Rob Curto's Forro For All
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Rob Curto's Forro For All


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"Rob Curto"

Rob Curto's Sanfona Project alternated between being a rural Brazilian dance band and a showcase for accordionist Curto and his band's instrumental prowess Saturday night at the Rosslyn Spectrum. Less proved more. The straight-ahead playing had couples twirling, thanks to a vitality that the songs or sections of songs that focused on elaborate technique did not possess. The numbers frequently benefited from the fine vocals of triangle player Liliana Araújo.

Curto is an Italian American accordionist who went to northeastern Brazil to learn forró, that region's quick-tempoed, percussive music that to American ears seems to blend zydeco-like rhythms with samba and jazz.

The group shone on a medley that Curto called their "traditionalist set." Drummer Scott Kettner stood up for these numbers and strapped on a zabumba, a marching band bass drum. Part of the way through this portion, Kettner and the rest of the band except for Curto stopped playing and grabbed dance partners in the audience before eventually returning to the stage. Periodically during his two sets, Curto slowed things down. While there was no questioning his chops or those of his drummer, bassist, and singer/triangle player, when they stretched songs out it sometimes seemed self-indulgent.

The group finished strong. Araújo grabbed the spotlight on the group's self-proclaimed Louisiana-style arrangement of "Retrato de um Forró," with her earthy vocals rooted in both samba and French cabaret and her simple but effective pinging rhythms on the triangle. Closing with another medley, the group joyously invoked Irish and Texas flavorings before bringing the sound back to South America as they marched through the theater as if in a noisy Brazilian parade, trading vocals while Curto pumped the squeezebox and the band banged out the distinctive rhythms.
- The Washington Post

"Press Quotes"

“As America’s finest purveyors of the forró sound, New York funksters Rob Curto’s Forró For All combine a wildly imaginative jazz sensibility with their obvious reverence for traditional Brazilian get-down sounds and the fusion is exhilarating.”
--San Francisco Bay Guardian (1/10/07)

“The selections ranged from several marvelously atmospheric numbers by the great forró accordionist and composer Luiz Gonzaga to Curto's originals, which combine traditional authenticity with persuasive dashes of jazz. While the percussion rhythms were undeniably irresistible, it was the imaginative improvising that took the music well beyond the level of dance accompaniment.”
--Los Angeles Times (1/13/07)

"...Curto has earned a reputation as forró’s foremost ambassador in the states. His music, comprised of arrangements of traditional forró pieces and original compositions, is highly dynamic and innovative..."
--Good Times (Santa Cruz) (8/22/07)

"Encores were in order, as the crowd was disinclined to let the band leave. This is one band to mark calendars for the next time they pass through the area. You'll dance in your seat, you'll admire the cultural roots and the hot musicianship, and you'll clamor for more."
--Santa Barbara News Press (1/16/07)

“…the group’s infectious forró compelled all in attendance to grab the person next to them and dance the night away.”
--The Herald Times (Bloomington, Indiana) (10/7/06)

"Forró For All is one of the more innovative bands to come out of NYC in recent years..After a few spins you'll realize Curto and his squeeze-box really drive the group. His speedy playing is brilliant, and he deserves credit for gathering together some of New York's and Brazil's most talented musicians."
--NOW Magazine (Toronto) 9/7/06

"Students enjoyed the music very much! Thanks for bringing Forró to Minnesota!"
--Second Grade Teacher in Minnesota

"Excellent musical and cultural exposure for kids! Thank you!"
--Fourth Grade Teacher in Minnesota

"Hot and cool...Catch the infectious rhythms and intense colours of Forró For All."
--Mirror (Montréal) 8/31/06

"Forró For All is pure Pernambuco beat, though it's not an entirely traditional band. Curto, part of the new generation of world music stars, grew up playing jazz and swing piano in New York City..."
--Isthmus (Madison, Wisconsin) 9/21/06

"Curto's Forro for All draws inspiration from music of Brazil but extends beyond it."
--Chicago Tribune 9/15/06

"Forró fast becoming the city's coolest new flavor. Accordionist Rob Curto is one of the cats responsible for it's sudden jump in local popularity."
--Time Out NY 11/11/04

"Rob Curto is North American, but, from the way he plays accordion, he sounds like a son of Brazil"
--Correio Brasiliense (Brasília, Brazil) 9/21/02

He makes the music that makes our ancient soul dance. Rob Curto is a musician playing in our time the voices of time past -of smiling faces, of moving bodies, of shoes stirring the dust beneath them to celebrate this gentle existence - of forró, of music, of opening the self like a tropical flower, delivering ourselves to the dance.
--Lila Downs

Rob Curto, a New York-based accordion, organ, and piano virtuoso, is best known for playing forró, the backcountry dance music from northwestern Brazil—think samba meets zydeco with a twist of merengue—but he also has strong roots in jazz.
--New Yorker 2/10/05

I see in Rob a virtuoso instrumentalist. Even though he is American, he plays forró better than many Brazilian accordionists. And above all he identifies completely with Brazilian musical culture.
--Rodrigo Barata (drummer)

I've been working consistently with Rob and have learned much from him. A musician with a background in jazz, he has a very Brazilian feel. He plays well Choro, Waltz, Baião, Xote, showing much versatility and understanding of rhythm.
--Ivo Moura (guitarist)

Starting out, the band was in clear focus, setting the musical mood and carrying everyone through the whole night. 12/04
- various

"Forró gets the party started"

1/13/07 by Don Heckman

The staid performance hall at the Skirball Cultural Center isn’t exactly prime territory for a dance party. But that’s what happened Thursday night during the performance of Rob Curto’s Forró for All ensemble.

The dancing didn’t kick into high gear until the program was half over, triggered by violinist-singer Eliano Braz’s foray into the audience. Spotting a few eager enthusiasts doing steps at the rear of the auditorium, he dashed back and urged them to the front. That was enough to open the floodgates for others. The music picked up speed, and the high-spirited, participatory dancing continued until the end of the evening.

It gave a fascinating display of the scintillating rhythmic power of forró – an expressive musical genre from northeastern Brazil that is inseparable from dancing and communal partying.

The Forró for All ensemble expanded on the form’s traditional instrumentation of accordion, triangle and zabumba (a deep-toned drum worn with a strap and played at an angle) with Braz’s classically driven violin, the stirring percussion of Scott Kettner and Rogerio Boccato and the strikingly contemporary electric bass of Mike Lavalle.

Accordionist Curto, a New Yorker who has spent years studying and working in Brazil, is a master with the instrument at the core of forró, a genre that combines 18th century European dance forms, Afro-Brazilian rhythms such as a baião and xote, and the uniquely Brazilian approach to harmony.

The selections ranged from several marvelously atmospheric numbers by the great forró accordionist and composer Luiz Gonzaga to Curto’s originals, which combine traditional authenticity with persuasive dashes of jazz. While the percussion rhythms were undeniably irresistible, it was the imaginative improvising that took the music well beyond the level of dance accompaniment.
- Los Angeles Times


2006 - Forró For All
2007 - Piano de Fole



Rob Curto brings passion, energy and musicality to the accordion, shedding new light on the instrument's many timbral and rhythmic possibilities. The Los Angeles Times writes that, "Curto's originals..combine traditional authenticity with persuasive dashes of jazz." An early devotee of North American swing music, bebop piano, funk, rock and blues, Curto combines these influences with his mastery of their South American counterparts forró, chorinho, samba, maracatu, frevo and the many other styles that belong to the Brazilian accordion tradition. The result is completely original, authentic and stimulating to fans of all kinds, and has earned the accordion many a convert, who profess to having discovered a love for the instrument at one of his shows.

Curto is a product of New York City's diverse musical culture and has toured extensively with artists such as Lila Downs, David Krakauer, Frank London and Cyro Batista. He has spent years living and playing in Brazil, completely absorbing and interpreting that country's musical traditions. He has studied and performed with some of Brazil's great accordionists such as Dominguinhos, Arlindo dos Oito Baixos, Camarão and Silveirinha as well as Brazilian artists such as the great samba singer Elza Soares. He has also played with artists such as star Brazilian mandolinist Hamilton de Holanda, Alencar 7 Cordas, Yamandú and Márcio Bahia. He was a member of the original scene of musicians who established a strong presence in New York City for forró, the dance music of northeastern Brazil, which has became the city's most recent dance craze.

His group Forro For All has performed at major festivals and performing arts centers such as the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in Minneapolis; the Skirball Center in Los Angeles; the Chicago World Music Festival; Lotus Fest in Bloomington, IN; the Lowell Folk Festival in Lowell, MA; Festival International in Lafayette, LA; the Chico World Music Festival in Chico, CA; Festival International Nuits d'Afrique in Montreal; the Cotati Accordion Festival; and the International Accordion Festival in San Antonio, TX, among others.

Curto was also recently highlighted as a teacher at the prestigious California Brazil Camp in Cazadero, Ca. He was the first person to teach this style of music at the camp and he led an ensemble class including accordionists, percussionists, bass, guitar, violin and winds. His performances during the week were also an important part of the program. Curto is part of a larger movement of musicians in the United States who are introducing more diverse Brazilian styles to a public accustomed to hearing only the bossa nova of Jobim and samba from Rio de Janeiro. Now Frevo, Maracatu, Baião, Xote, Arrasta-Pé, Coco, and the myriad musical styles from the culturally rich northeastern part of Brazil are becoming more familiar to American audiences.

Curto recently recorded his latest release "Piano de Fole" under the musical direction of Brazilian mandolinst Dudu Maia. Recorded in Brasília, Brazil, with musicians from Brasília and Rio (such as Fabio Luna and George Lacerda), this CD contains original compositions, improvisation and traditional Brazilian repertoire by composers such as Jacob do Bandolim, Jobim and Gonzaguinha. A new recording is planned for 2008 which will explore in greater depth the variety of music from northeastern Brazil with a distinctly North American influence. Rob's discography also includes Frank London's Klezmer Brass All-Stars' acclaimed CD, Carnival Conspiracy, Beat The Donkey Beat, the latest release by master Brazilian percussionist Cyro Baptista, Lila Downs' La Cantina, recently released on Narada records and the latest CD by the group Nation Beat.

Rob Curto's Forro For All is represented by Eye for Talent. Rob Curto has toured extensively with bands mentioned above and is accustomed to generating and maintaining a tour budget.