September 2005

September 27, 2005 Massey Hall Toronto
A Rising Star
by Stanley Fefferman

She is introduced. The lights go down. Three guitarists take their places and begin to play in the half-light, a slow, tragic tune with an oompah one-two beat. Mariza floats in slowly from the far side, an impossibly tall, slim, stately shadow moving smoothly, like a manikin on wheels, towards centre-stage, her teeth and platinum cloche hairstyle shining. She utters the phrases of her song in a rich, clear, powerful voice. I don’t understand Portuguese, but it sounds like she can hardly bear the emotion in the story she is telling. The audience goes wild. Mariza is happy and gracious.

Enter the cellist who adds the sound of weeping for a while. Then the tune goes up-tempo and spontaneously the audience begins clapping. Mariza gestures regally and the clapping stops; she goes into a slow swaying dance gesturing elegantly with her arms as she sings about ‘Lisboa’. Enter a string trio: violin, viola, and cello. Mariza thanks us, her friends, warmly, for coming. She explains that her third album, Transparent, is still Fado, but is becoming more and more her Fado.

Fado is a type of urban folk music devoted to painful, nostalgic recollections of the happiness of love lost. This feeling is compressed into the Portuguese word ‘saudade”, considered untranslatable. This is saudade’s emoticon :) ;(

Fado has a history of nearly 200 years in Portugal, and it is now evolving through the popularity of performers like Mariza and Dulce Pontes into the world music scene, moving away from its traditional roots into more personal, popular and musically eclectic statements. Theoretically, people, even Mariza herself, compare Fado to the Blues. But, listening to Mariza’s Fado, you could never make that comparison. Her act is so very polished and perfected: it fulfills the encyclopedia definition of Fado as “ethnic music for a sophisticated audience”.

We welcome your comments and feedback
• • • • • •
Report by Stanley Fefferman
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for The Live Music Report

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