The project has brought together different Afro-Brazilian bands, artists and activists, and is currently delivering a series of music and cultural education workshops in schools and community groups, planning a fundraising event in November and we are remixing and further developing the specially commissioned carnival song, Grito pela Liberdade, written by Mestre Chacon for Tambores Livres.

The Artists

Since its foundation in São Paulo in 1983, Capoeira MarAzul has implemented social, educational and cultural programmes using Capoeira and can be found in London and Southampton in the UK, Lisbon, Portugal and Maputo, Mozambique.

At Notting Hill Carnival 2019, Mestre Joãozinho brought together over 20 berimbau players to create the first berimbau orchestra at Notting Hill Carnival. Fully integrated into the mass band and also performing separately, it was made up of members of many different capoeira groups including MarAzul, Grove Capoeira, Senzala Capoeira Nativos - London, Angoleiros do Interior, Escola de Capoeira - Belgium, Ginga Nagô - Nantes, France and Capoeira Muzenza.

Baque de Axé is a London based maracatu band which won third prize in the Brazilian Band category in the 2018 Notting Hill Carnival. Band leader Sam Alexander is the founder and director of the Tambores Livres project and has led Baque de Axé in many Notting Hill Carnivals.

At Notting Hill Carnival 2019, Baque de Axé formed the core of the maracatu section of the Tambores Livres procession. They were joined by members of Baque Luar - London, Baque de Ogum - Durham, Cruzeiro do Sul – Brighton, Baque Sol – Oxford and Nação do Maracatu Porto Rico – Recife, Brazil, represented by Thalita Faria Domingues and Bigato Pereira who directed the group for the whole day! The dance section was led by Jully Caxiado – Reading and included dancers from Baque de Ogum – Durham and from Atabak – Lille, France.

74 drummers and 11 dancers – 85 on the road!

Baque de Ogum was founded in 2017 and is based in County Durham. The band is affiliated to Nação Do Maracatu Porto Rico, with whom they have developed a successful ongoing partnership of cultural exchange between Brazil and the UK. Directed by the talented teenager, Sam Ward-Hardy, who studied and performed in Brazil with Nação do Maracatu Porto Rico and supported Bigato Pereira throughout the whole parade at Notting Hill Carnival 2019.

Baque Luar are a London-based collective of female vocalists and percussionists, united by their love of Brazilian and afro-Brazilian roots music.

At Notting Hill Carnival 2019, many of the group worked with Thalita Faria Domingues from Nação do Maracatu Porto Rico in the run up to carnival and on the parade. On the day Lizzie Ogle joined Aricia Mess and Aleh Ferreira singing the Tambores Livres carnival song, Grito pela Liberdade and with Lily May from Baque Luar sang her own composition Canto de Maré.

Tribo is an international non-profit cross-cultural drumming and dance music project. It has its origins in Bahia, Brazil, and runs regular Samba-Reggae sessions and drumming workshops in London and Zurich. Tribo is led by ex-Timbalada percussionist Marcos Santana and is based next to Grenfell Tower in Notting Hill. This space, the Maxilla Social club was the Tambores Livres base during carnival.

During the carnival parade at NHC19, Marcos helped direct the 181 strong combined band and also when the formation of the procession changed, Marcos led Tribo and singer Aleh Fereira through full sets of serious Samba Reggae for the Notting Hill crowds! A major contributor to the project, Marcos and Tribo run workshops for those wanting to study percussion and dance

Selva is a collective of artists, producers and performers who work draws from Brazilian and Latin American traditions. Selva supports positive disruptive behaviour working mainly in processions and interventions in public and private spaces. The group has been active in London since 2015.

The leader of Selva, Manuela Benini was instrumental in bringing this project to the street. As creative director, she helped coordinate all visuals with the theme, ran a two-week 14 hour a day carnival camp in Greenwich, organised choreography for the dancers and developed our awareness of many issues. The camp brought together activists, musicians, artists and dancers and this created dialogue and understanding between very different people and perspectives. Selva also produced street theatre and a special section of participants called the Selva Bloco who moved around during the procession

International collaborators

Nação de Maracatu Porto Rico

The group Nação do Maracatu Porto Rico, which is the partner group of Baque de Axé and Baque de Ogum, has a long history of resistance, change and development, and periods of near disappearance, until reaching its current position as one of the most successful Maracatu bands in Recife.

It was first officially registered as a carnival band in 1916 in the city of Palmarinha in Palmares, Pernambuco. Palmares is an old Quilombo (Maroon) community and a deep source of Afro-Brazilian culture and traditions.

Nação do Maracatu Porto Rico is a carnival and cultural group from Recife, Brazil, and has been represented by leader Mestre Chacon, who visited London in the run up to carnival to deliver workshops with maracatu players in the UK, and to compose the song for NHC19, Grito pela Liberdade.

Two of the Nação’s percussionists and teachers — Bigato Pereira and Thalita de Faria Domingues — spent time in London and Durham working with and performing with Baque de Axé and Baque de Ogum and paraded with Tambores Livres, representing the Nacao do Maracatu Porto Rico on the day of carnival.


Arts Council England

This project has been awarded an Arts Council National Lottery Award Project Grant (ACNLPG) to develop Tambores livres.