Friday, 2 October 2009

Blaze memoirs

I know Blaze has been over for 2 good months now, and there isn't much of a point in writing this post - but maybe this is just about the time it takes to recover from the breathtaking performance David Byrn donated to us during this year's closing event on August 3rd!

Truth is that we have been head down into the Autumn season, and now already starting to think about the next Blaze, even though it's not even Christmas yet! Thinking about it brings back a bit of melancholy - most of all about the dancing outdoors and in the Barbican Hall, and a summer that is now definitely over. Good times... hehe!

OK, too much? I know, I know... And - to be honest - we are not really sad about anything, since we've been kept warm by a phantasmagoric kick start of the Autumn, with Orchestre Poly Rythmo, Paban Das Baul, Neko Case and very soon Magma + JP Massiera & Chrome Hoof!!

But for the nostalgic hearts, here's a freshly edited video of our free event in Gillett Square on June 27th (don't believe the date on the video, I'm pretty sure it wasn't July - I was there!!). It had never been so hot and sunny in Dalston - and check out the tropical storm in the end!! The magic of Cuba!

Thanks Rachel for shooting and editing it! Enjoy...

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, Dhoad Gypsies of Rajasthan and Kasai Allstars at the Barbican, 26/07/09

'I’ve been told by a few people who don’t live here that “London is no place to bring up children”, which has always struck me as an odd thing to say. The park? The zoo? The river? The lido? For a start, If I’d had those things as a child, and the weather to enjoy them, I’d probably not be the sort of person who wastes his time indoors pontificating on the internet about what people with children do when I don’t have any of my own. And then there is the Barbican. This weekend was one of their “Do Something Different” affairs, with all sorts of events taking place throughout the building, from sandpits to walks to butterfly-making to energetic world music concerts on the free stage. I was more than a little jealous of all those little ones who were being introduced to hip-hop trumpet troupes and goggling at Indian fire-eaters, and the gleeful look on their faces would probably be a far better review than you’ll find here.'
From mapsadaisical's blog. Click here to keep reading this interesting report about our Do Something Different weekend.

Monday, 27 July 2009

How to conduct yourself at the Barbican...

Where were you last Saturday night? Dancing on seats and in the aisles in the Barbican Hall? Well, that has been a recurrent image throughout the whole of Blaze, and we are really happy about it! It just demonstrates that we deliver, since we have always said that Blaze was a music festival for the heart and for the feet.

And if you weren't there, you can find some cool images of Antibalas Saturday night on Akin Aworan's blog (that's where I found the photo above). And, please, keep dancing your way to the Barbican! The ushers are now pretty used to it.


Thursday, 23 July 2009

Fairport Convention celebration video!

For those of us not fortunate enough to be at the Fairport celebration at the Barbican, here's the video of the encore with Richard Thompson, a chilly looking Linda Thompson and Teddy and Kamila Thompson in tow as well. Thanks to The Word!


Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Witchseason Weekender review AKA Bring the Sixties back!

Here's a really nice review of the Witchseason Weekender (Sat 18th and Sun 19th) by BazzFazz - Rants on politics, culture, whatever, from an American in London.

Meet on the Ledge

So a hippy-dippy weekend at the Barbican, organized by Joe Boyd, who produced a whole lot of important albbums in the late 1960s and early 1970s. (Read his book
White Bicyles for an entertaining history of this era.) So we had Fairport Convention Saturday night, and The Incredible String Band last night. Well, not everyone--for obvious reasons, Sandy Denny and Martin Lamble were unable to attend, and Dave Swarbrick apparently chose not to Saturday, as did Robin Williamson Sunday. Still, a pretty remarkable evening both times.

Click here to read the rest of the article. We particularly love the bit regarding the audience!

Another 4 *review from the Guardian!

L'Orchestra Di Piazza Vittorio did an amazing performance indeed, last Friday 17th July.
And The Guardian awarded them with a brilliant 4-star review!

If you missed it, here it is:

By John L Walters

It is the perfect way to introduce audiences to a new band: screen a heartwarming full-length movie about them first. When the Orchestra di Piazza Vittorio troop on afterwards for their UK debut, the audience greet them like old friends.

Back in 2001, pianist Mario Tronco decided to form a world music orchestra. Film-maker Agostino Ferrente follows Tronco as he goes on a mission to recruit musicians in Rome's multicultural Esquilino district. Argentine percussionist Raul "Cuervo" Scebba, based in a lock-up garage, gets it straight away: "You mean like the Blues Brothers," he says with a smile.

But the film is closer in tone to The Commitments, as we encounter some great characters: charming Senegalese percussionist Pap; charismatic Tunisian singer Houcine Ataa; Carlos Paz, who we see playing Andean flutes for tourists. Against all odds – indifference, language barriers, money troubles, Italian bureaucracy – the orchestra give their first concert late in 2002. It is hard not to shed a tear as more than a dozen nationalities and languages unite in music.

Read the whole review here.

Antibalas On Saturday

Here's a beautiful video of Antibalas rehearsing for their tour as posted by our friend Put Me On It.

