Gente! - SambaDa


The nexus where musics of all stripes converge, is the art form’s most exciting for fans of worldbeat. To critics and purists, however, it's a crime scene of heinous cultural misappropriation. My guess is that those folks have forgotten that musicians have a profound sense of play. In sunny Santa Cruz, SambaDá, a group of transplanted Brazilians and native Californians are combining samba and surf-rock in ways that can surely turn that frown upside-down. Granted, both these genres are hardly on the musical endangered species list. Samba is as ubiquitous in Brazil and thong swimwear, and surf guitar is so engrained in the rock idiom, it’ll never go away, even when Dick Dale is pushing up daisies. And, as I’ve discovered by delving into these madcap mash-ups; the more radical the mix, the more interesting the stories behind them. The lives and lifestyles of SambaDá’s personnel would make for an excellent documentary; from the group’s capoeria maestro and founder, Papiba Godinho to surfer dude guitarist and beat box whiz, Will Kahn, to klezmer-inspired saxophonist, Ann Stafford, each player brings a colourful history to the palette. It’s not recess all the time with these surfing, skating, sambanistas either. The music on their new album, Gente references and respects the traditions of Afro-Brazil and Yoruban spirituality. Still, the opening number, Iguana sets the album’s overall tone and irrepressible energy with a blistering slide down the fretboard; straight out of Pipeline and straight into a roiling Jamaican dance rhythm. Gente is people-powered music immersed in sun, fun and surf.