Skirball Cultural Center Kicks Off 2014 Sunset Concerts, Free Community Concert Series
The Skirball Cultural Center announces the line-up for its eighteenth annual free Sunset Concerts. Circumnavigating the globe from the Americas to Africa, the 2014 season features a dynamic mix of traditions and styles. The schedule is as follows: the California debut of Noura Mint Seymali (tonight, July 24); the California debut of Conjunto Chappotín y Sus Estrellas (July 31); The Haden Triplets (August 7); Flaco Jiménez and Max Baca & Los Texmaniacs (August 14); Yiddish Tango Club (August 21); and Jeffery Broussard & The Creole Cowboys (August 28).
While staying true to the series' world music roots, the 2014 season reflects the Skirball's deepening interest in the national scene and Americana. Jordan Peimer, Vice President of Programs, remarks, "Taking their critically hailed debut album on the road, The Haden Triplets will enthrall our audiences with their unique take on American folk. Meanwhile, Jeffery Broussard and his Creole Cowboys are sure to have everyone dancing to their lively zydeco."
"We are also happy to present the California debut of Conjunto Chapottín y Sus Estrellas, a band that has been a dynamo of Cuban 'son' since the 1940s," adds Peimer. "And, of course, we look forward to Tejano star Flaco Jiménez, who returns to the Skirball stage on his landmark 75th birthday tour."
Committed to music that defies categorization, the 2014 Sunset Concerts also includes world artists who are updating their culture's age-old traditions with modern American influences. Peimer notes, "Mauritanian griot Noura Mint Seymali's meditative songs blend African and Arabic styles with Western rhythms, perfectly illustrating the West African tradition from which American blues arose. And, rounding out this year's line-up is the Yiddish Tango Club, who epitomize an only-in-the-Americas mix of klezmer and milonga."
The six Thursday night concerts are presented free of charge in the Skirball's picturesque central courtyard, where music fans of all ages sing along, dance in the aisles, and gather at the foot of the stage to celebrate with the performers. A popular choice for a group outing, family-friendly fun, or a romantic date night, Sunset Concerts invites Angelenos and out-of-towners alike to arrive early to dine al fresco, visit the Museum galleries, and explore the Skirball's distinctive modern architecture and hillside setting.
About the Artists:
Thursday, July 24: Noura Mint Seymali (California debut)
Noura Mint Seymali, one of Mauritania's foremost musical emissaries, began her musical career at the age of thirteen as a supporting vocalist for her legendary stepmother, Dimi Mint Abba. Her homeland boasts a unique cultural and geographic identity, as a desert nation located physically and socially between North and Sub-Saharan Africa. Seymali's music is a vital and vibrant bridge from the Medinas of Fez and Algiers to the dance clubs of Bamako and Dakar, and she has emerged as an important voice of Africa. With an already formidable resume of international debuts?at events like Festivalau-Desert (Mali), Festival Pirineos (Spain), and Festival Timitar (Morocco), and collaborations with artists such as Tinariwen, Bassekou Kouyaté, and Baaba Maal?Seymali is steadily gaining wider recognition and is poised to bring Mauritanian music to the world.
Composing for an ensemble with traditional instruments at its core?ardine (harp), tidinit (lute), and t'beul (bowl drum)?and backed by Western bass and drums, Seymali employs the instruments and modal structures essential to Moorish tradition while adopting the format of a pop song. As the Chicago Reader noted, Seymali creates "a mesmerizing tension between ancient and futuristic."
Thursday, July 31: Conjunto Chappotín y Sus Estrellas (California debut, U.S. premiere tour)
With roots dating back to the 1940s, Conjunto Chappottín is one of the top Cuban "son" groups on the scene today. Its founder, Arsenio Rodriguez, is one of Cuba's most renowned bandleaders, and, as the first to add reed and brass instruments to a Latin band, he is widely regarded a major influence on Latin, jazz, and salsa music.
When Rodriguez left Cuba in 1950 to go to New York, he handed the baton to his first trumpet player, Felix Chappottín. For the remainder of the decade, Chappottín and his group, featuring vocalist Gerardo Martinez, released hit after hit and appeared regularly on Cuban television. Despite the band's political struggles with the Cuban government and dictator Gerardo Machado, Chappottín continued to inspire Afro-Cuban music with his sweet-toned trumpet playing. He successfully led Conjunto Chappottín until his death in 1983, after which his son, Angel Chappottín Valdes, carried on as musical director. Since the 1990s, Jesus Angel Chappottín Coto, the grandson of Felix Chappottín, has directed the band together with singer/percussionist Miguelito Cuni, Jr. Their performance at the Skirball marks Conjunto Chappottín's highly anticipated California premiere, on their debut US tour.
Thursday, August 7: The Haden Triplets
The Haden Triplets (Tanya, Rachel, and Petra) - daughters of legendary jazz bassist Charlie Haden - sing with vocal interplay that only a lifetime together as sisters could achieve. Their debut album, produced beautifully by American legend Ry Cooder, expands on Americana's musical traditions in a very personal way.
In the Hadens' own words: "During our early life, we were surrounded by music on both sides of our family. We visited our dad's family in Springfield, Missouri, where they taught us old country songs they used to perform on the radio as The Haden Family. Our grandparents on our mother's side used to sing us to sleep with old Yiddish songs. Growing up, we often had music playing in the house, whether it be our mom playing Billie Holiday and Nina Simone records, or our dad playing Keith Jarrett and Ornette Coleman in the living room. We met Ry when we played with his son Joachim, and Joachim asked him if he'd sit in for our show. Once Ry heard we were singing "Voice From On High" by Bill Monroe, he was in right away. The next day we got a call from Ry suggesting we record an album. We wrote down a collection of songs we all liked, then narrowed it down to the music that became The Haden Triplets album. These songs are rich in history, and by recording them we hope to help keep them alive."
The album was released in February 2014 to unanimous critical acclaim. The Los Angeles Times touted, "Cooder's production is fittingly raw, putting no phony gloss on songs brimming with heart-on-sleeve honesty. Petra Haden has created a cottage industry with multitracked recordings showcasing the versatility of her own voice, but in tandem with her sisters, the vocal lines bring to bear the power of family harmony that's long been an important foundation of traditional country music. The Haden Triplets carry on that tradition marvelously."
Thursday, August 14: Flaco Jiménez and Max Baca & Los Texmaniacs
Five-time Grammy winner Leonardo "Flaco" Jiménez has led the way in bringing conjunto music from his community in San Antonio, Texas, to new audiences in the United States and worldwide. The Billboard Guide to Tejano and Mexican Music hails, "What B.B. King is to the blues, or George Jones is to traditional country, Grammy-winning accordionist Flaco Jiménez is to the world of Tex-Mex conjunto."
Born in 1939, Jiménez is the son of conjunto pioneer Santiago Jiménez, Sr. By the age of seven, Jiménez was already performing with his father, even earning the nickname "Flaco," or "Skinny" that had previously been attached to his father. Jiménez spent his youth mentored on the accordion by San Antonio musicians, including Toby Torres, Joey López, and Los Caminantes, and built his reputation by performing in San Antonio saloons and dance halls. In the 1960s, Jiménez began playing with Douglas Sahm, the founding member of the Sir Douglas Quintet. When Sahm finally recorded his first solo album for Atlantic Records in 1973, he invited Jiménez to join the sessions (which also included guest spots from Bob Dylan and Dr. John).