Shabaka & The Ancestors narrate the apocalypse from a distant future / Pitchfork


The British-Barbadian jazz saxophonist and his South African players narrate the apocalypse from a distant future, suggesting that in order to build anew, some things will first need to burn. In West Africa, histories have been passed down through generations by griots, storytellers who collect the wisdom of the past in order to help shape our fates. Even after the advent of the written word, such storytellers were the safest manner of recording knowledge-scrolls could be lost, and libraries could burn, but oral histories were shared by the collective consciousness, written in our genes, able to survive individual tragedies to persist through time. In that sense, griots are more than just historians-they're the library. We Are Sent Here by History, the second album from Shabaka Hutchings and the Ancestors, is a record steeped in that tradition, a living history looking backward in time from a not-too-distant future. Coincidentally released amid the proliferation of a global pandemic, it takes on new meanings: a collective record of the apocalypse, a sonic time capsule left to be found buried in the sand by some future explorer. The group's first LP, Wisdom of the Elders, served as a warning of things to come, but this tale reads as a statement of fact, a record of the wrongs and missteps that led to our own demise. READ THE FULL Pitchfork REVIEW
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Michael Fine - Five For Five deserves to be listened to / froggy's delight


Five for Five, or five quintets with five different solo instruments: bassoon, English horn, clarinet, oboe and transverse flute accompanied by and dialoguing with a string quartet was written by Michael Fine. Before being a composer, Michael Fine was a clarinetist, label director, artistic orchestra manager, conductor and a popular producer. We find there what makes the quintessence of the music of the American composer where each work has almost its universe as descendant of an aesthetic line specific to the instrument. For the one for bassoon, we will think of the music written for this instrument by Devienne (for the relationship between the soloist and the strings), Jean Françaix or Roger Boutry. The one for clarinet between lyricism and swing recalls Copland. There is almost a kind of neo-classicism in that for oboe but sometimes with a touch of jazz. The one for flute and the Elegy for English horn have an almost impressionist side. The work and the writing of Michael Fine will not transcend the music of our time but this disc, by being interested in rather original formations deserves to be listened to. READ THE FULL froggy's delight ARTICLE
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Michael Whalen's 'Scared Spaces' is the most exciting sojourn through tone and sound / Steve Sheppard Music Reviews


I'm on a musical voyage again, and I am now wondering if this is the most exciting sojourn through tone and sound I have taken this year, as Michael Whalen is back with Scared Spaces a breath taking new offering from the artist, and a completely new direction from all that I have heard before. Michael known recently for his lush and moving piano work on Cupid Blindfolded, has delivered a truly refreshing new offering of electronic ambient and new age styles for us to enjoy. This is powerfully illustrated by the opening piece entitled A Metaphysical Morning, a wonderfully upbeat and literally sparkling new composition that sets the scene musically for us, with one of the most empowering performances on keyboards that I think I have ever heard; this is true music to raise the rhythms. The title track Sacred Spaces is up next, the combination of synths and keyboards here transports us to a whole new musical realm entirely; this is an extremely smooth performance by Whalen, one that has to be both admired and deeply enjoyed; the mix here is sublime, it's a track that if listened to carefully, moves you from one space to another with such a crafted sense of movement employed in the presentation. READ THE FULL Steve Sheppard Music Review
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Zajal with Dave Soldier and Pedro Cortes - the spanish tradition 'Is' our culture


