Assis, Damião and Lula Calixto come from the desert-like backlands of Northeast Brazil, moving to the city over fifty years ago when their father found work putting up electrical poles. The Calixtos are one of three principal families—along with the Gomes and Lopes families—that have championed a strongly Afro-Brazilian style in a territory more known for a combination of Portuguese and indigenous cultural elements. Their music tells the rest of Brazil and beyond that black Brazilians are an crucial and under-reported part of the history of this area, located not far from where Quilombo communities of escaped enslaved Africans resisted European colonial rule.
“The story behind the trupé step in samba de coco is that it used to tamp down the dirt floor of a thatched roof mud house that has just been built. Sophisticated, nimble samba stepping won’t do: This job requires a heavier stomp that sounds like a freight train thundering past. The dancers leave their mark on each place where they perform, microphones placed near their feet to add them to the other percussion in the mix.” – Dan Sharp, Associate Professor of ethnomusicology at Tulane University, USA