Tag Archives: baracutanga

Baracutanga: Dance-Worthy and Ear-Worthy

Baracutanga coverBaracutanga, Importados
A Review

You don’t need to know a cumbia from a
festejo from a candombe to dig Importados, the first full-length album from Albuquerque’s rhythm wizards, Baracutanga. A seven-piece band whose members come from as far north as Kansas and as far south as Bolivia, Baracutanga mixes South American rhythms in innovative ways, making unusual rhythmic combinations that might also include Middle Eastern and Cuban forms. They incorporate folkloric instruments, such as the quena, an Andean flute, and top it off with modern North American harmonies and instruments—electric guitar, vibes—to create a unique and highly danceable fusion.

The album’s sheer musicality might come as a surprise to those who know the band only as a high-energy live act that fills the dance floor. Yes, you can play the album at high volume and dance till you drop, but you can also settle back in your easy chair and appreciate the
craftsmanship of the writing and arranging, the attention to detail, and the sonic textures. Recorded in four different studios in Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and Cadiz, Spain, the album
features more than 50 instruments and 25 musical styles, and just about every one of those
instruments and styles finds just the right place. Continue reading

Samba the Night Away



When vibes/percussion player Nick Baker—anyone ever seen him without a smile on his face?—slipped me the word about a celebration of Brazil Independence Day this Friday at Sister Bar, featuring Baracutanga, PANdemonium, and Odara Dance Ensemble, I did some quick research on Brazilian Independence Day, since I knew absolutely nothing about it. Yet another gap in my education.

According to Wikipedia, on January 9, 1822, when Pedro, Prince of Brazil, refused to return to Portugal from the Kingdom of Brazil in response to the Portuguese assembly’s demand, he
created Dia do Fico, which Wikipedia freely translates as “I’ll Stay Day.” On September 7, the same cat declared Brazil’s independence, which is celebrated in Brazil by big military parades.

Outside Brazil, there’s no Brazilian military to appease, so people celebrate in a more Brazil-
appropriate way: with music and dancing. Wikipedia tells us that the 2008 celebration in New York City, called Brazil Day, drew 1.8 million people and was broadcast live in Brazil, so the folks down there had a choice other than military exhibitionism.

This Friday, Frank Leto’s PANdemonium, along with Pilar Leto’s Odara Dance Ensemble, will get things started. You won’t have to fight a crowd of 1.8 million, and you will likely be saying “Eu
along with Prince Pedro. Then, Baracutanga, fronted by singer Jackie Zamora, will justify your wise decision. Continue reading