to just for pleasure. In the latter case that doesn’t happen too often. On 5 July 2015 Shirley Collins celebrated her 80th birthday in London as All in the Downs but I was working in Germany on that date.
[by Ken Hunt, London] “How unseemly it is to follow anyone slavishly,” was ECM’s press release’s free (one suspects) translation for the title track in 2013. Performing Muhlis Akarsu’s Kula Kulluk Yakýîir Mý therefore could be perceived as a pointed choice since he died in a firebombing in 1993 aged 45 or so.
[by Ken Hunt, London] In 1955 North America’s modern-era fascination with Hindustani music began with the advent of jet travel and the arrival of the sarod maestro Ali Akbar Khan in New York. By then, Shamin Ahmed Khan, born in Baroda, Baroda State (modern-day Gujarat) on 10 September 1938, had already met the musician who would transform his life.
[by Ken Hunt, London] One day before her third album Coracle‘s official release the Emily Portman Trio performed much of it a good number of songs at a Sunday lunchtime concert at the Riverhouse Arts Centre in Walton-on-Thames. A splendid, characterful venue yards away from the Thames, its barn-like interior is all wooden beams and half-timbered decorations. It made for a stark backdrop for the Trio.
[by Ken Hunt, London] At the time of the inspirational illustrator Maurice Sendak’death, obituaries concentrated on his connections with Mozart, Prokofiev, Janáček and suchlike. On the occasion of the death of the US folksinger Jean Ritchie (1922-2015), it is time to remind about his bigger sound palette connections, notably one that coloured his early art. One commission revealed other musical tastes.
[by Martha Hawley, Amsterdam] Roberto Fonseca and Fatoumata Diawara passed through the Netherlands in May 2015, in the company of musicians from Mali and Cuba, stopping at the Music Meeting in Nijmegen, and in Amsterdam’s North Sea Jazz Club, where I heard them. The North Sea Jazz Club is licensed to use the name of the sprawling North Sea Jazz Festival…
[by Ken Hunt, London] This month’s collection is a mixture of project-related listening and, that luxury, music listened to just for pleasure. In the latter case that doesn’t happen too often. Rojda, Little Feat, Martin Simpson, Andy Cutting & Nancy Kerr, Peggy Seeger, Scarlett O’ & ‘the little big band’, Jackson Browne & David Lindley, Jyotsna Srikanth, The Young Tradition, Kirsty MacColl and Tritonus