MAKU good for Toronto

photo: Max Ocampo

Mama says you've got to go see M.A.K.U, son ... Toronto needs M.A.K.U Sound System, and M.A.K.U could need Toronto.

Toronto prides itself on being a global safe haven for immigrant cultures that come together, mix and flourish in a world of diversity and mutual respect and value. While some of that might be romantic Toronto propaganda, there are a lot of people who bring this in our city. Yes, we've a lot of mixing and digging of musical forms from around the world by all, whether you were born into it or just you happened to cross paths with the songs along the way.M.A.K.U does that too. As they put it: "M.A.K.U embodies an active quest for identity through sound and bodies in motion, and puts on a party for everyday people." Musically speaking, they pepper their Afro-Colombian rhythmic base with reggae, punk, Afrobeat, funk and a whole mess of influences that make up popular culture movements and dance floors the world over. Are we international, Toronto? Do we love the live vibe? Let's prove it: party time for a band not in our regular T-dot circle. These guys bring the #immigrantbeat.We have a city that loves the mashup of styles that bring the roots and are put through a digital filter for our sound system sensibilities. M.A.KU does all of that, and it's a safe bet they want a wicked crowd that appreciates great music that speak to these musical styles.  M.A.K.U is in town to play Lula Lounge on Thursday May 29, presented by Dos Mundos and Uma Nota as part of LulaWorld 2014.And  since we are a fully "Pan Am" city, let's represent and check out the movement that we espouse. Let's be wicked hosts to the immigrant beat from New York City; a band that combines traditional musical forms with pop and world influence. Check them out: M.A.K.U Sound System.M.A.K.U Soundsytem plays Lula Lounge on Thursday May 29, presented by Dos Mundos and Uma Nota as part of Lula World 2014. Opening act Mistura Fina (Brazilian trio) and DJ General Eclectic round out the night. Check out the Facebook Event and Lula Lounge listing.

Release the Inner Fire. Souljazz Orchestra

souljazz1 Ok the Souljazz Orchestra released a new CD, Inner Fire.  Already an established name on the Canadian groove music scene, they have done it again and there is no other band that delivers so consistently over and over again. Inner Fire is a culmination of the years of influence, from West African, American funk and soul, Brazilian, Latin and beyond. All of it is seamlessly put down in an original fashion and presented with just the right sensibility to make your inner movement meter settle at the perfect cadence for your feet to follow. Hype? Yes we are pretty hype about it. And we are presenting them on March 7 at the Garrison. Buy Tickets!Pierre Chretien, band leader/composer described the album best in an interview with CBC music: "Inner Fire is a bit of a synthesis of the different styles we've touched on throughout the years: it has some of the Afro elements of our earlier albums, Freedom No Go Die andManifesto, with the spiritual jazz of Rising Sun, and the tropical grooves of Solidarity. It's definitely one of our favourites so far."You can listen to Inner Fire until March 3rd on CBCMUSIC. Also check the mini mix history of Soulkjazz Orchestra below.

Heavyweights won't bring you down.

brasstronomicalHeavyweights Brass Band are part of the Uma Nota community. Christopher Butcher, the trombonist and main activist behind the band, is a former housemate, a friend, and one sexy guy. Anyways... so their new CD Brasstronomical is pretty dope and the release is going to be killer. Check the details below.Book it!This country’s greatest purveyors of feel-good horn music burst onto the Canadian jazz scene with their energetic brass band covers of contemporary pop hits. Now with Brasstronomical, the Heavyweights are offering a unique sound with emphasis on their original compositions. They delve deeper and more eclectically into each musical direction implied on their first album. Brasstronomical reveals the band’s music is stronger, bolder, funkier and more mature than ever before.Here is their new CD streaming this week only!Not only all of the above but for the show check their special guests: Jane Bunnett, Toronto jazz performer and composer extraordinaire, Jay Douglas, Jamaican-born soul singer, Luis Obregoso, Latin percussionist of the most amazing kind, and the great DJ General Eclectic! and to top it off STreet Brass, the Uma Nota produced band that plays street carnival music from across the Americas, will be opening up (this will be fun).Check their EPK video release below Street Brass Uma Nota Community

Lettuce in TO

1463017_10151992394938213_1507197967_nDig.... there is only one show for the live music lover on Saturday February 22."From Montreal, Ottawa and Kingston to Hamilton, London and Windsor and all points in between, music lovers are gearing up to descend on Toronto for one of most exciting funk music concerts in years. On Saturday, February 22nd at the Phoenix Concert Theatre, the Nujazz Festival and Music & Politics are honoured to present the Canadian debut of legendary Brooklyn-based funk monarchs LETTUCE. This show is the culmination of a promotional dream that Sebastian Cook has been pursuing for eight years, and is shaping up to be nothing less than historic based on advance sales and community buzz. The Toronto concert is the finale of Lettuce’s 20-show 2013/14 Winter Tour.LettuceJazz-funk music connoisseurs in Toronto are already very familiar with two of Lettuce’s core members Eric Krasno (guitar) and Neal Evans (keyboards & Hammond B3) from their recent Toronto Downtown Jazz Festival shows with Soulive, the world-renowned trio who’ve opened for the likes of The Dave Matthews Band and The Rolling Stones. Joining Lettuce on the Phoenix’s famous stage are two of Toronto’s top funk bands KC Roberts & The Live Revolution and After Funk. On the wheels of steel is future-funk tastemaker DJ Sean Sax." from facebook event for Lettuce.Don't miss this show.

