Friday, April 13, 2007

Kevin L. Carter reviews Lura's performance at the Perelman.

Only in Cape Verde could the mazurka, a Polish song form appropriated by the French and dispersed around the world by Martiniquians, find itself a proper place within the Crioulu cultural stew and active musical laboratory of this West African island archipelago.

When Lura, the sensuous Cape Verdean vocalist, danced joyfully across the Kimmel Center's Perelman Theater stage Wednesday night, you could see Africa personified in her movements and in her smile. But as any Cape Verdean will tell you, while African roots are strong in Cape Verde, they are not the whole story. With Lura, as with Cape Verdean pioneer Cesaria Evora, the songs are full of Portuguese chordal and emotional underpinnings.

Lura, born Maria de Lurdes Pina Assunção in Lisbon 30 years ago, fronted a crack six-piece ensemble and ran briskly through the gamut of Cape Verdean rhythms – mazurka, coladeira, batuku, funana and morna.

Singing to a multicultural crowd that included a large Cape Verdean contingent, Lura used her voice to good effect, markedly on "Ponciana," from her new album, M'bem di fora (I've Come from Far Away). Lura is a compact woman with a voice powerful and metallic in the high register, more tender and sweet in the lower.

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