Artist Profiles: Cascabulho

Cascabulho – Photo by Sergio Botelho

Cascabulho reflects the authentic regional rhythms and culture of the Northeastern Brazilian State of Pernambuco. Their music is often considered forro (foh-haw’) and shows extraordinary technical spontaneity. This sextet is a party, full of dance and music and a gathering of friends, all rolled into one.

Cascabulho’s earliest efforts consisted largely of new arrangements of the work of Jackson do Pandeiro (King of Rhythm). Pandeiro remains the band’s greatest musical influence, but since its inception Cascabulho has evolved, cultivating its own repertoire and distinctive style. In 1997 Cascabulho came to national attention in Brazil when they were acclaimed the popular and critical highlight of the Abril Pro Rock festival. This was the first time that the Brazilian press had encountered the band. Later that same year they accepted an invitation to perform at Central Park Summerstage Festival in New York City and at Rio de Janeiro’s annual Free Jazz Festival. On the strength of their performances at these prestigious festivals Cascabulho was invited to play in elsewhere in Brazil and committed to the recording and release of their first CD on the independent Brazilian label, Mangroove.

The CD, Fome dá dor de cabeça (Hunger gives you a Headache), includes three songs from Jackson do Pandeiro’s repertoire, two by other composers and nine songs by Silverio Pessoa, the lead singer and primary composer in the band. The range of Cascabulho’s creative energy is represented in a repertoire that includes diverse styles such as the traditional “forro pe-de-serra”, “batuque de terreiro”, “maracatii”, “xango”, “coco de roda” and “coco de terreiro”. A project firmly rooted and the traditions and cultural expression of their home state of Pernambuco, the cover art of the CD includes paintings and sculpture by six regional artists.

The young Brazilian teacher and musician Silvério Pessoa initially conceived of the idea of forming Cascabulho in 1994. Silverio was raised in Pemambuco’s “zona da mata” (the region of the state where sugar cane is cultivated). This region enjoys an extremely vibrant cultural movement with a commitment to the survival of local traditions in rhythm and dance. The most important influence on the band is a revolutionary musician/composer/performer Jackson do Pandeiro (aka Jose Gomes Filho ,1919 – 1982). Pandeiro was known for his adeptness at combining different rhythms like “Forro”, “coco de roda “, “samba” and “chorinho” among others. Cascabulho follow Jackson’s example, re-working the same rhythms and bringing them to a younger generation. The band mixes the traditional rhythms found in Pernambuco with sounds inspired by the presence of the industrial city. The result suggests the tension experienced in the life of the man who is compelled to leave the agrarian interior to earn a living at the city. A certain religiosity is present in Cascabulho’s work, represented by the beat of the African drums and by melodies characteristically found in religious music.

Pernambuco has the tradition of fostering revolutionary cultural movements, especially in music. Cascabulho is at the center of a musical movement that is currently the focus of a great deal of national attention. Outstanding in the local music scene, Cascabulho.

In the year 2000 Silvério Pessoa left the group to pursue a solo career. Kleber Silva, an original member of the band replaced him as vocalist.

The band

Kleber Silva – vocals
Jorge Martins – percussion, vocals
Wilson Farias – percussion, drums, vocals
Marcos Lopes – percussion, vocals and guitar
Kleber Magrão – percussion, vocals and keyboards
Lito Viana – bass, cavaquinho and vocals


Fome dá dor de cabeça – (1998)
É caco de vidro puro (2004)
Brincando de coisa séria (2008)
O dia em que o samba perdeu pra feijoada (2014)

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites and Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.


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