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World Music CD Reviews Greater Latin America

Scott Kettner’s Nation Beat

By Phil Freeman
Published August 23, 2007

Maracatu Universal
Nation Beat Music

Talk about your big beat the relentless percussion of maracatu music, from northeastern Brazil, is one of the most thunderous, soul-shaking sounds around. Some folks may have encountered it on Paul Simon’s The Rhythm Of The Saints, others in the music of Brazilian avant-rockers Naçao Zumbi here, the whomp ’n’ crash of maracatu is played by the Maracatu Naçao Estrela Brilhante alongside percussionist Scott Kettner’s Brooklyn-based group Nation Beat, with a few guests along for the ride, most notably Frank London, who arranges a horn section on three tracks. This fusion of north and south isn’t 100 percent successful “Old Wooden Chair” drains away all momentum built up by the preceding track, the convulsive “Somos De Agua Fria.” Interestingly, though, the English-language lyrics complement the violin, giving the music an almost Appalachian feel. And ultimately, this is a thrilling, multi-faceted disc with a bottom end that could get coma patients up and dancing.