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Cyro Hour

Percussionist Cyro Baptista “Goes Crazy” at Modlin Center.

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Perhaps it's a sign that the world finally is catching up to ebullient Brazilian percussionist Cyro Baptista. His “Vira Loucos” tour (which stops off at the Modlin Center on Oct. 15) features music from his first album released more than a decade ago. 

In the years since, Baptista has emerged as one of the premier percussionists in the world, playing with an alphabetical who's who of music-makers, from jam band guitarist Trey Anastasio to classical cellist Yo Yo Ma and New York downtown legend John Zorn. He's appeared in Richmond numerous times, most recently earlier this year (also at Modlin) backing singer Luciana Souza with a storm of conventional and handcrafted noisemakers. Instead of wire brushes on the drum set, he used great handfuls of reeds.

The concert title (which translates as “goes crazy”) is a play on the name of Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos. “He was one of the 10 best of all time, and he was out of his mind” Baptista says, reached via Skype while he prepared the show for its Carnegie Hall debut. If this is not the usual take on Villa-Lobos, it's indicative of Baptista's unironic charm: “He is a dead genius. I am a live idiot.” 

The performance spotlights two contrasting guitarists: acoustic virtuoso Romero Lubambo (who was on the original album) and slide and banjo player Kevin Breit. “You can't get more Brazilian than Romero,” Baptista says, “and Kevin is like a cowboy from Toronto.” The show also features accordionist Michael Ward-Bergeman, bassist Shanir Blumenkranz, vocalist Vanessa Falabella and drummer Tim Keiper. “It is going to be a nice night,” Baptista promises. “Richmond is like a home for me. Give a kiss to everybody.” S

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