Monday, October 18, 2010

Woman in the Presidency

I just had to post this song, which was brought to my attention from a post on October 15th 2010 on the blog of Nei Lopes. It's a prophetic song from the late, great sambista Aniceto do Império.

The song is "Mulher na presidência" (Woman in the presidency) from the 1984 release Partido Alto Nota 10.

Vote Dilma!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Deni de Lima (1961-2010)

(source: SRZD)

Sadly, I heard of the passing of Deni de Lima on September 13. To be honest, I know very little about him, other than the fact that he was part of the original pagode generation along with Zeca Pagodinho and the Fundo de Quintal progenies of Cacique de Ramos.

During my year in Rio, I saw him at almost every samba that I went to and he occasionally sat in with the group for a song or two. Almost every time I saw him, though, he looked terribly gaunt, unhealthy, and frankly, inebriated. The unfortunate product of a life of fame that left him behind. He was always given the respect of one of those guys who was still considered a legend, albeit one who never realized his full potential due to the perils of sudden fame.

I hate to report solely on the man's demons, and write a sad obituary about someone I didn't really know. Therefore, I would rather leave you with perhaps his most enduring legacy, a song from one of the most successful debut albums, from his longtime friend and cohort Zeca Pagodinho featuring Deni.

"Hei de guardar teu nome / Vou lhe deixar no sereno / Macumba da nêga" (Arlindo Cruz & Adilson Victor / Beto Sem braço & Jorginho Saberás / D.P.)
from the album Zeca Pagodinho (1986)

Salve Deni de Lima!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Francisco Aguabella (October 10, 1925 – May 7, 2010): el maestro se fue

Esse post tem nada a ver com o samba, mas como o grande conguero Francisco Aguabella foi meu professor por vários anos aqui em Los Angeles, queria homenagear ele aqui no meu blog, para vocês que não o conhecem. O maestro - nascido em Matanzas, Cuba em 1925 - morreu aqui em Los Angeles no dia 7 de maio com 84 anos de idade.

Francisco era um santero devoto, filho de Changó (porém sempre vestia, e fazia seus alunos sempre vestir, de branco e vermelho para qualquer performance), e jamais trabalhava no dia de Santa Bárbara (4 de dezembro). Francisco foi grande pioneiro na inovação de Latin Jazz nos EUA, sendo um dos primeiros a botar congas no jazz.

Tive a oportunidade de estudar o tambor batá com Francisco na Universidade da Califórnia de Los Angeles. Nunca me esqueço da minha primeira aula com ele. Sendo percussionista, imaginei que fôsse ser muito mais fácil aprender... Eu estava começando com o tambor pequeno dos três batá, o okónkolo (os outros tambores sendo o itótele e o iyá - médio e grande), que é como todo aluno de batá deve começar. Eu, pensando que estava segurando a onda tranqüilo, estava na verdade atravessando o ritmo e não tinha a maior idéia de onde começava e onde terminava o toque. Francisco veio pra mim, me olhando meio torto, e tirou o tambor do meu colo, virou as costas e saiu andando chacoalhando a cabeça como quem diria: "xiiiii, não sei não... esse cara não tá com nada..."


Com o passar dos anos, Francisco e eu tivemos muitos argumentos, eu tentando entender o ritmo que ele nunca explicava, e ele gritando que "isso aqui não é samba, ¡coño!" Também lembro que a primeira vez que tocamos uma comparsa, um ritmo carnavalesco cubano, eu pensei que o tambor de fundo fazia uma batida que nem o zabumba no forró. Só que a virada era ao contrário, com o grave batendo no UM, e não no dois, então tinha o ritmo completamente virado... (outra vez!!!). Francisco soltou os cachorros em mim e o couro comeu... (outra vez!!!)

(Eu, na direita, tocando iyesa com o grupo de estudantes de Francisco. Photo by Donna Armstrong)

Então para encerrar, deixo vocês com uma música do disco H2O de 1999.

"Quien eres tu?" do disco H2O (1999)

Salve o mestre Francisco...

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

"The Supreme Magnate of Modern Excellence": Walter Alfaiate (7/6/1930-2/27/10)

(photo credit: Marcus Fernando)

It's unfortunate to come out of my long absence from this blog with such news...

