Tag Archives: Mista Savona

Mista Savona creates musical history with Havana Meets Kingston

unnamedAustralia’s leading reggae producer Mista Savona has spearheaded the Havana Meets Kingston album, a musical project where the distinct sounds of two islands meet.

On the album veteran and emerging Cuban and Jamaican musicians and singers join each-other to version classics and create new songs fusing reggae and dancehall with Cuban and Afro-Cuban rhythms.

The set features a stellar cast of performers, including Sly & Robbie, Leroy Sibbles, Lutan Fyah, Cornell Campbell and Randy Valentine along with original Buena Vista Social Club instrumentalists Ronaldo Luna and Barbarito Torres.

Havana Meets Kingston is a historical musical meeting and the warm songs bubble with energy and sincerity. Best of the bunch is a version of Bob Marley’s Positive Vibration, where Randy Valentine’s emotive singing certainly makes a mark, the pulsating In the Ghetto – Where We’re From, the fierce Heart of a Lion and, of course, the first single off the album – Carnival, a song which effortlessly blends Cuban and Jamaican musical elements.

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Support a groundbreaking project uniting the music of Jamaica and Cuba

Acclaimed Australian producer, mixing engineer and keyboardist Mista Savona is on a mission. He aims to bring about 30 Jamaican and Cuban musicians together in the recording studio for the first time ever.

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Key Jamaican and Cuban artists already confirmed for this landmark project include Sly & Robbie, members of Buena Vista Social Club, Leroy Sibbles of The Heptones, Prince Alla and Randy Valentine.

But Mista Savona and his team need financial support to make this historical new project come true. They have secured support from the Australia Council to help with recording costs in Cuba and Australia. They now need assistance with international travel costs, studio and equipment hire, engineer and artist fees, legal expenses and permits for our artists and film crew.

The team has a Kickstarter goal of $20,000 AUD, and they have already received a little more than $16,000 AUD. Less than $4,000 AUD is therefore needed to reach the goal. If they exceed the target additional funds will be used to record more high profile artists, including Damian Marley, Mos Def, Busy Signal, Chronixx, Tanya Stephens and Tarrus Riley.

This project is a journey to unite the music of Jamaica and Cuba. It will fire up a melting pot of traditional and contemporary Cuban and Jamaican music, and intends to explore and develop new styles and sounds showcasing the best of each island’s musical heritage.

The international artists will come together to record at Havana’s Egrem studios in Cuba. Over the course of eight days the musicians will collaborate, compose and improvise together to create a full length album.

Learn more about the project and how to contribute here.

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A fifth remix EP from Sizzla’s Born a King

b8c3c8de50From Muti Music now comes a fifth remix EP from Sizzla’s stunning and critically acclaimed album Born a King, a set produced by forward-thinking Australian multi-instrumentalist and producer Mista Savona.

The forthcoming EP collects 13 different versions of Sizzla’s Cold War – eleven cuts of the original track and one version each from veteran singer Prince Alla and gruff dancehall deejay Bugle.

It kicks off with the original six minute+ original version followed by an acoustic version along with the cuts from Prince Alla and Bugle. From there on there’s an bass boosting extravaganza created by Mista Savona himself along with Empress Shema, Om Unit, Mat the Alien, HNGVR, Sukh Knight and 3rdeye.

These mostly dance music oriented producers push the concept of bass heavy music forward experimenting with dubstep, drum & bass, dancehall, jungle, steppers and reggae. Fresh new sounds with an edge. Check the EP on June 1.

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Blue King Brown’s Born Free is a powerful sonic experience

121604-L-LOA few weeks ago I noticed that Australian’s leading reggae producer Mista Savona posted a link to Blue King Brown and The Congos’ Babylon a Fall. I didn’t know anything about Blue King Brown, but Mista Savona and The Congos sounded like a nice combination, so I listened to the tune, a tune featured on Blue King Brown’s third album Born Free.

When I listened to the tune and the album I was completely blown away. Some of the beat-driven tracks were absolutely stunning. It turned out that Blue King Brown is an eleven piece outfit fronted by the energetic Natalie Pa’apa’a and one of Australia’s premier live bands with a strong following around the world. They have over the years shared stages with a diverse range of artists, including Damian Marley, Santana, Julian Marley and Lauryn Hill.

Blue King Brown dropped their debut EP almost ten years ago and they are known for powerhouse and percussion-driven riddims. Their approach is a punky one and Natalie Pa’apa’a’s vocal style is rebellious and confident. One Born Free they have collaborated with a variety of different producers – Mista Savona, the Grammy Award winning James Caruso, Styalz Fuego and Chris Macro. And the result is a powerful sonic experience.

Some of the highlights are downright militant. For example the dark Like a Lion and the pounding Renegade. Then there’s the anthemic All Nations – with a catchy break in the end – and the powerful Jesse Royal combination Righteous Ones.

But there are also a number of slower and smoother jams, particularly One People and Educate the Masses. Both acoustic and earnest.

