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Nation Beat featuring Cha Wa
Carnival Caravan
Artist release (

"Vou Cantar Esse Coco" (full song)

In world-music reviewing and promotion there is sometimes an “eat your vegetables” undercurrent: you should listen to this because it is good for you and, even more importantly, these earnest musicians have been unjustly ignored by the world around them. As well-meaning as these proselytizers are, they sometimes lose sight that many turn to music for comfortable, easy fun.

The band Nation Beat, in its mission to unite the rural music of Brazil and the United States, creates genre-busting songs that could keep a lecture hall full of ethnomusicologists busy documenting for a week, but I think they'd rather keep a club full of partiers dancing for a night. Florida native Scott Kettner, while learning jazz drumming, had his interest piqued in the maracatu music of northeastern Brazil. After studying it intensely, he formed a group that did the unlikely mashup of these dusty, lusty Brazilian rhythms with American country tunes such as Hank Williams' “I'm so lonesome I could cry.”

This time out on Carnival Caravan, Nation Beat teams with the New Orleans band Cha Wa for an EP that intermingles two musical genres that themselves are crossbreeds of various cultures.

"Casa Diamante/Sew Sew Sew" (excerpt)

The five songs go back and forth between cultures and sometimes straddle them both simultaneously. The strutting opening track, “Casa Diamante/Sew Sew Sew” segues from an old maracatu song to a Mardi Gras Indian song, with some stinging electric guitar punctuating the polyrhythmic percussion. “Vou Cantar Esse Coco,” then takes off with the skittering northeastern coco rhythm, adding some bracing New Orleans brass, and Silverio Pessoa's superfast vocals.

As contagiously fun as the rolling percussion of the funky “Golden Crown” is, it is actually subtly revolutionary in that Nation Beat's lead singer Fabiana Masili's warm, velvety voice is the first female to sing the traditional Mardi Gras Indian song.

"Liza Jane" (excerpt)

The EP ends with the classic “Liza Jane,” a sing-along, tuba-propelled mashup of New Orleans brass and a propulsive chorus of percussion from both countries. So you can deconstruct through the bass lines and intricate rhythms and counter-rhythms and map the magic out, or you can keep it at butt level and groove to the joyful rhythms. - Marty Lipp

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