Hot Salsa from Japan

(Prensa Latina – Cumbancha) Tokyo, Japan – The Salsa Cubana 2003 Contest, sponsored by Havana Club, a group of Japanese companies and the Cuban Embassy in Japan, successfully took place in the municipality of Osaki, in Tokyo, with the participation of dozens of couples from different parts of Japan. The event served as a favorable space to announce the celebration in Cuba, in 2004, of both a Cuban-Japanese Salsa Festival and the staging of Cuban popular choreographies by the famous Japanese dance company Takarazuka, under the guidance and production of Cuban maestro Santiago Alfonso.

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Music Tribute to Cuban percussionist Chano Pozo

(Prensa Latina – Cumbancha) Havana, Cuba – Several Cuban soloists and groups will participate Monday and Tuesday in the second “Chano Pozo in Memoriam,” a tribute to the legendary Cuban singer-songwriter and percussionist, died in 1948 in New York, the local press announced. The homage took place this Monday and Tuesday at the La Zorra y el Cuervo Club, a sort of Jazz “Mecca” in Havana.

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Get With The Beat

Airto Moreira - Life After That
Airto Moreira – Life After That (Narada 70876-18077-2-1, 2003)

Babatunde Olatunji – Healing Session (70876-18132-2-7, 2003)

Airto Moreira and Babatunde Olatunji both have solidified reputations as master percussionists, trailblazers in the percussion realm and pioneers of global music. They teamed up from time to time as well, on each other’s projects and on such milestones as Mickey Hart’s Planet Drum album. Olatunji’s death earlier this year marked the passing of a true legend. I’m betting it’s more than a coincidence that his first posthumous album is emerging at the same time as a new release from Airto (on the same label, no less), but speculation on that point is far secondary to the fact that we have two stunningly good percussion-based discs here.

There’s nothing Airto Moreira can’t do with percussion. In decades of solo and group work with jazz fusionists, experimental musicians, rock and rollers, traditionalists and beyond, he’s been able to take even the most deceptively simple-seeming gadgets and make magic with them. And no wonder. He grew up in Brazil, land of imported African beats and a place where the rules of percussion have been rewritten repeatedly. Nonetheless, Life After That is a surprising stunner even for Airto. Some of his work has been more about creating moods and environments centered around percussion and vocal sounds than conventional drumming pieces, but this latest is the best of all worlds. It’s a near-perfect balance of feverish drum jams, rhythmic soundscapes, brilliant symbiosis of melody and beat and lots of just plain fun. Smack dab in the middle is ten minutes of Airto soloing on the Brazilian tambourine known as the pandeiro, and before and after that such guests as fellow percussionists Giovanni Hidalgo and Michito Sanchez, vocalist Flora Purim (Airto’s wife) and didgeridoo specialist Stephen Kent add to the festivities. A smattering of guitars, bass, piano and winds sometimes adds refinement, but this is a percussionist’s utopia through and through. Still, global music listeners across the board are likely to groove to what’s here, be it the Olatunji tribute, the sprawling “Ritmo Do Mundo” or the human beatbox-with-Jamaican-accents track “Let It Out Let It In,” which my kids have lately been singing around the house quite a bit.

Babatunde Olatunji - Healing Session
The words “healing session” could be applicable to just about everything Olatunji did in his life, given the shamanic quality of a performing, recording and teaching career that began with the unprecedented success of his Drums of Passion album more than 40 years ago. Some of his discs were pure percussion, some added other instruments for a more fusion-geared sound, and he too collaborated with many notable music makers in his day. Longtime fans may be taken aback with the relatively low-key Healing Session, especially if it’s the hard, fast, intensely polyrhythmic Olatunji they’re used to.

The intricacies of layered African percussion are present, although the slower, unfolding nature of the tracks show an intimacy and meditative aura not often associated with Olatunji’s sort of drumming. But it works, wonderfully. Steady, hypnotic beats are embellished with further rhythms that both comply and contrast, taking their time to build to blissful convergences of percussion and chants that seem to sway in and out of some misty, otherworldly place. If that description sounds like new age blather, forgive me. The track-by-track specifics in the liner notes (written by Olatunji himself) state the case much better. Suffice to say that this cd has the same sort of depth as the mystical music created by, for example, similarly inclined indigenous peoples and Gregorian monks- longing, hopeful, reassuring, ultimately striving to make this world a more beautiful place. Immerse yourself.