Lyrics in medieval Hebrew, Arabic and Spanish from Andalusia, 900-1400 C.E. The Golden Age of Spain that created the tradition of Western song, from Schubert and Verdi to Hank Williams and the Beatles    Zajal, renowned Downtown composer and instrumentalist Dave Soldier explores the beginning of popular song and locates it 1000 years ago at the intersection of Muslim, Jewish, and Christian cultures in southern Spain. Zajal, along with muwashaha, were the lyrics of medieval Andalusia. While many are still sung today (notably in Lebanon), their offspring are everywhere. On a trip to Spain in 2004, Soldier read about the Andalusian caliphate, when the Muslim, Christian and Jewish com- munities not only coexisted, but co-created much of the world we inhabit today. Together, they produced the novel, cowboy culture, the guitar, the dance suite, the Kabbalah, Maimonides and ibn Arabi and the discovery of the New World. And modern song: the zajal and muwashaha introduced the verse and chorus that are the backbone of popular music. Imitation of Andalusia's singing oud players begat the troubadours and the figure of the wandering poet and singer in its myriad incarnations, from Villon to Joni Mitchell.   Zajal With Dave Soldier And Pedro Cortes - The Spanish Tradition Is Our Culture    CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE PODCAST   Zajal features Maurice Chedid, a celebrated singer and oudist from Lebanon who drives a livery cab in New York; Triana Bautista and Ismael Fernandez, scions of famous Gypsy flamenco families; flamenco and Latin music singers David Castellano and Barbara Martinez; and Israeli-Moroccan-Persian vocalist Ana Nimouz. Players include composer Dave Soldier on guitar and keyboards: classical and klezmer violinist Rebecca Cherry; Alan Kushan, the foremost virtuoso of the Iranian sentur: trombonist Chris Washburne (Eddie Palmieri and Willie Colon): klezmer trombonist Dan Blacksberg: jazz bassist Ratzo Harris (Mose Allison, Betty Carter): timbalero Robby Ameen (Eddie Palmieri, Dizzy Gillespie): Greek clarinetest Lefteris Bournias: flamenco dancer and percussionist Jose Moreno: and palmas (handclaps) by the dancers Nelida (Neli) Tirado and Sonia Olla (Madonna and Ricky Martin). Dave learned flamenco guitar from Pedro Cortes, the foremost American exponent of Gypsy flamenco, who produced the record.   The lyrics are by the major Arabic and Hebrew poets of medieval Spain, plus one by their Persian contemporary Rumi in Farsi; a lyric by Dave Soldier in English that uses the sevillianas, a flamenco form; and a modern muwashaha from the great Lebanese singer Fairouz. The music uses contemporary Andalusian forms (buleria, fandango, petenera, rumba, tango) as translated through Soldier's vision of the contemporary cultures of New York City.   Musicians: Dave Soldier, guitar, keyboards, musical compositions (except #2), arrangements; Ana Nimouz, Triana Bautista, David Castellano, Barbara Martinez, Ismael Fernandez, Anais Tekarian vocals; Maurice Chedid, oud, vocals; Chris Washburne, Dan Blacksberg, trombones;   Philip Payton, Rebecca Cherry (solos), violins; Alan Kushan, sentur; Lefteris Bournias, clarinet; Mahmoud Hamadani, recitation; Ratzo Harris, bass; Jose Moreno, hand percussion, trap set, vocals; Robby Ameen, timbales; Ismael Fernandez and Sonia Olla, palmas and jaleo; Neli Tirado, palmasn.   Produced by Max Horowitz - Crossover Media, This content, as well as the related podcast, are licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) for redistribution and adaptation.
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Avishai Cohen - Big Vicious makes JAZZIZ 'Week in Jazz'


The Week in Jazz is your roundup of new and noteworthy stories from the jazz world. It's a one-stop destination for the music news you need to know. Let's take it from the top. Big Vicious marks the debut album of charismatic trumpeter Avishai Cohen's new quintet of the same name. The band was launched after he relocated from the United States to his native Israel. "We're all coming from jazz, but some of us left it earlier," Cohen explains via a press release. In fact, each individual member's different background shapes the eclectic sound of Big Vicious. While the music remains jazz-centered, it also borrows textures from electronica, ambient music and psychedelia, as well as grooves and beats from rock, pop, trip-hop and more. SEE ALL THE JAZZIZ 'Week in Jazz' REVIEWS
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Avishai Cohen's 'Hidden Chamber' makes The New York Times 'most notable new songs and videos'


