World Music Festival 2007
These are our picks for the best shows at this year's sprawling festival. Many of these artists will also appear at various Borders locations, the Chicago Cultural Center, Navy Pier and other venues during the day. For a full schedule, go to cityofchicago.org/worldmusic.
Chris Bajmakovich & Muzika 4 U + T-Rroma
7pm. Chicago Latvian Cultural Center. $8–$12.
Dobet Gnahoré + Louis Mhlanga
7:30pm. Old Town School of Folk Music. $12.For Gnahoré,see “World party,” page 22. Mhlanga, a Zimbabwean guitarist, takes his cues from Ernie Isley as much as the chimurenga of his homeland. Mhlanga finds the common ground between the cascading ripples of Hendrix and the repetitive dance of the thumb piano, or mbira. His predilection for radio-friendly chords has made him a big name in African jazz and should endear him to our own smooth-jazz crowd.
Dhoad Gypsies of Rajasthan + Lamajamal
7:30pm. Museum of Contemporary Art. $12. While Gypsy culture now exists in a diaspora, from Eastern Europe to Spain, it can trace its origins back to the home of this gifted ensemble: Rajasthan, India. The northwestern province of fantastic beauty gave birth to Gypsy music with its minor-key modes and antecedent-to-funk rhythms. If you’ve hopped on the Balkan Gypsy bandwagon like we have, get a fantastic performance and history lesson all in one.
José Conde y Ola Fresca + Pacha Massive + Allá
8pm. Logan Square Auditorium. $12. For José Conde, see “World party,” page 22. The New York electronic duo Pacha Massive (Nova and Maya) came together in the same circle as Latin electronic project Sidestepper, playing its first gig at Madison Square Garden, no less. It draws on Latin rhythms of Colombian cumbia and Dominican palo, but the cosmopolitan tunes circle the globe for dubby breakbeats and jump from English to Spanish, from line to hip-hop–daubed line. Rising from the ashes of Chicago-based synthy outfit Defender, Allá (Jorge Ledezma, his brother Angel Ledezma and chanteuse Lupe Martinez) updates Brazilian tropicalia for the bilingual post-rock set. Allá makes swinging, sun-kissed, galactic, Latin-inflected pop music. The band’s long-player was tracked in half a dozen of the hippest studios on the planet. Let’s hope the sonic payoff is just as good live for Chicago’s spicier answer to electronic-pop stylists Saint Etienne.
Ismail Lumanovski and the New York Gypsy All-Stars Band + Steve Gibons and Gypsy Rhythm Project with Nicolae Feraru
9pm. Heartland Cafe. $10. Although Lumanovski was born in Macedonia, the young Juilliard-trained clarinetist made his U.S. debut at age 16 and hasn’t looked back since. His New York jazz/Gypsy band features Turkish, Greek and Macedonian players on cimbalom, bass, kanun and darbuka. The presence of a flashy American drummer—his nationality is only incidental, we can assure you—detracts from the Gypsy spirit, but doesn’t keep this prodigy from reeling off impressive solos.
FREE Balla Kouyaté and World Vision
Noon. Garfield Park Conservatory Fair. We forgive you if you were a little distracted during Mamadou Diabaté’s recent Chicago appearances by the badass Balla Kouyaté. Although he was merely a supporting musician, this virtuoso of the balafon—an ancestor to the xylophone—ripped off solo after solo of crackling Afro-jazz bebop. Born in Mali, Kouyaté’s mastery of jazz has since brought him to New York, where he now lives.
FREE Puerto Plata
6pm. Navy Pier.
Hazmat Modine + Chirgilchin
7:30pm. Museum of Contemporary Art. $12. For Hazmat Modine, see Sun 16. Considering Tuva’s remote location north of Mongolia, it’s hard for Chicagoans to hear artists from the republic even once a year—and this group is no exception. Hailing from the same agrarian province north of Mongolia as their stylistic kin Huun-Huur-Tu, members of Chirgilchin constrict their throat and nasal passages to multiphonics with their voices, essentially harmonizing with themselves.
