Raymond Soltysek's Blog

Best concert of 2010: Mayra Andrade, Casino de Paris, 17/12/10

Posted in Gig review, World music by raymondsoltysek on December 23, 2010

Mayra Andrade

Mayra Andrade

I began 2010 seeing Mayra Andrade in Glasgow supporting Salsa Celtica as part of Celtic Connections, and promised myself then I’d try to see her in her own show as soon as possible.  So I treated myself – and my sister – to two front row seats to see her at the Casino de Paris as my birthday present to myself.  And my goodness, was it a treat: easily the best concert I’ve been to this year, and absolute confirmation of my belief that  Andrade is one of the most talented young women in world music today.

Her base metal is the latin beat –  salsa, tango, rumba – but she is more than enough of a musician to do dazzling things with it,  breaking up rhythms and flipping the music  into codas and variations that sound almost like free form jazz.  The first part of  the concert is more of an acoustic set, based largely on the arrangements showcased in her new live album and DVD, Studio 105. Chief among the treats are a louche and sexy interpretation of “Michelle”; a version of one of her biggest hits, “Tunuca”, in which the accompaniment is provided by a bit of angle iron and a table knife; and a hip-swaying duet on “Odjus fitchádu” with Hugh Coltman. This is a tight band that have clearly worked together on reinventing music they love, and the result is absolutely impeccable.

The second half of the show adds more percussion and another guitarist for a more straightforward rendering of her songs.  Best of all is my favourite, “Comme s’il en pleauvait”, a hot salsa that even the Wee Free would have to dance to.   I’ve always liked the hook, a cheeky “Ayalaya” that zips the melody back into the groove like a spinning top.

This is a concert full of highlights, though.  There are so many other songs I love, like “Stória, stória”, “Lua” or “Dispidida” – and “Tunuca”, which she uses in its more conventional guise as an encore.  This is class stuff, and I feel spoiled by it all.  Of course, I’ll never see her again unless I get a seat as good as this, close enough to watch the joy she takes in singing her considerable heart out.

An amazing, brilliant, unforgettable concert.  The girl is 150% quality, and the perfect antidote to the jumped-up karaoke that is stuffed down our throats in this country.  And she’s heart-breakingly beautiful too: what more could anyone ask for in a star?

BBC Education, Scottish Short Stories

Posted in Education by raymondsoltysek on December 9, 2010

A few years ago, I contributed dramatisations of Scottish short stories for a BBC Scotland education programme.  What was innovative about it was that they accepted my argument that the stories should be fresh, and by new writers who were actually alive!  The resulting programmes are no longer available on video, but have been collected as individual clips on the BBC website.  I thought I’d gather them here as a resource for teachers.  Click on the titles below to link to the video clips.

Ian Rankin: “A Deep Hole”

Beatrice Colin: “Tangerines”

Brian McCabe: “The Face”

Anne Donovan: “All That Glisters”

Suhayl Saadi: “The Queens of Govan”

Bernard MacLaverty: “A Time to Dance”

All of the texts are available to download from the BBC site http://www.bbc.co.uk/scotland/education/teachers/teachers_notes.shtml?14plus

Put together, these could make a fantastic Scottish Short Stories unit for use in classrooms.  If you’d like to talk about such a project, get in touch with me at raymond.soltysek@strath.ac.uk .

Happy teaching!