Buika has become a jazz singer. The songs have become pretexts for extended, free improvisations. When I saw her before, she operated within the lines, showcasing her phenomenal vocal skills with just a piano to accompany her. But now she has a serious band. And the mood has gone from mellow to intense and erratic. There were moments she didn’t seem to know what she was doing. I don’t know quite what to make of it, but it was an honor to see someone who is so skilled risking it all, rather than repeating past accomplishments.
La Santa Cecilia's riotous performance and the rapturous ovation of the sold-out crowd may have sealed the deal on their becoming the official band of Los Angeles. Who could not love ranchera buskers from Olivera Street that listen to Pink Martini? I surrender, even though with my perfect ignorance of Mexican pop music causing half of their allusions to fly way over my head. I didn't even know who Pepe Aguilar was when he came on stage and redoubled the hysteria.
La Marisoul, like Buika, is a diva, and among other pleasures the evening provided a lesson in different modes of divadom. Where Buika’s expressive gestures come from high-strung inwardness, La Marisoul’s gestures and dances come from a street-performer’s outgoing exuberance. She was wearing an oilcloth skirt, for heaven's sake. The knowingness is part of the fun.