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Best of The Beat on Afropop: Nana Vasconcelos, Brazil’s Paragon of Percussion

Beat14#5Vasconcelos

We were saddened to learn of the passing this week of Nana Vasconcelos, a widely respected and internationally renowned artist from Recife, Brazil. “The Best of the Beat” remembrance from 1995 presented here is an interview done in Bahia, Brazil, by Mara Weiss and Nego Beto, longtime correspondents for the “Brazil Beat” column, at the time of the release of his album, Storytelling.  Very much aware of Brazil’s African roots, the master percussionist encompassed “the history of Brazilian people, far-flung lands, strains of the diaspora and other wanderings.”

In Nego Beto’s tribute on the BrazilBeat Sound System Facebook page, he recalls Nana: The innovation he brought to his art, to music, inspired me as a percussionist my whole life. Salvador, Bahia, Brazil 1994. We had the pleasure of meeting Nana and interviewing him for an article in The Beat Magazine. He was the first Brazilian percussionist I saw using a drum machine, in New York at Limelight, would have been around ’87. The sounds he made.. he used acoustic sounds of nature and mixed with afro rhythms. Infused with jazz. He created sounds, harmonies, dynamics, emotions in his music that was unexplainable and pure.

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For a look at Carnival in Nana Vasconcelos’ birthplace of Recife, Brazil, click here.

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