Internet is fascinating. Two weeks ago I had no clue about Blue King Brown or Born Free. Now I have yet another contender for the best albums of 2014 list.

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Another set of remixes from Sizzla’s Born a King

unnamedFollowing Sizzla’s fresh and critically acclaimed album Born a King comes the fourth instalment of remix EP’s from that particular set.

Champion Sound was one of many highlights on Born a King. The original tune is recorded over Mista Savona’s brutal Soundclash riddim and features Sizzla at his finest along with veteran singer Errol Dunkley.

Champion Sound EP, which drops on September 9, comes stacked with classic roots reworks on the original Soundclash riddim, with vocals provided by Burro Banton, Iyashanti and Johnny Clarke & Determine. The Johnny Clarke and Determine combination is a roaring version of Clarke’s legendary African Roots.

The riddim also gets a remix treatment from a variety of producers working in several different genres, including drum & bass, jungle, dubstep, R&B and electro-oriented funk.

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Sizzla is king

ae055d7035Hip-hop is in the air on Sizzla’s new album Born a King. And so is dancehall, roots reggae and sounds from Africa and the Middle East. Heavyweight Australian producer Mista Savona pulls all the stops and has managed to put out a progressive and blazing mix of styles that fit Sizzla’s fierce and fresh delivery very well.

I heard about this set three years ago when I interviewed Mista Savona. He had just dropped the excellent compilation Warn the Nation and revealed the exciting news. I’ve been longing ever since and the longing became even more intense when singles started to drop. First out was the Errol Dunkley combination Champion Sound, later followed by I’m Living, The Formula, a duet with Vida Sunshyne, and Blessed. All singles have felt like a punch in the face thanks to their pounding beats.

And beats is the right word here. Because Born a King often leans more towards booming 90s hip-hop and dancehall from the same period, yet put in a contemporary habitat with louder bass, clever sampling and the use of a ten piece studio band.

Sizzla sounds more inspired, personal and energetic than usual. He chats, sings, deejays and spits consciousness and combines his sense for melodies and flow over the 15 tracks. On tracks like Blessed, Set it Off and Why Does the World Cry he’s at times so aggressive that those tracks could be used for building up a momentum before a boxing match.

The press release for this album uses words and terms like “breath-taking”, “peak of his musical career” and “one of the best albums of Sizzla’s career”. Usually press releases exaggerates, but in this case I have to agree. It’s wickedly well-produced, balanced and detailed. So this scorching set is definitely one of the strongest sets from Sizzla’s more than extensive catalogue.

Born a King drops on May 6.

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Sizzla is born a king in April

artworks-000070786977-85tet7-t500x500On April 27 the controversial and versatile Jamaican deejay Sizzla drops his long-awaited album for Australian producer Jake “Mista Savona” Savona. It’s titled Born a King and collects the already released single I’m Living.

Mista Savona and Sizzla have previously recorded the Middle Eastern-flavored Why Does the World Cry, a tune put out on the excellent compilation Warn the Nation.

Mista Savona is a clever and inspired producer not afraid of trying new ideas or breaking musical boundaries, and Born a King will most certainly be one of the highlights this year.

While waiting for the new Sizzla album Mista Savona and his label Muti Music have outdone themselves with remixing and versioning I’m Living and its ethereal riddim.

On February 26 Muti Music drops I’m Living (The Versions) and I’m Living (The Remixes). Together they collect 17 cuts, including the original mix, which is one of the strongest, but actually not THE strongest. The gold medal goes to Cornel Campbell & Burro Banton and their Pressure. A five minute long masterpiece where Cornel Campbell sings the chorus and Burro Banton gravels in the verses.

Other vocalists featured on the versions album are Prince Alla, Ilements and Pinchers. The electronic remixes are courtesy of 3redeye, B.R.E.E.D, Ed Solo & Stickybuds, Gaudi and Mista Savona himself.

Check Soundcloud below to get the feeling.

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20 voices share their reggae story

During 2012 there have been several efforts to celebrate Jamaica’s 50 years of independence from British govern. Concerts, albums and songs are some of the events that have occurred.

Together with United Reggae I have asked a bunch of reggae artists, producers and label owners to share their view on the history and future of reggae music. We received many answers, ranging from acclaimed veterans such as BB Seaton, Sly Dunbar and Bunny Rugs, but also from more up and coming producers and singers, including Million Stylez, Mista Savona and Etana.

Most of the people we asked share the same view – reggae has had a huge impact on music makers around the world and that the future looks bright.

But you can find out for yourself and draw your own conclusions when checking the 20 stories over at United Reggae.

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Mista Savona puts Australia on the reggae map

Jake ”Mista” Savona is the leading reggae producer from Australia, and the first to consistently travel to Jamaica to record some of the country’s most acclaimed singers and deejays. Reggaemani got an early morning chat with this well-educated and humble producer.

Australia is not necessarily known for its burgeoning reggae and dancehall scene. Rather pop music and artists and groups such as Kylie Minogue and INXS.

