Album Review of
The Royal Chase

Written by Joe Ross
November 16, 2021 - 4:05pm EST
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Nation Beat plays jaunty, organic dance music that is a fusion of sounds and rhythms from Brazil and Louisiana. While it may have both folkloric and jazzy elements, The Royal Chase certainly gives us infectious and ebullient tunes full of energy. Nation Beat’s inspired, earthy music stems from “Forró, Funk, Brass and Sass.” Forró is a word allegedly corrupted from English “for all,” the names of dances that British companies laid on their employees in 19th-century Recife in NE Brazil. This energetic album provides an interesting gumbo of faster and slower pieces, as well as some in-between, that’s all very accessible, enjoyable and listenable.

For a more traditional approach to their music, check out “Morô Omim Má” and especially track six, “Forró No Escuro” that was written by Luiz Gonzaga , the grand old man of Musica Nordestina. Without being too free-wheelin’, I liked the down-home vibe of “Hey Pocky Way,” written by The Meters, a band of the 1960s-70s that defined the sound of New Orleans funk and hip-hop in the decades that followed.  Guest Moses Patrou sings on that track. 

At the same time, one has to appreciate the creative expression Nation Beat uses, with their own rootsy sensibility, when arranging self-penned contemporary material for the band’s unique instrumentation. Tracks like “The Royal Chase,” “Paper Heart” “Ciranda for Lia” and “Algunas Cantan” are sturdy, soulful, smart offerings. The latter song is a cameo showpiece for guests Cyro Baptista and Carolina Mama on percussion and vocals, respectively.

Nation Beat is Scott Kettner (drums, percussion), Paul Carlon (tenor sax, horn arrangements), Mark Collins (trumpet), Mariel Bildsten (trombone) and Joe Correia (sousaphone). Special guests offer spoken words, vocals, percussion, keyboards and Ilú. While Nation Beat may not feature any accordion or guitar as often is found in Forró and Nordestino music, they definitely have a charming sound and enchanting repertoire.

With The Royal Chase, made possible in part by a grant from the Freshgrass Foundation Album Fund, Nation Beat’s tight groove reinforces a contemporary vision that could make their transcendent dance music as popular as that at the dances and social gatherings in Brazil’s rural areas in the 1800s. The album has appeared for over a year in The Roots Music Report's Top 50 World Album Chart, and it even peaked for a few weeks at #1.  (Joe Ross, Roots Music Report)