Catalina Maria Johnson

International radio broadcaster, bilingual cultural journalist, music curator


“It’s a strong culture, I can feel it running through my veins,” says Curumin, an innovative Brazilian vocalist composer/producer who specializes in slightly retro funk fusion immersed in tropicalia. Curumin was born Luciano Nakata Albuquerque, and he’s speaking not of his homeland but of Japan, but the land of his grandparents.

By phone from Sao Paolo, the cutting-edge multi-instrumentalist is describing the way Japanese culture has influenced his life and musical compositions: “My mother and grandmother are great cooks, so Japanese culture came into my life through food! When my grandmother wants to tell me something, she makes a dish I really like, and I know she wants to give me some love.”

However, he says, the aesthetics of Japanese culture have also moved him to connect the past with the future in his music: “It also has to do with something more introspective, something very discreet. It’s hard to explain but I can feel it in my family and I can feel that energy in my life.”

Curumin continues to explain that reflecting inward as well as contemplating nature in a spiritual way are important elements of his latest album. Referring to his primary interest in music from the 60’s and 70’s filtered and connected through electronica as well as playing of live instruments, he describes his approach: “I am always researching, listening to samples, trying to connect to the roots and trying to do old music with new instruments.“

He also gives as an example of one of his models the ground-breaking work of composer Arthur Verocai, who in the seventies combined  folk, funk, jazz style soloing, and blending of electronics and keyboards with organic sounds, adding: ”When you listen, it seems almost simple, but it’s very sophisticated. There’s a bit of mystery in that, and that’s good.”

All of this played a role in Arrocha, his new album. The title means to hold on very tight and it’s also the name of a Bahía rhythm characterized by closely intertwined dancing. Curumin explains why he chose that particular word: “I am trying to really get that feeling. This is music you can listen to with your whole body, not just with your ears – it’s about the sensations, flavors, the smell, the touch, always trying to get closer.”

The special power of this intimate groove, comments Curumin with a smile in his voice, makes it just the perfect vehicle to share a message: “I don’t want to sound pretentious but my style is more solar, more sunny, it’s the way I am! And my performances and my music are like good vibes.”


Curumin will be performing along with CéU at the Double Door on June 14.

Check Catalina’s blog and the archives of Beat Latino  (like Beat Latino on FB  too!) to
explore the roots as well as trends in Latin musical arts.

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