Montag, 15. August 2011

August 14

The last full day of my residence in Porto Alegre. The trivial notion of the time flying by is more than appropriate in this case. My head and heart full of impressions, experiences and emotions, I spent the morning packing up and writing bunch of emails.

At 3 pm the director of the Goethe-Institut Reinhard Sauer picked me up with a taxi and we went on to the great restaurant "Na Brasa", where Nils Wogram and I already had a great meal last year. This time it was just as good, maybe a bit more crowded - it was the Father's Day here in Brazil, which is very much a family affair here, meaning that the children give presents to their dads and have together an opulent meal, usually at lunch time.

Reinhard and I had a very good conversation, moving from general topics to more specific ones, concerning the residence, it's goals, results and the possible ramifications thereof. It was a new experience for the institute too, having a "jazz" musician here for an extended period of time, building creative and personal connections with the local scene and exchanging views and practices with them. We talked about things which could be done better or differently next time they have one of the colleagues over.

The weather, having turned bad again a day before, was showing itself from the worst side.
In spite of it, I was not about to sit it out in the four walls of my apartment on the last day here.

Instead, i grabbed a cab and went to the very center of the city, to the Santander Cultural. It is situated on Praça de Alfándego, which has a park in the middle and bunch of old buildings surrounding it, practically each of them housing a museum. This one is an old bank building, turned into a cultural center with a concert space, spaces for exhibitions, cinema and a cafe (in the former treasure vault).

The old facade does not prepare one for the very modern design of the concert space inside.

The attraction of the evening was a concert of the trio Nó De Pinho, with Paulo Gaiger, Thiago Colombo and Leandro Maia. They compose and play modern musica gaucha, playing a vast variety of instruments. Very fine band, great tunes.

Thiago is a great guitarist and a son of Claudio, the boss of the beloved bar Parangolé, where everything started for me here in Porto Alegre last year.
Claudio is another wonderful warm person I had the fortune to meet here. He not only gave me Thiago's splendid new CD, but also provided me with a ticket.

Diego Dos Santos came by too, and so did Dunia Elias.

After the concert Diego and I said our goodbyes. I am quite thankful to him for helping me to find the books, giving me many names of Brazilian musicians I never heard of, and making me the company in a number of bars along the way…

Dunia and I went to a bar to have a nice talk and a few drinks. She brought me back to the Institute, where I packed my stuff, wrote more emails to my new friends here and listened to some music I discovered in the last 6 weeks in Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil.

Many thanks to all my friends here, for the friendship and music!

Special thanks to everyone at Goethe-Institut, here in Porto Alegre and in Munich!!!

So, that's it folks, thanks for reading my little blog!

Sonntag, 14. August 2011

August 13

At 11 in the morning Dunia Elias came by bringing the copies of some music scores I asked for - entire books of Edu Lobo and Gismonti, some classic Zambas and a concise descriptions of the rhythms of Argentinian music - very valuable material!

At 12:30 I met José Fernandes. We went to have a lunch at Delicia Natural. After that we drove to Zona Sul, the beach of Ipanema - yes, there is such a place here, in Porto Alegre, and it is very beautiful.

At 4 pm José dropped me off at the Odomodé - the cultural center Afro-Sul, which keeps the tradition of the black music of Brazil alive here for 30 years, providing social programs for the kids of poor background and lessons in batucada, among other things.

The special event was dedicated to the 100th anniversary of Chico Santana, one of the great sambistas of Velha Guarda da Portela - a samba school in Rio de Janeiro.

About 30 players from several cities were sitting in a huge circle, playing and singing his sambas for hours on end. I already saw these events plenty of times while in Rio, but every time this strong communal spirit picks me up and propels to the new heights of joy and sharpened awareness of all things around. I was very happy to finally, in the nick of time, have caught one of these gatherings there. Feijão and Careca were playing too.

here is a photo of the roda do samba, taken by Carolina Melo, a nice girl from Uberlándia, Minas Gerais

Later on Rafael Ferrari came by, partially because it was the last chance for us to hang out.
After a few hours we went to Goethe, to meet Jota and Daniel who brought the entire material (audio and video) of the 3rd concert with Mimmo Ferreira, to be copied on the spot.

While waiting for this to be accomplished, Rafael was showing me some of the most remarkable bandolim players on youtube.

For instance, I discovered the great predecessor of Jacob do Bandolim - Luperce Miranda:

On the other end of the time spectrum, the amazing Hamilton de Hollanda:

The material safely on my HD, Rafael and I quickly moved to the MEME, where the Bahian musician Mateus Aliluia, maestro of the Musica Preta Brasileira was giving a solo performance. His talk and music had a very meditative, calming and rooted qualities, all about afro-brazilian traditions of the older times.

