Percussionist Cyro Baptista savors the role of music
Percussionist Cyro Baptista says music never stops being a basic form of communication.
“Before being musicians, we are human beings,” the Brazilian-born star says. “So is the audience. We are going take a trip together, and in the end, we will have stories of struggles and victories.”
Those stories emerge whether he is part of the jazz of Herbie Hancock or singer Cassandra Wilson or in his own Banquet of the Spirits quartet, which will be at the Andy Warhol Museum on the North Side on March 5.
That quartet offers its versions of folk sounds of his native land. It is music that is imaginative, yet distinctly rooted in the culture.
“We create or choose our environment, and then, the environment supplies our necessities,” Baptista, 63, says in an email conversation. “For some time in my life, in NYC, I lived in the subway. At that time, the sound of the train coming from a distance, passing and going away was very important to my music — and still is.”
That role of music gives it a basic importance, he says.
“I am sure that in the beginning, what we now know as music was a survival element of the daily lives of our ancestors,” he says. “It was as important as hunting. At a specific time of the day, everybody would produce a sound that kept then together and alive until the next day.”
He says the role of this quartet and its music is “to remind the audience that we all carry this ritualistic instinct in every cell of our body.”
Of course, Baptista has been adding that reminder to music — in many forms — for many years. He came to the United States in 1980 and started adding his percussive brilliance to many musical projects. He plays percussion instruments from his own land, Africa and the Middle East, as well as inventing new ones when he is looking for a specific sound.
He has been part of five Grammy award-winning projects and has recorded with Melissa Etheridge, James Taylor, Santana, Robert Palmer and the Chieftains. He also toured with Yo-Yo Ma, Paul Simon and Sting.
Working in such varied settings has been challenging, of course, but always gratifying.
“America has created some of the most powerful music manifestations in mankind, and everybody should be grateful for that,” he says.
Bob Karlovits is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-320-7852.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Kiss’ makeup has changed, but their impact remains strong
- Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra to honor Lorin Maazel
- Southside Johnny among free acts at Arts on the Allegheny
- Stage AE ranked in Billboard’s top 25 most popular clubs