As it does every year, the Chicago World Music Festival offered a chance to hear many different kinds of music from all over the planet. I sampled several bands during the festival and wished I’d been able to see and hear more. Last Saturday (Sept. 19) at Martyrs’, the Bosnian group Mostar Sevdah Reunion played a nice set of songs featuring singer Ilijaz Delic, an older fellow whose voice is beautifully weathered. The headliners that night were a Romany or Gypsy octet from Hungary, Parno Graszt, who really got the crowd dancing with speedy, intricate rhythms. They were a true delight.
The festival concluded on Thursday (Sept. 24) with an open house featuring nine bands on three stages at the Chicago Cultural Center. This showcase is always a highlight of the festival, although it does get so crowded that it can be difficult to move around from one room to another. I caught a cool set of jazz by the Polish trumpet-and-drums duo Mikrokolektyw, the entrancing music of Iraqi-American oud virtuoso Rahim Alhaj, and a lovely set of slightly psychedelic Brazilian folk-rock by MoMo. I definitely want to hear more from all of these artists, as well as some of the other World Music Fest acts that I didn’t get a chance to see.
How long has Chicago been hosting world music concerts? The tradition goes back way longer than 1999, when the World Music Festival started. As I reported in a Sept. 19 story for Chicago Public Radio, WBEZ, the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition was a world music festival of sorts. My story for WBEZ’s “Eight Forty Eight” show is posted online here.