Live Review: Alejardro Tolendo and The Magic Tombolinoss

Posted on May 7, 2010


Venue: Bossaphonik at The Cellar, Oxford

Anyone familiar with Ferwin Court will know that sensation of anticipation rising from the depths of your stomach whilst walking through the narrow confines of the ally walls. Descending down the stairs into the Cellar always leaves me with this inevitable feeling. Usually it’s the one too many Baileys, but tonight I am stone cold sober and looking forward to what Bossaphonik has in store. The basement is dim and the stage is softly luminous with an array of instruments adorning the floor. To the right is evidence of a heavy night fromlast Wednesday’s Freerange. Newly painted graffiti scribbled in black and white conveys a hedonistic picture of a cartoon world. It’s manic and confusing; almost claustrophobic, adding to the atmosphere perfectly.

Huddled by the bar I notice the crowd is growing nicely as the drummer, quite timidly, sneaks on stage. He’s a little nervous as he rolls out fractured and intricate drum riffs with ease. He drops a drum-stick yet refuses to stop as the other players stroll on to join him. Next the percussionist adds complex cross rhythms whilst spanish style chromaticism emerges from the guitar part. Meanwhile, the classically trained accordion player provides more impressive embellishment as the double bassist anchors the eccentric sound with a thudding hip-hop style bass line.

Finally, Alejardro Tolendo makes his entrance clutching his clarinet and wearing cringe worthy 80s style PVC trousers. “Thank you for inviting us to Oxford people!” he roars before joining the rest of the band in a whirlwind of virtuosic playing. By merging influences ranging from the Middle-East to Latin-America this Balkain-based group take us on a continental musical journey. Gliding from an ambient afro-pop beat with overlaying simple guitar chords and moving towards a more aggressive pounding groove consisting of predominating jazzy clarinet motifs have the audience hypnotized.

The band members also seem to be in a trance of their own; eyes closed in silent contentment, engrossed in the moment. Though at times each song seems to sound extremely similar to the last, the band never falter, seamlessly entwining with one another, locked in acute awareness throughout the performance. “We are the happiest when we see all you people dance!”, Tolendo announces before initiating another frenzied sequence of syncopated rhythms.

Offering yet another remarkable live show, the Bossaphonik promoters have given us an exhilarating cultural experience without breaking the bank costing a wallet friendly £6 entry! For more up and coming events have a look at their website at and

Natalie Mkulila

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Posted in: Music, Reviews