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Samba kings provide the carnival beat

PUBLISHED: 17:44 03 July 2008 | UPDATED: 15:39 29 October 2010

Simon Parkin

Rio and Norwich may not have to much obvious in common, but a shared love of samba between two bands will bring a touch of carnival to the Lord Mayor's Celebrations. SIMON PARKIN reports.

Rio and Norwich may not have to much obvious in common, but a shared love of samba between two bands will bring a touch of carnival to the Lord Mayor's Celebrations. SIMON PARKIN reports.

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Every street carnival needs a touch of the tropical, and nowhere does fiesta better, bigger or louder than Brazil. So who better than the experts to put the samba beat into Norwich's Lord Mayor's Celebrations?

Monobloco, one of Brazil's best - and biggest - carnival bands, arrived in the city this week for an extended visit thanks to a long-standing friendship with local carnival kings Norwich Samba.

Its not the first time the samba kings have jetted in. Two-years-ago four members of Monobloco came to Norwich to run a workshop with the band.

In return one of Norwich Samba's musical directors, Marcus Patteson, spent three months in Rio de Janeiro earlier this year, training and playing in their bateria - an 150-strong carnival band - culminating in performing to over 150,000 people on Copacabana Beach.

“Our link came about because former members of Norwich Samba, Hej and Dawn Jones, who had moved to Rio to work, discovered the band playing on the streets of Rio,” says Patterson. “Hej joined but after a six-year stay in Rio, the Joneses returned to live in Norwich.”

The Norwich link stuck and Monobloco are here this time to perform at the Chapelfield Gardens Music Festival, part of the Lord Mayor's Weekend, where Norwich Samba will be join them on stage to conclude their set tomorrow.

They'll also be playing again as a nine-piece band at Norwich Arts Centre on July 10 as part of the Go Global! world music extravaganza.

“We were lucky enough to see a 10-piece band in action last year, when they played a gig at the Norwich Arts Centre, but are really looking forward to seeing them do their full show in Chapelfield,” said Patterson. “We've been working hard on four numbers to play on stage with them.”

Monobloco have been at the forefront of the recent revival of Rio's street carnival, which had dwindled to almost nothing in the late 90s, but now stands at around 300 active carnival groups.

The streets of Rio are alive at carnival time with groups getting licences to parade and filling the streets with people dancing and singing along.

Monobloco's sound is a fusion of styles such as coco, ciranda, marcha, xote, samba-charme, samba-rock and funk. The band started in 2000 following a series of workshops given by the group Pedro Luis e a Parede (PLAP).

They now run two bands, a full-sized carnival bloco of 150 people drawn from all walks of life and a 24-piece show band made up of professional musicians.

The show band performs regularly all over Brazil. The carnival band plays four gigs in the run up to carnival, to 5,000 each night at one of Rio's major venues, and parades on the Sunday after carnival.

Every year their following has grown. Over 150,000 people jammed the streets around of Copacabana to catch them earlier this year.

www.myspace.com/monobloco

t Monobloco will be on stage in Chapelfield Gardens from 9.30pm with a break for fireworks between 9.15-9.40pm. Norwich Samba will be join them on stage at around 11.30pm. Norwich Arts Centre, Thursday, July 10, £12/£10 cons, 01603 660352, www.norwichartscentre.co.uk

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