Banda Magda bursts with humor and a quirky sensibility, powered by an unflagging energy. The dynamic group combines South American rhythms with jazz improvisation, cinematic arranging, sophisticated audience participation, mid-century classics and world ‘chansons’ sung in six languages. In their Exit Zero appearance, Banda Magda will perform material from its third album, the lavish and politically-tinged Tigre.
Led by Greek-born singer, accordionist, film scorer and composer Magda Giannikou, Banda Magda moves easily from Brazilian baiao to jazz manouche, Greek dance rhythms, Afro-Peruvian lando and scintillating samba beats. Their songs, sung in French (with forays into six other languages), harken back to the golden age of Brazilian bossa, the best of cinematic orchestration and bouncy French pop, all while drawing on the band’s global background. The New York-based group unites an Esquivel-loving vibes player from Japan, an Argentinean jazz guitarist, a Nagasaki-born percussionist with contemporary classical cred, a hand drummer with every South American rhythm at his fingertips and a rock-solid Greek multi-instrumentalist/bassist, all led by the sweet-voiced, exotic-looking frontwoman Giannikou, who sells her story songs with passion and panache.
According to the New Music Report: “Of all the vocal-driven ensembles in the world of contemporary music there is none as compelling or beckoning as Banda Magda. In the music of this group there are many moving parts, but there is no doubt that its driving force is Magda Giannikou who is most often listed as having played accordion on stage or in the studio, but is also a multi-instrumentalist who makes it seem as if she was also born to be among other things a truly gifted contrabassist. As a composer, Miss Giannikou conceives works that are operatic in scope even when she is writing a 5-minute song. Her Grecian background enables her to create and empathize very deeply with the characters and her music is redolent of rhapsody, and dramatic catharsis. As a singer she is unmatched in her ability to captivate even seduce her audiences. Founded in 2010 in New York, Banda Magda has toured in more than 22 countries and five continents. This group of close musical friends turn Giannikou’s songs into engaging romps that have won them accolades at such festivals as WOMAD, L’Olympia, Jazz à Vienne, Canarias Jazz, Apollo Hammersmith and the Kathmandu Jazz Festival.