The most well-dressed samba practitioner of Rio, a tailor by trade, sambista by choice, Walter "Alfaiate" Nunes died this past weekend. Walter was one of the funniest samba performers I have seen on stage, always telling jokes in between songs. I became good friends with his daughter Cláudia during my stay in Rio, but sadly, I did not get to know him personally. A few months back, I had heard about his failing health and was on alert for some time. Finally, the sad news made its way through the grapevine to me in the U.S.

Like so many musicians of his generation, he did not record his own album until he was well into his 60s. The song here is a somewhat somber, but beautiful samba, appropriate for the occasion. Walter had a rich baritone voice, highlighted on this recording.

I leave you with the title track of his 1998 debut album:
"Olha aí" (Mucal/Miúdo)

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Partido alto 102 - repost

It's been a long time since I've posted! I'm trying to fix the broken music links (I'm almost done!) and hope to resume posting again more regularly. In the meantime...

I decided to repost an old video, this time with subtitles. My original post did not have subtitles so I wanted to share this classic moment of live partido alto. (Please read up on past posts via the links to "catch up") This was filmed in December of 2007. Please note the use of current events (and Christmas spirit!) in their improvisations.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Samba Society em Los Angeles

After many months of contemplating the state of samba in Southern California, I finally put my own group together to play some "vintage" sambas from the 1970s. Our debut performance was at the G2 Gallery in Venice, CA. In the video clip above we're playing the song "Incompatibilidade de gênios" (João Bosco / Aldir Blanc) with Mauro on vocals. I'm playing the repique de anél, an instrument which is much discussed in this here blog.

The lineup for the group is:
Colin "Capitão 7-cordas" Walker (7-string guitar)
Jean Pierre "Jotapê" Trapenard (cavaco/vocals)
Beto González (percussion/guitar/vocals)
Bobby "Samabaia" Easton, of Delta Nove (surdo)
Carlinhos Pandeiro de Ouro "The Golden Tambourine" (pandeiro)
Simon Carroll (percussion)
Kanami and Emina Shimanuki (vocals)
with special guests:
Mestre Amen Santo, of Capoeira Batuque (percussion)
Louise "Weezie" McCarthy (vocals)
and Mauro "Ô Poeta" Monteiro (vocals)

Most of the musicians are good friends from many years past and some new. It's amazing to have so much talent among my friends! Kanami Shimanuki and her sister Emina sing beautifully. I met Kanami at UCLA where we both study. They are of Bahian/Japanese heritage. Mestre Amen Santo is my capoeira teacher and an amazing percussionist. Bobby Easton is from the Long Beach funk band Delta Nove and also a dear friend. Louise "Weezie" McCarthy go way back from the old batUCLAda days and is also an avid capoeirista (also a student of Mestre Amen's). Colin Walker is one of the best 7-string players in Southern California (if not the U.S.) who plays in the traditional vein of 7-string greats like Dino. Mauro Monteiro and Jotapê are old friends and Clube de Quinta cohorts.

Below are photos from our second show at the UCLA Fowler Museum. Photos by Šara Stranovsky. (Since she took them with my camera, I took the liberty of doing some retouching to the photos!)

(Jean Pierre (Jotapê) Trapenard / Colin "Capitão 7-cordas" Walker)

(Jotapê / Capitão / Beto)

(Mauro / Louise / Andréa Ferraz: special guest / Emina and Kanami)

(Jotapê / Colin / Beto / Carlinhos / Bobby)

(The backup singers taking time out to bust some moves!)

(I love this photo)

(as moças)

(I think Kanami was pointing to the sky as we sang "Portela querida!" Nice...)

(Simon Carroll / Mestre Amen Santo: salve Capoeira Batuque!)


(Capitão / Beto / Carlinhos)

Friday, May 22, 2009

Brazil, the land of "racial democracy"

I had to post this image, taken from the blog of my favorite author, composer, and militant Afro-Brazilian, Nei Lopes. This was part of a guerrilla campaign to put a face on (no pun intended) racism in Brazil. The caption on the kids' shirts say: "If I looked like this, would you look at me differently?"

Seu Nei posted this to protest the annulment of the law that required quotas for Afro-Brazilian actors to have higher visibility in theater, movie and television productions. The law was supposedly repealed in part due to pressure from the democratic party (DEM) and the evangelical christian movement that demonizes Afro-Brazilian culture and religion...

When will Brazilians admit that they have a "racism" problem?