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Tag: Brazil

Flutist Alex Hamburger Has Found “A Crew” And An Audience In Cleveland

Alex Hamburger
photocredit: Nick Moreland

When you’re talking about comebacks, the Cavs recent run of thrillers has nothing on the resurgence of the flute.

It wasn’t so long ago that the silvery cylinder, in the hands of Will Ferrell’s Ron Burgundy character, was a meme-able stand in for disco-era musical cotton candy. But now, artists like André 3000 and Shabaka Hutchings are pied pipers bringing new credibility, and new audiences to the flute.

Just ask flutist, vocalist, and composer Alex Hamburger . “I think there’s been a lot of cool flute stuff happening for a while, but I think it’s exciting when other people get excited about it,” she said. “For me, it was always cool.”

Alex Hamburger
photocredit: Nick Moreland

Hamburger returns to BOP STOP Sunday night for her third appearance at the Hingetown club in four years. Her ubiquity on that stage, and the musicians who will join her there, including bassist Kip Reed, Gabe Jones on drums and percussionist Patrick Duke Graney, might suggest that Hamburger has taken up residence on the shores of Lake Erie. Yet the flutist and her pianist and husband Jose Luiz Martins, are based in Washington, DC.

Still, the audience rapport she has established here keeps her coming back. “There’s just so many amazing musicians and such a tight scene and a lot of legendary musicians,” she said in a video call earlier this week. “The audiences seem so open and into hearing original music, and I feel that sometimes that’s always the first thing to go in a city.”

“. . . found my crew”

Hamburger’s original music will have a distinctly Brazilian flavor, lent authority by Martins, a São Paulo native. The Brazilian connection was also crucial in the formation of her New York band. “My drummer Chase [Elodia] went to Oberlin, and Chase knew Pat [Graney] from Oberlin. The first time we came to Cleveland, we did a double bill with Pat and then Pat ended up just sitting in my band. It was one of those magic moments where you’re like, Oh, I found part of my crew, my sound.”

Alex Hamburger What If? album cover

That sound has been an evolving, to embrace not only jazz and Brazilian music, but also the textural and atmospheric possibilities of the studio. Her latest recording, What If? (Unit Records, 2023) wraps Hamburger’s flute and vocals in an enveloping cloud of shimmering synthesizers and Wurlitzer piano sounds. It’s an appropriate sonic frame for the record’s centerpiece, “Molinos de Vientos [Windmills],” a two-part sound painting inspired by Don Quixote and Dada poetry.

Poetry and sound

Poetry has been fundamental in Hamburger’s life and art. Her grandmother, Ana Maria Codas, was a notable poet in her native Paraguay. ‘My grandmother was an activist and a poet and an educator in Paraguay during the dictatorship there that lasted 35 years,” Hamburger said. “She built a school with her own hands and started what became a national movement for academic integrity. She passed when I was 13, so I didn’t really get to have adult conversations with her, but I’d say that post-college, I started to rediscover all of her writing, and for me, that was a really strong starting place.”

So was her grandmother’s social activism, a tradition that Hamburger carries on in her work as a community organizer and producer of “My Body, My Festival,” a fundraiser for the DC Abortion Fund.

Producing that event, Hamburger said, “has really shown me what music can do in a community organizing sense. I think as musicians, we study this specific thing so much that [we] don’t know how to do anything else and how to be an active part in society other than making music. That was something I always struggled with. But being a bandleader, you have all these skills, and they’re so closely related to community organizing. Now putting together and presenting an event gives me a similar rush to playing a show.

“It brings a lot to me.”

Alex Hamburger, Sun., March 10, 7 p.m., BOP STOP, 2920 Detroit Ave., Cleveland. Tickets $20, available here. The concert will be livestreamed on BOP STOP’s Facebook page.

NOTE: This article was written by a real human being. No artificial intelligence or generative language models were used in its creation.

Red beans and ricely yours,


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Countdown: Where To Go & What To Hear In NEO, Dec. 7-14

Cyrus Chestnut

For music scribblers, the first two weeks of December are what the first two weeks of April are like for normies: a time of dread and foreboding. Like Tax Day, the holiday concert season comes for us all. But this might be your thing, and if it is, there is a Santa’s bag full of delights, holiday-themed and otherwise, to unwrap in the next week. So, drink deeply of the wassail cup and be merry and bright and all that.

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Countdown: Where To Go & What To Hear In NEO, Nov. 16-22

Kenny Washington, Bill Charlap, Peter Washington
photocredit: Keith Major

I look at let’s call this as a sort of chamber of commerce for the local scene. It’s important work, especially given the general indifference of the local media to improvised music in the Black American tradition and it’s great fun for me to do, a gateway for this NEO neophyte into the thriving local scene. But two posts a week takes a lot of time to crank out and with holiday travel, my anniversary and listening to catch up with before the yearend polls are due, the next couple of weeks will concentrate on these Countdown previews of upcoming events. Fortunately, there’s a lot to talk about, including more new releases, the first big event at a significant new venue and more. Buckle up. It’s going to be an interesting ride.

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Countdown: Where To Go & What To Hear In NEO, Nov. 9-15

Emily Kuhn
photocredit: Zack Sievers

The Bay City Rollers didn’t make the Rock Hall this year, but here at Countdown, their most famous lyric line resonates:: “S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y, night!” That’s the night when jazz fans in NEO have some difficult decisions to make, but with three great shows in Cleveland and Akron, there are no wrong answers–and we’re here to help.

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Countdown: Your Planning Guide for Music Sept. 7-13


Remember last week’s Countdown? That’s right. There wasn’t one. A combination of the psychological fallout from disposing of half of my flooded record collection and late-August programming doldrums swamped me. But what a difference a week makes! And Countdown gets you ready with a roundup of some of the most snackable music events on this week’s banquet menu. Think of it as your every-Thursday planning guide to a weekend of music and good times.

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