A panoply of percussion erupts from Love the Donkey as Cyro Baptista and his merry troupe of percussionists and special guests unleash fourteen tracks of manic energy and irrepressible fun. It serves as an effective antidote to overly cerebral and self-consciously serious music.
Throughout his prolific career, Baptista has voraciously performed most imaginable (and some unimaginable) genres of music, and here he unabashedly borrows from them all. The resulting concoction transcends static notions of rock, Brazilian, jazz, and pop forms and soundsnot for tongue-in-cheek irony, but as a personal reflection and compelling "world music" in the best sense.
Surprises abound as songs shift feels and styles, deftly executed by the ensemble. On "Rio de Jamaica, the rollicking groove, funky guitar riff and horn pops at the start morph into a relaxed reggae under the influence of producer/keyboardist Jamie Saft, ending in an entirely different place. Saxophonist Peter Apfelbaum offsets the kinetic percussion and vocals of "Forro For All with a blustery horn figure supported with finesse by the group, before the tune's final frenzied dissolution.
On the appropriately titled "Tap on Cajon, his brief sax interlude adds color to the minimalist percussion and acoustic bass. The subtle Zeppelin-inflected guitar on Baptista's tunes becomes overt with a spirited reading of "Immigrant Song introduced by, of all things, Robert Curto's accordion. Curto mingles effectively with Mark Feldman's dazzling gypsy/classical violin lyricism on the charming "Maria Teresa.
Baptista's music for his Beat the Donkey ensemble works because it's done honestly and with contagious enthusiasm. Love the Donkey testifies that humor does indeed belong in music.
Cyro Baptista: percussion, vocals, samples;
Viva De Concini: guitar, percussion, vocals
Tim Keiper, Amir Ziv: drums, percussion, vocals;
Chikako Iwahori: vocals, percussion, tap;
Scott Kettner, Z