Jaojoby | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader


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Salegy, a pop style indigenous to Madagascar, is driven by a brisk 6/8 rhythm rooted in folk forms dating back to the 15th century. In the 60s the music was electrified and transformed into a hyperkinetic instrumental dance music; not until the 70s did it become a vocal idiom. Among the first to put words to its rippling flow was singer-bandleader Eusebe Jaojoby. His new release, Malagasy (World Village), makes it clear why he's dominated the genre ever since. Jocular, animated, and earthy, Jaojoby variously shouts, talks, and sings his way through simple melodies perfectly designed to get a crowd on its feet. Rapid high-hat chatter and steady kick drum provide the music's pounding, stuttering heartbeat; loping bass lines intersect with bubbly, crisscrossing guitar licks; chordal washes of accordion and other keyboards reinforce the chanted vocal lines. These days Eusebe's band is largely a family affair: his wife, Claudine, and his daughters Eusebia and Roseliane sing harmonies and answer his call-and-response cues while his son Elie Lucas plays searing lead guitar as well as softer, liquid lines that sparkle like sunlight on a tranquil sea. The songs that aren't about love and romance present rather didactic takes on social issues, but really it's all about the irresistible groove. Wednesday, August 25, 8:30 PM, HotHouse, 31 E. Balbo; 312-362-9707 ($15). Thursday, August 26, 7:30 PM, Spirit of Music Garden, Grant Park, Michigan between Harrison and Balbo; 312-742-4007 (free).

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