Buika | Maurer Hall, Old Town School of Folk Music | International | Chicago Reader

Buika All Ages Early Warnings (Music) Soundboard Recommended Image

When: Sat., June 15, 8 p.m. 2013

Buika’s superb new album, La Noche Mas Larga (Warner Music Latina), is the Miami-based Spanish singer’s first since 2006’s Mi Niña Lola to be untouched by the heavy hand of producer Javier Limon, who’s earned a reputation for his tasteful, organic fusions of flamenco and jazz. She seems to be taking stock of her career so far, compositing many of the styles she’s passed through over the preceding decade. It’s a coherent set, though, not a hodgepodge: her outsize confidence and multifarious skill transform every one of the album’s disparate songs (including five of her own) into a fitting vessel for her raspy, fiery voice. Early in her career Buika dabbled in slick but muddled pop-flamenco, and thankfully that’s one phase she doesn’t revisit on La Noche Mas Larga. Instead she tackles iconic Spanish-language pop songs that she grew up with—“Yo Vengo a Ofrecer Mi Corazon” by Argentine singer Fito Paez, “La Nave del Olvido” by Mexico’s Jose Jose, “Santa Lucia” by Spanish crooner Miguel Rios—and makes them her own, transforming them into jazz-flamenco hybrids that favor emotional directness over instrumental excess. A knockout version of the standard “Siboney” bears the rhythmic imprint of her recent collaboration with Cuban pianist Chucho Valdes, and Buika brings Afro-Cuban rhythms to a version of Jacques Brel’s “Ne Me Quitte Pas.” She also covers two legendary jazz singers, adding syncopated palmas to a smoldering take on Billie Holiday’s “Don’t Explain” and bringing a languid humidity to Abbey Lincoln’s “Throw It Away.” Through everything, though, the sanguine intensity of flamenco throbs at the music’s center. For this rare intimate performance she’s joined by longtime pianist Ivan “Melón” Lewis and cajon player Ramon Porrina. —Peter Margasak

Price: $40, $38 members

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