Mark Stone's original compositions and arrangements bring together celebrated world percussion traditions of Africa and India with the lyricism of the violin to create a vibrant new global soundscape.
Track 1: Presence - composed by Mark Stone Mark Stone – karimba Raghavendra Rao – violin Tiruvarur Vaidyanathan - mridangam
The seed for this project was planted during my first tour of India in 2012. Throughout my trip, I performed with many incredible Carnatic musicians, combining my melodic instruments from Africa with South Indian traditions. I quickly grew to love the common Carnatic music format of a soloist accompanied by violin and mridangam. Presence was composed during this trip with the idea of placing the South African karimba into an Indian context. In this composition, I try to capture the mindfulness and feeling of being in the present moment that characterized my interactions in India.
Track 2: N'Traned - composed by Roger Braun (arr. Stone) Mark Stone – array mbira Alan Grubner – violin Dan Piccolo – multi-percussion set
After returning home to the U.S., I put together a trio to continue my exploration of ideas formed in India. N'traned is a composition by my long-time collaborator Roger Braun based on John Coltane's classic A Love Supreme. In his composition, Roger takes Coltrane’s themes on a euphoric visit to West Africa. My arrangement features the new chromatic Array mbira.
Track 3: Atenga Omwana - traditional Basoga (arr. Stone) Mark Stone – akogo, vocals Haruna Walusimbi – akogo, vocals Miles Brown – bass
Atenga Omwana is a traditional song from the Basoga of Uganda, which tells of the joys inherent in becoming a parent and "tossing the child." The song features the akogo (karimba of Uganda). Since studying music for a year in Uganda in the late '90s, traditional Kisoga music has become part of my musical identity and continues to inspire my creative work.
Track 4: Lullaby for Ellery - composed by Mark Stone Mark Stone – karimba Alan Grubner – violin Dan Piccolo – tabla
The joy of "tossing a child" has greatly shaped my recent musical output, or in my case, the joy of playing karimba for a child. In 2010, my wife and I spent a month in South Africa, where I began playing the karimba. I composed Lullaby for Ellery the following year, and played this composition for my daughter Ellery while she was in the womb, during her birth, and almost every night since she was born.
Track 5: Keego - composed by Mark Stone Mark Stone – gyil Alan Grubner – violin Dan Piccolo – multi-percussion set
My family and I live in the small city of Keego Harbor, Michigan. I wrote Keego on Christmas Day of 2012 to celebrate being at home after much traveling. This composition brings the Ghanaian gyil xylophone into a jazz context.
Track 6: Karimba Time - composed by Mark Stone Mark Stone – karimba Regina Carter – violin Dan Piccolo – frame drum
Karimba Time was written while rocking Ellery to sleep at night. Her reaction to my playing shaped the composition. Karimba Time was originally recorded by the quartet Imaginary Homeland, led by David Rogers. This trio arrangement features violinist extraordinaire Regina Carter, whom I have known for many years and worked with at Oakland University, where she is Artist-in-Residence. I deeply appreciate Regina’s willingness to bless this recording with her soulful playing.
Track 7: Yaa Yaa Kole – traditional Dagara (arr. Stone) Mark Stone – gyil Regina Carter – violin Dan Piccolo – multi-percussion set
Yaa Yaa Kole is a traditional Dagara song featuring the gyil xylophone, an instrument I have played since 1992, when I studied music for a year in Ghana. As with music of the Basoga, Dagara music is part of my identity and continues to shape my work. Yaa Yaa Kole is one of my favorite Dagara songs, and one I have played countless times together with my gyil guru Bernard Woma.
Track 8: Mwalimu - composed by Mark Stone Mark Stone – kalimba Alan Grubner – violin Dan Piccolo – tabla
I wrote Mwalimu as a retirement gift to my Oakland University mentor Dr. Vincent Khapoya. Vince, originally from Kenya, is married to a Kenyan of Indian heritage. As with this beautiful couple, Mwalimu is a marriage of African and Indian traditions.
Track 9: Kakaire - composed by Mark Stone Mark Stone – akogo, Stone Box Haruna Walusimbi – endingidi fiddle
Kakaire is my Ugandan name. This past year, Haruna Walusimbi visited my family in Michigan and I in turn visited his family in Uganda. Kakaire is an improvised composition featuring the akogo and endingidi fiddle, recorded during Haruna’s U.S. visit.
Track 10: Twalibamukwano: traditional Basoga (arr. Stone) Mark Stone – Array mbira Haruna Walusimbi – endingidi fiddle, Kisoga drums
Twalibamukwano (“we were friends”) is a traditional Kisoga song that I have arranged for the Array mbira. I learned this piece from the Nakibembe Xylophone Group, one of Uganda's finest embaire (massive, 21-key log xylophone) groups. Words cannot express the happiness I felt in being reunited with Nakibembe after 18 years and seeing them carrying on their embaire tradition.
Track 11: Nandi - composed by Mark Stone Mark Stone – gyil Raghavendra Rao – violin Tiruvarur Vaidyanathan - mridangam
The closing track, Nandi, was written last year during my second tour of India. Nandi is the Lord of the Drum, represented by a bull that always faces Lord Shiva. After a very spirited solo performance in Coimbatore, an elderly woman excitedly approached me and said in Tamil, "You are the incarnation of Nandi!" This heartfelt compliment touched me so deeply that immediately upon returning to Chennai, I composed this work.
Regina Carter appears courtesy of Sony Music Masterworks Recorded and Mixed by Terry Herald (Oakland, MI) and Katherine Miller (Paramus, NJ) Mastered by Katherine Miller Album Design by Deanna Stone Produced by Mark Stone
Thanks to Ragi, Vaidy, Regina, Dan, Alan, Haruna, and Miles for your incredible musicianship and for bringing this music to life. Terry and Katherine, thanks for capturing the music with your recording/mixing talents and your sharp ears. Thank you to my sister, Deanna, for the beautiful album design.
Special thanks to my wonderful wife Lesley-Anne, for supporting the long hours of composing, rehearsing, and performing, and for your patience during many months of travel abroad. To my children, Kwame, Abena, and Ellery: thanks for your constant inspiration. This album is dedicated to my parents, Don and Ann Stone. Thank you for your never-ending love and support.
Copyright 2015 Mark Stone Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws.