Gabriella grew up in São Paulo, Brazil. She began studying music at age 7, and after just a few guitar lessons she gave her first live performance on a children’s television program. As fate would have it, the song she sang that day,”MarinheiroSó”, was a baião! Music has been present in Gabriella’s life ever since. She spent her teen years singing in choirs and vocal groups and studied singing at Universidade Estadual Paulista in São Paulo. Although forró wasn’t on Gabriella’s radar growing up it was latent in the background and on the streets, often coming from from small battery operated hand held radios. It was only much later that Gabriella discovered forró through the “forró universitário” fad. Gabriella was hooked on the visceral rhythm and loved how good it feels to dance forró, despite the often melancholy lyrics. When Gabriella moved to Portland after a decade of living in California, she sought out like-minded individuals to make music with. She and her z’Bumba bandmates have been sharing happy-making forró with Portlanders ever since.
Joe Root, a.k.a Zé Raiz, is one of the most versatile keyboard and accordion players you’re likely to meet: from reggae to roots country, blues to French cabaret, Irish music to R&B, from accompanying ska to sean nós (ancient solo Gaelic singing), Joe can play it all. As a founding member of Sunrush, a Kansas City-based traditional Irish group, Joe honed his performance and arranging skills and had the fortune to work with world-renowned Irish musician and scholar Mick Moloney. Before moving to Portland, Joe played professionally throughout the Midwest in nightclubs, concerts, and festivals and on radio and television spots. Joe also served as summer music staff at The Swannanoa Gathering, a traditional folk art camp near Asheville, NC.
After so many years of working with fiddlers Joe was influenced by their technique and felt a natural affinity to forró – especially the way the accordionist works the bellows like a fiddler works the bow. To further his knowledge and skill, Joe sought out Lila Downs’ accordionist Rob Curto, the foremost forró accordionist in the US, for intensive 1-on-1 study. Joe joined z’Bumba in 2011 and the band hasn’t looked back since. Joe also performs with the French cabaret/swing band Zéphyr.
Chariti loved music from the beginning and started playing bass guitar and tenor saxophone at age 10. Through the saxophone she discovered Bossa Nova, the “gateway drug” of Brazilian music. Before long, Portuguese-language music fell into heavy rotation with rock, jazz and Spanish-language music. In 2007, Chariti made friends with New York-based Forró In The Dark. Fascinated with the rhythmic pulse that drives forró, Chariti taught herself to play the triangle and promptly fell in love with Brazilian Nordestino music. She met Jake at an epic Brazilian pagode in Portland, Oregon and z’Bumba was formed the following year. To round out her education in Brazilian percussion, Chariti played surdo with SambaGata, Portland’s all-female Brazilian drum ensemble, and alfaia with MaracaBOOM! Chariti currently studies voice and dreams of performing traditional Mexican sones y canciones as her alter-ego Chariachi.
Jeffrey Blake Thomas, a.k.a. Cabra da Ilha, grew up in Los Angeles, Tanzania, Guatemala, and on the Hoopa Valley Indian Reservation. He moved to the Portland area in 1980. The cuica he heard on his father’s records introduced him to Brazilian music at age 16, and became a lifelong passion that would take him to Rio de Janeiro to perform on the instrument with with several Escolas de Samba in the massive Sambodromo. He met Jake playing cuicas in Portland’s samba outfit the Lions of Batucada, and the two have been performing live Brazilian Music in Portland ever since. Blake joined z’Bumba in 2010 and continues to lay it down on the drum that gives the band its name, the zabumba.
Jake was raised on the frozen shores of Lake Superior by English expatriates, who instilled in him a love of exotic music, languages, and cultures. He started learning guitar at 10, and was performing in marching and bar bands by 14, singing and playing electric bass, drums and trombone. He first heard Brazilian music while playing in bar bands at Michigan State. Upon moving to Portland, Oregon in 1997, Jake promptly joined the local samba drum group, The Lions of Batucada. By this point he’d been bitten by the Brazil bug and studied with language and music teachers in Brazil and the United States while concurrently pursuing a tuba degree from the University of Oregon. In 2001 he founded Samba Já, Eugene’s samba drum group, and fell in love with Nordestino music like forró and maracatú during a seven-year stint with Eugene’s Macaco Velho. He currently leads z’Bumba and Brazilian drum group maracaBOOM!
Grooving since before birth, Hans belly-danced, vicariously, in his mother’s womb. The vibrant collision of his father’s European and his mother’s African musical tastes set the stage for an interest in Latin American music. Hans discovered Bossa Nova between jamming to a polyrhythmic washing machine and studying jazz guitar in college. More Brazilian musical culture followed, particularly the rich traditions of Brazil’s Northeast where he would spend months studying Capoeira, pandeiro and Portuguese. Hans met Jake in costume at one of Samba Já’s Carnaval shows in Eugene, Oregon. He was on stage with z’Bumba within a few short years, cavaquinho in hand, singing and dancing in precisely the way that earned him the nickname ‘Lambada,’ after his uniquely pelvic style of playing Capoeira.