Tag Archives: world music

Divine Tides - Album cover

GRAMMY® WINNER RICKY KEJ & ROCK LEGEND STEWART COPELAND RELEASE STUNNING “DIVINE TIDES” ALBUM

A few years ago, my recording client, Ron Korb, Canada’s Grammy-nominated flautist and composer, turned me onto the music of RICKY KEJ (pictured below), the prolific American-born Indian composer and recording artist, with whom Ron had collaborated on a number of recent tracks.Grammy® Award-winner Ricky KejNot only was I blown away by the sublime beauty of Ricky’s music but also the exquisite music videos he produces, and his compassion and dedication to the environment. When I heard about Ricky’s latest album, DIVINE TIDES, a collaboration with the legendary drummer from super-group The Police, STEWART COPELAND, I knew I had to reach out personally and have a chat with Ricky.Grammy® Award-winner Stewart CopelandFirst, who is Ricky Kej? He was born into a family of doctors in North Carolina, USA. After his family moved to Bangalore India, Ricky studied at the prestigious Bishop Cotton Boys’ School where his passion for music developed. He started playing keyboard and guitar for various rock bands in India but after high school, he chose to pursue his education in the field of dentistry to please his parents. Five years later in 2005, he graduated as a dental surgeon but ironically, he did not practice dentistry for even a day after he was awarded his degree. Ricky started producing jingles for television and radio, and in a span of four years he had produced over 1,000 jingles for various clients like Levi jeans, Air India, Blaupunkt, IBM, Toyota, Nike, etc.

Ricky released his first lounge album Communicative Art – Lounge from the Bay in 2003 to rave reviews, becoming a commercial success in the “lounge” category. Songs from this album have found their way into over 20 international compilations, and his second album Kamasutra Lounge released in 2007 featured Indian musical legends such as Pt. Shiv Kumar Sharma, Ulhas Bhapat, Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia, Pt. Ajay Pohankar, etc. This, too, was a critical and commercial success, being released in the United States under the ‘Water Music Records’ label.  That same year, Ricky took on the project of composition for the film Accident where he directed the music for 6 songs and background score. Since then, he’s composed and scored for several shorts and documentaries and produced numerous music videos in both long and short form. He’s released 20 albums and has been featured in two dozen compilations. So let’s hear from the master himself about his life, his career and DIVINE TIDES…..

When/how young were you when you realized you loved music and had the gift to compose and play?  Ever since I remember, I have always been in love with music. Even as a child, my ears have always been more important than my eyes. While most of my classmates in school were fascinated by television and cartoons, I was hooked to my music system. I would dissect songs I heard to try and figure out the instruments used, the musicians playing those instruments, and I would learn about different cultures and people through music. I was also passionate about the environment. It was through my music that I fell in love with our natural world and I have always found a deep connection between music and nature. I have no idea why, but we had a baby grand piano at home, and a guitar. So I started off by trying to make music on those instruments. Much later as an adult, after I already embarked on a thriving professional musical career, I took a formal education in music to avoid what I perceived could be a handicap in future.grammyWho were your musical and spiritual inspirations when you started your career in entertainment and musical healing for the planet?  I have loved the styles of Pandit Ravi Shankar, Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, and AR Rahman because they have never let genre boundaries define them. All that they did was make music that they strongly believed in and collaborated with some of the best musicians and individuals across the globe. The world was/is their musical canvas. After I won the Grammy Award in 2015, I decided to dedicate my life and music towards creating environmental consciousness through my art and there has been no looking back. Although my music is global, it is strongly rooted in India. I am a huge fan of various Indian art forms and I have always been inspired by ancient Sanskrit phrases and traditional Indian music. The ancient Indian texts were filled with musical verses and those verses spoke about co-existence and environmental consciousness.snskritHow has Covid impacted your ability to reach your fans – have you performed concerts or presentations online during the world’s lockdown?  I miss performing my music to a live audience. Live concerts allow me to connect and interact directly with my audience and to ensure that they leave my concerts with a renewed love for our planet and hope. It is always an amazing feeling to look at an audience and realise that I have succeeded in emotionally connecting with them through my music. The pandemic has hit the entertainment industry very hard. The music industry is extremely dynamic and different professionals in the industry rely on each other. Performing artists, production companies, event management companies, sound engineers, recording studios and everyone else involved is stuck in limbo at the moment especially here in India. I performed multiple virtual concerts over the course of this pandemic with my last three online concerts watched by an estimated 200 million viewers from around the world. It is all about adapting to the times and our surroundings, because no matter what pandemic hits us, music will never leave our lives.