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Exploring music from the sub continent

Shiv Kumar Sharma & Shafaat Ahmed Khan - The Inner Path
Shiv Kumar Sharma & Shafaat Ahmed Khan – The Inner Path
Shiv Kumar Sharma & Shafaat Ahmed Khan – The Inner Path (Sense World Music, 2003)

Santosh Nahar – The Golden Bow (Sense World Music, 2003)

British label Sense World Music recently released two live recordings of classical Indian musicians. Recorded at the Saptak Festival in Ahmedabad, India, The Inner Path features Santoor master Shiv Kumar Sharma and tabla master Shafaat Ahmed Khan; The Golden Bow features emerging violinist Santosh Nahar with tabla player Shabbir Hussain (another up and coming talent). Both of these splendid CDs offer listeners a chance to immerse themselves in a
transcendental experience. Shiv Kumar Sharma, the son of Pandit Umadutt Sharma and father of Rahul Sharma acts as an important link in bringing the Santoor [also known as santur] to prominence in Indian music. The Santoor originally hailed from Kashmir and was considered a folk instrument incapable of holding its own within the Indian classical tradition. Shiv Kumar Sharma re-invented the instrument by introducing a series of modifications that increased tonal range and improved the
sustainability of notes thus making it suitable for Indian classical music.

Over the past 40 years Shiv Kumar Sharma adapted all the major ragas and even lesser known ragas to his eighty-seven stringed Santoor. He has collaborated with masters such as Hariprasad Chaurasia and Zakir Hussain while delighting audiences worldwide. He has also composed music for some of India’s most popular cinema and he has taught many young aspiring Santoor masters including his son Rahul Sharma.

I saw Shiv Kumar Sharma and Zakir Hussain in concert last spring and I didn’t fully appreciate Shiv Kumar Sharma’s musical gift until listening to his latest recording, The Inner Path . As I was listening to the CD I could also hear a clock ticking and rain falling on a skylight above my head. And the clock and the rain kept perfect time with Shiv Kumar Sharma’s performance. When tabla master Shafaat Ahmed Khan began adding beats on track 3 (Gat in slow teental) I felt that I was surrounded by delicious rhythms. The experience bordered on the mystical.

The CD showcases a virtuoso performance by Shiv Kumar Sharma and tabla accompanist Shafaat Ahmed Khan, who in his own right is regarded as a master of the Delhi gharana. Together these two musicians blend intuition with technical prowess and can easily leave their listeners ecstatic like the enraptured
audience on this recording. The duo performs Raga Kirvani that hails from the Carnatic South Indian music tradition. Shiv Kumar Sharma begins with Alap which is divided into three sections, including Alap, Jor and Jhalla. Then on track 2, he introduces the Jor section with its gentle rhythms and then the Santoor master introduces the lively Jhalla section.

The first gat features slow tabla beats and a fix rhythmic cycle of sixteen beats. The second composition Gat in medium teental picks up the pace while bringing in flowing improvisations that eventually lead to the spellbinding climax. The performance concludes with a musical phrase that is repeated three times and played in perfect unison. The entire performance runs approximately 70
blissful minutes and is sure to convert listeners to Indian classical music. I was hooked during the first 20 minutes and filled with ecstasy by the time the CD concluded. I highly recommend this recording.

Although the violin was adopted from the European musical tradition in the 18th century, its popularity has grown on the sub-continent and is considered the most popular bowed instrument in India today. However, the Indian violinist employs different tuning and plays the violin in a seated position with the back of the violin resting on their collarbone. While this might look uncomfortable
to observers, the music that emanates from the violin is absolutely stunning.

Santosh Nahar - The Golden Bow
Santosh Nahar – The Golden Bow
Santosh Nahar is considered one of the most vibrant young
violinists of the North Indian Hindustani style. Similar to many of India’s key musical talent Santosh’s lineage boasts renowned musicians including his father, vocalist Prahlad Prasad Mishra. After many years of training and practice, Santosh fused the melodic vocal style (gayaki) and the instrumental style tantrakari style. Up and coming tabla player Shabbir Hussain (nephew of Ustad
Hidayat Khan) pairs up with Santosh on this recording. And certainly these two talented musicians have joined the ranks of other young virtuoso musicians coming out of India at this time. It might be an exaggeration to say that an explosion of young talent has occurred on the sub continent, yet that does seem to be the case.

