Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Concert Review: Dende & Hahahaes at Lincoln Center 4/15/10

Dende & Hahahaes have a stylistically diverse new album out that highlights their ability to shift energetically between samba, roots reggae and a whole lot of other tropical styles. Thursday night the crowd at the Atrium at Lincoln Center didn’t start dancing until the band’s first salsa groove, but most of them stayed on their feet for the rest of the show.

A big man with a megawatt grin, percussionist/singer Dende led the band from behind his congas – and played acoustic guitar on one song, a bracingly catchy minor-key vamp lit up by a long wah-wah solo by their electric guitarist. The rest of the vocals were supplied by a soulfully brassy singer who played boomy pan percussion when she wasn’t on the mic. With the relentless beat coming from band’s front line, their drummer got the chance to add some nimble counterrhythms when he wasn’t putting up with Dende’s playful showboating (there was a point where Dende demonstrably decided to adjust the drum volume, which drew plenty of laughs). Their keyboardist swayed in her seat, alternating between hypnotic latin vamps and bouncy samba lines in addition to some slyly woozy synthesizer settings – one of their several catchy Bahian numbers saw her playing through a fluttery flute patch, another with a reverberating Rhodes sound.

A trio of songs worked a hypnotic midtempo afrobeat groove; a couple others had an amped-up jangly, guitar-driven forro feel. The singers would take turns running a simple, insistent lyrical line, in Portuguese, many of them becoming singalongs with the large and exuberant expat crowd. Bassist Ze Grey hung back and provided fat, catchy hooks all night, waiting til the end where he’d finally cut loose with a blast of chords and fiery, melodic riffage. And when they finally closed the set with a catchy, irresistibly bouncing minor-key disco number – the Gap Band gone to Bahia – Grey played delicious variations off the central hook while the keyboardist turned her synth all the way up for a crazy, distorted texture. They encored with a cut off the new album that sounds like a Brazilian adaptation of Michael Jackson’s Billy Jean, Dende working the crowd in the front and on both sides of the stage (one woman he enticed up onstage was clearly out of her element, but another seized the moment and wowed the crowd with her moves). The free Thursday concerts here continue on April 22 at 8:30 with intriguing Chinese-American avant jazz chanteuse Jen Shyu.

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April 17, 2010 Posted by | concert, Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews, world music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

CD Review: Dende & Hahahaes – Bahia de Todos os Santos

This is a really good, oldschool style, mostly roots reggae album from a bunch of A-list New York Brazilian musicians. Dende fronts the band and plays percussion, maybe the reason why there’s so much of it and why it’s so high in the the mix. It’s sort of a trebly alternative to the bottom-heavy, rustically and hypnotically drum-flavored sound popularized by Ras Michael back in the 70s, giving the songs a boost of energy and some cool textures you don’t often hear in classic reggae. Behind Dende there’s Gustavo Dantas on guitar, Ze Grey on bass, Adriano Santos on drums and zabumba, Ze Luis on flute and sax, Carlos Darci on trombone, Takuya Nakamura on trumpet and guests Vinicius Cantuaria on guitar and Amayo from Antibalas supplying vocals on one track. Lyrics are in Portuguese.

The album kicks off with a catchy, upbeat roots reggae number, followed by one that wouldn’t be out of place in the Bob Marley catalog. They follow that with a couple of latin grooves, growing more and more hypnotic. Then they pick up the pace with a fast disco beat, and then a ska number with a Message to You Rudie feel followed by a psychedelic, Santana-style organ interlude. There’s also a smoky, vamping, soul-inspired number, a tricky yet hypnotic tropicalia tune with flute and a backward-masked intro, a fast piano-driven number in 11/4 time, a slinky soca-flavored dance song with tinkly piano and festive horns, a majestic yet catchy roots reggae number with echoes of vintage-era Burning Spear and then a jungly, gamelanesque percussion interlude to close it out. Like a summertime vendor selling ices from his cart at Delancey and Clinton, whatever tropical flavor you like, this album has pretty much everything. Dende & Hahahaes’ next New York show is at the Atrium at Lincoln Center on April 15.

April 7, 2010 Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews, world music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment