Edu Ribeiro has been doing a very enjoyable series of live-streamed interviews with some fantastic drummers over the past few months. Back in December Kiko Freitas joined him, and they ended up spending quite a bit of time talking about Kiko's unique way of playing samba, and he brought up some points that I thought were worth sharing. Two in particular really stood out to me, both of which regarding the left hand playing "1ea".
1. Don't be afraid of rebound. We're often fed the idea that we should be able to stroke out everything on a feather pillow. That's all very well and good, but that doesn't mean that we always should stroke everything out. The "syncopa" rhythm that Kiko plays in his left hand is imitating a few different instruments of the bateria, but mostly the repinique. Kiko points out that stylistically the repique is played with a group of three notes that come out of one motion, or throw of the stick. It's this rebound that actually creates that distinctive swing. So don't try to chop out each individual note. Throw the stick and let it do a lot of the work for you. Which brings me to my next point....
2. Don't think of the downbeat as your starting point. Initiate the motion on the last 16th note of the rhythm. So, rather than thinking "1ea, 2ea", think "a1e, a2e". Again, this will strengthen that characteristic swing feel.
Keep these points in mind while you give it a try with this sheet.
Here is the whole interview. They had some technical difficulties, but it's worth sticking it out as they share some great information.