Family Jam! Feb 17th

coverRoll out the barrels! Uma Nota presents Family Jam!It is a common scenario: People who have kids don't come out anymore.  Somewhere along the line in our busy modern lives we lost the enjoyment for cross-generational fun. Well, Family Jam or (#FamJam) hopes to bring back the community vibes of Toronto's creative class of youth, young adults, older adults and children. No excuses because Fam Jam will take place during the day, on Family Day February 17th, a provincial holiday in Ontario, so everyone can come out and enjoy the afternoon together. There will be the best of Toronto DJs, live music, drum and dance workshop, ping pong table, face painting, a photo booth, chocolate history class, craft making activities for all the ages, food and drink! whew... that's a lot of stuff.Don't be so uptight as to think you can't enjoy a beer, glass of wine or caipirinha while your kids are around. There will be lots of community and our zone will be safe, and... there will be a kids menu!


FEBRUARY 17th Family Day at Lula Lounge, 1585 Dundas Street West.Tickets are nineteen dollars for adults and children are free.Buy tickets!Featuring:The Heavyweights Brass BandThese funky Toronto horns bring the best in original and classic funk, soul, jazz, R&B, and New Orleans-style street music and  is always delivered with style. They are set to release their sophomore album Brasstronomical in early March. DJ Fase. Club & Radio DJ, music producer, husband & father that can rock any jam and read the crowd like a pro. He has his own daytime show on CIUT Tues 3-5PM Stolen Moments & often hosts Friday's 8-10PM Stylistic Endeavours. He has been an active DJ since the late 90s.DJ General Eclectic. One of Toronto's DJ and design legends. General Eclectic is the driving force behind the Footprints parties at the Rivoli (among others, like Shindig). Resident and founding Uma Nota deejay who has some of the deepest, most varied record crates around. He has styles upon styles and keeps the party bumping.MC Abdominal. The phenomenal Abdominal is our host for the day. This mighty master of ceremonies among men has the gift of gab and clever wits to keep us entertained the whole way through. Abs has recently become the darling of mothers everywhere by recording a song with his own mother. The only rap star to ever do so.Workshop w/ Maracatu Mar Aberto. Maracatu Mar Aberto leads a 'roda de coco' or a circle dance. In Northeast Brazil, villagers would gather together, sing songs to drums and dance the day away to pack the earth with coconut husks in order to create even ground. Mar Aberto leads this little traditional game, in a Toronto context, for fun, all the while teaching everyone some percussion, new and old songs and some dance steps.Crafts Activities w/ Island Woolworks. Kristyn Gelfand, momma extraordinaire sets up a craft table for kids and adults alike, using paper, crayons, wool and fabric.The Story of Chocolate w/ ChocoSol. ChocoSol leads us through games and activities on the famous delicacy: chocolate. From it's cacau origins, through its status as "food for the gods" and its modern production on small farms, the story is interactive, hands on and fun for kids.Face Painting by Ilyan Balicki of Face Art, a Photobooth and... wait for it... Ping Pong tables by VanGrey!

kids coco 2


Pedro Sá Moraes "Beyond the Pleasure Principle"

Pedro Sá Moraes “Beyond the Pleasure Principle” in Toronto, Jan.18, 2014

(Versão em português abaixo)