Every Friday, pop critics for The New York Times weigh in on the week's most notable new songs and videos. Avishai Cohen's ‘Hidden Chamber' makes this week's list. The trumpeter Avishai Cohen and his band Big Vicious wrote much of the material for their debut album together, blurring the processes of composition and rehearsing and recording into a single flow. "Hidden Chamber" is a piece Cohen brought to the band fully written, but even so, the looming, soused-in-effects sound of the band becomes the main propulsive force. The resolute pounding of twin drummers and the wash of guitar echo and beefed-up bass give lift and direction to the sigh of Cohen's trumpet. As things drift away at the end, quotations from Mahatma Gandhi and Wayne Shorter turn an eye toward shared inspiration.
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On release day, Laila Biali's 'Out of Dust' gets play>mpe top 10 stream


JUNO Award Winning singer-songwriter Laila Biali deeply personal new album, 'Out of Dust' releases today, March 27. Co-produced by Biali and her husband, Ben Wittman, the album is a celebration of life; warm and uplifting even as it confronts her recent challenges (and the current political climate!) head-on. "These new songs took shape as I processed my own feelings of doubt and loss," Biali reveals. "I believe that nothing is wasted, that even life's greatest challenges can produce something meaningful, even if only to make us more aware of and empathetic to the struggles of those around us." In addition to contributions from Biali's husband and son, Out of Dust features multiple GRAMMY nominees and winners including Lisa Fisher, Alan Ferber, John Ellis, and Larnell Lewis. In conjunction with today's release date, 'Out of Dust' has been selected as a play>mpe top 10 stream
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Paul Merkelo discusses 'The Enlightened Trumpet' with Montana Public Radio


Recognized among the finest trumpet virtuosos of his generation, Paul Merkelo releases The Enlightened Trumpet, his first recording for Sony Classical. Hailed as "a spectacular soloist ... a most impressive master of his instrument" (Montreal Gazette) who "knows no limits" (Der Spiegel) and with "unusual lyrical gifts" (Gramophone), Merkelo has been Principal trumpet with the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal since 1995, and has appeared as soloist with prestigious orchestras around the globe, from Melbourne to Shanghai. In The Enlightened Trumpet, Merkelo is joined by the Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra and its founder and conductor Marios Papadopoulos for four spectacular concertos by Haydn, Leopold Mozart, Telemann, and Hummel. Merkelo spoke with Montana Public Radio host Tom Halverson about the new recording. Listen to the attached interview
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  Interview with KGPR's Tom Halverson

'Jazz Hall Radio' interview with Joey Alexander


Joey Alexander, the Grammy-nominated jazz pianist, composer and bandleader has released his major label debut album, WARNA on Verve Records. The album is primarily a collection of reflective, moving new and original music by an experienced and confident musician. Translating as "color" from Alexander's native language of Bahasa, WARNA follows four Motéma Music albums that garnered the pianist three Grammy nominations and such honors as historic critics' and readers' poll victories in DownBeat and JazzTimes. Joining Alexander on the new album are bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Kendrick Scott, who comprise the core piano trio. On select tracks, Venezuelan-born percussion Luisito Quintero, and flautist Anne Drummond, join on to stunning aural effect.  LISTEN TO THE Jazz Hall Radio INTERVIEW
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  Interview with JazzHall Radio

Michael Whalen's 'Sacred Spaces' is an epic electronic album / MainlyPiano


Ten years in the making, Sacred Spaces is an epic electronic album by Michael Whalen, an award-winning composer who has released 33 solo and soundtrack albums since his 1984 debut. In addition to his work as a sound designer, Whalen has composed more than 800 TV and film scores as well as thousands of commercials, TV themes and video games. Aside from the stunning sound quality and the beauty of the music, Sacred Spaces is very different from 2019's Cupid Blindfolded, Whalen's first solo piano album in twenty years. Obviously not content to find a groove that works and then stay there, Whalen's drive to keep venturing into new musical territory is part of what keeps his music so fresh and creative. In short, Sacred Spaces is one amazing album that will undoubtedly put Michael Whalen back on the top of the charts and earn him a slew of new awards. READ THE FULL MainlyPiano REVIEW
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During COVID-19, The New Music Solidarity Fund is set to provide emergency assistance grants to new/creative/improvised music freelancers / New Music USA


