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With Rick Lazar as grand referee, Toronto’s ubiquitous Samba Squad makes a welcome to TD Sunfest. For 23 years, the Squad has been following the path of the drum from Brazil to Toronto – and often to London, where it has opened our festival with a Brazilian carnaval-style parade around Victoria Park. And what a joyful noise this 35+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. Proclaiming the motto, “One Heart, One Mind, One Groove,” Samba Squad embodies the quintessential Sunfest joy of embracing different cultures and is the personification of change and exchange.
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.
The Squad’s many accomplishments include three CDs and performances at a myriad of events – from major jazz and world music festivals to birthday parties, weddings and even one funeral (an ardent Scottish fan wanted Samba Squad to drum his casket to the hearse instead of the traditional pipers).