Last night: Curumin at Slim's

Categories: Last Night

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Curumin at Slim's

January 22, 2009

Photos by EKAphotography

Better Than: Watching Brazilian Football on Telemundo

It was a triumphant night for Luciano Nakata Albuquerque, better known as Curumin. Flanked on stage by a handful of the Bay Area's musical and cultural tastemakers, the Brazilian samba-funkster created a steamy tropical paradise within the cozy environs of Slim's, despite the icky (and occasionally drizzling) weather outside the club.

Curumin's Amazonian soul is beyond seductive, his neo-bossa nova more than bossy, his sense of rhythm impeccable, and his showmanship endearing. With two albums under his belt, 2005's Achados E Perdidos and 2008's Japan Pop Show, he's emerged as one of Sao Paulo's leading musical exports, mixing a heavy '70s retro influence with a hip, contemporary vibe. His 2006 SF debut at Noise Pop was overshadowed somewhat by Honeycut and Bing Ji Ling, but three years later, any sense of discomfort was long-gone, replaced with an easy-going confidence and a laid-back command of musical direction.

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"This is good, this is good. I'm really really happy to be here," Curumin announced to the crowd in heavily-accented English," before commencing his performance. He began his set behind a drum kit, joined by a bassist, an MPC programmer, and the one and only Money Mark on keyboards (and sometimes melodica). Holding down the drums and singing at the same time, Curumin made multitasking look easy.

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By the third song, the temperature inside the club had risen about ten or fifteen degrees, becoming humid, even sweaty. The assembled masses of Ess Eff hipsters and transplanted Brazilians responded by dancing attentively.

"This next song is romantico, San Francisco! Hold your girl close and speak slowly," Curumin instructed. The crowd willingly complied, but this being SF, some girls grabbed other girls and held them close, as a samba-reggae groove segued into an instrumental vamp, during which Curumin - who had moved from drums to a diminutive guitar and taken center stage -- broke into one of the verses from Sade's "Smooth Operator."

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The show took a Quannum leap soon thereafter. First, local hero Tommy Guerrero joined Curumin on guitar for a dope version of  "Japan Pop Show" - which segued into a dub interlude and a cover of the Abyssinians' "Satta Massa Gana," followed by an extended jam during which TG soloed his lil' heart out and played with his effects pedels ("I'm just trying to get warmed up," he said humbly after the crowd showered him with applause). Guerrero stayed onstage for the next song, a cover of Roy Ayers' "Everybody Loves the Sunshine," and emcee Lateef the Truthspeaker made an appearance, to the crowd's delight.

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They were joined by Blackalicious beat maestro Chief Xcel on turntables for a thrilling version of the Latyrx classic "Lady Don't Tek No" with Curumin on drums. The next tune, "Don't Stop the Lovin'," interpolated Bits 'n' Pieces' "Don't Stop the Music," as Lateef showed why he's considered a master of crowd control, urging the audience to exultation.

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"San Francisco, can you feel the energy?" Curumin asked. The City roared back, as if to say, "hell, yeah, motherfucker!" A Portuguese-language track from Achados E Perdidos closed out the set, then Lateef and Xcel returned for the encore, a reggae-fied medley of Johnny Osborne's "Budy Bye" and Wayne Smith's "Under Mi Sleng Teng." As the lights came on and the musicians left the stage, there wasn't a dry armpit to be found anywhere in the house.

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Critic's Notebook:

Personal Bias: Having seen Lateef, Xcel, and Tommy Guerrero perform on numerous occasions, it's apparent they brought their "A" game for their Brazilian friend.

Random Detail: There was a guy hawking CDs wearing a Mexican wrestler mask.

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By the Way: Money Mark was a subtle, yet integral presence on the keyboards all night.

 

 

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