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Escola Nova De Samba


     Rudy Ortiz, former frontman for The RHYTH-O-MATICS, had fallen in love with Josephine Morada and Samba. Josephine had previously started Escola Nova de Samba with another partner, and by the late 1990's, she and Rudy wanted to form a band to back the dancers at events and San Francisco's Carnival and other festivals. Rudy asked me to join the band and gave me some recordings of Carlinos Brown, Gilberto Gil and some other Brasilian groups. There are basically 2 styles of Samba. One is more dominated by Portugese tradition, sometime having a ton of chords that rarely seem to repeat in the same pattern, and the other is more African dominated; more repetitive and heavier drums. Escola Nova de Samba (translated; New School of Samba) did a range of material that included both styles. I bought an acoustic electric guitar, an Ovation 1567 that worked great for the heavy rhythm I had to play as the only instrument besides drums and percussion, except for Al Guzman's vibes on a few songs. Josephine, Rudy and Lynn Klein were the vocalists and also played percussion, as did Al and Rene Macay.

The large, tuned Surdo drum parts were the "bass line". We played together for a couple of years, and had some crazy wild gigs, like playing for thousands of people for Carnival, with a dozen or so beautiful dancers and many extra percussionists. We also played cultural events and one time we played in the lobby for the San Francisco Opera House's presentation of The Nutcracker. The gigs were pretty grueling for me, banging out the fast-paced rhythm on acoustic guitar. When we played larger venues with a larger group, "guest" percussionists banging on steel snare drums and roaming the stage were posing a real danger to my hearing health. I liked every member of the band, had enjoyed playing Samba for 2 years, but Samba was not my passion, recording is, and I decided to leave with my hearing intact.

     We recorded a few songs for demo cd to get gigs. A short while after that, I engineered a solo album for Al Guzman.

JF Escola w dancers 99.jpg
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