Reggae is according to Jake Savona regarded as a mostly underground style in Australia and is not in the mainstream consciousness yet.

Jornick, Jake Savona and Vida-Sunshyne.

“The scene is fairly small here”, explains Jake Savona over the phone, walking through a park in Sydney in the middle of the day, while I have just woke up and am preparing for breakfast.

Started early
Jake is a classically trained musician and has been playing keyboards such as the piano and Hammond organ from the age of six.

“Playing keyboards gives you different skills. It gives you melody, harmony and composition techniques,” he says.

He learned to play reggae by himself through trial and error, listening to records and also through friends. And he says that the music expertise in Australia is very good.

“I have many inspirations. Augustus Pablo, King Tubby and Lee Perry. That mid 70’s sound. But also the late 90’s and early 2000’s sound, like the Diwali and Coolie riddims. Not much of the music from Jamaica today. It has too much auto-tune and is too generic,” he says and adds:

“I also love electronic music, world music, and vintage Bollywood music.”

Begun with dub
Jake first became interested in dancehall and modern reggae when living in Brixton for a month in 2000. And he clearly remembers when he heard dub for the first time.

“First time I heard real dub was at someone’s house in deep downtown London. Horace Andy was there in person singing, and there were speakers on all the walls,” he laughs, and continues:

“I went back to Australia and started making hip-hop beats with reggae influences.”

Travelled to Jamaica
In 2004 Jake visited Jamaica for the first time, and his first recording there was with Anthony B. Since then, he has been back two times – in 2008 and last year.

While in Jamaica in 2008 he recorded some of the vocals for the wicked Fire Dragon riddim, a clever interpretation of the classic Drum Song riddim.

“I’m a vinyl collector and for that riddim was inspired by Korean music and kung fu soundtracks. The bass line in Drum Song was itself inspired by old 50’s Latin American stuff. My version is in a totally different style. It is Arabic and Middle Eastern sounding,” he says.

The riddim was voiced by chanters such as Burro Banton and Sizzla.

“Sizzla loved the riddim. He jumped around and kept hitting the CD player when I played it in his yard,” he says, and continues:

“He is an amazing guy. Moody and inspired. Reminds me sometimes of Johnny Depp’s character in Pirates of the Caribbean. A brilliant character with amazing vocal ability.”

Jake also reveals that he has recorded a full length album with Sizzla, hopefully due later this year. It is a reggae album with some hip-hop, dancehall and dubstep influences.

Important messages
Mista Savona’s latest album is the compilation Warn the Nation. It has been available in Australia for a year, and was recently released in Europe and the U.S through Soulbeats Records in France.

The music was mainly recorded in Australia, while most of the vocals were laid in Jamaica.

The album’s core messages are concerned about the state of the world today and the environment. This is obvious in tunes such as Clean Air Clean Country by Burro Banton and Why Does the World Cry by Sizzla.

“Why do the same things happen again,” asks Jake rhetorically, and continues:

“I want to put out music with a message. Not necessarily about girls, money or consumerism. Plenty of people are already doing that.”

Warn the Nation also features the late Alton Ellis on Chant Rasta Sound. Jake remembers the recording which took place in London.

“It was amazing. Alton heard it [the riddim] and loved it. He went through a news paper to get the words going. I have also done a yet to be released combination with Sizzla on that tune.”

Jake says that he is already planning his next trip to Jamaica, and once the Sizzla album has dropped internationally he will go back and voice another set from the top Jamaican singers and deejays.

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Heavyweight sounds from Down Under

Australian and Melbourne-resident Mista Savona rose to worldwide prominence with the Fire Dragon riddim, an inspired and clever relick of the Drum Song riddim, originally recorded at Studio One. This percussion driven Middle Eastern flavored masterpiece was in 2009 voiced by huge artists such as Sizzla and Burro Banton.

Their cuts are, along with 14 others, represented on the Mista Savona produced compilation titled Warn the Nation, released last year in Australia, and now in Europe and the U.S.

This is a multi-riddim album, and the only riddim that is represented with more than two cuts are Fire Dragon. Apart from the aforementioned versions, there is an semi-instrumental Bongo Herman lead cut and Sizzla also does it acoustic style, on a lick where he is in fine form, jumping from total despair to joyfulness. It’s such a blessing to hear Sizzla when he’s on top of the game.

Warn the Nation is a conscious, raw and dense reggae album that deals with environmental issues, injustice and inequality.

It is heavily influenced by hip-hop, dancehall and dubstep as well as Indian and Middle Eastern music. Just listen to the pounding Stumble & Fall (Enemies Scatter Mix) featuring Junie Platinum or the straight one drop Chant Rasta Sound, one of the last cuts from the late Alton Ellis.

Mista Savona has managed to produce a compilation that is both uniform and diverse. It is remarkable that this gem has been hidden Down Under for so long.

Warn the Nation hits the streets on June 10.

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