This creative collaboration with Stewart Copeland has produced a unique series of recordings and videos, with an innovative release of single tracks and accompanying videos from now until September. How did you come up with this concept?  I had been working on a follow-up to my Grammy® winning album ‘Winds of Samsara’ and had catalogued some of my favourite ideas. Recordings were delayed because of my relentless touring schedule and when the pandemic hit, it presented an opportunity for me to spend time in my studio and kick-start this project again. I reached out to Stewart and was thrilled when he said yes to making this album with me. I have always relied on technology for all of my recordings and Stewart, too, is high on technology and has one of the most amazing home studios. That helped us record seamlessly during the pandemic. Stewart and I recorded our portions individually and it all came together superbly. Despite the pandemic, we are thrilled to have created an album that celebrates life and will create a wave of much-needed positivity in our audiences.Grammy® Winner Stewart CopelandStewart Copeland has always been my musical hero, and I have been a life-long fan. Working with him was like attending the best masterclass imaginable. Stewart is not just the Founder and drummer of one of the biggest-selling bands in history ‘The Police’, he also regularly composes for operas, orchestras, and for over 50 Hollywood movies including the Oscar-winning ‘Wall Street’. Despite reaching the pinnacle of success, he is constantly evolving and learning by exploring new sounds, traditional music instruments and rhythms. We constantly threw ideas at each other, adapted sounds and crafted this album together, piece by piece. All of the songs have strong Indian roots with a fusion of the west and the entire album celebrates the magnificence of our natural world and the resilience of our species.

“One day during the Apocalypse I got a call from Ricky Kej about making an album. He had assembled an amazing collection of exotic musicians, or perhaps I should say deeply traditional musicians, in the exotic context of his inspired production style. The flow of ideas soon became a torrent of recording and music. The spiritual ambience (not something that I’m generally known for) infused my aggressions upon inanimate objects with loving passion. The timpani were ringing! The crotales were singing! Making this record has been a unique adventure in both music and divine awareness.”  Stewart Copeland

“I had been working on a follow-up to the Grammy® winning album “Winds of Samsara” and had cataloged some of my favorite melodies. Recordings were delayed because of a relentless touring schedule, but then the 2020 pandemic hit. Strict lockdowns presented an opportunity to spend more time in the studio. In 2016 I was privileged and honored to collaborate on a song with Stewart Copeland. With the support of industry veterans Ralph Simon and Tarquin Gotch I mustered up the courage to ask him to collaborate with me yet again, this time on a complete album. What followed was one of the best and most fulfilling personal and musical experiences I could have ever asked for. Working with Stewart was like attending one of the best masterclasses imaginable. Stewart is not only a living legend, but an extremely humble human being, filled with positive energy, that pushed us to deliver our very best for “Divine Tides.” – Ricky Kej

Have you made plans for touring once the world is safe for musicians and audiences?  It is hard to make any concrete plans right now since the situation around the world is extremely unpredictable due to lockdowns, suspension of flights, border controls etc. and of course, with the virus constantly mutating. Touring is definitely on my mind but, I guess, for the next few months I am going to work on promoting Divine Tides and try and get as many people to listen to it. Since I have worked so hard on the music, poured my heart and soul into it, I feel I owe it to the music to ensure as many people around the world enjoy it.Grammy® Winner Ricky KejThank you so much for sharing your thoughts, Ricky. And if you would like to learn more about this amazing and much-respected World music artist, please visit his website at: www.rickykej.comDL JCDivine Tides will have a unique launch format: every song will feature an accompanying music video, released from July 7th until September 28th, 2021, as both Ricky and Stewart feel that all of the tracks deserve their moment in the sun. The complete album will be made available on all audio streaming platforms as of July 21st. You can follow the release schedule on this dedicated website:  www.divinetidesmusic.com

