Sandaraa

Sandaraa

Imagined hybrids from lost empires, ​the unexpected sounds of Sandaraa ("song" in Pashto) show how Eastern Europe the indus Civilization and Central Asia connect. The melismatic might of modal music and the ringing grit of mountain songs, the rollicking trance beats and restrained emotional intensity, have an eerie resonance, despite surface differences. A magical world of global sounds comes alive when superstar Pakistani vocalist Zeb Bangash joins forces with a retinue of leading Brooklyn musicians led by klezmer clarinet virtuoso Michael Winograd to unlock the musical secrets and history of their regions steeped in ecstatic mysticism, war, migrations and ancient cities lost to the sands of time.​

Michael and Zeb discovered this unheralded affinity between their traditions by chance at a shared gig, but have purposefully crafted the eureka moment into an adventuresome project to explore trans-Eurasian sonic possibilities. Taking inspiration from legendary artists such as Sabzal Saami, Beltoon, Haji Saifudin and more, Sandaraa infuses their own personal styles and vocabulary to expand upon the music. Each band member adds his or her own musical history to the mix creating a signature sound that captivates audiences and fascinates listeners with their unique and inspired approach to musical and cultural synthesis. Through the support of the Center for Traditional Music and Dance, Sandaraa has received major grants from the prestigious MAP Fund, Chamber Music America, and Puffin Foundation.

Lake Street Dive's Bridget Kearney and Cuddlemagic's Benjamin Lazar Davis

Bridget Kearney and Benjamin Lazar Davis' first E.P., Bawa, was written, produced and recorded in a two week flurry of manic creativity inspired by the physical and musical environment of it's location: Accra, Ghana. Kearney and Davis set out from Brooklyn in January 2014 with little more than two guitars and a couple of phone numbers to call upon arrival. The series of happy accidents that led to them finding a teacher, an engineer, and a studio to make this music together was nothing short of miraculous. Though what led up to this outpouring started many years earlier and many miles away.

Kearney and Davis first met in 2004 when both were students at The New England Conservatory and Davis was in the habit of knocking on practice room doors at random in search of potential musical partners. As Kearney sees it, this strange ritual was actually a great way for Davis to find like-minded musicians, "Ben is so insatiably creative and intuitive that the musicians who work best with him are the type that will see that about him, drop everything and go on whatever adventure he has in store."

At NEC, both Davis and Kearney spent time studying West African music and dreamed of someday traveling to the source of the music to learn more. As college students and then freelance musicians starting their careers in New York City, it was hard enough to scrape together rent each month, let alone having enough left over to afford plane tickets and music lessons. But Davis and Kearney kept the dream alive, and after saving up for a few years and developing their duo rapport playing shows around the Northeast, they were finally ready to make it happen.

In January 2014, the duo set out for Accra to pursue studies there with Ghanaian musicians. Through friends in the states, they had heard of Ghanaian multi-instrumentalist Aaron Bebe. Upon arrival in Accra, they began studies with Bebe on the gyil (a Ghanaian pentatonic xylophone, with gourd resonators) and through his influence became especially enamored with Bawa music, a tradition from the Northwest region of Ghana where Bebe originally hails from. Davis explains, "There are so many different badass styles of music from Ghana, and going in we didn't know exactly which we wanted to focus on. We weren't even sure where we were gonna stay and thought we might leave Accra and check out other parts of the country. But as soon as we heard Aaron playing the Bawa stuff we were hooked and knew that we wanted to stay in Accra and study with him."

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