Click here to read the rest of the article!

And don't miss Antibalas with Gangbe Brass Band this Saturday 25th at the Barbican!

Monday, 20 July 2009

5* Evening Standard review - Hitting the high notes in Nina Simone tribute

Truth is a commodity in short supply these days, which might explain why a capacity crowd, and one with more black and female faces than usual, beat a rainy path to the Barbican last night.

Clearly everybody misses Nina Simone, not least the vocal stars who assembled at the Barbican to pay homage to her.

For what other project would Dianne Reeves, Lizz Wright, Angelique Kidjo and Nina's daughter, Lisa Simone Kelly, be happy to tour with equal billing and stage-time?

Keep reading the 5-star review by Jack Massarik on the Evening Standard online edition, 17 Jul.


Spell "Joy" in all the languages of the world

A joyful evening indeed. Smiles and strangers dancing with each others filled the Barbican Hall Friday night, for one of the most incredible music experiences I had the privilege to witness in years! And, yes, I was in the dancing as well - everyone was!

Mozart with a touch of African drums? The steady sea breeze of a summer night in Tunis brings Cuban tunes, Brazilian laughters and clapping hands from the streets to your ears. But this image is not enough to describe the new kind of "global music" the Orchestra di Piazza Vittorio tours all over the world, with a suitcase full of rumba, Mediterranean flavours, Northern African disco, South American melancholy and... Mozart!!!

While we wait for some reviews of the concert, here's a good piece by John Hooper @ Guardian Online. Mr Hooper met up with Mario Tronco- the director of the Orchestra - and his wife in Rome, to find out a little more about the inspiring story behind this project.

Here are also 3 minutes of John Hooper at their rehearsal studio in Rome, if you want to have a better idea of what I'm talking about - John Hooper at the rehearsal studio.

Hope to see you all this weekend at the Do Something Different Weekend, to be blown away by some more surprising music by Brooklyn-based Antibalas, Benin's Gangbe Brass Band, Brazil's Spok Frevo Orchestra and Congo's Kasai Allstars.

It's going to be pure fun for adults and kids alike!


Friday, 17 July 2009

Season of the Witch

Do Something Different is a weekly show produced by The Barbican, broadcasting every Tuesday between 6:30 and 7:30pm.

In anticipation of the forthcoming Witchseason Weekender at the Barbican (July 18 – 19th) today’s edition of Do Something Different, hosted by writer and record producer Joe Boyd, provides an overview of the legendary Witchseason label.

Curated by Boyd himself, the Witchseason Weekender is a reminder of the vitality and relevance of the scene which produced Nick Drake, Sandy Denny and Fotheringay, Fairport Convention, the Incredible String Band and the UFO club.

Click here to download Joe Boyd show on Resonance FM on Tue 14 Jul.

Featuring concerts, film screenings and much else, to find out more about the Witchseason Weekender click here

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

In a Changing Italy, a Band With a Multicultural Face

ROME - The other night, when it seemed as if everybody was on the street sweating off the late summer heat, a young, smart-looking crowd filed through a fog of cigarette smoke into the Teatro dell’Opera to hear a small orchestra of fellow Romans play the overture from Mozart’s “Magic Flute.”

That doesn’t sound remarkable, but then Sanjay Kansa Banik got the ball rolling on the tabla with a long, mesmerizing solo of quickening tempo, which segued into a virtuoso turn by Dialy Mady Sissoko on the oud, to the accompaniment of a viola and violin.

The Orchestra di Piazza Vittorio, as it’s called, is made up mostly of immigrants living in Rome. An immigrant band wouldn’t raise an eyebrow in the United States, but it does in Europe, especially in Italy, where periodically some local arts star bemoans the country’s insularity and its resulting moribund culture.

Read the full article on the New York Times website.

The Orchestra di Piazza Vittorio is playing in the Barbican Hall on Friday 17 July. Click here for more info.


LIVE: Hiromi/ Postma/Allen/Herman (Barbican)

Hey, last Saturday we had another great show provided by a trio of up-and-coming jazz musicisans a their Barbican debut.
I am talking about Hiromi + Yaron Herman Trio + Tineke Postma Quartet for the few of you that still don't know...

Here is a very cool review from LondonJazz (and if they say so, you'd better believe it!)

Hiromi is an explosive small package. She bounced onto the Barbican stage last night in a flowery summer dress, a pair of shiny black pedal-pushers, and silver trainers. Just turned 30, she affects the insouciant, elfin demeanour of a teenager. Her piano technique is ferocious, her musicianship is a highly variegated and developed craft. But she also knows precisely how to captivate the crowd with showmanship and mile-wide smiles, just like Earl Hines used to do. Plus she has the added advantages of astonishing energy and a dancer's physicality. Hiromi's joyously engaging solo set was the centre-piece of last night’s triple bill in the Barbican, part of the summer Blaze Festival, a co-promotion by the Barbican and Serious with support from Create09.

To read the full reveiw, please visit LondonJazz blog.

