SambaDa: Gente!


(Round Whirled Records)

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Formed in the sunny capital of surf and skate, Santa Cruz CA, SambaDa channels the laid back and fun seeking lifestyle of this West coast beach town. Easily felt when listening to their pulsing, pounding and light hearted mix of very danceable afro-beat funk, one cannot but help visualize a beachside party.

Heavily based in Brazilian bloco-afro (Afro-Brazilian percussion) traditions via various members of the group growing up in that country, every song is sung in Portuguese and stretches on past the four, if not five or six, minute mark.

Labeling themselves ‘Afro-Samba-Funk,’ the trade off of male and female lead vocals, backed by a tight and heavy percussion section does evoke the drum lines of carnival. But the West Coast fusion is easy to hear in the flutes, sax, and surf rock guitar that flavors each track. Indeed, each song has many distinct parts and they tend to morph around beats or tempos that rise organically, sometimes shifting the composition of the track into a wholly different song, but ever funky.

I suspect that this group’s main strength lies in the power and energy of their live performances, a trait inspired by their Afro-beat roots. Indeed, this group seems very akin to a jam band that has blended cultures to produce a sound and feeling that is uniquely vibrant and enjoyable.

Calling themselves “music for the beach,” I can easily visualize this act performing by the sea. Having spent some years in Santa Cruz, I can vouch for their success at representing a strong current that runs through that community’s arts.

Gente! is SambaDa’s third album and they bring the groove that they’ve no doubt perfected. Check out “Dendê” as a wonderful example of what this group is all about; funk, Brazilian percussion and a sand stomping celebration.

Kenneth Joachim

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