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Album Review

Ramiro Mendes and Joao Mendes are the Mendes Brothers. The Cape Verdean duo is an accomplished songwriting team as well as being competent musicians and vocalists. Ramiro Mendes has written songs for Cesaria Evora, Marie Alice, and many other artists. Bandera is an old and sacred Cape Verdean music style that has been preserved for over 500 years. The music is performed exclusively during the saints' festivals. There are two or more drummers, an entourage of call-and-response chanters, and masked dancers. Bandera is set on a beautifully syncopated 3/4 rhythmic pattern with a very simple and repetitive melodic structure. This is the first time that bandera was transposed from its traditional music format to contemporary expression. The brothers have interpreted this ancient music and have done it admirably. With updated technology they have brought this music to a wider audience. The tracks are deeply rooted in the traditional rock bed of West Africa but also swing with a thoroughly modern intensity. The semba/coladera tracks combine Cape Verdean coladera dance rhythms with Angolan semba. The mixture results in extended fiery marathons, percussion-laden with riffing horns. This is Cape Verdean music at its finest, with plenty of percussion and bass accompanied by call-and-response vocals and some great chops on the horns. Highly recommended.


Formed: Palonkon, Fogo, Cape Verde

Genre: World

Years Active: '90s

The music of Cape Verde and Angola has been transformed into an international phenomena by the Cape Verde-born and Brockton, MA-based Mendes Brothers João and Ramiro. In addition to three albums of their own, the Mendes Brothers have helped to promote the music of their homeland as owners of the MB record label. Artists that have released albums on the label include Mirri Lobo, Djosinha, Waldemar Bastos, Sãozinha, and Cesaria Evora. Born in the small village of Palonkon on the island of Fogo, the...
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Bandera, Mendes Brothers
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