Monday, 13 July 2009

Sing the Truth

Atlanta singer Lizz Wright's calm authority, technical elegance and cool sophistication as a jazz vocalist can make you forget how deep her roots in church music go. But in live performance, those qualities reverberate around a room like the boom of an organ. Church minister's daughter Wright is a natural choice to sing on the Barbican's tribute to Nina Simone, on a bill shared with the operatic vocalist Dianne Reeves, with West African singer Angelique Kidjo and Simone's daughter, who has recently released the big-band tribute album Simone On Simone.

From KK & R Music Blog.

Nina Simone Tribute @ Barbican Hall, Thu 16 Jul, 7.30pm. Almost sold-out. Book Now!


When folk was hip - Guardian feature by Joe Boyd

Rock'n'roll was once a working-class occupation. Elvis Presley, Little Richard, Billy Fury and Johnny Hallyday saw music as a way out and up, like sport, hell-fire preaching or trade union politics. That Fury and Hallyday didn't grow up picking cotton or shining shoes mattered very little. They weren't students of the music, but clung to it as unselfconsciously and with the same desperate energy as their mass audiences.

Bob Dylan is credited with many revolutionary acts: bringing eloquently passionate politics into folk music; turning Brando and Dean's rejectionist sneers into musical notes; plugging his bardic songwriter aesthetic into an electric amp and thereby changing the world. But what is rarely mentioned is the way he (with help from Mick Jagger) brought the middle classes into the heart of popular culture.

Read the full article here.

Witchseason Weekender @ the Barbican this coming weekend (18-19 Jul), with screenings of cult documentaries such as Vashti Bunyan: From Here to Before, Witchseason on Film (Double Bill) and live performances by Fairport Convention and Very Cellular Songs: Incredible String Band featuring Mike Heron and Clive Palmer, Richard Thompson, Danny Thompson, Alasdair Roberts, Trembling Bells, Dr Strangely Strange & Robyn Hitchcock.


Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Images of David Sanborn and YolanDa Brown @ Barbican Hall

Images by Akin Aworan from the Thu 2 July gig here in the Barbican Hall.

Check out also Akin's full hearted review of the concert.

'The first time I heard of David Sanborn was his collaboration with Bob James on their 1986 Double Vision album. The track that blew me away was “Maputo”. I’m not much of a Sax fan, (Thank you very much, Kenny G!) but David S is one of the few musicians out there that I really appreciate as a saxophonist. And who can forget his playing on all of the ‘Lethal Weapon’ Series? (Although, I have to say Part 4 sucked! There! I said it!!)'.

Here for more!

As in the Guardian 4-star review about the concert, the surprise of the night was YolanDa Brown - 'a very, very talented saxophone player who played with finess, vigour and sassiness.'

Check the Blaze programme for more.

Ute Lemper interview and live performance on BBC3 - Listen here

BBC Radio 3's In tune with Petroc Trelawny aired an interview and live performance of Ute Lemper on July 3rd.

Listen to it again with the BBC iPlayer, here.

Important notice for tomorrow

Due to illness of one of their members, Medeski Martin & Wood have unfortunately had to cancel their tour dates in Europe.

This means they won't be able to perform tomorrow 8th July with The Claudia Quintet and Get the Blessing.

We are offering a full refund on tickets , but do encourage you to come to the Barbican on the night as Get The Blessing and Claudia Quintet will still go ahead on the FreeStage in the foyer as follows:

Get The Blessing
Bristol’s nu-jazz/ experimental quartet and BBC Jazz Awards 'Best Album' winners (2008) are one of ‘Britain's most exciting new bands' Telegraph

Claudia Quintet
Drummer John Hollenbeck's eclectic Claudia Quintet, featuring fellow New York luminaries bassist Trevor Dunn and saxophonist Chris Speed range through free-jazz, Steve Reich-like minimalism and polyrhythmic patterns to post-bop.

More info on tickets refunds here.

We hope to see you there!


New Myspace Profile

We are very excited to announce that the Barbican Contemporary Music has got a brand new Myspace Music profile!

Visit the new page here, where you can pre-listen to the tracks from the artists that will perform at the Barbican, have a complete overview of the program and visit the bands and musicians' own Myspace page (following the links).

And don't forget adding us as your friend, so you will be
able to take part at the latest offers exclusive to our Myspace friends!


Monday, 6 July 2009

Café de Los Maestros - The Barbican, London June 26th 2009

If you missed it, here's an extract from A World Of Music review of Cafe De Los Maestros, last 26th June at The Barbican! Thanks Con!

Bajofondo Tango Club’s Gustavo Santaolalla did a sterling job of bringing together many of the survivors from the great tango era of the mid-20th century on a double CD and film last year, and the whole enterprise was brought to gripping and emotional life on the ensemble’s British debut as part of the
Barbican's Blaze summer season.

Read the rest of the article here!


