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World Music Festival Chicago 2002 

Last year Chicago's annual World Music Festival was clobbered by 9/11, as nearly two dozen acts--most of them major international artists--canceled their appearances. The fest has rebounded vigorously, with a lineup that's at least as diverse as last year's was supposed to be. But we're not out of the woods yet.

Before last fall most foreign artists--after proving their cultural significance and artistic merit to the INS--could obtain visas from U.S. consular offices and embassies after a routine check. But since early this year, every male applicant between the ages of 16 and 45 has had to fill out a new form demanding personal information never previously required--including a list of all the organizations he has ever joined or given money to. According to Brian Taylor Goldstein, a D.C.-area attorney specializing in artist visas, if he's from a country on an unofficial list of 30-some predominantly Muslim nations, he becomes subject to investigation by the FBI and CIA as well. And any applicant, male or female, from a nation identified as a sponsor of terrorism--including Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Sudan, and Syria--must get federal clearance before a visa can be issued. Goldstein says a number of additional proposals are under consideration at the State Department that would make the process even more restrictive; he predicts that soon an interview will be mandatory regardless of the nation the applicant is from (currently the various consulates decide who needs to be interviewed) or how many times the person has visited the U.S. before.

As reported in the New York Times last week, most of the applicants experiencing indefinite delays are students who went home for the summer or execs with American businesses. This is all in the name of enhanced security, of course, but unfortunately it also fuels anti-American sentiment abroad, and--not to get too mushy--it's bound to further limit opportunities for Americans to gain sorely needed understanding of cultures outside our own.

Syria's Ensemble Al-Kindi, one of the world's most prestigious and accomplished classical Arabic music groups, has fallen victim to the new policies. The group has performed previously in the States, and its visas were granted by the INS in July. But it never received clearance from on high, so its World Music Festival gigs at the Cultural Center and the Museum of Contemporary Art had to be canceled, which is a real shame. Leader Julien Jalal Edinne, born Bernard Weiss in France in 1953, studied Western classical music as a youngster, but upon encountering the kanun--an Arabic zither--he threw himself into Arabic classical music and eventually moved to Damascus, where he formed the band in 1983 and converted to Islam in 1986. If you'd like to hear some of his work, you might delve into the series of gorgeous two-CD sets the ensemble has released on the French label Le Chant du Monde; each set addresses a specific ancient tradition--for instance the liturgical music that accompanied the whirling dervishes of Damascus, or the art music of Aleppo, one of the most storied cities in Syria for Islamic music.

The 50-some acts on this year's schedule cover a lot of geographical and cultural territory, but the most striking trend is the abundance of acts that bring together disparate genres or borrow from one or more foreign cultures. Cross-pollination can often make for exciting music, creating interesting juxtapositions or drawing attention to universalities, and it's an inevitable product of globalization. But it also seems to indicate that the musician who dedicates a lifetime to mastering a single traditional discipline--like Julien Jalal Edinne--is an increasingly endangered species.

As usual the World Music Festival--unlike the other big city festivals, held in Grant Park--takes place at many different venues. Events are free and open to patrons of all ages unless otherwise noted. Advance tickets to events with an admission fee are usually available from the venues; addresses and phone numbers are on page 25, and the city has set up a World Music Festival hot line at 312-742-1938. A number of the musicians will give lunchtime concerts in the studio at the Museum of Broadcast Communications; these will be broadcast live on Continental Drift, the world music show on Northwestern University's radio station, WNUR, 89.3 FM.

Friday September 20

Noon, Daley Center

yMAMAR KASSEY

Mamar Kassey is arguably the greatest band in Niger--a nation that's just now catching up with musically prolific neighbors like Mali and Nigeria. Between 1974, when Seyni Kountche took power, and 1987, when he died, the government did zilch to cultivate the arts. After the dictator's death, Alassane Dante, a singer and former director of the national ballet, organized a competitive music festival from which sprang the Centre for Musical Training and Promotion, where musicians could learn about both native traditions and modern music. Mamar Kassey founder Yacouba Moumouni, then a ten-year-old shepherd's son, walked more than a hundred miles to get there, and worked as Dante's sister's houseboy in exchange for his education.

He later joined the ballet and toured West Africa and Europe, and in France met world music producer Nick Gold, who invited him to play the seyse--a reed flute--on Worotan, the best-known album by the great Malian singer Oumou Sangare. Moumouni returned to Niger in 1995, determined to put together a modern band. Drawing on the center's alumni, he formed Mamar Kassey with a guitarist, a bassist, three open-minded traditional musicians, and three dancing backing vocalists.

The band's two excellent recordings--Denke-Denke (Daqui, 1999) and Alatoumi (World Village, 2000)--present a spirited synthesis of western African approaches, churning with dense polyrhythms and herky-jerk syncopation. Hypnotic molo and komsa (two- and three-stringed lutes), calabash rhythms, and the sorrowful sounding godje, a single-stringed bowed instrument played by guest musician Abdoulaye Hasseye, blend to suggest the mesmerizing beauty of Mali's Wassoulou tradition, while the animated kalangu, or talking drum, echoes Nigeria's juju style. Guitairst Abdoulaye Alhassane and bassist Harouna Abdou give the traditional sounds depth without getting in their way; Moumouni plays forcefully overblown tones on the seyse, and his dry, nasal, soulful voice (he sings in Fulani and Songhai) shows the influence of various Saharan traditions.

12:30 PM, Museum of Broadcast Communications

yDAVID KRAKAUER

The clarinetist (see September 21 entry) performs solo.

12:30 PM, Borders Books & Music on State

yGARMARNA

Early on the progressive Swedish folk group Garmarna gave their polskas and ballads a kick with rock instrumentation--thunderous drumming and droning electric guitar mingling with brooding or doodling hurdy-gurdy, violin, lute, and Emma Hardelin's delicate yet forceful singing. But over the course of five albums they've added electronic music to the mix, a trend culminating in last year's Hildegard von Bingen (Northside), a collection of pieces written by the 12th-century German abbess and mystic that incorporated programmed beats, synth washes, and EBowed electric guitar. Singing in Latin, Hardelin navigates the ethereal melodies with characteristic grace, her voice cutting right through the atmospherics despite not seeming to have a single sharp edge. Sometimes the synthetic elements smother the organic, but by and large it's a beguiling experiment.

Garmarna focused on the von Bingen songs at their last local show, two years ago; this time they'll play stuff spanning their career and probably new music as well.

6 PM, Borders Books & Music on Michigan

yDAVID KRAKAUER

The clarinetist (see September 21 entry) performs solo.

7 PM, Humboldt Park Boathouse

yTRUCO & ZAPEROKO

It's not unusual for musicians from different bands to get together and jam--but what you've got here is a joint effort by two entire bands, Los Pleneros del Truco and Zaperoko. Their 1999 debut, Fusion Caribena (Ryko Latino), synthesizes a couple strains of Puerto Rican music that aren't

really that far apart.

Los Pleneros, formed in '81 by percussionist Hector Valentin, play plena, the island's dominant style; it's often topical, and the songs once served as vehicles for news and gossip. The Pleneros play it pretty straight, on guiro--a notched gourd rubbed with a stick--accordion, and multipitched frame drums called panderos. Zaperoko was started a couple years later by late singer Frankie Rodriguez as a modern dance outfit, mixing the progressive salsa of Eddie Palmieri and the funk-tinged songo of Cuba's Los Van Van and leaving plenty of room for jazzy improvisation. Conguero Giovanni Hidalgo and forward-looking trombonist William Cepeda are among the greats who've passed through its ranks.

In 1998 Zaperoko's current leader, trombonist Edwin Feliciano, sat in with Los Pleneros, and they hit it off so well personally and musically that before long he'd brought over all his bandmates. There's no audible culture clash on the album--both musics are based on Afro-Latin rhythms, and the segues between styles are subtle--but it's a veritable parade of infectious polyrhythms, tight brass charts, and excellent call-and-response vocals. Among the highlights is a terrific, hard-driving version of the Cuban gem "El cuarto de Tula," which, the group's bio takes great pains to emphasize, it had plans to record before hearing the Buena Vista Social Club version.

7:30 PM, Old Town School of Folk Music, $12

yGARMARNA

See above.

9:30 PM, HotHouse, $12, 21+

yMAMAR KASSEY

See above.

yLUCIANA SOUZA & ROMERO LUBAMBO

Luciana Souza's parents, the Brazilian songwriting team Walter Santos and Tereza Souza, made hits for Joao Gilberto and Elis Regina, among others, and she grew up around jam sessions with the likes of Milton Nascimento and Hermeto Pascoal. But though samba and bossa nova are constant influences in her work, her career has taken her far afield. An exceptionally creative composer and jazz singer whose voice is just as powerful and flexible an instrument as the axes wielded by her impressive collaborators, she's worked with Danilo Perez, Andrew Rathbun, and John Patitucci, and her own recordings have featured support from players like George Garzone, Chris Cheek, and David Kikoski. A few years ago she set poetry by Elizabeth Bishop to original music, and this year she's been touring with a production of composer Osvaldo Golijov's monumental mass La pasion segun San Marcos (it recently came to Ravinia).

But on her latest project, Brazilian Duos (Sunnyside), she returns to her roots, giving gorgeous and faithful readings of classics by Antonio Carlos Jobim, Edu Lobo, and Luiz Gonzaga, among others, accompanied by a shifting trio of guitarists--Romero Lubambo (who backs her here), Marco Pereira, and her father. Occasionally she'll let herself embellish a melody with a chorus of wordless improvisation, but for the most part she hews closely to the script, allowing the listener to focus on the sublime tangle of syncopation, harmony, and pretty lyricism at the core of Brazilian music.

10 PM, Martyrs', $12, 21+

yYERBA BUENA

Led by Venezuelan songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Andres Levin, who's produced records for a who's who of Latin- American rock and pop acts (Aterciopelados, Ely Guerra, El Gran Silencio, Carlinhos Brown, Moreno Veloso), this dynamic dance band careens around the cultural triangle that connects Nigeria, Cuba, and New York. (The New York Times's Ben Ratliff has called the band "a history of the transmission of Yoruban culture in a nutshell.") No records yet, but on a hot four-song demo they emphasize the common threads running through Afrobeat, son, boogaloo, and dozens of other styles. Breakbeats shuffle beneath the sly guajira "I Wanna Fly With You," which interpolates a snippet of Roy Ayers's "Everybody Loves the Sunshine," while "Solito me quede" combines elements of cumbia and hip-hop with Levin's acidic electric guitar and Brian Lynch's fiery trumpet.

In New York the group's lineup shifts frequently to accommodate guest musicians; here it includes Levin, throaty Cuban vocalist Xiomara Laugart, saxophonist Ron Blake, former Soul Coughing bassist Sebastian Steinberg, and for this gig only percussionist Horacio "El Negro" Hernandez.

FUNKADESI

These locals, at it since the mid-90s, have quite a few fans--and every time I write about them it seems like at least one sends me an indignant letter. On their two recordings the musicians display ample technical skill, but the melange of reggae, Indian classical and filmi music, and light funk is the blandest possible blend.

10:30 PM, Gallery 37 center for the arts, $10

yTERRITORY BAND 3

Members of the Territory Band 3 (see September 22 entry) play in two small-group configurations. The first set features drummer Paul Lytton, pianist Jim Baker, and bassist Kent Kessler, and the second features drummer Paal Nilssen-Love, saxophonist Dave Rempis, cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm, and trumpeter Axel Dorner.

Saturday September 21

2 PM, Borders Books & Music on Michigan

yLUCIANA SOUZA & ROMERO LUBAMBO

See September 20 entry.

2 PM, Garfield Park

Conservatory

TAMA

The UK-based collective Tama took shape when several of its members were recording with Bengali musician Paban Das Baul in the late 90s. Together Malian singer and multi-instrumentalist Toumani "Tom" Diakite, British guitarist and musicologist Sam Mills (a former member of the early 80s ethno-funk band 23 Skidoo), and percussionist Djanuno Dabo, from Guinea-Bissau, make slick Afropop, rooted in the circular riffs and rhythms of Mali but polished with Western flourishes like the psychedelic harmonica solo on "Ibata," from the group's recent second album, Espace (Real World). Diakite sings with soul and judicious restraint, and chanted backing vocals by new recruit Mamani Keita add some nice counterpoint, but ultimately the music just sort of lies there.

4 PM, Hideout, $10

yDAVID KRAKAUER'S KLEZMER MADNESS!

Though he grew up Jewish on Manhattan's Upper East Side, clarinetist Krakauer came to klezmer music accidentally. He started playing the clarinet when he was nine and soon fell in love with jazz, in particular the music of New Orleans-born clarinet and soprano sax legend Sidney Bechet, but at Juilliard he chose the classical path. One day after he'd graduated, he heard a klezmer band practicing across the street from his apartment, and it just grabbed him. "It wasn't the music itself--it was the sound of how my grandmother spoke," he told Down Beat last year.

Before long he was picking up klezmer gigs for fun, and in 1989 he was invited to join the Klezmatics, excellent New York klez revisionists who were laying the groundwork for the 90s explosion of what John Zorn refers to as "radical Jewish culture." He made a couple fine albums with the group, and by the time he formed his own band in 1995 his hobby had become his livelihood. He's made four albums since then, each one pushing hard against the boundaries of the tradition.

The last three feature an aggressive electric quintet that easily ride the fast, complex time signatures and bring extra heat to performances; highlights include a lengthy suite that imagined a meeting between Bechet and klezmer pioneer Naftule Brandwein and a cut showcasing electric guitarist Mark Stewart that's cheekily but accurately titled "Klezdrix." On the brand-new The Twelve Tribes (Label Bleu) Krakauer amps up the Jewish wedding chestnut "Chusen Kale Mazel Tov," fuses bulgar (a Romanian dance style) and 12-bar blues, and even duets with a DJ.