Navigating the currents of what is Brazilian popular music (música popular brasileira), we have always stepped beyond what agents send down the line and have used our knowledge as fans of the music and active people in the scenes, from Sampa, Rio, Recife, New York, Montreal and the Tdot. With that,  on Saturday, January 18, 2014, groundbreaking Brazilian artist Pedro Sá Moraes pulls through Round Venue.Pedro Sá Moraes is a new wave of exploration in the music. A schooled musician carrying the heritage of the gluttonous tropicalia artist, consuming influences from across the Brazilian musical spectrum and unafraid to digest it and serve it up anew with digital spices. Think Gilberto Gil with Sonic Youth (his own stated influences).Moraes was named one of the "10 Artists You Should Have Known In 2012" by NPR. He is also the curator of the "Explorative Brazilian Music" showcase at New York's APAP conference, whose aim is to present a fresh outlook on contemporary Brazilian music. Pedro uses a world of musical influence he skillfully weaves in with native Brazilian rhythms and musical forms creating a journey full of colour and wonder.On his new album, Além do Princípio do Prazer (Beyond The Pleasure Principle), Moraes blends influences from his country's musical wealth, its luscious melodies and countless rhythms, with an unusual exploration of textures that could make one think of contemporary jazz and vanguard pop and rock artists such as Radiohead and Bjork. “Guitarist and singer Pedro Sá Moraes is a great introduction to Rio de Janeiro's adventurous music scene. At turns rocking and lyrical, Moraes demonstrates his ability to mine Brazil's rich musical veins and turn traditional rhythms and forms on their heads" writes Tim Wilkins of the new tracks below (click to play audio):AlaridoA Hora da EstrelaCompleting the trio are Ivo Senra and Lúcio Vieira. Ivo, pianist and musical director of the show,  has worked with the likes of Yamandú Costa, Fernanda Abreu and Seu Jorge, among others. He won the "Brazilian Music Prize" in 2012 as an electronic music producer. Lucio is a killer drummer from Brazil's Amazonas state and is classically trained. Still, he can drop a backbeat, maracatu or four on the flour like most jazz drummers' ninja fairy tales dreams. He has played with Elba Ramalho, Zelia Duncan, Dominguinhos & Rita Ribeiro.Holding it down on this musical journey and keeping the party going late will  be selectors General Eclectic and Firecracker, fresh from a super successful evening as a team at Uma Nota's edition of Harbourfront's DJ skate night, this duo promises the finest tracks for the rhythm addicted and discerning minds. We also welcome the new year in a new venue. Round Venue is a recent Kensington Market addition, and has become a hot spot for music and dance appreciation with great sound, new style and fresh vibes.Uma Nota Culture presents:Pedro Sá MoraesWith DJ General Eclectic & DJ Firecracker (samba, MPB, funk, Latin, reggae, Afrobeat)Saturday, January 18ROUND venue152A Augusta Ave. (Kensington Market)Doors 9 p.m.Tickets: $10 advance list & purchase/$15 at the doorEmail by January 18 at 4 p.m. for advance listbuy tickets!Facebook event pagePedro Sá Moraes No dia 18 de Janeiro de 2014, Sábado, Uma Nota tem o prazer de apresentar Pedro Sá Moraes, do Rio de Janeiro, para um show no Round Venue em Kensington Market. O Pedro foi nomeado pela NPR como "10 Artistas que você deveria ter conhecido em 2012". Ele apresentará o show de lançamento de seu novo disco Além do Princípio do Prazer. Pedro também é o curador do showcase "Explorative Brazilian Music", apresentado em Nova Iorque durante a conferência da APAP, o qual foi criado para difundir a nova produção musical brasileira.No disco, Moraes combina influências da riqueza musical de seu país, suas melodias sedutoras e incontáveis ritmos, a uma original exploração de texturas que remetem ao jazz contemporâneo e a artistas do pop e rock de vanguarda como Radiohead e Bjork. Imagine um encontro de Gilberto Gil e Sonic Youth. "O guitarrista e cantor Pedro Sá Moraes é uma fantástica apresentação à aventurosa cena musical do Rio de Janeiro. Entre o pulsante e o lírico, Moraes demonstra sua habilidade de explorar os ricos veios musicais do Brasil, e revirar ritmos e formas da tradição pelo avesso" escreve Tim Wilkins, do faixas (clica para tocar):AlaridoA Hora da EstrelaCompletando a banda é Lúcio Vieira (baterista) e Ivo Senra (direção musical e arranjos). Ivo, pianista e compositor, vencedor como produtor musical do Prêmio da Música Brasileira de 2012, categoria "Música Eletrônica" com o projeto eletroacústico Lá Onde Eu Moro, de João Hermeto. Ivo Senra já dividiu palco com nomes como: Yamandú Costa, Arthur Maia, Nicolas Krassik, Jorge Aragão, Fernanda Abreu, Leo Gandelman, Torquato Mariano, Itaal Shur, Gabriel o Pensador, Seu Jorge, Gabriel Moura entre outros. Formado em Composição pela UFRJ, vem se destacando por promover um incomum entrecruzamento entre vertentes da música erudita e do universo vanguardista da música pop. Ao longo dos últimos anos, produziu o CD Carol Naine (Independente), o CD Karaokê Tupi 2, de Gabriel Moura (Som Livre) e o CD Neon, do grupo Escambo.Lucio,  natural de Manaus (Amazonas), onde iniciou sua carreira profissional aos 15 anos de idade, passando por várias vertentes musicais. Estudou no centro de artes da Universidade do Amazonas e logo se destacou como músico profissional em sua cidade natal.  Antes de partir para o Rio de Janeiro participou da Orquestra Amazonas Filarmônica, foi integrante da Orquestra de Violões do Amazonas (maestro Adelson Santos) e da Orquestra Amazonas Jazz Band (maestro Rui Carvalho).A noite também contará com DJs General Eclectic e Firecracker. Depois de uma noite de grande sucesso na edição Uma Nota do DJ Skate Night ao Harbourfront, esse duo de DJ promete um son de alta qualidade que encantará os pés de qualquer aficionado de musica boa.Apresenta:Pedro Sá Moraes Com DJ General Eclectic e DJ Firecracker (samba, MPB, Latin, reggae, Afrobeat e mais)Sábado, 18 JaneiroROUND venue 152A Augusta Ave. (Kensington Market)Portas 9 p.m. Ingressos: $10 lista antecipada / $15 na portaManda email para até 18 Janeiro as 4 p.m. para adicionar nomes na lista avançadaCompre ingressos aqui!Ver evento no FacebookPedro Sá Moraes