Romano Drom + Ismail Lumanovski and the New York Gypsy All-Stars Band
8pm. Old Town School of Folk Music. $12. This Hungarian Gypsy band—unlike many fellow Gypsy groups and the American ones they’ve inspired—carries a polish and dazzle likely acquired in its cosmopolitan hometown of Budapest. Adding guitar to the usual Roma instruments, like accordion, double bass, violin and percussion, Romano Drom brings a classical precision to a genre more often thought of as reckless. For Lumanovski, see Fri 14.
Spam Allstars + Pacha Massive
9pm. Martyrs’. $12. Restless internationalist DJ Le Spam (Andrew Yeomanson) played guitar in a Haitian rock band and with Cuban-American songsmith Nil Lara before forming his breakbeat, sample-driven Allstars. In the tradition of funk godfather James Brown’s ethic, the band tours like its van is on fire with 200-plus dates a year. The fat beats come to life with a horn section and live percussion straight out of an Afro-Caribbean party or Cuban jam session, making the group a don’t-miss for anyone with a hot foot. For Pacha Massive, see Fri 14.
The Yohimbe Brothers + Haale
10pm. Kinetic Playground. $12. The Black Rock Coalition goes a little Latin on this collaboration between two old chums—Living Colour guitarist Vernon Reid and the jam-band and jazzman’s favorite turntablist DJ Logic. On 2004’s The Tao of Yo, Reid rips blistering solos over salsa beats and Logic scratches against abstract rock thump and melancholic horn soloing. Sonically, it falls somewhere between a psychedelic bachelor-pad backdrop and a Brazilian-informed Battles, and the result is often too much of a good thing. New York songstress Haale Gafori draws on her Persian background to varying degrees in delivering what she calls “psychedelic Sufi trance rock”—singing in Persian when it suits her mystical songs and augmenting her sound with the setar (a three stringed lute). Live, her rock trio contrasts the ace hand-drum percussion of Matt Kilmer with noisy coloring from guitarist John Shannon.
FREE Puerto Plata
6pm. Humboldt Park Boathouse.See Sat 15.
Dhoad Gypsies of Rajasthan
7pm. University of Chicago, International House. $10. See Fri 14.
Romano Drom + Hazmat Modine
8pm. Martyrs’. $12. For Romano Drom, see Fri 17. Fans of Tom Waits will appreciate this New York band’s kitchen-sink approach to the blues. No instrument is too exotic, as Hazmat Modine throws Chinese mouth organs, Romanian Gypsy cimbaloms and even some Tuvan throat singing all at the feet of early American blues and jazz.
Huang Thanh & Nguyen Le’s Fragile Beauty Quintet + The Eternals
9pm. Empty Bottle. $12.
9:30pm. Hideout. Advance $10, day of show $12. See “World party,” page 22.
10pm. Sonotheque. $5. Trinidad-born dancehall rude boy Lenky Don might live in Brooklyn and have a following in Houston, but his delivery is genuine, rough-and-ready dancehall. A bit of a chameleon, he can roll with chrome-plated, electronic, paranoid flavors of dubstep; a stock diwali rhythm; or laid-back fun-in-the-sun tracks like “Copacabana” on his new Radioactive full-length. With a No. 1 hit under his belt (“Make You Say Yo” topped the charts in Panama), he’s still enough of an island outsider to toast his “Triny Bowy” status.
FREE L. Subramaniam and Ensemble
6:30pm. Millennium Park, Pritzker Pavilion. See “World party,” page 22.
FREE Orchestra of Tangier
8pm. Chicago Cultural Center, Preston Bradley Hall. See “World party,” page 22.
FREE Lekan Babalola
10pm. Empty Bottle.
FREE Maurice el Medioni Meets Roberto Rodríguez: Descarga Oriental
7pm. Chicago Cultural Center, Preston Bradley Hall. It’s hard to imagine, but Arabs and Jews peacefully coexisted prior to the Spanish inquisition. It’s that melting pot in Andalusian Spain that gave birth to the common ancestry explored by Algerian-French pianist El Medioni and Cuban–New York drummer Rodríguez.
