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Paulo Flores is a legendary Angolan singer-songwriter keeping the flame ofsemba music alive in the 21st century. Semba is the elegant, earthy, African ancestor of Brazilian samba — and the root of today’s kuduro and kizomba dance crazes. Flores’ poetic compositions focus on everything from love and life to history and politics, tapping the roots that make semba the repository of decades of Angolan wit and wisdom. In a country where the deep wounds of civil war are plastered over with new oil money and a beachfront building boom. Paulo Flores keeps a nation’s conscience and memory alive.
While Colombia is often synonymous with Cumbia, the music from the Pacific Coast, like that of Herencia de Timbiquí, remains largely unexplored. Herencia de Timbiquí works to preserve the ancestral roots of the marimba de chonta, and traditional instruments such as the bombo, cununos and the guasá and combines them with a powerful band, including energetic vocals, brass, keyboards, and guitar. The currulao ensemble features exceptional hand percussion on drums that resemble West African djembes, beautifully honoring traditional regional music styles. The Afro-descendant Herencia de Timbiquí caught the attention of USAID, and featured the group in a 2014 documentary highlighting not only what the artists represent to the Colombian music scene, but also the social challenges faced on the Colombian Pacific coast where the town of Timbiquí is located. Herencia brings together exceptional artistry and a strong commitment to social issues, offering workshops and outreach to benefit underserved populations in Colombia. The ensemble has performed throughout South and Central America, in Europe and at NYU Abu Dhabi.
Monsieur Periné is one of the leading bands in Colombia‘s thriving new music scene. The group won a Latin GRAMMY award for “Best New Artist” in 2015, and their latest album Caja de Musica was produced by Eduardo Cabra, aka Visitante from the groundbreaking Puerto Rican group Calle 13. The album features vocal guests like Ruben Albarran from Mexican rock legends Cafe Tacuba and Dominican star Vicente Garcia. Rooted in gypsy jazz music and celebrating Django Reinhardt, Monsieur Periné‘s fresh style adds a variety of Latin elements to the mix. While incorporating genres like cumbia, son, bolero, tango and samba, the band performs traditional South American instruments like the charango, bandoneon and Latin percussion. Monsieur Periné‘s airy yet virtuosic instrumental foundation connects 1930s Paris with the youthful spirit of modern Bogota. It is the perfect backdrop to showcase Catalina Garcia‘s sugar-sweet, sunshiny vocals at the very center of their signature “swing a la Colombiana” style. With the help of the illustrator Jose Arboleda and their own fashion designer, the band has created a world of their own, that comes to life in their music, their artwork and of course their performances.
DJ Greg Caz has been spinning around New York since the early 1990s. He made a name for himself during his long stint at Black Betty (R.I.P.) in Williamsburg, where he co-hosted Brazilian Beat Sundays – a raucous DJ night of 1970s Brazilian dance music that inspired two mix CDs, Baile Funk, Vols. 1 & 2. Caz caught the “sweet sickness” of record collecting at a young age and owns crates and crates of funk, soul, rare grooves, reggae, jazz, golden-era hip hop, Latin music, ’70s soft rock and African music. He has long been a resident DJ at Nublu in the East Village, and recently provided lyric translations for the reissue of four Marcos Valle albums on Light in the Attic records. He has appeared in London, Brazil, Germany, Austria, Scotland, Ireland, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington DC, Chicago, Montreal and elsewhere.
A passion for music, sound and rhythm are just a few of the reasions that led DJ Manny to mixing and blending various genres of music. Using house, reggae, hip-hop, compas, zouk and more, his aim is always to entertain and take people worries away when they come to hear one of Manny’s sets. In December 2012 was when he first heard the sound that he would come to know as kizomba. Intrigued by the music and the dance, Manny followed the sound, the rhythm, the way it transformed me and never looked back. He has a special place for kizomba. Over the last three years, Manny has expanded his knowledge of semba, Afrohouse, kuduro and more. He says, “I am in a different place when on the ones and twos and seeing everyone on the dance floor, ‘just flow,’ priceless. The funny thing is you can ask everyone, “Where were they when they first heard kizomba?” and guarantee, they will remember, just like that first kiss.”