Pedro Quental's Carioca Soul in Canada

In our North American musical classification systems, nearly all  types of Brazilian music, it seems to me, are too often considered a part of the World Music genre. Not just Brazilian or "Latin" music styles -- even North American funk and soul often fall under the same over-generalized World or Groove categories.Here in Toronto, with our dozens upon dozens of music scenes for nearly any sub-genre I can name, I find it can be a challenge to introduce less Brazilian or tropical music oriented friends to connect with a particular style. Many of those who do enjoy Brazilian music do so no matter what details I want to tell them about it: the thrilling, booming samba or maracatu drums, the full-on spectacle of samba or capoeira performances, or the open-hearted, at times seductive joy of a good forró dance.Rio de Janeiro, as one might expect, is a completely different story. In Rio's famous Lapa nightlife district, the samba rhythm and manifestation alone takes on various forms: stage bands of various sizes, casual roda de samba format (often around a table) and both street-side and stage-bound samba bateria (drum corps) performances. These are in addition to the other Northeastern and Afro-Brazilian manifestations happening both as venue-based shows and street performance, from forró and maracatu to Jongo da Serra. And all of this bubbling with activity within blocks of one another. (The "powder keg of culture"!)But if one form of samba and MPB can bridge Toronto and Rio, it may just be the sound that Pedro Quental calls "Carioca Soul" -- a mixture of MPB (Musica Popular Brasileira) and soul music that seems like a natural product of the Lapa scene.Quental is one of the vocalists from the Rio samba troupe Monobloco, though he was already an established (albeit often behind-the-scenes) singer, composer and voice-over professional when he joined the popular percussion group in 2008.His stage presence is incredible, regardless of how long he previously spent working with music in an off-stage capacity. And Canadian audiences have had a chance to get to know Quental, through a true Toronto-Rio connection: the singer has performed here for the past few summers, each time brought by Toront0-based samba artist Maninho Costa, who frequently plays with Monobloco when visiting Rio (also Costa's hometown).Starting in 2010, Costa has invited Quental for a run of summer shows in which visiting vocalist Quental is backed by a Toronto-based Brazilian band, with Costa on percussion, as well in a heavier samba bateria format with Costa's Batucada Carioca.Pedro Quental and the band perform at Montreal's summer Carnaval, July 2013 (Photo: Negin Bahrami)In previous years, Quental showed his performance chops on MPB and samba classics, including funk and samba-rock tunes from the greats like Jorge Ben, Chico Buarque and Gonzaguinha. Last year, the band played Harbourfront's Expressions of Brazil and Quental sang with Batucada Carioca at Montreal's summer Carnaval.Now, with his visit following a newly launched Monobloco album, Quental and the Canadian-based Brazilian band switches it up for 2013: the new repertoire includes catchy originals, and (one my favourite twists) a lively Brazilian ska treatment of a famous Buarque tune Quental played as a straight samba in previous Toronto shows.The 2013 tour switched up the lineup to unite local Brazilian players Thiago Souza on keyboards, Wagner Petrilli on guitar, Pedro Joel on bass and Riquinho Fernandes on the batera. The performance count rose to include shows at Montreal's summer Carnaval (this time with Quental at the front of both bands), Toronto's Brazilfest and a headlining slot at Ottawa's Mercury Lounge.Check out this video from the Ottawa concert (via drummer Carlos "Riquinho" Fernandes):The Ottawa events blog Eventful Capital's review confirms that the show Quental and the band delivered there brought the same connection I've seen at the Montreal and Toronto shows:"The crowd ... included local fans of Monobloco ... most of them sang along to the songs in Portuguese and it really felt as though the audience had been transported to a bar in the heart of Rio for the night.Quental only addressed  the crowd in Portuguese, which made the interaction challenging for English-speakers. However, this allowed for an immersive experience in Brazilian music and culture as each musician played their respective instrument with soul and energy."Pedro Quental with Batucada Carioca in Montreal, July 2013 (Photo via Quebec Noticias)There's no better way to close off Pedro Quental's stay in Canada than with a big samba party in Toronto, and that's exactly what he and Maninho Costa have planned for a finale.The Sunday show starts off with Quental at the front of the soulful five-piece band before the Batucada Carioca stage show brings Quental back up to sing a range of Brazilian favourites, samba classics and high-energy party tunes, with Petrilli on guitar and Costa directing the drummers.We can't place our Lula Lounge in the middle of Lapa, but we can bring a touch of that gafieira swagger and samba swing to Dundas West.And the bridge between Rio and Toronto? Hey, it's something!Pedro Quental Band and Batucada Carioca perform at Lula Lounge on Sunday, August 11. Doors 7 p.m., Pedro Quental Band 8 p.m. sharp, Batucada Carioca 9:30 p.m. $15 at the door. More info on the Lula Lounge website and Facebook event pageQuental and Batucada Carioca in Montreal, July 2012 (Photo: Leonardo Tenan *edited image, originally from camera phone) 

Diverso Latino at Ritmo y Color

Toronto summer time gets a blast of Latin culture this weekend during  the ninth edition of Ritmo y Color, one of the Harbourfront Centre weekend-long festivals that feels most like a community or neighbourhood event. This is due in part to the smartly booked mix of local and international acts, all with that irresistible Latin flavour.The weekend features a wide variety of dance and music workshops, Latin food demos and sessions, the amazing Raspao mobile sound sculpture cart (and a special Lido Pimienta jam therein),  film screenings, artist talks hosted by journalist Kelli Korducki, and of course, no shortage of music.Chico TrujilloFeatured acts we are excited to check out include a range of international as well as local talent. On the special visitor end of things are Chico Trujillo, a 10-piece Chilean band bringing “a never before heard fusion of punk rock energy, classic Latin grooves, South American folklore, Balkan brass madness, and a touch of ska.”Two of the other international acts, both Mexican, are about as diverse as they come: Los Vega are a family that will perform their Son Jarocho music and hold a workshop in the stomping dance known as zapateado. And on the less traditional side, 3Ball MTY bring their tribal guarachero beats (known also as  “pointy boots” music) to the Saturday night headliner slot; the young trio recently won a Latin Grammy. Their electronic music fuses Mexican cumbia and African influences; this will be their Canadian debut.Montreal Hip HopPrevious Uma Nota Festival performer, Montreal-based hombre and all-around Canadian Latin hip-hop star Boogat will also perform on Saturday evening, including tracks from his acclaimed El Dorado Sunset album. (Previous related article here.)On the local side, many stellar artists from the Uma Nota and overlapping Latin communities (aluCine, Dos Mundos, Brazil Dance World, Capoeira Camara and others) will be representing.A New TraditionA New Tradition, fusing hip-hop, spoken word and traditional Afro-Colombian percussion and gaita (flute) music, take  the stage Saturday, and from that group, the hard-working educator and musician Ruben Esguerra leads a workshop on Afro-Colombian percussion earlier in the day.Maracatu Mar Aberto weaves a colourful procession through the grounds on Saturday; the troupe participates with both a stage show and a drumming workshop that afternoon.Among the various film screenings and food programs, drumming and dancing workshops (both Zouk and Samba de Gafiera styles are covered by Brazil Dance World over the weekend), the Sunday program closes things out with performances by locals like Amanda Martinez and both a workshop and a presentation by Afro-Cuban performance group Iyá Iré, featuring some of the best Cuban percussionists in the city in a high-energy show including dance performance.The Dance MigrationAnd for that grand finale in Brazilian style, performance company The Dance Migration, led by Adrianna Yanuziello, brings a remounted version of her Lulaworld 2013 show, Faces of Samba, to the Harbourfront stage. The show traces the roots and influences of samba from its African and indigenous origins to the spectacle we now know as a modern samba show. The performance is backed up by live percussion from Bloco Bracatum, led by Contra-Mestre Bola of Capoeira Camara (they blew everyone away at the recent Block Party 2013). Afro-Brazilian dance, percussion and Capoeira workshops also take place Sunday via members of the same performing groups.Bloco Bracatum led by Contra-Mestre Bola of Capoeira CamaraRitmo y Color runs July 5-7 weekend at Harbourfront Centre in Toronto. 