Krakauer is arguably the best klezmer clarinetist in the world, and almost certainly the most creative--and thanks to his success in klezmer his classical career is happening too. His recording of the Argentine composer Osvaldo Golijov's The Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind with the Kronos Quartet is the most prominent of a slew of projects he's undertaken as a concert artist.

yYERBA BUENA

See September 20 entry.

7 PM, Symphony Center

BRATKO BIBIC & THE MADLEYS

Accordionist Bratko Bibic cofounded Begnagrad, an important player in RIO (Rock in Opposition)--a politicized European prog-rock movement spearheaded by the British band Henry Cow in the late 70s. He spent the late 80s and early 90s in the international group Nimal, with cellist Tom Cora and drummer Pippin Barnett, and more recently participated in a project called the Accordion Tribe with broad-minded squeezeboxers from Sweden, Finland, and New York. His new group the Madleys reunites him with most of the members of Begnagrad, but the music this time is a whimsical, lively, string-heavy blend of eastern European folk, jazz, and rock. Prog rock has a rep as a refuge for soulless virtuosos, but on the Madleys' sound track for the Slovenian silent film In the Family Garden, the music is quite accessible; its technical difficulty seems merely an appropriate match for the dense on-screen montage.

7:30 PM, Old Town School of Folk Music, $12

SUSANA SEIVANE

The northwestern provinces of Galicia and Asturias have always been strongholds of Spain's little-known Celtic culture, but not until the rise of the group Milladoir--members of which sometimes play behind 26-year-old bagpiper Susana Seivane--some two decades ago did a revival of Spanish Celtic music begin to flower. Seivane was born in Barcelona into a long line of bagpipe makers, so the music's in her blood, but on her U.S. debut, Susana Seivane, released in 2000 on Green Linnet, she's no purist. She mixes new compositions--including a few originals where she sings--with traditional material, and the instrumentation ranges beyond the usual pipes and strummed guitars to include smoothly incorporated synthesizer, clarinet, and oboe. Her lines are fleet and sharp, melodically detailed and rhythmically agile, but if (like me) you just dislike the sound of the bagpipes on some primal level, none of this will matter much.

yLUCIANA SOUZA & ROMERO LUBAMBO

See September 20 entry.

PM, Museum of Contemporary Art, $12

yOMAR SOSA OCTET

Since 1995 Cuban pianist and composer Omar Sosa (now based in Barcelona) has worked in a duo with Bay Area percussionist John Santos and led large-scale groups in exploring the intersections of music from Africa, the Caribbean, South America, and urban America. He plays piano like the percussion instrument it is, hammering out constantly evolving polyrhythms and unleashing his ideas in impatient bursts. Too often early on those ideas were incompletely articulated and pulled together by New Age-y transitions, but in the last few years Sosa has found new focus. In a performance last fall at the Akbank Jazz Festival in Istanbul, he devised a startlingly effective way to fuse Cuban son montuno, hip-hop, and jagged jazz improvisation, and though his latest album, Sentir (Ota), incorporates rhythms from all over South America, the connective tissue is primarily Moroccan Gnawa groove and hard-driving Cuban son. Two Moroccan musicians play most of the bass lines on the twangy Gnawa guembri, and up to six musicians at a time contribute percussion, while on piano Sosa alternates between rhythmic reinforcer and lead melodic voice, rhapsodizing with classical splendor one moment and exploding into a free jazz maelstrom the next. The excellent Cuban vocalist Martha Galarraga adds trance-inducing Yoruban chants and richly embroidered son melodies, and lazy-voiced rapper Sub-Z drops some metaphysical rhymes.

Sosa himself is an incredible performer who guides his group in a blur of motion, pounding away at the keys or leaping up from the bench to grab some percussion device. For these performances the lineup includes Galarraga, Oakland rapper Brutha Los, Venezuelan percussionist Gustavo Ovalles, saxophonist Eric Crystal, bassist Geoff Brennan, Moroccan percussionist and guembri player Yassir Chadly, and jazz drummer Elliot Kavee.

JUBA QUARTET

Percussionist, composer, and impresario Kahil El'Zabar has experimented sporadically with jazz-house fusion for well over a decade, but the eponymously titled debut of his JUBA Collective, recently released on the local Premonition label, is the first recorded evidence of it. A crew of respected jazz players--Ritual Trio saxophonist Ari Brown, polystylistic guitarist Fareed Haque, and pop-fusion keyboardist Robert Irving III--rides over beat programs and electronic textures contributed by Poi Dog Pondering's Frank Orrall, while spoken word artists Tamara Love and Susana Sandoval recite poetry and the duo Primeridian raps.

The rhythms prove surprisingly cohesive, but the concept feels somewhat stale: whatever El'Zabar had in mind in the 80s, a slew of Scandinavians (Bugge Wesseltoft, the E.S.T. Trio, Nils Petter Molvaer) and Americans (Tim Hagans, Carl Craig, Guru) have beat him to the execution. As with many of those experiments, JUBA Collective is interesting as dance music but depressingly rigid as jazz. For this gig only the four jazzers will perform; the absence of the canned beats ought to give them more room to move.

9 PM, Symphony Center

yMAMAR KASSEY

See September 20 entry.

9:30 PM, HotHouse, $12, 21+

yYERBA BUENA

See September 20 entry.

yTRUCO & ZAPEROKO

See September 20 entry.

10 PM, Empty Bottle, $12, 21+

yU.S. MAPLE

This local band's most recent album, Acre Thrills (Drag City), has moments of rock 'n' roll clarity: a guitar riff that almost resolves itself, a rhythm that doesn't retreat from a steady pulse after a measure and a half, a hummable vocal line. But the main purpose of these bits is apparently to confirm that everything else--a gorgeously intricate tangle of jagged progressions, stuttered lyrics, and warped harmonies--is just as purposeful and precisely executed. U.S. Maple's songs don't pay off in traditional ways--verse doesn't lead to chorus, and tension doesn't lead to release. Which makes for a frustrating listen, but a rewarding one if you've ever feared that all the suprise had gone out of rock music.

yDAVID KRAKAUER'S KLEZMER MADNESS!

See above.

10:30 PM, gallery 37

center for the arts, $10

yTERRITORY BAND 3

Members of the Territory Band 3 (see September 22 entry) play in two small-group configurations: The first set features tubaist Per-Ake Holmlander, pianist Jim Baker, reedist Fredrik Ljungkvist, and sound manipulator Kevin Drumm, and the second features drummer Paul Lytton, drummer Paal Nilssen-Love, trombonist Jeb Bishop, and reedist Ken Vandermark.

sunday September

22

2 PM, Chicago Cultural Center

yTERRITORY BAND 3

Ken Vandermark's sporadically convened Territory Band might be the most vivid demonstration of the way Vandermark the composer thinks like Vandermark the improviser. In the four long pieces on Atlas (Okka Disk), Vandermark sets the different player combinations for the improvised sections, acting somewhat like a conductor in controlling their duration and intensity. His writing, peppered with spiky riffs, pile-driving horn lines, and precise unison caterwauling, never settles into a groove for long, as he recognizes spontaneously produced sparks and directs the proceedings so as to fuel them.

