Monday, January 27, 2014

Finnish Tango and Gamelan Grief

Finnish tango has been a big deal for decades.

That's just one of many things I learned as I camped out at the intimate world music stage at last weekend's Jazz Winterlude festival.  Correctly anticipating a line outside the door of the 100-person capacity Recital Hall, I arrived early with an empty bladder.

I refused to give up my seat for the next five hours.  The education I received made my social and physical discomfort seem immaterial. 

Accordionist Juha Silfverberg clued me in to the scene of his native Finland.

Ensemble Ibérica, a guitar trio led by Beau Bledsoe, played music of Spain, Portugal and Latin America with impressive precision. 

I'm ashamed to admit that I hadn't taken in a performance by Marimba Sol de Chiapas until Saturday.  Although I could have done without the patronizing  tone of the bandleader- "can you say Chiapas?"- the quartet made absolutely gorgeous music. 

Did you know that musicians in gamelan orchestras use hammers as mallets?  I didn't.  Gamelan Genta Kasturi made one hell of a racket.  The sonic assault was made even more overwhelming by the raucous Arturo Sandoval sound check that bled into the room. 

My head still hurts. 

My notes about Terri Lyne Carrington's concert at the Jazz Winterlude festival are published at Plastic Sax.

I mourned Keith Whitley's death in 1989.  That's one reason Jason Eady's Daylight & Dark instantly hit home with me.  Another reason is the reference to Kansas City on the opening track "OK City".  Refusing to drink 3.2 beer in an Oklahoma tavern during a pit stop on a southbound drive toward Texas, a man has an ill-fated encounter with whiskey.  RIYL: Gary Stewart, heartaches and hangovers, Alan Jackson.

Listeners who are don't speak English and are unaware of the backstory of Against Me! might think that Transgender Dysphoria Blues is just another solid third-generation punk album.  But the lyrics- many of which take on self-referential gender issues- are great.  RIYL: The Clash, the new sincerity, F*cked Up.

I admire how organizers of Plano's Suburbia Music Festival own it.  Besides, the lineup is truly impressive.

I'm going to skate to one album and one album only.  Jennifer Holliday's The Song Is You is a completely over-the-top collection of standards.  And I can dig it.  RIYL: Eartha Kitt, gay cabaret, Luciano Pavarotti.

I've always loved the Grammy Awards.  A ranking of yesterday's performances follows.  (Roomful of Teeth knocked me out during the non-televised segment.)  Kendrick Lamar/Imagine Dragons, Beyoncé/Jay-Z, Paul McCartney/Ringo Starr, Pink/Nate Ruess, John Legend, the Sound City all-stars, Carole King/Sara Bareilles, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis/Mary Lambert/Madonna, Lang Lang/Metallica, Daft Punk and company, Kacey Musgraves, Chicago/Robin Thicke, Lorde, The Highwaymen, Billie Joe Armstrong/Miranda Lambert, Ringo Starr, Taylor Swift, Gary Clark Jr./Keith Urban and Katy Perry.  Sorry, Katy- that was wack.

Kansas City Click: My official picks are published here.

(Original image of a portion of Gamelan Genta Kasturi by There Stands the Glass.)

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