The New Music Solidarity Fund is designed to help new/creative/improvised music freelancers whose livelihood has been threatened as a result of performances which have been canceled during the COVID-19 crisis. The Fund was started by a group of musicians in the new music community who have raised over $130,000 in a week, primarily from fellow musicians, composers, and music professionals. Our hope is that the Solidarity Fund will continue to grow in the coming weeks, so that we can assist and bolster more people in need of emergency relief. For now, at least two hundred and sixty, $500 emergency assistance grants will be made available to applicants who meet the below criteria. We are grateful to New Music USA for donating their time and services to help us run the Fund. Most importantly, we are immensely grateful to you, freelance artists who have risked so much in service of the music of our time. We stand in solidarity with you, and we are committed to helping you as much as we can. In solidarity, the New Music Solidarity Fund Collective includes; Marcos Balter
Julia Bullock
Claire Chase
Anthony Roth Costanzo
Du Yun
Reena Esmail
Judd Greenstein
Nico Muhly
Andrew Norman
Christian Reif
Christopher Rountree
Caroline Shaw
Conrad Tao
Seth Parker Woods
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The astral plane of Shabaka Hutchings / Passion of the Weiss


We didn't invent listening to more jazz, we just implore you to do it. We also would like you to support Passion of the Weiss by subscribing to our Patreon. As tempting as low flight prices may be, Chris Robinson is staying home. Of the current generation of musicians pushing jazz in new directions, perhaps none synthesizes the music of the black diaspora into a personal sound and style as much as saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings. Three recent albums on the legendary Impulse Records tell listeners all they need to know to understand why he's a central figure in London's dynamic jazz scene, a rising star in North America, and in the vanguard of creating the sound of black music in the 21st century. The recently released, Trust in the Lifeforce of the Deep Mystery, is the second full length album from The Comet is Coming, a trio featuring Hutchings, keyboardist Dan Leavers and drummer Max Hallett. Despite its jazz, Afrobeat, funk, dub, electronica, and rock influences, the music is irreducible to any genre. At its root, the trio specializes in assertive melodies, evocative soundscapes that fuel the imagination, and pelvis-shaking grooves that compel listeners to fill dancefloors. Leavers conjures a kaleidoscopic diversity of colors and textures from his synths, from crystalline trebles to rumbling fuzzed-out bass, from sonar pings to Prince Jammy-esque dub ray guns, from 8-bit video game glitch to dystopian sci fi soundtrack. Hallett is rock solid and emphasizes staying in the pocket over showing off his chops. Hutchings, who plays tenor and bass clarinet, brings to mind Maceo Parker-he doesn't play a lot of notes, and like Parker, his sense of rhythm, timing, and phrasing is nearly unmatchable. The Afterlife picks up right where Trust in the Lifeforce left off. It opens with guest vocalist Joshua Idehen's ominous declaration: "The Comet is coming/Babylon burned down/Our time has come, our clock has run down/The Earth is cracked/The mountain's popped/The river's ripped/The air is churning." Idehen reminds us that we have killed the planet, we should've spent less time adding zeros to our bank account, and that there's nothing left for London but to gargle in flames. We Are Sent Here by History is the second album from Hutchings's intercontinental band Shabaka and the Ancestors. Like Sons of Kemet, this group pulls together multiple strands of black music and-as did Fela Kuti and Bob Marley-infuses them with anticolonial and antiracist politics. The group came together in 2016 after Hutchings had traveled to South Africa to play with trumpeter Mandla Mlangeni, who introduced Hutchings to the musicians who would become the Ancestors: vocalist Siyabonga Mthembu (who sings in English, Swahili, and Xhosa), alto saxophonist Mthunzi Mvubu, bassist Ariel Zomonsky, percussionist Gontse Makhene, and drummer Tumi Mogorosi. With multiple percussionists and a largely acoustic lineup, the Ancestors' sound is closer to Sons of Kemet than The Comet is Coming. Passion of the Weiss - Chris Robinson explores three recent albums from the London jazz trailblazer. READ THE FULL ARTICLE
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Top 10 Albums for March