What strike me most about this recording is how I am reminded of young violin virtuosos from western classical music (many of them boasting Asian heritage). It’s true that violinist from Indian classical music play with different modes and tunings than their western counterpart, yet I couldn’t help but think of the late 18th century Italian composer Niccolo Paganini’s work when hearing Santosh
perform a set of ragas. According to the CD’s liner notes, “Raga is the lifeblood of Indian classical music. Composed by saints and sages from the times of the Vedas, ragas have been handed down over centuries, through oral tradition that is the admiration of the world.” And yet ragas sound familiar to western ears and with a passion to match the work of composers like Paganini.

The ragas possess magical qualities and honor the nature. They reflect different times of the day (morning, noon and evening), the seasons or the many moods that color the human experience. The live CD, The Golden Bow was recorded during an afternoon session at the Saptak festival and produced by Derek Roberts, who had discovered Santosh performing a few days prior. Santosh began the recording with the popular Raga Yaman, a raga that incorporates the western lydian mode and allows room for musicians to improvise. And similar to western jazz Improvisations play a key role in traditional Indian classical music.

Another raga worth noting that appears here is Rajasthani Folk Melody in Raga Mand. This raga reflects the scent of rain and sand dunes as they appear in the Rajasthan desert. Then the recording ends with another popular raga, Bhairavi (regarded as the Queen of Indian ragas) and is a raga that can be performed any time of day, but often appears as a devotional that ends a concert.

Although I am quite fond of this CD, I much prefer Shiv Kumar Sharma and Shafaat Ahmed Khan’s The Inner Path. However, having said that, Santosh Nahar and Shabbir Hussain represent the future of Indian classical music. And given their dedication and musical lineage the future of Indian music appears to be promising. And just as another generation of westerners turn their eyes to the sub continent for spiritual and artistic inspiration. There are no accidents, just profound experiences.

(Compliments of Cranky Crow World Music).

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New World Fusion CD released for the Holidays

Gathering  - A Holiday Celebration
Gathering – A Holiday Celebration
Gathering has just released the new world music holiday CD, “A Holiday Celebration,”which includes guests from the world music scene. Combining diverse instruments such as the Australian didjeridu with Irish pipes, Spanish flamenco with Japanese taiko
drumming, and the Hawaiian ukulele with Caribbean steel drums, all on a backdrop of traditional American jazz, A Holiday Celebration celebrates diversity by exploring the relevance of music as a party to peace.

Gathering is a collection of accomplished musicians that share a common hope for the future of our planet: Kate Peters on vocal and violin, Ron Kobayashi on piano, Baba Elefante on bass, and Steve Dixo on drums and percussion. They believe that “global survival is predicated upon our ability to come together in celebration of our diversity and collective imagination.” They have selected music as a tool to nurture learning: learning to appreciate our similarities and differences; learning to love one another; learning to work together, applying our creative energy and talents to build a lasting “better than before“.

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Automaton² (Automaton Square), new album of Murat Ses to be released in early 2004

Austria – With Automaton² planned to be released early 2004, Murat Ses
goes on to telling musical stories of his “impressions of the timeless and
boundless context of civilization
.” The album Automaton² (Automaton
Square)
may be regarded as the fourth solo album of Murat Ses’ body of work
which began with

Automaton
, making the trilogy a quadrilogy.

According to Clou Records’s press release, Automaton² comes up with
new electronic, dance, ambient world songs which also have the hallmark of his
legendary fusion style known as Anadolu Pop (Grand Prix du Disque in
Paris, France, back then in the early 70s). All tracks have been composed during and following his stays in the U.S.A,
predominantly in San Francisco (California) and Miami (Florida). Additional to
new compositions such as Eau Gallie, Polk Street, Indian Creek,
there are new versions of former songs from the first

Automaton
accessible to larger audiences:Tan 2, Valle
Marineris 2
, Nihal 2 and Dry Sun 2. Listeners of former albums
already know of some other beyond-the-borders-of-Turkey influences originating
in cultures of West Africa, the Indian Ocean, and Southeast Asia.

