Unidos do Swing brings Brazilian brass band music to Café Istanbul, 10/18 and 10/22

Regular readers of this space know that I love Brazilian music almost as much as I love New Orleans music. So when a serendipitous encounter with a Brazilian trombonist at Satchmo SummerFest presented a chance to hire a Brazilian brass band, I jumped to attention. Now, two and half months later, Unidos do Swing is in New Orleans and will be playing two shows at Café Istanbul.

The group is from São Paulo and their music is an infectious mix of traditional jazz with the music of the Brazil. The band is a parading unit, like a New Orleans brass band, featuring brass, wind, percussion, and string instruments. The musicians are inspired by the sounds of jazz and traditional Brazilian rhythms. The video below has some information about the band with English subtitles. At the end you will hear a snippet of the Rebirth Brass Band’s “Do Whatcha Wanna.”

The repertoire of Unidos do Swing is a unique fusion of New Orleans second line music, swing era jazz, blues, and the Brazilian sounds of maracatu, baião, and of course, samba. They also throw some ska into the pot along with their original tunes and arrangements. The band is in the middle of their first international tour with performances at HONK! Festivals in Somerville MA, Providence RI, and New York City.

The group combines music, dance, and elements of the circus in their performances. They are dedicated to exploring the deep historic and artistic connections between the Brazilian Carnival and New Orleans Mardi Gras. The band began in 2014 as a group of street artists from São Paulo, Brazil inspired by the tradition of New Orleans street parades. Since forming, the group has organized four carnival parades.

The musicians are also activists, hence their involvement with HONK! Festivals. They participated in two consecutive HONK! Festivals in Rio de Janeiro. In 2017, the band organized the first HONK! Festival in São Paulo, which was a deemed a rousing success.

Throughout the year, the group coordinates weekly open rehearsals in public spaces including at the Modern Art Museum of São Paulo and they have partnered with several art collectives such as the lindy hop initiative Jazz na Ruaand the weekly circus training Circo no Beco. Both movements also defend the symbolic and physical occupation of public space with art.

The Thursday show is at 6:30 PM and the Monday show is at 7:30 PM. Tickets are available at the door.

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