Cyro Baptista: Banquet of the Spirits

By: Dennis Cook

A gyroscope of delighted, percussive fracture, Cyro Baptista's newest offering, Banquet of the Spirits (Tzadik), whistles and thumps and generally trundles with twisted smarts, a cumulative treat that brick builds a solid, fully unique "thing" befitting of the hyper gifted percussionist/visionary. A fixture of NYC's downtown jazz scene and Trey Anastasio alumni as well as a powerful hired gun for Sting and Paul Simon, Baptista reaches full maturity as a solo artist on Banquet. The most "Brazilian" outing yet for this Brazilian boy caught between the moon and New York City, this skitters like a fiddler crab on PCP – a little nervy, wild and bouncing with possessed motion. What differentiates this from previous solo works is the cohesion of his core band - Brian Marsella (keys), Shanir Ezra Blumenkranz (oud, bass, gimbri), Tim Keiper (drum set, percussion) and Baptista on percussion and vocals. Guests like John Zorn on sax and cellist Erik Friedlander certainly don't distract but it's the basic unit that swings in such an alluring way here.

Banquet is precisely what the title suggests – a tasty steam table of soulful music – touched by a cartoon sensibility that makes room for shuddering non-sequiters, surf rock, trad jazz, devil horn metal and ritual music. The choice of material is top notch, too, dipping twice into Don Cherry's trick bag ("Bird Boy," "Malinye"), co-writing a pair with fellow Brazilian percussion whiz Nana Vasconcelos - both moves a direct nod to Cherry and Vasconcelos' groundbreaking '70s work in Codona - and generally sharpening his original compositions a good deal.

Wildness is swell but it's most effective (and satisfying) when delivered within a framework that maintains an internal logic. On Banquet of the Spirits, Baptista enters the rarified bizarro realms of Tom Zé and Os Mutantes, merging the tuneful and tweaked in ways that simultaneously celebrates and erases the differences between the strains. Bent things can be extra fun because they allow us to probe our world from new angles. Banquet is a fantastically malformed tool to burrow away with.

For further insights into Cyro Baptista check out our 2003 conversation with the man.

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[Published on: 6/18/08]

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Deklen starstarstarstarstar Wed 6/18/2008 09:39AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


This guy is a musical genious. Last time I saw him I learned to expect the unexpected. You simply can't predict what he and his crew will do or what instrument they'll do it on. amazing.

Get this or better yet, see a live show.

BobbyShortcutShows starstarstarstarstar Wed 6/18/2008 07:26PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


I always thought that cyro was almost too good for trey band sometimes! And that Trey didnt always get his cues. Also i thought that Trey did catch some Brazilian like flair at times good example is the 2003 Greek Theater Berkeley shows from trey band with Cyro during "side walks of SF" Yes that is me screaming with Treys guitar during the super quiet part where the jams starts to sparkle!! As a taper im always quiet but he got the best of me during that second set, both he and Cyro! I will check this out for sure!

johnnygoff starstarstarstar Wed 6/18/2008 10:05PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


on top of all my TAB memories of Cyro w/ his crazy hat and his "circle of fun-thumping" percussion choices, i had the pleasure to recently see Cyro in action blowing glass for his own instruments at Corning Museum of Glass w/ another TAB musician. He's constantly optimistic and equally energized on rhythm-fueled 'donkey' songs.

check this album out.

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^› {¬¿¬} starstarstarstarstar Thu 6/19/2008 04:09AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^›      {¬¿¬}

a mutopia>>> "a perfect moment of acknowledging, accepting and adapting to the changes we all experience through-out our lives"

LIttle Guy starstarstarstarstar Thu 6/26/2008 12:47PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

This is one of the best albums I've heard in a VERY long time.. Every song is amazing. Ussually you get a CD with 3 or 4 good songs.. on this CD every single track is just fantastic.

I got the album a few weeks back at the record release party at Joe's Pub and I litterally haven't been able to take it out of my CD player since!!!

The only thing better than this album might be seeing these guys live..

After watching the first set from the audience Matisyahu came out during the second set for an amazing collaboration.. Just AMAZING!!

There's some video from the show online: