At first glance, last night's Cellar Door revue titled "From Brooklyn to Bangladesh" might seem a bit misleading. None of the musicians is from either Brooklyn or Bangladesh, and the music they played wasn't native to either. Yet, with a stageful of instruments and styles ranging from folk to jazz to classical to blues and back, and sounds form all over the world, the title proved apt.
Led by David Amram, and assisted by multi-instrumentalist Ken Bloom, bassist Keter Betts, percussionist Abu Richard Spencer and guitarist/percussionist Mantwilla Nyomo, the ensemble played a transcontinental array of tunes. All of the compositions were played with verve and passion, and Amram and Bloom punctuated their music with informative explanations and funny dialogue.
Admittedly, it was difficult to tell when the Pakistani shepherd's flutes were being played at their best. But most of the less familiar instruments were alluring for their unique tonal qualities and the bagpipes, bondura, ocarina, and zither sounded just fine.
Last night's show was broadcast live on WAMU-FM by National Public Radio's "Folk Festival USA," which will rebroadcast the performance nationally later this year. If you didn't hear it last night, listen to it then. The effort proved that music is universal -- a message as lovely as the melodies that delivered it.