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Published: 2003/10/29
by Pat Buzby

Beat the Donkey – Cyro Baptista

Tzadik Records 7608

Percussionist Cyro Baptista has worked alongside many
great musicians, but what may have benefited him most
is the "rse" of two figures: John Zorn and Trey
Anastasio. Zorn produced this CD by Baptista's
percussion ensemble and facilitated its release; Anastasio,
despite not appearing on the disc, presumably has a
fair amount to do with its appearance in these pages.

However, Beat the Donkey proves that Baptista's
talents extend far beyond an ability to make
connections. Those who have seen Anastasio's band know
that Baptista is a character, and that comes across
frequently on this CD, although it's doubtlessly
nothing like catching his 10-piece group live.

Beat the Donkey is like a world music party in a
many-roomed house. Smooth samba vocals lurk behind
one door, energetic drumfests behind another. A Led
Zep guitar riff pops up here, a Zorn sax solo there.

Some songs could have fit on Paul Simon's
Rhythm of the Saints (Baptista toured with Simon
behind that release), while others resemble the
foundations to post-rock excursions. In one of the
disc's most magical moments, the breezy Brazilian song
"Parar de Fumar" segues smoothly to the flexatones and
Balinese ensembles of "Rio de Jakarta."

A video comes with the CD, which is a wise offering
since the disc inevitably only hints at the live Beat
the Donkey experience. However, enthusiasts of world
music and things percussive will find much to enjoy here.

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