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Ferro Gaita
Rei di Funana
Harmonia, France

cd cover Despite hailing not only from the same Cap Verdean archipelago as Cesaria Evora, but from the very same island, São Vicente, the funana dance music of Ferro Gaita could hardly be more different from Evora's melancholy morna style. Estevão "Iduino" Tavares' accordion (gaita) is often slightly askew of his band's furious beat, as if it cannot quite keep up with the frenzy it has incited, a breathtaking musical effect also prominent in the "ultramerengue" of Dominican accordionist Francisco Ulloa. Another similarity of funana with merengue is the use of a metal scraper, or ferro, as a base for percussion. Ferro Gaita mixes in snare and hand drums, electric bass, and even a conch shell to create a lively instrumental backing for Iduino's lead vocals and the band's Bahian-style chorus.

On "Bejo Bafatada," accordion dominates with both a repetitive melodic figure and reedy bass, the pleasant lead vocal trading off verses and even words precisely with a dense chorus, Adäo Brito's energetically funky bass evolving into a second engine of the beat. A martial snare drum introduces the gently rolling waltz beat of "Caminho Longi," contrasted with a staccato lead vocal and a backing chorus that starts calmly but eventually succumbs to the contagious choppiness. "Rei di Tabanka" signals a return to high-energy ultra-funana, fast common time percussion and accordion riffing to two chords, two lead vocals and chorus interacting intricately while a conch shell hoots in the background. Rei di Funana hints at other influences as well. On "Tereza," the simple straight-time beat suggests Colombian cumbia, and the backing chorus is especially deep and resonant. The stuttery funana beat and reedy accordion of "Mapu Mapu" intimate a festive Mexican tune. But the fundamentals reassert themselves in "Ferro Gaita," beginning with a nearly Zydeco accordion overture, but opening into a signature quick four-four rhythm, accents on the third and fourth beats, with Iduino's lead vocal at its most melodious.

Ferro Gaita demonstrates that this Cap Verdean dance music is not only infectious fun, but rich in influences and rewarding to hear. - Jim Foley

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