AfroCubism at Town Hall

12 01 2011

photo by Christina Jaspars via Nonesuch

Think you know the whole story of The Buena Vista Social Club? Think again. Catching this much-hyped show at Town Hall back in November was like an early entry into the uber-high energy levels around a world music project normally reserved for APAP. I covered some highlights from the show in the February issue of Downbeat …

Despite its Grammy win, record-setting sales and enormous critical praise, 1997’s “Buena Vista Social Club” was only half the project it was intended to be.

World Circuit’s Nick Gold had initially planned to gather a group of prominent Cuban and African musicians for a recording session, but the Africans were unable to secure their visas, leaving Gold and his producer, Ry Cooder, to do a little improvising of their own by inviting a few more players from Havana to round out the record. The monster success of the resulting album was serendipitous, if accidental.

More than a decade later, Gold’s complete vision came to fruition with the recording of “AfroCubism,” a marriage of music from Cuba and Mali, countries that share similar rhythmic traditions and proclivities for improvisation – not to mention, political ties that have caused cultural cross-currents since the beginning of the Cold War. The group, which features “Buena Vista” veteran tres guitarist Eliades Ochoa and his band, Grupo Patria, and Malian kora legend Toumani Diabaté (whose diverse credits include collaborations with Herbie Hancock and Taj Mahal) performed the second stop on their tour at Town Hall on Nov. 9.
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