Shabaka & The Ancestors :

We Are Sent Here By History

On March 13, Shabaka & The Ancestors will make their Impulse! debut with the band's sophomore album We Are Sent Here By History. Their breakout 2016 album, Wisdom of Elders, established Shabaka & The Ancestors as a sudden force in spiritual jazz. But where that record warned of impending societal collapse, this one unfolds within it. Shabaka refers to the album as a "meditation on the fact of our coming extinction as a species. It is a reflection from the ruins, from the burning." On the lead single "Go My Heart, Go To Heaven," Siyabonga pays homage to his father's favorite church song. The word "hamba" (or "go") is repeated, and within the context of this track, it's "about the point where one gives in and wants out of this world," Siyabonga says. "But in times of darkness is a call to the light and the heart."
Anoushka Shankar :

Love Letters - EP

‘Love Letters' marks a different direction for the internationally celebrated artist; it offers a shift in intimacy and content and comes at a pivotal time in her career as she signs to her new record label, Mercury KX. Hailed by the Guardian as a "virtuoso sitar player", Anoushka truly pushes the boundaries of how the instrument is heard and perceived and "uses it as a vehicle for creativity" (Times). Love Letters documents a time of profound flux for Anoushka: health issues, heartbreak, domestic upheaval – "These were difficult times, which pushed me into some very vulnerable places. I've written from a personal place before, of course, but there was something particularly tender about the process this time, and it was a creative challenge to be brave enough to allow the music to remain as raw as it began" she says.
Avishai Cohen :

Big Vicious

Charismatic trumpeter Avishai Cohen launched his homegrown band Big Vicious six years ago, after relocating from the US to his native Israel, rounding up friends to shape the music from the ground up. Guitarist Uzi Ramirez, bassist Jonathan Albalak and drummer Aviv Cohen write much of the material together with Avishai. Ziv Ravitz, from Avishai's acoustic quartet, was recruited as second drummer a year ago. "We're all coming from jazz, but some of us left it earlier", Avishai says, summing up the stylistic reach of his cohorts. "Everyone's bringing in their backgrounds, and that becomes part of the sound of the band." Textures from electronica, ambient music and psychedelia are part of the blend, so too grooves and beats from rock, pop, trip-hop and more. A wide-open approach to cover versions - from Massive Attack to Beethoven - is also integral to the Vicious vision. Recorded in Studios La Buissonne in the South of France in August 2019 and produced by Manfred Eicher, Big Vicious's debut album is issued as the band gears up for extensive international touring.
Sally Potter :

The Roads Not Taken OMPS

Milan Records announces the March 13 release of THE ROADS NOT TAKEN (ORIGINAL MOTION PICTURE SOUNDTRACK) with music by the film's critically-acclaimed, award-winning director SALLY POTTER.  Available for preorder now, the album includes music written by Potter for her new film and features long-term collaborator and guitarist Fred Frith, violinist Viktoria Mullova, cellist Matthew Barley, percussionist Paul Clarvis and bassist Misha Mullov-Abado.  Alongside today's preorder is the lead offering from the soundtrack – listen to "Thinking" now.  Making its debut at the Berlin International Film Festival and starring Javier Bardem and Elle Fanning, The Roads Not Taken will make its theatrical debut Friday, March 13 via Bleecker Street.
David Foster :

Eleven Words

Sixteen-time GRAMMY® award-winning composer and legendary producer, David Foster, sets to release a collection of personal and heartfelt piano solos, ELEVEN WORDS (April 17 via Decca Records US).  A return to his truest form, the album showcases the artist at his musical core and the first track from the intimate set is, "Love." You can listen to the first song and pre-order the album here.  ELEVEN WORDS is a return to the basics for the prolific songwriter and music producer.   A departure from writing and producing huge, chart-topping hits for megastars, Foster steps back to his roots, seated at the grand piano and delivers emotional and meaningful piano melodies. "What I truly wanted to do with this album, is strip away the lyrics and all the production that I'm known for, leaving just the melodies" says Foster. "I called it Eleven Words because I wanted to identify words that were meaningful to me and hopefully meaningful to the world - simple yet complex."
Leonidas Kavakos :

Beethoven Violin Concerto w/Bavarian Radio Symph.

