Formed at the start of the 00s in New York City by percussionist Daniel Moreno and saxophonist Mike Ellis, both of whom also compose, the band first gained a reputation playing at underground venues. Word soon spread and Speak In Tones played in Salvador Do Bahia, Brazil. The group consists of 20 and more instrumentalists and singers playing music that owes much to Mali as well as forms reminiscent of Brazil but is imbued with elements of post-bop jazz and contemporary improvised music. The instruments used include trumpets, saxophones, flutes and guitars as well as the traditional tambura, tabla, udu, pandeiro, marimbau, djembe and whistles. Among the many musicians who have played in the band are trumpeters Jerry González and Graham Haynes, saxophonist Antoine Roney, flutist Bira Reiss, keyboard players Luizao Paiva and Cheick Tidiane Seck, guitarists Jean-Paul Bourelly, Munir al Hassan and Durval Leylis, bass players Darryl Hall and Reggie Washington, percussionists Dende, Terreon Gully, Peu Meurray, Adam Rudolph, Sabia, and Anderson Souza, balfone player Lasine Kouyate, and cuica player Martihno do Cuica.
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