Thu | Jun 4, 2020

A pristine ‘En Sintesis’ from Carmen Paris

Published:Saturday | October 26, 2019 | 12:00 AMMarcia Rowe/Gleaner Writer

Singer and composer Carmen Paris’ ‘En Sintesis’ tour, celebrating her 35-year career, made a stop at the Little Theatre in Kingston on Wednesday. Organised by the Embassy of Spain in association with The Spanish-Jamaican Foundation, it was more than a concert but rather a celebration of culture through music.

“There is something essential in the music with roots that move the hearts of people. Taking the album tour is a confirmation that the roots are really an important thing for the people. It does not matter that you do not understand the language, it is essential that the music makes people move,” the Spain-born Paris told The Gleaner.

Her blending of Aragonese jota with rhythms and melodies of Cuba, Latin America, the Mediterranean, Africa, and Asia to tell her personal stories in four albums did just that.

Alas, no reggae, she informed the audience, despite the fact that her musical break came from the Jamaica Orchestra in Spain. But she had other concerns.

“I went to the Peter Tosh Concert, and I see that people did not applaud a lot. So I thought people here (Jamaica) do not applaud a lot. But tonight, they did, and I was happy. So I am really happy,” she told The Gleaner after the show.

The performance began with an explanation of the unfamiliar Iberian folklore. Simply put, “before flamenco, there was jota”. The jota history lesson ended with a demonstration of a song and dance.

The intimately lit stage of the Little Theatre remained the focus of attention as Paris took the audience through more background information on the creation of her four albums. Along the way, they learned about the love stories that inspired her songs. The most compelling stories were about two songs from Paris’ third album, inCubando, created in Cuba.

The songs Para Arogana and Horrifying Distance were inspired by Cuban writer and revolutionist, José Martí’s poem Para Aragona’; and Einstein’s book Quantum Physics. Martí’s poem was adapted because of its emphasis on love for an Aragonese woman. But unlike Martí, Paris’ quantum leap into love failed, and she penned Horrifying Distance. Each story was followed by a riveting rendition of the song it inspired.

The relaxing concert ended with an encore performance of two songs and a standing ovation from the audience.

Emma Lewis and Rafael Salazar thought the concert was wonderful. Lewis liked the energy and variation. She was impressed, too, by Paris’ dancing and singing: “The background information was very good, and the little bit about her personal life that inspired all these songs” helped with understanding their spirit.

Cuba-born Salazar described the show as a good feast of fusion of different music from Cuba, Latin America, and Europe. “I don’t know much about the José Martí story, but I learned a lot tonight,” he said.

The host of the concert, His Excellency Josep María Bosch Besa, Spanish ambassador to Jamaica, enjoyed the performance and said it was an experience travelling around the world through the fusion of music. He also expressed the hope that there will be a Jamaican fusion with reggae and mento.

Paris, who was supported by keyboardist Diego Vevveler and Jorge Tejerina, continues her tour in Mexico.