FallArtsPreview2016SQ

The advent of fall can feel like a door closing. Summer travel plans that came to naught get put on the shelf with a wistful sigh. Maybe next year. Fortunately, musicians tour for a living, and some of world’s most exciting recording artists are heading this way with sounds that can transport you as surely as a 747. Maybe you didn’t make it to Rio, Seville, or Timbuktu (or maybe you did, in which case you can torment us homebodies on Instagram). All the more reason to exult in music from redolent of distant lands.

Thomas Mapfumo, the patriarch of Chimurenga music, plays Ashkenaz on Sept. 15.
Thomas Mapfumo, the patriarch of Chimurenga music, plays Ashkenaz on Sept. 15. (Photo: Courtesy of the artist)

Thomas Mapfumo and Blacks Unlimited

Sept. 15
Ashkenaz, Berkeley
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The iconic Zimbabwean musician Thomas Mapfumo still lives in exile in Portland, Ore., while the dictator who chased him from home continues to wreak havoc on the benighted south African nation. Still, there’s no one better at Chimurenga music, the style he invented and popularized by transposed sacred Shona rhythms and cadences onto chiming electric guitars, which was a radical sound that came to fruition in the midst of the 1970s anti-colonial struggle that gave birth to Zimbabwe.

Cuban diva Omara Portuondo. Photo by Carlos Pericás.
Cuban diva Omara Portuondo. Photo by Carlos Pericás.

Omara Portuondo

Oct. 1
Bing Concert Hall, Stanford University
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Oct. 2
Weill Concert Hall, Sonoma State
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For her 85th birthday, the beguiling Cuban diva Omara Portuondo is touring with a glittering cast of special guests, including Cuban piano master Roberto Fonseca, Detroit-reared jazz violin star Regina Carter, and Israeli reed expert Anat Cohen. Drawing on a verdant trove of Latin Amerian standards she’s performed over the course of seven decades, Portuondo continues to make the most of a resurgence sparked by the various Buena Vista Social Club enterprises.

Emel Mathlouthi
Emel Mathlouthi

Emel Mathlouthi

Oct. 5
Bing Concert Hall, Stanford University
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One of the most outstanding musicians to emerge out of the wreckage of the Arab Spring, Tunisian singer/songwriter Emel Mathlouthi embodies the defiance, hope, and flickering flame of democracy sparked by the 2010 protests in her country. Delivering her clarion vocals over a mix of North African rythyms and electronic beats, Mathlouthi is getting set to release her second album, a collaboration with Tunisia’s Amine Metani and Iceland’s Valgeir Sigurðsson, who has worked with Björk collaborator.

Luisa Maita
Luisa Maita

Luisa Maita

Oct. 10
Yoshi’s, Oakland
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When Luisa Maita last performed in the Bay Area some four years ago she was riding high from the release of her hit debut album “Lero-Lero” (Cumbancha Discovery), which earned her the equivalent of the coveted Best New Artist Grammy Award at the 22nd Annual Brazilian Music Awards. The scion of a celebrated musical clan from São Paulo, she returns with a sensuous follow up, Fio da Memóri (Cumbancha), a beguiling blend of Brazilian pop styles.

Ensemble Basiani
Ensemble Basiani

Ensemble Basiani

Oct. 16
Bing Concert Hall, Stanford University
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Oct. 21
First Congregational Church, UC Berkeley
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A 14-member all-male choir from Georgia, Ensemble Basiani rigorously researches and breathes life back into folk songs, monastic chants, epic ballads and traditional hymns from the ancient Caucauses. With striking polyphony and harmonies can sound otherworldly to North American ears, this music embodies an embattled nation still struggling to define itself in the post-Soviet era.

Tomatito. Photo by Ana Palma.
Tomatito. Photo by Ana Palma.

Tomatito Sextet

Oct. 22
Herbst Theater, San Francisco
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Oct. 23
Weill Hall, Green Music Center, Sonoma
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A protégé of Paco de Lucia who proved his mettle as a dazzling accompanist to legendary flamenco singer Camarón de la Isla, Tomatito (aka José Fernández Torres) has earned his status as flamenco’s preeminent guitarist. Featuring second guitarist José del Tomate, percussionist Israel “Piraña” Suárez, dancer José Maya, and Kiki Cortiñas and Morenito de Illora on vocals and palmas, his sextet is a  pure shot of Andalucian soul.

Mariza
Mariza (Photo" Courtesy of World Connection)

Mariza

Oct. 27-30
SFJAZZ Center, San Francisco
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Growing up in Lisbon’s tradition-bound Mouraria neighborhood, Mariza was weaned on fado at her parents cantina, and she started singing at the age of five, earning the nickname “The Little Bird.” A leading force in the fado revival, she’s an innovator steeped in the music’s history with a throaty voice that can comand a hall without a microphone. Commissioning new material setting contemporary Portuegese poetry to music, she’s a captivating presence as she stalks the stage, passionately delivering songs about the vicisstudes of fate, love, and loss.

Seu Jorge plays Bowie.
Seu Jorge plays Bowie.

Seu Jorge

Nov. 25
The Regency Ballroom, San Francisco
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Brazilian singer/songwriter Seu Jorge made an indelible impression in Wes Anderson’s 2004 film “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou” as a shipmate crooning David Bowie tunes in Portuguese with a gentle samba groove. He returns to this felicitous pairing on his tour A Life Aquatic – A Tribute to David Bowie, a production complete with a stage designed like a film set, including boat sails serving as screens for video projection.

Trio da Kali perform on a double bill Afropop Spectacular with Ethiopian vocal legend Mahmoud Ahmed.
Trio da Kali perform on a double bill Afropop Spectacular with Ethiopian vocal legend Mahmoud Ahmed.

Afropop Spectacular: Mahmoud Ahmed & Trio da Kali

Nov. 4
Zellerbach Hall, UC Berkeley
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Don’t let the program’s anodyne title dissuade you. A key figure in the 1970s flowering of Ethiopian pop music, vocalist Mahmoud Ahmed is an international star who has forged deep ties with an array of American musicians. Still a force at 75, he’s a dynamo on stage with a vast catalog of memorable songs. Hailing from Mali, Trio da Kali made their Bay Area debut two years ago as part of Kronos Quartet’s 40th anniversary celebration. Born into hereditary roles as purveyors of Mande culture, the group features powerhouse vocalist Hawa Kasse Mady Diabaté (daughter of storied griot Kasse Mady Diabaté), Toumani Diabaté balafonist Lassana Diabaté, and Mamadou Kouyaté, the eldest son of the renowned Bassekou Kouyaté, on bass ngoni.

The Cuband plays Oakland's Caña Cuban Parlor and Café every Sunday.
The Cuband plays Oakland’s Caña Cuban Parlor and Café every Sunday.

The Cuband

Sundays afternoons
Caña Cuban Parlor and Café, Oakland
Tickets and Information

One of the only Bay Area ensembles made up entirely of Cuban musicians, the Cuband knows how to get dancers moving, but this rising ensemble is honing a sound that also rewards close listening. Directed by pianist/arranger Eduardo Corzo, the group draws on rumba and Latin jazz, reggae and son, blues, funk, and rock.

We Are the World: International Music in the Fall 14 September,2016Andrew Gilbert

Author

Andrew Gilbert

A Los Angeles native based in the Berkeley area since 1996, Andrew Gilbert covers jazz, international music and dance for KQED’s California Report, the Mercury News, San Francisco Chronicle, Berkeleyside.com, and other publications. He is available for weddings and bar and bat mitzvahs. #jazzscribe

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