Susana Baca | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Susana Baca

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SUSANA BACA

In order to keep most non-English-language music neatly marketable, labels usually pigeonhole it; most Latin and South American music gets forced into some quaint folkloric tradition or a salsa-related nook. That's not the case with the striking self-titled domestic debut from Peruvian singer Susana Baca, who first made a stateside splash last year with her stunning contributions to the compilation The Soul of Black Peru. Though Baca advocates the preservation of African-Peruvian culture and history, she also uses her music to make connections beyond national borders. American audiences generally equate Peruvian music with the Andean panpipe--y'know, those funny-sounding things that Simon and Garfunkel used on "El Condor Pasa (If I Could)"--and while that sound surfaces occasionally on "Luna Llena," most of Baca's music opts for a truly pan-cultural blend of Latin American styles. Amid spare, percussion-heavy grooves, piquant Spanish guitar flourishes, and creeping bass lines, Baca's gorgeous voice seamlessly blends traces of Brazilian pop breeziness, Cape Verdean morna sadness, and Afro-Cuban son spiciness into an invigorating whole. Baca makes her Chicago debut as part of the Old Town School of Folk Music's annual Festival of Latin Music, which also features locals Sones de Mexico and Guillermo Anderson, as well as the superb Cuban son group Sierra Maestra. Saturday, 7:30 PM, Park West, 322 W. Armitage; 773-525-7793. PETER MARGASAK

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): uncredited photo.

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