A CLOSER LOOK AT
GREAT AMERICAS SONGBOOK
July 10, 2017 | by Rusty Aceves
Mariachi Flor de Toloache
One of the major themes that mark each year’s SFJAZZ Summer Sessions is the multi-week curated series of performances called “Great Americas Songbook.” A riff on “Great American Songbook,” the oft-used description of the canon of American popular songs originating the early 20th century, “Great Americas Songbook” takes the concept of the American song tradition and applies it to the entirety of the geographical region called “the Americas,” encompassing North, Central, and South America as well as their associated islands and territories. Past years have focused on specific countries including Mexico, Cuba, Brazil, and the U.S., and this year features a week of music spanning American popular song from the rural South to New York City, and a week-long tour of the Caribbean Basin with artists hailing from Mexico, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Columbia, in addition to music from Brazil and Argentina.
Week 1 – Great American Songbook (7/13-16) lineup includes:
- Legendary folk singer, social activist, and Bay Area treasure Barbara Dane celebrating her 90th birthday with special guests the Chambers Brothers.
- Ranky Tanky, the Charleston-based band blending gospel, R&B and their native South Carolina Gullah tradition.
- Oakland’s own T Sisters, lauded as “An irresistibly joyful sibling combo steeped in American roots music” by the San Jose Mercury News
- The great vocalist Catherine Russell performs songs made popular in New York during the 30s and 40s from her GRAMMY-nominated new album
- Former Carolina Chocolate Drops multi-instrumentalist and singer Leyla McCalla with music from the crossroads of the U.S. and Haiti.
- GRAMMY-nominated jazz vocalist Jane Monheit presents a very personal project that pays tribute to the late, great Ella Fitzgerald.
Week 2 – Caribbean Basin Songbook (7/20-23) lineup includes:
- Singer and songwriter Joan Soriano is the greatest modern master of the Dominican bachata song style. This show will feature an open dance floor.
- The blues of Willie Dixon and blue-eyed soul of Joe Cocker mix in the music of fatsO, a saxophone-heavy sextet from Colombia
- Rio-born singer, pianist and composer Claudia Villela brings her signature blend of jazz and Brazilian music, celebrating the great composers of Brazil.
- The Latin GRAMMY-nominated Mariachi Flor de Toloache is one of the most popular all-female mariachi groups on the scene.
- A singer the Los Angeles Times describes as “a Cuban powerhouse,” Bobi Céspedes returns with a salute to the legendary Celia Cruz.
- Troker’s high-energy style crosses jazz, funk, and psychedelia, and they perform their live score to the 1919 Mexican silent film El Automóvil Gris.
- The trio of Patagonian women called Femina combines rap with a fusion of Latin American folkloric rhythms, soul, funk, and reggae.