Watch Politically-Themed Video from Barbez/Velina Brown


By Blurt Staff

We’ve covered the amazing Brooklyn-based ensemble Barbez in the past, including their brilliant Bella Ciao album (“They are a large ensemble, ethnically curious, jazz-experimental, proggily complex outfit with a tendency to explore beautifully obscure corners not just of the music world, but also of literature,” wrote reviewer Jennifer Kelly). You can also check out a video for the “Bella Ciao” song itself here at BLURT.  Now the group has collaborated with the Bay Area singer Velina Brown on a recording and video of L’Internationale, the unofficial anthem of Republican Spain. Check it out:

This new rendering features the members of Barbez: Peter Hess (Philip Glass Ensemble) clarinets, Pamelia Kurstin (David Byrne, Cibo Matto) theremin, Danny Tunick (The Clean) marimba, vibraphone, Dan Kaufman (Rebecca Moore) guitar, Catherine McRae (filmmaker Sam Green, the Quavers) violin, Peter Lettre (Shearwater) bass, and John Bollinger (Sway Machinery) drums; with Velina Brown (San Francisco Mime Troupe) voice, and special guest Sebastiaan Faber on trumpet.

The song was released this week, on February 27th, the 80th anniversary of the end of the Battle of Jarama, the first battle that included the Lincoln Brigade. The video was created by filmmaker David Pym and made possible by generous support from the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives (ALBA), a non-profit organization that seeks to preserve and teach the anti-fascist legacy of the Lincoln Brigade as well as promote human rights around the world.

And it’s remarkably timely, too, given that today’s alt-right was known eight decades ago as “fascists.” As Barbez and Brown point out,

“The first war they launched was in July 1936 when right-wing military generals attempted to overthrow the Republic’s government. Though the coup initially failed, these officers, led by Francisco Franco and aided by Adolph Hitler and Benito Mussolini, transformed their effort into the three-year long Spanish Civil War, a dress rehearsal for World War II in which Nazi Germany pioneered new methods for mass killing in cities like Guernica.

“With xenophobia and far-right nationalism spreading across the United States and Europe to an extent not seen since the 1930s, it’s critical to recall the people who risked their lives to oppose such trends back then. Foremost among them were the International Brigades, tens of thousands of volunteers from around the world who journeyed to Spain in the late thirties to defend the democratic Spanish Republic against a fascist revolt. These included 2,800 Americans in what came to be called the Abraham Lincoln Brigade.”

Barbez will perform April 16 at the Museum of the City of New York (the 81st anniversary of the Brigade), and then again May 20 with Brown at Joe’s Pub, where the collaborators will be doing songs associated with the Spanish Civil War. More details at these websites:




Leave a Reply