Orquestra Contemporanea de Olinda | Rumba | International | Chicago Reader

Orquestra Contemporanea de Olinda Soundboard Recommended Critics' Picks

When: Tue., April 6, 9 p.m. 2010

In the northeastern Brazilian state of Pernambuco, indigenous musical traditions have evolved in concert with popular styles, a state of affairs that's produced an impressive crop of vigorous hybrids. This spectacular Pernambucan band embodies this process at its most sublime, opening itself up to a dizzying number of influences and combining them organically. The vibrant sound of Orquestra Contemporanea de Olinda incorporates the brass-band carnaval music called frevo, regional rhythms like ciranda and maracatu—the latter a key element in the manguebeat sound pioneered by Chico Science in Recife two decades ago—and even traces of samba, rock, and dub. The result is an aesthetic that's neither folkloric nor self-consciously postmodern; the richness of the band's musical environment makes both revivalism and premeditated pastiche unnecessary. Resourceful guitarist Juliano Holanda gives the songs extra heft and drive with his propulsive licks and concise, lyrical interjections. The group's superb lead singers, Maciel Salu and Tiné, each make records on their own with more of a purist's approach to traditional Pernambucan music, and this bent is sometimes audible in the Orquestra's songs: when Salu scrapes at a fiddle-like rabeca on "Balcao da Venda" he doesn't try to approximate any modern style, so that his primitive playing creates a delicious tension with the sophisticated horn arrangements, loping electric bass, and shuffling funk polyrhythms. For its first Chicago concert the band will consist of ten musicians (as opposed to the 12 on its self-titled debut album, released in 2008 by Som Livre), including a four-strong horn section. There hasn't been a show I've been more excited about this year. —Peter Margasak

Price: $10

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