Reviews, profiles and news about music in Chicago

Preview: Amanda Martinez/Old Town School of Folk Music

Flamenco, Indie Pop, Latin, Pop, World Music No Comments »


What happens when you get an MBA in international business with the objective of working for a major financial corporation? Do you leave it all behind to pursue the uncertainty of a musical career instead? This is precisely what happened to Canadian singer Amanda Martinez; she was bitten by the music bug after passing an audition in a small jazz club in her native country–and she has not looked back since.

Since then, she has recorded three albums and was a featured performer during the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa–where her mother was born. Martinez’s music is very Latin-influenced, as heard on “Mañana,” her third album, and the first to be released in the United States. Read the rest of this entry »

Preview: Buika/Old Town School of Folk Music

Flamenco, Folk, Latin No Comments »
Photo: Javi Rojo

Photo: Javi Rojo


Though best known for her work as a flamenco singer, Palma de Mallorca-born Concha Buika has broadened the genre through her very personal interpretation and also by taking the music in unusual directions. In 2011, she collaborated with Anoushka Shankar on the sitarist’s genre-bending “Traveller” (Deutsche Grammophon), an album that mixed influences both from Indian and Flamenco into one package.

On her new release, “La Noche Mas Larga” (Warner Latina), Buika offers a collection of self-penned songs and a handful of covers—including a great update of Abbey Lincoln’s “Throw It Away” that features a rollicking electric bass line by Alain Pérez that serves as a backdrop for the percussion and piano. Read the rest of this entry »

Preview: Paco de Lucia/Symphony Center

Flamenco, World Music No Comments »


Some folks claim flamenco’s lineage reaches back several centuries. And that may well be the truth. The genre has its canonical figures, and Paco de Lucia is one of them. While the sixty-four-year-old ranks as the music’s best-known contemporary performer, he’s remained one of flamenco’s most explorative composers, conspiring with players engaged with jazz and other sympathetic genres. His ability to inject an adventurous tone into a music with such a long history, though, troubles some traditionalists. Read the rest of this entry »

Preview: Rodrigo y Gabriela/Chicago Theatre

Flamenco, Jazz, Latin, World Music No Comments »


It’s an unlikely back-story: metal enthusiasts hone an appreciation for Spanish flamenco, head to Ireland and hit it big, relatively. But over the last several years, Rodrigo y Gabriela have toted around a pair of nylon string guitars, taken a music rooted in the past and served it to a new audience. The Mexican duo of Rodrigo Sánchez and Gabriela Quintero don’t play the music exactly as fans of the genre might imagine–and they stray from the psychedelicized version Peter Walker touts. Working in Led Zeppelin and Metallica covers isn’t the norm for most acoustic acts. Read the rest of this entry »

Preview: Anoushka Shankar & Guests/Pick-Staiger Concert Hall

Flamenco, Indian Classical, World Music No Comments »

Photo: Harper Smith


It took a while for sitarist Anoushka Shankar to get out of her comfort zone as an artist. Her first releases mostly consisted of ragas written by her father Ravi, but after 2005’s “Rise,” she began expanding her musical horizons by incorporating jazz, world music and electronica (2007’s excellent “Breathing Under Water” is a great example) while collaborating with other musicians.

On “Traveller” (Deutsche Grammophon), she takes things up a notch by mixing her signature sitar sound with the sounds of flamenco. Read the rest of this entry »