SARA TAVARES / “Guisa”
We featured both Sara Tavares and Mart’nalia before (click on their names to read their earlier BoL postings). Consider this a quick update. Mart’nalia’s deep voice arouses me from the inside out. Meaning, I feel her sound pulsating like a rumbling bass note. She has a new combination DVD/CD release recorded in Berlin, Germany in August 2007 (Martnalia Em Berlim ao Vivo). I have seen a clip from the performance but I only have a download of the show, so I can only respond to what I hear. This performance was basically songs from Mart’nalia’s last album. I picked three of them for the jukebox, but the whole release is in this soft sensual samba vein, a vein I find particularly attractive. Samba is dance music, heavily percussive, often performed in the streets with sometimes hundreds of people drumming, singing and dancing. It’s generally a bit more raucous than Mart’nalia’s style. Mart’nalia is the daughter of one of the major composers and performers of modern samba, Martinho da Vila, and in that regard is a genuine torch bearer for this music. Sara Tavares is one of my favorite singers and songwriters period, no qualifications. Sara’s three selections are from a recent (January 2007) appearance at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC. It's a quiet quartet with Sara on acoustic rhythm guitar, along with an electric lead guitar, electric bass, and a trap drummer/percussionist. Her music is very feminine in that even when they are grooving hard there is a lilt, an easy and fluid motion inherent in the beat. When I watched the performance, Sara’s movement struck me immediately. Even though she performed all but the last song sitting on a stool, her legs crossed, her guitar in her lap, you could nevertheless see her shoulder, her head, her foot moving, often independently, her whole body dancing poly-rhythmically. I really enjoyed her dance. Listening to Sara, I was impressed with her scatting ability. She has a voice that is both angelic and surprisingly agile. Sara starts off “Bom Feeling” singing along with a tape and then the sound person loops the opening and Sara improvises a layer atop the opening riff. The song then goes through two more major changes each with a distinctive rhythm emphasis. This is also the song on which she stretches out with her scatting. At the end of the song they go into a train rhythm. Sara is a very good guitarist and contributes instrumentally as well as vocally to the overall sound. It’s beautiful. The featured song, “Guisa,” is a lament and Sara goes all out in plummeting the feelings of loss that are the theme of the song. Fortunately the whole hour long concert is available as a streaming video. Go here to view Sara’s performance. Both Mart’nalia and Sara Tavares are making modern acoustic music. In the USA, our contemporary music is seldom acoustic, but throughout the rest of the diaspora and certainly on the continent, the majority of our music is made with acoustic instruments and lightly amplified electric instruments. The acoustic guitar is generally the main instrument supported by hand percussion. Acoustic-based music is very different from most of what we hear on the radio and in the clubs. Judging solely by our urban conditions, we might be led to believe that acoustic music is passé, but the fact is, acoustic music is the majority of black music. It’s all part of the family and as such we need to get to intimately know our acoustic siblings. —Kalamu ya Salaam A lot of substance As I said before, I like both of these young singers a lot. Funny story. I usually burn Kalamu's sections on a CD and listen to them during the week. But because both of these were live recordings, I didn't initially know I was listening to different concerts. I'd hear the Mart'nalia and think, "Wow, Sara's Portuguese is really good." I'd hear Sara and wonder if Mart'nalia had suddenly developed a great falsetto. In other words, I didn't know which was which but I thought I had to be listening to only one of them. In the end, I like some of both. They're both very gifted singers and performers. What I like most about them both is their genuine enthusiasm. They sound happy. —Mtume ya Salaam
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