Irrepressibly Charming

Rupa & The April Fishes - Extraordinary Rendition
Rupa & The April Fishes – Extraordinary Rendition
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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Author: TJ Nelson

TJ Nelson is a regular CD reviewer and editor at World Music Central. She is also a fiction writer. Check out her latest book, Chasing Athena’s Shadow.

Set in Pineboro, North Carolina, Chasing Athena’s Shadow follows the adventures of Grace, an adult literacy teacher, as she seeks to solve a long forgotten family mystery. Her charmingly dysfunctional family is of little help in her quest. Along with her best friends, an attractive Mexican teacher and an amiable gay chef, Grace must find the one fading memory that holds the key to why Grace’s great-grandmother, Athena, shot her husband on the courthouse steps in 1931.

Traversing the line between the Old South and New South, Grace will have to dig into the past to uncover Athena’s true crime.