GET TO KNOW the world beat and funky face of Zandhunga — Britt Bowman

Zandhunga will churn out Latin tunes at Cumberland

This Saturday, Zandhunga returns to the Cumberland Hotel to debut a whole new show

If you form a part of this town’s vibrant dance community, you likely are familiar with local group Zandhunga as the ensemble that over the past few years has been churning out classic and modern Latin tunes at some of the best dance parties on the North Island.

They have toured internationally, and it was just last spring they performed the Cumberland Hotel for the first time, turning the heat up to tropical degrees as the room was filled with rhythms and the dance floor packed full of bodies.

This Saturday, Zandhunga returns to the Cumberland Hotel to debut a whole new show, and the repertoire draws from not just Latin rhythms but a mashup of rhythms from around the globe.

Original compositions with varied traditional elements are presented on modern instrumentation for a uniquely neo-tribal, world-beat fusion experience. The music is heavily instrumental, but with compositions like No Coal Mine lyrics are minimal yet meaningful.

Oscar Robles Diaz on drumkit, guitar, Chapman stick and vocals; Britt Bowman on electric bass guitar, and Tony Morrison on saxophones and flute form the power trio that is behind this latest sound from Zandhunga.

They deliver a progressive blend of hip-hop, trip-hop, jazz, flamenco, funk, Afrobeat, Latin and pan-African rhythms in a repertoire that ranges from chilled down-tempo to upbeat and fiery. Summing all that up into a genre, the versatile term world beat might be the closest fit.

“I particularly love playing in this incarnation of Zandhunga,” says Bowman. “Everyone brings something really different and special to the table.

“Metaphorically speaking, things just seem to come together like a home-cooked potluck of organic ingredients. Sometimes, the raw mix of flavours can get pretty intense and out there, and I like that. “

Onstage interaction between the musicians is spontaneous and free with soaring solos and playful polyrhythms bound together by underlying and infectious grooves. While the time signature may shift — from 4/4 through to 7/8 for those who happen to be counting — the beats remain surprisingly danceable.

Apart from original compositions featured in two-thirds of the show, the concert at the Cumberland Hotel will also feature an entire set inspired and in tribute to the traditional music of the Shona people of Zimbabwe.

Robles says this world beat face the collective is showing comes from a long-term history musical experimentation.

“This incarnation of the collective is more of a reincarnation if anything. Right from the start, we were playing around with mixing hip-hop and rock with African, Latin and Brazilian rhythms.”

Some of that early fusion can be found on Zandhunga’s self-titled CD, released last year, but recorded in different studios and over a broad time frame As such, the album provides a retrospective tracing of the development of Zandhunga’s ever-evolving sound that is diverse and far-reaching.

The Zandhunga collective has performed at festivals and venues throughout Mexico as well as West Coast Canada and in Taiwan.

Music begins Saturday at 9 p.m. For more information, visit www.cumberlandhotel.ca or call 250-336-8844.

— Buleria Productions Co.

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