Whole Life Magazine

October/November 2014

Issue link: http://digital.copcomm.com/i/390790

Contents of this Issue


Page 32 of 43

F ans of American blues music know the important contri- butions of ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax for bringing the sounds of the Delta to widespread audiences. Many cultures have such champions. The music of the small Czech country Moravia—specifi cally, the village of Strážnice—was preserved more than a century ago by a sympathetic biolo- gist named Dr. Vladimir Úlehla, who transcribed the region's rich sounds. Fast forward a hundred or so years and his great granddaughter, the Eastman-trained Julia Ulehla, joined forc- es with guitarist Aram Bajakian (who has worked extensively with Lou Reed, Marc Ribot and John Zorn) to produce this beautiful throwback to a land and time far, far away. Bajakian's playing is brilliant; he allows space for jazz and avant-gar- de interpretations of these village songs, while Ulehla's voice is rich and textured. This is no straightforward resuscitation, however. "Aj, Jurenko" features haunting violins, which mesh brilliantly with Ulehla's vocalizations, reminiscent of an old Por- tishead track sans the trip-hop beat. Most interestingly is the addition of the Moroccan gimbri on "Ej, lásko, lásko " and "Lítala." The low register of the bass lute adds a foundation to these otherwise effervescent musical tales gorgeously rein- terpreted. (Dálava) —Derek Beres Aram Bajakian & Julia Ulehla Dálava MUSIC I was fi rst turned onto Brooklyn's Afrobeating Zongo Junction when Captain Planet released a remix of the band's "Elephant and Mosquito." Drummer Joe Ferguson was raised in the Bay area but cut his teeth at New York's New School before set- ting out to study percussion and rhythm in Ghana. He dove into West African music hard upon returning to the States. His band might play Nigerian's funk-jazz music, but he reminds listeners that Fela's longtime drummer and bandleader, Tony Allen, is Ghanaian. Like many Afrobeat bands, Zongo started out with Fela covers, but their nine-track al- bum shows the players' evolution over the last fi ve years. Spend- ing 18 months on a record might seem excessive these days, but when you get caught in the deep grooves of "Longtooth" and "21 Suspects in Madina," you'll quickly recognize how much love and care went into these well-crafted, highly danceable tunes. (Electric Cowbell Records) —DB Zongo Junction No Discount I f your earliest claim to fame was Goodfellas and you've been featured in 86 segments of The Sopranos, it's no surprise your fi rst fi lm foray into what might be called the "self-exploration genre" is dominated by gritty New Yorkers. Writer/director Michael Imperioli, whose commitment to his craft includes co- founding a theatre, here takes advantage of other notably talent- ed Sopranos alumnae Sharon Angela and Steven Schirripa as he presents fi ve different characters caught in the turmoil of survival and desperate for a better option. Frank (Schirripa) is alienated from his family—embittered Sha- ron (Angela) and troubled Matthew (Emory Cohen)—and hooked on substances; anguished Nadia (powerhouse Aunjanue Ellis) is separated from her soul and her love; and Gus (impressive Nick Sandow) is lost in too many ways to recount here. How their var- ious journeys unfold and eventually intersect is somewhat per- plexing at fi rst, and it's really only in the last few minutes of the fi lm that the audience is given hope for any of them. But don't by any chance think this makes it a feel-good fi lm. The Moksha center is almost another character in the fi lm, though one with very few scenes—it's too bad we didn't get a better sense of what it's about. Both the spiritual teacher— though it's unclear if this is a guru or just a teacher—and the center somehow seem a little off; rather than refl ecting just another dimension of life, there's this tinge (or is it taint?) of woowoo. A fuller depiction of what a spiritual path might offer would go a long way into allaying general public skepticism. Still, the acting here is top notch. —AL Written and directed by Michael Imperioli The Hungry Ghosts october/november 2014 33

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Whole Life Magazine - October/November 2014