Beats on the Block: Maracatu Mar Aberto expands summer program

 The scene from the stage at Block Party 2012Summer heats up in Toronto and it seems every performer we know, and that includes the large percussion groups, becomes busy busy during the few hot weather months we get here.One of those groups keeping active is Maracatu Mar Aberto, whose summer program is an ambitious one that aims to build on the educational pieces of not only the drumming style of (northeastern Brazilian) Maracatu de Baque Virado (literally maracatu of the turned-around beat), but also this year, dance workshops, instrument and prop-building workshops are on offer.Maracatu Mar Aberto at Cabbagetown Festival in 2012.By adding a number of non-musical artistic elements, Maracatu Mar Aberto is attempting to teach about, and create the experience of, a maracatu production. In the neighbourhoods of Recife, Pernambuco, where the cultural manifestation came to life and where it remains most practiced, neighbourhood and community have everything to do with getting ready for the big parade -- everyone helps out.This year's parade production promises even more colour and shine, than last year's, not to mention the musical advancement. The baque (the Brazilian Portuguese name for a maracatu drum corps) of Mar Aberto is also part of the summer program, with not only beginner classes to bring along new members, but also more focused intermediate and advanced classes for the existing members (some of whom joined via the summer program last year). Be ready for the sounds, the sights and the spectacle to bust out!Block Party 2012 at PS KensingtonAnd while we wait, there's still plenty to celebrate -- the summer solstice, the end of Mar Aberto's winter schedule and the work spent developing the performance troupe -- and of course joining in with other bands, friends, dancers, performers, Capoeiristas and artists in the local scene. All that takes place at this year's Block Party, another day-long affair with food and drink, arts and dance and all manner of fun, hosted by Maracatu Mar Aberto and Clay and Paper Theatre and co-presented by Uma Nota Culture. It will take place Sunday, June 23 at 35 Strachan Ave. in Toronto.Map from Trinity Bellwoods park to Block Party 2013 locationFor more on the Block Party, check out this post on the Maracatu Mar Aberto website or take a look at the Facebook event page.Here's a video from last year's Block Party, too:

Muhtadi International Drum Festival 2013

0435-muhtadi-and-the-world-drummersThe beginning of summer festival season in Toronto is officially here. Muhtadi International Drumming Festival takes place June 8 & 9 at Woodbine Park in the East end near the Beaches.beachribfest-587-editLet me sum up this particular festival: It is for the rhythm inclined, with different forms of drumming and percussive music traditions and dance styles from around the world. It is a park, it is a beer garden, spaciousness, families, cool cat adults and artists. While some people may be sad at the move of the festival from the iconic Queens Park location, the move away from the downtown also means an expansion of the MIDF mission beyond the old school comfort zone of the Kensington hippies, CIUT fans and Afrofest die hards. This new location symbolizes growth, movement into new demographics and a fresh side of the city full of young cool people and close to our treasured waterside lands!Beyond Sound Empijah (Beyond Sound), a GTA-based collective of drum and dance artists, will be captivating audiences for the second year in a row.Featured this year are Benkadi, a West African collective, whose name in Malinké means “In unity lies strength.” They are high energy and keep the rhythms and dance going. While talking with founder/artistic director Muhtadi Thomas the other day, he mentioned to me that in some ways MIDF had "lost the white crowd." While I disagree (the festival is super diverse and all are well represented) Muhtadi has made more room for many rock drummers to highlight their talents on the kit. This includes heavyweight Alexis Von Kraven doing a 'DEMON-stration' on the main stage Sunday.Beyond that there are some old school favorites Samba Squad, Baro Dununba, Trichy Sankaran, Muthadi's World Drummers, Samba Eleguá, Archie Alleyne's jazz band, and of course the Maracatu  groups, Maracatu Mar Aberto and Baque de Bamba. This year even features a return of the Escola de Samba of TorontoHere are some clips from last year:So you west end T.O. lazy artists, hop on a bike or a streetcar and let's get this show on the road! Out to Woodbine Park for some good times! at Muhtadi's Drum Fest.Screen shot 2013-06-04 at 12.16.22 PM 

Friendly's Summer in the City

Look out, look out! Here comes a union of community and easy living on a May-time summer night ...Summer in the City takes us back to an old-style Canadian historical tavern with a nefarious reputation (and nefarious hygiene standards): the Silver Dollar Room. Be ready for heavy rhythms and cartoon-like characters who are into fun and better living.Featuring: Friendlyness (also called Friendly) and the Human Rights, Mar Aberto SoundSystem, and The Responsables as well as DJ Firecracker (who created the sunshine-loving poster below).Many will remember that Friendlyness and Mar Aberto SoundSystem as the live acts in the stellar line-up that killed it at an Uma Nota reggae party in 2012.Friendlyness and his crew are gearing up for summer shows and tours, and Mar Aberto SoundSystem has swung back into things with a recent show at the Empty Fest in Sarnia, alongside Maylee Todd and other acts.Celebrate the return of the heat with a night of hot reggae music, delicious food and good vibes! Keep up with things on the Facebook event and we will see you there.Poster by Angela Vargas (DJ Firecracker)

