Years ago, around 2006, singer-songwriter Perla Batalla handed me a cd by a woman named Buika called Mi Nina Lola. I was hooked immediately. Her voice is both rough and smooth, a musical style Branford Marsalis once applied to sax players. Her parents were from Equatorial Guinea–formerly Spanish Guinea–in West Africa, and came to Spain after independence. She grew up in Spain among gypsies, and she has the distinctive gitano “rajo” or raspy throat sound characteristic of the great flamenco singers such as Camarón de la Isla and Manuel Agujetas. And like Camarón, she has stretched the boundaries, recording flamenco, jazz, and other styles.
She comes to the Luckman Fine Arts Complex @ Cal State LA on Saturday 11/17. http://www.luckmanarts.org/ She’s joined by Cuban pianist Ivan Melon Lewis, who is equally extraodinary. I last saw them together at Grand Performances three years ago. It was an amazing show. Don’t miss the next one. She already announced her “permanent retirement” once, and could do it again.
Here she is performing the song from the Grand Performances show; grainy and not great picture or sound, but you’ll still see what makes these two so amazing: