Lura brings Santiago to Seattle

Author:Patricia Herlevi-Balquin

The Triple Door,

, Washington
January 31, 2006

Despite blusterous weather, Portuguese-Cape Verdean vocalist,
Lura and her quintet packed The Triple Door. Lura who wore a charming white dress
with multicolored fringe and danced barefoot in a wild African diva fashion
easily seduced the audience. Despite her small frame, her powerful presence was
felt the moment she danced upon the stage and belted out her first song, “Abanka
Assi Go.” I was immediately captivated by her vocal talent and her magnetism.
Her dancing could be compared to that of a Sufi whirling dervish in that she
anchored spirit into her body and many times she appeared to be in an ecstatic
world all her own.

I say whirling dervish, but one that dances barefoot, arms swinging like
propellers at times, sways hips and finds pleasure in her body and sensuality.
She also wore permanent smile that beamed across the venue. You would have had
to be blind to miss it and even then, you would still have felt the joy that
derived from her sensual vocals. At times she would extend one her arms in front
of her as if she was dancing with an imaginary partner, but when she sang with
full gusto, she sung directly to the audience who in turn responded with hearty
applause and a few hoots.

Backed by pianist António de Jesus Santos Vieira, percussionist Paulino Baptista
Nunes de Pina, bassist Lúcio Hilárui Vieira, guitarist Aurélio Fialho Borges dos
Santos and drummer Carlos Alberto Paris Morais, Lura introduced us to the batuku
and funana styles of the Cape Verdean island, Santiago (one of ten islands on
the archipelago). By the time the band performed their 3rd song, “Vasulina,” Lura had secured a place in our hearts. A little later in the set, she pulled out the
song, Raboita R. Manel, which reflects on the women’s revolution of 1910 that
took place in her motherland, the island of Santiago.

On this song, Lura sat in a chair and transformed folded clothing into a
percussion instrument which she played held between her legs. She was beating
the batuka rhythm in the same manner that women singers from Santiago beat
batuku rhythm on folded stacks of clothing, held by their knees. Normally, this
type of music would be performed by a group of women, but Lura pulled off the
solo version with aplomb. She improvised and used what was at hand, something
she does quite well.

The slow aching ballad, Es Bida was performed only with Aurélio’s accompaniment
on acoustic guitar. On this musical gem, Lura demonstrated her ability to handle
deeply emotional songs and in a manner that rivals Portugal’s fado singers,
especially the younger generation that has recently hit the radio airwaves. In
any case, a native to Portugal’s Cape Verdean community, Lura would be no
stranger to fados. She possesses an emotional palette that travels from
overabundant joy to earnest sadness and she switched moods in a blink of an eye.

Other musical highlights of the hour and half set, were the Brazilian samba,
“Camim Di Bo Sorrise,” in which pianist António demonstrated his Latin jazz prowess
and the other musicians moved into the spotlight as well. Na Ri Na was another
song performed with body and spirit with some wild conga line-rumba rhythms
leading to ecstasy. As the evening wore on and the venue heated up, the
musicians performed phenomenal solos, an audio explosion on the drum kit, conga
beats, nimble piano, warm bass and shimmering guitar. Lura showed her deep
appreciation the musical gifts and generosity of her fellow bandmates as well
as, with her affectionate audience.

Lura and her band delivered an electrifying performance filled to the brim with
Afro-Latin rhythms, stunning vocals and tight arrangements that seemed
effortless on the musicians’ part. Here’s hoping Lura and her quintet return to

in the near future. We should be so fortunate.

by Patricia Herlevi-Balquin

[Buy her most recent CD

Di Korpu Ku Alma
(Of Body and Soul)].