Listeners of the album will find a large number of field recordings,
including street sounds, some Afro-Cuban and Native American influences, all
flowing into Murat’s unique Turkic traditions. For further info check:
http://www.clourecords.com and
http://www.muratses.com.

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The bonny tunes of Scotland

The Tannahill Weavers - Arnish Light
The Tannahill Weavers – Arnish Light
The Tannahill Weavers

Arnish Light (Green Linnet Records, 2003)

You don’t have to be Scottish to visualize misty heather-covered moors when the sound of bagpipes pierces through the air. I can attest to that and I don’t have an ounce of Scottish blood. Those bagpipes and traditional ballads can send a mind fleeing to shrouded lochs or recalling battles lost or won as well as, poetic love songs once sung by rugged men sporting scratchy woolen kilts. And well if your imagination isn’t as prolific as mine is then you can ignite it with a listen to The Tannahill Weaver‘s latest CD, Arnish Light

The recording (I believe it’s the group’s 16th CD) lifts off with bagpipes on the titular track which includes a set of songs composed by Peter MacLeod, Duncan Johnston, Alex McKinnon and Pipe Major Donald MacLeod. And this set allows the youngest member of the group, piper Colin Melville to strut his musical prowess. The recording features mostly traditional ballads and instrumental pieces that showcase the talents of original member Roy Gullane (vocals, guitar), John Martin (strings, vocals), “original Tannahill,” Phil Smillie (flute, whistles, bodhran, vocals), Les Wilson (bouzouki, guitar, keyboards, bass pedals, vocals) and Melville (bagpipes, whistles).

A bulk of the songs are traditional and they honor Scotland of the 18th and early 19th centuries as well as, the poetic gifts of Robert Burns and Robert Tannahill in which the quintet derived their name. Phil Smillie contributes the moody ballad Luskentyre Sands and the Bell Rock Set in which he shares writing duties with other musician-composers. Roy Gullane composed The Rose Amang The Thorn. And the traditional and original compositions explore jigs, ballads and reels with an emphasis on poetry and traditional instrumentation.

The final track, Fair Gallowa’ offers a lively love song with the added comment, They don’t make love songs like that anymore do they?” While it doesn’t bring the album full circle, it does end it on a dreamy note. Sadly, we are reaching an era where musicians might not record albums like this one any more. But for now, let this one simmer and allow your imagination travel to the foggy fields of Scotland of a bygone era. The mix of flute, whistles and bagpipes will send your mind wandering.
Buy Arnish Light.

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The 2003 Kora All Africa Music Awards

Oliver Mtukudzi

 

Sandton, South Africa – The KORA All African Music Awards will be taking place on Saturday, December 6th at the Sandton Convention Center in Sandton, near Johannesburg, South Africa.

African musicians from around the world will be recognized for their artistic accomplishments. Previous winners for the 2002 KORA Awards have included Hugh Masekela for Best African Musician, Alicia Keys for Best African American Diaspora Artist, and Koffi Olomide’ who won the KORA Award in several categories.

The Kora All Africa Music Awards and EMI/CCP Records launched a 16 track Compilation CD earlier this year, which is a selection of the finest tracks perfomed by previous winners of the KORA.

This Kora Album features artists such as Bayete, Mandoza, Brenda fassie, Ringo Madlingozi and Jeff maluleke from South Africa, Papa Wemba, Kofi olomide, Awilo Longomba and Makoma from D.R.C, Oliver Mtukudzi (Zimbabwe), Femi Kuti from Nigeria, Kojo Antwi from Ghana, Mensah Ayaovi from Togo, Jacky Rapon from Island
of Martinique, Angelique Kidjo from Benin, Kelly Price from the US.

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Malkit Singh, the King of Bhangra Releases His 20th Music Album

(PR Web) London, England – Midas Touch 2 ( Oriental Star Agencies) is the title of the new album by bhangra legend Malkit Singh. The release date is schedule for December 4.

There are a few icons in Punjabi Folk music in the 21st century. For millions
of Punjabi’s worldwide, Malkit Singh’s rich, mellow voice is an instant reminder
to Punjab, India and Bhangra.

