Sisters in Song: Jabu and Aline Morales

Aline Morales Live at Lula Lounge, November 26, 2015
** UPDATE: Unfortunately, Jabu Morales was not able to come for this performance, but Aline Morales and her band will still perform.**

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Aline Morales' days as Toronto's best-kept musical secret may be over, but the Brazilian singer, percussionist and bandleader has a special treat in store this month. On Thursday, November 26th, Aline welcomes her equally captivating sister, Barcelona-based Jabu Morales, for the Toronto CD release of Jabu Morales' second album, Malungo.

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While Jabu's music is unique, her musical path and Aline's tread similar territory. On both their recordings and in their live shows, listeners are treated to a high level of musicianship, with intricate but unobtrusive percussion, impassioned lyrics sung beautifully in Portuguese and English, and genuine feelings of saudade, that rich, nearly untranslatable Portuguese word for longing.
Malungo, the new album by Jabu Morales, departs significantly from its predecessor, 2010's Jabu, which was recorded not long after her 2008 arrival in Barcelona. Malungo bears the influences of her new home city and its global mix, with Spanish-style guitars and even West African sensibilities reflecting the shifts in Jabu's music over the last six years. This is Brazilian music transformed and informed by Mediterranean living in a local-global Spanish-speaking metropolis.
Here's a video of Seu Lua from Malungo,  performed live in Barcelona by Jabu Morales and her band, with special participation from Aline Morales.

And here's one more tune, from Jabu's first (self-titled) album.


Lenis Rino: Mais Um Grito

Nova Lima, 03 de fevereiro de 2015 O musico e produtor Lenis Rino lanca seu mais novo album "Mais um grito". Foto: Bruno Magalhaes / NITRO / DivulgacaoA poetic, dynamic and energetic interpreter and innovator of Brazilian popular and folkloric culture, Lenis Rino is the musical producer of several current artists in a fertile Belo Horizonte music scene. But Lenis's special relationship to Toronto is through his work as one of Maracatu drumming's greatest ambassadors, in Minas Gerais state and around the world.Lenis has produced music by Marina Machado - Quieto um Pouco, Kdu dos Anjos - A Cidade Azul, Matheus Brant – A Semana, Zimun - Compacto, Nathy Faria - Saindo do lugar, among others. He also plays as the drummer for Brazilian artists Fernanda Takai, Pedro Morais and Marina Machado.Lenis' first disc was with Orquestra de Percussão Elefante Groove, in which he acted as director and bandleader. It's in this context that he demonstrates his amazing creativity, the quality that most characterizes Lenis and his work. He blends roots and Brazilian folkloric traditions with modern influences like hip hop, rock and jazz, yet somehow manages to give it a non-cliché edge and come off wholly original and raw.It was around this time that he also led the Maracatu group Trovão das Minas, of which Aline Morales was a member before she moved to Toronto.