Sahr Ngaujah inhabits the character of Fela Ankiulapo Kuti, backed up by five Queens and a super-hot big band. (Photos copyright 2010, Steven P. Marsh)
Cast of Broadway Afrobeat musical thrills crowd in free concert at St. Ann’s Warehouse
Sahr Ngaujah and the cast and band of the smash-hit Broadway musical Fela! didn’t let the rain dampen their spirits on Monday night, Oct. 4. And the appealing bunch didn’t even seem to be bothered that they were working on what would normally be their night off for the week, since Broadway theaters are dark on Mondays.
Fela! The Music of Fela Kuti, was a gift to Brooklyn and the city from St. Ann’s Warehouse, a cutting-edge performance organization in Dumbo. It was supposed to draw crowds to Brooklyn Bridge Park nearby, but the rains forced it inside the St. Ann’s space at 38 Water Street. The people at St. Ann’s handled the transition nicely, opening everything up quickly and accommodating a huge crowd with ease.
The show’s hot band and great Afrobeat dancers and backup singers — representing the many wives of Fela Anikulapo Kuti, the Nigerian creator of Afrobeat whose life story the musical tells in broad brushstrokes — locked in perfectly with Ngaujah to deliver 90 minutes of music.
Click through to the jump for more photos.
Posted in Concerts, Dance, Free, Music, Theater, World Music
Tagged Afrobeat, Broadway, Brooklyn, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Dumbo, Fela!, Sahr Ngaujah, St. Ann's Warehouse
Mikel Rouse, the Saint Louis-born composer who lives and works in NYC’s Hell’s Kitchen, probably is best-known for his multi-media operas, particularly his trilogy of Failing Kansas (1995), Dennis Cleveland (1996) and The End of Cinematics (2005). So it was a bit of a surprise to get a first peek at the songs for his latest show Gravity Radio, in a stripped-down concert format at Galapagos Art Space in the Dumbo section of Brooklyn on Oct. 23. (Sorry it took so long to post this!) It was a special CD release party that turned into a well-mannered, deeply affecting chamber-rock concert.
The CD is officially released this Tuesday, while the full-blown Gravity Radio show will go on tour starting in January, hitting New York at a yet-undetermined date.
The songs that make up Gravity Radio are interspersed with dialogue (read at Galapagos and on the CD by TONY nominated/OBIE Award winning actress Veanne Cox) ripped from the news of the day, touching on topics like Afghanistan, the tanking economy and such. (When the full-blown show hits the road, these news dispatches will be altered and updated with the news of the day).
Nadia Sirota performs OMFG with the composer, Our Lady J, on the piano at Galapagos last night. .
New Amsterdam Records has a reputation for taking risks with lesser-known cutting-edge musicians and giving them a chance to really shine. The label last night launched a new monthly series call Archipelago at Galapagos Art Space in the Dumbo section of Brooklyn. New Amsterdam tested the waters, so to speak, in the spring with a short series dubbed Undiscovered Islands. The new series ‘ name continues the water-land theme (appropriate at a venue where some of the seats appear to float in a pool of water).
There’s plenty of self-interest involved, as virtually all of the Archipelago performers are New Amsterdam artists. But because the label has such an interesting mix of talented performers, there’s little chance of a dud.
The series kicked off last night with a set by one of the label’s most inventive and skilled artists, violist Nadia Sirota, and the percussion quartet Line C3. The six-year-old quartet (Haruka Fujii, John Ostrowski, Eric Poland, and Chris Thompson) doesn’t appear to be on New Amsterdam’s roster — though I wouldn’t be surprised if that were in the works — and I was not familiar with them before last night.
The performers mixed it up, playing together and separately throughout the all-too-short program. Nadia kicked off the evening with the premiere of Future Shock by New Amsterdam co-director William Brittelle, a percolating blend of Nadia’s viola and electronics. Line C3 took the stage to perform a 2004 piece written for the quartet by Nico Muhly, Ta and Clap.
Line C3 performs Speak Softly by David T. Little.
Go to the jump to see Line C3’s video of Ta and Clap and read more about last night’s show. Continue reading
Posted in Contemporary Classical, Music
Tagged Carl Schimmel, Chris Thompson, David T. Little, Dumbo, Eric Poland, Galapagos Art Space, Haruka Fujii, iPhone, John Ostrowski, Line C3, Marcos Balter, Nadia Sirota, Nico Muhly, Our Lady J, William Brittelle