Uma Nota is a live show series, a DJ dance party and a cultural undercurrent all in one. It began in Toronto in 2007 as a bimonthly event focusing on Afro-Brazilian, Latin, Caribbean, funk and soul music. Both live performers and DJs play tunes of a tropical, polyrhythmic nature. Uma Nota has grown to include multi-day festivals, original online content and international coproductions.
CBC Music asked some of the movers and shakers behind Uma Nota to tell us more about what you'll hear at an Uma Nota party, and pick some great grooves for us to hear.
Uma Nota, sweaty dance party
Uma Nota organizer, Jonathan Rothman: "Since our events carry that incredibly high-energy, super fun and often sweaty dance party vibe, and we've always had a number of Brazilian percussion groups among the live acts, we're keeping the Brazilian theme going for this playlist. All of these are tunes you might hear at our events – one or two of them might even take the form of live covers!"
Home to dub and MPB
Uma Nota resident DJ General Eclectic: "Here's a great example of two of my favourite styles of music (dub and MPB) blending together to great effect! 'Dubben's 'Rainha Do Dub' is just Djavan's classic MPB track 'Nereci,' but with a heavy dub reggae groove added underneath. Made only a few years ago, this song has become a staple in my dance floor arsenal, fitting in as top choice for warming up our crowd at each event. Now, if every attempt to blend these two musical worlds were this successful, I think we'd be forced to seriously consider creating a new word for this clever fusion. Unfortunately, most efforts I've heard have been merely a sum of both parts, kinda getting lost in the process. This one has remained golden."
Dubben, "Rainha Do Dub."
Berimbau, chopped and remixed
DJ General Eclectic: "I just love the blend of digital and analog that occurs in this next track. It starts off with a simple berimbau passage you might hear in Capoeira, and then all of a sudden, 20 seconds in, that same beautifully played passage gets chopped up into a frenetic pace. Not long after, the heaviest of 808 beats drops and the rest is history! This song has inspired more wild reaction than almost any other I've played to our Uma Nota audience. It's one of those tracks that's genius in its simplicity and timeless in its sound, and I cannot go to a single event without playing it."
A Coisona, "Aquecimento De Capoeira."
Brazil's northeast, with reggae
Uma Nota producer Alex Bordokas: "Eddie represents the incredible multicultural mix that is Recife/Olinda, the twin cities in Brazil's northeast, a cultural hotspot and perhaps Brazil's best and most original carnival. The band has been a mainstay of this scene for the last decade. Their sound is especially groundbreaking because it uses Brazilian-style drum set and percussion, but the melody section is heavily reggae influenced, as you'll hear on this and many of their tracks. The bass I find raw and the overall performance free and dead-on. This cut and the whole record it comes from is produced by Buguinha Dub, a record producer from Recife who now lives and works in São Paulo, and who is also a friend."
Transcendence with carimbó
Bordokas: "This next song, in the carimbó rhythm, brings out the gritty element of the Uma Nota party. The groove of the bassline and guitar strum on the upbeat takes the listener to another level, similar to the way reggae can just put you in a different state of mind. And the song has a Caribbean edge to it as well, because carimbó originated in Pará, the Amazon state in northern Brazil, close to the Caribbean. The style incorporates many elements, from cumbia to calypso, but with a tinge of gruff. The singer, an old carimbó master from the Amazon region, calls us all to join him in the party. It's a shout-out to all the peeps as well."
Pinduca, "Vamos Farrear."
The legend Jorge Ben
Rothman: "Finally, I'll end it off with a classic MPB cut still played at dance parties around Brazil by Jorge Ben Jor, "Take it Easy my Brother Charles." This may be one of the best-known tracks on the playlist, but there's a reason it remains to this day a popular tune to spin at parties in Brazil. Jorge Ben is, of course, one of the all-time 'mestres' of Brazilian music, especially in the samba-soul/MPB/Brazilian funk vein, and this track contains all the elements of a great dance tune – it's got that Brazilian cool, in fact it urges us to just take it easy, all with just enough English to mix in that inclusive, 'this party is for everyone' kind of international flavour. Plus, of course, we had to include a track with that swinging drum kit, in this case more of a samba-rock vibe but still full of feeling and the perfect bed of groove to let the bass, horn section and Ben's vocals soar."
Jorge Ben Jor, "Take it Easy my Brother Charles."
The last word
Rothman: "That ability to unite people in an uplifting experience, that beautiful moment, has everything to do with why Uma Nota keeps holding it down."
Uma Nota celebrates its fifth anniversary on Friday, July 27, with a party at The Great Hall in Toronto.
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on Jul 27, 2012