Guardian Guide Jazz preview: Medeski, Martin & Wood/Claudia Quintet

'The words "jam band" and "funk" spring to everybody's lips at the mention of the New York trio formed in 1991 by keyboardist John Medeski, with drummer Billy Martin and bassist Chris Wood, but those descriptions barely touch the surface.'

Click here to read the full Guardian preview on Medeski, Martin & Wood + The Claudia Quintet, 8 July, Barbican Hall.


David Sanborn/YolanDa Brown - Guardian 4* review

"Few jazz musicians could blow a bigger fanfare to launch the Barbican's 2009 summer jazz concerts than the American soul-saxist David Sanborn. Sanborn's Grammys and unjazzlike record sales testify to how far his impassioned playing has reached beyond the cognoscenti for nearly 40 years."

"But the young British Mobo winner YolanDa Brown played the first set and left an unexpectedly vivid impression."

Click here to read the full review by John Fordham.

Barbican Summer Jazz continues this Wednesday with Medeski Martin & Wood + The Claudia Quintet and unbelievably talented Japanese pianist Hiromi + Yaron Herman Trio + Tineke Postma on Fri 10 July.


Friday, 3 July 2009

Orchestra di Piazza Vittorio - The quintessence of world music

'If ‘world music’ could be encompassed by a single group, Rome’s Orchestra di Piazza Vittorio (OPV) might just be it. They are a phenomenon which has sprung out of the city’s diversity; 15 players from 9 countries, spanning continents and cultures, religions and backgrounds, some with music diplomas, others whose education came from busking in the streets.'

Read the full feature and see the videos at MondoMix.

The Orchestra will be performing in the Barbican Hall on July 17th. All tickets are £10. After seeing the documentary about their inspiring story of multiculturalism, believe me, you really don't want to miss this concert.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Ute Lemper feature for Angels Over Berlin and the World

Combining Weimar era cabaret with Paris chanson, Ute Lemper's new show can be seen at the Barbican. Peter Culshaw has tea and cakes with the singer.

'Recovering from a night of cabaret at the Tipi club in Berlin, I get a train across Germany, listening to Ute Lemper’s music. It is a perfect soundtrack to the landscape flashing by as I travel to meet Germany’s most internationally renowned singer at a glamourous hotel in Dresden, where President Obama stayed on his recent trip to see nearby Buchenwald. '

Read the full feature by Telegraph reporter Peter Culshaw.


Wednesday, 1 July 2009

A History of The UK Jazz Dance Scene

While we are waiting for David Sanborn, Sam Moore and YolanDa Brown to open the Barbican Summer Jazz series this Thursday - followed by Medeski Martin & Wood + The Claudia Quintet on Wed 8 Jul and Hiromi + Yaron Herman Trio + Tineke Postma Quartet on Fri 10 Jul - CHASER PUBLICATIONS is back on sale with their first publishing venture since ceasing the hard copy of Straight No Chaser magazine with Mark ‘Snowboy’ Cotgrove’s hugely important FROM JAZZ FUNK & FUSION TO ACID JAZZ: THE HISTORY OF THE UK JAZZ DANCE SCENE.

Read the full article on Jazzreloaded's blog Jazz Changes, and get more info about the book visiting the Chaser Publications blog.

For all the people out there curious or passionate about the UK Jazz Dance movement, Blaze in association with Edge09 revisits the movement at Cargo on Sun 19 July, with Cuban rumba from Dilanga in the yard and a live twisted jazz set from The Mighty Jeddo. DJs Gilles Peterson & Snowboy will set the scene for some fast and furious competition from the dancers who carry on the legacy of the movement. As well as book signing and record stalls, Dick Jewell's legendary film The Jazz Room will be screened alongside other classic shorts.

Tickets are all £10. See you there!

Image by Ian Tilton

Monday, 29 June 2009

Barbican Summer Jazz ready to start

Jazz lovers in London know that from back in the 1990's the Barbican has always been programming the finest jazz sourced worldwide, with a particularly trained eye for fresh talent. And this summer will not be an exception, because Blaze brings to London not only world music but also jazz legends and jazz stars of tomorrow.

Harold Lopez Nussa and his band started building a bridge of sound last Saturday - and these are not the kind of weekend workings which imply tube closures or pneumatic drills-induced Saturday morning wake-ups - linking the first part of our world music programme - the one mainly dedicated to Cuba, in the 50th anniversary of its revolution - to the Barbican Summer Jazz series opening this Thursday with saxophone legend David Sanborn, accompanied by Sam Moore and introduced by a performance by MOBO Award winner YolanDa Brown.

Barbican Summer Jazz:

Thursday 2 July 7.30
David Sanborn + special guest Sam Moore + YolanDa Brown
Tickets £10/15/20/25
Produced by the Barbican in association with Serious
Part of Blaze

One of the most instantly-recognisable saxophonists in the history of jazz, David Sanborn returns to the Barbican with the live version of his acclaimed recording from last year, Here and Gone. Conceived as a tribute to the soul–drenched feel that defined the music of Ray Charles in the 60s – and especially his two saxophonists Hank Crawford and David ‘Fathead’ Newman, both of whom died recently, this concert will both evoke the spirit of a clutch of Sanborn’s key inspirations. Joining Sanborn on stage will be a true soul legend, vocalist Sam Moore (of ‘Sam and Dave’).

