Worlds of Influence at LulaWorld 2015

Rhythm heads that we are, we love the big Brazilian drumming groups. The rhythms and the movement of a full ensemble of only drums (and sometimes only drums and vocals) make us move, sweat, dance and go flush in the face with joy.And many of the people who come across those big drumming groups here in Toronto love the spectacle, too, but sometimes a music fan wants some melody together with the rhythm, and some tunes to hum or sing along with while the drumbeats are pounded out. The combination of a punchy horn line and an infectiously upbeat drum groove, especially when provided by several drummers, translates to exciting live shows and great dancing.The Brazilians, we know, are huge fans of incorporating a smaller or "pocket" bateria into a larger band format — with guitar, bass, vocals, and often horns and drum kit along with the percussionists — from the bandas in Salvador such as the stage band versions of the famous blocos Afro like Olodum and Timbalada, to manguebeat's Nação Zumbi out of Recife and the big bloco shows featuring samba and other rhythms by Monobloco and Bangalafumenga in Rio de Janeiro, and the cultural force that is AfroReggae in that city. (And those are just a few!)Here in "tropical" Toronto, we have our own growing movement of bands that incorporate smaller versions of the Brazilian drumming troupe.Mar Aberto Soundsystem back in actionNow, two of the city's newest and most cutting-edge bands are teaming up to showcase the bateria-"stage show band" style for the opening night of this year's Lulaworld festival.With the musical forms from the Americas and Africa, the music these groups create exudes the sensibility of kids growing up with a world of influence. Together these two bands are creating a new scene in Toronto.Currently rocking it in a new formation, Mar Aberto SoundSystem layers bass, skankin’ guitars, dubby horns and vocals atop grooves of samba, maracatu and the one drop. Featuring top-drawer additions Tamar Ilana on vocals (of Ventanas, and a frequent guest singer with maracatus Mar Aberto and Baque de Bamba) and Magdalys Sav (Jane Bunnett and Maqueque) on the percuteria, the band blends dub reggae, mento and ska with Brazilian rhythm, cumbia, and carimbó.Tdot SoundcrewBut the latest high-energy addition to the movement is T.Dot Sound Crew, a 13-piece outfit drawing on the drummers of Tdot Batú led by Patricio "Pato" Martinez. (And featuring Uma Nota resident General Eclectic on the "stand up" drum kit, along with members of Tdot Batú).Their sound brings back the Old School Latin Big Tunes, from Fabulosos Cadillacs, Todos Tus Muertos and Autenticos Decadentes, alongside reggae fusion from Skank (Brazilian reggae), Dawn Penn, Bob Marley, along with some Afrobeat from Fela Kuti and amazing cumbia sounds.The group recently debuted their shows, featuring a fusion of Afro-Brazilian beats with a taste of Latinoamerica sounds, at Tdot's second anniversary jam. Check the highlight reel:Now, about the bateria/band concept: this really a new thing? Well, yes and no: The form has been around the city's Brazilian scene for some time, with acts like Bracatum and stage versions of Batucada Carioca that add in horns, guitar or cavaquinho, and bass over the drumbeats.But it was a cold winter, and we haven't heard from many local bands doing this kind of thing for a while.Yes, we've had visits from São Paulo samba master Chocolatte, who, with help from Alan Hetherington, last summer brought a full troupe of samba percussionists along with the musicians playing strings. There's Baque de Bamba, Aline Morales' group, who have played several shows over the years with a reduced baque and horns, and that group joined Morales' band for a final tune when they played Uma Nota's Hot Spring edition at the Great Hall, and more recently, that group is even mixing up steel pan with maracatu (what!) as well as horns and bass for an upcoming performance at the closing ceremony of the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games. Samba Squad's stage show explores all kinds of rhythms and danceable tunes with melodic instruments in the mix. Also, one of the city's few all-female percussion groups, Primitiva, has in recent shows added bass and flute to the maracatu drums.And of course, for all those years Uma Nota did it up the Gladstone, Samba Elégua in its Uma Nota Ensemble format rocked it with a reduced percussion corps, arrangements by David Arcus and guests including the Kensington Horns.Fast forward a few years and the movement continues. Here's a short taste of Mar Aberto SoundSystem (in its previous formation) the last time the band rocked Lula Lounge.

A video posted by Sapo Capoeira (@sapo_capoeira) on

If you're ready to go enjoy two bands doing this right here and now, this show is a great place to start. It's only Tdot Sound Crew's second show ever, and Mar Aberto SoundSystem's first big show in the new formation, so get ready to dance as they show off their stuff.To help with that, you can also check out the stunning dance piece Femenino by Dance Migration, performed as the earlier show on Lulaworld's opening night, featuring guest Brazilian dance artist Irineu Nogueira and percussionist Alysson Bruno. Then stick around for the live music, because you're going to want to do a bunch of dancing yourself.Those horns and that guitar skank, those bass drums rumbling and shakers shaking — when it comes together, it makes for a killer show.Mar Aberto SoundSystem and Tdot Sound Crew perform as part of Lulaworld Festival 2015, co-presented by Uma Nota, on Wed. May 27 at Lula Lounge, 1585 Dundas St. W. Doors 9 p.m. $10 advance tickets/$15 at the door. Check out the Facebook event and get your tickets on the Lula Lounge website(Early show for May 27 is Femenino performed by Dance Migration. Doors 6 p.m.,  show 7 p.m., advance tickets $20 and you can stay for the live music. Facebook event)LulaWorld2015-MA-SS_TDotSC_May27-FBwide  

