Spanish world music singer and composer Lara Bello is set to perform on Thursday, May 24 at 19:00 (7:15 pm) at DROM New York City.
Flamenco and earthy poetics can be found at the heart of Primero Amarillo Después Malva (“First Yellow, Then Purple”), the new album by Bello. She uses various international folk, pop and jazz vocal techniques, including flamenco, which she learned through performance and extensive study. She studied flamenco dance in the fabled Gypsy caves of Granada’s Sacromonte district.
The album’s title track points to successively blooming spring flowers that replace dying, differently colored older ones. Primero Amarillo Después Malva was recorded around the New York metro area and back in Granada. Primero Amarillo Después Malva is full of such nature-based references. “Yes, the entire disc has this sense of nature’s cycles in life and death — every track speaks of that,” notes the songwriter.
The first and last of Primero Amarillo Después Malva’s ten tracks center on historical cycles of life and death – and of rise and fall — that involve Bello’s hometown of Granada.
“Those songs were inspired by [British Pakistani intellectual/activist/author] Tariq Ali and his  book Shadows of the Pomegranate Tree, set in the Granada of that era,” reveals Bello. Beyond the wondrous Alhambra (Granada’s famous surviving Moorish palace), Bello insists that an essence of the beautiful city continues to be its persistent Muslim past. “You can find Arab ruins wherever you dig in Granada. Yes, the Moorish presence is still there — it’s in the stones of our streets, even in our regional Spanish accent, where the sounds are very close to Arabic.”
Bello’s degrees of stylistic vocal command allow her to evoke a Middle Eastern feel, putting melismatic inflections into her voice as needed. And she brings in Syrian vocalist Lena Chamamyan for some bilingual dueting on the CD’s “Horizonte – Yumma Lala.” They met when they both headlined at the “Jazz Lives in Syria” festival in Damascus in 2010.
On Primero Amarillo Después Malva, Bello used a New York-based crew of primarily Latin American musicians. The highly regarded Venezuela-born pianist Luis Perdomo — a long-time bandmate of Ravi Coltrane, etc. — is just one of the iplayers, as is Colombian harp virtuoso Edmar Castañeda. The CD’s Colombian producer Samuel Torres also contributes some key percussion on the cajón. “In New York, I’ve found this very strong Latin American presence, a great community of Latin musicians — there’re so many colors to work with here,” elaborates Bello on the influences of the city where she now resides. “To all my lyrics and music, there are things I bring from my travels or from meeting musicians and others, without even being conscious of it. But always,” she adds, “there is something of Granada.”
CD release concert
Thursday, May 24 at 7:15pm
DROM New York City
85 Avenue A between 5th & 6th St, New York City, 212-777-1157
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