Nomological Net

Stray thoughts from here and there. The occasional concern for construct validity. No more logic. Fish.


faults in the clouds of delusion

Friday, February 24, 2006

Culture Shock

Today's show was Salif Keita, "The Golden Voice of Africa". "Master of West African rhythms... world renowned for his unforgettable live performances, soaring vocals and his emotionally-fueled songs." "Keita's circle of musical collaborators have [sic] included jazz legends Joe Zawinul and Wayne Shorter; guitarists Carlos Santana and Vernon reid; and divas Grace Jones and Cesaria Evora."

Salif Keita is in his 60s. He was dressed in what could have passed for a crumpled white kurta-pyjama. His band consisted of drums, congas and assorted percussion (staff of 3), two guitars, bass, two female backup singers, and one 6 foot 6 inch gent whose job it was to appear every third song dressed in newer and fancier Afro-kitsch costume, to jump, gyrate, and thrash around the front of the stage.

The music was largely a bunch of singing laid over the type of rhythm section that normally gets described as "polyrhythmic", "infectious", and "soul-stirring". At times, it was very good. Too often, it was the same vamp over and over again, getting louder and faster on its way to the inevitable crescendo. The crowd loved it. Especially the costume guy jumping.

I thought the musicians were ace. Every solo was brilliant. There were so few of them. It was awful to have to strain to hear the bass solo over the howls of laughter provoked by the guy monkeying around to the music. Pelvic thrusts were in abundance, each one greeted with greater delight. I felt weird that the music had to be debased by the performance in such a way, but maybe I was missing a cultural link. It was good if you could overlook the monotony of the polyrhythm (ooh) as long as the eyes stayed closed. At the end half the crowd got invited onto the stage to wiggle their bottoms in the spotlight.

A friend I went with left the auditorium before the encore to go to the restroom. On his way back in, he passed two Brit matrons making their way out. Overheard, "This one is *all* my responsibility."


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