On Sunday,. January 13, 2013, globalFest 2013, a non-profit organization presented a festival of 12 artists within one night at New York City’s famed Webster Hall. This Herculean effort brought an amazing variety of artists from around the world. It was, with the overlapping scheduled performances, impossible to catch everyone. But for the loyal readers of DooBeeDooBeeDoo, I put every effort in covering what I could.
Iranian master Kayhan Kalhor, a world class master of the kamancheh (spike fiddle), and Turkish master Erdal Erzincan, master of the bağlama (long neck lute) began the evening. This was a masterful performance of music of haunting beauty. The audience was enraptured by sublime musical poetry.Erzincan played a mostly supportive role, providing the foundation and rhythmic structure of the improvisations. He occasionally used two hand tapping technique: something I never encountered. Kalhor deftly invoked melodic beauty, spoke timeless truths, and led audience on an emotive, evocative journey through timeless musical landscape. My only complaint was that the “festival” standing during the performance was uncomfortable for the audience; and unsuited to the proper presentation of this music- the newest step along a very ancient musical path.
Immediately following them was Lo’ Jo from France. They took the stage with an easy authority. Their French sound was clearly infused with the Afro-Arab influence that is a permanent part of French music now. The band blended these traits seamlessly; paying homage to both cultures in a way that created something greater than the sum if its parts. During one song, a ballad reminiscent of French cafes and salons morphed into a North African dervish dance; with no contradiction or incongruity. One got the distinct feeling that this was a diary of a community; one where a meeting of dissimilar people’s found, against all odds and convention, a focal point upon which to build their own world. Then, they invited their audience to share their accomplishments, joys, and struggles. It was a statement that now, after centuries of conflict, the Gaul, Arab, and African are one people. The audience couldn’t help but feel they were not so much at a performance as among friends – but this was casually understated, with the assumption that this is how it is supposed to be. Denis, the band leader, was clearly in charge; a friendly, and fiercely independent Euro-wizard who leads his community with love. Everyone in the group is an accomplished and sensitive musician; and they all performed together with an easy interaction and communication. And they clearly had a lot of fun.
I managed to catch the last song of Malian singer Fatoumata Diawara. She is a marvelous singer with the kind of charisma that immediately draws you in. She and her band are well worth looking out for.
The Stooges Brass Band, from New Orleans, hit the main ballroom stage running with a pleasurably heavy jazz funk assault. Their fire and energy immediately won the crowd. Each song they played showed another dimension of their genre; and always evoked joy and happiness. Despite their technical brilliance, and obvious independent spirit, this music was about having a good time. They were dead serious about their fun; and made sure, through their strong grooves and infectious melodies that everyone else did too. This was the newest manifestation of old school funk. It was impossible not to dance to; and impossible not to thoroughly enjoy.
La Shica, a quartet from Madrid, offered the audience a quiet, mysterious and jazzy beginning. The singer, Elsa Aurora Nieto took the stage in a dramatic fashion. The music was sensual and spoke of strong emotions. Lush atmospheres, nights filled with explorations of love and life. Euro-jazz and flamenco harmonies and textures permeated the music like thick incense smoke. Nieto strutted the stage like a woman who thinks it’s her duty to infuriate her lover, or who insists upon bringing a dagger to bed while making love – just in case. Her mascara ran down her cheeks, augmenting the image of a sexually uninhibited and emotionally mercurial woman. Her flamenco dancing is wonderful. The group used elements of spoken word /rap, and punk: but the Spanish vibe was never lost for an instant. Their instruments consisted of drums /percussion, bass, and acoustic guitar. Yet at times they succeeded in producing the kind of thick power of a rock band: not overtly, but more subliminally. Each musician was brilliant, and had their brilliance not been obvious, they would have been overshadowed by the strength of their singer.
The globalFest organization is doing important work in bringing music from diverse areas and cultures into a meeting place where boundaries
can be transcended and the greater spectrum of music may be experienced. They must be supported.