In Brazil, Carnaval is a whirlwind of earthly excess: a sensual, six-day celebration of life and music before the ascetic Christian season of Lent.
A one-night slice of the festivities comes to Hardywood Park Craft Brewery on Friday, Feb. 20, from local salsa kings Bio Ritmo.
Starting at 5:30 p.m., the program includes the dance-infused martial arts of Capoeira Resistência, and an all-vinyl, all-Brazilian set from DJ Michael Murphy. The evening closes with live performances from Bio Ritmo and the headliner, Dendê and Band.
“We played with them in New York once and I know they are a great fun group,” Bio Ritmo pianist Marlysse Simmons says. “They are all over the map with the styles they play. Dendê has great energy and vibe!”
Percussionist Jailton “Dendê” Macedo started his professional career at 14, playing in Timbalada, the band founded by premier Afro-Brazilian Carlinhos Brown. After playing with the legends of his homeland, he moved to New York in 2001. There, he led a successful large percussion ensemble, later pared down by the 2008 recession to a shifting, essential core of guitars, keyboards, drums and percussion.
But while his band contracted, his musical vocabulary expanded.
“The band has had many incarnations,” says his wife, manager and frequent band member Leslie Malmed Macedo. “In New York City he met one of [African legend] Fela Kuti’s drummers. He met members of [salsa legend] Tito Puente’s band. His typically Brazilian sound is infused on a deeper level with Latin and West African rhythms.”
The result is playfully sophisticated and physically motivational.
“It’s all about carnival, getting wild and crazy,” Macedo says. “Dendê can’t stand having a performance where people aren’t standing up and dancing.”
No worries. At Hardywood there are no chairs to sit in. And dancing? Dendê’s music will take of that. S