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    Saz’iso
    The Joys and Sorrows of Southern Albanian Song




    A rare opportunity to hear the mesmerizing music of Albanian Saze: thrilling harmonies, joyful dances and soulful laments.

    Samba from Brazil, Cuban son, New Orleans Jazz – and Albanian Saze… The early decades of the last century saw mass urban migration and rural people bringing their music with them, adapting traditions to new circumstances using modern instruments. Producer Joe Boyd (Nick Drake, REM, Fairport Convention) has long been fascinated by Albanian music – since the country opened up to global influences after the fall of communism – and has put together an ensemble called ‘Saz’iso’ (echoing the ancient iso-polyphonic singing of Southern Albania on which their intricate weaving of vocal and instrumental lines are based) and recorded them.

    The group performing tonight includes three great singers along with virtuoso masters of the violin, clarinet, llautë (lute) and dajre (frame drum) from the heart of ‘Saze country’, the beautiful cities of Permet and Korce. Their thrilling harmonies, joyful dances and soulful laments create melodies that feel both warmly familiar and wonderfully exotic.

    Produced by the Barbican

    4 Nov 2017, 20:00
    LSO St Luke's

    Sold out

    https://www.barbican.org.uk/whats-on/2017/event/saziso

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    Ethnic group
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    Hypnotised by the sound of Balkan blues

    Producer Joe Boyd has fallen under the spell of Albanian music in his latest


    Clarinettist Telando Feto of Saz’iso, who tour the UK in November © Andrea Goertler

    by Garth Cartwright


    Joe Boyd has had a busy year. Now aged 75, the celebrated Boston-born record producer and talent scout has been honouring his legacy and championing new artists. The former involved Boyd contributing to the V&A’s Pink Floyd exhibition — he was the first to promote the group at the pioneering psychedelic UFO club he co-founded, then produced their debut single — alongside being invited to curate a tribute concert to The Incredible String Band (again, Boyd discovered and produced the Scottish psych-folk band in the late 1960s) at the Edinburgh Festival. It was this era, which included his work with Nick Drake and Fairport Convention, that Boyd detailed in his autobiography White Bicycles. Today, he notes, he gets countless enquiries about those halcyon days.

    Proud as Boyd is of the work he once did with British youths, he refuses to live in the past and our meeting remains focused on his latest project. At Least Wave Your Handkerchief At Me is a stunning album by Saz’iso, an Albanian traditional music ensemble. Boyd co-produced Saz’iso’s debut album with two women — one of whom, Andrea Goertler, became his wife in the process. The couple are now touring Saz’iso across Britain in November. This is, claims Boyd, the first time any Albanian musicians have ever toured the UK. Considering the beautifully eerie music contained on At Least Wave Your Handkerchief At Me, audiences are in for a genuinely exotic treat.

    The voices tell tales of loss and betrayal, migration and murder, of shepherds at the mercy of bandits

    “The more I get into Albanian music, the more its richness, subtlety and beauty flows forth,” says Boyd. “It’s very hypnotic and soulful — like Albania itself. You have a look around and think you have figured it out and then you take your time and find out that it’s a lot deeper than you originally imagined. The stories of all these songs are extraordinary — of people having to leave and the way their heartbreak is expressed.”

    Saz’iso play the ancient saze music of southern Albania, a Balkan folk tradition that stretches back to time out of mind. A first voice is echoed by a second; together these voices tell tales of loss and betrayal, migration and murder, of youths pining for their beloved in another village and shepherds at the mercy of bandits. Clarinet, lute and violin assist the voices while dajre (an Albanian frame drum held in the hand) provides complex rhythms — in Albania, locals will join hands and dance. Saz’iso gathers nine of Albania’s finest singers and instrumentalists to perform a music shaped by isolation and loss. It is a Balkan blues like no other.

    Under the dictatorial Stalinist rule of Enver Hoxha, from 1944 to 1985 Albania was Europe’s most isolated state. It now makes the news due to high numbers of illegal immigrants and criminal gangs flowing from its shores into western Europe. Thus, for a nation with fewer than three million people, Albania possesses a fearsome reputation, especially as a land of blood feuds. Both Boyd and Goertler, passionate champions of the small Balkan state, flinch when I mention the nation’s dark side. Their hope is that Saz’iso will go some way towards opening the public’s eyes to the beauty of Albania’s folk culture.

    “Albania’s wonderful,” Boyd asserts. “The first time I visited — to attend a festival of southern Albanian folk music — I had no idea what to expect. What I found was friendly people and a remarkable traditional music scene. They have an a cappella tradition that may be descended from ancient Greece.” Goertler, who is based in Tirana, adds, “the slow food movement has hit Albania by now as chefs have returned from abroad so it’s a great place to eat out. And very safe: they may have blood feuds but it’s not tourists who are affected.”

    Singers Adrianna Thanou and Donika Pecallari with Saz’iso © Andrea Goertler

    Albania’s isolation under communism — all ties were severed with other nations, even Russia and China — meant little of its music has previously been heard. Boyd notes that Hoxha’s regime funded traditional Albanian folk music and dance ensembles in rural villages and factories yet records were simply not available as, under the communist regime, even electricity was rationed.

