The world on a string
Toronto is recognized as one of the most proudly multicultural cities in the world, so it’s fitting that it serves as the home base of Sultans of String, Canada’s ambassadors of musical diversity.
Founding members Chris McKhool and Kevin Laliberté began performing together in 2004, and the synergy was so compelling that they went on to record and tour as a duo, a trio, a full band and even with symphony orchestras.
Through all the configurations McKhool’s six-stringed violin and Laliberté’s rumba/flamenco guitar are at the heart of the Sultans of String sound. The Sultans are currently touring the States, and White Horse Black Mountain will host the duo on Sunday, May 21.
The instrumental music of Sultans of String combines elements of Spanish flamenco, Arabic folk, Cuban rhythms, jazz, Bossa Nova, Canadian East Coast Celtic and Gypsy jazz. Although one of the influences will often dominate a given composition, the others are never far away, and they interact seamlessly in the group’s virtuosic arrangements. The acoustic sound is sometimes layered with a little electronic wizardry to create a rich sonic tapestry.
Individually and collectively, McKhool and Laliberté have been awarded three Juno awards, Canada’s most prestigious musical honors.
“Yeah, World-Jazz-Flamenco does it (describes Sultans of String), but you can almost say we are a world music band because, unless you live on another planet, (we) would include your kind of music," McKhool said. "For me the music from the East Coast of Canada is world music, the Quebecois music is world music, Ontario fiddling is world music. You know, world music, it almost means roots music, anything that’s not pop or rock or opera.”
One Thousand Knights
Who: Sultans of Swing
When: 7:30 p.m. May 21
Where: White Horse Black Mountain
Cost: $15 advance, $18 door