UK-based ‘King of Bhangra’ Malkit Singh is an undisputed musical legend. He has
nothing left to prove. Every year finds him touring the world, and every new
album release breaks the mould. He has been and still is one of the greatest
performers in the music business. He is arguably a bigger concert draw now than
he ever was and his constant shows worldwide are testament to that. He has
performed in the biggest venues globally and has drawn capacity crowds in almost
every city, state or country he has performed in over the past two decades.For those that have been fortunate enough to experience him live, he is an
artist beyond his years. A superstar for his generation and next, Malkit Singh
is without a doubt what Bhangra music needs to capture the true essence of its
raw traditional energy. Malkit Singh is also listed in the Millennium edition of
the Guinness Book of World Records 2000 as the biggest selling Bhangra star
ever.

Midas Touch II is a unique perspective on the current state of Bhangra
music. Malkit’s 20th album release has been instantly and enthusiastically
embraced by the media and fans alike. No matter what song you are listening to
on this album, you’ve got to come to the conclusion that Malkit Singh makes
music beautiful. Featuring the likes of Apache Indian and the London Garage
collective know as Pay As U Go crew, Midas Touch II boasts 12
scintillating tracks:

1    IN BLOW (Check the System)
2    CHAL HUN (Get Up Fix)
3    PUT SARDARAN DA (Harley Fix)
4    MAA (Sentimental Fix)
5    LONDON TU NACHDI feat APACHE INDIAN (Session af2 Jam Fix)
6    AJ MEY PEENI (4:30pm B n C Fix)
7    JADOO KARGEY feat CHAN (Bounce Re-Fix)
8    BHANGRA PAWAN KE NAA feat MC BOWLER and MANRAJ (Feel Dis Fix)
9    LONDON DI JUGNI feat PAY AS U GO CREW (Ravi Bal Re-Fix)
10  YAAD (Smoove Fix)
11  MITHE GANNE V2 (4-Da-Floor Re-Fix)
12  SAHEBA NI TENOO (Head Nod Fix)
13  TOOTHAN WALE KOO (Midnight Liar Fix)
14  OUT BLOW (Five-O System Crash!)

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Flamenco Festival USA 2004

New York, USA – The
2004 edition of Flamenco Festival USA will take place between January 29 and
February 28 of 2004 in the cities of New York, Boston, Hartford, Washington DC,
Cleveland, Chicago, and Miami.  

In four short years, Flamenco Festival USA has become the
hottest flamenco event in the country.  With sold-out shows in such
prestigious venues as City Center in New York and glowing reviews in
publications like The New Yorker and The Wall Street Journal, the
Flamenco Festival USA has made a reputation for itself with a speed almost equal
to its dancers’ famous footwork.   

The festival is now acknowledged throughout Spain as the
country’s most important cultural ambassador, responsible for igniting an
explosion of new interest in America for flamenco music and dance. Over 100,000
Americans have seen Flamenco Festival USA concerts, and 2004 will be the biggest
season ever.The festival’s history is intense and passionate, like
flamenco itself. Frustrated that overseas audiences were seeing only a small and
increasingly old-fashioned version of flamenco, the young Cordoba native
Miguel Marín envisioned a festival committed to presenting flamenco as it really
is – a modern, exciting art that includes not only great traditionalists but
also innovative, even controversial, young performers.  Working tirelessly
on both sides of the Atlantic, Marín put together his first Flamenco Festival
USA in 2000.  Since then, the festival continues to win new fans by showing
that flamenco is truly a revolutionary art.   

Flamenco Festival USA 2004 highlights include:  

   

·        
Sara
Baras
, Spain’s most popular dancer, who recently made flamenco box office
history with a record-breaking five-month show in Madrid, performing the U.S
debut of her acclaimed traditional flamenco show, “Sueños” ” (“Dreams”); 

·         Compañía Andaluza de Danza,
under the direction of the brilliant master José Antonio, performing “Bodas de
Sangre” (“Blood Wedding”), the dance masterpiece by Antonio Gades, as well as
“La Leyenda” (“The Legend”),  a tribute to flamenco’s great Carmen Amaya; 

·         Flamenco’s vocal sensation
José Mercé,
whose ability to passionately meld boleros and other Latin
styles with flamenco has sold out stadiums in Europe; 

