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July 09, 2009

Cape Verde: The Virtuoso Islands

by John Oseid

Cape Verde's musical innovators just keep on coming. Last year, I introduced you to Mayra Andrade and Tcheka. Now, another young Cape Verdean has a brilliant new album out.

Lisbon-born Lura sings in a variety of the islands' many styles on her new album, Eclipse. The jazzy, R&B-inflected "Quebród nem Djosa" (Poor as a Church Mouse), in the video above, differs greatly from up-tempo funaná songs like "Nha Nha Rubera" (In My Valley). The latter features the renowned Malagasy accordionist Régis Gizavo, as does the ballad "Marinhêro" (Sailor). Here's a nice clip of Lura performing it in the studio.

"Tabanka" has a sprightly spoken word rhythm to it. The nostalgic title track was written by top Cape Verdean lyricist B. Leza while "Cantá um Tango" is a gorgeous piece co-written by the guitarist Teofilo Chantre.

"A caramel-skinned beauty with a blond Afro the radius of a mushroom cloud, writes George Rush in his July Condé Nast Traveler article "Verde Vibes." The beauty he describes is the singer Fantcha.

Protégée of the great Cesária Évora, the NYC-based Fantcha is--full disclosure here--a dear friend of mine. The other day I had the pleasure of a sneak preview of her lovely new album Amor, Mar e Musica, in which she's joined by other Cape Verdean musical heavyweights in Rush's story, like Paulino Vieira and Rufino Almeida (a.k.a. Bau). I'll bring you more when the album is available here; in the meantime, get familiar with Fantcha.

More music:
* Lura's tour of the States starts tonight in Chicago's Millennium Park at the Frank Gehry-designed Jay Pritzker Pavilion. I'll be seeing her at the finale on July 21 at NYC's new downtown City Winery.
* This summer New York's Museum of Modern Art stays open late with the music series called MoMA Thursday Nights. Concerts will be held in the Sculpture Garden, with two sets a night of Brazilian music in July and Chinese in August. Look out too for the museum's Premiere Brazil 2009 film series.
* Wikipedia's entry on the music of Cape Verde
* Boom Box: An unabashed gusto for music of the world



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