Reissue of the out-of-print debut album from Brazil’s 10-piece instrumental powerhouse: Bixiga 70. Originally released a decade ago, the self-titled record is the bold mission statement for the acclaimed albums that followed. Urgent and uncompromising. An inspired soundworld where Afro-Brazilian traditions and retro and contemporary sonics seamlessly meld together.
Bixiga 70, the ten-piece horn driven instrumental group from São Paulo, have in the last ten years firmly established themselves as one of the most acclaimed and influential exponents of contemporary Afro-Brazilian sounds. Over the course of four thrilling albums and heavy touring throughout the world, the band’s reputation is now undeniable. The extent of their reputation can be measured not only in the loyal audience that they have gathered, but also by the fact that the band members are much in demand collaborators and have appeared on a plethora of records, including recent ones by Brazilian legends Elza Soares and João Donato.
Bixiga 70 was first released in 2011 on their own São Paulo based Traquitana label. The reissue is LP only and is specially mastered for vinyl and lovingly packaged in a gatefold sleeve.
Guitarist Cristiano Scabello tells us that the recording of the debut album, “was the beginning of a long and happy story in which we spent a lot of sweat, hours of rehearsal, dedication, research and study.” Keyboardist and guitarist Maurício Fleury feels that the album’s raw but optimistic vibe is possibly even more pertinent today: “we could feel that we were doing something that felt important then and we tried to come up with a Brazilian answer to what we were listening to from abroad. I think that listening to this album nowadays can bring some of that hope that we shared at that time, shedding some light on the dark times we are going through.”
Named after the cultural melting-pot of their home base in São Paulo’s Bixiga neighbourhood, with an added tip of their hats to the inspiration of Fela Kuti’s Afrika 70 band, Bixiga 70 came together from diverse musical backgrounds and from their inception operated as a collective, sharing the songwriting duties and the running of their recording studio. In fact, the band’s embryonic musical endeavors began at their Traquitana studio on 70 Treze de Maio street (one of Bixiga’s busiest nightlife areas). It was from those energized recording sessions that the first album was born, sessions where the band passionately explored elements of Brazilian, Latin and African music to create inspired, dance-floor shaking instrumental themes and anthems.
Considered by many to be the birthplace of samba music in São Paulo, the vibrant Bixiga neighbourhood fed their collective imaginations as the band created their own individual and sure-handed take on the 70’s cosmopolitan music of Ghana and Nigeria, the rhythms of African-Brazilian religious terreiros, hip hop, space jazz, malinkê, cumbia, carimbó and blaxploitation soundtracks. It was a musical vision that blurred the line between past and future and embraced a complex menu of grooves and global sounds.
From the very first album the band created a compelling mélange that almost immediately propelled Bixiga 70 to the forefront of Brazil’s contemporary instrumental music scene – a place where they have remained ever since. The band’s self-titled debut is anything but the typical first album. It is in its own way, every bit as accomplished as the records that followed.
It is the watershed. A deep and unforgettable first cut.