This is the debut album from Nomade Orquestra, a 10–piece big band hailing from the ABC region of Greater Sao Paulo. The album was originally released in Brazil in 2014, but now gets a wider distribution thanks to Far Out.
The band’s sound takes in a number of different influences – funk, afro-beat, ethio-jazz, reggae, hip hop and rock. They will inevitably drawn comparisons with the likes of Souljazz Orchestra, Shaolin Afronauts, Antibalas, Budos Band and their Brazilian counterparts, Bixiga 70. It’s no surprise then that two members of Bixiga 70, Mauricio Fleury and Cris Scabello are co-Producers.
That said their sound isn’t more of the same. The album blends together the band’s stylistic influences rather than showcasing them separately. This style of production has a hip-hop feel to it, borne I imagine of the various creative inputs within the group. Of course the skill is in getting the blend right and in this case I think they do.
For me there isn’t a stand out track, but that said with the exception of the filler, Radio ABC, there aren’t any weak ones either.
“Garuda” takes the mixture of styles to epic proportions. It starts out intriguingly with high-pitched whistles, flutes and bells which wouldn’t sound out of place on a Don Cherry track, before we set off on a musical journey around the world taking in Arabian, Indian, Ethiopian, West African and the Caribbean.
Most of the tracks work on a theme shot through with a funky horn section and augmented by solos from several of the band, baritone sax and electric guitar in particular. These solos are short bursts and give tracks like “Doce Agonia” and “Dragão do Mar” different textures and rhythms.
“Venus” is a softer, more reflective piece, centred in jazz but with strands of dub reggae and even some psych woven through it. “Samurai” is the most radio-friendly with its African vibe and jazzy keyboards.
Elsewhere there is the straight-up funk of “Fuego Policia”, or the rockier, Vinicius de Moraes-sampling, “A Vida Vem Em Ondas”.
There’s a lot to like in this album and I imagine a lot more to like when it comes to seeing the Orquestra live.