Saturday at Summerdance: the hillbilly forro of Matuto | Bleader

Saturday at Summerdance: the hillbilly forro of Matuto



  • Matuto
On Saturday evening, as part of the city's Summerdance program, New York guitarist Clay Ross brings his band Matuto to town for the first time. When the South Carolina native moved to NYC in 2002, he was intent on making his way as a jazz musician, but he soon reconciled that desire with his own roots in southern folk. A few years after arriving, he found work playing with Brazilian percussionist Cyro Baptista in his eclectic band Beat the Donkey, an experience that gave Ross an obsession with roots music from northeastern Brazil, particularly the city of Recife in Pernambuco, where's he traveled four times since 2006.

A couple years ago he released an album called Matuto (Ropeadope) that delivered an unusual combination of hillbilly music and traditional Brazilian dance rhythms like forro, maracatu, and coco—Ross was clearly still sorting out his hybrid approach, and the results were beguiling but a little schizo. Now he's got a working band called Matuto that features some of the folks who helped make that album, among them superb accordion player Rob Curto (leader of Forro for All and likewise a member of Beat the Donkey). The sextet also includes accomplished bluegrass fiddler Rob Hecht (a native of Benson, Illinois), fellow bluegrass heavy and bassist Skip Ward , Japanese percussionist Keita Ogawa, and excellent jazz drummer Richie Barshay. Below you can check out one of the group's best tunes, a hard-rocking forro number.

Matuto, "Dois Nordestes":

Today's playlist:

Food, Quiet Inlet (ECM)
Jason Robinson, The Two Faces of Janus (Cuneiform)
Harold O'Neal, Whirling Mantis (Smalls)
Henrik Walsdorff Trio, Henrik Walsdorff Trio (Jazzwerkstatt)
Pram, The Moving Frontier (Domino)