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).
In the 1990s Jiménez and Sahm reunited to form the group Texas Tornados with Freddy Fender and Augie Meyers, recording six albums and winning a Grammy. He also recorded with the Mexican super-group Los Super Seven that included Fender, Joe Ely, Ruben Ramos, Rick Trevino, and Cesar Rosas and David Hildalgo of Los Lobos, netting another Grammy. In total, Jiménez has received five Grammy awards, including three awards for his solo work. In 1999, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from Billboard Latin Magazine and has been inducted into the National Hispanic Hall of Fame and the International Latin Music Hall of Fame in New York City.
Throughout his nearly seven-decade career, Jiménez has introduced the traditional conjunto sound to mainstream pop and country listeners thanks to collaborations with Dwight Yoakam and the Mavericks. He is applauded by adventurous rock fans through his work with Carlos Santana, the Rolling Stones, and Ry Cooder, in particular after receiving international acclaim for his contributions to Cooder's landmark album Chicken Skin Music.
At the Skirball, Jiménez will join forces with the acclaimed Max Baca & Los Texmaniacs. Jiménez and Baca recently teamed up for the February 2014 release Jiménez and Baca: Legends and Legacies, which features the duo's interpretations of the best of the conjunto repertoire. Each an inheritor of a musical legacy from his father and grandfather, Jiménez and Baca chose the repertoire they consider most important to their respective musical paths. Baca was seven when he met Jiménez at a concert; twenty years later, he became his bajo sexton player. Jiménez brought Baca into the Texas Tornados, whose combination of country, rock, and conjunto hasinspired Baca's Los Texmaniacs. The band's 2009 Smithsonian Folkways album, Borders y Bailes, won a Grammy, and its 2012 album, Texas Towns &Tex-Mex Sounds, received a Latin Grammy nomination.
Thursday, August 21: Yiddish Tango Club
The Yiddish Tango Club is a talented group of musicians who combine traditional Jewish music with Latin flair and a youthful vibe. From the early "milongas" to the Yiddish theater, Yiddish tangos have been a voice of Argentina's Jewish people and their culture for centuries. Part of the new wave of Jewish music, the Yiddish Tango Club explores a fluid and imaginative amalgamation of the two genres?a contemporary Los Angeles sound fused with the traditional music of Eastern Europe (beginning with the earliest renditions of klezmer) and the fresh sensuality of tango argentino. Diva Divina Gloria and dancer Bruce Bierman will join clarinetist Gustavo Bulgach and the Yiddish Tango Club to create a unique and all-inclusive experience.
YIDDISH TANGO CLUB IS PRESENTED AS PART OF "VIVA!" AN ONGOING SKIRBALL INITIATIVE THAT EXPLORES THE CONNECTIONS BETWEEN JEWISH AND LATIN AMERICAN CULTURES THROUGH LECTURES, CONVERSATIONS, AND PERFORMING, VISUAL, AND MEDIA ARTS.
Thursday, August 28: Jeffery Broussard & The Creole Cowboys
One of the most influential accordionists and vocalists in modern zydeco music, Jeffery Broussard has endured as an innovator. One of the genre's most dynamic performers, he developed the nouveau zydeco sound in Zydeco Force, and has now returned to the more traditional zydeco sound with his own band, Jeffery Broussard & The Creole Cowboys.
Broussard's music career started early in life, similar to many other famous zydeco musicians. At the age of eight he started playing drums in his father's band, the renowned Delton Broussard & The Lawtell Playboys. After seventh grade, Broussard left school to work on the family farm full time. He spent long days digging and sorting potatoes, but, whenever he could, Broussard would sneak into the house and teach himself how to play his father's accordion.
During his teen years, Broussard played drums in his oldest brother's band, Clinton Broussard & The Zydeco Machines. His brother would let him play accordion on a few songs from time to time, but Jeffery was too shy to speak on stage, let alone sing. It wasn't until Jeffery joined the band Zydeco Force that he overcame his shyness and began singing in public.
Broussard has a range that is seldom seen in zydeco, from traditional songs to originals, single-note and triple-note accordion to fiddle. Whether he is playing a festival stage in front of thousands of dancing fans, a small theater of seated patrons, giving a press interview, teaching a lesson or playing at a trail ride, Broussard's warmth, talent, and love for music shine. His dedication to preserving and promoting the Creole culture and traditional Zydeco music is unwavering.
2014 SUNSET CONCERTS take place at the Skirball Cultural Center, 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90049. Call (310) 440-4500 or visit www.skirball.org for more information. FREE ADMISSION; no reservations. Limited seating on a first-come, first-served basis. Sunset Concerts parking: $10 per car (cash only). Carpooling is encouraged. Street parking is strictly prohibited. Or take Metro Rapid 761. All concerts begin at 8:00 p.m., doors open at 7:00 p.m.
Noura Mint Seymali - Thursday, July 24 (California debut)
Conjunto Chappotín y Sus Estrellas - Thursday, July 31 (California debut, US premiere tour)
The Haden Triplets - Thursday, August 7
Flaco Jiménez and Max Baca & Los Texmaniacs - Thursday, August 14
Yiddish Tango Club - Thursday, August 21
Jeffery Broussard & The Creole Cowboys - Thursday, August 28
All Skirball exhibitions (except Noah's Ark) are free and open until 10:00 p.m. during Sunset Concerts, including The Snowy Day and the Art of Ezra Jack Keats and Visions and Values: Jewish Life from Antiquity to America.
Zeidler's Café's dinner buffet starts at 6:00 p.m. Reservations are required and can be made starting two weeks prior to the Thursday evening concert by calling (310) 440-4575. Lighter fare can be purchased at Zeidler's Cart.
Guests may bring their own food. Note: No outside alcoholic beverages or chairs are permitted.
About the Skirball: The Skirball Cultural Center is dedicated to exploring the connections between 4,000 years of Jewish heritage and the vitality of American democratic ideals. It welcomes and seeks to inspire people of every ethnic and cultural identity. Guided by our respective memories and experiences, together we aspire to build a society in which all of us can feel at home. The Skirball Cultural Center achieves its mission through educational programs that explore literary, visual, and performing arts from around the world; through the display and interpretation of its permanent collections and changing exhibitions; through an interactive family destination inspired by the Noah's Ark story; and through outreach to the community.
Visiting the Skirball: The Skirball Cultural Center is located at 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90049. The Skirball is also accessible by Metro Rapid 761. Museum hours: Tuesday-Friday 12:00-5:00 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.; closed Mondays and holidays. Admission to exhibitions: $10 General; $7 Seniors, Full-Time Students, and Children over 12; $5 Children 2-12. Exhibitions are always free to Skirball Members and Children under 2. Exhibitions are free to all visitors on Thursdays. For general information, the public may call (310) 440-4500 or visit www.skirball.org. The Skirball is also home to Zeidler's Café, which serves innovative California cuisine in an elegant setting, and Audrey's Museum Store, which sells books, contemporary art, music, jewelry, and more.