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Scott Kettner is a percussionist, composer, bandleader and author whose particular specialty is a Brazilian musical style called "maracatu". Maracatu's home territory is the Brazilian state of Pernambuco, and after studying jazz drumming with Billy Hart (who in fact turned Scott on to this rhythm and music) at Manhattan's New School, that's where Scott headed.
Scott spent a year in Brazil, mostly in Recife (Pernambuco's capital), studying with master percussionist Jorge Martins, taking in as much as possible of the wide, deep and variegated panoply of this region's (Brazil's Nordeste, or Northeast) powerful and moving rhythms.
Returning to the States in 2002, Scott put together Nation Beat, a band joining maracatu, côco, baião et al with elements of jazz and with these rhythms' -- in a very real sense -- long-lost cousins in New Orleans: second-line and funk...the creole swing of cajun music and zydeco...
Willie Nelson, who asked Nation Beat to play his 2008 Farm Aid concert, said "...I became a fan and I was overwhelmed by their music."
Nation Beat has now recorded three albums: "Maracatuniversal", featuring maracatu nacão ("nation", in this sense "group") Estrela Brilhante (Brilliant Star); "Legends of the Preacher", featuring the Grammy-winning Klezmatics; and "Growing Stone", also with the Klezmatics, and incorporating côco, frevo, ciranda, forró and repente with New Orleans funk, country blues, bluegrass and jazz. Hank Williams' "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" appears on this last album, in a version which truly stands apart from all others.
Scott established a school in Brooklyn, Maracatu New York, and thanks to his proselytization maracatu groups are springing up all over the United States. "I go to universities all over the country and teach maracatu now. I did a cultural exchange program between Recife and New York. I've taken students to Recife for Carnaval. It’s become a movement" Scott says.
Scott co-wrote "Infinito" with Brazilian percussion great Cyro Baptista, the song serving as the title track of Baptista's most recent album. He's written for the Brazilian group Cascabulho, and for New York-based accordionist Rob Curto. He produced tracks on the eponymous "Matuto", the 2009 album by guitarist/vocalist Clay Ross and his band of the same name.
Scott Kettner, like his music, moves in a lot of directions at the same time.
"Nothing short of inspirational"
- NPR’ s All Things Considered
- Time Out, Chicago
"Inspired ambassadors of Brazilian sounds"
- San Francisco Bay Guardian
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