Liverpool In all cultures, dances inevitably inspire the composition and performance of music which befits the form and force of the dance. From primitive tribes to sophisticated societies, dances are an important part of courtship rituals, celebrations and artistic public performances. Without music, the expression of human movement — from bolero to ballet — would be all but impossible.
With ensembles representing four ethnic dance traditions — African, Irish, Hispanic and Jewish — the sixth annual Liverpool Public Library Folk Music Series will both educate and entertain its audiences be presenting musicians rarely showcased in the suburbs of Upstate New York. All concerts at the library are free.
The series kicks off at 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 20, with Kambuyu, African-style marimba ensemble based in the vibrant, multi-cultural Westcott neighborhood on Syracuse’s East Side. Kambuyu plays happy, percussive music that is rhythmic and driving.
The group showcases seven marimba players: three sopranos, two tenors and one each of baritone and bass. The instruments are all hand-built using PVC pipe cut to length, tuned and sealed. Tonal wood is used for the keys, and cellophane is placed over holes in the tube to create buzzing sounds.
In most songs, one of the soprano marimbas plays the lead melody, while the other instruments provide curious counter-rhythms and chords.
After forming in 2004, Kambuyu began using mallets resembling insect antennae to create its decidedly percussive sound. The African word “kambuyu” means “insect.” The group’s musicians also employ gourd rattles and drums to complement the marimbas.
The Kambuyu marimba ensemble — Carolyn Stafford, Diane Emord, Ethan Jenks, Deborah Rose, Diana Green, Peter Sinatra, Karen Gokey and Barb Root — plays music with roots in Shona songs from South Africa and rhythms from Zimbabwe.
The library’s folk series continues on Feb. 17 with Diamond Joe Davoli and Harvey Nusbaum on fiddle and guitar, respectively, performing Irish dance instrumentals.
On March 17, Grupo Pagan Lite will play Caribbean and Latino dance tunes, and the series concludes on April 21 with Jonathan Dinkin & Klezmercuse playing old- and new-world Jewish jazz.