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The extraordinary music heard on Bata Ketu is the work of two visionary American percussionists: Michael Spiro and Mark Lamson. With few exceptions, the multitude of percussion instruments you hear are all played by them. Together with the Brazilian folkloric singer Jorge Alabe and legendary Cuban vocalist Bobi Cespedes, a timeless tradition comes full circle from its long journey through the ages. Michael Spiro and Mark Lamson have traveled a musical journey which has brought them to the traditional drums of Brazil and Cuba. Through great respect, endless hours of study and practice, and countless trips to the Caribbean and South America, they have achieved an extremely high level of proficiency within these musical systems. These accomplishments have earned them praise and recognition from the various masters who have been their teachers. Although Michael and Mark did not grow up in either Cuba or Brazil, when they play the traditional drums, a clear voice speaks, a voice which has come forth through the drums for eons. The orisha live on through two more drummers.

As musicians from outside the culture of these two musical disciplines, they bring a unique perspective to their work, and an advanced sense of creative expression within the traditional contexts. While simultaneously studying the percussion of Cuba and Brazil, Michael and Mark discovered intriguing similarities in the rhythms from both countries. The most striking similarities first surfaced for Michael when he noticed a resemblance between the Cuban Iyesa and the Brazilian Batucada. As they delved deeper into the sacred and secular music of each country, the similarities and differences between the two became an ever-growing fascination.

When talking about Bata Ketu, Michael once stated: "If you're into orisha music, you can't help but start wondering about the similarities and differences between the music that all came from Nigeria, but then got split up. Also, as we studied, and being outsiders from the beginning, we looked for ways to express our own musical statement within these traditions. As Americans, we have exposure to Samba, Afoxe, Bata, Rumba, etc., and so this record was always in my mind, a way of saying that this is our voice within these styles, this is who we are."

Bembe Records
Bembe Records
Box 1730
Redway, CA 95560
Phone & Fax: 707-923-7262
Last modified 10/9/98; 11:44:36 AM
by john lewis.
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