Singer/songwriter Marcos Martins hails from São Paulo, Brazil, and his four backing musicians have the unwieldy task of encompassing the music of one of the world's largest and most diverse nations. Though Brazil blends cultures and traditions, there's an easiness to the sounds that provides a cohesive feel. Bossa nova and, to a lesser extent, samba have been present in American culture for years — yeah, that's where that pre-programmed beat on your Casio came from — but the forró style of music from northeastern Brazil is less known. Traditionally using just accordion, zabumba bass drum, and metal triangle, forró conjures thoughts of a mellow version of another Creole music form: Louisiana's zydeco. Forrós come in three types, and "Xote da Alegria," on Radio Brazil Band's new self-titled five-song EP, offers a sample of the xote, the slowest version. Accompanied by a traditional dance, the romantic lyrics resonate regardless of your knowledge of Portuguese. Last week, the band played as part of the MIM's "Experience Brazil" festivities, which included Carnaval dances, drumming, an exhibition of the acrobatic Brazilian martial art capoeira, educational workshops, and costumes and artwork. That the band's at a Mexican restaurant this week underscores the need for more variety in our south-of-America cuisine (there's more to Brazilian food than gluttonous steak houses) but, hey, good tunes are good tunes.
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