The band currently includes electronics whiz Kevin Drumm, cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm, pianist Jim Baker, saxophonist Dave Rempis, and trombonist Jeb Bishop, all from Chicago, plus Swedish tubaist Per-Ake Holmlander and reedist Fredrik Ljungkvist, German trumpeter Axel Dorner, Belgium-based Brit drummer Paul Lytton, and new recruit Paal Nilssen-Love, a Norwegian drummer. They'll test drive all-new material here.

2 PM, 57th Street

Children's Book Fair

TLEN-HUICANI

This Mexican folkloric group, affiliated with the University of Veracruz, plays a mixture of son huasteco (a moderately paced, violin-driven form popular throughout the country) and son jarocho (the fast, harp-driven style popular in Veracruz). On the only CD I've heard, Concierto romantico, the band's dazzling technique and consummate professionalism largely eliminate the wonderful ragged soul I've noted in other recordings of these genres.

2 PM, Humboldt Park Boathouse

JUBA JAM

Musicians from Kahil El'Zabar's JUBA Collective (see September 21 entry) will be joined by members of Yerba Buena (see September 20 entry) and Truco & Zaperoko (see September 20 entry).

3 PM, Borders Books & Music on Clark

TAMA

See September 21 entry.

4:30 PM, Gene Siskel

Film Center, $8 ($4 for

Film Center members)

BRATKO BIBIC & THE MADLEYS

See September 21 entry. The group will perform its sound track to the silent film In the Family Garden, a montage of fragments shot between 1905 and 1941 and collected in the Slovenian Film Archive.

6 PM, Old Town School of

Folk Music, $12 ($10 for

Old Town School members)

NATIVE AMERICAN EQUINOX CELEBRATION with TLEN-HUICANI

See Tlen-Huicani entry above.

7:30 PM, Beverly Arts

Center, $10

SUSANA SEIVANE

See September 21 entry.

PM, Old Town School of Folk Music, $12 ($10 for Old Town School members)

WADE FERNANDEZ

Wade Fernandez, aka Wiciwen Apis-Mahwaew, is a member of the Menominee Indian Nation and grew up on its reservation in northern Wisconsin. A few of the tunes on his eponymously titled album address environmental and racial concerns, and one is a percussion-and-chant piece, but otherwise the music is low-key melodic folk rock.

MARK CLEVELAND

This Evanston singer-songwriter, who sounds a bit like John Hiatt, is part Cherokee, but not until he was in his 30s, when he met tribal elder and archaeologist Jim Gillihan (aka Tatanka Ska), did begin exploring that part of his heritage. He plays Native American flute and acoustic guitar; his songs raise some philosophical questions about the Native American experience.

PM, HotHouse, $12, 21+

yOMAR SOSA OCTET

See September 21 entry.

TAMA

See September 21 entry.

Monday September 23

Noon, Daley Center

TLEN-HUICANI

See September 22 entry.

12:30 PM, Museum of Broadcast Communications

SUSANA SEIVANE

See September 21 entry.

POLISH HIGHLANDERS

This local ensemble plays traditional Polish folk music accompanied by lively dancers in old-fashioned costumes. Members of the group will also participate in singer Grazyna Auguscik's Past Forward project (see September 25 entry).

12:30 PM, Borders Books & Music on Michigan

yOMAR SOSA OCTET

See September 21 entry.

7 PM, Chicago Cultural Center

yKEMANI CEMAL WITH GROUP SULUKULE

Though he's something of a jobber, having scraped by for years playing weddings and accompanying belly dancers in Turkey, 74-year-old Gypsy musician Kemani Cemal is a monster fiddler and master improviser. On a Traditional Crossroads release a few years ago he fronted a group of veteran Gypsy players in a round of the gorgeously sorrowful dance music that for many years kept the cafes of Sulukule--an Istanbul neighborhood that was once a Gypsy enclave--hopping; these days it's tourist music if it gets heard at all. Cemal's long, serpentine solos slither over percolating rhythms played on the darbouka, an ancient hand drum; clarinet arrives in vocalic sobs, chuckles, and sighs; and lightning-quick improvisations on the kanun, a type of zither, are marvels of pointillistic melody.

For these appearances Cemal will be joined by an excellent Gypsy band, plus Harold Hagopian, the New York-based record producer who owns Traditional Crossroads, on kanun.

PM, HotHouse, $10, 18+

ALFONSO PONTICELLI & SWING GITAN

This local trio plays instrumental swing tunes in the style of great French Gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt.

YOKO NOGE & THE JAZZ ME BLUES BAND

Japanese pianist and singer Yoko Noge got hooked on the blues growing up in Osaka, and in 1987 she migrated to the source. Since then she's become a local fixture, with a long-running Monday night gig at HotHouse. Her band, which blurs the distinctions between the two genres in its name, includes three saxophones, trombone, bass, and drums.

Tuesday September 24

12:30 PM, Museum of Broadcast Communications

yMORIKEBA

KOUYATE

Senegalese kora master and griot Morikeba Kouyate has lived in Chicago since 1991--when he was stranded here on a dance company tour that ran out of money. His misfortune has been our gain: his fluid and mesmerizing improvisations (which patrons of the Ethio Cafe can hear for free every Saturday night) have taken him across the country and earned him the chance to make a couple of albums, Music of Senegal (for Traditional Crossroads) and M'fake, with Aboul Doumbia, Karamba Dambakate, and Joh Camara. Here he'll perform solo.

yYANG WEI & BETTY XIANG

This accomplished couple, based in Chicago, plays the classical music of China. Wei plays pipa, an elegant, twangy lute, and for the past few years has been a member of Yo-Yo Ma's acclaimed Silk Road Ensemble. Xiang, the daughter of a Shanghai music professor who's soloed with orchestras in France, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, and Taiwan, plays the erhu, a two-stringed fiddle.

PM, HotHouse, $12, 21+

RADIO TARIFA

This Spanish trio plays modern pan-Mediterranean music, combining Sephardic, Andalusian, and Arabic traditions that date back to medieval times into a seamless style that snaps like pop. On the group's third and most recent album, Cruzando el rio (Nonesuch/World Circuit), multi-instrumentalist leader Fain S. Duenas adds electric guitar to an already sizable collection of stringed instruments and hand percussion, and wind-instrument whiz Vincent Molino has picked up the cromorno, an antecedent of the oboe. The group extends its geographic reach to France (with the Renaissance-era piece "Si j'ai perdu mon ami") and even Japan (with "Gujo Bushi"), but Benjamin Escoriza still holds the center with his gruff flamenco-influenced vocal stylings. The results are impressively coherent--though at times self-consciously arty and a tad effete.

yKEMANI CEMAL WITH GROUP SULUKULE

See September 23 entry.

Wednesday September 25

Noon, Daley Center

yKEMANI CEMAL WITH GROUP SULUKULE

See September 23 entry.