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WHAT A WEEK THAT WAS FOR GRAMMY NOMINEE RON KORB

I can’t believe it’s been a whole week since I logged onto the Grammy nominee list, cuppa coffee in one hand, mouse in the other, scrolling down as I held my breath….Category 30, New Age Album…….blah blah blah blah…and RON KORB for ASIA BEAUTY. Yaaaay!!!!12096026_10153033946140448_2532998975567882371_nAfter a very busy year of composing, producing and performing, Toronto-based flautist and composer Ron Korb awoke last Monday morning as a Grammy nominee! Having worked with Ron over the summer to promote the release of Asia Beauty, I am so proud and excited for him at the prospect of walking the red carpet on Grammy weekend (mid-February) rubbing shoulders with the likes of  Beyonce, Taylor Swift, Garth Brooks, and fellow Canuck nominees, Drake, The Weeknd and Justin Bieber.logo

As soon as the nominations for all the categories were announced I started working my media contacts here in Toronto – all the TV and radio networks, the dailies, the music bloggers – how would you like a Grammy nominated artist on your show?  Sadly, as is typical these days, we had few takers. Unless you are an international, multi-award winning artist, they just don’t care. But hang on…..that’s exactly what Ron Korb is. Ron has won countless international music awards, has performed in some of the world’s most celebrated concert halls and collaborated with numerous other award-winning artists, has produced over 30 hit albums in various genres (Celtic, Latin, Jazz, native American, African, classical, Japanese….) composes film & tv scores, and he’s also the third most well-known Cdn in China which has the greatest buying power in the universe these days.  Ron has performed for Queen Elizabeth, Princess Takamado of Japan, Princess Bopha Devi of Cambodia, and was featured on the World Youth Day recording for Pope John Paul and the Dalai Lama’s World Festival of Sacred Music in Chiang Mai, Thailand. He has also shared stages with Peter Gabriel, Jane Siberry, Tia Carrere, Liona Boyd, The Yardbirds, Olivia Newton John and Cesaria Evora.

With fellow Cdn artist Liona Boyd

With fellow Cdn artist Liona Boyd

So how come Canadian media doesn’t recognize his accomplishments and want to brag about them to their viewers/listeners/readers? Beats me!  At least the Toronto Star and CTV Headline News acknowledged Ron’s accomplishments…..

TorStar Dec 9Ron and his lovely wife Jade, who took all the photos for Ron’s Asia Beauty album which included a 32pg full-colour booklet, have worked long and hard to promote Canadian music and artistry around the world. Asia Beauty has already won “Best of Show” at the 2015 Global Music Awards as well as awards for Best Instrumental Solo performance (Blue Bamboo) and Best Album Design. The CD also won Best Instrumental Album and Best Instrumental Song (Two Mountains) at the Akademia Music Awards in Los Angeles. Ron has toured countless times around the world and when composing his 2014 Europa album, he performed in venues where classical legends  – Mozart, Beethoven, Bach – once trod the stage. Ron even shared the cover of a recent online edition of Billboard with Keith Richards……keith and ron….so why no love from our own media? This is the sad reality for most Canadian artists. No matter how brilliant, how popular, how well covered by int’l media or how awarded you are by other countries, Canada apparently doesn’t give a rat’s ass about its own artists. So hopefully I will be proven wrong and more editors, columnists, bloggers and news directors will realize the treasure they have under their noses and will step up as we head into Grammy month (Feb/16) and my phone will be ringing off the hook for interviews with the amazing Ron Korb!  Why not see for yourself why he’s such a superstar…. http://ronkorb.com/home_MG_2214

Post script: in his usual humble manner, Ron played a special Christmas concert on Saturday at the St. Paul’s Anglican church in Newmarket – the perfect way to end the hectic and exciting week. Here he is performing to the packed pews!su3IlLSoGq9IKL8EMgK2QECzFI7aLqOftJOwUl5-z3U SnUyYlWoD14w3bUuGCGogFsN8MHisTXgTpDNP7hwUQc

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RON KORB DEBUTS “ASIA BEAUTY” CD WITH STANDING-ROOM-ONLY TORONTO CONCERT

Despite the heavy downpour, the Musideum in downtown Toronto held a packed audience as award-winning flautist and composer RON KORB unveiled his latest album, ASIA BEAUTY, accompanied by Lou Pomanti on piano and Linlin Wang on erhu.

