With “Banzeiro,” the album makes its biggest stylistic leap. Araújo trades mournful verses over a minor-key melody with a male tenor accompanied only by the spare metallic twang of the single-string Brazilian berimbau. It segues into a clarinet figure, the album’s first use of trumpet, a new lyric of romantic longing in which Araújo’s Portuguese gives way to the tenor’s Yiddish. The Klezmatics (with singer Lorin Sklamberg) have joined Nation Beat for a graceful, romantic dance.
Kettner had collaborated on Klezmatic Frank London’s Brazilian/klezmer fusion Carnival Conspiracy, so the two had a working relationship. But there was another reason: “The first Jewish synagogue in the Americas was in Recife. They were there when the Dutch ruled, and they were there for 100 years before the Portuguese expelled both the Dutch and the Jews.” Kettner says the Jewish strain is still strong in Recife, especially as it’s come down in frevo big-band music.
And who am I to argue? Dengue Fever create genuine ersatz pop confections with the help of vocalist Chhom Nimol, Forro in the Dark are Brazilian, and Nation Beat have found focus with Araújo — and through extensive homework. There are a lot of ways to make music real, and creating your own folklore isn’t a bad way to start.
NATION BEAT | Regattabar, Charles Hotel, 1 Bennett St, Cambridge | July 31 at 7:30 pm | 617.395.7757 or www.regattabarjazz.com
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