Music » Music Feature

The Reader's Guide to the World Music Festival Chicago 2010: Friday, September 24

by and


Noon | Claudia Cassidy Theater

Pansori Brecht Though playwright Bertolt Brecht captured his place and time (Europe between the world wars) with incisive, biting detail, his works are nearly as adaptable as Shakespeare's and have been transposed into other contexts with great success. Pansori is a Korean musical and theatrical tradition that relies to a remarkable degree on the expressive capability of the human voice and the changes in mood that different rhythms and melodic modes can provide—though traditional pansori performances can last for hours, unfolding elaborately plotted love stories, tragedies, or satires, the ensemble is bare-bones, with just one singer and one percussionist. The immediacy and intimacy of the style has been compared to early American blues. Scriptwriter, composer, and singer Jaram Lee has adapted Brecht's The Good Person of Szechuan—a moving story of a woman caught between sin and sainthood and struggling to retain faith in humanity—to the pansori style, and in the recordings of it I've seen and heard, she's chill-inducingly good. —MK

Aashish Khan, Alam Khan, and Swapan Chaudhuri

Chizuru Kineya and Satoyamoyu Kineya

6 PM | Navy Pier

Red Baraat Indian brass-band music remains largely unknown in the West, but its furious polyphonic puffing and rollicking grooves are a staple at wedding celebrations on the subcontinent. New York percussionist Sunny Jain, the son of Punjabi immigrants, has an abiding interest in musical hybrids—his recent Taboo (Brooklyn Jazz Underground) is a thoughtful adaption of the ghazal form for jazz quartet—and he formed Red Baraat as an Indian brass band with a distinctly American flavor. The group combines the fizzy, exuberant melodies of bhangra—along with its propulsive dhol drumming—with the second-line funk of a New Orleans funeral, and pulls it off without insulting either tradition. The nonet's debut album, this year's Chaal Baby (Sinj), is as smart as it is fun, balancing busy, irresistible beats with high-level horn blowing on both sturdy original songs and bhangra hits by the likes of Daler Mehndi and Malkit Singh. The record is great, but onstage Red Baraat are even better, winding up the crowd with shouts of encouragement and boisterous audience invasions till they've turned the show into a dance party. —PM

6 PM | Randolph Cafe

CANCELED Skaidi The singer in this beguiling Norwegian duo, Inga Juuso, is a Sami (an indigenous ethnic group often referred to as Laplanders) and a master of yoik, the peculiar traditional vocal style of her people; her musical partner, Steinar Raknes, is a jazz bassist, best known as a member of the trio led by violinist Ola Kvernberg. Both yoik and jazz rely heavily on improvisation, and Juuso and Raknes make the marriage between the two work like a charm on Skaidi's fine debut album, Where the Rivers Meet (DAT), creating a cohesive sound rather than a crude patchwork of genres. Yoik sounds something like native North American singing—it's a soaring, keening chant-based style—and Juuso imbues its simple phrases with deceptive sophistication, the steady rising and falling of her sharp, driving voice rippling with delicate embellishments. She uses a guttural growl that recalls Tuvan throat singing on "Guovza," while on the tender ballad "Moras Calmmit" she conveys a fleeting vulnerability. Raknes has a pleasantly woody tone, and most of the time he provides an unerring harmonic and rhythmic anchor—but here and there he demonstrates his rapport with Juuso more explicitly, letting loose with tuneful improvisation and flashes of sonic abstraction that complement her vocals. Skaidi has canceled due to illness. —PM