What we have here is an extremely rare example of a "complete" musician among the violinists of the present day: one of the most sought-after soloists in today's world of music, he regularly performs with leading international orchestras under the most high-profile conductors. He is also a convincing advocate of the repertory for violin and piano and in general is a passionate chamber musician. More recently, he has additionally taken up conducting. All of these aspects of Leonidas Kavakos's artistic activities are reflected in the present double-CD featuring works by Ludwig van Beethoven. This is also the first recording by Kavakos, who was born in Greece in 1967, to be released under the terms of his new exclusive contract with Sony Classical.
Dan Romer & Benh Zeitlin :

Wendy ( OMPS )

Milan Records today announces the February 28 release of WENDY (ORIGINAL MOTION PICTURE SOUNDTRACK) with music by award-winning composer, songwriter and producer DAN ROMER and the film's award-winning director BENH ZEITLIN.  Available for preorder now, the album features music co-written by the duo for Zeitlin's vivid reimagining of Peter Pan, which made its world premiere at Sundance Film Festival and debuts in theaters on February 28 from Searchlight Pictures.  The album is the latest in a series of scoring collaborations for the duo that includes both Zeitlin's own critically-acclaimed, breakout film Beasts of the Southern Wild as well as additional titles Brimstone & Glory and Mediterranea.  
Wolfgang Muthspiel :

Angular Blues

Wolfgang Muthspiel, whom The New Yorker has called "a shining light" among today's jazz guitarists, returns to the trio format with Angular Blues, the Austrian's fourth ECM album as a leader, following two acclaimed quintet releases and his trio debut. Like Driftwood - the 2014 trio disc that JazzTimes dubbed "cinematic" and "haunting" - Angular Blues finds Muthspiel paired with longtime collaborator Brian Blade on drums; but instead of Larry Grenadier on bass, it's Scott Colley, whose especially earthy sound helps give this trio its own dynamic. Muthspiel alternates between acoustic and electric guitar and, along with his characteristically melodic originals - including such highlights as the bucolic "Hüttengriffe" and pensive "Camino" - he essays the first standards of his ECM tenure ("Everything I Love" and "I'll Remember April"), as well as his first-ever bebop rhythm-changes tune on record ("Ride"). Angular Blues also features a single guitar-only track, "Solo Kanon in 5/4," with Muthspiel's electronic delay imbuing the baroque-like rounds with a hypnotic glow.
Artists For Peace And Justice :

Let the Rhythm Lead: Haiti Song Summit Vol. 1

Let the Rhythm Lead: Haiti Song Summit Vol. 1 is a meeting of musical styles and traditions that brings together the world views of songwriters Paul Beaubrun, Jackson Browne, Habib Koité, Jenny Lewis, Raúl Rodríguez, Jonathan Russell and Jonathan Wilson alongside members of Haitian roots band Lakou Mizik at the Artists Institute of Jacmel.  Steeped in polyrhythmic drumming of Haitian Vodou, complex notes of Spanish Tres, Flamenco and Malian Guitar, interwoven with North American folk and rock, Let the Rhythm Lead is a musical odyssey, employing an array of diverse songwriting traditions and genres to tell stories of new friendships and collaborations, powerful spirits and ancient traditions, all the while honoring humanity, love, understanding, awakening and rejuvenation. Six languages narrate the journey with singing in English, French, Creole, Khassonké, Manding and Spanish. All Press Secured By MISSING PIECE GROUP
Nina Simone :

Fodder On My Wings

Recorded in 1982, not long after she moved to Paris, Fodder On My Wings was one of Nina Simone's favorite albums yet has remained one of her most obscure. Originally recorded for a small French label and only sporadically available since its initial release, Fodder On My Wings will be reissued in a variety of formats including CD and LP, as well as widely available digitally for the first time, in both standard and hi-res audio via Verve/UMe. The original album will be expanded with three bonus tracks from the recording sessions from a rare French reissue released in 1988. 
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