Formed four years ago beneath California redwoods, at a North American celebration of Brazilian music, Seattle’s En Canto was set in motion by the relentless, night and day tumult of sixty-seven zabumba.
The ever-present drums, along with almost every other instrument and stage at the gathering, were dominated by men; the women in attendance were expected to sing, cheer, or act demure. As the male maestros learned then, and as audiences and fellow performers in Rio, Alexandre Riberio, and Marcelo Caldi have learned since, the women of En Canto don't do demure.
A multi-ethnic, female-led seven-piece, En Canto’s world pop music—a combination forró, samba, and choro-inspired originals and reimagined covers of classic Brazilian hits—commands attention and inspires movement. “We love this music because of its compositional brilliance, its original grooves, and its revolutionary nature ... its roots in post-colonialism, in cultural battles for class and racial equality,” Accordionist Jamie Maschler, explains. "Why wouldn’t it also inspire gender-equality?"
Playing primarily in North American venues, En Canto currently channels its fierce independence into challenging stereotypes while also helping audiences expand their comfort zones. “We make people dance,” as drummer Adam Kozie puts it “We routinely open our concerts to a room full of shy, awkward faces, and we close them to a sweat-drenched melee of bodies and smiles. We experience real joy when we play these songs, and people feel that, and they respond in kind, regardless of whether they understand the words or know the ‘right’ dance moves. It was the same for each us at one point when we first heard Luis Gonzaga or Gilberto Gil—we were provoked and then captured by the music, and we feel honored to be able to offer our own interpretations of it.”
Having recently spent a re-inspirational month in Brazil, En Canto has just recorded its first full-length album, Solto por Jeri. The Portuguese title translates to, Released in Jeri, a nickname for Jericoacoara, Ceara, an old fishing village set along the sand dunes of the Atlantic coast. Spending their time immersed in the culture that created and still adores Forró (the most popular genre of music and dance in northeastern Brazil), En Canto’s nights inevitably turned into impromptu jams, which then became writing sessions.
The result is a record steeped in exploration, mystique, sensuality, the integration of masculine and feminine potency, and the liberated spirit of sixty-seven drums beating defiant and undaunted.
Brazilian-born vocalist Adriana Giordano draws her inspiration from the deep well of Brazilian song. Her voice is pure and unadorned, from the source of the rich musical traditions of Brazil. Her influences include Elis Regina, Joyce Moreno, Tom Jobim, Milton Nascimento, Baden Powell, Joao Bosco, Gilberto Gil, Djavan, Chico Buarque, Caetano Veloso, Filo Machado, Monica Salmaso, Dani Gurgel, Tatiana Parra, Giana Viscardi, Clara Nunes, Luiz Gonzaga, Hermeto Pascoal, Egberto Gismonti, and Duo Assad. Ms. Giordano has dazzled Seattle audiences since 2010, performing with her other band, Adriana Giordano quartet. She also currently hosts a weekly live music jam, EntreMundos, along with Seattle's premier musicians, in north Seattle.
A unique member of Seattle’s music scene because she has played accordion since the age of four. Jamie Maschler graduated from Cornish College of the Arts with a Bachelors in Music and has won several national and international accordion competitions for jazz, classical, and original compositions. She has performed as a featured soloist at Benaroya Hall in Seattle. She has also recorded at some of the top studios in Seattle, including London Bridge, Avast, Elliott Bay Recording Company, and Clatter and Din. Maschler now works at Petosa Accordions, the last accordion manufacturer in the United States, while pursuing a very active career in Seattle and the greater Northwest area.
Gabe Hall-Rodrigues is an Arizona-native accordionist, pianist and vocalist currently residing in Seattle, WA. He began playing the piano at age 7 and quickly realized his love for music and performing. In 2010, after only studying the accordion for a year, Gabe won the American Accordionists’ Association’sVirtuoso Solo Competition. In 2011 he graduated from Arizona State University with his Bachelor’s Degree in Music Therapy. In 2013, Gabe graduated from ASU with a Master of Music in Jazz Piano Performance under the award winning pianist, composer and professor, Mike Kocour. During his time at ASU, Gabe received the Special Talent Award and Jazz Bird scholarships. He was a frequent guest vocalist with the ASU Concert Jazz Band and Jazz Repertory Band. Gabe was also fortunate to study with world-renowned professor and tubist Sam Pilafian during his time on accordion with the traditional jazz ensemble, the ASU Dixie Devils.
Mike Withey has played piano since he was 7 and Brazilian music since 2005. Classically trained, he started playing rock and roll for parties at Beverly Hill High School in the sixties, where he first fell in love with Tom Jobim’s music—the bossa nova—although, he notes, he could never play it until later. In addition to playing keyboard with En Canto, Mr. Withey also has performed with two other Seattle bands: No Jive Five (jazz standards) and Thursty Love (Latin and pop) and regularly attends California Brazil Camp. Having practiced law for 42 years, he is now slowly exiting the legal profession to play more music and write a murder mystery and international spy novel about the murders of his friends.
Adam Kozie started playing music at age 11 and drums at age 17. He studied at Cornish College of the arts and holds a BA in Jazz Performance. Currently, in addition to performing with En Canto, Mr. Kozie plays in the choral trance pop group Pollens, the electro-rock band Snowman Plan, and the chamber rock orchestra The B'shnorkestra, among many other projects.