The Savannah Music Festival has announced the world music artists set to perform in 2018. The festival next year will take place March 29th through April 14th, 2018, at a number of venues throughout Savannah’s Historic District.
As usual, the festival selected first rate world music acts. Mali’s Trio Da Kali will share a bill with South African guitarist Derek Gripper (a kora music practitioner).
Malian kora maestro Toumani Diabaté is set to perform with his son Sidiki Diabaté in A World of Strings, an original production also including Brazilian music played by Savannah Music Festival Associate Artistic Director and mandolinist Mike Marshall and pianist Jovino Santos Neto (who will also play a solo show).
Iberian sounds include the great Dominican Republic-based Spanish flamenco singer Diego El Cigala and Portuguese fado singer António Zambujo.
Cellist Mike Block will perform with fellow Silk Road Ensemble musician Sandeep Das on tabla.
The festivals’ Latin Dance Party features the unrivaled Cuban son ensemble, Septeto Santiaguero.
Festival favorites Lúnasa (Ireland) and Tim O’Brien will team up for a concert of Irish and Appalachian-influenced music.
Alasdair Fraser & Natalie Haas play on a double bill with an electrifying new all-female acoustic music quartet called The Goodbye Girls.
For ticket information and the rest of the programming, including classical music, American roots music, jazz, theatrical productions and films, visit www.savannahmusicfestival.org.
headline photo: Septeto Santiaguero with El Canario
Duke Performances announced this week the 2017/2018 season at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. The programming includes world music, classical music, new music, jazz, American roots music, hip-hop, theater, and dance.
The world music program this year includes one of the finest flamenco guitarists, Vicente Amigo. The Spanish guitar maestro is known for mixing pure flamenco with other musical traditions.
Also scheduled, acclaimed Israeli vocalist Yasmin Levy who sings in Ladino and combines flamenco and Middle Eastern music; Malian kora master Toumani Diabaté and his son Sidiki for a concert of kora duets; Sudanese-American singer and Alsarah & the Nubatones.
Additional world music acts are set to perform under Black Atlantic: a six-day festival of the music of Africa and the African diaspora. The program includes renowned traditional Dominican bachata musician Joan Soriano; Haitian singer-songwriter Emeline Michel; Afro-Venezuelan vocalist Betsayda Machado and her backing band La Parranda El Clavo; the remarkable Malian act Trio da Kali, a collaboration between some of Mali’s leading jeli (griot) musical families, Hawa Kassé Mady, daughter of Kassé Mady Diabaté, bala player Lassana Diabaté and ngoni master Mamadou Kouyaté; and the great Honduran Garifuna singer-song Aurelio Martínez.
Another world music highlight this season is Spanish flamenco singer Diego El Cigala who has explored the musics of Latin America. His most recent album Indestructible is a tribute to salsa music.
I’ve long contended that Latin music (something of a loaded term) was the first world music (ditto) to catch on in a big way. Even if many a mainstream fan’s interest began and ended with Latin big bands, Desi Arnaz, “Tequila,” Santana or the Buena Vista Social Club, there’s no denying Latin music’s permeation into our collective listening consciousness. Me, I love both the purist and fusionist sides of the story. The Buena Vista Social Club was, after all, originally intended to be a collaboration between Cuban and West African musicians. It didn’t work out that way, but the path had already been cleared by that point and many have since trod it.
Thankfully, one recently planned Cuban/non-Cuban musical project that did come to fruition has a very fine CD as the result. Havana Night Sessions at Abdala Studios (Universal Music Romania, 2016) by a collective called The Gypsy Cuban Project sounds very much like what you’d expect from a band with that name: a passionate, freewheeling, seamless melding of Roma and Cuban music.
Romanian musician, activist and parliamentarian Damian Draghici brought 15 players and singers from Europe to Cuba. What they found there was a shared desire to record songs that bridged the two cultures and musicians with the chops to make it happen. The arrangements on the disc reflect the more Cuban angle, but Gypsy elements emerge in the atypical, serpentine way that distinctly Romany-toned strings, brass and accordion tartly take the lead during many of the breaks and solo passages as well as the subtle (but no less heartfelt) shifts in mood when the vocals trade off from one side to the other.
Bolero meets sevdah on the slower tunes and both are stronger for it, while the dance floor tracks are a transatlantic party of the first order. There’s not one bum tune in the bunch, but I particularly like the way the voice of Omara Portuondo is shadowed by what sounds like a pan flute on “Serenata En Batanga” and the slow-burn version of “Chan Chan” that wraps things up.
I was hoping my copy of the CD would be loaded with credits and liner notes. Because it was an advance version, however, no such info was to be found therein. Oh, the tribulations of a music journalist. So when you have the good sense to buy this crackling good disc, you’ll likely get more of the story in addition to the marvelous music.
Madrid-born contemporary flamenco singer Diego El Cigala goes for more of an in-house approach, combining the emotive reach of his grandly grainy vocals with golden era salsa on Indestructible (Sony Music Latin, 2016). Cigala has stepped out of his flamenco roots to cross paths with Cuban and Argentinian music in the past, so he knows how to adapt his vocal nuances.
His focus on this disc is the classic salsa sound brought to the world by the Fania label in the ‘70s, and the fact that Cigala recorded it with salsa master musicians in the U.S., Puerto Rico, Colombia and Spain attests to just how worldly the reach of salsa was and is. The title track is the classic composed by conguero Ray Barretto and burns with all the trademarks of the genre: blazing horns, swirling piano, supernaturally tight percussion, snug bass and a lungful of vocal power. Cigala hits the heights on that one and every other, most of which are chestnuts from Fania that incorporate the salsa subtleties of the places they were recorded.
The smatter of originals like the Bebo Valdés tribute “Fiesta Para Bebo” are no less mighty. And when things slow down a little, as on “Conversación en Tiempo de Bolero,” Cigala wields his voice like the well-honed instrument it is, matching the interplay of Gonzalo Rubalcaba’s piano and a very sharp rhythm section. Rubalcaba is also present on the concluding Beny Moré composition “Como Fue,” a vocal and piano duet that rounds out one grand and glorious album. Salsa fans; don’t miss this one.