We were formed by our leader Sam Alexander back in 2002 under the original name of Maracatu Estrela do Norte. The band play Maracatu Carnival percussion music from Recife, Brazil. After Sam had an extended stay in the community of Bode in Recife in 2017 with Nacao do Maracatu Porto Rico, our name was changed to Baque de Axe and we became affliated to Porto Rico in the songs and rhythms we play.
We play in concert, parade in street carnivals, teach workshops and perform at private events.
We play a style of Maracatu called “Maracatu de Baque Virado”, Portuguese for ‘Maracatu of the turning beat', reflecting the complex interaction between the simple parts that are easy enough for a beginner to pick up. It is a traditional form of carnival parading and percussion, which has deep roots in Afro-Brazilian traditions and has become a major form of carnival in Recife in Brazil.
We aim to enhance awareness of the history of the ‘Maracatu Naçãos (nations) of Brazil, of the Afro-Brazilian background of the slave trade and Candomblé, a religion practiced in Brazil, and of the Maracatu music of today that is derived from these traditions. “Axé” is a Yoruba word, which crossed the Atlantic to Brazil, originally meaning the spiritual power and energy bestowed upon practitioners by the pantheon of Orixás, the Yoruba gods. For us this becomes the communal spirit and strength that performing arouses in us.
‘Baque de Axé is linked to Maracatu Nação Porto Rico, a traditional maracatu group founded in 1916 in Palmares, Pernambuco, Brazil, by descendants of Quilombo de Palmares, a symbol of freedom in Afro- Brazilian history.
Their base is a favela community called Bode in Recife. The group has been led by Maestre Jailson Chacon Viana for 17 years who is respected for his creation of beautiful songs and instrumental richness in the maracatu beat.
Maracatu Nação Porto Rico, have about 200 percussionists and parade with about 600 people of all ages. They have won more Recife Maracatu Carnival titles then any other maracatu group
In 2020 the group were crowned champions of Recife Carnival, helped by members if Baque de Axe!
Currently they have about twenty maracatu groups affiliated in Brazil, where Maracatu is becoming more widely popular.
It has now established its first links with groups outside Brazil, with ‘Baque de Axé’ in London, and with ‘Baque de Ogum’ our partner group in Durham.