Masters of world music traditions celebrate thirty years of World Fusion Music
By Seán Martinfield
Sentinel Fine Arts Critic
Photo by Lynn Imanaka
When ANCIENT FUTURE created its own contemporary sound by combining elements of the world’s ancient music traditions, no one quite knew what to call the end result. In 1978, Ancient Future coined the term world fusion music to describe a genre which blends musical ideas from many different traditions. Today, the expanding popularity of world music merits its own sales chart. The world fusion music movement that Ancient Future envisioned has blossomed. Ancient Future Records is built on the principle that artists should be in control of their artistic destinies and should own their own work. ANCIENT FUTURE is structured to give the artists greater advertising buying power and distribution than they would have on their own, and to give the artists the proceeds from their work. Because the recordings are artist owned, each record is as the artist wishes it to be.
The seventh Ancient Future record, PLANET PASSION, is a very ambitious project featuring the full Planet Jammin’ lineup collaborating on the theme of music inspired by rituals having to do with love and procreation. The record takes themes from traditional music associated with love gods such as Ochun (Afro-Cuban) and Semara (Balinese) and uses that as source material for contemporary collaborations. The record began production in 1996, and was in stores starting in late 2002. A selection from the record was included on the May 1999 Rhythm Magazine sampler CD. ANCIENT FUTURE produced the recording without financing from a record company. Instead, money was raised from fans of Ancient Future for release on their new artist coalition label, Ancient-Future.Com Records. While the fundraising total fell short of goals, enough was raised to allow the music to be created and released without pressure from a corporate record label more concerned with marketing and trends than music.
PLANET PASSION, by Ancient Future.
Matthew Montfort, Irina Mikhailova, Doug McKeehan,
Re-issued to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the first Ancient Future concert, the seventh Ancient Future recording, PLANET PASSION, features 19 top masters of world music traditions performing music about flirtation, courtship, gods of love, betrothal, seduction, and longing for the beloved. Ancient Future is a large musical family including Matthew Montfort (producer, bandleader, scalloped fretboard guitar, electric guitar, flamenco guitar, bass, gangsa), Irina Mikhailova (Eastern European vocals), Emam (North Indian tabla), Moses Sedler (cello), Liu Qi-Chao (Chinese flute), Antoine Lammam (Arabic tabla), Ian Herman (South African drum set), Ustad Habib Khan (North Indian sitar), Georges Lammam (Arabic violin), Patti Weiss (violin), Manose Singh (Nepalese flutes), C.K. Ladzekpo (West African drums), Pedro de Jesus (Afro-Cuban drums, chant), Doug McKeehan (keyboards), Mindia Devi (bansuri), Benjy Wertheimer (North Indian tabla, esraj), Ian Dogole (world percussion), Hadley Louden (bass marimba), and Jim Hurley (violin). From this palette of musicians, “Planet Passion” features a different band on each track, one of which even includes Ancient Future’s original line-up.
SEVEN SERENADES – Matthew Montfort
As leader of the world music group Ancient Future, Matthew Montfort has devoted himself to the scalloped fretboard guitar since 1978. Montfort immersed himself in an intensive study with vina master K.S. Subramanian in order to fully apply the South Indian gamaka (note-bending) techniques to the guitar. He is also known for his work as a composer and performer on Glissentar (11-string fretless guitar), electric guitar, flamenco guitar, mandolin, charango, sitar, and gamelan. He has studied with the master musicians of many world music traditions, including sarangi master Ram Narayan, sarod master Ali Akbar Khan, mridangam masterGuruvayoorDorai, and gamelan director K.R.T. Wasitodipuro. He has worked with many world music legends, including tabla phenomenon Zakir Hussain and Chinese zither master Zhao Hui.
He has performed hundreds of world music and jazz concerts worldwide since 1978, from New York City’s Carnegie Recital Hall to the Atlantis nightclub in Beirut, Lebanon. His scalloped fretboard work was featured in 2003 and 2005 at the Festival Internacional de la Guitarra on the golden coast of Spain near Barcelona, which showcases top guitarists from all over the world. He toured India in 2006 and 2008, performing at prestigious events such as the Festival of India in Mumbai with sitar master Pandit Habib Khan and tabla maestro Pandit Swapan Chaudhuri. Matthew Montfort holds a B.A. in World Music and Composition and an M.A. in Arts and Media Technology from Antioch University. For his M.A. thesis, Montfort wrote the book “Ancient Traditions – Future Possibilities: Rhythmic Training Through the Traditions of Africa, Bali, and India,” which has been used by many musicians to improve their rhythm skills. Matthew Montfort is on the faculty of Blue Bear School of Music in San Francisco, where he teaches music theory, world rhythms, and all styles of guitar.
SANGRIA – Mariah Parker
The world fusion music movement has spawned many intriguing new musical hybrids. With SANGRIA, Mariah Parker explores the exciting sonic terrain that blends the driving rhythmic syncopations of Latin jazz with the entrancing, assymetrical meters of East India. Add intriguing melodic ideas to the mix and the result is compelling, at once adventurous yet accessible. This debut recording features her original compositions, drawing musical inspiration from Brazil, Cuba, Spain, and India. Her Indo Latin Jazz Ensemble accompanies her and includes musicians from the bands Ancient Future, Oregon, Sun Ra, and Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters. while completing her degree in music at UC Santa Cruz, Mariah Parker (composer and multi-instrumentalist), worked with ethnomusicologist Fred Lieberman and Mickey Hart on the “Planet Drum” project. She has performed in the US and Europe, and worked with many musicians of note including composer Pauline Oliveros, the late Dumisani Maraire (renowned composer from Zimbabwe) and others. She has studied with jazz great Art Lande and Latin jazz pianist extraordinaire Rebeca Mauléon, and performs regularly with the trend-setting world music group Ancient Future. Contributing to the unique sound of this recording, Mariah’s ensemble includes: Matthew Montfort on scalloped fretboard guitar (an instrument combining qualities of the South Indian vina and the steel string guitar); Paul McCandless, 2-time Grammy Award nominee and woodwind virtuoso; Kash Killion, first-call bass player and multi-instrumentalist with Sun Ra Arkestra, Cecil Taylor and others; Mindia Devi Klein, award-winning bansuri and jazz flutist; Duru Demetrius, latin percussionist with jazz icons such as Joe Henderson and Herbie Hancock; Anuradha Pal, the world’s premiere female tabla player.
Add these recordings to your World Music collection. For more information, click on the title to order or sample various tracks. All songs available with free trial subscription:
PLANET PASSION – Re-issued with 64-Bit Tuned Harmonic Mastering to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the first Ancient Future concert on February 11th, 1979, the seventh Ancient Future recording features nineteen top masters of Indian, Nepalese, African, Cuban, Celtic, Arabic, Palestinian, Jewish, Indonesian, Chinese, Eastern European and American music traditions. Each cut on the CD features a different version of the band. Since the term “world fusion music” was coined at the band’s inception in 1978, Ancient Future has evolved from a quartet into a large musical family of world fusion music ensembles led by scalloped fretboard guitarist Matthew Montfort.
SEVEN SERENADES – Matthew Montfort. MatthewMontfort’s debut recording showcases his pioneering work on the scalloped fretboard guitar, a special modified instrument able to produce ornaments more characteristic of the sitar. While previously known more for his compositions for Ancient Future, the trendsetting world music group he leads, this first solo effort features his improvisational music.
SANGRIA – Mariah Parker blends the driving rhythmic syncopations of Latin jazz with the entrancing, assymetrical meters of East India. This debut recording features her original compositions that draw musical inspiration from Brazil, Cuba, Spain, and India. Her Indo Latin Jazz Ensemble accompanies her and includes musicians from the bands Ancient Future, Oregon, Sun Ra, and Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters.
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See Related: FINE ARTS CRITIC SEAN MARTINFIELD
Seán Martinfield is a native San Franciscan. He is a Theatre Arts Graduate from San Francisco State University, a professional singer, and well-known private vocal coach to Bay Area actors and singers of all ages and persuasions. His clients have appeared in Broadway National Tours including Wicked, Aïda, Miss Saigon, Rent, Bye Bye Birdie, in theatres and cabarets throughout the Bay Area, and are regularly featured in major City events including Diva Fest, Gay Pride, and Halloween In The Castro. As an Internet consultant in vocal development and audition preparation he has published thousands of responses to those seeking his advice concerning singing techniques, professional and academic auditions, and careers in the Performing Arts. Mr. Martinfield’s Broadway clients have all profited from his vocal methodology, “The Belter’s Method”, which is being prepared for publication. If you want answers about your vocal technique, post him a question on AllExperts.com. If you would like to build up your vocal performance chops and participate in the Bay Area’s rich theatrical scene, e-mail him at: email@example.com.
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