Cover-2015(less green)With a stunning 36pg full-colour book of photographs attached, the 19 track (+ 2 bonus tracks) CD channels Ron’s experiences and inspirations from previous tours of China, Vietnam, Hong Kong and Taiwan. His beautiful wife, Jade, took the photos which accompany Ron’s story behind each tune.

Asia Beauty 2The enthusiastic crowd of fans and media jammed into the humid and steamy performance space seemed entranced by each note. Everyone seemed to be taping the performance (below) which was also webcast around the world. Many favourable comments from excited fans in the US and Japan were received the next day.

20150707_202638 20150707_201138 20150707_212411After the concert, fans wanted photos with Ron (below) including Singaporean actor and singer Laurance Tan, jazz flautist Bill McBirnie (middle pic) and of course, the obligatory “band photo” (bottom pic) featuring Linlin Wang and Lou Pomanti flanking Ron.

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20150707_215231….and members of Flute Street (Toronto’s Professional Flute Choir) filmmaker Patrick Jenkins and Hong Kong designer Rita Ip (below with Ron)

20150707_193748 Rita Ip_RonIf you missed the concert last night, check out Ron’s website for CD purchase info or downloads: http://ronkorb.com/

20150707_193412Ron composed and produced the entire album, ably assisted by Gary Honess of Kuhl Muzik studio where most of the tunes were recorded and mixed, plus Ron Searles (Glenn Gould Studio at CBC), Paul Intson, Jeremy Darby (The Canterbury Music Company) and Phil Demetro of Lacquer Channel Mastering. Album design by Carolyn Quan. Financial assistance from FACTOR Canada. Thank you to Roger (sound) and Donald (Musideum) for making the concert possible.

 

 

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AWARD-WINNING FLAUTIST & COMPOSER RON KORB RELEASES NEW ALBUM “ASIA BEAUTY” JULY 7th IN TORONTO

I’ve been aware of Toronto’s internationally acclaimed flautist and composer RON KORB and his music for many years, having attended one of his concerts back in the late 90’s – I remember being completely mesmerized by his flute playing; I never knew there were so many different types of flute or the vastly dissimilar sounds and tones each emits.

DSC00144g-1-sDSC07049Famous for playing a wide variety indigenous woodwinds from around the world, Ron’s critically praised music has been released in twenty countries around the world, and he’s toured extensively throughout Europe, North and Central America, Australia, South Asia, mainland China and Japan, performing for many heads of state and royalty. His compositions evoke imagery of the diverse cultural traditions and experiences he’s encountered on his travels.

Several months ago, I reconnected with Ron during a taping of the Rogers Daytime Toronto tv show and we started chatting in the green room about the release of his upcoming new CD, Asia Beauty. On Tuesday July 7th, Ron will be performing at Musideum, 401 Richmond St West (at Spadina) accompanied by renowned pianist Lou Pomanti with Linlin Wang on the Chinese Erhu, as he introduces Asia Beauty to world, classical and new age music fans. Tickets are $20 and available on Ron’s website: http://ronkorb.com/asia-beauty-tickets

Cover-2015(less green)His past albums have run the gamut of Celtic themes, a salute to the European masters, Native American, Japanese, mystical and even a Christmas album, all original works using a multitude of wind instruments accompanied by indigenous and traditional musical instruments. I asked Ron about his latest album and he shared his inspirations and the story behind the new album:
This album is the result of my travels through China over the past 13 years.  The music is inspired by the dramatic landscapes, ancient history, the people and their stories, the arts and culture and their dynamic present-time where, in cities like Shanghai, entire communities are changing rapidly. More specifically, as you flip through the album booklet you can see the background inspiration for each song. All the pieces have a unique story that reflects something about Asian culture.

????????????????????????????? KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAAsia Beauty also features a beautiful 36 page picture book containing full colour photos of both rural and urban China. I asked Ron about these gorgeous photos:
I am proud that there are no stock photos in the picture book. Most of the original photography is by my wife, Jade, with a few shots taken by myself and others, notably Dan Shao. The exotic locations in China include: Guilin, Yangshou, Suzhou, Shanghai, and the Forbidden City in Beijing. Other locations include Hanoi, Vietnam and the gorgeous bamboo forest at Xitou in Taiwan.

