Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Backatown

by Trombone Shorty

I never heard about Troy Andrews aka Trombone Shorty until a month or so ago. I was actually looking for a real trombone instrument on various Amazon websites — you’d be surprised what a difference the extension (.com, .co.uk, .de and .fr) makes, especially on the budget side of the spectrum. If and when I manage to buy a trombone via Amazon, I will say more.

In the meantime, I bought this album because it was... one of those “smart” suggestions by Amazon, and for once, it was a good suggestion too. I did a bit of research before ordering it though. (You can hear the complete album on Spotify, for instance.)

Backatown is a pleasantly surprising impossible-to-categorise record. Andrews himself calls his music “supafunkrock”, where “supa” apparently is “shorty” for a mix of soul, hip-hop and Balkan brass with New Orleans jazz. The vocal numbers are not my favourites though; I would leave all of them but Allen Toussaint’s On Your Way Down out.

If the album is good, the live show of Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue must be mindblowing, as this performance of In the 6th and Neph demonstrates.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Wandlebury Family Picnic Concert

Remember I wrote last year of Luton Carnival being my last gig with Arco Iris? Well, never say never.

Today Arco Iris played at Wandlebury Family Picnic Concert as a part of the Cambridge Summer Music Festival. As it happens, I am in London now, so I made my way to Cambridge for this occasion. We had a smallish but good band today. The weather was nice, the audience was sitting/laying/crawling on grass, and we’ve got some children engaged in rhythmical clapping. And it seems that I remember most of caixa parts.

Monday, 23 July 2012

African Healing Dance

with Wyoma and the Dancers and Drummers of Damballa
First published 23 July 2012 @ zumbafuerteventura

Of my small collection of dance fitness videos, this one is perhaps the most enjoyable. Wyoma must be a brilliant teacher. The programme was recorded in 1997 but it does not look dated in any way. The picture quality, however, is not that great. The whole DVD appears to be little more than a direct transfer of the original VHS tape. But don’t let this spoil your experience.

Also, don’t be confused or annoyed by the word “healing”. No matter what your relationships with African deities are, the dances are guaranteed to make you feel better.

The body teaches. The more you learn about your own natural body rhythms, the healthier you can be.
The workout is fun. It starts with Wyoma teaching some body isolations. Then she proceeds to show — and explain the origin of — the traditional African dance moves: imitation of animals such as snake, elephant, birds; the elements (air, fire, water and earth); and daily routines (picking berries, grinding grains and so on). The warm-up is just the right length and effort level. In the DVD booklet (a nice touch, by the way) it is explained that the warm-up is not traditionally done in Africa as the “dancers there have already spent much of the day walking miles to gather food or water or to attend school, so their muscles are typically loose and ready for the joys of more rigorous movement”. Then we are taught the real African dances.

The African-Caribbean Dances section includes only two dances, both of them are loa dances of Haiti, of Benin origin. I was especially impressed by Yonwalu. On the video, it is danced first at slower pace, with Wyoma breaking down the moves, then at the faster tempo.

The Healing Journey is some sort of free-style dance/meditation:

Bring your curiosity, freedom from judgement, and sense of play to the dance floor... Dance a dream or fantasy, or dance with no thought at all.
Oh, did I mention the open-air setting and live drumming? It’s all there too!

Finally, in the very end of a short cool-down, Wyoma encourages you to take whatever you’ve learned and share it with someone. Isn’t it wonderful?

African Healing Dance

  • Dance as a means of healing body, mind, and spirit
  • Body Isolations
  • Animal-based movement
  • Dance based on everyday movements
  • Dance based on the four elements
  • The warm-up
  • Traditional African Dances
    • Sowu — “The Dance of Life” (Ghana)
    • Gbêgbé — Journey to find a new home (The Ivory Coast)
    • Focodoba — Post-initiation basket dance (Guinea)
    • Umoya — Bringing energy from heaven and earth (South Africa)
  • African-Caribbean Dances
    • Nago — The warrior dance (Haiti)
    • Yonwalu — Dance for Damballa, the Serpent Deity (Haiti)
  • Improvisation: The Healing Journey
  • The cool down

The Dancers

  • Nii Armah Sowah
  • k. osiris wade
  • Lisa Wittner

The Drummers

  • Clifton Robinson
  • Heidi Alina
  • Eric Robnett
  • Saphyre

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Live at the Basement

by Jon Lord with The Hoochie Coochie Men

Oh Lord, what a band! And when I say “Oh Lord”, I refer to the great late Jon Lord. Of course, he was — and always will be — known as a founding member of Deep Purple as well as for his orchestral works. But among Lord’s later recordings, this double album is an underrated masterpiece. Lord is in top form here — just check his Hammond solo in Howlin’ Wolf’s Who’s Been Talkin’, also featuring Jim Conway on harmonica.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Ice Age 4: La formación de los continentes 3-D

a film by Steve Martino and Mike Thurmeier

Well, well, well. For a completely unnecessary sequel, this one is not that bad. Besides, I will always remember it as the first film watched in Spanish cinema. Naturally, in Spanish. Curiously, children understood the dialogue better than me. Maybe that’s because I stopped paying attention to the storyline quite early on. Or maybe it’s just how the things are.