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

Giovanni Hidalgo visits Toronto's Heavyweights Brass Band

Cuban and Latin music fans in Toronto tend to have plenty of options for great local artists as well as visiting heavy hitters or those who make the city (sometimes referred to as "Havana Norte") a temporary home. With that, trombone player, CIUT host and frequent Cuban ensemble member Chris Butcher gives us his take on an upcoming special show featuring master percussionist Giovanni Hidalgo and Butcher's own Heavyweights Brass Band.Here's the post from Christopher Butcher:Giovanni Hidalgo performing in Toronto; Chris Butcher at left (Photo: Roger Humbert)Giovanni Hidalgo is one of the most gifted individuals to ever touch a drum. He is surely one of the greatest rhythmic geniuses of any era or idiom. He'll be joining The Heavyweights Brass Band for a special concert on Saturday April 13th at Toronto's Koerner Hall as part of their Devoted to Dizzy series.Giovanni's claim to fame is that he was Dizzy Gillespie's conga player. Dizzy was the bridge that first connected Latin music with jazz, he essentially creating the genre of Latin jazz with his first conga player Chano Pozo with whom he composed Manteca and Tin Tin Deo. Giovanni was the heir to this throne, joining Dizzy's band in 1988, and has been arguably the most important percussionist in the genre since. Check out this concert of a young Giovanni with Dizzy Gillespie and the United Nations Orchestra in 1989 at Royal Festival Hall in London. His virtuosic technique and individual voice on the congas is obvious from the opening credits.Born in San Juan, Puerto Rico in 1966 into a home that surrounded him with music and drums, he quickly flourished into a master percussionist. While still a teenager, he went to Cuba with the Puerto Rican group Batacumbele and started an early association with the master of Afro-Cuban percussion Changuito. The story differs, some saying Giovanni was a student of Changuito's while others saying Changuito incorporated Giovanni's rhythmic ideas into Cuban music (songo). Maybe both are true. While his mastery of Latin jazz is unquestioned, what makes Giovanni a truly special artist is his ability to sound authentic and original in a variety of contexts, a quality that will make his collaboration with The Heavyweights Brass Band so special.Here you can see Giovanni playing chekere in a Paul Simon video.You can also hear him on the sublime album Rhythm of the Saints with Paul Simon.My personal favourite track that he appears on is D'Angelo's Spanish Joint from the R&B masterpiece Voodoo. From the count-in, Giovanni joins Charlie Hunter's guitar with congas and chekere giving the track deep roots. His congas percolate through the track beautifully filling in between ?uestlove's crisp snare.Speaking of diversity, there's a live recording of him playing with iconic jam band Phish from Halloween 2010 in Atlantic City, NJ. He makes the band groove and provides a level of urgency to the music I've never heard from a band renowned for stretching out.April 13 is not going to be a night to forget and I urge you to pick up tickets now from the Royal Conservatory's website. We're sharing the concert with the Dave Young-Terry Promane Octet and their special guest Brazilian trumpet player and Dizzy Gillespie alumnus, Claudio Roditi.If you have a moment, don't hesitate to look at all the programming The RCM is booking at Koerner Hall. Concerts are still happening in the Devoted to Dizzy series with Pancho Sanchez, Christian Scott, Danilo Perez and more. The diversity, quality and quantity of the jazz, world and classical music they're are presenting should humble the other festivals and venues in this city that claim to support this music. Toronto really needs to give a big thanks to their Executive Director Mervon Mehta for bringing so much to this city.Originally posted on Chris Butcher's website (source)

Brazilian Shorts @ AluCine Latin Film + Media Arts Festival

alucine_festival_cataloguecover_forweb_640x300_2AluCine  Latin Film & Media Arts Festival is beyond just what its title suggests. Although its origins are in experimental short films, these days it is a lot more. They present short and often experimental films from around the world and also showcase artistic performances and talks about culture.  Best of all,  this year AluCine has invited us to to present a series of Afro-Brazilian documentary shorts that will be featured on March 30 at 2:30 p.m. at Jackman Hall, in the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO). The description and media photos of the films are below.

A sister organization, AluCine has been active for almost 20 years. Over the years we have been involved in many a party together, whether just our common peoples dancing up a storm at the Gladstone, or Uma Nota and Dos Mundos presenting their closing party in 2011. Last Saturday our own General Eclectic, alongside Bavia Arts' Luciano Porto, spoke about West African influence in Brazilian & Latin music. In line with that theme, Newton Moraes presented an Afro-Brazilian dance class & performance at Bavia Arts Centre on Sunday. Check the programming for the whole festival here. You can like AluCine's Facebook page for current updates.

The program we are presenting was curated by Moira Toledo, the curator for the International Short Film Festival in São Paulo. She and her assistants Bruno Rezende and Tereza Temer are scheduled to be in Toronto for the screening.The curatorial statement by Moira Toledo:"This rich program made by Afro-Brazilian filmmakers is simultaneously a testament to the creative potential of the Afro population of Brazil and to the forces that deny their realization. Inevitably, all the films we have selected highlight racism (both explicit and active) intolerance, and latent issues such as the prejudicial and homogeneous nature of mainstream beauty standards in Brazil."

