The TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival is justifiably celebrated for the breadth of its programming. There’s literally something for everyone, including music from many cultures, presented in a variety spaces, for Vancouver’s diverse audiences.
If you want to try something new, learn something about your fellow humans, and experience the world through music, think about taking a trip around the world and checking out these shows, all without leaving Vancouver.
Do you like your travel hot and sweaty? Get ready for Antibalas. Born in a Brooklyn warehouse, but with ancestry that traces back to Fela Kuti’s legendary Afrika Shrine club in Lagos, Nigeria, Antibalas’ Afrobeat wig-outs are legendary.
With Nigerian harmonies and heavy drumbeats, elements of Ghanaian highlife, including a killer horn section; and a crazy-tight vibe honed through their time as the pit band for Fela! The Musical and years of touring, Antibalas concerts are the ultimate sweaty dance parties, with a side of social consciousness. They were frequent flyers at the TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival, and we’re so happy to have them back. By the way, we’ve set up the Vogue with a big dance floor, so no worries about staying in your seat.
Just in case you were wondering, every day at the Jazz Festival is like this NPR Tiny Desk Concert:
Here’s a concert-length video from the Primavera festival in Barcelona. It’ s cookin’:
Antibalas plays June 23 at the Vogue @ 8PM
Now we’re off to the Czech Republic with Dálava. Vocalist Julia Ulehla and guitarist Aram Bajakian put a contemporary improv spin on traditional Moravian folk tunes adapted from transcriptons that Ulehla’s botanist/ethnomusicologist grandfather made over 100 years ago. Their Songlines recording, Book of Transfigurations, “… both chilled and thrilled [me] by the fusion of avant-garde, ancient, and progressive musics… a masterpiece.” (Mark S. Tucker, Folk and Acoustic Music Exchange).
Here Julia and Aram talk about Czech music at the Czech Music Crossroads, October 2016:
Dálava have been playing a ton of shows around town after relocating from NYC so Julia can work on her PhD in this music. The lineup for this performance includes local heavies Dylan van der Schyff (percussion), Peggy Lee (cello), and Colin Cowan (bass.) This could be the sleeper show of the Ironworks series. As our Facebook friend La Vida says, “Discovering this group was today's gift. The purity of anger, of seeking, of breaking through the bones of the earth like rivers and fires. I felt so free through the voice and music, like I could finally be one with the air. Please please please don't miss them next time.”
Dálava plays Ironworks June 23 @9:30pm
Les Filles de Illighadad
From the Czech Republic, it’s back to Africa where you’ll travel to the Sahel, the transition region between the harsh Saharan desert and the more forgiving southern savannah. Fatou Seidi Ghali is a West African guitar pioneer from Illighadad, a small scrubland village in the desert country of Central Niger—and she is one of only two known Tuareg women guitarists in that country. She and her cousin, Alamnou Akrouni, are Les Filles de Illighadad, who in 2016 released a six-song, self-titled LP.
The distinctive sound of Tuareg guitar came to global attention in 2011, when the Malian band Tinariwen won a Grammy for Best World Music Album.
Since Tinariwen, the sound has become more familiar to Western audiences, but Les Filles also play tende—the name for the traditional water drum, the rhythm, the style of music, and the community events like curing ceremonies, camel festivals, and evening village entertainments where music takes place. A tende drum is made of mortar and pestles with a goat skin stretched over the top, and participants sing, recite poetry, dance, and clap along to the drum.
For their tour, they’re joined by a third fille, who plays tende. Here they are live in Utrecht.
Les Filles de Illighadad play June 24 at Downtown Jazz at 2:15pm
Your journey continues in what’s really sort of a very fancy airport lounge full of extremely talented people.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that everyone loves Snarky Puppy, and this project by Puppy founder, bassist, and mover and shaker Michael League brings together League on guitar, the mighty Pup’s two other guitarists (Chris McQueen and Bob Lanzetti), pedal and lap steel virtuoso Roosevelt Collier, and international percussion smorgasbord of Jamey Haddad (Paul Simon and Sting), André Ferrari, from the Swedish band Väsen, and Keita Ogawa, who Vancouver last saw with Banda Magda in the spring.
To this intergenerational, intercultural mix, League has added vocalist Malika Tirolien, a native of the Caribbean island of Guadaloupe who now resides in Montreal. She sings in Creole, the language she grew up speaking, and the effect is hypnotic but strangely universal. Bokanté means “exchange” in that language, and the spirit of musical exchange is apparent,
Check out Nou Tout Sé Yonn from their new album Strange Circles:
Bokanté plays June 27 at the Vogue @ 8pm
No trip around the world is complete without a trip to tropical jammin' Jamaica. The tiny nation has wielded enormous influence over music and popular culture; no native more influential than Bob Marley. The iconic Rasta’s web site officially acknowledges 11 kids (of whom seven are musicians), but the spirit of Bob is most fully embodied in David “Ziggy” Marley.
His self-titled album dropped in May, and the first single, “Marijuanaman”, is sure to become a 4:20 anthem.
But listen carefully: behind the Rasta aesthetic beloved of stoners everywhere, Ziggy is a serious activist. He and his siblings founded "Unlimited Resources Giving Enlightenment," or URGE, a nonprofit organization that works to promote welfare and poverty reduction in Jamaica, Haiti, Africa, and among the poor in the US. His optimistic message of social change makes his concerts inspiring, mellow love fests, perfect for the summer vibe as this live clip of “Fly Rasta” shows.