12:30 PM, Borders Books & Music on State

yMIGUEL POVEDA

Quite a few of the performers at this year's fest spice their music with a shake or two of flamenco, but for the real thing, Miguel Poveda is the must-see. On his most recent album, Zaguan (Harmonia Mundi), the 29-year-old singer from Barcelona displays devastating emotional intensity without any of the histrionics that too often pass for passion. He and his accompanist Chicuelo interact almost telepathically--Poveda's vocal eruptions often ignite on a spark supplied by the guitarist, who in turn seems to respond to the singer's every inflection. While Poveda is clearly a traditionalist, he's not necessarily a purist. On the a cappella "El Uvero," for example, he multitracks his voice to provide an eerie but soothing drone behind his lead. But for the most part he sticks to just guitar, hand claps, and on a few tunes spare percussion. His performances are sure to be some of the most captivating of the festival.

6 PM, Borders Books & Music on Michigan

yCRACOW KLEZMER BAND

None of the members of this Polish quartet, formed by accordionist Jarek Bester in 1997, are actually Jewish, but it has made two albums for John Zorn's Tzadik label, the imprint the saxophonist founded to promote "radical Jewish culture." All eight tunes on their most recent disc, last year's The Warriors, are originals, and while Oleg Dyyak's clarinet work reveals a deep understanding of klezmer fundamentals, the band's minimalist and subdued approach tones down klez's inherent raucousness. Jaroslaw Tyrala's taut violin lines draw on Gypsy traditions more than klezmer, and the plush accordion patterns nod to Astor Piazzolla's arty tangos; the band seems to mainly admire klezmer for its sorrowful undertones.

PM, Beverly Arts Center, $10

RADIO TARIFA

See September 24 entry.

PM, HotHouse, $12, 21+

LES YEUX NOIRS

Les Yeux Noirs--French for "the Black Eyes"--take their name from a Russian Gypsy tune popularized by French guitarist Django Reinhardt. There are indeed traces of le jazz hot on the group's recent Balamouk (World Village)--particularly in the voicings of violin-playing brothers Eric and Olivier Slabiak on more upbeat material--but the bulk of the music more directly references the traditions of Europe's Gypsies and Jews, seesawing between cimbalom-driven stompers and mournful klezmer. The band's writing has the appealing conciseness and catchiness of pop, and drummer Aidje Tafial and bassist Franck Anastasio give the music a crisp kick without laying it on rock thick.

yBISSEROV SISTERS

North American listeners familiar with the Mystere des Voix Bulgares collections will recognize one of the Bisserov Sisters' specialties--that vaguely polyphonic harmony style distinguished by dazzling dissonance, weird tonal clusters, and surprising whoops and slides. But this group from Pirin, near Bulgaria's border with Greece and Macedonia, also sings more conventional-sounding Muslim folk material accompanied by tarambuka (a hand drum), tambura (a long-necked lute), daire (tambourine), and other regional instruments.

PM, Empty Bottle, $10, 21+

GRAZYNA AUGUSCIK & JAREK BESTER

Although she's a dyed-in-the-wool jazz singer, swinging and improvising with the imagination of an instrumentalist, local Polish-born singer Grazyna Auguscik has undertaken a variety of special projects that bring other influences into the fold. She's worked with dance music producer Robert Grillo, who wove her airy vocals through club beats, and she's also explored samba and bossa nova with local guitarist Paulinho Garcia. For her most recent fusion, a Chicago Composers Project commission called Past Forward, Auguscik collaborated with accordionist Jarek Bester of Poland's Cracow Klezmer Band (see above) on a set of music that combines elements of traditional Polish, Balkan, Ukrainian, and klezmer music with the rhythms and voicings of jazz. Bester and four of the Polish Highlanders (see September 23 entry) will join saxophonist Steve Eisen, bassist Kelly Sill, and drummer Ernie Adams for this performance.

:30 PM, Old Town School of Folk Music, $5 donation

yMIGUEL POVEDA

See above.

Thursday September 26

12:30 PM, Borders Books & Music on Michigan

yCRISTINA BRANCO

Fado is inextricably connected to Portugal, where it first developed in the 1800s and continues to proliferate--much like the blues in Chicago--as a tourist industry. (It bears some spiritual similarity to the blues, too, in that it's sorrowful and celebratory at once.) While the form traditionally employs conventional acoustic guitar and 12-string Portuguese guitar, the focus is generally on the singer, who expresses her exquisite agony with theatrical self-consciousness.

The great Amalia Rodrigues, who died in 1999, remains the music's primary icon, and the wave of promising new fadistas who've surfaced over the past decade all face the unenviable challenge of trying to escape her long shadow. Cristina Branco is one of the most prominent of these, and as with many contemporary fado artists, her initial success came abroad, first in Holland and then France. Corpo iluminado (Decca) is her fifth album and her first to be released in the U.S. Branco uses traditional instrumentation, interprets some classic material, and has chosen new material written the old way, but her voice, while unquestionably powerful, is a bit more ethereal than any of her peers', and she embellishes her outpourings with faint but distinct touches of jazz and pop.

12:30 PM, Museum of Broadcast Communications

yMIGUEL POVEDA

See September 25 entry.

yANOUAR BRAHEM TRIO

Tunisian oud player Anouar Brahem was trained in classical Arabic music, but since signing with ECM Records in the early 90s he's adapted that tradition in collaboration with musicians from all over the world. Brahem's music develops with great patience and his playing is strategically spacious, allowing room for everyone from jazzers like Dave Holland to classical tabla player Shaukat Hussain to French accordionist Richard Galliano to do their thing without elbowing him out.

His new album, Les pas du chat noir, is a collection of gauzy, restrained improvisation-laced tunes recorded with an accordionist and pianist; it would sound equally good in a concert hall or a smoky Parisian cafe. But the group he brings to Chicago on his first major American tour is his best yet. He worked with both Tunisian percussionist Lassad Hosni and Turkish clarinetist Barbaros Erkose on his excellent 1992 album Conte de l'incroyable amour, and they joined him again on last year's beautiful Astrakan Cafe, a set of mostly original compositions that ties together the many musics based on maqamat--modal systems used throughout the Middle East and western Asia. Erkose, one of Istanbul's greatest Gypsy musicians, is particularly good, his emotional lines occasionally leaping out of the purr like a roar.

7 PM, Chicago Cultural Center

yCRACOW KLEZMER BAND

See September 25 entry.

PM, Museum of Contemporary Art, $12

yANOUAR BRAHEM TRIO

See above.

PM, Beverly Arts Center,

$10

yMIGUEL POVEDA

See September 25 entry.

PM, HotHouse, $12, 21+

yCRISTINA BRANCO

See above.

yERWIN HELFER TRIO

Local boogie-woogie authority Erwin Helfer has been basking in renewed and much warranted appreciation thanks to the release of last year's strangely titled but excellent I'm Not Hungry but I Like to Eat--BLUES! (The Sirens). An autumnal grace tempers the pianist's most rollicking numbers, like the classic "Dirty Dozens," and he approaches ballads like "Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out" and Duke Ellington's "In a Sentimental Mood" with a level of subtlety that comes only with experience. For this trio gig he's joined by the unlikely rhythm section of hard-bop bassist John Whitfield and AACM drummer Avreeayl Ra.

FRA FRA SOUND

Bassist Vincent Henar formed this Dutch group in the early 80s to play music from his native Suriname, but what it mostly plays now is slick world jazz. Kaseko, a heavily syncopated Surinamese dance style driven by the big drum called the skratji and fleshed out by a large brass section and call-and-response chanting, is an influence, but so is fusion, with its boilerplate solos and airless arrangements. Still, Fra Fra Sound has collaborated with musicians from around the globe, and on 1999's Mali Jazz (Pramisi), the horns' rhythmically nuanced solos did blend well with contributions by kora great Toumani Diabate and a slew of other Malian singers and instrumentalists. And they do have a strong reputation as a live act.

PM, Polish Highlander

Hall, $10

ySZASZCSAVAS

When this superb Rom wedding band--its name is taken from the tiny Transylvanian village where the members are part of the ethnic minority--played at Chicago Cultural Center last year, its relentless dance music seemed almost wasted on the audience of respectful listeners. Not that your average Chicagoan should know a suru verbunk from a szekely verbunk, but unfortunately this kind of music relies somewhat on an exchange of energy with the crowd, and even as Szaszcsavas attacked their strings with facility and precision, their faces revealed less than those mugs up on Mount Rushmore.

The sextet's instrumentation includes an upright bass and a kontra, the three-stringed viola with a flat bridge used exclusively to play chords, which together saw out the rhythm--low, fast, and metronomic. The repetitive melodic lines are played by three violinists, sometimes in unison, sometimes lightning quick, sometimes funereal. Their most recent studio album, Szaszcsavas Band 3, includes instrumentals for many different folk dances and a couple tunes with somber lyrics that go oddly with the upbeat music ("I grew up like a weed in the fields / Hey, mother dear, I'm not yours," goes one translation). My guess is that the band will fare better at the Polish Highlander Hall, where the regulars are more accustomed to kicking up their heels.

yBISSEROV SISTERS

See September 25 entry.

9 PM, Martyrs', $10, 21+

yBOBAN MARKOVIC ORKESTAR

I became infatuated with Gypsy brass band music after seeing Emir Kusturica's 1995 film Underground, whose sound track opens with a brass band plowing through an eastern European folk tune at superhuman velocity. After making it through the rest of this wonderfully excessive opus, I assumed the music's intensity was another exercise on the part of the director. But once I started picking up music by groups like Fanfare Ciocarlia and Kocani Orkestar, I realized that it was part of a genuine tradition in the former Yugoslavia and parts of Romania.

The group that actually recorded much of the music for the film was the Boban Markovic Orkestar, one of Serbia's most popular brass bands. On the group's brand-new Live in Belgrade (Piranha) three flugelhorns, sax, helicon tuba, and four tenor horns (an instrument that looks a bit like the French horn and is a standby of European military bands) blitz through tricky contrapuntal arrangements over hard-driving percussion played on a couple kinds of drums. The soloists are magicians as much as musicians, electrifying everything from Serbian folk tunes to the Yiddish warhorse "Hava Nagila."

Markovic has won numerous awards at the annual Guca Brass Band Festival--a 42-year-old gathering that these days draws more than 300,000 people--and it's easy to hear why. There's no act I'm looking forward to more on this festival's roster.

LES YEUX NOIRS

See September 25 entry.

10 PM, Smart Bar, $8, 21+

GLOBAL UPRISE!

An evening of ethno-techno curated by DJ Warp, aka Chicagoan Brian Keigher. The main attraction is New York DJ Sultan32--otherwise known as Fabian Alsultany, a keyboardist with Bill Laswell's Indian-dance fusion project Tabla Beat Science and the founder of GlobeSonic, a monthly evening of global electronic music in New York. His recent mix CD, Earth n Bass (Triloka), brings together groove-enhanced traditionalism--including a jacked-up remix of an Arabic classical piece by legendary Egyptian composer Mohammed Abdel Wahab--and international pop by artists like Manu Chao, Karsh Kale, Bebel Gilberto, and Gigi.

Also spinning are New Yorker Derek Beres and Chicagoans Chris Widman and Anacron. Members of the local bands Funkadesi (see September 20 entry) and Karma Sutra (see September 28 entry) will add live tabla, sitar, and flute to the mix.

Friday September 27

Noon, Daley Center

yBOBAN MARKOVIC ORKESTAR

See September 26 entry.

12:30 PM, Museum of Broadcast Communications

yCRISTINA BRANCO

See September 26 entry.

3 PM, Borders Books & Music on Michigan

yANOUAR BRAHEM TRIO

See September 26 entry.

5:30 PM, Gallery 37 center for the arts

CONVERSATION WITH ALASKA OF FANGORIA

Followed by DJ sets from Alaska, who spins under the name Mexican Acid Queen, and her bandmate, Nacho Canut, aka Caligula 2000 (see September 28 entry for Fangoria).

7 PM, Field Museum of natural history, $12

SONES DE MEXICO

Since 1994 this local sextet--which includes ethnomusicologist Juan Dies, director of community outreach at the Old Town School of Folk Music--has assembled an impressively comprehensive repertoire of Mexican son (a rich tradition that encompasses many regional styles, among them huapango, gusto, chilena, son jarocho, and mariachi), adding its own tasteful and zippy modern flourishes to the mix. The group reaches out even further on its self-released new album, Fandango on 18th Street, pulling off a Mexicanized tribute to Bakersfield honky-tonk great Buck Owens with the help of John Rice on dobro, incorporating a trio of Irish musicians on the huapango "La lavandera," and making room for Grupo Mono Blanco, a folk ensemble from Veracruz, on the son jarocho "El butaquito."

7:30 PM, Old Town School of Folk Music, $12

yCRISTINA BRANCO

See September 26 entry.

IRENE FARRERA & VENEZUELA VIVA

Venezuelan folk singer Irene Farrera has spent most of her career exploring traditions other than her own. In the 90s she left Caracas and settled in Oregon, where she focused on Brazilian music and nueva cancion, the politically charged folk music that evolved under Peron in Argentina and flowered most prominently in Chile. Nueva cancion, though it means "new song," put an emphasis on fortifying one's own roots, and that's what Farrera finally does on the new Serenata (Paraiso Sonico), mixing a handful of original compositions with a raft of songs by some of Venezuela's most important writers. The music--sultry llaneras, flamencoesque joropos, a propulsive Afro-Venezuelan tambor de patanemo--is deeply romantic stuff, dominated by acoustic guitar, the four-stringed cuatro, and delicate hand percussion. There are similarities here to Susana Baca's Afro-Peruvian roots music, but Baca's performances are always buoyant and soulful, and though Farrera has a deep, dusky voice her delivery is stiff and melodramatic. The instrumental backing is also disappointingly mannered.

PM, Beverly Arts Center,

$10

yANOUAR BRAHEM TRIO

See September 26 entry.