Defina-Se / 2002 / Brazil
Defina-Se is an audiovisual manifesto on the trajectory of the black population in Brazil from the senzala or “slave quarters” to the outskirts of the country’s major metropolises. 
Eu Tenho a Palavra / 2010 / Brazil
The "language of the Black Coast" is a dialect that was created on plantations in Brazil by enslaved Africans. Incredibly, the language is still spoken today in Minas Gerais, Brazil, having been passed through many generations. 
Eu tenho a palavra 1

 Zumbi Somos Nós / 2007 / Brazil

Proposing new ways of looking, thinking and acting, Zumbi Somos Nós attempts to generate a reflection on racial issues in contemporary Brazilian society, proposing new artistic strategies to address these issues. 
AluCine is killing it in 2013!

Carnaval da comunidade brasileira em TO!

This translates to "Carnival of the (Brazilian) community in Toronto."Where, pray tell, does the great majority of the Toronto Brazil community congregate for fun and frolic at carnival time? Usually at an event organized by Angela Mesquita and Luiz de Castro. Their shows are big -- extravagant, fun, packed with entertainment and colour -- and are a major current of the Brazilian community in Toronto, uniting all segments from across the GTA.A little context: Our Uma Nota events have a very strong Brazilian musical influence (as well as Caribbean, Latin, American Funk, Afrobeat etc.) and our public is very much that of the multi-cultural Toronto -- lots of fun and  very diverse. And, of course, a great deal of our public is Brazilian.Beyond loving the music and creativity, Brazilians bring a certain liberty of self-expression. Now imagine a whole event with 90% Brazilians. That is a whole lot of fun. If you want to be with Brazilians dancing, socializing and having a good time to warm up your winter, do not miss this year's Carnaval event. Every year the theme for the party is from a different carnaval hotspot in Brazil. Recent years have featured Pernambuco, Amazonas and Bahia, and this year the spotlight turns to the cidade marvilhosa (marvelous city), Rio de Janeiro. The night features live music from Uma Nota favourite samba group Batucada Carioca, and new-ish roots samba group Tem Gringo na Roda, as well as Bracatum featuring songstress Cibele Iglesias.Check out some pictures from previous years in this collage.The Carnaval Brasil 2013 event this weekend is multi-generational, genuine, and like we said: fun. The party starts at 7 p.m. and goes till the bar closes and people stop dancing. You might read the event info and think "OMG! It's in Vaughan!" Well, do not panic. There is free transportation. Yes, free transportation.Here is a vid from last year so you can get an idea.Angela Mesquita, one of the event's producers, is the owner operator of Brazil Remittance, a remittance company on Dundas Street West. A successful business woman, she is also a pillar in the Toronto Brazil community, offering her support to a myriad of events and helping many people out as they adjust to cold Canada. She produces events for  community charities, for New Year's Eve and for Carnaval. Brazil Remittance also offered community assistance to the Uma Nota Festival in our inaugural year (2011).Como sempre ... as always ... "Carnaval da Angela" is a can't-miss festa brasileira and cultural spectacle.

Pedro Luís in T.O. (Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012)

It is not everyday that an artist like Pedro Luís, an icon of the Rio de Janeiro scene, comes to Toronto. On Sunday night Pedro Luís plays Revival, presented by Brazil Film Fest together with our Uma Nota Festival. This show, a different take on the Carioca sound, promises to be outstanding, as Pedro drops tracks from his new CD as well as the best songs from his career. The new CD, Tempo de Menino, is a testament to the present vibe of modern Rio and modern Brazil. The style is not bound by beach anthems and carnival, but rather on poetry, artistry and fine musicianship.Most famous for his work as Pedro Luís with A Parede, Pedro's career is notable. His compositions can be heard in the voices of great names of Brazilian music: Ney Matogrosso, Elba Ramalho, O Rappa, Cidade Negra, Adriana Calcanhoto, Fernanda Abreu, and Roberta Sá. His hand in the forming of the group Monobloco made him a mainstay of the alternative Carioca Carnival. In 2009, Pedro Luís, ever the artist, released his first book: Logo Parecia Que Assim Sempre Fora,  inspired by the album Olho de Peixe by Lenine and Marcos Suzano. The reflections of this book and Lenine can be felt in his new CD.Tempo de Menino is produced by the duo miniStereo, a.k.a. Rodrigo Campello et Jr. Tolstoi, both of whom had a musical hand in the production of Lenine's masterful CDs. The song Menina do Salão de Beleza (written with Beto and Rodrigo Valente Cabelo), debuted in June on the soundtrack of the hit Brazilian primetime soap opera Avenida Brasil. There are also features collaborations with Milton Nascimento, Erasmo Carlos, Roberta Sá and many more. The sound of the album is fantastic, with multiple textures and a depth in the musical voyage produced only by the best studios.Pedro has promised an equally thrilling live performance, performing the songs of various genres and rhythms that make up his solo album as well as hits from his successful career, including classics from Pedro Luís e A Parede. Special guests on the stage in at Revival will be Luanda Jones, and old friend from Pedro's Monobloco days, Maninho Costa of Batucada Carioca.Not only all this but Pedro is also super nice guy. Joyous & joking on the skype call I had with him, he was very gracious at the fact that I had listened to the CD and could comment on it. He is very happy to be coming to Toronto to present "um belo espetáculo" (a beautiful show). We are proud to present one of the most influencial and cool musicians from Brazil. Below are some vids from his past and present projects.

Pedro shouting out Toronto:

A classic tune with Pedro's wife, singer Roberta Sá:A little bit of his show:Title track off the CD, played solo:Pedro Luís performs at Revival on Sunday, October 21, as part of the Brazil Film Fest and Uma Nota Festival of Tropical Expressions. More info here.