Grand Bateria Express

Grand Bateria ExpressYes. The story: we are actively involved in the delicate game of getting officially 7, but in reality 9, different groups together for, as Rick Lazar says, a "momentous occasion, the uniting of all of Toronto's Brazilian drumming baterias" (drum troupes).  This is no small feat, as all the groups vary in style, have different personas, different crews that at once share members and are often in so called "competition."" This new drumming supergroup includes leaders and members from Samba Squad, Samba Kidz, Baque de Bamba, Escola de Samba, Batucada Carioca, Samba Elegua, T.Dot Batu, Maracatu Mar Aberto  and YOU (the general publico)!In their first performance, the Grand Bateria will play four rhythms that highlight various tropical traditions embraced by Toronto drummers. If you want to take part you can 1) watch the videos which will be posted here at very soon 2) learn your part for each rhythm 3) attend two rehearsals 4) PLAY WITH THE BAND ON JUNE 6!!!!Join the band!An open, public rehearsal will be held on Saturday May 30th from 1 to 5pm at Dufferin Grove Park. (Information about a second rehearsal coming soon.) For more information send us an email at the facebook event page or check back here for updates.The Rhythms!Click on each rhythm for our videos lessons in each rhythm. Featuring Rick Lazar.layersmaracatubuttonsocasamb-reggae Not a drummer? You can still march, dance, chant, help make costumes or volunteer to help in other ways.Grand Bateria Express is presented by Lula Music and Arts Centre with support from the Toronto Arts Council, The Ontario Arts Council, The Government of Ontario, Citizenship and Immmigration Canada and Heritage Canada with support from the Dundas West and Little Portugal BIAs, CBC Toronto, Steve’s Music and Contemporanea. june-06-gbe 

Brazilian showcase at Lulaworld: Benjamim Taubkin and Luanda Jones

One of the artists participating in a first-time collaboration at Lulaworld 2013 is our friend and Brazilian muse Luanda Jones.Luanda JonesShe's been developing her repertoire with a number of new sounds, and some of that work will be showcased.Benjamin TaubkinJones' concert at this year's festival, however, sees her share the stage with the formidable São Paulo pianist Benjamim Taubkin, who'll perform his own compositions along with his takes on Brazilian and other pieces. (The new piano Lula Lounge brought in a couple of months ago is proving a worthwhile in-house investment!)2010.11.06 Benjamin Taubkin @ LIFEM 2010 (Kings Place) from Tim Ferguson on Vimeo.It's a solo concert by the internationally acclaimed Taubkin, featuring his compositions as well as his takes on great Brazilian and international composers, all based on work originally recorded live at New York’s renowned Fazioli Salon.Taubkin, who has worked with Rafael Rabello, Paulo Moura, Joao Bosco and The Brazilian Jazz Symphony Orchestra, is considered a top collaborator; Jones will sit in on one tune.For her set, Jones brings nine new originals to perform with a band that includes, for the night, composer Gordon Sheard of Jones' Brazilian jazz project Sinal Aberto.Ian de Souza, Gordon Sheard, Marito Marques, Luanda JonesThey'll play one of Sheard's own tunes, Forrocatu (a portmanteau of the northeastern Brazilian musical styles forró and maracatu). And Taubkin will reciprocate by joining in on a tune or two during her set, which includes new departures touching on Afrobeat, bossa and other, more experimental sounds.Later, the night transitions to a party vibe with DJ General Eclectic and featuring Colombian-born, Toronto-based Lido Pimienta, the visual artist and curator behind Lula's innovative Bridges series. Expect all the good Afro-Brazilian, Latin and funk goodness (and it's a holiday Monday the next day so no excuses!). Plus there will be a photo exhibition of images from Colombia in the lounge, provided by Amnesty International's Toronto chapter as part of their Week of Action for the Rights and Survival of Indigenous Peoples in Colombia.More event info on Lula's site here and on Facebook here. Hosted by Uma Nota, Dos Mundos Arts and Media and aluCine.More on Lulaworld 2013 in our previous post here.Lulaworld 2013: Benjamin Taubkin - Luanda Jones - Uma Nota & Dos Mundos

Latin Soul at Lulaworld 2013

Lulaworld-630x430-630x430This year's lineup for the annual Lulaworld Festival, presented by Lula Music and Arts Centre, is subtle but very impressive. The concept behind the festival is to allow Lula Lounge's non-profit arts wing, the LMAC, to put together a series of presentations and concerts showcasing both local artists, often in first-time collaborations, as well as international guest artists.The 2013 Lulaworld festival, which closes May 31, features more than 120 artists representing more than 12 countries, opening the series with an Ethiopian jazz project and closing with renowned Brazilian dancer, teacher and choreographer Rosangela Silvestre along with Toronto's Dance Migration company in a top-billed performance called Faces of Samba, all capped off with a show by Maninho Costa and Batucada Carioca. Also on the bill May 19th is Brazilian piano mestre Benjamin Taubkin, followed by our very own Luanda Jones. There will be some collaborations between them and the night will finish off with an Uma Nota, Dos Mundos & aluCine combined force after-party. (More here.)This year's festival highlights Lula's "Latin soul", best explained in the official Lulaworld release:"When planning this year's festival, we looked at the latest projects by Toronto artists and were amazed by the depth, variety and caliber of the work being brought forth by Latin music communities over the last year. As a result, this year's festival includes many aspects and elements of Latin music as it blends with and informs other genres. This year's concerts (which include 5 CD releases!) will reveal the Latin soul as it is expressed joyfully through classical, hip hop, reggae, Afrobeat, Jewish music, jazz and straight-ahead salsa!"Sounds good.  That kind of mixed bag of exciting musical flavours reminds us of exactly why we love Toronto, Lula, and the communities that surround our own Uma Nota events as well.Lula-All-Stars