If there is to be an Ambassador of Maracatu, Scott Kettner, percussionist, band leader and drummer for Maracatu New York and Nation Beat would be a great choice. After years of study and immersion into this style, while living in Brazil he was able to become a master in the field and take the sound worldwide. Experience the evolution of this unique drumming style through the 12 tracks here and expect the unexpected when they slip in a great cover of Led Zepplin’s “Over The Hills and Far Away.”
Maracatu New York
Baque Do Brooklyn
Nation Beat Music
Maracatu New York is a band steeped in the maracatu band music of northeast Brazil. The New York-based group consists of numerous musicians that play sax, trumpet, trombone, tuba. caixa, alfaias, gongue, viola, guitar, bass, drums, agbe, and other instruments. The overall sound is energetic and party-like with Mardi Gras-type sounds and danceable tunes. The band music is raw and authentic, which is reminiscent of capoeira--also from Brazil. The vocals are vibrant and youthful. However, the instrumentation is the real winner here. There are twelve songs in all. Fans of Brazilian big band brass and percussion will love it. Yet, anyone into Brazilian, Latin, or dance music should love this world fusion concoction. ~ Matthew Forss
Brazilian music is synonymous to many Americans with bossa nova and samba. What few people outside Latin America’s largest country are familiar with is maracatu, a distinct style that comes from the Pernambuco state in northern Brazil. Maracatu bands consist of drummers and singers, who often do call and response-style singing and, in some parts of Brazil, can gather participating crowds of between 80 and 100 people.
Enter Maracatu New York, the first established maracatu band in the United States. Founded ten years ago, the band performs and teaches classes in Brooklyn. In September 2012, the band used Kickstarter to raise about $3,800 for mixing, mastering, artwork, and printing for their first full-length album.
The resulting album, Baque do Brooklyn, does not disappoint. Between the first song, which kicks things off with a brass and saxophone anthem, and the last track, which features a percussion-heavy and danceable maracatu grooves, the album gives a good portrayal of the group’s eclectic interests. The standout track is the ninth: “Over the Hills & Far Away,” where Maracatu New York joins with Nation Beat, an American/Brazilian collective that melds maracatu drumming, New Orleans second line rhythms, funk, and country-blues. This adds a guitar, bass, drumset, and rabeca (a northeastern Brazilian fiddle related to the violin) to create a sound that blends Brazilian maracatu with American roots music. Also of note is the fourth track, Quem Vem La, which includes powerful brass lines and harmonies with a simple vocal refrain and vibrant percussion that breaks into a bridge of New Orleans jazz-style group soloing part way through the song.
Whether you know Portuguese or not, you’ll probably find yourself singing along with – or trying to sing along with – Baque do Brooklyn. And no matter what, you’ll find yourself wanting to dance to the maracatu drumming for which this traditional Brazilian genre is famous.
Maracatu New York Baque Do Brooklyn - Nation Beat Music
There’s nothing quite as enticing as Brazilian poly rhythms married to New Orleans jazz and that’s the best way to describe Maracuta New York’s CD Baque Do Brooklyn. This soulful stew of Afro-Latin grooves gets the heart pumping and the feet dancing. The music feels like a samba parade entered the room followed by a Mardi-Gras band. The opener, Roda Baiana sounds pure carnival with New Orleans brass kicking into full gear. With Samba Lê Lê Brazil beats and vocals meet New Orleans brass and we feel Yoruba gods hanging around.
American percussionist Scott Kettner and his crew of horn players, drummers, and vocalists introduce listeners to the delicious world of drum jam sessions such as on Parada with its power samba drums. We’re off to the Bayou on Voo Doom with Mark Marshall on slide-guitar. And we hear a Yoruba chant backed by oomph pa of a tuba on Quem Vem Lá. I’m reminded of the the Gangbé Brass Band and even African funk to some extent. The only track I don’t like is the Led Zep cover Over the Hills and Far Away which interrupts the flow--loud and abrasive (except for the opening which sounds Appalachian). I skip over it.
July seems like the right time to release this CD, during the height of summer heat and celebrations. Catch this band live on the street if you can. I can only imagine from my corner of the world the fabulous show this band puts on, but judging by the power beats on the titular track, it’s time to get uninhibited and groove, baby.
"...Maracatu New York delivers such a primal payoff when it zeroes in on drum/percussion action on “Baque do Brooklyn”. Imagine the fusion of a well-disciplined military band paired with a spirited marching band, amplify the ferocity and send it down the streets of New Orleans during Mardi Gras..."
When Dona Marivalda Maria dos Santos took the stage at Lincoln Center in Manhattan recently, she flickered like a psychedelic Snow White.