Global Divas at Bambu by the Lake, March 27. Tickets: $25-$100. Attendance: 700. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
The restaurant in the back of the Bambu by the Lake's massive new space looks quite nice, but the big hall where the Global Divas show was being held could use a bit of sprucing up. It's large, concrete and has a balcony defined by a metal fence. Given the structure, the sound can be a little hollow. There are certain good hot spots in the room, but you have to wander to find them.Grammy Award nominee and multiple Juno Award-winning (for those who care) composer, saxophonist and flautist Jane Bunnett and the Spirits of Havana opened with some spirited Cuban folkloric jazz, arranging old-school tunage atop Cuban and Afro beats.
I then found myself having to listen carefully to hear the sweet and enticing Latin vocals of the charming Eliana Cuevas, and had to completely give up trying to hear when she spoke, as folks around me chattered obliviously, then broke into resounding applause at the end of each tune as though they had been paying attention.
Indo-Canadian Kiran Ahluwalia performed ghazals and Punjabi folk songs in a sweet, ethereal soprano atop faraway, sinuous rhythms. Guiomar Campbell is a high-energy vocalist and percussionist of Afro-Brazilian rhythms.
Catarina Cardeal sang traditional fado and fusion jazz. It was her haunting voice travelling over the room that finally got everyone's full attention, just in time for Miryem Tollar's blend of classic Arabic and Egyptian music and melodies.
By the time we got to the second half, I have to admit I was a little diva'd out. Lovely as the performances were, I would have preferred to watch them in a smaller and less crowded setting with ample seating. This is definitely key. I'll stand up to watch rock, but not fado.
I wasn't exactly thrilled to discover that you can't smoke at the new Bambu by the Lake last Thursday night, but, hell, it's for the best, right?
Then they charged me $6.25 for an itty-bitty glass of wine, which was even less thrilling.
I heard a rumour of plans to put in a grass roof, another good reason not to allow smoking (sigh). OK, so some tiki torches or some other non-flammable equivalent would be nice, email@example.com