"The World on One Stage" never sounded so good
Aaron Ausland | Cambridge, MA | 12/27/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The first time I heard Children of the Revolution on stage I could hardly believe what I was hearing and seeing. Here, at last, is a band that brings together the eclectic sounds of the world that I love and presents them credibly as a seamless weave of passion, music and dance. Drawing together performers as diverse as their instruments and nationalities, Children of the Revolution lives up to their claim as ?the World on One Stage.? When performing, they live out their mission to promote unity through music, creating harmony from such divergent combinations as a Greek lyric soprano opera singer and a Joplineque folk/punk singer from Venezuela, a flamenco dancer from Barcelona and a flamenco singer from Japan, a Fijian tabla flayer and a Turkish dumbek player, a Greco-Egyptian belly dancer and a Broadway violinist.
The strongest musical threads in their jaw-dropping breadth of sound are Greek, Spanish flamenco and Arabic, but don?t be surprised to hear hip-hop, Gypsy, Django-style swing, ska, and South American folk music among other forms conjoined in an eccentric amalgamate that distinguishes their unique style. The range of instruments played with virtuosity would make an ethnomusicologist?s head spin. Stringed instruments from the Greek bouzouki to the Turkish saz and baglama to the Venezuelan cuatro are played over a foundation of rhythm from percussion ranging from the Egyptian dumbek to Latin congas and Indian tablas, and rounded out with wind instruments like the Australian didgeridoo, the Bolivian zampoña and the North African/Arabian nay.My friend Wakefield Gregg was so taken with Chapter One, a song from their previous album about love?s ultimate sacrifice, that he decided to commission the group to write a song about the life and death of his friend and my late wife Krista for the Krista Foundation for Global Citizenship. [www.kristafoundation.org] Vassili and Eric Jaeger, who co-wrote the song, brought true artistic integrity to the project. They sought out and interviewed several of Krista?s closest friends, they read her poetry and looked over dozens of photos of her life. Wakefield and I talked at length with Vassili and Eric over the course of several weeks, filling in the story and imagery they were exploring as they wrote the song.Now, Angeles de Bolivia is one of the feature songs on their latest album Liberation. Combining the sorrowing sounds of the Andean zampoña and classic guitar, the song opens slow and sad. ?Bus from Bañado to Santa Cruz, oh, you were the last to go. In ragged jeans you were a ray of hope. I never got to say goodbye, how could I know.? The song floats in a slow Latin cadence before exploding into a boiling salsa that would move even the most obdurate mourner to wipe away the tears and hit the dance floor. With solos by flamenco guitarist Eric Jaeger, pianist Julio Jauregui, violinist Geoffrey Castle, and featuring the ragged and beautiful voice of Yva las Vegass backed up by a full gospel choir, the song that begins so deceptively simple and melancholic lifts the listener to her feet and takes her soaring through hope and joy. In it we are reminded that a life well-lived transcends the death that follows, that there are things worth dying for and doing so demands as much celebration as mourning. As Krista?s bereaved husband, I?m grateful that a group as talented and thoughtful as Children of the Revolution has written this song. They capture both the sorrow and joy of her story and inspire us to live meaningfully and intentionally. As a lover of great music from around the globe, I?m grateful to have discovered this group of exceptionally capable musicians. Their passion, talent, breadth and depth are both impressive and moving."