David William Sanborn was born in1945 in Tampa, Florida. Having contracted polio when he was only three years old, he was introduced to the saxophone as part of his cure; later, growing up in St. Louis, he became inspired by the rich legacy of great Chicago blues artists who would play there on tour. In 1965 the Butterfield Blues Band invited him to Los Angeles to sit-in on recording sessions with the band. ‘I sat in and I did okay’, Sanborn has recalled, ‘and I was with Butterfield for almost five years.’ After leaving he became a key sideman to many touring artists, and eventually reached a world-wide audience through a famous alto sax solo on Bowie’s 1975 recording Young Americans. It was also in 1975 that Sanborn released his first solo album, Taking Off. 1981’s Voyeur won a Grammy, as did 1986’s Double Vision. Sanborn has continued to release hard-hitting albums of his own patented brew of jazz, funk and blues; his own sound is a beacon for soulful jazz at its most seductive, and this concert marks a long overdue return to the London concert stage, with a typically high-powered and downright funky band in tow. Mobo Jazz Award winner, saxophonist YolanDa Brown plays the opening set.

FreeStage pre-show 6.15pm: JD73 (JazzDocter73)

JD73 is the alterego of Leeds based musician/producer Dan Goldman. A regular face on the UK/International music scene for over 10 years, Dan has played live and in the studio, collobarated remixed and produced tracks for artists such as Morcheeba and some of the most progressive and talented profile and underground artists and acts across the globe.

Check out the rest of the Barbican Summer Jazz programme 2-24 July by clicking here.


Cuba50 weekend - a success!

Many thanks to the thousands of people who joined us this weekend in Gillett Square and at the Barbican for two amazing days of Cuban music and dance! That was some real fun!

All the photos of this incredible Cuba50 weekend will be uploaded very soon on our Flickr Blaze Group. If Pablo Milanes, Harold Lopez Nussa, Oscar d'Leon, Changui de Guantanamo, Son del Tropico, Yoruba Andabo, the mojitos and the hot sun made you feel like you were only a few feet away from the white sand of the Cuban coast (yes, that can happen in Dalston), and the dance workshops in the Britten Room together with the FreeStage performances throughout the afternoon inebriated you and your hips with the best salsa flavours Cuba has to offer - well, come back for more! Next weekend we are still speaking Spanish - though from this side of the Atlantic Ocean - with Carmen Linares and her passionate flamenco.

We are currently looking for images, videos and article posted on the blogosphere by the people who participated in these events. We will be posting some of these contributions on this blog very soon. Please, help us finding you tagging your photos, videos or articles "blaze" and "barbican".

Many thanks again!

Friday, 26 June 2009

Oscar d’Leon to replace Los Van Van on Sunday 28 June

El Sonero Mayor (‘the Great Son Singer’) Oscar d’Leon brings his world-beating Venezuelan Salsa Orchestra to the Barbican this Sunday to replace Los Van Van, who have had to withdraw from performing through illness. D’Leon will be performing his show of classic Cuban repertoire, ‘Canta la Musica Cubana’. The concert’s supporting act and all the day’s free and family events remain the same.

Sunday 28 June 7.30pm
Oscar d’Leon + Yoruba Andabo
Barbican Hall, £10/15/20
Produced in association with Cuba50. Part of Dance Nations: Roots, Rhythms & Rituals

Singer, bassist composer and bandleader Oscar d’Leon is one of the greatest personalities in the world of Latin dance music and fronts one of the hottest salsa bands of all time. Born in the Caracas neighbourhood of Etamin, D'Leon was influenced early on by Cuban musicians such as Beny More and La Sonora Mantacera and by New York-based Latin performers including Eddie Palmieri and Willie Colon. He taught himself to play bass by listening and playing along to records; in his early career he worked full-time as a taxi driver and factory worker, while singing in the evenings. Forming a band, La Dimension Latina, in 1973, he recorded his first hit, Pensando en Ti, shortly afterwards. Three years later, he formed a second group, Salsa Mayor. D'Leon is frequently called El Sonero Mayor (‘the Great Son Singer’) or El Leon de La Salsa (‘The Lion of Salsa’), and has made his reputation as a thrilling live performer, touring with large bands. His latest CD, Tranquilamente was release by Sony in 2008.

‘The great salsa all-rounder, capable of constantly switching between different styles, or from a croon to a falsetto’ – The Guardian

Yoruba Andabo is a company of singers, percussionists and dancers performing original West African music styles preserved since the 16th and 17th centuries. The group’s name can be loosely translated as ‘Friends and followers of Yoruba lands and culture’. Born out of spontaneous musical get-togethers held at the Havana harbour in 1961 by a group of dock workers, Yoruba Andabo acquired professional status in the 1980s and began recording for EGREM with renowned singer Mercedita Valdes. The group preserves and celebrates the irresistible power of Cuba’s African rhythms, the source and backbone of the countless dance styles which Cuba has given the world. The group won a Grammy in 2001 for the album Rumba All Stars (La Rumba Soy Yo).

