Dan Ouellette on Angelique Kidjo:
A woman of many influences and expressions, it’s hard to slow her down Angelique Kidjo. In recent years, she wowed crowds with her salsa-drenched set in tribute to the iconic Queen of Salsa, Celia Cruz. With her clarion vocal call, Kidjo served as the spark fire of the percussion- peppered show, continually swirling in dance steps during the songs. After her hot run through Cruz’s hit “Cucala,” she shouted out, “How can you come to a salsa concert and sit down and not dance?” she asked people at the Umbria Jazz Festival. Most of the people got up at this good-humored admonition. With the horn section and the drums, Kidjo played in a perfect Latin jazz setting that melded African, Afro-Cuban and Cuban santería music. Guest percussionist Pedrito Martinez played with a powerful conguero presence throughout the set that kept the heat at a high-temperature boil. Kidjo never turns in a subpar performance, which made her Umbria appearance special.
Angelique’s newest project, her interpretation of The Talking Heads’ classic 1980 album, Remain in Light. She recorded her version of the album, creating new arrangements of the iconic songs. Kidjo premiered the musical extravaganza at Carnegie Hall (with audience guest David Byrne coming onstage to share a tune with her) and later performed it at Bonnaroo.
Ouellette, Dan, "Angelique Kidjo Interview by Dan Ouellette" (2018). Jazz Interviews Archive. 45.