MP3 James Whetzel - Sum
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ELECTRONIC: Ambient, WORLD: World Fusion
About the album Sum:
Sum is James Whetzelâs first solo album. It the ambient Yin which preceded the upbeat Yang of his second album Capitol Hill: Secret Tracks. âSumâ is an instrumental album and the music features the sounds of Whetzelâs sarod and tabla playing, West Africa palm-wine guitar music, and throat singing, as well as all kinds of ambient live and electronically altered sounds.
âAmbient music without cliches.â
About James Whetzel:
James Whetzel is a uniquely eclectic performer. He plays both acoustic music and electronic music. He sings his own West African palmwine guitar songs, and he plays original songs inspired by Indian folk and Classical music while playing sarod, a fretless Indian lute. He also recites "tabla poetry," which are spoken word pieces based on the intense beats of the Indian tabla drums. He is also a highly skilled and innovative Tuvan style throat singer.
James has played many styles of music. He sings and plays thrash metal electric guitar with the band Buddhist Priest. He was the dynamic front man for the prog. rock/pop punk Giant Peach. He has performed Avant-Garde European Classical music by composer Byron Au Yong, and has made Avant-Garde African Classical music with the African percussionist Yaw Asare. He is also a highly skilled remixer/DJ and live electronic artist. His African/Indian remix of Martin Luther King Jr's "I Have a Dream" speech, and his Arabic/Indian remix of Bob Dylan's "Masters of War" have received a great deal of attention.
He began playing music as a kid, learning first to play piano and trombone. Then in his teens, inspired by Hetfield and Hammett, he switched to guitar and rocked heavily. Later he discovered the sounds of Moroccan music and was captivated by the polyrhythmic beats and modal melodies. This led him to check out other musical sounds from around the planet and soon after he discovered West African Pop music, and Indian Classical music.
He eventually became an ethnomusicologist which gave him the opportunity to meet and study with some amazing musicians. He studied West African palmwine guitar music with the legendary Nigerian musician I. K. Dairo and then with the legendary Ghanaian musician Koo Nimo. He performed with Koo Nimo as his back up guitarist in several shows in the US.
He was first introduced to Indian tabla by the American tabla player Lowell Lybarger. Lowell in term introduced him to the young Indian virtuoso tabla player Vishal Nagar. James studied with Vishal and also played with him in fusion music projects. He also played in a group called Awaz which featured the dancer Urmila Nagar, and mixed Indian fusion music with straight up Indian Classical music.
He started doing solo shows in 2001. Performing music for the West Coast production of the show "The Erotica Project."
In 2003 he started playing in nightclubs doing mixing live music with electronic music. In 2004 he was part a collective with tabla player and producer Shri Deepayan and DJ Gringo Starr which produced the Tandav club night. A year later the group decided to end the Tandav nights, in order that all the members could spend more time on producing music. In 2005 Shri Deepayan and James founded the group Mean Deep to explore their mix of live and electronic sounds.
James has played at all the major festivals in Seattle including Bumbershoot, the Seattle International Children's Festival, Folklife and many others. He opened for Afro-Celt Sound System in 2003 at the showbox and also for Panjabi MC in 2004 also at the showbox.
He was commissioned by the City of Seattle to produce an Internationally flavored DJ mix in 2006. This mix plays every day in the International Fountain at Seattle Center. His avant-garde African Classical music collaborations with drummer Yaw Asare are featured as part of the "audio response" collection of the Seattle Art Museum.
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