Newsletter Autumn 2010

6.  Recording trip to Madagascar

Our first releases 30 years ago already included productions with music from islands (steel bands from Trinidad, Rasta sounds from Jamaica, Voodoo from Haiti).

So it is perhaps no coincidence that one of the cherries on our musical birthday cake (after World Ballads, Fiesta Tropical and Fiesta Balkanica) comes from the large red island of Madagascar.

Our competent partner on this undertaking was Birger Gesthuisen, who issued several productions from there some time ago and also supervised our WorldNetwork CD "Madagascar".

Due to unrest in the country, we had to postpone recording several times, but by the end of 2009 the situation was finally right. It was a joy for the musicians to finally be able to work creatively again in a studio.


Sammy and Birger invited a large number of illustrious guests to the studio:

the powerful singer Bosco with his charming female counterpart Amiziou; accordion virtuoso Medicis, who was influenced not only by the lightning speed of Tsapiki, but also by the trova of traditional salvation ceremonies; the creative percussionist Petit with his great feeling for the stylistic and rhythmic changes typical of Madagascar.

Other guests were the flautist Rageroge, with his Madagascan roots; the Tana Gospel Choir whose compelling singing really gets under your skin; plus the nine-piece brass orchestra Ambodirana Centre, reviving an almost defunct tradition. Many of the pieces take up the rhythms and melodic lines of African dance music, which is one of the many novelties of this inner-Madagascan crossover.

Unfortunately, the release of the CD was clouded by very sad news. The accordionist Medicis was stabbed to death, the victim of a street robbery. He could no longer enjoy the CD’s release and the planned concert tour in Europe. His family and friends, the band members, and we from Network were all overcome with sadness and anger at this tragedy. His death has caused us to reflect on the none too safe paths on which he have moved over the past three decades in the course of our musical journeys of discovery.

This cheerful CD therefore is dedicated to the much loved Medicis.

The magazine Songlines recently highlighted the CD as "Top of the World": "Here is the long awaited new album of one of Madagascar’s most loved musicians….An album that exudes energy, originality and wisdom. A really great album that leaves you waiting more."

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