DENDE & HAHAHAES
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Brazilian Percussionist Dendê releases debut CD "Bahia de Todos os Santos";
U.S. tour includes dates at Lincoln Center and Kennedy Center;
Featuring his band Hãhãhães , Album Melds Traditional Afro-Brazilian Rhythms with the Global Pulse of Jazz, Reggae, Funk, Rumba and Afrobeat
Drummer began career at age 14 in Carlinhos Brown’s Timbalada
Dendê is a percussionist, singer, composer, bandleader, teacher, and multi-instrumentalist. He’s been a professional musician since the age of 14, when he appeared in the frontline of Timbalada, Carlinhos Brown’s superstar percussion ensemble. Since 2001, he’s been splitting his time between New York and Bahia, and has played with Mongo Santamaria, Giovanni Hidalgo, Zakir Hussain, David Bryne, and Vinicius Cantuária. His own bands include the folkloric music and dance troupe Ologundê, the acoustic Samba de Três, and Arrastão do Dendê, a traditional Afro bloco (samba party band), but it’s as leader and principal songwriter of Hãhãhães that Dendê has made his greatest impact.
Hãhãhães, named in honor of a Brazilian indigenous tribe, has been packing clubs and festivals up and down the East Coast and internationally for the past five years. The band combines Brazil’s rhythm heavy music with the grooves of afrobeat, reggae, merengue, and others from around the world. Bahia de Todos os Santos, their debut album, showcases the band’s sizzling showmanship and versatility.
Dendê was born and raised in Salvador, a city in Bahia, Brazil’s most African state. "I grew up in a poor neighborhood, surrounded by traditional music. When I was a kid I would play rhythms on the kitchen table and tell my mom I was going to be famous some day. I used to hold the drums for the older timbal players at the sambas de roda and after they’d finished playing, they’d let me play and show me the different rhythms." Dendê also soaked up the rhythms he heard at the candomblé ceremonies he would go to in his neighborhood.
At 14, Dendê auditioned for Timbalada, the two hundred-piece percussion troupe founded by superstar Carlinhos Brown. He started in the last line and worked his way up to the front. One day Brown noticed Dendê; he was impressed with his powerful technique and made him a featured performer in the Timbalada show band. Over his eight years in the band, Dendê toured internationally with Timbalada and recorded many of their albums. He was also given the opportunity to perform and record with some of the superstars in Brazilian music like Carlinhos Brown, Marisa Monte, Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil among many others.
When Timbalada trimmed down to a smaller unit, Dendê got cut, so he tried his hand at teaching. One of his students changed his life. "This guy from Rio named Flavio asked me to give him lessons," Dendê recalls. "We clicked and after five days of knowing me he asked me if I’d think about moving to New York." A few months later, a ticket to New York came in the mail. "Flavio played in the subway to make enough money to buy me that ticket. When I got to New York, I played in the subway with him and slept on his couch."
Having established a second base in New York, Dendê's groups Ologundê, Samba de Três, Arrastão and Hãhãhães flourished. "New York has given me opportunities that I would never have at home." Splitting his time between Bahia and New York has also infused his music with an unmistakable international flavor.
The album’s title track, "Bahia de Todos os Santos," summons the orixás, the sacred spirits of candomblé, a religion with West African roots, with an uplifting blend of funk and reggae. "Casa de Ferreiro," a song that fuses afrobeat with the traditional ijexá rhythm, is an homage to the resilience of the Africans who built Brazil and features Amayo from Antibalas on vocals. Vinicius Cantuária is featured on electric guitar on "Sinaleira," a musical portrait of street life in Salvador’s ghetto.
Bahia de Todos os Santos was recorded in one intense daylong session, live in the studio, with producer Manfred Knoop. Ze Luis, who also plays sax and flute in Hãhãhães contributed additional production. Marcos Vigio produced the vocal overdubs and contributed to the final mixing and editing to give the tracks their commanding presence. Dendê and Hãhãhães will soon be taking their music to the people with an energetic show that combines a relentless groove, first class musicianship, and socially conscious lyrics that will move your spirit as well as your body.
Dendê and Hãhãhães:
Dendê: bandleader, composer, vocals, guitar, percussion, piano
Leslie Malmed: vocals, percussion
Ze Grey: bass
Adriano Santos: drum kit
Ze Luis: sax, flute
Gustavo Dantas: guitar
Miho Nobuzane: keyboards
Carlos Darci: trombone
Takuya Nakamura: trumpet