Posts Tagged ‘che sudaka’

Babel Med 2014, March 20-22, Docks des Suds, Marseille

Posted on March 26th, 2014 in Recent posts by .


Photography by Jean de Peña

Simon Broughton and Jo Frost recount some of their highlights from last weekend’s Babel Med in Marseille, France.

‘Ecoute le Monde’ it says on the posters for Babel Med in Marseille. And you certainly do get to listen to the world with 30 concerts over three days, although it’s a certain vision of the world. There seems to be a sort of default position that means the vast majority of acts are fusions of some sort. It’s partly that the French definition of musique du monde (world music) tends to emphasise cross-fertilisation, but also it’s the sort of thing that fuels festivals. Babel Med is a professional showcase for artists and bands, but it’s also a cheap (€15 a night) and hugely popular three nights of music for the people of Marseille. This year, the tenth edition, over 12,000 people attended over the three nights.


Here are some of our highs and lows:

Thursday March 20

Fargana Qasimova (pictured above) is the daughter of Azeri mugham star Alim Qasimov and she’s been singing together with him for years. I last saw them give an incredibly powerful performance together in Baku, his voice often higher than hers in an amazing mugham polyphony. But now she’s started doing shows on her own with a brilliant band of traditional instrumentalists – tar, kamancha, clarinet and percussion. Of course she’s totally grown up with the tradition and it shows. Her voice and style are glowing and intense, although there’s a serious piety rather than the hint of mischief her father has. This was one of the few traditional performances at Babel Med, which also made it very welcome. SB

The Finnish harmonica quartet Sväng are Songlines favourites and we had them at our Encounters Festival in 2010. The music is original but always drawing on Finnish traditions, or sometimes Balkan music. Eero Turkka, one of the quartet, has married a Bulgarian lady and now lives in Sofia. The standout piece in the concert was ‘Karja-La’, like Shangri-La, the title-track of their new album. It’s a musical depiction of Karelia, the heartland of Finnish identity – as a nostalgic past, a place of conflict, emigration and Russification. The recent events in Crimea illustrate the topicality of the music. What I like about Sväng is the depth of the music alongside the sense of fun. SB

Hotel Univers was one of my albums of 2013, yet it’s been a while since I’ve seen Jupiter and Okwess International (pictured below) play live. Despite being a slightly reduced-size touring outfit, the Congolese group still put on a storming live show. Lead singer Jupiter Bokondji, with his deep, gravelly voice and long scarecrow-like flailing arms, makes a very charismatic frontman, but he’s got strong support from some fabulous guitarists who double up as pretty impressive dancers too. This was the first showcase that got me dancing. JF


Friday March 21

The fiddle player from Brittany, Jacky Molard, is highly regarded in Breton music. Being only familiar with his collaborative album together with the Malian Foune Diarra trio (N’Diale) this was the first time I’d seen him perform live. Molard was joined by a trio of double bass (the first of two female double bass players on Friday night), accordion and saxophone and their music is complex, compelling and with driving rhythms – they reminded me a little of a Breton Lau. High praise indeed. JF

The party band of Friday evening, the Amsterdam Klezmer Band, always know how to get a crowd moving and the Marseillais audience seemed to really enjoy this raucous klezmer big band. They’ve got a new album out which we’ll be reviewing soon. JF

One of the most interesting fusions that makes real artistic (and dare one say political) sense, is the mixture of Kurdish musicians in a band called Nishtiman. With Sohrab Pournazeri, a charismatic kamancheh and tanbur player at its centre, the group features Kurdish musicians from Iran, Iraq and Turkey, plus a French percussionist and bass player. The set was in party mode in a very crowded tent, but the musicianship shone through, despite the sound being a bit of a mess. Alongside Pournazeri, there was brilliant daf (frame drum) playing from Hussein Rezaeenia, standing in for Iraqi Kurdish percussionist Hussein Zahawy. The newly-released CD from Accords Croisés also has some beautiful slow and intense pieces. SB

A more unlikely fusion embodied in one person is the Iranian-born Israeli singer Rita. Singing in Hebrew and Persian, she laid great stress on bringing these two fiercely opposed countries together with a good band, including another great kamancheh maestro, Mark Eliyahu. But the noble ambition can’t save a bland Eurovision-style vibrato fest. SB

Bassekou Kouyaté and Ngoni ba looked resplendent in their turquoise green robes but sadly the sound wasn’t so impressive, which momentarily seemed to be reflected in the group’s usually confident performance. But Bassekou wasn’t to be deterred and carried off his solo ngoni spots with aplomb and a winning smile. JF



Pasi Leino (Sväng)

Saturday March 22

I was looking forward to the Kenyan/Somali vocal harmonies of Gargar, but they reminded me of the Russian babushkas in Eurovision – dancing as if they were at a disco they didn’t want to be at and backed by the most mundane drums and keyboards. It was a warning of how tradition can be so easily debased. SB

Shutka Roma Rap, despite my aversion of baseball caps and cliché arm-waving stylings, gave a strong show, thanks, if you didn’t understand the Romani language, to a backing band with violin, sax and trumpet. SB

Saturday night’s line-up was the one I was least familiar with, so I had fewer expectations than the previous two nights. And yet this was the evening of my favourite discoveries – Duo Sabil, Palestinian oud and percussion duo, accompanied by a French string quartet, Quatuor Béla. Fabulous music if not a little bit studious in style (we call it the curse of the music stand). The listening experience was marred by the venue being rammed packed – it felt like trying to watch a chamber music concert on a London tube platform during rush hour. Definitely one to revisit under less frenetic circumstances and preferably in the comfort of a chair. Duo Sabil also performed at Songlines Encounters last year with guitarist John Williams. JF

