It took me a couple of songs to warm to UKanDanz, with its raucous collision of high-pitched, passionate Ethiopian melisma and hard-charging rock. But vocalist Asnaqé Guèbrèyès served as a magnetic center to keep all the components from flying off in different directions. After awhile, it just worked.
|Oumar Konate (photo by Darial Sneed)|
I stayed for only half of the last set--Yemen Blues, fronted by an electrifying Israeli-Yemenite vocalist, Ravid Kahalani--but I was glad to hear that much.
|Ravid Kahalani (photo by Darial Sneed)|
These musicians play trombone, trumpet, flute, viola, cello, violin, oud, gimbri, percussion and keyboards. I hear blues, funk, North and West African rhythms and Latin jazz influences threaded through the fabric, a big, colorful, sophisticated sound, powerful enough to rattle your chest. Kahalani's sexy exuberance carries the Life Force; in fact, his first utterance, upon taking the stage, was to cry "Adonai!!!" Audience members flocked to empty spaces near the stage to sway and dance in complete enchantment. All in all, a sensational night at Lincoln Center.
Here's a taste of Yemen Blues from a 2010 trailer: