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Laurence Libin

(b Jirapa, Ghana, June 22, 1958). Ghanaian xylophone maker, player, and teacher. Born into a family of gyilli makers and players in northwest Ghana, Doozie began playing at six years of age. When he was 12 his father taught him to make his first gyilli and he was a practised maker by age 15. After secondary school Doozie moved to Accra to become a xylophonist with the Ghana Dance Ensemble. He was also an instructor at the Institute of African Studies at the University of Ghana, Legon. Among other appointments, he has performed with the National SO Ghana and has been associated with the Institute of African Studies and the music and performing arts departments of the University of Ghana. In 1990 he established a workshop to produce xylophones; he made the xylophones used in the Broadway production of The Lion King. He has also restored instruments in museum collections. He continues to teach and perform and is managing director of Dagarti Arts and Music in Accra and a member of the Arts Council of Ghana. He is also involved in promoting fair trade practices. Doozie’s xylophone bars—from eight to 18 for each instrument—are made of aged, fire-dried planks of wood from male shea trees. Gourd resonators are affixed under the bars, which are tied to the curved frame. The tips of the wooden beaters are padded with rubber recycled from tyres....

Article

Lara Pellegrinelli

(b Omaha, NE, Sept 1, 1956). Bass player of Nigerian descent. He learned classical violin for two years and began playing double bass and electric bass guitar while at high school in Portland, Oregon; he continued his education at Mount Hood Community College, where he studied privately with faculty members. After graduation he performed in Portland for three years and spent a brief period in Los Angeles. Essiet then moved to Europe and toured there with Don Moye’s quartet in 1982. The following year he settled in New York, where he worked with Abdullah Ibrahim to 1988 and in Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers from 1988 until the leader’s death in 1990; he also toured with Mary Cook (autumn 1986) and recorded in the trio Triangular under Ralph Peterson, Jr. (1988). In the 1990s he toured and recorded as a member of Bobby Watson’s group Horizon (...

Article

Wesley Berg

(Denis)

(b Pietermaritzburg, Dec 8, 1936; d Edmonton, Alberta, July 5, 2011). Canadian composer and trombonist of South African origin. He earned undergraduate and postgraduate degrees from the University of Cape Town. After playing the trombone with the Cape Town SO (1961–7), he emigrated to Canada in 1968 where he joined the music faculty at the University of Alberta. He continued his orchestral playing with the Edmonton SO (1968–71, 1973–80). His first major composition, Sketches from Natal (1970), is strongly influenced by the African melodies and rhythms that surrounded him as a youth. Other works including the Symphony no.1 (1972), Music for Mouths, Marimba, Mbira and Roto-Toms (1973), African Ode (1981–7) and ‘Chopi’, the third movement of Tre toccate (1987), share similar characteristics. Atayoskewin (1984), however, evokes the atmosphere of his adopted homeland, the Canadian North. A prominent feature of his style is the intricate manipulation of intervallic cells, orchestral textures and rhythmic patterns derived from African and popular musics. Other important aspects of his work are an appreciation of wit and humour revealed in the forms of pastiche and parody and a desire to communicate with a wide audience. The recipient of numerous commissions, Forsyth was recognized as Canadian Composer of the Year in ...

Article

Anya Laurence

(b Trieste, Italy, Sept 1, 1926; d Bloomington, IN, Nov 20, 2001). Violinist and teacher of Italian birth. Gulli began violin studies with his father, who had been a pupil of Ševčík and Marak at the Prague Conservatory, and graduated from the Conservatory of Trieste in 1944, summa cum laude. He later studied with arrigo Serato at the Accademia Musicale Chigiana at Siena, winning the Academy Prize, and also with joseph Szigeti in Switzerland. He performed as a soloist with the finest symphony orchestras and in 1947 he founded the famous Gulli-Cavallo Duo with his wife, concert pianist enrica Cavallo . He was also a founder of the Trio Italiano D’Archi with violist Bruno Giuranna and cellist Giacinto Caramia. His extensive discography includes the complete Mozart Concertos and complete Beethoven Sonatas. With the Trio Italiano he recorded all of the Beethoven String Trios and in 1959 he gave the premiere performance of the newly-discovered Concerto No.5, by Paganini. He taught master classes at the Accademia Chigiana at Siena and at the Lucerne Conservatory, and later presented master classes in Japan. He joined the University of Indiana at Bloomington in ...

Article

Vera H. Flaig

(b Balandugu, Guinea, West Africa, 1950). Drummer, director, and teacher of Guinean birth. Mamady Keïta began his official apprenticeship with the village djembéfola at the age of eight. By his late teens, he was lead drummer of Ballet D’Joliba. By 22 he became the company’s first drummer to act as artistic director. Upon his retirement from the ballet in 1986, Keïta played briefly for the national ballet in Côte D’Ivoire before settling in Belgium where he founded an international djembé school called Tam Tam Mandingue.

Keïta came to live in the United States in 2004. At his first official workshop as an American resident, Keïta announced: “I spent fifteen years cleaning up the djembé drumming in Europe. Now it is time to do the same in America.” Despite the growing popularity of the djembé, Keïta was surprised by the lack of understanding about its history and music within American drum circles. Keïta, together with six other ...

Article

Ulrich Wegner

(b Nabbale, Kyaggwe, Buganda, June 2, 1916; d Oct 11, 1993). Ugandan instrumentalist and teacher . At the age of nine, Muyinda learnt to play the amadinda and akadinda log xylophones. In 1939, when Muteesa II became Kabaka of Buganda, Muyinda was appointed court musician in the akadinda ensemble. Beyond his remarkable expertise as a musical performer, Muyinda was a tireless promoter of the traditional musical culture of the Buganda region. In 1948, Klaus Wachsmann, then curator at the Uganda Museum, gave him a post as musical demonstrator. Muyinda taught instrumental music at schools, and he gave musical demonstrations at the Makerere University College in Kampala. Between 1957 and 1959 he was responsible for the founding of a multi-ethnic akadinda ensemble at the Salama Rural Training Centre of the Blind. The development of a simple number notation for xylophone compositions can also be attributed to Muyinda, a notational system that in a more developed form is often used in ethnomusicological studies. Over the years, Muyinda became a multi-instrumentalist who covered a wide spectrum of Kiganda music with his performances on the harp, lyre, tube fiddle and notched flute among others. He is considered to be the inventor of the Kiganda orchestra, an ensemble format in which instruments from various Kiganda musical traditions are joined, leading to a mixture of timbres that is unusual in traditional music. The Kiganda orchestra became an integral part of the Uganda National Ensemble called the ‘Heartbeat of Africa’, a group whose profile can also be largely attributed to Muyinda. He participated in several concert tours to many countries in Africa and overseas with this ensemble as well as with several other ensembles of his own. As a research assistant of Klaus Wachsmann and instrumental teacher of Joseph Kyagambiddwa, Gerhard Kubik and other music researchers, Muyinda exerted a considerable influence on the scientific studies of the traditional music of Buganda. His work is discussed in Gerhard Kubik: ...