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Mestre Cupijó e Seu Ritmo   ‘Siriá’   (Analog Africa)  –  31st  March  2014

Keen to venture beyond both West Africa’s borders and its polygenesis range of Afro affixed musical styles, the Analog Africa label has occasionally, and do so again now, looked across the ocean to South America in pursuit of previously unearthed or lesser known treasures. A congruous extension of the original motherland’s beating heart, but not out of choice for those poor souls transported over the centuries to work in servitude, Brazil and Colombia culturally profited – just like their miscreant continental room mates, the USA – from the cycle of forced migration, retuning and merging it with their own indigenous mix of lament and joyous carnival.

Previous stop-overs in Colombia with the Mambo Loco sampler and Diablos Del Ritmo compilation proved enlightening and infectious, yet sounded unmistakably South American. But with this latest release and the previous Angola Soundtrack 2 – a sexy affair of atavistic Angolan soul and Portuguese sauntering shufflers – the connection between the two is more made more apparent.

Coming up trumps with a showcase of rambunctious marches from ‘master’ Brazilian composer and conductor turned philanthropist, provisional lawyer and municipal councillor of Cametá, Mestre Cupijó e Seu Ritmo, the label rediscovers the ‘cross-pollination’ rich Siriá style of music. Incubated on the shores of the river Tocantini, in the escaped African slave founded settlement of Quilombos, the ‘scroching’ siriá sound crosses the native Amazonian sound with that of Africa to create a popular rave up, played and enjoyed to great effect throughout the extended state of Pará at the traditional festivals and street parties. After spending a sojourn living with the locals and learning their sound and culture, Mestre Cupijó modernised the original with his newly formed Jazz Orquestra os Azes do Ritmo; recording a total of six soulfully high-spirited albums. The first two records were enthusiastically knocked out with ‘rudimentary equipment’ in a Cametá dance club, the third recorded in a Belém studio.

An assortment of ‘choice’ tracks from that spread are collated together here for the first time on one compilation; switching between Siriá and one of the country’s, other, most popular adopted styles, the mambo. The vigorous workout of vibrant paeans begins with a string of Mestre Cupijó’s ‘hits’, opening with what sounds like a Sicilian funeral party gatecrashing a Brazilian wedding, on the lively ‘Mingau de Açai’. Continuing at that very same pace throughout, and arguably (and no bad thing as the opener is a much welcome invitation to enjoy life itself) reworking that same rhythmic template fourteen times over, the track list only varies slightly: unadulterated joyous whistling and bustling grooves on ‘Mambo Do Martelo’, to the feverish Mariachi-esque mood of ‘Tubarao Branco’.

As with every Analog Africa release, this labor of love is a fine testament to the forgotten and left in obscure isolation, composer of a musical style that just hasn’t quite caught the psyche; previously confined to the boarders of Brazil. The label’s head honcho, Samy Ben Redjeb, hopes that this won’t just be a befitting tribute to the composer, who passed away in 2012, but will also form part of this Summer’s soundtrack. From my own humble experiences, playing the odd track, it’s gone down a storm and at the very least attracted many enquires from the bemused, excitable and inquisitive.

If you are looking for an intermission or new fertile ground to lend your ears, then this latest compilation will suitably the trick.

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One Response to “046: Mestre Cupijó e Seu Ritmo”

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