Every January for the past decade a dozen or more bands from around the world have gathered in New York City for globalFEST - one long, frenzied night of live music showcasing the diverse cultures, histories and numerous sonic branches of "World Music." This year's lineup included Zimbabwe legend Oliver Mtukudzi and his band The Black Spirits, Malian singer Fatoumata Diawara, Chicago's wildly exuberant marching band Mucca Pazza, and much, much more.
Sweet and hot: That's the sound that French-born, Brooklyn-based guitarist Stephane Wrembel brought to his intimate early set in The Studio, globalFEST's smallest space. Wrembel specializes in jazzmanouche, or so-called "Gypsy" jazz — and his set with his quartet showed off the sparkling, speedy fingerwork already familiar to fans of Woody Allen, who has used Wrembel's music in his films Vicky Cristina Barcelona and Midnight in Paris.
Originally published on Sat March 16, 2013 8:36 pm
Based in Los Angeles and fronted by the smoky-voiced Marisol Hernandez, the fast-rising band La Santa Cecilia splices and dices an array of Mexican and South American sounds in its songs, from Mexican norteño and ranchera to Colombian cumbia. Here, its members perform smart originals and covers of U2's "One" and Soft Cell's "Tainted Love" — all with a wry, old-soul knowingness. La Santa Cecilia has already received a Latin Grammy nomination in 2011, but with this GlobalFEST appearance, it's poised to break out to a broader audience.
Martha Redbone's music chronicles the crossroads of the American experience. Born in Kentucky and of Cherokee, Choctaw and African-American descent, Redbone combines folk, Appalachian, soul and Native tradition in a group of settings of poetry by William Blake — a startling idea, perhaps, but one that brims with potency and freshness.
The night ended with bumping beats down at Webster Hall's Studio space with the Ottawa-based Native collective A Tribe Called Red. The group calls its style "pow wow step" — an imaginative and dance-floor-ready blend of beats, aboriginal singing and dancing, and visuals and audio samples that turn "Indian" stereotypes on their heads. But the most memorable moments in the set come when A Tribe Called Red invites a dancer out to perform a traditional hoop dance, twisting and turning hoops into elegant and beautiful figures.
Kayhan Kalhaor & Erdal Erzincan Live From Webster Hall
The soulful Persian classical virtuoso and composer Kayhan Kalhor has long been interested in creating artistic bridges to other musicians and styles, including in his work with Yo-Yo Ma's Silk Road Project and a long-term collaboration with the Indian sitarist Shujaat Khan.
The French group Lo'Jo is something of a throwback: For 30 years, it's made world music best described as "worldbeat," a melange of a little of this (French chanson) and a little of that (dollops of North and West African colors and textures) within a musical community that tends to prize strongly rooted tradition. With Denis Péan's gravelly vocals complemented by the Berber singing sisters Yamina and Nadia Nid El Mourid, the band circumnavigates the globe — often within the confines of a single song.
Christine Salem Live From Webster Hall (full concert audio)
As the globalFEST evening wound down, much of the buzz about the biggest finds of the year centered on a seemingly unlikely figure: the vocalist Christine Salem, who made her New York City debut in this performance. Often, it's the artists who make 21st-century, Internet-ready musical hybrids that become the most talked-about GlobalFEST artists, but Salem presents the exact opposite model.