Three years ago, I wrote about Ice Age 3:

It probably makes the best use of ‘3-D’ effect in animation I’ve seen so far.
And you know what, this was true for Ice Age 4 as well.

All in all, it was a nice evening out: first the movie, second our favourite sadwich bar in Puerto del Rosario, Mundotaberna. When I was about to pay the bill, Timur confessed that he forgot his bag (with a book, mobile and MP3 player inside) at the cinema. So Tamara and kids rushed back to the movie theatre. To everybody’s pleasant surprise, the bag was handed back instantly and without any questions. In the UK it would be either nicked or removed by the police and destroyed.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Fuerteventura en Música 2012

No, this is not Glastonbury, WOMAD or Cambridge Folk Festival. Although I never been to any of these myself, I am sure that Fuerteventura en Música festival is something else altogether, judging from the following:

  1. I was able to attend it
  2. It is a free event (no tickets)
  3. It was not raining
The festival is one of Fuerteventura’s many “best-kept secrets”. It’s not that anyone is paid to keep it secret, it’s just not publicised well. So, take a note: Fuerteventura en Música happens every year about this time in El Cotillo, on Playa de la Concha. It takes about quarter an hour to walk from the bus stop, and the stage is difficult to miss.

The first day, or should I say night, I came to El Cotillo with Yuri. Opening the festival were majorero sambistas Crazy Drummers, drumming crazily all way from the beach and finishing in front of the main (and only) stage. The first band on stage was a rock trio Electrolapas, also from Fuerte. Afterwards, Yuri said that he enjoyed this band the most.

The programme continued with Senegalese-Canarian reggae outfit Nayaband. That was my favourite band of the evening. I love African music and dance, and Nayaband provided the treat.

Cuban Chila Lynn has great voice, and her piano playing is not bad either. It’s just not the kind of music I like to listen to: well-crafted, commerical-sounding neo-soul sounded out of place here, and the (lack of) public reaction confirmed that.

We went to catch the midnight bus to Corralejo. Special bus services were organised, departing to Corralejo and Puerto del Rosario from Campo de Fútbol, about 20 minute walk from Playa de La Concha. Five or six policemen were busy diverting traffic in the centre of the village. I asked them where exactly the bus stop was. They assured me that at this time there are no buses to Corralejo or anywhere and suggested to take taxi. Thinking that this is just another manifestation of the festival best-kept-secretness, we went to the bus stop opposite of the Campo de Fútbol and found there two ladies waiting. The bus duly arrived and departed exactly on-time.

On Saturday, all four of us went to El Cotillo. The second evening kicked off with Los Jables del Timple, the majorero jazz-funk band featuring the timple virtuoso Althay Páez, pianist Domingo Saavedra, bassist Carlos Cabrera and drummer Leo Olivares. I was considerably less impressed by Marujita, maybe because of their singer’s voice. Once the band was playing an instrumental, with Althay Páez joining on timple, it started to sound much better.

They were followed by the Belgians Krema Kawa — kind of Manu Chao meets Gogol Bordello uptempo reggae-ska-gypsy-Afrobeat fusion, very energetic and danceable. (By that time, Tamara and kids left, first to look for more civilised cafeteria and then for bus.) I would enjoy Kawa even more if not for annoying branding (I mean, we got the message, no need to repeat the band’s name ad nauseam).

Both nights, Guatemalan DJ Meneo was filling the gaps between the acts with electronica ranging from mildly amusing to mildly irritating, but never really good. Even so, some people were spotted dancing to it while the others made their way to the refreshment stalls. I wish these breaks were shorter though.

The last band I saw were my copyleft heroes Canteca de Macao. No gimmicks, no chitchat, no pauses, just pure music from start to finish the moment I, sadly, had to leave to catch the 1:30 bus (and if I didn’t, I would have to wait until 4:30 am). I hope to see their performance in full another time.

Even though by now we know that one can rely on buses, next time I would prefer to stay in El Cotillo for both nights. I like the idea of camping on the beach (didn’t like the act, went to the tent) but I also need little luxuries such as proper bathroom. Well, I have a year to sort the accommodation out.

More photos of El Cotillo @ Shutterstock.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

a film by Guy Ritchie

Sequels are rarely better than originals, and A Game of Shadows is not an exception.

Debit

  1. Holmes does not do much “deducing”
  2. An embarrassingly long list of anachronisms
  3. Unimpressive Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris)
  4. Schubert

Credit

  1. If in the first movie the slow-motion fight scenes were explaining exactly what is going to happen, here the “reality” goes not as expected — I quite like that
  2. Sherlock’s disguises are getting even more hilarious
  3. Stephen Fry as Mycroft “the other” Holmes (“You mean there’s two of you?”) is simply brilliant
  4. Gypsy music!

All in all, it still makes a damn good viewing. Good night.