THIS WEEKEND: Uma Nota Festival of Tropical Expressions

Saturday Oct. 20, 9 p.m. at The Great Hall(1078 Queen St. W.)Asiko Afrobeat Ensemble with Mar Aberto Soundsystem, Sound One, Dos Mundos DJs and DJ General EclecticTickets: $12 advance, $15 at door until 11 p.m., $20 after Sunday Oct. 21, noon at Supermarket (286 Augusta Ave.)Community Cultural FairA family-friendly event with Ruben Esguerra, Jô Lutério, Maria Bonita and the Band, DJ MogpawsPlus workshops, cultural talks, marketplace and foodAdmission is FREEThe 2012 Community Cultural Fair is made possible by Mellohawk LogisticsSunday Oct. 21, 7 p.m. at Revival (783 College St.)Co-presented with Brazil Film Fest, from Rio de JaneiroPedro Luís and his bandwith special appearances by Luanda Jones and Maninho CostaTickets: $25 advance, $35 at the door, $25 at the door with a wristband from the Saturday night concert Oct. 20 and Oct. 21 at The Royal Cinema (608 College St.)Presented by Uma Nota Culture in partnership with Brazil Film FestArtificial Paradises (Paraísos Artificiais): Saturday, Oct. 20, 9:15 p.m.Rio Disco 70 (Rio Anos 70): Sunday, Oct. 21, 6 p.m.Tickets: $10 advance. Films are in Portuguese with English subtitles.
Further Details | Festival Partners

The Start of A New Tradition


For as long as I’ve know him, Ruben "Beny" Esguerra has been working tirelessly to complete a musical project that is the result of many years of studying, researching and performing Colombian traditional music, spoken word and hip-hop music.Last December, while in Cartagena, Colombia, Beny’s producer and collaborator Luis Orbegozo handed me a CDR entitled  A New Tradition. I listened to it on my flight home and was totally immersed in a world of tambores and poetry. I picked out elements of the album that I had heard Beny perform in Cuba and in Toronto many years prior, and I realized this whole album was a labour of love that Beny had been working on since I met him.

On A New Tradition, tambores and gaitas meet DJ scratches and beatboxes, the past and the present collide on the dancefloor creating perfect harmony between traditional and modern. A salsa will blend with dancehall, a cumbia rhythm becomes a break beat and it all brings the community, young and old, to the dance floor.And it’s obvious that Beny’s sense of community helped create this album. From the 18 year old kid he has playing tambor and beatboxing, to his own brother DJing and designing the cover art – Beny brings together peoples of all walks of life to create and collaborate. A New Tradition is just as the title states, it’s the beginning of a new wave of Latino talent in Canada. All artists and performers, young Latinos who are creating new roots in Canada and developing new traditions to express their generation.This Sunday, "A New Tradition" will perform as part of the FREE Cultural Community Fair on Day Two of the Uma Nota Festival. As always, the Uma Nota crew has gone out of their way to program a lineup full of inspirational, educational and motivational art, dance and music that will make you happy to be living in a city as rich in culture as Toronto.

Small World Music Festival in effect

Small World Music Festival 2012: Brazilian Blend - Festival Finale with Uma Nota Culture

This week Toronto has been getting a dose of musical sights and sounds from around the world. The Small World Music Festival, now in its twelfth (12th) year, is in full effect at several locations around the city. Last weekend saw an incredible collection of talent representing traditions from different global musical movements. Dundas Square was lively  that Saturday, when a number of diverse acts --including Kendra Ray, Lemon Bucket Orkestra, Wesli and M.A.K.U. Sound System, among many others -- rocked the crowd.

Too often than not, Toronto is full of wicked bands, events and cultural movements that go unnoticed by the city's general populace. It amazes me how much talent we have and so little conscious public that accompanies it and makes it part of their lifestyle. Small World Music Festival, cognizant of this, has re-introduced itself into the musical currents that are part of the TO landscape, allying themselves with Uma Nota Culture, Fedora Upside Down, and some quality international acts.

Uma Nota Culture's story with Small World Music dates back to last year when they were a community partner of our inaugural festival. Several Uma Nota acts have also been hired by them in the past. This year, we co-present their festival's closing party at Lula Lounge, which they have dubbed "Brazilian Blend." The night features Maracatu Mar Aberto and Maria Bonita and the Band.

Maria Bonita truly is special, and coming off of a summer where they played, among other gigs, a two-month-plus Monday night residency at the Dakota Tavern, this band promises energy. Jerusa Leão, the charismatic leader of the band, is also planning a Brazil trip soon, so this may be one of the last chances you get to see her.

Energy, romance ... and even though it's crowded, there is lots of room on the dance floor.

Maracatu Mar Aberto is also an Uma Nota favorite and partner. The last time they were featured at an Uma Nota event was the infamous and incredible Block Party. The time before that, in July 2011, NOW magazine critic Benjamin Boles commented: "Their sound is based on the maracatu de baque virado style, but by giving it contemporary context – bits of sampling, for example – the locals prove they’re not strict traditionalists. If you’re not familiar with Afro-Brazilian music, the modern touches might not be overly evident, but that won’t diminish the impact of their thundering drums and soulful vocals."

Mar Aberto Soundsystem

For this September Sunday's performance we get a glimpse of Mar Aberto's stage group, a project known as Mar Aberto SoundSystem. This group expands from the Maracatu percussion repertoire to include the influences of some great sounds and other rhythms and songs, like samba, ciranda, soul, coco de roda and reggae. Expect some sweet stuff ...

That was the SoundSystem; below is all Maracatu Mar Aberto!

Rounding out the lineup us this Sunday is  the city's finest tropical bass purveyor, DJ eLman of Dos Mundos Radio, also a frequent Uma Nota collaborator.  Join us at Lula Lounge (online tickets here) for a warm, groove-filled evening to cap off the weekend, and a great Small World Festival.