Veteran roots reggae star Clinton Fearon, who had a Top of the World review in #92, attracted a huge crowd, gave ‘lots of love’ and brought out a pungent scent of weed like no one else. The songs and scent are well worth catching. SB

Next was Ve Zou Via (pictured below) – another cross-cultural project, this one a polyphonic one exploring the connections between Marseille and Naples. I’ve been a big fan of the five guys from Lo Còr de la Plana ever since witnessing them lead a ridiculously large conga line through the throng in the arboretum at WOMAD. This time they’re joined by Absurd, four women from Naples, plus Enza Pagliara, a singer from Salento. No idea whether they were singing in Occitan or Neopolitan, but they sounded fantastic. There were moments of intimate close-harmony singing but when they all joined in on frame drums, they whipped up the crowd into a state of wild enthusiasm. All the more impressive considering that the venue, akin to a circus Big Top, was several inches under water after a day’s worth of rain. Certainly didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the local crowd. JF

Another new name was Maya Kamaty who has won singing awards on her home island of La Réunion, and after this showcase I’m sure she’ll be gaining more international acclaim. Accompanied by a trio of musicians on percussion and guitars, she performed call-and-response Réunionnais creole singing, all while dancing and shaking the kayamb – a traditional percussion instrument of the island which looks like a large cane tray. Kamaty brought a real freshness and some much needed Indian Ocean warmth to the Docks. JF

Finally Che Sudaka – described in the programme as ‘mestizo Latino’ –  sounded like Manu Chao on speed. Of course, they say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, in which case Chao should be feeling truly honoured by this group of Colombian and Argentinians, now resident in Barcelona. Simple, fun, festival party music. JF


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La Linea 2012 Announces Lineup

Posted on February 23rd, 2012 in Recent posts by .

 Barbican / KOKO / HMV Forum / Bolivar Hall / Village Underground / Rich Mix / Islington Town Hall

La Linea returns to London for two weeks in April boasting yet another sizzling line up of Cuban rumba, Samba soul, Brazilian folk y mucho más! La Linea is one of the most eclectic, ebullient and exciting Latin festivals in the world. Legends Juan De Marcos, Roberto Pla and Céu will be performing alongside some of Latin music’s brightest new stars.

From the 1950s big bands of Edmundo Ros to the salsa craze of the 1990s to the burgeoning tropical bassline scene of today, Latin rhythms have had Londoners moving and shaking for over 50 years and the long love affair shows no signs of abating. Now in it’s 12th year La Linea continues to champion London’s cornerstone place in the world of Latin music.

This year’s festival will be opened by Portugal’s leading musical export Madredeus who shall be playing their first show anywhere in six years. Spanish chart toppers Amaral will be bringing their unique blend of Latin infused pop rock for a rare London appearance.

The mighty Afro Cuban All Stars, led by the venerable Juan de Marcos, return to London for the first time in seven years. Support comes from London based Lokkhi Terra for what promises to be a rare and unforgettable night. Brazilian singer song-writer Céu, who has captivated the world with her mesmerising blend of bossa, electronica, samba and dub will be joined at Koko by two of the most exciting new Brazilian artists, Curumin and Lucas Santtana.

Also performing at this year’s festival is the Mexican, virtuoso guitarist Morgan Szymanski. Che Sudaka’s explosive live show headlines the UK for the first time. London’s own Lucumi choir celebrate the launch of their new CD of Afro Cuban choral anthems and share the stage, Cuban-style, with Gerardo y su Rumba Ache and dancers.

Latin music has never been too far away from the heart of the capital. From Cuban bandleader Don Marino Barretto performing to pilots on Salisbury plane before the Battle of Britain to Edmundo Ros teaching then-Princess Elizabeth and her sister Margaret to dance. From Gilberto Gil’s time spent in political exile in London and Héctor Lavoe performing his first ever London show in a half full pub in 1975 the capital is truly entwined with Latin spirit.

With London’s ever growing Latin population and, perhaps more significantly, the emergence of Latino-British bands, Latin music remains engrained in the culture of London and once again La Linea is at the heart of it.

La Linea hits the road with Ceu & Curumin performing in Manchester, Bristol, Gateshead, Brighton and Coventry alongside the London schedule, bringing a taste of contemporary Brazil to five cities around the UK.

Monday 16 April
Barbican Hall

Thursday 19 April
Ceu, Curumin & Lucas Santtana

 Saturday 21 April
Roberto Pla Latin Ensemble
plus DJs
Islington Town Hall

Tuesday 24 April
The London Lucumi Choir
Gerado y su Rumba Ache
Rich Mix

Wednesday 25 April
Juan De Marcos Afro Cuban All Stars
Lokkhi Terra

Barbican Hall

Thursday 26 April
Bolivar Hall

Friday 27 April
Sala and The Strange Sounds
HMV Forum

 Friday 27 April
Che Sudaka
Los Chinches
DJs Cal Jader (Movimientos) Sacha Dieu (Stranger Than Paradise)
Village Underground

La Linea on tour with Ceu + Curumin
Wednesday 18 April, St George’s Hall, Bristol
Friday 20 April, Band on The Wall, Manchester
Sunday 22 April, Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry
Monday 23 April, The Sage, Gateshead
Tuesday 24 April, Komedia, Brighton

More information and online ticket sales available from


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