January 13, 2015 |
When African-born, European-raised Marie Daulne - the Mama of Zap Mama - created her world-music ensemble in 1990, it was an all-female a capella outfit whose principal goals were to awaken Western audiences to everything from pygmy onomatopoeic vocal techniques to call-and-response chatter. Wordless chants, scats and percussive clicks, lyrics of empowerment and sensuality sung in a mix of French and Afro-Caribbean languages - these made Zap Mama a vexing, valuable commodity no less charming or adventurous when Daulne - the sole remaining Mama - added instrumentation and male voices to her mix. It was that Zap Mama that packed World Café Live on Saturday with sauntering, multinational-tinged melodies, spacious arrangements, percussive singing, and a haunting, athletic brand of vocalese from Daulne, her female backing trio (Lene Christensen, Judith Okon, Maria Fernandez)
November 19, 2014 |
Percussion guru Alan Abel was the subject of what had to be the loudest 85th birthday concert in Philadelphia history on Sunday. But had it not been a bang-up occasion, something would have been seriously wrong. Indeed, the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society was out of its usual league at the Perelman Theater with this 21/2-hour lovefest of Abel's percussion disciples, ending with a battery of 12 in a Rolando Morales-Matos drumming showdown incongruously titled The Little Rhumba . All had their individual moments, and, as we know, once percussionists hit a groove, you never know when they'll stop - even Abel, whose contribution was on cowbell.
September 16, 2014 |
Giving over a portion of your set to a synchronized percussion piece performed with virtuosic precision by a trio of drummers is the sort of thing that drives King Crimson's detractors to hurl accusations of indulgence. But if indulgence isn't your cup of tea you likely knew to avoid the Kimmel Center this weekend, when the legendary British prog band made one of nine stops on its first U.S. tour since 2008. For those who enjoy the band's blend of bombast, complexity, heavy rock riffs, and chamber music intricacy, Saturday's second two-hour Philly show was packed with impeccably realized highlights from throughout the band's 46-year history.
August 26, 2014 |
Audiences interested in a crash course in Afro-futurism had a chance to see the genre's past and future in Philadelphia last week. Founding father George Clinton played the Ardmore Music Hall on Wednesday, while current torchbearers Shabazz Palaces landed at Union Transfer on Friday, performing for a small but rapt crowd. The duo plays a warped sci-fi mutation of hip-hop that incorporates equal doses of EDM and old-fashioned eccentricity and makes their music sound like nothing else on the current scene.
May 14, 2014 |
Classical music is supposed to be immune to the kind of format requirements that constrain mainstream radio and television. And yet modern masterworks by great composers go unplayed: They're too short to be worth the effort of assemblage or their instrumentation is odd. Proof came from Orchestra 2001's concert Sunday at Swarthmore College, full of undeservedly neglected music. In fact, a full 15 minutes of stage reshuffling was necessary between Richard Wernick's Kaddish-Requiem and Henri Dutilleux's Les Citations , so different were their sound worlds.
May 1, 2014 |
Steve Weiss, 71, a rare-instrument lover who owned one of the country's largest percussion retail businesses in Willow Grove and rented instruments to both orchestra players and David Bowie's backup band, died Monday, April 21, at Abington Memorial Hospital of heart failure related to prostate cancer. Mr. Weiss grew up in Logan and graduated from Olney High School. His first drum lesson was at the age of 10, and he went on to play the instrument in bands, including in a Polka group, before starting his business.
August 5, 2012
Pop Cut the World (Secretly Canadian ****) If Antony Hegarty had a dime for every goose bump he's raised with his emotive voice, he could pay off the national debt. His haunting, expressive cry gets the backing of the Danish National Chamber Orchestra on his new album Cut the World , which was recorded live in Copenhagen, Denmark. On it, songs from Antony & the Johnsons' four previous albums are gloriously worked over to spine-tingling effect. "You Are My Sister," "I Fell in Love With a Dead Boy," and "Kiss My Name" all shimmer magnificently in the orchestral light.
April 23, 2012 |
Starting a program with Pierre Boulez, that paragon of cerebral modernism, and ending it with Balinese ensembles and dancers is your basic day at the office for Orchestra 2001, the Swarthmore-based modern-music ensemble that shrinks from little. The unexpected part of Saturday's concert at the Philadelphia Ethical Society was when these disparate elements melded, seemingly by accident, and then, amid better-laid plans, did not. Boulez was represented with 1984's Derive I, a 10-minute chamber piece for winds, strings, and percussion that, we can see in hindsight, is an instance of seemingly repressive systematization yielding something that sounds like complete musical freedom.
January 24, 2012 |
After a full decade of near-annual George Crumb premieres - and with them, landscapes of sounds undreamed of - Orchestra 2001 has completely earned its latest running joke: When the players are ambushed by odd noises on the street, they say, "Don't let George hear that one!" - meaning, he might put it in his next piece. "Oh, I know," said the soft-spoken Pulitzer-winning composer, who is 82. "They kid me, too. They do. " As it is, Voices From the Heartland , the seventh set in his "American Songbook" series, will be premiered Saturday and Sunday by Orchestra 2001 with a Balinese anklung, an Afro-Brazilian berimbau, and 98 other percussion instruments that are as hard to imagine as they are to pronounce.
January 9, 2012 |
To Yemenite Israeli composer, vocalist, and charismatic performer Ravid Kahalani, the blues is a feeling, a transcendent "moment of the soul" that resounds through human experience. Before a standing-room-only crowd at Center City's Painted Bride Arts Center on Saturday, he put his conception on display, leading his nine-piece Yemen Blues ensemble through two sets of engrossing, demonstrably sui generis music. From the rousing opener, "Eli," it was evident how bracingly unique and, yes, "multicultural" a synthesis Kahalani has developed, with essential contributions from all the band's members.