São Braz is a tiny community of fisherman, fieldworkers and Rastafarians, a place born as a quilombo, a refuge of runaway slaves in the past. It is located outside the town of Santo Amaro, in the Bahian Recôncavo, and buried here in the midst of the cane fields are the roots of Samba – part of the cultural legacy of the Bantus brought from Africa to work the plantations.
Samba Chula is one of the variations of Samba de Roda. The complicated cadences of rhythms and call-and-response singing, as well as its melodic loops played out on the rare double-strung guitar (viola machete), are some characteristics of the Samba Chula played in São Braz and this form of Samba has been proclaimed by Unesco in 2005 as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
That said, Samba Chula is a tradition in danger of extinction and it’s being kept alive by two brothers, João do Boi and Alumínio, both Masters of the oral tradition of Samba Chula, and their friends and family. They perform as Samba Chula de São Braz and tonight they bring their deep and uplifting music and dance to Momo’s in central London
Loving this video of them live at WOMEX.
+ Track down their excellent CD “Quando Eu Dou Minha Risada, Ha, Ha”.
POSTSCRIPT: Yessss… a night was had! The intimate and steamy atmosphere of MOMO’s was spot on. The ridims of the pandeiros meshed with the congas, the pulse of the surdo and the tres-like voila machete. The voices rose and fell in time to the hand claps and the shufling steps of the samba were demonstrated by each member of Samba Chula de São Braz before inviting one and all “onstage” to pop a little style. Gotta thank Jody Gillett for pulling the session together… and have to say it gave me the same deep, warm feeling I had the first time I heard Paul Nabor and the Paranda masters from the Garifuna community on the coastline of Belize.