Listeners to BBC Radio 4's Loose Ends this week were momentarily transported away from an unseasonably cold March afternoon to Honduras' Caribbean shores. Guest performer, Aurelio, played the lovely Laru Beya (from his new album of the same name) which literally translates as "by the beach".
Listen again on the BBC iplayer and you'll hear why! Aurelio and fellow musician Carlos Castillo perform about 12:35 into the programme.
Sample some of these ferociously funky Ethiopian tunes, and you'll feel like you're in a blue taxi going at full speed with no brakes during rush hour in Addis Ababa! Then there's a traditional solo, a touch of ethereal roots music, topped off with a glorious treatment of the reggae classic, Uptown Top Ranking - Dub Colossus style.
Rockers Meet Addis Uptown is a 5-track limited edition EP released in advance of Dub Colossus' much anticipated second album, Addis Through The Looking Glass - coming at the end of April.
New Morning in central Paris was the packed venue for the launch of two Real World artists. On March 2 journalists, concert bookers and new fans were charmed and delighted by the charismatic Aurelio with an acoustic set, followed by the stunning energy and joyous impact of the 10 piece Creole Choir.
It's all about the song. Just as with last year's O2 Arena shows where Gabriel redrew the works of Lou Reed, Radiohead and Elbow using the full-colour palette of a large orchestra, his latest project New Blood has a similar modus operandi - but this time he applies the orchestral makeover entirely to his own back catalogue.
With accompaniment from the 46-piece New Blood orchestra under the eye of master-arranger John Metcalfe and the baton of Ben Foster, Gabriel's vocals are centre-stage and bare, stripped of the usual rock'n'roll clothing, no loud guitars or booming drums to hide behind. The lyrics take on extra potency and poignancy; few concerts come remotely close to matching the intensity here. Gabriel is the lone sailor to the orchestra's ocean, the massed strings providing calm waters before rising up into dramatic swells. And recasting this classic material in this manner has created a unified whole - a suite, no less - where, as The Guardian observed, "each song whispers its secrets into the next".
Raw and soul-baring yet passionate and often joyous, Gabriel's songs here take new shape and extra meaning, guaranteed to bewitch the Hammersmith Apollo audience and create an extraordinarily intimate and gripping occasion. A night to remember and revisit.
"As Gabriel demonstrated so ably, there are places in the soul that electric guitar, bass and drums, for all their visceral excitement, still can't reach" - LA Times
The last few weeks here at the Studios has been a hive of activity for Real World artists. Samuel Yirga has been in the Big Room mixing his forthcoming album - a glorious mix of Ethio-jazz, solo piano and soul - including an uplifting version of Black Gold of the Sun featuring Nicolette (Massive Attack) and The Creole Choir of Cuba on guest vocals. Watch out for the full release later in the summer.
Meanwhile next door in the Wooden Studio Justin Adams and Juldeh Camara in their newly reinvented JuJu style were recording live - moving from psychedelic Afro-trance to raw rock energy. Expect to hear this on a new release in May.
Today sees the release of Knee Deep in the North Sea, remixed and remastered by John Leckie and committed to glorious vinyl. As a bonus for vinyl purchasers, you will receive a unique download code with which you can access all the tracks as 320kbps MP3s. You will also get a digital booklet. Not only that but we're also giving you four extra tracks which appear on the CD version: Prickly Pear, All The Pieces Matter (live), Knee-Deep In The North Sea (live), Steps in the Wrong Direction (live).
Tuesday night in London's Momo club saw the start of what promises to be an outstanding live career for rising star, pianist Samuel Yirga. Accompanied on this performance with a line-up of sax, drums, bass and percussion, Samuel dazzled the packed crowd with his flying fingers and sensuous Ethiojazz groove.
Following the fantastic reviews for both the live shows and the release of the CD, Tande-la, The Creole Choir Of Cuba appear in a fascinating documentary on SkyArts.
An intriguing insight into the story behind the Choir and how they have brought the history of their Haitian descendants to life.
The documentary will be aired on SkyArts Wednesday 16th February at 11.50am and Friday 18th February at 9.45pm or, you can watch it online now!
One of the most highly anticipated releases of 2011 is now available. The rising star, not just of Central America, but international music, Aurelio is a '..star in the making' (London Evening Standard). This lush and beautiful album, brilliantly produced, is set to become an instant classic.
"This promises to be one of the albums of the year." ****
"The first essential world music disc of the year." ****
The Sunday Times
"An impressive album that simply sounds better which each new listening."
"A wonderful collection, it confirms Aurelio's distinctive, personal style." *****
Songlines (Top of the World album)
"The moods likewise flow between reflection, sadness and joy on an outstanding, surprise-filled offering."
"A rising star." *****
"A potentially major figure to watch." ****
The Daily Telegraph
"A texturally and emotionally involving treasure." *****
The Independent on Sunday