When it comes to creation myths, try topping that of Ladysmith Black Mambazo, the all-male Zulu a cappella group whose understated (yet overdetermined) sound came to leader Joseph Shabalala in a series of 1964 dreams. Ladysmith blends loud and proud South African mbube vocal music with isicathamiya, a milder call-and-response style that developed around minstrel shows and the displacement of rural Zulu men to slavish urban factories and mining centers, where they sang and dreamed of home. With dance steps borrowed from the Mohatella Queens, Christian harmonies reflecting Shabalala's 1975 conversion, and 15 million or so copies of Graceland sold to date, Ladysmith Black Mambazo has become a marvelously successful touring and recording band of rich metaphorical density. December marks Shabalala's 50th year in music, and he's been talking retirement (the eight-man group includes four of his sons), so plan accordingly. The group will also play B.B. King's Blues Club on February 4.
Wed., Feb. 3, 8 p.m., 2010