I had high expectations for Boone-based jazz-fusion trio Banana Da Terra. I figured they’d be skilled musicians, that their Latin jazz would be atmospheric, that they’d leave me wanting to dig out my Astrud Gilberto CDs.
The band delivered, and then some.
“This tight and colorful group brings forth a groove and feel unlike anything heard in the Southeastern area,” says their website. I admit, I’m a bit of a cynic when any band starts laying claim to unchartered territory. And while Banana Da Terra isn’t exactly pioneering, they are doing something that no one else around here is: Bossa Nova.
The great thing about the sounds of Samba, Bossa Nova, Baiao, and Musica Popular Brasileira is how they’re all simultaneously vintagey-cool and totally modern (which is why Astrud Gilberto is listed at the top of the list of must-have music in the Hipster Handbook). But Banana Da Terra actually transcends hipsterdom. They seem oblivious to their own suave sound, completely caught up in musicianship, tight grooves and a palpable on-stage chemistry.
And Bobo Gallery is one place where transcending hipness is tricky. Just hanging out in that place, with the earth-toned paint, stripped brick, abstract art and black-garbed scenesters elevates one to a new level of breezy chic. Add red wine and Bossa Nova to the mix you could walk out of the place and pen the next “Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.” Or whatever.
But I digress.
Singer-guitarist Jimmy Griffith, a native of Brazil, opened the show with a solo set of intricate finger-picking and sultry vocals. By using loops, he creates a one-man band with such an intimate, immediate feel that it seems the addition of the rest of the band will be a disappointment.
Only it isn’t. Percussionist Joel Lancaster plays a miniature kit, pushing the group with tasteful rhythms and edgy — occasionally rocking — flourishes. Bassist Tim Salt’s style leans more toward the melodic, using his instrument more as a lead than a bass is usually allowed which lends an earthy, funkiness to the sound.
While it seems that Banana Da Terra is the culmination of influences and styles, it’s ultimately Griffith’s immense talent as guitarist and singer than pushes the band over the top. Where they could be an experiment in Latin fusion and jazz technique, they prove themselves, instead, as a tour de force. Now, if only they had a CD …
— Alli Marshall, A&E reporter