Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Concert Review: Gaida at BAM Cafe, Brooklyn NY 5/7/10

Syrian/American chanteuse Gaida’s new album Levantine Indulgence made a big splash in Middle Eastern music circles when it came out in March. Last night’s show made believers out of a largely local crowd that didn’t know what to make of her for the first few songs, but by about halfway through she had them dancing, clapping along and responding with an uninhibited joy. She’s a star on the way up. Fairouz is her big influence, but like Fairouz she doesn’t limit herself to one style – she’s taking emotion-drenched Middle Eastern art-song and pushing the envelope with it. Backed by a shapeshifting sextet including jazzy pianist George Dulin, upright bassist Jennifer Vincent (also of Pam Fleming’s all-female quartet) and acoustic guitarist Arturo Martinez along with sensationally good oud, percussion and buzuq players, Gaida delivered the songs in a crystalline high soprano that ranged from disarmingly coy to wrenchingly intense.

They started out with a jazz feel, sort of a habibi blues with distant echoes of Fairouz, a pensive story of unrequited love backed by just piano, guitar and bass. Gaida brought in the whole band for a swaying version of the levantine bossa nova of Illak Shi, taking the first of several vocalese improvisations with a melismatic attack that was as nuanced as it was poignant and on this song, downright heartwrenching.

A slow buzuq taqsim led into the slinky levantine anthem Dream, another cut from the new album, followed by the sly, metaphorically laden Almaya, the tale of a guy following a girl carrying her full bucket home from the village well. A couple of the songs had distinct latin tinges: an old Lebanese number from 1950 featuring some eerie, distantly glimmering piano from Dulin that wound up with understated menace as the outro wound down to just piano and guitar, and a scurrying, tangoish shuffle featuring another intense vocalese interlude. They also debuted a hypnotic, pensive new song written in rehearsal a couple of days before, frenetic buzuq trading off artfully versus casually strummed guitar and then vice versa. They wound up the set on a high note with a brisk, bouncy Yemeni song, the serpentine, anthemic Ammar (another standout track on the new cd) and encored with a standard that made yet another showcase for Gaida’s matter-of-factly plaintive, resonant vocal presence.The crowd wanted more but didn’t get it – and then joined the line for the cd table.

May 8, 2010 Posted by | concert, Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews, world music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Top Ten Songs of the Week 5/4/09

We do this every week. You’ll see this week’s #1 song on our Best 100 songs of 2009 list at the end of December, along with maybe some of the rest of these too. This is strictly for fun – it’s Lucid Culture’s tribute to Kasey Kasem and a way to spread the word about some of the great music out there that’s too edgy for the corporate media and their imitators in the blogosphere. Every link here will take you to the song except for #1 which you’ll have to hear live on the 26th at the Rockwood!

 

1. Jenifer Jackson – Groundward

Brilliantly gloomy, pensive songcraft: “Yesterday the motion had no meaning, yesterday the seasons were careening…Summer rain is falling.” She’s at the Rockwood on 5/26 at 9.

 

2. Melissa McClelland – Passenger 24

Fearlessly snide ragtime from this Canadian chanteuse. She’s at Union Hall on 5/27.

 

3. Ron Miles – Since Forever

Absolutely gorgeous guitar-and-trumpet ballad. He’s at the Jazz Standard 5/26-27.

 

4. Damian Quinones – Shadow in the Sun

Sounds like the Zombies! He’s at Tillie’s in Ft. Greene on 5/29. 

 

5. Amy Speace – Haven’t Learned a Thing

Pretty devastating breakup song, in the Matt Keating vein. She’s at Symphony Space on 5/7 at 8:30ish.

 

6. Gaida – Indulgence

Absolutely exquisite Levantine epic by this Syrian-bred chanteuse. She’s at Bowery Poetry Club on 5/15.

 

7. Erin Regan – Building Jumper

Self-explanatory and solo acoustic – beautiful despite itself. She’s at Sidewalk on 5/12 at 10.

 

8. Jay Vilnai’s Vampire Suit – Space Oddity

Odd, all right – this is a gypsy Bowie. 

 

9. Bobtown – Take Me Down

Gothic acoustic Americana. O’Death only wish they were this good. They’re at Spikehill at 9 on 5/17.  

 

10. Spanking Charlene – Where Are the Freaks

Damn right, we wanna know. Oh, look, they’re back since all the tourists and trust fund kids got called home to mommy! At Lakeside on 5/16 at 11.

May 5, 2009 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment