Savina Yannatou | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Savina Yannatou 

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It's no longer unusual for the musical styles of a particular region to get hijacked by people who didn't grow up there, but it's still rarely done well. Greek singer Savina Yannatou's latest album, Sumiglia (ECM), features songs from Spain, Moldavia, Palestine, Italy, Armenia, Albania, Corsica, Bulgaria, Ukraine, and her homeland, but it never feels like a jet-set jaunt around the Mediterranean. She takes the far-flung traditional songs in her deep repertoire and makes them her own without compromising their integrity. Her superb band, Primavera en Salonico--guided by arranger Kostas Vomvolos, who plays accordion, qanun, and kalimba--limns the material with an almost weightless grace. Members of the sextet--who also play oud, guitar, violin, ney, bass, and percussion--regularly drop out, giving plenty of space to certain tunes, while other pieces, like "Orrio tto fengo," have an experimental, texture-oriented rigor. Delicate as Yannatou's voice can be, she's not afraid to occasionally sing in a creaky rasp; on a few pieces she even suggests the piercing, wordless squalls of Diamanda Galas, an acknowledged influence. This is her first performance here since her Chicago debut at the 2000 World Music Festival. Sat 3/5, 8 PM, Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln, 773-728-6000 or 866-468-3401, $22, $18 seniors and kids. All ages.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Regina Schmeken.

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