Ladysmith Black Mambazo returning to Troy Music Hall

The South African harmony-singing supergroup Ladysmith Black Mambazo has heroism on its mind as it r

The South African harmony-singing supergroup Ladysmith Black Mambazo has heroism on its mind as it returns on Saturday to the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall (30 Second St.). Onstage and on their new album “Ilembe: Honoring Shaka Zulu,” the group pays tribute to the warrior king who united the Zulu nation, their own latest chapter as heroes of music.

Since the early 1960s, Ladysmith Black Mambazo has triumphed over adversity time and again.

First, the singers launched an intrepid musical career under the iron grip of apartheid, creating a harmony vocal style of striking distinctive power.

Second, they dealt with sudden success in 1986 when a super-bright spotlight of fame shone on Paul Simon’s “Graceland” album, maintaining their equilibrium and musical vision with rare aplomb.

Third, they managed to maintain a career as international stars even when that spotlight, and Simon, moved on.

Fourth, they have sustained their creativity while dealing with life and death continuity issues. In 1991, Headman Shabalala (brother of leader Joseph) was shot dead, and in 2002, Joseph was injured in another shooting that proved fatal to his wife of 30 years. The attack was engineered by one of his sons, and the four remaining sons sing with Joseph to this day. Over time, Joseph has gradually replaced his brothers in the group with his sons.

Even this astounding tale of triumph over trouble doesn’t hint at how wonderfully well they sing and how entertainingly silly and athletic they are onstage.

Show time for Ladysmith Black Mambazo on Saturday at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall is 8 p.m. Tickets are $30, $27 and $15 (students). Phone 273-0038 or visit

Rhapsody at the Egg

When George Gershwin composed “Rhapsody In Blue” in 1924, audiences asked “Is it jazz, or is it classical?” Well, yes, and this muscular moody orchestral piece, bristling with jazz cadences, chords and improvisation, became an unprecedented and enduring crossover hit.

Gershwin wrote it in just four weeks for Paul Whiteman’s jazz group. He improvised parts of his own piano performance in the premiere, and he insisted that Whiteman’s clarinetist repeat in performances the thrilling glissando that he had improvised in a rehearsal and that remains its signature.

Not everyone loved it: Leonard Bernstein called it “a string of separate paragraphs stuck together,” though he admired its melodies. Nonetheless, hundreds of artists have played it in the original jazz band arrangement and three later orchestrated versions.

Jazz pianist Marcus Roberts released a Grammy-nominated version with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra in 1996, and on Saturday he and his trio (bassist Roland Guerin and drummer Jason Marsalis) perform it with the Albany Symphony Orchestra under the direction of David Alan Miller at The Egg (Empire State Plaza, Albany). This match made in jazz-classical heaven combines Miller’s virtuosity and versatility with Roberts’s command of Gershwin’s music, evident not only on his “Portraits in Blue” album with the “Rhapsody” but also on his “Gershwin is For Lovers” album.

Show time is 7:30 p.m. Admission is $28. Phone 474-1845 or visit This is the second of three Gershwin performances in The Egg’s “New York Living Legacy Project.” Guitarist Frank Vignola launched the series last Saturday with his band and singer Jane Monheit, and pianist Bill Charlap wraps it up on Sunday, Jan. 27, with his mother, singer Sandy Stewart. Ticket buyers get a 15 percent discount by ordering tickets for two or more shows.


The Kamikaze Hearts are taking a break from their break for a very good reason. The powerful “porch-rock” pioneers went on hiatus from the stage recently to record a new album. When the childhood home of guitarist and singer Bob Buckley recently burned down, the Hearts quickly organized two benefit shows for Buckley’s siblings Eric and Karen who were living there and lost everything. Fortunately, they were unhurt.

On Sunday at 3 p.m. at Tess’s Lark Tavern (453 Madison Ave., Albany), an all-star hootenanny will feature knotworking, Ben Karis-Nix, DJ Miller, Tom McWatters, These Are The Hits, Mitch Elrod, Mother Judge, Platypus, Katie Haverly and of course the Hearts themselves. Phone 463-9779 and watch the Buckley Family Benefits MySpace page for updates. Details next week on a second benefit to be held on Jan. 25 at Valentine’s.


No wonder Rascal Flatts calls their new album and tour “Still Feels Good.” They headline at the Times Union Center (51 S. Pearl St., Albany) next Thursday as five-time County Music Association and Academy of Country Music Vocal Group of the Year winners, having sold 15 million copies of their six albums, topped the country singles charts nine times and scored 17 top 10 hits. In 2006, they sold more albums than anyone, in any style of music, and their 2007 tour was among the year’s top 10 ticket sellers.

Show time on Thursday is 8 p.m. when Kellie Pickler opens. An “American Idol” contestant, she later appeared on Jeff Foxworthy’s “Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader?” and proved she may not be. Asked of what European country Budapest is the capital, she said she thought Europe was a country. It’s all been uphill from there: Her 2006 debut album “Red High Heels” topped the country charts and earned a Top Female Vocalist nomination at the CMA awards.

Tickets are $66.50 and $50.75, available at the box office and at select Price Chopper outlets, by phone at 1-800-30-EVENT and online at

Categories: Life and Arts

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