Selected by Dan Grunebaum

Festival Halou

Rokia Traore
Rokia Traore - Frank Socha

Leading world music promoter Conversation returns with its annual look at the music of France and its former colonies. Kicking off its tenth anniversary with performances earlier this month by French sex siren Jane Birkin, this year' Festival Halou ranges from the West African morna of Cesaria Evora to the gypsy jazz of Bireli Lagrene; these artists are just a sampling of the diversity of styles that will be on display at various venues over the next three months.

Hailing from the island nation of Cape Verde, Cesaria Evora has wowed Tokyo audiences in previous years with her post-colonial blend of Portuguese fados, Brazilian modhinas and British sea-chanteys. Taking up singing at 16, Evora became a minor star in her own country, but gave up singing in the '70s for lack of profit. Relocating to Paris in the late '80s, she became part of that city's fertile world music scene, resuscitating her career with albums such as 1997's Cabo Verde and last year's Mar Azul. Her latest album is Cafe Atlantico, just out this month on BMG.

Cesaria Evora
Cesaria Evora

In her October performances at Odaiba's new supper club Tribute to the Love Generation, Evora will be joined by young Malian singer Rokia Traore. The daughter of a diplomat, Traore absorbed a host of musical influences as her family moved around the world. Debuting with Mouneissa in 1998, Traore has received considerable acclaim for her sweet voice and laid-back, acoustic take on West African music.

Another hallmark of Festival Halou has been its Jazzin' Paris installment, which this year will feature French trio Prysm and guitarist Bireli Lagrene. Releasing Second Rhythm in 1999, the trio of pianist Pierre Of Bethmann, bassist Christophe Wallemme and percussionist Benjamin Henocq provide proof that the French have absorbed the jazz tradition as well as anyone.

Bireli Lagrene
Bireli Lagrene
C. Hose

Prysm will be joined by gypsy jazz prodigy Bireli Lagrene, who dazzled the world with his flamboyant, Django Reinhardt-influenced style when he debuted as a 13-year-old in 1980. Pushing on into heavier, fusion-oriented sounds in mid '80s recordings with the late great bassist Jaco Pastorius, he has more recently returned to an acoustic style, updated with hints of post-bop.


The festival continues on with a look at the contemporary French and African pop scenes in November with visits by up and coming French African soul songstress Natali Lorio and 22-member Moroccan group Master Musicians of Jajouka, who have recorded with the Rolling Stones.

It concludes in December with a performance by indie-pop group Little Rabbits, whose influences range from Beck to Sonic Youth to the John Spencer Blues Explosion.

Festival Halou takes place at various venues around Tokyo from September through December. See listings for details.

Concert Listings
394: Regurgitator
393: Art Garfunkel


392: Belle and Sebastian
391: Super Furry Animals
390: Ben Folds
389: Elton John
388: Dido
387: Papa Roach
386: Beast Feast 2001
385: Summersonic
384: David Sylvian
383: Maxi Priest & Big Mountain
382: Fuji Rock Festival 01
381: Roxy Music
380: Bo Diddley
379: John McLaughlin & Zakir Hussain in Remember Shakti
378: Paul Weller
377: Coolio
376: Backyard Babies
375: Marcus Miller
374: Black Crowes
373: Megadeath
372: Dionne Warwick
371: Arrested Development
370: Mouse on Mars
369: Duran Duran
368: Linkin Park
367: Maceo Parker
366: Japan Blues Carnival 2001
365: Ben Harper
364: Cheap Trick
363: Stephen Malkmus
362: Mogwai
361: Weezer
360: Marilyn Manson
359: Green Day
358: AC/DC
357: Richard Thompson
356: Bob Dylan
355: J. Mascis
354: Leigh Stephen Kenny
352/3: Limp Bizkit
351: Boyz II Men
350: Reef
349: Park Tower Blues Festival
348: Roni Size
347: Compay Segundo
346: Incognito
345: Jimmy Page and The Black Crowes
344: Bad Religion
343: Japan Soul Festival 2000
342: Rocktober 2000
341: Richard Ashcroft
340: Motorhead
339: Festival Halou
338: Ricky Martin
337: Taj Mahal
336: Asian Dub Foundation
335: Lou Reed
334: Earth, Wind & Fire
333: Sting
332: No Doubt
331: Camel
330: Fuji Rock: Smash Talks
329: Summer Sonic
328: Mt. Fuju Aid 2000
327: Salif Keita
326: Buena Vista Social Club
325: Bill Frisell
324: Maxi Priest
323: Lenine
322: Rage Against the Machine
321: Tommy Flanagan Trio
320: Smashing Pumpkins
319: Pet Shop Boys
318: Japan Blues Carnival
317: Gipsy Kings
316: Steely Dan
315: Pshish
314: Big Night Out
313: Femi Kuti and the Positive Force
312: Harry Connick Jr.
311: Sonny Rollins
310: Speech
309: Santana