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Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2001


Festival Conda Lota

The lineup for the upcoming Festival Konda Lota, Tokyo's annual celebration of global roots music, is smaller than usual but no less potent for that.

Cesaria Evora

Cesaria Evora, the "barefoot diva" from the island of Sao Vicente, off the coast of Senegal, is considered the foremost practitioner of the indigenous Cape Verde style known as morna, which mixes minor-key, nostalgia-driven Portuguese fado with musical forms imported from West Africa in much the same way that the island's native creole, Kriolu, mixes Portuguese and West African dialects.

Evora shows less of her African heritage than most morna vocalists, however. One hears in her even, effortless style, the kind of world-weariness normally associated with the great European cabaret singers of the mid-20th century. Even when she collaborates with Brazilian and Cuban musicians, as she has done on her two most recent albums, she remains resolutely unclassifiable, perhaps because she found success so late.

Already in her 40s and the survivor of three bad marriages when she moved to Paris, Evora was too set in her ways to pay any heed to producers who tried to change her style. She's also the most unself-conscious performer you'll ever see, walking around in her bare feet, taking seated cigarette-and-whiskey breaks right there on stage and chatting amiably with her musicians.

Evora has visited Japan almost every year since the release of her breakthrough album, "Miss Perfumado," in 1993, but the festival will mark the Japan debut of another performer, bassist Orlando "Cachaito" Lopez, at least as a solo artist.

Though not an "original" member of the Buena Vista Social Club (he's too young, having been born in 1933), Lopez is the only musician who has played on every one of the BVSC spinoffs. His own recently released solo album, "Cachaito," contains the usual selection of boleros and sambas, there's also real jazz, and even a bit of hip-hop -- but instead of sounding like experimentation or exploitation, it sounds like experience. By far the best album to come out of Cuba (maybe even the Western Hemisphere) this year, it should sound superb live, since that was how it was recorded.

Orlando Lopez: Nov. 21, 7 p.m., at Shibuya Club Quattro (6,000 yen) and Nov. 23, 7 p.m., at Theatre Cocoon, Shibuya (7,500 yen). Madrigal Singers, a choral group from the Philippines: Nov. 24, 7 p.m., at Theatre Cocoon (6,000 yen). Cesaria Evora: Nov. 25, 3 and 6 p.m., at Theatre Cocoon (7,500 yen). For details and ticket information, call Conversation at (03) 5280-9996.

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