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DSC08816-1Ron continued by telling the story behind his original songs on the album:
Seven of the songs from Asia Beauty are the musical setting of an original story called “Dragon Flute and the House of the Five Beauties” which I wrote in my hotel in Shanghai (where Ron is pictured below) after a week-long rehearsal schedule and concert performance. I spent an extra week travelling around and each night I would add a few more pages. I was inspired to write a supernatural story set in ancient China based on historical legend and some of my own experiences. There was even interest in turning the story into a feature length animated film, however, I’m happy that it’s finally available in the liner notes of the album.

SONY DSCOriginally I was going to call the whole album “The House of the Five Beauties” but as other songs included were not part of that story, I thought of calling the album simply “Asia”. I liked adding the word “Beauty” because the essence of the music is celebrating the beauty of Asian nature and also refers to “The Beautiful Sadness” aesthetic and the characters in “House of the Five Beauties”.

IMG_3304 ?????????????????????????????I noticed on his website that Ron has performed for many international heads of state and royalty over the years so I asked him how it feels to play in front of such prestigious audiences:
Aside from the diplomatic etiquette, the performing process is really the same. Music is about relating to each other as human beings. Personally, it is just as much a privilege to play for a King or Queen as it is for all audiences.

SONY DSC And I also asked him how Chinese audiences differ from Canadian audiences:
They come from a completely different perspective when it comes to appreciating the arts. I explain some of the cultural difference in the album with the song The Beautiful Sadness. I think the Chinese audiences are brutally honest and they won’t sit through something that they find boring. However, if your music touches them they will really show it enthusiastically.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA DSC04836g 147簽名會 SONY DSCWhich brought me to another question – does Ron see opportunities for other Canadian artists to explore the HUGE Chinese/South Asian music markets?
I think there are opportunities for Canadian artists but it is not as straightforward as expanding into the USA or Europe where we share a similar media culture and musical taste. I know some musicians who have tried to make it in China and been underwhelmed by the results and reaction from audiences.  There was one North American superstar who was performing there and after a few songs the audience began to leave en masse. There was another case where the audience was talking so loudly that the group stopped playing and lectured the audience on how to pay attention.

DSC04509g-1 With such a level of expertise, knowledge and personal experience, I asked Ron how long he has studied and played the flute, and which instruments are his favourites:
I started on recorder in elementary school and began playing flute in high school. I like each type of flute for different reasons. The classical flute has good intonation and pure tone but the mechanical key system lacks some intimacy, similar to the difference between an automatic transmission and a standard car. With the wooden flute your fingers touch the wood and you feel every curve and bump of the instrument. I also love the wonderful organic tone of the Chinese bamboo flute or wooden Irish flute.

20150623_174736With all this training and years of touring, Ron must have advice he could share with music students and aspiring performers so he offered the following:
Seek out the best teachers and learn the craft as best you can. Attend as many concerts of as many different genres as possible. As you develop, discover who you are as a person and learn how to express that through the flute. Resist copying other artists’ styles and develop your own special voice.

2015-02-13 20.34.59I mentioned to Ron that his upcoming CD release concert is being held in a unique venue, Musideum (pictured below), where I believe he had previously played, even collaborating with the owner, Donald Quan on musical projects:
Yes, I‘ve played there before and I even played at Musideum’s inaugural opening concert. I have known Donald since I was 17 and in many ways, our love of World Music has developed simultaneously. Musideum was the realization of a dream that took many years to create and it has become a wonderful Aladdin’s cave of exotic instruments from around the world. It has personal significance to me and that is why it’s so appropriate to launch my Asia Beauty there.

20150507_194347 20150507_194422 20150507_220351So we’re just a week away from the official release of Asia Beauty and as space is limited, I encourage fans of World, Classical or New Age-style music in the Toronto area to get your tickets now!

Asia Beauty CD Release

Tuesday July 7 @ 8pm (doors open 7:30pm)

Musideum, 401 Richmond St. West (at Spadina)

Tickets $20 available from: http://ronkorb.com/asia-beauty-tickets

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Thank you for supporting Canadian artists.