Vishwa Mohan Bhatt + Ambri Subramaniam
7pm. University of Chicago, International House. $10. As one of the foremost disciples of Ravi Shankar, Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt can, of course, lay down a mean sitar raga, and he’s won a Grammy working with Ry Cooder. But for shorthand’s sake, he’s the Hindustani player who created his own instrument. In 1967, he took a Spanish-style guitar and modified it with drone and sympathetic strings, thereby creating the Mohan Veeta, which he plays lap-style. He plays the unusual instrument with a master’s finesse and passion, and at blazing speed when it’s called for.
17 Hippies + One Ring Zero
8pm. Martyrs’. $12. For 17 Hippies, see Sun 16.
FREE Helder Moutinho
7pm. Chicago Cultural Center, Preston Bradley Hall. As Portugal’s primary musical export, fado is renowned for its glamour and gaudy beauty. And perhaps for those reasons, only women have traditionally performed it. Enter this gifted Portuguese singer and winner of the 2004 Amalia Rodrigues award, who came to find his calling not as a young prodigy—as many fado singers are wont to do—but as an adult.
Brina + Eastern Blok + Lenka Dusilova
7:30pm. Museum of Contemporary Art. $12.
D3 Flamenco Jazz
7:30pm. Instituto Cervantes. $15. Sax and flute player Jorge Pardo has been fusing jazz with flamenco for three decades but touring with Chick Corea’s Touchstone band in recent years. Trio D3, with double-bass player Francis Pose and percussionist J. Vázquez, is a bit like an all-star Spanish group. Pardo is a bit of an oddball in the flamenco scene by his own admission, but he’s also open-minded, pioneering the direct digital download of his album Vientos Flamencos through his website flamencodigital.com. Tunes like “La fiesta de Cora (tangos),” might sound traditional, but by flamenco standards, they’re wildly experimental.
FREE Chango Spasiuk
8pm. Columbia College Conaway Center. See “World party,” page 22.
MC Rai + Cyro Baptista’s Beat The Donkey
8pm. Martyrs’. $12. For Cyro Baptista, see Thu 20. Los Angeles–based MC Rai (MC stands for Mohamed Chaoua) hails not from Algeria, the home of raï street music, but from neighboring Tunisia. Rather than relocate to France, where raï is established, he settled in the U.S. five years ago. On 2006’s Raivolution, he draws from Western hip-hop production icons like Dr. Dre and Timbaland in club-ready tunes like the title track and even rocks a bit, but Rai and band sound much more at home when his roots in chaabi folk styles show—swirling strings and dense hand drums.
FREE Maurice El Medioni Meets Roberto Rodríguez: Descargo Oriento + Estrella Acosta’s Guajira Project
8:30pm. Old Town School of Folk Music. For El Medioni, see Tue 18.
FREE One World Under One Roof
Chicago Cultural Center. 6:30–11pm.
6:30pm. Preston Bradley Hall. Toronto-based Punjabi singer Kiran Ahluwalia isn’t simply layering the usual modal melodies and hip-hop beats on top of each other—she has her eyes set on a hybrid music that mingles everything from Irish folk to bhangra. With a feminine, almost helium voice reminiscent of the best Bollywood singers, Ahluwalia gracefully works her voice around notes like a cobra wrapping itself around a neck.
Amazones—Women Drummers of Guinea
7pm. Claudia Cassidy Theater. On a two-year world tour, this all-female drum group—the first of its kind—seeks to give African women a thundering voice. By making this troupe entirely female, the group adds a political dimension to the music of the djembe, an instrument historically reserved for men.
Cyro Baptista’s Beat the Donkey
9pm. Claudia Cassidy Theater. Brazilian-born jazz percussionist Cyro Baptista has a devoted cult following. His live percussion-and-dance–driven ensemble Beat the Donkey (which roughly translates as “let’s do it” in Portuguese) is a project that’s both experimental enough for John Zorn’s label Tzadik and as accessible as the Blue Man Group in its physicality and joyous presentation—drummers leap off of giant toms and capoeira tumblers bound across the stage. The outfit utilizes percussion instruments from Brazil and Indonesia but also the American washboard in its polyrhythmic pieces, but with a sense of history that only this top-tier drummer could manage.
Sebastian Cruz with Raul Cantizano
9:15pm. Chicago Cultural Center, Preston Bradley Hall. —John Dugan and Matthew Lurie