Septet SambaDa expands horizons 

After a decade of delivering world-beat Afro-Brazilian grooves, Santa Cruz’s SambaDa realized it was time to up the musical ante and create a sound that truly defined the collective as whole.

The septet, which was formed by native Brazilian Papiba Godinho, had conquered the club and festival circuit with its wildly explosive Carnaval-like performances but had yet to carve a sound for itself that didn’t say, well, cover band.

Tonight, SambaDa delivers its signature high-energy percussion and infectious dance beats with its newly inspired sound at the Independent in San Francisco.

Through the years, SambaDa had become accustomed to playing a blend of traditional Afro-Brazilian beats with a tinge of a modern-edge, but had yet to infuse much of a Western influence into its sound, percussionist Will Kahn says.

"We do have five Americans in our band, but we hadn’t really explored that aspect of our sound yet," he says. "We were very into the traditional side of things and paying respect to it."

It wasn’t until SambaDa crossed paths with Grammy-nominated music producer Greg Landau to create the 2006 sophomore release "Salve a Bahia" that the band assembled a sound that not only paid homage to Brazilian folkloric music, but also captured the spirit and musical background of each band member while maintaining a modern reggae and funk edge.

"He really tore us apart," Kahn says of Landau’s work. "He took us from a cover band and pushed us to find our own voice. He asked us what our story was — what our mission was as a band. We pulled together all these different elements, from the traditional stuff we were doing to reggae, samba and funk to really make sense of our voice and what we wanted to create."

The result reveals how the band has evolved during its tenure in the Bay Area’s world-music scene.

"Salve a Bahia" is a milestone in another respect, too. It showcases the band’s most recent addition — legendary vocalist and master Afro-Brazilian dancer Dandha Da Hora of Ile Aiye.

It may have taken nearly 10 years for SambaDa to cultivate its sound and present a cohesive representation of Afro-Brazilian funk, but that doesn’t mean audiences will have to wait another decade.

"We’re still evolving. We’ll always be evolving. I can’t wait to get our next album out," Kahn says.


Where: The Independent, 628 Divisadero St., San Francisco

When: 9 p.m. today

Tickets: $12

Contact: (415) 771-1422 or

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Staff Report

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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