[Editor's note: Lenis wrote to us to add to this post with his words about his experience with maracatu, his visit to Toronto and the album Mais Um Grito. His words have been added to the post below.]Photo by Kevin Jones/We Saw It Happen/InstagramThen last year, invited by Aline, Lenis made the first of what appears happily to be an annual visit, teaching maracatu and rhythm & percussion improv workshops hosted by Baque de Bamba. He also played a Toronto release for his latest work, Mais Um Grito, as part of the group's anniversary party. [Ed. Lenis writes about this in Portuguese, see update below.]Here's part of that album, live in 2014 with Os Tropies and featuring Aline Morales on percussion and vocals, and Chris Butcher on trombone.Lenis produced his album Mais Um Grito along with Bruno Buarque, a percussionist/producer and member of Barbatuques who has visited Toronto as Céu's drummer, among other projects. The disc is Lenis' visceral, passionate cry for the struggle to survive; not only his own struggles but those of the many who struggle to thrive and raise their families ... while metaphorically rising above the muck (and chaos). [Editor's note: In Portuguese, the Soundcloud album info alludes cleverly to the 1994 Chico Science & Nação Zumbi album Da Lama Ao Caos ("from the mud to chaos"). It loses something in translation, perhaps.][Português (do release do album Mais Um Grito, na bio de Soundcloud do Lenis Rino): São oito faixas que resume o momento de vida de Lenis ,falando sobre a sua verdade ,a sua luta e a luta dos povos para sobreviver, para permanecer vivo criando seus filhos, com o pescoço sempre no limite da lama e do caos. ... Essa amostra de um coração que não cabe mais em um corpo,que tem a necessidade de sair e vazar entre as mãos, submerso ao amor, e a angustia. Não há mentira em seu grito, é visceral!]Photo: Bruno Magalhaes / NITRO / DivulgacaoWhile the Toronto launch for Mais Um Grito was last year, Lenis and his band will perform a "show do disco," playing the album's songs again for his set at Lula Lounge on Sunday, October 18th, as part of the Community Cultural Fair.For the afternoon Coco de Roda workshop, Lenis will also be a special guest along with Aline Morales, leading members of Maracatu Mar Aberto and Baque de Bamba and all the participants in everyone's favourite circle game/interactive dance. [Ed.: This is always all-ages, all-smiles fun!] Lenis's second show nearly a year after his first makes this return to Toronto in less than a year -- seja bem-vindo de volta, Lenis! -- it will be really cool to have him around. Welcome Lenis Rino back to Toronto!Lenis Rino performs Sunday, October 18th (after 8 p.m.) at the Community Cultural Fair at Lula Lounge.[Ed. Here's more from Lenis in his own words, in Portuguese. ]Sobre Mais Um Grito/About Mais Um GritoLenis Rino: Mais Um Grito é um album com musicas autorais e com letras vicerais que resume o momento da musica atual na minha vida sao letras com as minhas verdades,falo dos mestres,dos amigos,dos povos e a necessidade de sobreviver de musica. Pode ser a sobrevivencia de qualquer um de nos no dia a dia de uma cidade ,com o trabalho diario para ganhar dinheiro e pagar suas contas,,ou a luta dos povos tradicionais como os indios,,que perdem a cada dia mais suas terras para a criação de gados,nao e importante preservar nossa cultura,,parece que o mais importante é ganhar dinheiro a qualquer custo.Sobre Toronto e o Maracatu/On Toronto and Maracatu:

Lenis Rino: Eu adoro Toronto e as pessoas que nela encontrei,fui muito bem aceito pelas pessoas locais,o maracatu tem uma força absurda,onde ele bate ele conquista ,educa e forma um nucleo de pessoas do mesmo interesse,assisto muitos grupos nascerem pelo mundo derivados do maracatu e muitos derivados diretamente do trovao,grupo que fundei e nasceu do GONGUE ,escola de percussao que eu tive em belo horizonte.gostei muito do que vi em toronto,respeito pelos instrumentos e sua tecnicas,,pessoas interessadas em aprender e continuar o trabalho!
Maracatu é uma ds brincadeiras sérias que tem no brasil,existem diversas formas de se manifestar,,e varias outras de absorver a tradição e transforma la em musica conteporanea,por que nos somos contemporaneos,,e temos que entender a tradição pra continuar a criar a nossa musica,,pra continuarmos a manifestar musicalmente conforme nossas necessidades atuais!!!!!

Photo: Bruno Magalhaes / NITRO / DivulgacaoPhoto: Bruno Magalhaes / NITRO / Divulgacao

Brazilian Block Party: Lumanota!

Brazilian_Block_Party_767x332_eIt is no secret that the foundation of Uma Nota has been making Brazilian style cultural manifestations happen in Toronto.  You know, parties with that creative fashion that the people in Terris Brasilis do so well. It seems our colleagues at Luminato took notice, and so, we present: #LUMANOTA! the Brazilian Block Party at Luminato Festival of the Arts. Yes, you heard correct, Uma Nota’s summer season starts this year at Luminato’s Festival Hub with a full day and evening of Brazilian music and outdoor party fun. Celebrate the a tradition of festive gathering at an all-day public party with food, drink (the whole square is licenced), music and dance. Whether Carnaval, São João, or any one of the myriad of the country’s festivals, outdoor daytime street parties are a beloved part of the Brazilian cultural landscape.Now the talent is off the hook insane... expect so much good stuff all day long, starting chill and blowing up by the end of it.The acts:Mundo Livre S/A * Flávia Nascimento * Aline Morales & Forró Nite * Roda de Samba * Tio Chorinho * TDot Batu * DJ General Eclectic * DJ Ziko * Uma Nota Boi * Capoeira Malês & friends *Family-friendly event with animation by strolling artists & craft-making workshops. Mundo Liver S/A (in english: Free World Assoc. MUNDO LIVRE S/AFormed in Recife in 1984 out of three decommissioned punk bands, Mundo Livre’s idea was to connect the mangues (mangroves) of Recife with a worldly network of pop concepts. The Brazilian manguebeat band is credited as a founder of the manguebeat musical style, and since their inception has released three albums, the last of which was included in many best-of-the-year lists.Screen shot 2015-06-05 at 5.14.32 PMFLÁVIA NASCIMENTOFlávia Nascimento started her career in Brazil as an actress, before moving to Quebec City. She devoted herself to her singing in 2014, producing her first big solo show in Sherbrooke along with her four accompanying musicians that she affectionately dubs her Smallest Big Band. The show’s success now brings Flávia to Toronto. Viva Brasil!photo: Kevin JonesALINE MORALES & FORRO NITEAline Morales built her reputation as a percussionist and bandleader and with the 2011 release of her Juno-nominated Flores, Tambores e Amores she also revealed her prowess as a vocalist and composer. With her project Forró Nite, Aline brings it back to her roots with a set of traditional forró music, the irresistible dance music from the Northeast of Brazil.mms_20150423_004609 (1)RODA DE SAMBARoda de Samba is a generic term used in Rio de Janeiro and around Brazil when friends and musicians get together around or along a table, drink, eat and play classic samba songs on Brazilian instruments: pandeiros, rebolos, tamborims, and the cavacinho, a four string small ukelele type instrument that takes the melodic lead as everyone belts out the songs while crowds gather around. Roda de Samba, in Toronto, is a sextet of Brazilian expats who occasionally get together and belt out the old school samba songs for an entire afternoon.tiochoroTIO CHORINHOTio Chorinho is a Toronto ensemble dedicated to performing Brazilian choro music in the tradition of the great mandolin master Jacob do Bandolim. The group formed in 2009 and the group’s growing repertoire of choro classics includes pieces by such iconic composers as Pixinguinha, Ernesto Nazareth, Waldyr Azavedo, and of course Jacob do Bandolim.Tdot Batú at PSK Kensington, June 2014 (Photo: Manish Pothen)TDOT BATUTdot Batu is one of the newest Brazilian drum troupes in Toronto. With a diverse group of youth holding down the drums, they perform traditional samba reggae with their own creative edge. Samba Reggae became popular in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil in the 1980s when the traditional Afro-Blocos began combining Bahian rhythms like ijexa and samba with influences from the Carribean. Joining Tdot Batu will be Salviano Pessoa and dancers from Dance Migration.general_eclectic_3 (1)GENERAL ECLECTICGeneral Eclectic is renowned in the downtown core as the man who has styles upon styles. His record crates go deep and when he is on the decks, the people only know how to dance. He is part of the original Uma Nota Culture collective. He brings the tropical sound, and connects the dots on the Brazilian spectrum of music yet does not leave any relevant musical form Brian MedinaBOIZINHO GAMESThe Boi is an elaborate and theatrical tale about a mythical bull that is killed and resurrected on a farm in Northern Brazil. The story involves a farmer, his wife, the farmhand and his wife, and lots of music and dancing! The boizinho or little bull, has come to be synonymous all over Brazil as just a roaming party and can be accompanied by any rhythm. Our Uma Nota Boizinho will involve childrens games, a dance and song workshop and revelry for everyone! 

Uma Nota: Hot Spring edition April 26, 2013


Yes yes yes ...

Springtime is upon us, and to welcome the season we draw from the wellsprings of three musical sources: Dub style reggae, Afrobeat and Brazilian popular music. Our featured guests are Aline Morales, Asiko Afrobeat Ensemble and K-Zar Dubwise; General Eclectic anchors the DJ lineup. We bring a rejuvenating Brazilian-style party to the Great Hall, and we have AlienInflux to pump up the sound system.

