Angolan guitarist/vocalist Waldemar Bastos makes a rare LA appearance as part of the inaugural ARATANI World series of global music and dance. The series celebrates the songs, sounds and dance of seven ensembles both local and international, from Africa, India, Hawaii, Philippines, Japan, Bulgaria, Latin America, Central Java, Brazil, New York, and Los Angeles.Each singular artist carries forth yet transforms their rich cultural traditions.
Waldemar Bastos will offer music of Angola, "He melds elegiac longing with the effervescence of African and Brazilian pop, transcending sorrow with sparkle and grace," says The New York Times. My music is defined by my own life experiences, praise for Angolan identity and a call for universal brotherhood ...it is gratifying to me to hear or read critics who say that my music is universal. It is not a regional music, but instead for people everywhere. This is my sincere goal, my contribution for harmony among people! For me this is the first and ultimate function of Art”.
Few artists of any nation have created such a passionate and human statement on political themes as Waldemar Bastos.Exploring musical styles from across the African continent, Bastos’ work is sensual as well as sensational. His heartfelt signature piece,‘Sofrimento,” quickly became an anthem for the people’s struggle for freedom - a message inspired by his own political imprisonment. An album review of Pretaluz recounts: “...a tender lament for Angola, this singer/songwriter casts a spell that lingers long after the last note has faded.” On his new album, Classics of My Soul, Bastos warns a young man not to fly too low, where danger lurks, but to aim high and fly past it. This 2014 album was produced by Derek Nakamoto with several tracks featuring the London Symphony Orchestra.
Whether with a symphonic orchestra, musicians from around the globe, or a single guitar, Bastos’ loving and rousing melodies transport us to places of comfort, love, and revelation. His voice conveys his understanding of the great suffering that exists in the world, yet he always overcomes feelings of loss with the sounds and rhythms of hope, joy, and loving kindness. As stated in a review of his album Renascence, “Bastos sings these sentiments feelingly over propulsive rhythms dominated by the kind of African guitar sounds that will be familiar to fans of mbaqanga or anyone who’s heard Paul Simon’s Graceland. He seeks not only to sing away his troubles, but also to dance them away, and if those troubles cannot be forgotten, nevertheless, they are ameliorated by the pleasures of his music.”
Bastos received international recognition for his song “Sofrimento” in the 2012 International Songwriting Competition (with judges such as Tom Waits, Naz, and Suzanne Vega). Beautifully rendered in his 1998 album Pretaluz, his songs range from the contagious rhythms of his native Angola to the widely acclaimed song “Kuribota,” which calls forth the dancer in all of us. He introduces us to the bittersweet realities of the world we live in, but within a turn of the melody he carries us back to a place of faith and optimism. As a spokesperson for peace and reconciliation, Bastos worked with Ryuichi Sakamoto in the now famous “Zero-Landmine” project.
The Aratani World Series presents seven different programs over the course of six months. Curated and Produced by Judy Mitoma, former Director of the World Festival of Sacred Music - Los Angeles, the series will be a co-presentation with the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center and the World Festival of Sacred Music - Los Angeles.