Kalimba Community

Kalimbas on Tiles

Are you doing something cool with the kalimba? Have you released a new CD, or a new video on YouTube? Do you have an upcoming kalimba performance? Do you have some cool photos to share? Contact us and we'll get your story or pics onto the Community page to help you share your news or other good stuff with the kalimba world!

Derrick Jordan

Derrick Jordan Performs in Brattleboro, Vermont on June 5

My world fusion string quartet "Welcome Santo" written in 2009 for kalimba, shekere and traditional string quartet is being performed in Brattleboro, Vermont on Sat June 5 at 7pm at the River Garden. It will be the world premiere of the piece. We have a great string quartet involved from the Brattleboro Music Center and I will be playing the kalimba and my friend Julian is on shekere. It's part of a bigger arts event where many town arts groups are presenting works (Vermont Jazz Center, Brattleboro School of Dance and others) and the larger umbrella event that weekend is what we call here the "Heifer Stroll" where we get the cows to walk down Main Street to celebrate our Vermont dairy industry. If you like cheddar, it's a good thing.

The piece was written for a Hugh Tracey Alto kalimba that I retuned to an E suspended pentatonic scale (E F# A B D). I used the kalimba instead of a traditional mbira because the kalimba is standardized and easy to obtain. The piece is called "Welcome Santo" because it is based on variations of the 12/8 santo rhythm that is found throughout Africa. It is in three movements: Mbiraland, Gratitude For The Earth And Sky, and That Buzzing Is The Ancestors Singing and is about 16 minutes long altogether with two 90 second improvised solos by the kalimba and shekere in between the movements. I'm going to try to get a DVD of the performance. Should be fun and the rehearsals are sounding great.

—Derrick Jordan

Kalimarimba performing in Chile

Piny Levalle and His Band Kalimarimba

How do you make "Kalimba" a household word that every kid in the country knows? The band Kalimarimba found a strateg: get the Chilean government to provide a kalimba CD to every woman giving birth for the whole year. And so Kalimarimba's beautiful CD Lugar de Paz Amorosa - Place of Peace and Love, has ended up in thousands of houses.

Kalimba Magic will be selling Kalimarimba's CD as well as Piny Levalle's CD ALMA Minimal soon! I invite you to read a funny story of how my Radio Astronomy past and my kalimba present intersected.





Karimba gnome
Karimba Gnome.

Karimba Gnome Found in Wood Grain!

I lost the contact info of the person who sent me these words and photo. Apologies to you, whoever, wherever... and thanks for this fun observation.

From the first time I played it, I knew that my karimba held magic. Surely, I thought, angels play these instead of harps. What would a karimba-playing celestial being look like, I wondered.

Then I turned it over and saw in the grain of the wood this enchanting little bearded man wearing a hooded robe, surrounded by bands of light. And look! He's playing a karimba....or praying--(but is there really any difference?)






Stephanie Ables Plays Mbira in Bisbee, AZ Library

Stephanie Ables is a world class mbira player in the little town of Bisbee, AZ. She has been playing weekly in the public library, and is a resource to be valued. Bisbee is already a cool place to visit (literally, if you are living somewhere else in AZ like Tucson!). Swing by the Bisbee Public Library next time you're in town an hear Stephanie's live mbira!


Innovative Kalimba Recording by Phillip Schwartz

A client named Phillip Schwartz has been doing some very cool things with his kalimbas in his recording studio. This is music to look out for!

Dave's bass kalimba

Charangos for Sale

Claude, a recent kalimba client of mine, recently asked me how many kalimbas I had (an accurate number would be difficult to gauge), and lamented that he had way too many charangos, South American 10-string lutes of high pitch and excellent sound. He thought maybe he should sell some of them. So, if you are interested in good quality charangos, contact Claude in Canada. He sounds like he really knows what he is talking about:

I have brands like Chaski, Richter, Khanata, Quispe Torres, Juan Acha, Ignacio Suarez, Eduardo Cornejo, Justo Baca Sotomayor, and even a curved maple body one from Deloraine. Some are used, some are new. They go from charangon barryton (cf Santaollala ) to regular (36) (37) and (39cm) scaled, and to chillador, kalampeador and walaycho. —Claude

For more information about stock and brands, you can contact Claude, he will give you all the information you need with detailed pictures as requested.