Original (Los Van Van) tickets are valid for this concert on Sunday evening. If you have any queries, please call the Barbican Box Office on 020 7638 8891.

Free and family events on Sunday 28 June:

1.30pm – 2.30pm Salsa workshop: An introduction to Salsa (age 8+)
Freestage concerts 2pm: Tumbao Tivoli 3.15pm: Charanga del Norte

4.30pm Osvaldo Chacon y su Timba 3pm – 4pm Timba workshop: An introduction to Timba, (age 8+) A popular contemporary Cuban dance with many diverse influences aimed at beginners

5pm – 6pm Cuban dance workshop: An introduction to Cuban (age 8+): popular dance including the mambo, cha cha cha and son. Followed by Son del Tropico on the FreeStage (6.30pm)

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Café de los Maestros on Friday!

Friday is really close and here at the Barbican we are all really excited about welcoming the legendary Café de los Maestros at their UK debut.

Café de los Maestros is a loving showcase for the remaining stars of Argentinean tango from the 1940s and 1950s, just before the dramatic reinventions of Astor Piazzolla.

Their contribution to the glorious history of Argentinean tango has been immense through the decades, and also our friend Arlene recommends this event in her London Tango Pages, which is basically the bible for any tangueros in London.

Come to the Barbican for a mesmerizing night of authentic tango, and keep checking Arlene's blog for future tango events all over London.

26th June, Friday - Café De Los Maestros Live at The Barbican

You can see Café de los Maestros live in June. This what the Barbican say:

“UK debut of this twenty piece orchestra from Buenos Aires, assembled by Gustavo Santaolalla (leader of Bajofondo Tango Club) and Gustavo Mozzi, performing a repertoire of tango from the 1940s and 1950s.”

Also, don’t miss Tanguarda performing on the freestage from 7pm…
This quartet is a new arrival on the European tango scene and having already played extensively throughout the Netherlands, they are quickly gaining an impressive reputation as a sought after group.

Keep reading the article here.

Monday, 22 June 2009

From Ms. Hedgehog: Cafe De Los Maestros at The Barbican next Friday

Here is a preview from our friend Ms Hedgehog about our highly anticipated event Cafe De Los Maestros at The Barbican on Friday 26th June.

There are 20 of them,
they're playing at the Barbican next Friday,
a little trailer from the film about them is below,
and they've got Alberto Podestá (yes).

To read the full post, click here.

Evening Standard 4-star review of our first Cuba50 show

Cuba50 in all its glory at Victoria Park by Jane Cornwell

'Welcome to Paradise read the banner over Hackney’s Paradise Gardens, ­ and for aficionados of Cuban music it was. The inaugural event in the Barbican’s Dance Nations series kicked off with cha-cha-cha lessons in the Spiegel Tent, then went outside to strut its stuff.'

Click here for the complete review.

Cuba50 concerts this week

Cuba 50: Celebrating Cuba’s musical riches 50 years on from the revolution.

Fidel Castro’s revolution has reached in to every aspect of Cuban life, but nowhere more than in its musical culture. A combination of official support for folk forms and musical training, isolation from the rest of the world and a resourcefulness born of hardship and shortages has made the island a musical treasure trove, rich in classic forms and new innovations, powerful roots and free imagination.

We started yesterday with Cuba 50 in Paradise Gardens, Victoria Park (Orquesta Aragon + Changüi de Guantanamo + Charanga del Norte) - an open-air Cuban dance spectacular, featuring two of the greatest exponents of the island’s traditional music and dance styles.


Now marking their 70th birthday, Orquesta Aragon were founded by bassist Oreste Aragon in Cienfuegos and became international stars during the cha-cha-cha boom of the 1950s; they have come to exemplify the charanga tradition of the island – riffing strings and flutes giving a lighter, folkier and more rural sound than the brass sections of salsa. In the 1990s, the band regrouped under the leadership of Rafeal Lay Junior, returning to its roots and the recording studio to create a rich series of new albums, one of which, 2001’s En Route, received a Grammy nomination. Changüi de Guantanamo's home town may have acquired wretched associations in recent years, but it was the birthplace of the changüi at the beginning of the 20th century, generally seen as the first contemporary music to merge the Spanish guitar sound with African rhythm. Dancing is integral to changüi and is demonstrated by Changüi de Guantanamo's own dancers whose intricate slides, steps and hip movements uncannily follow the suggestions of the tres and the bongos. Changüi de Guantanamo have been performing the changüi repertoire for most of the century and are still based in Guantanamo, under the direction of bongosero Andrés Fisto Cobas.