    After attending a folk festival in Gjirokastër, the historic city in Albania’s south, Boyd became determined to right this wrong. Working with Goertler and Edit Pula, he assembled a group of singers and musicians to form Saz’iso. Not that this was easy: two superb female singers were now working as cleaners in Athens while other musicians rarely performed as their fellow Albanians had embraced the once forbidden fruit of pop and rock. Still, the three producers persevered, launching a kickstarter campaign to raise the funds to record At Least Wave Your Handkerchief At Me.

    “Things have changed massively in the music industry,” says Boyd. “What record label is going to put up the money? Our wedding dowry went into the recording. Doing a kickstarter was a struggle and then I went out to the rock’n’roll community and that pushed us over the line. We then found Glitterbeat Records, a German-Slovenian label that have been releasing great music from around the world, and they were very enthusiastic about handling Saz’iso.”

    With Ry Cooder already on board, praising “this album of deep soul from southern Albania”, it looks like Boyd is again discovering and producing exceptional music.

    Saz’iso tour the UK, November 1-11, ents24.com/uk/tour-dates/saziso-2. ‘At Least Wave Your Handkerchief At Me’ is out now on Glitterbeat

    https://www.ft.com/content/b1800fcc-...92ca2?mhq5j=e6

  3. #578
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    Saz'iso: Tana

    GlitterbeatTV
    Published on Sep 26, 2017
    Saz'iso - At Least Wave Your Handkerchief At Me
    The Joys and Sorrows of Southern Albanian Song
    Order: https://goo.gl/xU1M4z
    Download / stream: https://glitterbeat.lnk.to/AtLeastWav...
    Artist page: http://glitterbeat.com/artists/saziso/
    Release date: October 13th, 2017

    Brazilian Samba, Bosnian Sevdah, New Orleans Jazz, Cuban son – and Albanian Saze! The turn of the last century saw mass migrations to the world’s cities with rural people bringing their music with them, adapting their traditions to new circumstances and modern instruments. Of all these great musical forms, the mesmerizing arabesques, joyful dances and heart-breaking laments of Saze are among the least recorded, and they remain largely unknown outside Albania.

    Glitterbeat is proud to announce the release of “At Least Wave Your Handkerchief At Me: The Joys and Sorrows of Southern Albanian Song” by Saz’iso, a group of virtuoso musicians and legendary singers assembled by veteran producer Joe Boyd (Pink Floyd, Nick Drake, Cubanismo, Songhai) and his co-producers, Edit Pula and Andrea Goertler, and recorded by Grammy-winning engineer Jerry Boys (Buena Vista Social Club, Ali Farka Touré, Orchestra Baobab).

    The songs on this album tell of joy and sorrow, love and loss, heroism and tragedy. “Tana” is an ancient song about a shepherd whose flock is stolen by bandits that grant his wish to play his flute for the last time before they kill him. The plaintive melody conveys his terrible fate to his beloved in the valley below. A line from the beautiful “Penxherenë e zotrisë sate” gives the album its title; a boy yearns for the girl next door, pleading, “You keep going in and out of your gate. O poor me outside! At least wave your handkerchief at me.” Other songs are about partisans struggling against foreign invaders and men forced to depart in search of work, leaving behind grieving wives and families, a recurring theme in Albanian music to the present day.

    The instrumental dances have deep roots in the region’s history. “Valle e Osman Takës” originated with a captured rebel leader dancing his way to freedom and is now a spectacular male dance that constitutes a test that only the most skilled attempt. Of all the region’s instrumental forms none has the resonance and emotive power of ‘kaba’. According to legend, the form originated when a dying wife told her husband not to cry, but to let his clarinet weep over her coffin instead. The album includes both, a clarinet and a violin kaba as well as a rare, freely improvised ‘avaz’. The melancholic improvisational lines of the clarinet or violin give it a mood often referred to as the ‘Albanian blues’. Kaba’s “melodies, ornamented with swoops, glides and growls of an almost vocal quality, sound both fresh and ancient at the same time”, observes author and musician Kim Burton, “and exemplify the combination of passion with restraint that is the hallmark of Albanian culture.”

    “This recording is a landmark in the history of Saze music. These performers are following in the footsteps of the great masters that have preceded them, while the careful and thorough production and wonderful sound quality allow us to experience recorded Saze as never before.”
    - Vasil S. Tole

    “We set out to record these virtuoso singers and musicians like a Blue Note jazz session or a Deutsche Grammophon string quartet. Saze is, after all, a classical form, its essential elements unaltered over the decades. With its ancient roots, the intensity of this world-class music has the power to entrance any listener.”
    - Joe Boyd

    Saz’iso are
    Donika Pecallari, vocal
    Adrianna Thanou, vocal
    Robert Tralo, vocal
    Aurel Qirjo, violin & vocal
    Telando Feto, clarinet
    Agron Murat, llautë/lute
    Agron Nasi, dajre/frame drum
    Pëllumb Meta, fyell/flute & vocal

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    "As we have already stressed, the mass evacuation of the Albanians from their triangle is the only effective course we can take. In order to relocate a whole people, the first prerequisite is the creation of a suitable psychosis. This can be done in various ways." - Vaso Cubrilovic

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