Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

5

WOMAD 2017

WOMAD 2017
Martin Longley By

Sign in to view read count
WOMAD
Charlton Park
Malmesbury, England
July 27-30, 2017

The WOMAD global music festival has mostly been immune to bad weather during its 35 year history. World Of Music, Arts & Dance traditionally occupies the last weekend of July, which mostly guarantees a good scorching. There was the notorious WOMUD of 2007, its debut at the Charlton Park estate, close to Malmesbury in the West Country of England. Then, there was heavy downpouring for parts of the 2015 weekender, but this year's festival came closest to being a WOMUD re-run, even though the re-positioning of the site following 2007 has reduced the squelchy possibilities.

Ultimately, the 2017 festival suffered from persistent rain, enough to entrench a mildly muddy covering, turning much of the event into a slippery and sodden adventure. Whilst half of the main stages were undercover, this still left much of the site over-exposed, inevitably leading to a pall of misery descending a touch too often for relative comfort. Fortunately, the strength of the music frequently won over, but the general conditions created a scenario where many artists had a tough battle to fight. This stated, there were still multiple stretches where the sun reappeared, even as the sucking mud stuck around. The sight of massed mud-stomping and romping during Chico Trujillo's main stage set caused much merriment, as the Chilean ska-cumbia troupe delivered their ridiculously accelerated bounders.

The Brazilian Afro-funkers Bixiga 70 and the veteran Senegalese band Orchestra Baobab opened up the long weekend on the Thursday evening, but it's Friday, Saturday and Sunday that feature the full, bountiful multi-stage line-ups, from noon until deep into the night.

On Friday, the second of the festival's four Brazilian acts played an afternoon set in the Big Red Tent, with Metá Metá revealing a prog-samba orientation, delivering a sound that's in harmony with their country's musical antecedents, but charged with a slightly skewed interest in exploratory rock and jazz moves. A notable highlight of the weekend was provided straight afterwards by Officina Zoe, from Salento in the 'heel' of Italy. Robust with rattling tambourines and a continuously chafing fiddle, the already exciting instrumental sound was topped by the exultant vocals of Cinzia March. Luckily, they were one of the few acts to play two sets over the weekend.

On Saturday, again in the Big Red Tent, traditional ritual chanting from the southern desert of Tunisia was melded with alternative, pouty industrial rock, seemingly from the French-Italian axis. The Ifriqiyya Electrique band (or project) took three vocalists from the ancient Banga tradition, and cast them into a crucible of distorted guitar, bass and electronics. A filmic backdrop formed part of the moody experience, and the three singers began the performance out in audience. Gradually, the guitar duo (otherwise known as the Putan Club) introduced their brutal beats and riffing, except that there seemed to be problems with the laptop input, so these parts were muffled and indistinct. The Tunisian vocals were somewhat tuneless, and the factions didn't knit together as desired. Frankly, it was a mess. Your scribe is certainly not averse to radical fusions: in fact he actively seeks them out, but this was a failure that was admirable in its intentions, if not its reality. Later, there was a wealth of divided opinion amongst your scribe's posse, so at least this group prompted some strong reactions!

Both extreme and funny, the Zhou Family Band spent much of their set impersonating birdcalls and other forest sounds, using their doubled suonas and shengs, both instruments featuring heavily vibrating reed-resonances, one a single- belled horn, the other a complex multi-piped construction. In eastern China, they play for funerals and weddings, the tempo being fast-paced for both ceremonies, the mood usually exuberant in the extreme. They were musically impressive and ridiculously slapstick in nature, often simultaneously.

Your scribe wasn't particularly intending catching Bombino again, having already witnessed this Saharan Tuareg guitarist on several occasions, but upon passing in front of the main stage, en route to elsewhere, he was immediately ensnared and decided promptly to remain where the frazzling desert psychedelics throbbed. Bombino seems to improve radically with each performance...

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read We Jazz: Moveable Feast Fest Theory Live Reviews We Jazz: Moveable Feast Fest Theory
by Josef Woodard
Published: December 16, 2017
Read We Jazz Festival 2017 Live Reviews We Jazz Festival 2017
by Anthony Shaw
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Anat Cohen Tentet at SFJAZZ Live Reviews Anat Cohen Tentet at SFJAZZ
by Harry S. Pariser
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Mary Ellen Desmond: Comfort and Joy 2017 Live Reviews Mary Ellen Desmond: Comfort and Joy 2017
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: December 15, 2017
Read Jazztopad Festival 2017 Live Reviews Jazztopad Festival 2017
by Henning Bolte
Published: December 13, 2017
Read Vivian Reed at Feinstein's/54 Below Live Reviews Vivian Reed at Feinstein's/54 Below
by Tyran Grillo
Published: December 12, 2017
Read "Suoni Per Il Popolo 2017" Live Reviews Suoni Per Il Popolo 2017
by Mike Chamberlain
Published: June 28, 2017
Read "The Brian McCarthy Quartet At FlynnSpace" Live Reviews The Brian McCarthy Quartet At FlynnSpace
by Doug Collette
Published: December 10, 2017
Read "David Amram 87th Birthday Celebration at the Falcon" Live Reviews David Amram 87th Birthday Celebration at the Falcon
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: December 6, 2017
Read "The Stanley Clarke Band At Kuumbwa Jazz Center" Live Reviews The Stanley Clarke Band At Kuumbwa Jazz Center
by Walter Atkins
Published: July 3, 2017
Read "The Cookers at Nighttown" Live Reviews The Cookers at Nighttown
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: February 16, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!