Jazz keyboardist and Brazilian native Ricardo Bacelar said his latest album, “Sebastiana,” is a mixture of American of Latin cultures.
“Latin Americans play Brazilian music differently,” he said. “They mix the cultures [of] Argentina, Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil, Peru and Cuba. We have musicians from each culture. Each has their own way to weave the song.”
Bacelar’s new album — the title of which means “she knows” — features fellow Brazilian Cesar Lemos on bass; American Steve Hinson on guitar; Venezuelan Anderson Quintero on drums; Cuba’s Yoel del Sol on percussion; Colombians Channo Tierra and Jose Sibaja on accordion and trumpet, respectively; Jesus Rodriguez (Peru) on percussion; and vocalists Maye Osorio of the U.S., Andrea Mangiamarchi of Venezuela and Brazilians Rose Max and Ramatis Moraes.
Lemos is also producer of the project, for which Bacelar also used a sample of his daughters’ percussion playing.
“[My daughters] started classical piano [but] were playing percussions when we were in Miami last year,” Bacelar said. “I put it on the record. They loved it.”
The mixture of Latin cultures make for a very different sound and Bacelar had the keyboard popping all through the project. Choice selections from the album include “Nothing Will Be As It Was” with Hobson’s smooth guitar playing, “Menina Baiana” for its traditional Latin sound and crazy-good accompanying piano, and the deceptively simple, horn-heavy “Partido Alto” (I also love how the piano keys are popping).
“Sambadouro” is reminiscent of an African chant (especially if, like me, you can’t understand the words of the vocalist), and this one has the keys popping, too. “Oh Mana Deixa Eu Ir” features outstanding piano playing that gives a smooth jazz feel, and the title track makes me want to dance — and I love to dance!
“There are 45 cultures on the planet,” Bacelar said. “It’s a big job for distribution, but it’s important to Brazil.”
Nigeria, birthplace of the iconic Sade, has also birthed vocalist Marenikae Lasode, who just released her debut album “Ajebutter.”
Her vocals and style is unmatched — so much so that she had to invent her own genre.
“My style is influenced by many people … so I had to give it a name. I call it Afro-Merge,” Lasode said. “I come from a musical family. My father owns a record label. The first group my father turned out is the biggest African artists.”
Lasode said initially she stepped away from her calling because she did not want to sing traditional African music.
“The stigma around artists wasn’t really what I wanted … so I went to college for criminology,” she said. “After a while, I decided that [singing and songwriting] is what I want to do.”
Lasode said it was the urging by a friend that prompted her to write a song, which got her natural creative juices flowing.
“My friend gave me a challenge … to write a song,” she said. “I was 12 years old. I wrote my first song — the first verse, the bridge and chorus, everything — and I was like, ‘Wow, I can do this.’”
Lasode said African artists were not conforming to the contemporary world, sticking with traditional African music that didn’t appeal to younger generations. She went to college in Boston, which had a significant influence on her style of music.
“North and South cultures are more into soul,” she said. “I recorded a song but went back to Nigeria for four or five years. Things had changed for me as an adult.”
Her view of her African culture had changed, however, as she no longer saw Nigeria through a child’s eyes.
“I started to fuse together social issues … after talking to my mother and grandmother,” she said. “Everything they told me I took and poured that into my music.”
She has already released three singles from her debut album — “Rose,” “Smooth Operator” and “Remember.”
Eunice Moseley’s syndicated column, The Pulse of Entertainment, has an estimated weekly readership of over 1/4 million.