Claude the Charango Seller
778 479 2847




Betty Edwards' Short List of Kalimba CDs

Betty Edwards is a great friend of mine who has been instrumental in the develpment of Kalimba Magic, largely because she loves my music so much and always has encouraged me to enact my visions. What a blessing she is to my life, it is like having a fairy Godmother, but without the wand.

A few months ago, Betty expressed a desire to widen her kalimba music repertoire - so I traded with her: if she would do a short review of each, I would let her keep the CDs she liked best. Here is a list of what she has liked:

Mbuti Pygmies
Mbuti pygies recorded by Hugh Tracey in 1958

Hugh Tracey Story in Afropop Worldwide

Afropop Worldwide offers this great story on Hugh Tracey, AMI, ILAM, and Andrew Tracey. It is well worth a read and look.

Last week, someone on YouTube attacked me: "How dare you name a traditional African instrument after a European!" In some ways, it is a difficult charge to defend. But Hugh Tracey spent most of his time and effort working to make recordings and save examples of traditional instruments, many of which would never have been documented and preserved had he not lived. While he was an imperfect lens, he gives us unique views into the myriad shapes of traditional African music before western influences crept in and altered or destroyed it.

I am proud to be associated with Hugh Tracey. I would have loved to meet him. Though his candle blew out decades ago, the music and instruments that he loved never will.


A Great Mbira Blog

If you are looking for CDs of African kalimba players, this mbira blog covers some great music, from Stella Chiwesha to Konono No 1 and Hugh Tracey recordings. Enjoy!







N Scott Robinson

N. Scott Robinson's Great Anklang Kalimbas

Two years ago when we were at the PASIC Percussive Arts Society's conference in Austin TX, Scott brought a beautiful Anklung Kalimba and asked me to display it at the Kalimba Magic booth. My friend and coworker Glen Davis fell in love with it and took off with it, playing on a walk 10 blocks away to get Stubbs barbeque for lunch, and a young woman in front of him heard the music and turned around to see it and said "Oh, THAT is the kalimba I wanted to buy!" She had seen it in the conference, fell in love with it, and thought GLEN had bought it out from under her.

After lunch, she came by the booth and purchased the Anklung Kalimba. There are brands of kalimbas that look very similar to these but are of rather poor quality. The Anklung Kalimbas are really, really fine, if you are looking for something different in a good kalimba (somewhere between the Hugh Tracey in versatility and the Sansula in fineness), look no further than N. Scott Robinson's Shop.


Catania Folk Instruments' New Website

Steve Catania is a crafter of musical instruments of many types - among other things, he is the creator of the the Catania Kalimbas (aka Board Pianos and Gourd Pianos), an economical but high quality family of instruments made in Pennsylvania.

Stay tuned for some exciting news from Catania. But for now, you can go and visit the New Catania Folk Instruments Web Site.

Let me quote from the site about Steve: "By combining a love of music and many years of woodworking, Steven Catania creates, invents, and redefines musical instruments. His work reflects his appreciation for beauty in the natural world. He seeks to share the joy of playing a musical instrument with everyone by making instruments that a child or complete novice can play. Quality workmanship goes into each piece. Smooth finished, nickel plated keys and decorative additions such as handpainted beads showcase his distinct style." In other words, he is the sort of person you would probably be proud to know.

Kalimba Magic Logo

Become a Fan of Kalimba Magic

I haven't exactly mastered the art of the social network thing. I do respond to email and phone, and I love to get visitors in person. But I am trying my hand at Facebook - so I'm inviting you to become a fan of Kalimba Magic on Facebook.

I put out almost everything I do out in the newsletters... so I'll have to figure out something else to give to the Facebook community.


The Kalimba in Video

Eric Freemans latest CD

More on Eric Freeman's New Bass Kalimba

Eric Freeman continues to get orders for his Bass Kalimbas, and the Bass Kalimbas continue to get good reviews. Last month, I performed one song on the Freeman Bass with the band Mandophilia. In the band Under the Willow Tree I played the Joni Mitchell song Woodstock on the Bb Treble, and bandmate Carol Tepper played the Freeman Bass. People loved it.

But don't take my word for it. Listen to Eric Freeman playing his own bass on Last Tree Gone.

This track has Eric playing the Masters Bass Kalimba.


My Parting Words

The kalimba world is changing fast. So many people are doing so many new things, it is hard to keep up with it all. (Of course, this would be easier if my newsletters came out monthly like they are supposed to!)

—Mark Holdaway, Kalimba Magic


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