Rupa & The April Fishes
Extraordinary Rendition (Cumbancha, 2008)
The San Francisco-based Rupa & The April Fishes’ release of their debut recording Extraordinary Rendition on the Cumbancha label is quirky, seductive and downright flirty. Pooling the talent of Indian singer Rupa with her cross-cultural ties, cellist Ed Baskervill, trumpet player Marcus Cohen, accordionist Isabel Douglass, percussionist Aaron Kierbel and upright bass player Safa Shokroai, Extraordinary Rendition plucks influences from the French chanson, Gypsy swing, tango, Latin cumbias, folk and even Indian ragas to create a startling, smart and sexy musical pastiche. The group’s live performances have garnered a reputation for "their circus-like atmosphere that channels a modern-day Moulin Rouge." One listen and all the descriptions are true.
Shifting from French to Spanish to English and to Hindi, Rupa lures the listener with her seductive sound, as band members juggle notes and phrases with the ease of conjuring adepts. Opening with the raucous "San Francisco," the listener know he’s in for a ride. The ride turns steamy with "Maintenent," a love song slavishly subservient to the swanky milonga.
Other goodies include the up tempo romp "Poder," "C’est Pas d’L’Amour" with it’s lively flourishes and the quirky "Une Americaine a Paris" that possesses a fiery Django Reinhardt feel to it. The CD gets better and better with its free easy cafe feel against some spectacularly crafted compositions. "La Pecheuse," "Mal de Mer" and Mexican huapango inspired "La peinture" are all consumed by the sultry flair of Rupa’s exquisite vocals.
Making their way through a melange of musical traditions, Rupa and The April Fishes’ Extraordinary Rendition is infectiously delightful and irrepressibly charming.
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