hi-five: burnt sugar & sparlha swa

First post in a looong time. First post for the new year, and it does feel good to be back at it. For the longest time, I was either overwhelmed by the events of the day and the daily events of my life or – by contrast – underwhelmed by the tedium and repetition of it all that Nite*Vision fell by the wayside. But, I won’t bore you with all of that when I can liaise to more inspiring and electric happenings, like Saturday night’s ‘rise of the mojosexual cotillion’ with Burnt Sugar The Arkestra Chamber preceded by Sparlha Swa and band.

To begin with, I had only heard of Burnt Sugarin passing (by Mikel Banks whom I didn’t know was actually IN the Arkestra!), but never actually heard them. But, when I read the following excerpt on their website I was sufficiently seduced:

Formed in 1999, Burnt Sugar was conceived as a contemporary version of Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew band, exploring the connective tissue binding jazz, rock, funk, twentieth century composition, and African music in a lyrical, seductive, exploratory, improvisational manner.

I was excited about finally making the time to see a full (albeit) brief Sparlha Swa set…and the only disappointment was that it ended so soon.

Anyhow, we’ve all waited long enough for another installment of the Hi-Five series. So, here are my five things about the show including links to info and products from the artists:

  1. Let me just say that Sparlha Swa and her band were waterful. Her voice is simple with a texture so sophisticated and convicted. When she sang out “soo woo”, I mourned and rejoiced, all while being in awe of how consistent and clarion clear she was. And the band, they rose like waves to the moon of the music; natural magic. I anxiously await the live album.
  2. Lady Swa also had on a superfly white mermaid like dress with layered rufflage. Loved it! I think she said the designer’s name was Masala…ashe to you sis!
  3. A Burnt Sugar experience is truly a multi-sensory ritual. It wasn’t the ceremonial procession done by the vocalists sprinkling (holy?) water and deep crimson rose petals marking and clearing the space for the get down. It was the authenticity of the 17 piece band’s conceptual improvisation. A somewhat controlled jam session framed by the spirit of the lyrics (or original performance), artistry of the individual musicians and sections, and the conduction of Greg Tate.
  4. Burnt Sugar reinterpretated the mess outta the Max Roach Quartet/Abbey Lincoln original “Driva’ Man.” The bass was right and Maya Azucena’s vocals were rooted, yet youthful and free.
  5. I couldn’t have been the only one wondering how they managed to keep the visual dimension of the experience relevant in real-time. It wasn’t just a slideshow going…they had a images swirling and kaleidoscoping, melding with live footage of the performers all reflecting the mood and theme of the music at that moment.

Sparlha Swa: Website, Myspace, Add to your collection

Burnt Sugar The Arkestra Chamber: Website, Add to your collection



~ by Anayah on January 22, 2008.

One Response to “hi-five: burnt sugar & sparlha swa”

  1. […] Swa Live As mentioned last week, the Sparlha Swa live album is almost […]

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