Rodrigo Amarante, Leyla McCalla | Pritzker Pavilion, Millennium Park | International | Chicago Reader
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click to enlarge Leyla McCalla

Leyla McCalla

Sarrah Danzinger

Rodrigo Amarante, Leyla McCalla 

When: Mon., June 13, 6:30 p.m. 2016
Haitian-American cellist and singer Leyla McCalla grew up in New York and spent a few years in Accra, Ghana. But she connected with her roots when she relocated to New Orleans in 2010, sparking an ongoing creative burst that charmingly combines folk sounds from around the Caribbean with Creole influences from her adopted hometown. She first gained a broad following when she appeared on the popular 2012 Carolina Chocolate Drops album Leaving Eden, then toured with the band in support of it, but her own solo records speak louder and with greater power—especially the new A Day for the Hunter, A Day for the Prey (Jazz Village). The album’s affecting title track, which takes its name from a Haitian Creole proverb, is a salute to Haitians who’ve soldiered on through brutal conditions, both environmental and political. She evokes Crescent City’s past on her trad-jazz stomper “Far From Your Web,” but most of the songs are artful adaptations: “Les Plats Sont Tous Mis Sur la Table” comes from the great Creole fiddler Canray Fontenot, “Little Sparrow” is an empathetically tender Ella Jenkins classic, and “Vietnam” is an obscurity by quirky bluesman Abner Jay that’s little more than a lament from a narrator who might well be leaving his home and his lover forever. The release also includes a slew of traditional tunes from Haiti featuring nifty adaptations for thrumming cello. Brazilian singer Rodrigo Amarante headlines.
— Peter Margasak

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