PM, Museum of Contemporary Art, $12

FRA FRA SOUND

See September 26 entry.

yDOUGLAS EWART CLARINET CHOIR

During his many years in Chicago, reedist, composer, instrument maker, lecturer, and educator Douglas Ewart was one of the most active members of the legendary south-side Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians. He participated in the early electronics experiments of George Lewis and employed nontraditional wind instruments--like the Arabic ney and the Japanese shakuhachi--in jazz and improv settings. He moved to Minneapolis in the mid-90s and his local performances have been rather infrequent since, which makes this appearance of his rarely convened Clarinet Choir even more exciting. On the group's Angles of Entrance (Arawak), Henry Threadgill, Anthony Braxton, Don Byron, and Roscoe Mitchell join in on beautiful performances of Ewart's original compositions. The contrapuntal arrangements are filled with salt 'n' sour harmonic interplay, and the range of colors the nonet creates with just upright bass and a handful of different-size licorice sticks is impressive. For this gig Ewart will present a smaller version of the group with reedists Mwata Bowden, Edward Wilkerson Jr., J.D. Parran, and bassist Malachi Favors Maghostut.

9 PM, Chopin Theatre, $12

GRAZYNA AUGUSCIK & JAREK BESTER

See September 25 entry.

yCRACOW KLEZMER BAND

See September 25 entry.

9:30 PM, HotHouse, $12, 21+

yBOBAN MARKOVIC ORKESTAR

See September 26 entry.

yFRANK LONDON'S KLEZMER BRASS ALL-STARS

Trumpeter Frank London helped launch the booming New York klezmer revival with his band the Klezmatics in the late 80s, and he's devoted not only to the music's preservation but also to its development. Over the last decade he's been involved in numerous projects in and outside of klezmer, but his Klezmer Brass All-Stars have to rank as one of his most satisfying--and most fun. The group's excellent debut, Di Shikere Kapelye (that's Yiddish for "The Inebriated Orchestra"), "re-creates" the music of a fictional 19th-century group "that was always invited to perform, but never welcomed to stay in one place." The brass-dominated instrumentation is inspired by the wild music of Gypsy brass bands, whose high-energy, freewheeling approach suggests--and usually inspires--a certain pleasant level of inebriation. And the loose lineup includes some of the scene's leading lights; here it rounds up trumpeter Susan Sandler (KlezMs.), trombonist Curtis Hasselbring (Slavic Soul Party), reedist Matt Darriau (Paradox Trio, Klezmatics), and drummer Aaron Alexander (Hasidic New Wave) as well as tubaist Mark Rubin of punk-bluegrass faves the Bad Livers.

On London's latest album, the mind-boggling Brotherhood of Brass (Piranha), he expands the repertoire to include other types of eastern European folk music and brings in two other brass bands: Egypt's Hasaballa Brass Band and Serbia's Boban Markovic Orkestar (see September 26 entry). The All-Stars and the Markovic group are scheduled to perform separate sets here, but a bit of raucous border crossing seems almost inevitable.

Saturday September 28

1 PM, Museum of Science & Industry

RABO DE LAGARTIXA FEATURING ESTEVAO TEIXEIRA

Samba and bossa nova are generally what American listeners think of as the primary forms of Brazilian music, but choro--which translates as "crying" or "sobbing"--predates them both. It surfaced in the 1880s, drawing on European parlor music and Portuguese fado, but with a much stronger rhythmic drive than either. The original Carnaval music, it fell out of favor for several decades, but now it's enjoying a revival, thanks largely to some boosterism by the great samba singer Paulinho da Viola. Rabo de Lagartixa, a quintet from Rio de Janeiro, is one of the groups that've picked up the torch. On the recent Quebra-Queixo (Malandro), breezy licks played on the cavaquinho--a tiny, high-pitched guitar--intersect with jazzy saxophone solos over infectious syncopated rhythms for an overall sound something like tropical Dixieland.

For these appearances the group is joined by Brazilian flute player Estevao Teixeira, who specializes in a more explicit jazz-choro hybrid.

2 PM, Rogers Park Community Day Parade

yGANGBE BRASS BAND

Benin's Gangbe Brass Band prove that slick dance-pop production isn't the only first-world musical value with currency in Africa these days. The ten-member group's new album, Togbe (Contre-Jour), bears the imprint of rollicking New Orleans brass bands like the Rebirth and the Dirty Dozen as well as the jazz-oriented experiments of Lester Bowie's Brass Fantasy; with the exception of Lucien Gbaguidi's saxophone, the lineup is strictly brass and percussion, with James Vodounnon's fatback euphonium functioning as bass. The group's originals feature intricate but punchy charts full of tart counterpoint, and the solos borrow notions of phrasing and harmony from bop; what distinguishes the ensemble from its stateside influences is the addition of hypnotic vocal chants and a dense undergirding of pan-African polyrhythms, ranging from the relentless vodoun grooves of Benin to the extroverted juju of neighboring Nigeria.

2 PM, Borders Books & Music on Clark

yFRANK LONDON'S KLEZMER BRASS ALL-STARS

See September 27 entry.

7:30 PM, Old Town School of Folk Music, $12

yGANGBE BRASS BAND

See above entry.

yFRANK LONDON'S KLEZMER BRASS ALL-STARS

See September 27 entry.

9:30 PM, HotHouse, $15, 21+

ySUSANA BACA

Recording sessions for Espiritu vivo (Luaka Bop), the most recent album by acclaimed Afro-Peruvian singer Susana Baca, were scheduled to begin in New York on September 11, and this factoid has spurred much polite murmuring about multiculturalism in recent reviews. But the cross-cultural collaboration that went into the album isn't just a political nicety. Genre-defying New Yorkers Marc Ribot (guitar) and John Medeski (organ and piano) worked on Baca's previous album Eco de sombras (Luaka Bop, 2000), but their input is much greater than before, which sets up a fascinating push and pull between Afro-Peruvian roots music and postmodern jazz. Baca's working band--bassist and arranger David Pinto, acoustic guitarist Sergio Valdeos, percussionist Hugo Bravo, and cajon player Juan Medrano Cotito--has always been extremely empathetic, shadowing her graceful melodies tenderly and precisely, but Medeski and Ribot loosen things up a bit, bringing some superheated New York funk to the dance celebration "Se me van los pies" and dissonant Afro-Cuban intensity to a cover of Brazilian songwriter Caetano Veloso's "13 de mayo."

Baca's choice in material is interesting here too: For more than a decade she and her Bolivian husband, Ricardo Pereira, have run the Instituto Negrocontinuo, whose purpose is to preserve the oral traditions of Peru's marginalized African population, and their mission has long been heavily reflected in her repertoire. But while there are a few such selections here, as well as another new piece by young Peruvian composer Javier Lazo (who started writing material in the Afro-Peruvian tradition after being inspired by Baca), Baca also covers Bjork's "Anchor Song," the pop standard "Autumn Leaves" (which she sings in its original French), and "Afro Blue," the Mongo Santamaria song made famous by John Coltrane.

For this tour she's bringing only her core band, but I'm curious to hear how the New Yorkers may have influenced their playing. Baca also opens for saxophonist Karl Denson at House of Blues--a show not affiliated with the World Music Festival--on Thursday, September 26.

