Sir Fancis Drake, Marco Polo, Christopher Columbus and Henry Hudson are just a few of the world’s most famous explorers. They spent their lives traveling and discovering uncharted territory. Today, there is hardly anything left to explore… unless you’re SambAmore.
SambAmore is a band that has been exploring a new frontier of musical genre. Led by music director Jesse Jonathon, the group strives to create a sense of community through song and dance.
“We started off as a drum and horns band, and now we’ve introduced samba music, brazilian, afro-carribian, funk and other genres into our own style,” Jesse says.
The group also incorporates choreography into their act – making for an all encompassing experience that encourages the audience to participate. In the past, SambAmore has had up to 80 people playing music and dancing in their act. The idea is, Jesse says, to get as many people involved as possible.
Jesse is in charge of producing the arrangements and writing the parts for the band. He graduated from Humboldt State University with a degree in music composition and has spent time in Brazil studying samba music and culture.
This summer, the band is embarking on a two-week-tour, and Bellingham is lucky enough to be one of the stops. The group got its first taste of Bellingham by hooking up with the local band Yogoman’s Burning Band.
“A few years ago I got a chance to see Yogoman at a show in Humboldt,” Jesse said. “And immediately I was blown away by those guys.”
Jesse eventually got a chance to open for a Yogoman show, and since then the two groups have gone on several tours together. They compliment each other by working closely to create a fluid set on stage – carefully transitioning from one band to the next. Bellingham got a taste of this on New Years Eve in 2010.
“We played at the Wild Buffalo on New Years, and it was pretty wild,” Jesse said. “The Buffalo really came off, and it just got awesome.”
Lately, SambAmore has been working on a new routine for this upcoming tour which they’ve dubbed Operation Waterdragon.
The project delves deeper into creating a unique sound – exploration at its finest. Instead of solely using their traditional drum and horns arrangements, the group has incorporated bass guitars, electric guitars and distortion pedals on top of more intricate horn arrangements.
As the music director for the group, Jesse has taken on a pivotal role in the music making process. He’s taken it upon himself to learn how to play new instruments like the baritone and saxophone to achieve a specific sound.
“For the most part, it’s a pretty organic sound. We’re trying to bring out instruments that people maybe haven’t seen working together before,” Jesse says.
For him, the best part about playing with SambAmore is creating the kind of music that he’s always wanted to hear. He’s exploring new outlets of music, and by doing so, making up uncharted territory as he goes along.
SambAmore’s songs like “Down The Alley” are specifically designed to take the audience down a long path that results in getting the room loosened up and dancing. Other songs like “Children of the World” are happy songs designed to keep the room moving once it’s started. Combined with SambAmore’s dance team, their shows are ideal for those who just want to get a little weird, go wild and leave it all on the dance floor.
Operation Waterdragon will be a tour like none other from SambAmore. Each show will be specifically tailored to each venue.
“We’re hoping that we’re able to adapt to what each stage is going to look like,” Jesse said. “There’s definitely a few venues on this tour that we will have to adjust the Waterdragon sound, but by the time we hit the Wild Buffalo we’ll be able to really put on a great show.”
SambAmore will play the Wild Buffalo on June 16 and Boundary Bay on June 27. For more on SambAmore, visit www.myspace.com/sambamore.