BATALA Netherlands Samba-Reggae band Tilburg
The World of BATALA
Batala is an international samba reggae music project based out of Salvador de Bahia in northeastern Brazil. The name Batala is a combination of the phrase “bateu lá” meaning “hit there” in Portuguese and Obatalá (Oxalá), the Candomblé deity who is the father of the Orixas and of all humanity.
Batala was founded in Paris in 1997 by Giba Gonçalves, a Bahian percussionist with links to Ilê Aiyê, Olodum, Muzenza, Male Debale, Jimmy Cliff, Tupi Nago, and Kaoma. Batala currently has chapters in over 25 cities in 15 countries on 5 continents and a worldwide membership of over 1,000 percussionists
HistoryIn the 1990s, Batala founder Giba Gonçalves was living in Paris studying Composition and Bass Guitar at the Paris Conservatoire. While Gonçalves was abroad his friend Alberto Pitta, the ex-artistic director of Olodum, started the educational project Instituto Oya de Arte e Educacao in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil. This project included Bloco Cortejo Afro, a school for dance, percussion, printing, textile design, fashion design, and capoeira. Gonçalves formed Batala as an international extension of Bloco Cortejo Afro in collaboration with Alberto Pitta. Batala was officially formed in 1997, and Cortejo Afro was officially formed in 1998, but the two groups have always been closely affiliated.
Relationship with Cortejo AfroIn order to maintain a connection to Cortejo Afro while simultaneously creating an independent musical group, Gonçalves adapted and changed much of their repertoire for use in Batala. As a result, Batala and Cortejo Afro share many of the same rhythms played with slight differences, and members of Batala have performed at the Salvador Carnival as part of the Cortejo Afro Bloco since 1999. (It has been estimated that members of Batala who attend the Salvador de Bahia Carnaval pump over £15,000 into the Instituto Oya de Arte e Educacao and the local Salvador economy each year over the course of their stay.)Batala's long-standing link to Cortejo Afro combined with Gonçalves’ close relationships with numerous influential members of the Bahian music scene have enabled members of Batala to work with and learn from blocos and artists such as Ilê Aiyê, Olodum, Daniela Mercury, Magareth Menezes, Didà banda feminina, and the late Neguinho do Samba, who is credited with the development of the shallow drums used specifically in Bahian samba and samba reggae.
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