Sunday, October 10, 2010

Khaira Arby at Zebulon

Last night I heard Khaira Arby and her amazing band at Zebulon. I hadn't heard their music before, my friend Kenny Warren of Slavic Soul Party had told me about the band after performing on the same bill with them. Seeing them play reminded me about why it's great to live in New York, where you can see a great band from Timbuktu at a small club. The band's rhythmic feel was unbelievable. The drummer was playing the kit in a way that was so different from what my western ears are conditioned to hear, and the two electric guitarists weaved interlocking strands of rhythms over the powerful groove. When they played hits together, it had an uncommon impact, I can't really describe it. It also had the energy (and volume!) of a rock band, but with an incredibly graceful finesse. At one point I commented to a friend about how great the drummer sounded, and my friend replied "everyone in the band is playing like a drummer!"
At the center of the band's sound was Khaira Arby's powerful voice. This is a musical tradition that I know nothing about, and will have to look into. Better just to hear it for yourself. I found this video on Youtube, I think this is the song they were playing when I walked into Zebulon.

1 comment:

  1. I had the privilege of hearing and sharing the stage with Khaira 3 times last month thanks to the Sway Machinery. What strikes me most about her music is that it's endlessly patient and intensely urgent all at the same time. Come to think of it, her music is full of this kind of paradox. Her voice is frighteningly strong, but still sweet. And at any moment her band is somehow both rough around the edges and impeccably tight. Maybe her music is so hard for me to comprehend because it comes from so far away. There is probably no place in the world that is less like New York City than Tombouctou, Mali. Every culture and way of life in the world seems to have access to a unique patchwork of the world’s mysteries and secrets. While I love New York and am so grateful for all of its opportunities, people like Khaira remind me that there may be simple truths about life which I will never know.