Capilano University's Fiona Black was lucky enough to visit New York recently, where she took in a performance by Banda Magda, coming to Vancouver Sunday January 29. Here are her thoughts.
I had the pleasure this month to experience a Banda Magda gig at Drom, a hip club in NYC’s East Village. I have seen an awful lot of ‘global’ music or world music as it’s more traditionally known and I have to say, what Banda Magda achieves is unique and original.
It used to be that world music came from a specific place or country, and the musical style was predictable and fairly homogenous. In today’s global world, such is not the case. Today’s global music scene reflects perfectly our diverse, multicultural world. Many bands are made up of members from various countries and traditions in addition to having the overarching influences of contemporary western music. Global acts are trying to bring all these elements together in a seamless fusion of styles and genres to achieve something wholly their own. Having heard many fusion acts, I believe that it’s a little hit and miss whether it really works. Sometimes, it feels like they are just working too damn hard to make it good.
Such is not the case with Banda Magda. The leader of the band, Greek-born Magda Giannikou, can actually sing in 6 languages, most prominently French, Spanish, Portuguese, English and Greek. Her band mates come from a mix of traditions from Japan to Argentina. What Magda achieves is a flawless fusion effortlessly going from French chanson to Brazilian rhythms to Greek folk tunes and pretty much everything in between. Her delivery is both understated and high octane, as her breathy vocals somehow belie the high energy and effervescent personality that is constantly on full boil. There is also a sense of child-like wonder that is simultaneous with her total command of what she is cooking up. You know that you’re in good hands with this band, and the journey is fun, refreshing and surprising at times.
Based in NYC, Magda has collaborated with Snarky Puppy, CK Lewis and Kronos Quartet. In addition to her touring career, she is well respected for her work in film scoring and composition. Not to mention, her prodigious chops on the accordion. All in all, you are in for a rollicking good time for Banda Magda’s upcoming show at St James on Sunday, Jan 29. This band can even make Vancouver’s damp cold seem like warm sunny skies.