World music giant Banda Magda heads in SF Bay Area for shows


On the cover of the latest Banda Magda album “Tigre” (Ground Up), Magda Giannikou stands in the midst of the savannah, binoculars held to her eyes, looking out directly at whoever happens to be holding the CD as if we, too, are on safari.

Listening to the polyglot ensemble is something of an adventure, with little warning where the music might next explore. A keen observer with even keener ears, the Greek-born Giannikou is an acclaimed composer, expert accordionist, veteran producer and ringleader of one of the most entertaining bands on the scene. And whatever realm her music happens to reference, there’s a good chance she can communicate with the locals, as she theatrically delivers songs in English, Spanish, French, Greek and Portuguese.

Banda Magda performs around the region over the next week, opening the run Feb. 23 at the Montalvo Arts Center and closing at the SFJazz Center’s Joe Henderson Lab, March 1-2.

For this tour, Banda Magda features Japanese percussionist Keita Ogawa and the Argentine triumvirate of bass guitarist Andres Rotmistrovsky, drummer Marcelo Woloski and guitarist Ignacio Hernandez. “These four are the core members,” she says. “But it’s more like the touring band is picked from a pool of people I’ve worked with for years, because everyone performs with so many other bands and projects, something I encourage and embrace. Part of our mission statement to keep discovering. Different musicians bring in a lot of new ideas, which I love.”

Part of the extended Snarky Puppy clan, Giannikou contributed to 2013’s “Family Dinner – Volume 1” (Ropeadope Records), the album that featured the band’s Grammy Award-winning collaboration with Lalah Hathaway. Kronos Quartet commissioned her to write a piece that premiered as part of the ensemble’s 40th anniversary celebration. Wherever she roams, Giannikou is the life of the party, eager to share her exotic musical creations.

Details: 8 p.m. Feb. 23 at Montalvo Arts Center, Saratoga; $39-$44; 408-961-5858, montalvoarts.org.; 7 p.m. Feb. 24 at Firehouse Arts Center, Pleasanton; $27-$37, 925-931-4848, www.firehousearts.org. 7:30 p.m. Feb. 28 at Green Music Center, Rohnert Park; $25-$45; 707-664-4246, gmc.sonoma.edu.; 7 and 8:30 p.m. March 1, 11 a.m. March 2 at  SFJazz Center, San Francisco; $5-$23; 866-920-5299, www.sfjazz.org.



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