We've been to a few concerts recently, to find out what the local music is like.
First of all came Rossy, whose poster attracted P because of the accordion. Arrived at the concert a quarter of an hour before it was supposed to start, which seemed reasonable at the time. When we got there, the group was just finishing balancing the different instruments. As the concert was held in a café, a lady suddenly jumped up and started going round everybody who was there, trying to explain that if they wanted to see the concert, they had to pay 10€, and if they didn't, they had to depart as soon as possible. We paid our 10€ and waited. An hour and a half later, Rossy arrived on stage.
It started out as an all-singing-and-dancing show, with the musicians alternatively playing, telling stories in Malagasy and jumping to the ground to perform a series of backflips. They were all very sweet with their little red and blue coats, and the music was interesting, definitely sustainable if not my first choice. Then it all went awry from our point of view, as Rossy shouted to his audience to come and dance in front of the stage. Everybody promptly crowded in front of us - couldn't see a thing - and started dancing tapôlaka, which you dance by holding your body relatively still while wiggling your bottom about. The music became repetitive, half of it only percussion, while people danced. After about two hours of various bottoms wiggling in our faces, we got fed up and left.
The next concert we went to was with Diho, who we found to be excellent. The group of three - two guitars, one drummer and all three singing - played bluesy songs and didn't stop for over an hour. Even between songs, one of them kept playing rhythms or chords while the others hurried up and joined in. I'll look for their CD, as I really liked the group.
Following Diho in the same concert was Maalesh. The audience obviously loved him, as they started clapping madly when he arrived on stage. We'd never heard of him before, and thought he was rather full of himself. He often comes into Mamoudzou music school to sing with the children and with the adults' choir, so when he came on stage, a group of kids gathered round his feet and they sang two or three songs together. He mainly used the kids as backing singers doing ooo-ooo-ooos and lalalas, though, which must have been a bit disappointing for them. He also got the audience to sing along with him a few times, although most of us were white and obviously didn't understand the words. He got on my nerves, though, because he insisted on chatting for ten minutes about his love life between songs, saying that everybody has a right to have somebody to love, and that that gave him things to sing about. Humph.
We learnt later on that the words to his songs were very religious. He doesn't hide this religiousness at all, though, because he always sings and is shown with the kofi, a small hat Muslim men wear, on his head.
On the 27th of April, it was Slavery Abolition Day in Mayotte. A couple of acquaintances, who run a music school in Tsingoni, invited our group, elegantly named "The Blue Mango", and a Mahorese group called Del to play to whoever wished to come. Not very many people came, as it was in the middle of the week and not everyone had the day off the following day, but we had fun playing and dancing, as well as listening to the other group. They had interesting instruments, most of which they had made themselves, and they played and sang typical Mahorese tunes.
A friend of ours was playing with a jazz group at a café just down the road from us, so we went to see him. He'd sent a message to a whole group of us to say he was playing that evening, so quite a few of the musicians we've been playing with for a while now turned up to listen and chat. We learnt that two were leaving Mayotte for Madagascar in June, two were going back to Marseille in July, and one was pregnant, so that gave us plenty to talk about. The music itself wasn't really concert-type music, more like background music for when you're busy doing something else, but it was nice hearing friends play.
The next concert we went to was with Cordes Avides, a group of three white men playing jazz with only string instruments: a violin, a viola and a double-bass or double-bass guitar. They were excellent. They couldn't keep still, which is why my photos of them are pretty rubbish, they played very quickly and very well, always playing around each other and carefully harmonizing their different tunes. All the tunes ended up sounding rather like each other, though, because they harmonized them all in the same way: the double bass would play pizzicato notes while first the violin, then the viola played the tune, alternating between the tune and a backing melody.
They then invited two groups of amateur musicians to play with them, which the groups had obviously been rehearsing for the last months. One group of children, who played a tune which had been composed by the group's conductor, and one group of adults, who played two jazz standards, "So What" and "Autumn Leaves". We stayed to listen to both, especially as we had a couple of friends in the adult group: Françoise (soprano saxophone, accordion, banjo, guitar), who we've been playing with since we arrived in Mayotte, and Henri (drums and guitar), who is another English teacher in my school.