With Rick Lazar as grand referee, Toronto's ubiquitous Samba Squad makes a welcome to TD Sunfest, where for much of the past 21 years it has opened the festival with a Brazilian carnaval style parade around Victoria Park. And what a joyful noise this 35+ member percussion posse raises on drums of all kinds - from the surdo's rumble to the cuica's squeak. Stop-on-a-dime precision, playful melodies and beaming smiles are always part of the group's appeal. The musical roots of Afro-Brazil, Afro-Cuba, North and West Africa, as well as elements of Urban Funk and Hip-hop, are dropped into a seething cauldron to produce a dance-till-you-drop tour of global grooves. Inspired by the Escola de Sambas of Rio de Janeiro, the Afro Blocos of Salvador Bahia, and the Maracatu nations of Recife, Pernambuco, Samba Squad adds original influences to create one of Canada's most exhilarating musical experiences.
In the spring of 2013, Samba Squad released its 3rd CD Que Beleza (So Beautiful). It tells the story of Samba Squad's musical evolution through fourteen original songs written with Rick Lazar's creative collaborator, composer Gordon Sheard, and featuring the voices of Andrea Dia, Alberto Alberto, Luanda Jones and Laura Mae Lindo. The documentary SAMBA SQUAD: Drums We Love (Riddle Films) first aired on Vision TV in September 2006 and was commercially released in 2008 as a DVD, now available on the band's website. Versatile and flexible, this energetic and joy-instilling groove machine proclaims its motto, "One Heart, One Mind, One Groove." Samba Squad embodies the quintessential TD Sunfest joy of embracing different cultures, and is the personification of change and exchange.