Youssra El Hawary – Rubenstein Atrium - October 4, 2018
There’s a bit of Arab Spring vibe in El Hawary, but she seems to be more documenting the social fallout of modern Egypt rather than sounding a call to arms. It’s always interesting to see how the stereotypical image of an instrument can get warped by the cultural filter of distant hands. The handout blurb mentioned that she has modified the reed setup of some accordions, to be able to produce the quarter tones that are part of the genre, and which give music of this region (the band is from Egypt) its distinctive not-of-the-west tonal signature.
Youssra El Hawary
Tarek Abdelkawi & Yamen ElGamal
Shadi El Hosseini
Irish Trad - Knox’s Tavern, Ennis - September 19, 2018
One of my goals while holidaying (it gets used as a verb there) in Ireland was to sit in with some trad players, and Ennis is a center keeping the Irish trad alive. Interesting gig structure – the band plays a few numbers, takes a break to get tea or beer, discussed what to do next, resumes, rinse, repeat; so the “sets” aren’t all that long. These fellas (not sure if they had any official group name) graciously indulged me, doing backup to some extent or other on three tunes, two of which were Irish (more pub songs than traditional), which I’d learned for exactly this occasion.
Busking Seattle July 26-27, 2018
Best quote of the month (from Grossnicklaus): Q – What’s the difference between a violin and a fiddle? A – You can’t spill beer on a violin!
Jupiter & Okwess – BAM MetroTech - July 19, 2018
One more case of, if I knew the words they were singing I might have had an additional dimension of appreciation. But what I got was plenty fine anyhow. From the Congo! Maybe I wouldn’t even be able to identify the language. Plenty of rhythm and cross-rhythm, those dueling guitars, and they had some audience members up on stage to dance for a few numbers. I don’t know what up with the drummer wearing a (Mexican wrestler?) mask . When I got around to documenting the names, it turns out that nearly all have three names, which seem to get used or not in different contexts on the web. So I hope I did justice with my annotations. The closer (not the encore) was a gorgeous a capella number – I think every single one of ‘em was singing.
Jupiter Bokondji Ilola
Eric Malu Malu
Ray Mantilla – Grant’s Tomb - July 18, 2018
Conga master Mantilla (from the Bronx) is of mixed Puerto Rican/Peruvian descent (he called it “Peruvo-Rican), so the set got divvied up accordingly, offering a full helping of diversity. He’s been on the scene so long, he came up with Xavier Cugat (yeah, go google that). He gives names to his various ensemble configurations, it’s never just the Ray Mantilla band. Winds-man Castro split his time between flute and baritone sax – go figure! To underscore the vibrancy of the Latin-American music scene in New York, it was the second time around for me sketching most of these players, from various diverse other gigs.
Helen Sung - The Chapel Resoration - July 15, 2018
It seems that Sung got around to jazz after a thorough classical piano training. Assimilation of the genre is complete, with key composers (Ellington, Monk) represented, and all improvisational bases touched in this meticulously curated presentation, capped with a rousing stride sendoff.
Elida Almeida – Rubenstein Atrium - June 21, 2018
Almeida and company are from the Cape Verde Islands, which is African more than anything else. That I find certain similarities in the musics of various African diaspora islands of the Caribbean (and now Atlantic) is thus no surprise. I confess, I’m not sufficiently immersed to tease out some of the distinctions that are surely there. In my defense, World Music has seemed to have made a tasty gumbo of it all, though perhaps less of a blend when all players are from the same place, as is true for this band. They seemed to be really impressed that someone would come to sketch them at work, yielding one of the highest gratitude ratings ever. I didn’t get Cruz right on the first attempt, so I started over, and the second, more successful try seemed to come out somehow less masculine. Only after the concert when I was getting the autographs did it become evident that she was a she! For me, an gratifying corroboration of my under the radar intuitive perception AND expressive abilities.
Johnny Colon - Museo del Barrio - June 16, 2018
When you say “boogie-down Bronx” (as I hope you do), you are partially referencing the work of Colon, who was one of the originals of the breakout boogaloo craze of the early 1970′s. He has kept on keepin’ on, for which we should be grateful. The full power of his arranging talents requires a sizeable ensemble, so our gratitude continues, as these guys were definitely up to the task. The man himself didn’t touch the trombone (his blowing instrument), but so what! His vocals were right in the slot, plus he needed to tend to some conducting duties. He did bust loose on timbales towards the end.
NOTE: I’m still waiting for Colon to provide the names of players before posting images.
Brewster Music Festival - Wells Park - June 9, 2018
What could be more convenient? A festival right in my hometown, thanks to the Town of Southeast Cultural Arts Commission. Only had time for a couple of hours of it, though, so basically caught Funigiello’s abbreviated set, and the Soul Proprietors.
Kim Marie Papa
Marcia Ball - CHIRP, Ballard Park, Ridgefield - June 5, 2018
CHIRP just keeps getting better and better, quite an extensive lineup for this year, congratulations Ridgefield. Blues belle Ball has got her red beans cookin’, I don’t know how she can keep up that singing, but thank the Lord. She’s from that Louisiana/Texas nexus, as is the rest of the band; it’s not exactly N’Awlins, but we’re just talking overlappng Venn diagrams here. The band plows through one number after another, with minimal patter, they came to PLAY! It’s so second nature for Ball at this point, she sits at the piano stool, one leg draped over the other, somewhat belying the intensity of the music being produced. Bassist Bennett has been with Ball sine 1981!