This music video is called Stand By Me | Playing For Change | Song Around the World.
By Richard Maunders in Britain:
Tuesday 22nd July 2014
RICHARD MAUNDERS reports on a unique international music project which promotes peaceful global change
MARRYING Rolling Stone Keith Richards with Aztec Indian percussionists, Mexican horns, an Australian didgeridoo, a Congolese bassist and an array of other talented international musicians may come across as a bit off the wall.
But in the case of the remarkable eight-track album Making The World A Better Place, the experiment is something of a triumph. Hundreds of musicians from 31 countries across six continents have been brought together by Playing For Change, a movement formed in California to inspire, connect and bring peace to the world through music.
This album is the third such collection recorded in a quest to enhance the cause. In 2005, co-founders Mark Johnson and Whitney Kroenke committed to the ideal that through music change can be made and that all races, cultures and societies should be able to live in peace and harmony together.
They created the concept of Songs Around The World by uniting together musicians from many different countries, races and cultures to perform together on the same number.
Although most are well known and the music is superb, the achievement of this album is the clever knitting together of so many talents — young and old, with different beliefs and backgrounds — to join in what is a festival of humanity and respect.
Their conviction — that we are all together, inhabiting one world, for peace and humanity — is a message few would disagree with, even though there may be differences as to how best to achieve such noble ideals.
The performances are brilliantly conceived, beautifully photographed and expertly recorded even though in some instances the “recording studio” sometimes includes the open air, city streets, backyards, bars and the countryside.
The Playing For Change team recorded artists in countries including the Congo, South Africa, Mali, Jamaica, Mexico, Serbia, Portugal, Brazil, Cuba and more over a two-year period.
The result is an infectious set in this musical odyssey around the planet.
Household names such as Keith Richards, Los Lobos, bluesmen Keb Mo and Taj Mahal, Toots Hibbert — of the legendary Toots And The Maytals — and others rub shoulders with street musicians, African choirs and instrumentalists, Cuban guitarists and even a fabulous female Japanese honky-tonk pianist. It’s a cocktail of effervescent music that stirs the senses.
Two pieces of an outstanding collection stand out. There’s a spirited version of the anti-war anthem Down By The Riverside, led by Granpa Elliott, a New Orleans street musician for more than 60 years. He’s joined by Choeur la Grace, a Congolese choir singing the chorus in their own language, with the brilliant Preservation Hall Jazz Band adding a rousing finale.
This music video is called Playing For Change – Down by the Riverside/A Better Place.
The best, however, is saved for the last performance. More than 75 Cubans around the world from Havana and Santiago to Miami and Tokyo came together to sing Jose Marti’s patriotic verses on a passionate rendition of Guantanamera.
This music video is called Guantanamera | Playing For Change | Song Around The World.
US singer Jackson Browne was so impressed with Cuba that he writes in the sleeve notes: “Travelling with playing for change to Havana and Santiago de Cuba was one of the most rewarding and inspiring musical experiences of my life.”
If there is a criticism it has to be the lack of “revolutionary” edge. There is no Woody Guthrie or Pete Seeger material here, for example, and maybe in future the Playing For Change Foundation might consider tackling poverty and hunger in its remit. Yet this is a vibrant and inspirational journey across the musical spectrum and one for all to enjoy.
The CD/DVD on Timeless Media is available at www.playingforchange.com, along with updates of Playing For Change’s British tour next month.