Brooklyn Qawwali Party (U.S.: Brooklyn): substituting for Femi Kuti who is ill -- Paying tribute to one of the world’s greatest vocalists, Brooklyn Qawwali Party formed to honor the legendary Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, reworking his thunderous songs for an eclectic, 11-piece orchestra comprised of groundbreaking jazz musicians. Funky and smart, BQP captures the joyful spirit of this Pakistani folk music in a unique instrumental blend of jazz and Qawwali. With five horns, guitar, bass, harmonium, and three percussionists, the band’s buoyant rhythm creates an unfettered deluge of sound.
Calypso Rose (Trinidad & Tobago/U.S.: NYC): In the man’s world of calypso, McCartha Lewis, known as Calypso Rose, has reigned as queen for the last forty years. After Rose won the title in 1977, the long-standing honor of “Calypso King” had to be renamed “Calypso Monarch.” Rose has shared the stage with world icons from Bob Marley to Miriam Makeba and won awards from cities and governments around the Western Hemisphere for her vocal and songwriting talents. Currently based in NYC, Calypso Rose was recently featured in the documentary and CD Calypso at Dirty Jim's on Damon Albarn's Honest Jon's label.
Chicha Libre (U.S.: NYC): Led by French émigré Olivier Conan, owner of the influential nightclub Barbes, this New York sextet vamps on the distinctive psychedelic Amazonian sound called chicha, when the Peruvian love of cumbias mixed with rock organ, surf guitar, and Andean melodies in the free-wheeling late 1960s. Chicha Libre goes beyond the vintage hits by “chicha-fying” everything from Vivaldi to original songs.
Hot 8 Brass Band (U.S.: New Orleans): Despite the ravages of Hurricane Katrina, the young New Orleans members of Hot 8 have become icons of the city’s unforgettable second line music, a street tradition linked to jazz funerals and the African-American societies that supported them in the 19th century. Hot 8, who began playing together in high school, keep true to this spirit, while infusing their performance with youthful funk and fire.
Kailash Kher’s Kailasa (India): Beloved in Bollywood for his gorgeous popular renditions of Sufi songs, Kher’s voice and dynamic performances have earned him a judge’s spot on Indian Idol, as well as adoration across the Indian diaspora. Kher began studying Indian classical vocal music from the tender age of 12 with his father, before breaking from impoverished obscurity into the popular limelight, in part thanks to the Mumbai-based ensemble, Kailasa.
L&O (France): An intimate new direction for France’s favorite klezmorim, Les Yeux Noirs’ Olivier Slabiak teams up with classically trained vocalist wife Laure for a light yet passionate project that explores French chansons and swing in arrangements featuring everything from glockenspiel to tuba.
La Troba Kung-Fú (Spain/Catalunya): Catalan troubadours with serious attitude, La Troba takes rumba catalana to a whole other global dimension in a way that would make Manu Chao smile, mixing in cumbia, vallenato, salsa, dub, and rock. A project of vocalist and accordionist Joan Garriga with former bandmates from Dusminguet, La Troba’s music touches down everywhere from the Czech Republic to Uruguay, all while staying true to Garriga’s Catalan roots.
Marcio Local (Brazil): A child of 1970s working-class Rio, Local returns to the music of Brazilian funk pioneers like Jorge Ben, musicians who boldly mixed soul and r&b with samba and bossa nova. Now a resident of the bohemian Santa Teresa community, Local’s effortless vocals, fat horns, and deep grooves reflect the nostalgic yet imminently hip contemporary music scene of his beloved Rio. Local, whose debut EP on Luaka Bop was produced by Mario Caldato (Red Hot & Rio, Beastie Boys), makes his first performance outside of Brazil at globalFEST.
Occidental Brothers Dance Band International (Ghana/U.S.: Chicago): Led by an indie-rock guitarist who lived in Ghana (Nathaniel Braddock) and a singer from one of Ghana’s hottest highlife bands (Kofi Cromwell of the Western Diamonds), the Occidental Brothers brings together some of the musical best of what West Africa and Chicago—avant-garde jazz, house, underground rock—have to offer, in their New York debut.
Shanbehzadeh Ensemble (Iran/France): Multi-instrumentalist and dancer Saeid Shanbehzadeh and his son perform traditional music and dance from Bushehr in Southern Iran on the Persian Gulf. The music and dance is an extraordinary amalgam of the Persian, Arab, African, and Indian influences of the region, a cultural crossroads for centuries. The striking, African-influenced hip-swinging dances and trance-inducing songs are accompanied by unique instruments such as the double reed bagpipe, double flute, and percussion.
Tanya Tagaq (Canada: Nunavut): As an art student far from her native Arctic home of Nunavut, Inuit singer Tanya Tagaq began perfecting her unique take on the complex traditional vocal games played between two female singers. Her otherworldly approach soon caught the ear of everyone from Kronos Quartet to Björk, who invited Tagaq to join her for her Vespertine tour and sang on Tagaq’s first CD, “Sinaa,” as well as Faith No More and Mr. Bungle’s Mike Patton, who signed her to his influential Ipecac Records.
Watcha Clan (France): The French world-electronica group Watcha Clan evolved in the Mediterranean melting pot of Marseilles, where mixtures of Sephardic, Balkan, and North African sounds come naturally. Watcha, fronted by dread-shaking Jewish vocalist Sistah K, takes the sounds of their home port and adds hard-hitting global drum-and-bass and dub beats.
All artists subject to change. Please note: due to illness, Femi Kuti has cancelled his appearance at globalFEST 2009.