By Russell Slater, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – During February the Sonoridades festival at the Oi Futuro theater in Ipanema decided to invite some of the more interesting musicians Brazil has to offer; beginning with Seu Jorge and Almaz, London-based pop chameleon Cibelle and finishing with Silvio Machete. Before that though, on February 18th and 19th, Lucas Santtana played, and was one of the highlights of the festival.

Lucas Santtana at the Sonoridades festival
Lucas Santtana at the Sonoridades festival, photo by P Eduardo.

Lucas Santtana’s previous album “Sem Nostalgia” was one of edgy acoustic music, but as this was the Sonoridades festival, an event that aims to “promote encounters between styles and generations” we got a lot more than that.

The band, with a strong rhythm section all night, played deep Samba grooves, Baile Funk, sailed off on voyages into dub, and then finished it all off with some classic Brazilian Pop.

This was the kind of show that could only be made in Brazil, one that mixes together so many different elements, somehow makes them cohesive and gets everyone dancing in the process. No wonder the music scene here is often referred to as a “melting pot” or “feijoada” (a local dish of many ingredients).

For this event Santtana was joined by a number of special guests including Karina Buhr, Arnaldo Antunes and Joao Brasil (all of whom represented a different generation in Brazilian pop music). Representing the up-and-coming artists was Joao Brazil, dubbed the “King of Mash-Ups,” who was armed with his sampler, and ready to show how the new culture of mash-ups could be added to an already packed mix.

In truth, at first it felt a little over-wrought, too many dull samples struggling to fit in with the music, but by the time they got to a cover of “Exodus” there were no qualms. This was a big beat version of the Bob Marley classic which almost ripped the roof off the theater.

Lucas Santtana invited trio of Joao Brasil, Arnaldo Antunes and Karina Buhr on stage
Lucas Santtana invited trio of Joao Brasil, Arnaldo Antunes and Karina Buhr on stage, photo by P Eduardo.

Karina Buhr represents the current music scene in Brazil; her album was voted one of the best albums of 2010 in publications such as MTV Brasil and Rolling Stone Brasil. As well as accompanying Santtana, sometimes vocally, and sometimes with her extraordinary dancing skills, she performed one of the best Brazilian singles of last year in “Eu Mentí Pra Voce.”

Arnaldo Antunes is the godfather of the current scene, a musician who will make an album of spoken word experiments, and then follow it up with a slab of pure pop (as he did with last year’s “Iê iê iê” album). The night finished with his song “Qualquer Coisa,” one of his great songs in a career of many.

It’s acts like these which make the current Brazilian music scene so hard to define. Lucas Santtana and his guests showed a willingness to invent and be creative, something which can often be missing from much modern pop music. Sonoridades festival showed that across the generations Brazilian music will keep reinventing itself, whilst keeping its own distinctly-Brazilian identity.

Oi Futuro, as the institute of social responsibility of the Rio-based telecommunications company Oi, carries a mission to contribute to human development through educational and cultural innovation, utilizing the communication and information technologies. Organizing projects countrywide, Oi Futuro maintains three fixed cultural centers, two in Rio, and another in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais.

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