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David Bryne brings an eclectic muscial mix to the Orpheum


At the Orpheum Theatre,

Thursday, October 26.


LATELY DAVID BYRNE HAS BEEN submerged in Latin American and Caribbean music. His new album, Rei Momo, proves his fluency in the rhythms of the Caribbean and Latin America.

Byrne's concert last Thursday night was an energetic show of merengue, salsa, reggae, and Brazilian music. He played with a 12-member, 15-piece band and Brazilian singer Margareth Menezes.

The show opened with Menezes singing solo, backed by five drummers on a variety of drums. Then Byrne appeared on the stage with the rest of the band, all dressed in white. The band members are primarily musicians from Latin America or from the Latin musical community in New York.

The band consisted of a six-man horn section, percussion led by Milton Cardona, and two keyboardists. One song featured drums from the religious tradition of a few Cuban band members. These drums had names and were formally introduced by Byrne.

Each song on Rei Momo is from a different style that borrows from Caribbean or Latin American rhythms. During the show Byrne refrained from announcing the "style" of each song before playing it, but after the second song, Byrne did refer to each song's origins by saying "that was Brazilian. And this is not."

The best songs of the show were not restricted to one musical style. "Independence Day" (a cumbia) and "Dirty Old Town" (a mapeye) were the best, probably because they are among the better songs on the Rei Momo album. These two and "Mr. Jones," from the Talking Heads' Naked album, worked well, combining the band's rhythms with Byrne's vocals and guitar.

When the band members were not playing, they danced together on the raised stage behind Byrne. Byrne danced, too, but his movements seemed a bit unnatural compared to those who grew up dancing the samba and the bolero. The only time he seemed right at home was when they played "Mr. Jones."

If Byrne seems to be, as he said, "a musical cruise ship" right now, visiting countries through their music and culture, it is not without sincerity; he obviously loves and admires the music. His concert was a jubilant expression of that fact.