Inspired by the flute playing of Richard Egües from Orquesta Aragon, the thrilling Charanga del Norte (‘Charanga from the North’) was set up by Leeds-based flautist Sue Miller in 1998. ‘The only 100 percent genuine Charanga and Pachanga band in the land’ – Dave Hucker, The Beat

Also Sunday 21 June @ Spiegel Tent in Paradise Gardens we witnessed the first of the dance workshops for beginners that will accompany all our latin concerts throughout Blaze - an Introduction to Cuban Popular Dance including mambo, cha cha cha and son, of which you can find some interesting pictures on our Flickr page!

Next in the Cuba50 celebrations:

Thursday 25 June 8pm (THE INDEPENDENT Ten Best Gigs critic's choice for Jazz, Blues, World & Folk)
Cuba 50 at Hackney Empire: Orquesta Aragon + Yoruba Andabo
Tickets £ 17.50
Produced by the Barbican
Part of Dance Nations: Roots, Rhythms & Rituals

A night of steaming Cuban dance music which showcase the African and rural roots of contemporary styles. Yoruba Andabo is a company of singers, percussionists and dancers performing original West African music styles preserved since the 16th and 17th centuries. The group’s name can be loosely translated as ‘Friends and followers of Yoruba lands and culture’. Born out of spontaneous musical get-togethers held at the Havana harbour in 1961 by a group of dock workers, Yoruba Andabo acquired professional status in the 1980s and began recording for EGREM with renowned singer Mercedita Valdes. The group preserves and celebrates the irresistible power of Cuba’s African rhythms, the source and backbone of the countless dance styles which Cuba has given the world. The group won a Grammy in 2001 for the album Rumba All Stars (La Rumba Soy Yo). For Orquesta Aragon see info above.

Hackney Empire, 291 Mare Street, London E8 1EJ
Box Office: 020 8985 2424

Saturday 27 June 4pm – 8pm
Cuba 50 in Gillett Square: Yoruba Andabo + Changüi de Guantanamo + Son del Tropico
Part of Dance Nations: Roots, Rhythms & Rituals

A chance to hear these masters of Cuban rhythm again – and learn some of their dance moves - in the open-air, in Dalston’s hippest square, home of the Vortex jazz club. There will be a road closure on neighbouring Bradbury Street with a range of food and music stalls, and DJs spinning tunes from Eldica Vinyl & Retro’s extensive funk, soul and jazz collection. African, Caribbean and vegetarian food will be available and the Dalston Jazz Bar will be open for Cuban cocktails. This activity is being co-ordinated by Hackney Co-operative Development's Dalston4London project with support from Hackney Council.

Gillett Square, Dalston, London N16 8JH

Saturday 27 June 2pm – 7pm
Cuba 50 moves to the Barbican Centre for a day of concerts, free music, workshops and family events.

See the programme of dance workshops by clicking HERE!

Saturday 27 June 7.30pm (TIME OUT recommended)
Cuba 50: Pablo Milanés + Harold Lopez Nussa + Son del Tropico
Tickets £10/15/20
Produced by the Barbican in association with Cuba50
Part of Dance Nations: Roots, Rhythms & Rituals

Singer-songwriter Pablo Milanés remains one of the undisputed giants of Cuban music. A major figure in the 1960s nueva trova song movement, he was strongly identified with the progressive aspirations of the government of Fidel Castro. Milanés gained renown for his highly poetic lyrics and gentle but emotional singing, and is now one of the most popular and respected Cuban musicians and songwriters alive.
Pianist Harold Lopez Nussa was born in a family of musicians in Cuba, the son of the drummer Ruy Lopez Nussa and uncle famous pianist Ernan Lopez Nussa. The winner of many classical piano contests, Harold opened up to Cuba’s jazz, traditional and popular music and in 2005 was declared the laureate of the Montreux Jazz Piano competition. His piano work reveals the development of another Cuban piano giant in the great tradition of Bebo and Chucho Valdes, Gonzalo Rubalcaba and Roberto Fonseca.
The nine members of Son del Tropico, from Havana and Santiago, are masters of the Son style, the predecessor of Salsa and so many contemporary Latin styles.

FreeStage pre-show 2pm: Changui de Guantanamo, Omar Puente, London Lucumi Choir & Yoruba Andabo.

ClubStage (post-show): Kumar

Sunday 28 June: Cuban Dance Workshops

Sunday 28 June 7.30pm (TIME OUT recommended)
Cuba 50: Los Van Van + Yoruba Andabo
Tickets £ 10/15/20
Produced by the Barbican in association with Cuba50
Part of Dance Nations: Roots, Rhythms & Rituals

Juan Formell, bassist and founder of Los Van Van, is quite possibly the most important figure in the history of post-revolutionary Cuban music. In the late 1960s, when Cuban traditional music was at a low ebb and fascination with rock and soul was high, Formell broke away from Orquesta Revé to form Van Van and develop a whole new rhythmic approach for Cuban music. With drummer José Luis ‘Changuito’ Quintana, Formell created the Songo rhythm which incorporated some of the power and drama of rock and funk into Cuban music in a way which made Van Van the premier dance group on the island for the following three decades – and influenced all the Cuban dance acts who followed. With stars like dazzling pianist Cesar ‘Pupy’ Pedroso and larger-than-life vocalist Pedro Calvo, Van Van combined raw power – and a multi-trombone brass section - with clever musicianship and a quite unrelenting groove. Formell’s songs, full of wry observations and street slang, have repeatedly captured the Cuban zeitgeist as seen from the streets of Havana and earned the band dozens of hits. This is their 40th anniversary tour, and though many of the personnel have now changed, the band remains at the top of the Cuban music scene and one of the greatest dance bands in the world. ‘Los Van Van has held its place as Cuba's top band for decades’ - The New York Times

For Yoruba Andabo see June 25 above.

FreeStage pre-show 2pm: Son del Tropico + Osvaldo Chacon y su Timba + Charanga del Norte + Leo Duany & Tumbao Tivoli.


Thursday, 18 June 2009

Everyone in the Marketing Team is excited about Blaze - as you can see...

Don't forget that tomorrow (Fri 19) the greatest living tabla player Zakir Hussain will perform in the Barbican Hall! This is the fourth event part of the Blaze festival, before we kick off with the Cubans this Sunday in Paradise Gardens @ Victoria Park.

Don't miss this free day of outdoor concerts and performances in Victoria Park, E3. Check it out on the blaze microsite by clicking here.

As you can see, we are all excited about Blaze!! :)

Monday, 15 June 2009

Rodriguez, again and again!

Rodriguez' show was so mesmerizing last Saturday 6th June that we keep receiving great reviews about it! Here is the impression of our friend at Put Me On It , a great blog about culture and music in London. And we couldn't not be on it, of course!

Saturday, 6 June 2009


Do you know about Rodriguez? Well to be honest, I don’t know much about him. I know a couple of his tracks. He’s an old school (born 1942) Detroit resident. He's a psyche rock /acoustic, synthed out badman! His album 'Cold Fact' was recorded and pretty much forgotten about in 1969. Rodriguez kinda disappeared after his second album, recorded in London in 1970, but over the years he has acquired a cult status. Especially in SA where he has become a hero.

He is an amazing lyricist:

Sugar man, won't you hurry
'Cos I'm tired of these scenes
For a blue coin won't you bring back
All those colors to my dreams


To read more, visit Put Me On It!

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Rodriguez, again...

And these are some pics that our friend lostwithoutwords took from the show.
They are truly beautiful, aren't they?

Join our group on Flickr and post the pictures you've taken at our events! The best ones will be published on the blog!

Sat 6th June: Rodriguez + Fujiya & Miyagi + Matthew Herbert DJ set

There couldn't have been a better way to inaugurate Blaze!

Fujiya & Miyagi, the once-duo now full 4-piece electro rock outfit has performed an amazing show, getting everyone to dance at their catchy tunes, from the elderly lady sit in the front row to the young hippie just here see Rodriguez, and well, to me (but that's not that difficult!)
As in the Barbican standards, the sound was perfect and the lighting games mindblowing!
I was tempted to jump on my seat and start dancing on top of everyone's head HA!
I had never seen them live before, but now I understand why Mojo called them "the perfect union between man and machine".

And then...ladies and gentlemen, Sixto Rodriguez!!
Personally I didn't really get why he had to be walked to the middle of the stage by not even one, but two people, as he turned out to be in great shape (especially when he took his jacket off, huh!). After introducing all the ladies in his family/crew, he finally started playing! And OMG, what a performance! Despite the age, Mr Sugarman's voice is still clear as it was 30 years ago and the way he plays his guitar is still impeccable.
And who knew he was also such a smart entertainer? With his
jokes he made us laugh and with his songs he made us dance and cry. And when he played Rich Folks Hoax I almost burst into tears indeed.
The rest of the band was great, too, with a special mention to the organist, that was just INCREDIBLE!!

And in the
Clubstage post show, fantastic DJ set by Matthew Herbert, who is a genius in himself so doesn't even need any explanation.
He played a mix of funk, old skool disco and his usual 'weird sounds' (basically, really good experimental electronic music) and made a bunch of 40-something ladies and gents dance like crazy!


Ladies and Gentlemen, the time has come!

We are all extremely pleased and excited to welcome you to the official blog of Blaze, the brand new Summer festival of The Barbican, a scintillating new series of music and dance, focusing on flamenco, tango, salsa, swing and rumba, in addition to the eclectic Barbican Summer Jazz and a celebration of Joe Boyd's Witchseason record label.
All this inside and outside the Barbican, in 5 different magic locations around trendy East London - Gillette Square, Cargo, Victoria Park, Shoreditch Park and the Hackney Empire.

It's going to be a loooong interesting Summer then! And we hope you'll want to join us in our indoor and outdoor frolics and dances!
David Byrne, An All-Star Fairport Convention and more are sold out already! Hurry up and get your ticket for a trip to a world of dance, music and sun!

Hey, we love you so much, we even have multi-buy promotions on the purchase of 2 or more tickets.
Now you don't have any more excuses.

See you at Cafe De Los Maestros on Friday 26th!