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I’m not the kind of person that gets too excited about DJ skills—I’d be thrilled if I never had to hear about how a particular DJ “takes listeners on a journey” for the rest of my life—but I am pretty bummed out that I’ll be out of town when Sean Marquand and Greg Caz make their Chicago debut at Sonotheque on Thursday, December 21. For the last five years the duo has been holding down a weekly party at Williamsburg’s Black Betty, spinning a deep variety of vintage samba, samba-rock, Tropicalia, and Brazilian funk under the banner of Brazilian Beat Brooklyn.
I’m a pretty feverish collector of Brazilian music, but the team’s first pair of mix CDs—Brazilian Beat: Baile Funk and Brazilian Beat: Baile Funk 2—were packed with killer jams I’d never heard before. (The music shouldn’t be confused with Rio’s funk carioca scene, which is the heavily electronic, lo-fi dance music that hipsters dig so much. The pair embrace Baile Funk as the catchphrase for the big dance parties of 70s Black Rio, which was all about soul and funk melding with traditional Brazilian rhythms. In fact, Marquand recent traveled to Rio to help produce a comeback album by União Black, one of the leading lights of the original scene.)
Both CDs were legally murky—available only at gigs and the New York DJ shop Turntable Lab, although the second volume is sometimes on sale at Dusty Groove—but a few months ago a legit comp finally hit the market, packed with the duo’s typically excellent selections. Noriel Vilela’s singular “16 Toneladas,” a sublime cover of the Tennessee Ernie Ford smash “16 Tons” with a spare samba groove and unbelievable baritone vocals, is something I've been hungering for long enough that it alone is worth the price of admission. But there are also hot jams from Tim Maia, Erasmo Carlos, Joao Bosco, Toni Tornado, and loads of other singers I’m educating myself about. And while Marquand and Caz focus on a specific era and sound—leaving alone a rich bounty of stuff from the northern part of the country—I’m not complaining. Go pack the house so they'll make a return trip when I’m around.