Zap Mama - JVC Jazz Festival 2008: Carnegie Hall

Zap Mama


Carnegie Hall, June 21, 2008:


       I bring my sister Jessica to the JVC Jazz Festival 2008 at Carnegie Hall. We are both very energized about the exciting evening of Latin jazz music scheduled for this evening. Tonights show Nouveau Bossa features: Sergio Mendes and Zap Mama. I am familiar with Sergio Mendes, but have absolutely no previous fluency with Zap Mama.

       This is my first JVC Jazz Festival as an employee of Carnegie Hall. I have come here so many times, that I just had to start working here. I am completing my first season as an usher here at Carnegie. I take Jessica on a complete tour of Carnegie Hall, from the back entrance on 56th street, all the way up to the balcony. I even show her the usher’s quarter on the tenth floor. When the doors open, I introduce my sister to all my new co-workers, and easily find our front row seats: A107, A108.

       At 8:04 P.M. the show commences with Zap Mama. The first song begins with the band standing, as a soundtrack is playing. The audio is rap-flavored and African influenced. The track builds and then fades. The lead singer, Marie Daulne, is absolutely stunning in a sequined dress, a cape, and her hair is unusually stylish, tied with two buns. She voices a narrative with piano backing. Marie Daulne explains that she is a former painter and describes music as color. The music is from the forest. Her narrative transitions to song and the vocal refrain is, “I’m singing my song for you.” The vocal delivery is measured and sensual. The three talented female singers begin the set on large colored balls. The arrangement is restrained, subtle and touching. Marie’s vocal is very expressive, unique and refreshing.

       Marie Daulne explains that voices are colors. The second song is very spiritual, featuring ‘skat’ vocal harmony with a distinct African flavor. The five vocalists’ harmonic blend is excellent and exacting. They are painting a picture of colorful sound. The superior vocal harmonies are complemented by inventive percussion, keyboards and synthesizer.

       The next arrangement is more up-tempo and segues into a more urban feel. The five vocalists create a captivating blend of sound. The unyielding bass-note selection, succinct drum accompaniment and creative percussion, strengthen the musical presentation. The song features a rhythmic rap lead vocal over a distinctive cadence and creative dance routine.

       The fourth musical entry is a creative composite of the forest and urban funk with an extraordinary stage presence. The dance routine is well choreographed with succinctly percussive vocal backing. This mesmerizing sound is refreshingly different, curious, sensual and engaging.

       Marie Daulne pays tribute to the Philly family hip-hop community. The next musical delivery is sexy, sensual and soothing hip-hop and the vocal refrain, “fly away” is hypnotic. There is a cut-time tempo change with a melodic minor second transition. It is during this song that Marie comes to the edge of the stage and leans over to ask my name. Somewhat startled, but not dissuaded, I respond “Jeffrey.” Marie instructs the singer to our left, to improvise on Jeffrey. The talented singer responds with creative ease and musical abandon. Marie again comes to the edge of the stage and leans over to ask my sister “what is your name?” and my sister replies, “Jessica.” Marie instructs the singer to our right, to improvise on Jessica. Both singers display improvisational prowess beyond compare. YES!!!!!! Jessica and I are both thoroughly engaged in this wonderfully singular music from Zap Mama, but being included in this musical presentation totally blows us away!

       The next song features a ‘bird’ and French lyric. As the musical story unfolds, the presentation is upbeat, succinct and provocative. The dynamic presentation builds and the dance routine is smooth, sexy and tight. Marie Daulne delivers an unusual vocal harmony with challenging rhythmic patterns. She engages in a percussive ‘skat’ answer/response with the drummer. The percussive sounds she emulates are derived from African tongue-click techniques. This is truly amazing! Jessica and I love Zap Mama.

       The final song starts with a funky hip-hop intro. The girls kick off their shoes. The synchronized dancing is complex and challenging. There is a rap answer/response and the dance routine is impeccable.  The arrangement also features a piano and turntable answer/response. The funky rhythmic presentation features an amazing bass solo, with a powerful dynamic stop. We can’t sit still and are dancing in our seats! The rumba tempo is infectious.

       Maris Daulne ends with, “it is a pleasure to tell my story, in my own way.” The band is jumpin’. There is a fantastic piano solo that is both eclectic and ethereal.

       Zap Mama is a delightful surprise. Both Jessica and I are immediately Zap Mama fans. The show is totally exciting, breathtaking and exhilarating. We buy all the CDs that are available from the table in front of Carnegie Hall. The latest CD, Supermoon is the musical essence of tonight’s show. I urge everyone to see the excitement and spontaneous creativity of Zap Mama for themselves and purchase Supermoon, as soon as possible! Jessica and Jeffrey are totally impressed, excited and overwhelmed by Zap Mama’s marvelous performance tonight.

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A.J. Alfaro