Music review: Banana Da Terra at Bobo Gallery

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

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About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall is the arts section editor at Mountain Xpress. She's lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs. Alli is the winner of the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize and the author of the novel "How to Talk to Rockstars," published by Logosophia Books. Follow me @alli_marshall

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3 thoughts on “Music review: Banana Da Terra at Bobo Gallery

  1. Otra Noche

    What are you talking about with “breezy chic” and “penning the next ‘heartbreaking work of staggering genius'”? Bobo is about artifice and shallow, self-absorbed patrons glibly nodding tacit disprovals of every person coming through the door that doesn’t look and act the same part in this unwelcome theater of black silhouettes. How could you seriously suggest a tragically-hip sinkhole like that could act as fodder for great writing? This is a place where the pretentious spectators of Asheville come to exhibit their studied indifference like peacocks while the real artists and participants of life are asked to please move on elsewheres with nary a smile from the self-indulgent bartenders and staff.

  2. Noche

    Sojnia, the Grey Eagle on Monday nights affords an opportunity for you to see otherwise.

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