iLe creates new old school sounds from the island of enchantment | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

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iLe creates new old school sounds from the island of enchantment

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As a member of Calle 13—the politically conscious Puerto Rican hip-hop band formed by her brothers René Pérez Joglar and Eduardo Cabra Martínez—Ileana Mercedes Cabra Joglar began performing onstage when she was a teenager. By her late 20s, she was stepping out on her own under the name iLe. On her debut solo album, 2016’s iLevitable, the singer-songwriter delves into classic Latin American roots genres such as bolero, mambo, boogaloo, and rumba. The album’s gorgeous, lush, orchestral arrangements, coupled with iLe’s pliant, lovely voice, smart songwriting, and fresh (and often dark and quirky) take on these well-known musical formats earned widespread critical acclaim as well as a Grammy for Best Latin Rock, Urban or Alternative Album. Last year, iLe released her second album, Almadura, which was nominated for a Grammy in the same category. Created in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, the record is full of ballads that explore sociopolitical topics, including violence against women, Puerto Rican independence, and social injustice. Musically, the album revisits some of the genres explored on iLevitable while adding new forays into hard salsa and percussion-driven Afro-Caribbean styles, among them Afro-Dominican palo music, with its driving chants and beats, and Puerto Rican bomba, which is closely tied the island's long history of protest and resistance. iLe’s concerts are high-energy experiences that meld musics from across the Americas while foregrounding the sounds of Puerto Rico past and present. Performing with a nine-piece band that includes piano, bass, two guitars, percussion, drums, and two trombones, iLe will undoubtedly fulfill our expectations, allowing us to experience how she’s shaping the future of Latin pop without losing sight of the past.   v

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