Album Review: 'III,' By Bixiga 70 Bixiga 70 is a 10-piece band from Sao Paulo, Brazil. The eclectic set of musicians seamlessly fuses cumbia, afrobeat and funk. NPR's Banning Eyre says their instrumental dance songs have earned them a global reputation.

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Album Review: 'III,' By Bixiga 70

Album Review: 'III,' By Bixiga 70

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Bixiga 70 is a 10-piece band from Sao Paulo, Brazil. The eclectic set of musicians seamlessly fuses cumbia, afrobeat and funk. NPR's Banning Eyre says their instrumental dance songs have earned them a global reputation.

(SOUNDBITE OF BIXIGA 70 SONG, "VENTANIA")

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

This is Bixiga 70, an instrumental dance band from Sao Paulo, Brazil. They're known for their high energy and mix of styles. They combine American funk, Colombian cumbia and Nigerian afrobeat, and it's made them really popular around the world. Our reviewer Banning Eyre says it's not hard to see why.

BANNING EYRE, BYLINE: Bixiga 70 is a Brazilian band, but it owes a special debt to afrobeat. Even the band's name echoes that of Nigerian afrobeat founder, Fela Kuti, who called his seminal ensemble Africa 70. But there's no confusing the two. This 10-piece Brazilian juggernaut dispenses with Fela's words and messages and goes for the pure emotion of instrumental music.

(SOUNDBITE OF BIXIGA 70 SONG, "VENTANIA")

EYRE: Bixiga 70 was formed in 2010 by an eclectic set of musicians from Sao Paulo's jazz and avant-garde pop scene. They met in the city's culturally diverse Bixiga neighborhood and took their musical cues from various parts of Brazil and from West Africa. The band's fusions are unique and exciting, as on this super charged afrobeat groove "Martelo."

(SOUNDBITE OF BIXIGA 70 SONG, "MARTELO")

EYRE: Love that funky guitar - shades of Isaac Hayes' "Theme From Shaft," circa 1971. Sounds from the '70s weave through Bixiga 70's third album, simply called "III." This track, "Mil Vidas," or "A Thousand Lives," evokes the lope of classic cumbia laced here with folksy flutes.

(SOUNDBITE OF BIXIGA 70 SONG, "MIL VIDAS")

EYRE: I said there are no words or messages in these songs, but there is a message in the music. Nigeria and Brazil have been in a cultural conversation for centuries. Nigerian slaves brought religion, music and other cultural expressions to Brazil. Some also returned, taking Brazilian ideas back to Africa. The musical exchanges have continued ever since, so it's a happy thing to find that conversation so fresh and alive in the songs of Bixiga 70.

(SOUNDBITE OF BIXIGA 70 SONG, "NIRAN")

MCEVERS: Banning Eyre is senior producer for Afropop Worldwide. He reviewed "III" by Bixiga 70.

(SOUNDBITE OF BIXIGA 70 SONG, "NIRAN")

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