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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Favale Funk

Jamanta Crew’s Sunny Rise

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 When Jamanta Crew’s Eduardo Marote (aka Prztz) wrapped up a three-day gig in Barcelona in 2004, he returned to his native Brazil with several tracks for the seminal Chicago house imprint, Classic.

 “It was a Monday morning, my last day there and I called Classic to have them listen,” Prztz said via his cell phone from Sao Paulo. It turns out the Classic label heads had been the ones looking for him. Months prior, several unlabeled tracks crafted by the burgeoning Brazilian P.A. act fell into the hands of Luke Solomon, who played them without knowing who made them. Solomon saw first-hand how crowds went off.

 When Prztz contacted Classic to solicit his work, the label was ecstatic. “One of the guys yelled, ‘These are it! These are the tracks we’ve been looking for!’”

 Since then, the collaboration of Prztz, Rafael Droors and Rod Sponja has revived underground house music with a kind of livewire energy that bumps with funk, chunk and finesse. While the trio records original tracks in their studio, it’s the live P.A. sets performed by Prztz and Droors that have made them one of the freshest acts to chug onto the scene in years.

 The Crew’s 2007 Winter Music Conference performance in the lobby of Miami’s Whitelaw Hotel put their analog-driven sound on the underground watch. The vibe the party rumbled with had the same hot freshness of their on-the-fly beats, which take sunny influences from the funk and carnival sounds celebrated in Brazil.

“That set was off the hook,” Prztz remembered, almost laughing.

 Fortunately for Prztz and his production partners, Jamanta Crew has good reason to laugh these days. Their most recent EP was released on French independent house imprint Robsoul earlier this week, drawing on traditional funk influences while pulling disco in the mix.

 “In Brazil, anything that is very funky and black-sounding is very strong there,” said Prztz, who noted that the country’s multi-racial identity affects the way they relate to music. The result is an underground house scene that is steeped with heavy percussion and dirtier funk.

“I’ve always liked everything that’s booty, everything that’s funky, everything that’s not serious,” added the producer. “We try to make our set like a DJ set, going up and down with parts of the tracks,” Prztz says. “Our sound is jacking house with influences of rock, rock samples and some hip-hop . . . we can go a little deeper, a little upper, it really depends on the party.”

 If the Crew’s April 25 Milwaukee debut at Three is anything like the vibe of the party at the Whitelaw Hotel, things will heat back up.

 “I like to see how music effects an entire party,” Prztz says on performing live P.A. versus DJ sets. “I like to be surprised by people, see how beats affect people. When I’m playing, I see a lot, how people want have sex, get crazy, get bored—I am always listening and wanting to get the track that gets them.”

 Jamanta Crew debuts their live P.A. set in Milwaukee on Friday, April 25 at Three (722 N. Milwaukee St.) for Viva Brazil! The Rizlah (Milwaukee) opens the show. With performances by Grupo Maculele Milwaukee Capoeira, an Afro-Brazilian martial-arts dance troupe. Music 9 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. No cover charge before 11 p.m.