Thursday, December 4, 2014

Occupied by Brazilian Music: Bixiga 70 and "Kalimba"

I have waxed rhapsodic about how much I have enjoyed discovering Brazilian music, in its many styles and rhythms. While I have yet to go to South America, I feel like it is a bucket list destination for me, even if I just went for the music alone. In one country Brazil has an astounding variety of music. Of course, early in my musical education I thought Brazil was all bossa nova and samba. However, I didn't take into account the variety of African influences in Brazilian music, even though the clues are plain for anyone who scans a Brazilian crowd and sees the various hues of skin pigmentation. The Brazilian music that I most often heard was of the type that was heavily jazz influenced (jazz itself is very influenced by African music as well). Growing up in the 70s, it was certain types of Brazilian music that made it to the radio waves - types that would appeal to the American listening palate.

Groups like Bixiga 70 have opened my eyes in the way that they have consciously drawn on African roots of Brazilian music and made its rhythms front and center along with other genres. An example is today's tune Kalimba. Using an African guitar backing melody with African drums and a Latin style melody driven by horns, but also allowing for a modern rock style guitar solo, the song is a melange of styles. And in fact, that's what Bixiga 70 does - they combine African, Brazilian, Latin and jazz rhythms and music into a comprehensive worldbeat. The name of the band is taken from the neighborhood and street number where the band was born in Sao Paolo in 2010. The band has a wide range of influences, from Brazilian musicians such as Gilberto Gil, Pedro Santos and Luiz Gonzaga, among others, but also African musicians such as Fela Kuti and Mulatu Astatke. The band released its first album in 2011, which was listed by Rolling Stone as one of the best of that year. Kalimba is from their newest album, Ocupai, released in 2014. The video is a live version of the song.