Think of this edition as the thaw when we come out of the cold and bathe in our hotsprings of music, dance, community and artistry. Uma Nota, a combination dance party, multimedia live show and cultural happening, is about the shared experience more than it is about any one artist. It's a “no spectators, no pretensions” event, at which the dancers in the crowd help create the positive, unified vibe as much as the live and DJ music that keeps everyone moving.

Uma Nota: Hot Spring edition

Friday April 26

Great Hall, 1087 Queen St. W. at Dovercourt

Doors 10 p.m.

Advance tickets $12 online only via Eventbrite.

$15 at the door

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Asiko Afrobeat Ensemble

Asiko Afrobeat Ensemble at Uma Nota Festival in 2012. It was a wicked wicked show

This nine-piece band led by heavy hitter Foly Kolade tore it up at our 2012 Uma Nota Festival and kept everyone in the room dancing till late. Foly is the real deal when it comes to Afrobeat: Born in Nigeria, he also played in the late ‘90s/early 2000s Brooklyn scene with members of Antibalas before they formed under that name. Foly’s band, Asiko, performed for years in New York before he moved back to Nigeria and then settled in Toronto, where he’s remounted the project with local players. Asiko is a dance party band -- comprising a full horn section, percussion, drums, keys, bass, guitar and vocals -- and they perform full-length sets of original Afrobeat tunes. Prepare for an incredible dancefloor experience. Our previous blog post on Asiko.

Aline Morales


Aline Morales is an artist and percussionist and a powerful performer who stands out anywhere she plays -- in Toronto, Brazil or beyond. A versatile and perceptive bandleader with a soaring, memorable voice, she can do it all: rock a party, lead thundering percussion troupes, sing in a small combo or deliver a multi-layered show. The music that she and composer/producer David Arcus make with their band uses Brazilian grooves as a base for an original sound. Already established in Toronto’s musical landscape, Aline’s recent musical highlights include headlining Harbourfront Centre’s Expressions of Brazil festival and a Juno nomination for her debut album Flores, Tambores e Amores.

K-Zar Dubwise


He is a co-founder of the roots reggae, dub versions and bass culture series Dub Connection and Rockers Arena, an original underground jam where rockers (MCs) toast over his heavy beats. K-Zar is also one of the builders of Dub Connection’s formidable sound system. As a selector, he brings the dub and reggae sounds to move the town. We have been wanting to get this man behind the decks at one of our jams for some time. Wait no more: here come joy and upliftment. Check our blog post on Rockers Arena.

General Eclectic

Familiar to fans of everything good, the General delivers the eye and ear candy right and proper. Best known as a core members of the Footprints collective and their rare groove dance parties, he also represents with nights like Shindig! and recent outings like the Os Tropies EP Release Residency and Valentine’s Day Lover’s Rock at Addis Ababa restaurant. For this edition he brings his inimitable mix of MPB, Afrobeat, samba, reggae and tingz.

Special note about sound

We are aware of the sound system challenges at Great Hall. That’s why we rent extra sound equipment from AlienInflux, including bass bins to bring out that all-important low end as well as quality gear to bring out the top end. And that’s not all. We take extra care, including hands-on involvement from the house’s A.V. manager, to ensure that both the live acts and the DJs (and in turn, you!) get the benefit of that additional sound.


Custom visual environmentTreats and tortillas by ChocoSol by Pitú Cachaça event is supported by Dos Mundos Arts & Media as part of Hispanic Heritage Month 2013Presented and produced by Uma Nota CultureFacebook event page 

David Arcus: A Composer's Sonic Approach

Musician and composer David Arcus is a true original. Even in Toronto's many diverse musical scenes, he's carved out a special nook for himself. With a background and tastes that include classical music, retro film soundtracks, indie rock and jazz along with Brazilian and West African styles, Arcus manages to bring together subtle touches and intuitive emotional intelligence to his work. As a composer, arranger, and multi-instrumentalist performer, his ability to create compelling songs and arrangements -- from raw ingredients like a percussion or horn section, a vocalist, or a few killer sounds he's been dying to use -- never fails to please. 
The producer and arranger of the Juno-nominated Aline Morales album Flores, Tambores e Amores, David Arcus told us about blending Brazilian music with otherwise unconventional sonic pairings and more. All of this comes ahead of the first show he's putting on under his own name in June at Toronto's Music Gallery.
When did you know you wanted to work with music full-time?

