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Far-flung performers and compelling sounds

September 14, 2003|Don Heckman | Special to The Times

Cesaria Evora, the whiskey-voiced diva from the island nation of Cape Verde, steps into the spotlight at Disney Hall on Nov. 18 in the Fall World Music season's headline event. Like Keith Jarrett's first-ever jazz program at the new venue, it will provide another in-performance test of the Hall's acoustic capacity to handle something more than symphonic music.

Whether Evora, who often performs barefoot, will be comfortable singing her mornas and coladeiras with a string orchestra rather than her usual band of Cape Verdean players remains to be seen. But it's unlikely that one of her signature actions -- a midset break in which she sits at a table, onstage, smoking a cigarette while her musicians play an instrumental number -- will take place on the new Disney stage.

Evora is one of several high-visibility world music acts scheduled for the fall, among them South Africa's spirited vocal ensemble Ladysmith Black Mambazo (Pepperdine, Oct. 10), and the remarkably versatile Mexican American singer Lila Downs (USC Bovard, Oct. 29). But the real fun and fascination of the season traces to the opportunity to hear less high-profile but no less compelling world music artists.

The Watts Day of the Drum Festival (Watts Towers, Sept. 27), for example, features an array of Southland percussion ensembles -- Munyungo's All Star Groove Tribe, Olokun Cultural Troupe, etc. -- exploring a collection of global styles.

Brazilian music surfaces in a pair of intriguing appearances: the gorgeous voice of Monica Salmaso, on a bill with Mediterranean singer Maria del mar Bonet at the Cerritos Center, Sept. 26; and guitarist Christopher Parkening and baritone Jubiliant Sykes with "Braziliana, the Music of Brazil and the Americas" (Cerritos, Nov. 22).

The joyous, dancing rhythms of klezmer music highlight "Night Songs From a Neighboring Village," featuring the groups Paris to Kyiv and Brave Old World (Carpenter Performing Arts Center, Oct. 4), as well as a Dec. 16 Disney Hall program by the eclectic Klezmer Conservatory Band.

One-of-a-kind events include: Hawaiian pop group Na Leo Pilimehana (Cerritos Center, Oct. 4); Dino Saluzzi, Argentine master bandoneon (Skirball Center, Oct. 23); the stunning voice of Peru's Tania Libertad (UCLA, Oct. 17) and the native American rock music of Thunderhand Joe and the Medicine Show (Cerritos Sierra Room, Oct. 22).

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