Best of Brazilian music coming to New York City

Associated PressJuly 16, 2014 

— The World Cup is over but the Brazilian party will go on— in New York City.

Over nine days beginning July 18, nearly 20 acts representing a cross section of Brazilian popular music will play at venues across the city for the fourth annual Brasil Summerfest.

The festival may do little to avenge Brazil's spectacular World Cup flame out, but at the very least it will show that the South American country has more than soccer: They still have their samba.

"Hopefully all the artists will be happy because soccer is a sensitive topic to talk about in Brazil," said Brasil Summerfest founder Petrit Pula, adding that he thinks the festival will get a boost from the Cup, "because you're thinking about Brazil all the time, you're hearing, you're watching a sporting event that's taking place in Brazil and here you have a Brazilian music festival."

While Spanish-language sounds are amply represented in New York City, Portuguese-language Brazilian music has long flown below the radar. Pula aims to change that.

"There was never really a platform for these Brazilian musicians," he said.

When he tried to persuade producers at Central Park's Summerstage to do something to change that, he couldn't seal the deal until he took one of them down to Brazil to hear great music together.

"It was supposed to be a day or two but it turned out to be week and now it's growing fast," he said.

This year's acts range from Bebel Gilberto, daughter of bossa nova giant Joao Gilberto, to Lenine, who spikes intricate rhythms from Brazil's northeast with dashes of electronica. Gilberto will be opening the festival with a free show at Celebrate Brooklyn, while Lenine will play a free show on July 19 at Central Park's Summer stage.

One of the most intriguing acts is Roge, who will play at the City Winery on July 22. The modern samba star has a surfer-boy image many liken to a Brazilian Jack Johnson, a comparison Roge chafes at.

"Our sounds have very different roots. I have a swing, a dance beat that he doesn't have. But you know, having a beach life style, being a beach character, I can see that we share a similar image but I don't see it in the sound," Roge said in telephone interview from his home off Ipanema beach.

Regardless of how you classify him, Roge's sound is winning converts through with his album, "Brenguele," recently released in the United States.

"With the World Cup, Brazil will be in evidence. Because of some songs I'm doing for ESPN, people will have more access to my work," Roge said. "It's my time to arrive."

Warner Brothers Vice President and Sire records co-founder Seymour Stein, who signed Roge, agrees.

"I saw him live at a club, and my god, he had everybody up and moving and was just incredible," said Stein, adding he believes Roge's energy can translate in America even if he's not singing in English.

Pula said that recreating the context for Brazilian music is one of the Brasil Summerfest's main goals.

"The festival itself brings a lot of that energy here. Even in Brazil you wouldn't see all of these artists together," Pula said. "Last year, I felt like I was in Brazil the whole week."

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