Samba Squad Batuque

Toronto’s Samba Squad, the Brazil-centric percussion ensemble headed by renowned musician Rick Lazar, commit their animated, multi-rhythmic groove to disc for a second time with their latest release, succinctly titled Batuque. Inquisitive listeners looking for the samba their name suggests will soon realise this disc contains anything but. Instead, the record embarks on a mini-international journey as it attempts to provide a beginner’s course in global rhythms, one in which divergent styles are stripped from their traditions and mashed together in true Samba Squad form. Ritualistic Afro-Brazilian chants slip seamlessly into Cuban melodies on the disc’s opener, before the album slides into one of the few samba school-styled percussive explosions on the groups definitive "Drums We Love.” From there, the Squad offer some African-tinged North-eastern Brazilian flavour with a funked-out maracatu, a touch of maculelê, and a taste of forró, demonstrating that things work best when the various rhythmic amalgams are accompanied by some sense of melody. Percussive exhibitions like "Sambar,” however, which fail to settle on any particular form, undoubtedly work better facing a dance floor than blaring out of a home stereo, where they carry on far too long to secure listener attention. That said, Batuque serves as the perfect promo tool for a group handily securing its space in Canada’s world music scene. (Independent)