7 PM | Preston Bradley Hall | $15

Aashish Khan and Alam Khan with Swapan Chaudhuri

8 PM | Old Town School of Folk Music | $15, $13 members, $11 seniors and kids

Cimarron This Colombian band brings fiery virtuosity to the string-driven style called joropo, the most popular manifestation of the country's rich tradition of musica llanera, or "plains music." Joropo arose on the plains of the Orinoco region, in eastern Colombia and western Venezuela, and assumed its modern form in the late 50s; as it established itself in cities, its instrumentation became standardized and its lyrics lost some of their previous focus on ranching and farming. Though Grupo Cimarron has only begun making inroads in the U.S.—it gave a knockout concert in Millennium Park last summer—back home its members are folk stars. Their crisp playing combines the fierce rhythmic snap and improvisational rigor of flamenco with the infectious gallop of Appalachian dance music, and the overall effect is like a Colombian answer to bluegrass. Bandleader Carlos Rojas Hernandez has a beautiful touch on the arpa llanera, a harp with a built-in resonator, but on the instrumental numbers—about half the group's repertoire—he's often overshadowed by the furious, stabbing lines of his guitarists, Darwin Fonseca (cuatro) and Ferney Cabezas (bandola). The band's three vocalists include the electrifying Ana Veydo Ordoñez, who has defied the traditional gender roles of joropo by mastering not only the lyrical pasaje form but also the frenetic, hard-charging golpe. —PM

Los Guitarristas

8 PM | Martyrs' | $15, 21+

Mahala Rai Banda When it formed a decade ago, this Romany band from Bucharest split the difference between manic Balkan brass and the wild fiddle music made famous by Taraf de Haidouks, but its latest album, last year's Ghetto Blasters (Asphalt Tango), tilts definitively toward the horns. This strengthens the group's rhythmic punch and cranks up the funk in its tunes, but the fiddle of charismatic bandleader Aurel Ionitsa still cuts through the puffing brass with astringent accents, clever counterpoint, and wild solos. Mahala Rai Banda have full command of a variety of regional folk styles, and their approach ranges from the jackhammer ferocity of "Zuki Zuki" to the smoldering soulfulness of "Balada"; on "Solo Para Ti" there's even some convincing flamenco flavor. On disc they don't sound as crazed and explosive as the Boban Markovic Orkestar, but they up the ante live—when I saw them this summer in Istanbul their energy, wit, and precision never flagged. —PM

Balkan Beats DJ Robert Soko Berlin-based Bosnian Robert Soko launched the Balkan Beats compilation series nearly a decade ago (the fourth volume recently came out on Piranha), catalyzing the collision of raw Romany traditional music, eastern European folk, and modern club music—a collision that also manifested itself in the Electric Gypsyland comps and DJ Shantel's Bucovina Club. These days producers like Dunkelbunt are making electronic music that draws on Romany traditions and groups like the Amsterdam Klezmer Band are hiring dance producers, and Soko can claim to be a progenitor of that fusion as well as one of its primo purveyors. —PM

8 PM | Saint Josaphat Church | $15

Zedashe Ensemble The imagery of this Georgian folk group's 2007 album Forged in Fire (also available as a CD-ROM with scores and lyric sheets) is martial indeed: fighters in chain mail, ancient swords blackened with blood, heroes who pursue their enemies like wolves or hawks. That's hardly surprising if you know anything about Georgia's history—a small country at the corner of Europe and Asia, it's been a battleground for a thousand years, and maintaining a cultural identity under those conditions is not a task for the faint of heart. There's a somber reverence for the past in their layered polyphonic singing and sparse, dramatic instrumentation—a sound that's both folky and liturgical. Georgians have happy harvest songs and wedding dances like everyone else, of course, but you get the sense they're harder earned than most. —MK

Ensemble Alioni

8:30 PM | Navy Pier

Los Vicios de Papa

9 PM | Darkroom | $15, 21+

Delhi 2 Dublin

Red Baraat See above.

DJ Jimmy Singh

9 PM | Green Dolphin Street | $12, $10 in advance, 21+

La Santa Cecilia

The Luna Blues Machine

Azul de Noche

10 PM | Hideout | $12, 21+

Nation Beat

The Horse's Ha with Ronnie Malley and Wanees Zarour

See also:

Add a comment