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Amanda Martinez at Joe's Pub

Ernest Barteldes By

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Amanda Martinez
Joe's Pub at the Public Theater
New York, NY
May 2, 2014

On her debut New York appearance in celebration of her third CD Mañana (the first to get a full US release (Sola Records, 2014), Canadian singer-songwriter Amanda Martinez took to the stage with a spirited rendition of "Va Y Viene," the opening track from the disc. She followed that with "Cada Uno Vive," a flamenco-tinged tune from the CD with a strong Afro-Cuban vibe. She was backed by a tight group rounded out by Kevin Laliberte (guitar and supporting vocals), Alberto Suarez (percussion and supporting vocals), Paco Luviano (bass) and Alexander Brown (hand percussion, trumpet and supporting vocals). The group has great chemistry together, and kept a playful mood throughout the set.

After introducing herself to the audience, she did a very personal rendition of Lila Downs's "Alcoba Azul," a tune from the soundtrack of the 2002 feature film Frida. While Down's version is a very dramatic tango, Martinez played it far more subtly using a gentle flamenco beat, featuring an accomplished improvised solo from Brown. One of the evening's highlights came she performed "Nuevos Camiños," an original tune written for the 2013 documentary Ciclos, which revisited a 1950s bicycle trip that her father and uncle made from Mexico City to Toronto, Canada. As the song played, a snippet of the movie played in the background showing the two men as they repeated the journey by car and bicycle. The tune began as a soft English-language ballad that then changed into an up-tempo rumba with improvised Spanish-language vocals from Brown, who ended the song with an extended trumpet solo.

Another highlight came when the band (except for Laliberte) left the stage and Martinez picked up an acoustic guitar to accompany herself and sing an emotional take on the classic Mexican folk song "La Llorona." Laliberte played a few arpeggios to enhance the song, and added his own solo to the song during a vocal break. Towards the end of the set she played "Sueños Posibles," a bilingual song written to celebrate the opening game of the 2010 World between South Africa and Mexico (the birthplaces of her mother and father), which she had performed as part of the official festivities for the event. She closed with the festive "Que Bonita Es Esta Vida," a song whose lyrics celebrate the lives of departed friends with "guitars, music and tequila."

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