David Arcus: Believe it or not, my original major in university was biology. Even though I had a love for music, especially composing, I didn’t quite have the confidence to take the plunge and commit myself to music full time. A big shift happened at the end of my second year of biology. I was unhappy and basically realized if I didn’t give music a try I would always regret it. I ended up dropping out of sciences and enrolling in classical composition at U of T.Even though classical music was my main area of study, my musical interests have always been very broad. I listen to everything from rock to jazz to film scores. It was during university that I was first exposed in a serious way to the music of Brazil. That’s also when I met and started working with Aline Morales.

Influences and touchstones

The Aline Morales record in particular includes a lot of "indie rock" (for lack of a better term) influences alongside various ones from Brazilian music and culture. How do you see the mix working? Were there challenges putting these two kinds of sounds together? What was your bottom line when producing and writing the album?

The blend of influences you hear on Flores, Tambores e Amores was the result of a long process of exploration. When Aline and I started working on Flores, we did so without any real gameplan. We’d been writing together for a while but I think we both felt we hadn’t quite found our sound yet. As the writing sessions went on, for whatever reason, the music that we were writing started to change. Whereas before it had been more strictly Brazilian sounding, the new songs were incorporating more diverse influences. I think we were just freeing ourselves up – we both listen to so many different styles of music, it didn’t makes sense to limit ourselves to just one thing.From that point on, things progressed very organically, and at a certain point I remember feeling like we had come across a sound that represented where we were at at that time. That’s when the album really started coming together.

Collaborative process

You do a lot of collaboration, especially with Aline Morales. How does it work? How do other collaborations work? How do you figure out who does what, and how much of the collaborations you do (including but not limited to working w. Aline) are you, and how much the other person? When we we listen to a piece, what is it that we'll hear that will make us say "that's Dave"?

For me every collaboration is different and has its own dynamic. With Aline and I, it tends to be very fluid – we’re both constantly throwing in ideas, to the point where it’s hard to say which elements come from whom. Often, I’ll have a vague idea for a riff or chord progression and I’ll show it to Aline. She’ll come up with a melodic idea and we’ll kind of go from there, bouncing ideas back and forth. I wrote a lot of the melodic arrangements on the album, but even in that department Aline had input at every stage along the way.If there’s one aspect of Flores, Tambores e Amores in particular that carries my stamp, I would say it’s in the sonic approach. As a producer, I’ve got a real love for analog sounds. I love vintage gear and we used a lot of it on the album (tube mics and preamps, tape). I spent a lot of time experimenting with different recording techniques and I worked really closely with the mixer, Chris Crerar, to craft the sound of the album.

The Music Gallery and beyond

What can we look forward to for this show? What makes it special?

When I was first approached by David Dacks to put together a show for the Music Gallery, I have to admit I was intimidated. I’ve seen so many incredible shows at that venue over the years. But I knew the opportunity that was too good to pass up. The Music Gallery is one of those great venues where you can try out all those ideas that wouldn’t be possible anywhere else.Some of the material for this show will be familiar to those who know the Aline Morales album and the music I’ve written for the Uma Nota parties. But I think people will be surprised at how the music has transformed. Along with some new pieces, the existing arrangements have been expanded and re-orchestrated for a new instrumentation.I’ve put together an 11-piece ensemble for this performance, featuring some of my favourite musicians in the city. We’ve got five horns, vibraphone, percussion, drum kit, bass and guitar, as well as some special guests. Musicians included members from the Heavyweights Brass Band, Kobo Town, Friendlyness and the Human Rights, Samba Elégua, Nick Teehan and special guest Aline Morales. This might be the only time you see all these musicians on stage together so don’t miss it!

What's coming up in the next few months?

Aline and I are currently at work on the follow-up to Flores. We’ve got a tour of Quebec coming up in August, finishing up with a show as part of the Summerworks Festival in Toronto. I’m also working on the debut EP for Hello Gumption, an alt-folk group I play with, due out later in the year.

David Arcus Ensemble performs at The Music Gallery's season finale on Friday, June 15th. Check out The Music Gallery online and their and Facebook event for more info.