Getting worldly with Ecos de Portoalegre

Bonjour, hi! I go by the username of iWoo on T61, and this is my first actual post on Max Bumps. AnnieB posted my "Get to know..." entry back on April 26th, if you'd like to see some recommends. Of course, you can always visit my somewhat neglected playlists on T61.

I recently moved to Montreal, in part because of all that is going on with the music and art scene. Summer here is known as festival season, and I've already found that there is so much going on that it can be hard to keep up. Last month saw the completion of the 29th annual Festival International de Jazz de Montréal, aka simply the jazz fest". I was too slow on getting tickets to Ladytron and TV On The Radio, but I was able to see Bran Van 3000 play a free show downtown as part of the admittedly low-key Canada Day celebrations. I had just moved into my apartment that day, and I was so busy (and stressed) the next few days that I didn't catch anything else at the Jazz Fest.

About two weeks later, I was walking through the splendid Parc La Fontaine on the way home one afternoon. I saw a poster for a free show in the théâtre de Verdure, which is an open-air ampitheatre with a covered stage, situated in the park. The group was Ecos de Portoalegre, a Latin-American band that was part of the jazz festival lineup. I'd heard from a few people that I missed out on a very good thing by not catching them at the jazz fest. After groceries and making a quick dinner I walked back to the park, just in time for the concert.

I was very impressed. Even though it had rained ten minutes prior to the show, the band was on time, and the seats were more than three-quarters full. They played an hour and a half set that had people clapping along and standing at their seats to dance. A few couples were brave enough to salsa just below the stage. The crowd was very diverse, and quite appreciative despite the wet benches.

Anyway, I am not too familiar with Latin-American music in general, but here's what I've learned about Ecos de Portoalegre.

This 7-piece Montreal band has two members hailing from Canada, and the rest from Colombia, Ecuador, Argentina, Mexico and Bolivia. They have only been together as a band for three years, but their Latin-American rhythms are very popular in this city. Their style is a blend of different traditional Latin styles, and they mix together salsa and jazz with the sultry vocals of Anamaría Gonzalez (pictured right). The musicians have all been playing for a much longer time than the band has been around, and their skill is evident, with a very crisp and full sound.

The latter part of the group's name is Porto Alegre, a city in Brasil. The meaning of their name relates to the fact that the city has hosted the World Social Forum four times. The WSF is an annual meeting of activists and academics getting together to discuss issues and share ideas. Pablo Castro--guitar and piano player for Ecos--said their mission is to create "music that people can listen to and dance to, but also to say something about what's going on in the world. We're trying to echo everything that the forum was for."

Their website paraphrases this well: Ecos de Portoalegro is "making audiences dance, think and dream." Their music represents a diverse group of individuals able to share and celebrate their respective backgrounds rather than point out their differences. The result is a statement of anti or alter-globalization that just happens to have infectious rhythms and a spicy summer vibe.

Listen to four of their songs off their website.

So far they only have these four tracks available on a demo CD available at their shows, but they are apparently working on their album. If you happen to be in Montreal in August, they have another show on the 10th and 23rd. (Details at the site linked above.)

1 comment:

Michele Yamazaki said...

I love Montreal. We were there about 3 years ago in the summer time and it was fantastic. I really wanted to catch some live music but I was with my daughter (at the time she was 2) which made things difficult. This stuff you wrote about sounds fantastic!