Thursday, December 14, 2006

Bonfires of São João

Posted on Thu, Dec 14, 2006 at 4:00 AM

Bonfires of São João
Label: Nublu
Length: LP
Rated: NONE
Media: CD
Format: Album
WorkNameSort: Bonfires of São João
What do you get when the festive country music of northeastern Brazil's interior 'backlands� is transplanted in New York City's Lower East Side? The answer is Forro in the Dark, a cross between Luiz Gonzaga, the King of Baião, and six Brooklyn-based Brazilian musicians who prefer to serve up traditional down-home sounds with any number of variations, giving the music a sleeker, though no less authentic, contemporary feel. The hybrid, urban-Brazilian honky-tonk amalgamation translates into irresistible fun. Forro in the Dark began playing music at Nublu on a whim and soon thereafter became the venue's Wednesday night house band. Bonfires of São João, the ensemble's debut under Nublu, boasts guest vocalists Bebel Gilberto on the woeful 'Wandering Swallow�, David Byrne on 'Asa Branca� and on the exuberantly twangy 'I Wish�, and Cibo Matto's Miho Hatori on the infectious and enchanting Japanese version of 'Paraíba.� Led by percussionist Mauro Refosco, the squad of former sidemen for sundry performers ranging from Beck to Enrique Iglesias succeed in conveying their high-energy chemistry onstage and Forro's bittersweet cadence set against the pulsating vibe of New York. From the pifano-propelled cowboy romp opener to the last track's unrelenting percussive drive, Bonfires of São João's rural sensibilities are expressed through the worldly prism of a big-city attitude, and suddenly Brazil's arid and vast sertão region is a little closer to the island metropolis.

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