With Rick Lazar as grand referee, Toronto’s ubiquitous Samba Squad delights festivalgoers with its Brazilian carnaval-style parades. Expect to be enveloped by a joyful noise raised 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,” this 35+percussion posse embodies the quintessential 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.