GINGARTE CAPOEIRA

Capoeira is a unique discipline, developed in Brazil, that combines music, dance, and martial arts; enslaved Bantu people are thought to have brought it to South America in the 1700s. Meticulously executed spins, kicks, cartwheels, and handstands are performed to call-and-response vocals and hypnotic, repetitive percussion patterns--played on, among other instruments, the berimbau, a musical bow with a metal string and a gourd resonator. Gingarte Capoeira is a local group and school founded and directed by Marisa Cordeiro, who moved to Chicago from Brazil in 1991.

10 PM, Empty Bottle, $10, 21+

FANGORIA

Olvido Gara was born in Mexico City in 1963, but when she was ten her father moved the family back to his native Spain. As a teenager she rechristened herself Alaska, and in 1978 cofounded Kaka de Luxe, one of the country's first new-wave bands. She's been a fixture on the Spanish scene since, fronting a series of pop bands, including Los Pegamoides and Dinarama, and has done sporadic acting, including playing Bom in Pedro Almodovar's Pepi, Luci, Bom and the Other Girls (1980). In 1990 she and Nacho Canut (a regular collaborator since Kaka de Luxe) formed the duo Fangoria--and now, in time for their latest release, Naturaleza muerta (Subterfuge), their brand of melodramatic synth pop is finally back in style. Imagine Yaz fronted by a woman who looks like Marilyn Manson and sounds like a cross between Marianne Faithfull and Neil Tennant and you're pretty close.

KARMA SUTRA

The latest project of veteran Chicago bandwagon-hopper Preston Klik. This time his fixation is the Asian Underground, but as usual he's several years too late to be remarkable. Generic electronic beats and New Age-y textures billow beneath unimaginatively employed Indian flavorings--a tamboura drone here, a tabla loop there--and Enya-ized melodies sung by Mona Jethmalani.

10 PM, Park West, $12, 21+

JUBA COLLECTIVE WITH NONA HENDRYX

See September 21 entry. Kahil El'Zabar's group will be joined by Nona Hendryx, the audacious funk and soul singer who made her name as a member of Labelle.

10 PM, Hideout, $10, 21+

RABO DE LAGARTIXA FEATURING ESTEVAO TEIXEIRA

See above.

REBECCA GATES

The onetime leader of the Spinanes has steadily drifted away from indie rock since moving to Chicago in the late 90s. Her solo work is a relaxed and highly personal blend of blue-eyed soul, torch singing, and folksy balladeering. She'll perform a short solo set.

KEVIN O'DONNELL & THE NATIONAL QUARTET

O'Donnell is the longtime drummer in Andrew Bird's Bowl of Fire and leader of a neoswing unit called the Quality Six. He's also composed music for the Mad Shak Dance Company and more recently wrote songs for Redmoon Theater's Salao: The Worst Kind of Unlucky. This new outfit features violinist Bird and Bowl of Fire guitarist Andy Hopkins, upright bassist Cynthia Main, and percussionist Shu Shubat, the leader of Jellyeye Drum Theatre, in which O'Donnell also performs. I haven't heard them yet, but according to O'Donnell, they "combine...groove-jazz and old-school jazz in a different way than in the Q6."

11 PM, Abbey Pub, $12, 21+

yGOGOL BORDELLO

This raucous New York rock band has been the toast of the town for much of 2002--landing splashy features in both the New York Times and the Village Voice--and its brand-new second album, Multi Kontra Culti vs. Irony (Rubric), justifies the hype.

The band is fronted by Ukrainian emigre Eugene Hutz, who was born in Kiev but fled with his family in 1986 after the accident at nearby Chernobyl. Resettled in rural Ukraine, Hutz discovered Gypsy music and punk rock; his family eventually wended their way through refugee camps in Poland, Hungary, Austria, and Italy to Vermont, where Hutz played in an assortment of punk bands. In the late 90s he had the bright idea to connect those two outsider cultures, and Gogol Bordello was born.

Hutz, who sports a bushy handlebar mustache, sings in a thick, heavily accented roar; he brings to mind Pogues singer Shane McGowan in the way he constantly manages to almost, but not quite, veer out of control and Tom Waits in his outsize charisma (which has also inspired comparisons to Iggy Pop).

The band, which does just what's necessary to support his lunatic rants, is Sergey Rjabtzev, a former theater director from Moscow, on raggedy violin; downtown jazzer Ori Kaplan on screaming saxophone; Oren Kaplan (both Kaplans are from Israel but not related) on acidic electric guitar; Yuri Lemeshev, who hails from Sakhalin, a Russian island near Japan, on accordion; and Eliot Ferguson on wildly propulsive drums. This is the group's Chicago debut.

ySZASZCSAVAS

See September 26 entry.

Sunday September 29

3 PM, Borders Books & Music on Michigan

yGANGBE BRASS BAND

See September 28 listing.

3 PM, Symphony Center, $12 and up

yALI AKBAR KHAN

Ali Akbar Khan is widely considered the finest sarod player in modern Hindustani classical music, with a dozens-deep discography of classic recordings. At the urging of classical violinist Yehudi Menuhin, he was the first Indian classical musician to release a full-length album in the west: 1955's Music of India: Morning & Evening Ragas. Equally important, in a tradition where most education was passed down within the family, he was the first to offer training to the general public, founding the Ali Akbar College of Music in Calcutta in 1956. In the mid-60s, after relocating to northern California, he launched an American branch of the school, currently located in San Rafael; there's also a branch in Basel, Switzerland.

Although age has taken an inevitable toll on his once-peerless dexterity, he remains a masterful musician, able to play elaborately constructed solos that are rhythmically inventive and hypnotically lyrical. This appearance is in celebration of his 80th birthday; he will be accompanied by Swapan Chaudhuri on tabla and Alam Khan, his 20-year-old son, on second sarod.

PM, HotHouse, 21+

yGANGBE BRASS BAND

See September 28 listing.

LO'JO

The new Luaka Bop compilation Cuisine Non-Stop makes the point that a number of contemporary French bands have embraced elements of their native chanson tradition--accordion, upright bass, and decidedly dramatic vocals a la Edith Piaf, Serge Gainsbourg, and Jacques Brel--in their increasingly polyglot musical pursuits. Of course France also is a hotbed of Arabic, African, and eastern European pop, and so those influences, along with hip-hop, funk, and rock, have made their way into the mix as well. The Angers band Lo'Jo, who've been banging around in one form or another for two decades, is among the most ambitious acts on the collection, but not among its best. The group's new Au cabaret sauvage is its most mannered offering yet, despite a truckload of exotic ingredients (the CD booklet includes a two-page glossary of the instruments used on the recording). Front man Denis Pean comes off like an uncharismatic Gainsbourg, the grooves are subdued, and the international flavors are vaporous at best.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photos/Joanne Savio, Michel Delsol, Jose Rodriguez, Segundo Caderno, Montserrat Velando, Olivier Auverlau, Jim Newberry, Huseyin Irmak, Michael Jackson, Ros Ribas, Bart Defesche & Phillipe Pierangeli, Irene Young, Placide Tossou.

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