Sunday, January 24, 2010

Album Review: Gente-Sambadá

Gente, the new album from Afro-Brazilian fusion collective Sambadá, set for release February 23, 2010, is an exhilarating, feel good collection of songs that will make you want to get up and dance. With a strong framework of Afro-Brazilian bloco-afro polyrhythmic percussion, every song on the album has a very danceable beat. Add a multi-faceted horn section, the harmonized voices of Dandha da Hora and Papiba Godinho, funky guitars and hot bass lines, and you’ve got a party.

Similar to bands such as Nation Beat and Toubab Krewe, Sambadá fuses Afro-Brazilian musical characteristics with American funk, rock and jazz. They tap into the same commonality shared between musical genres that dates back to the same original source—Africa. They use Brazilian instruments like the pandeiro, timba, and agogo bells mixed with electric guitars and saxophones to foster a uniquely original sound.

Perhaps Sambadá’s greatest strength is Dandha da Hora’s voice. Singing in Portuguese, her voice glides over the polyrhythmic backdrop beautifully. I find myself listening to the album repeatedly just to hear her. Sambadá has a great balance. They know how to play with each other and lock together like a puzzle, which is very important for Afro-Brazilian music since it depends on polyrhythmic interlocking sections to create an ensemble sound.

Sambadá is based out of the Bay Area, Santa Cruz, CA to be exact, so if you’re in that part of the world (which I wish I was), definitely check them out. Their live performances feature Capoeira demonstrations, and a lot of live percussion. Listening to their music at home can start a dance party spontaneously, so seeing them live only increases that effect exponentially.

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