·         The legendary guitarist

Paco
de Lucía
,
known for three decades for his inimitable style and
groundbreaking fusions; 

·         Compañía Manuela Carrasco,
featuring one of Spain’s most passionate representatives of “flamenco puro”;
Israel Galván, “the Nijinsky of Flamenco,” a controversial dancer who has
created a post-modern vocabulary for flamenco; and Juan de Juan, the
“future of flamenco”;  

·         Ojos de Brujo, “Eyes of
the Wizard,” the Barcelona group whose mix of world, hiphop, punk and DJ beats
is the most electrifying sound in flamenco today

 

NEW YORK – BOSTON – WASHINGTON DC – CLEVELAND

 HARTFORD – MIAMI – CHICAGO

 

 

NEW YORK

Thurs, January 29, GALA DE SEVILLA: Manuela Carrasco, Chocolate,
City Center Gypsy matriarchs Juana la del Pipa and La Negra
Israel Galván, Juan de Juan & Rocio Molina in “Alkimia”

Friday, January 30, Ballet Flamenco
Sara
Baras
“Sueños”
City Center

Saturday January 31, Compañía Andaluza de Danza, “Blood Wedding” (Antonio

City Center Gades) & “La Leyenda: Homage to Carmen Amaya”

Sunday February 1, Compañía Andaluza de Danza. Special appearance of
director José Antonio, with Rafael Campallo & “Blood Wedding” (Antonio Gades)

Saturday February 7, José Mercé “Lío”
Town Hall

Saturday Feb 27,
Paco
de Lucía

Beacon Theatre

Saturday February 15th Ojos de Brujo
Venue TBA

BOSTON

Thursday January 29, Compañía Andaluza de Danza “Blood Wedding”
Cutler Majestic Theatre (Antonio Gades), “La Leyenda: Homage to Carmen Amaya”

at Emerson College

Friday January 30 Compañía Andaluza de Danza, “Blood Wedding”
Cutler Emerson Majestic (Antonio Gades), “La Leyenda: Homage to Carmen Amaya”

Saturday January 31, Ballet Flamenco
Sara
Baras
“Sueños”
Cutler Emerson Majestic

Sunday February 1, Ballet Flamenco
Sara
Baras
“Sueños”
Cutler Emerson Majestic

Saturday February 14
Paco
de Lucía

Orpheum Theatre

MIAMI, FL

TBA February
Paco
de Lucía

TBA February Ojos de Brujo

WASHINGTON DC

Tuesday February 3, GALA DE SEVILLA: Manuela Carrasco, Chocolate,
Lisner Auditorium Gypsy matriarchs Juana la del Pipa and La Negra
Israel Galván, Juan de Juan & Rocio Molina in “Alkimia”

Wednesday February 4, Jose Mercé “Lío”
Lisner Auditorium

Friday February 7 Compañía Andaluza de Danza “Blood Wedding”(Antonio
Lisner Auditorium Gades) & “La Leyenda: Homage to Carmen Amaya”

Saturday February 8 Compañía Andaluza de Danza “Blood Wedding”(Antonio
Lisner Auditorium Gades) & “La Leyenda: Homage to Carmen Amaya”

CHICAGO, IL

Thursday February 5, José Mercé. “Lío”
TBA

Monday February 16
Paco
de Lucía

Symphony Center

TENT. Mon Feb 16 Ojos de Brujo
Martyrs

CLEVELAND, OH

Friday January 30 Compañía Manuela Carrasco “Pureza”
Cleveland Museum of Art

Saturday January 31 Compañía Manuela Carrasco “Pureza”
Cleveland Museum of Art

Friday Feb 6 José Mercé “Lío”
Cleveland Museum of Art

HARTFORD, CT

Wednesday, February 4 Compañía Andaluza de Danza “Blood Wedding”(Antonio

Belding Theater, Gades) & “La Leyenda: Homage to Carmen Amaya”
(Bushnell Center)

Thursday, February 5 Compañía Andaluza de Danza “Blood Wedding”(Antonio

Belding Theater, Gades) & “La Leyenda: Homage to Carmen Amaya”
(Bushnell Center)

[Photos: 1) Manuela Carrasco, 2) Sara Baras]

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Your Connection to traditional and contemporary World Music including folk, roots and various types of global fusion