We already met the evening before, and talking to him left a wonderful mark on my somewhat agitated mood (last few days were increasingly emotional for me - spending these 6 weeks here apparently meant much more to me than I suspected).

A nice meal and funny conversations rounded up the day.

Samstag, 13. August 2011

August 12

Another pleasant warm day, spent partially outside, partially organizing some last minute meetings. Adair Gass invited me to a well-known Bar de Beto, in Bom Fim, Jewish quarter. We had a nice talk, about my residence, among other things. After that I took a brisk walk to the beloved MEME, where Mimmo Ferreira and I opened once again the monthly Espaço Improviso. Had great fun again, this crowd at MEME is like one big family, great vibes, abundance of warmth and human generosity.
Had to split right away, heading to the Boteco Tchê, where Ernesto and Paulinho Fagundes were playing the modern hip version of milongas, chamamès and other types of música gaúcha.

Ernesto plays Bombo legüero - the traditional Argentinian drum. He adds some spice to the performance by not only singing but also using his voice for all kinds of effects.
The great Samuca joined them on accordion.

Rodrigo Panassolo was doing the live sound and hanging out with us - great company.

A wonderful guy, a musician too, Adriano Marques, was hanging out with his girlfriend at our table - we had a very heart-warming talk as well.

Was great to hear strong modern and creative ways to play the music, feeling that this music will not die out any time soon...

August 11

Nice warm day, begging to be spent outside, taking a stroll, sitting outside sipping a cold beer, relaxing…
Did just that, but before settling in the nightly routine of going to the bars with live music, I went to the Casa de Cultura Mario Quintana. I was already familiar with it, but it's strange and complicated structure demanded another visit. It occupies the former Hotel Majestic, right in the center of the city, the two nearly identical buildings connected by passages on each floor. These days it offers place for a number of galleries, small museums, on-going art projects, cinemas and a lovely cafe on the roof terrace. After a brief check of a few spaces, I went to see the film "Filhos de João" (João being João Gilberto), about the history of the "Novos Baianos", the band which came up with a very fresh sound in the 70's: I really love their tunes from that period.
The music, and the film even more so, reveal the spirit of the community, similar to the hippie in appearance, but, to me, much more valuable in its output…

here is a rare color footage of them doing their greatest hit Brasil Pandeiro:

Strolling down the Rua da Praia, I ran into Diego Dos Santos, who was having a beer with his friend Andre. I joined them immediately; the evening dropped on us quickly, as it happens here in the winter, and the night life was taking its rightful place…
Having worked up the appetite, Diego and I went to a place right next door to Parangolé, where we had a pretty far out concoction, which goes by the name of a pizza, but has very little in common with what Italians gave to the rest of the world. The pie is several proud inches high, and contains such "toppings" as beef Stroganov and other hearty combos. Once I shook off the memories of pizza as such, I could enjoy this wild creation quite a bit, also for what it represents - the insatiable appetite of gaúchos for piles of meat, hearty toppings and side dishes - this is my kind of land!

After this meal, it was our luck that the next destination was right next door - Parangolé, where I wanted to catch once again Prof. Darcy Alves. This time, besides his companion and nephew Silfarnei, there was one "official" pandeiro player, and two more sitting in occasionally, to my delight.
This style of music, evoking the mist of nostalgic reverie, pleases me immensely, I must admit.

Here is one of the greatest crooners of the yesteryear, Orlando Silva

and another great crooner, Francisco Alves

Freitag, 12. August 2011

August 10

The weather continues to improve, to the greatest joy of all - this winter here wasn't that much fun…

What turned out to be fun was the "process" of getting the audio material of the first concert. Since, unfortunately, José no longer can give me the lessons in Portuguese (the semester started at the university), my afternoon was all free. I informed Rodrigo Panassolo, one of the recording engineers, that I could come over to the studio earlier. A short disscussion of plans resulted in him inviting me to join him and the guitarist Paulinho Fagundes for the lunch. We went to a new place not too far from Institute "Delícia Natural", which turned out to be a great place with a wonderful view.

Paulinho Fagundes, a really fine musician - I am listening to his CD right now, and it's very happening - comes from a musical family, his father and two other brothers are all very serious musicians and have a band together. Paulinho is one of the musicians here in Porto Alegre, who are combining the modern jazz language with some subtle elements of regional música gaúcha.
Hearing the accounts about this scene and hearing this CD, I realize that I've missed a bit on the chance to get together with these guys…
Some of the names are: Jorginho do Trompete (heard many legends about him), Michel Dorfman, a very fine pianist, Edu Martins, bass, Marquinhos Fé, drums.

Anyway, our next stop was a music store "Guitar Point", where Rodrigo, who plays guitar too, wanted to check out a new model of Chinese make, using Paulinho's expertise.
After that we were off to Petrópolis, a very nice residential area of the city, where the Transcendental Audio Studio of Leo Bracht is situated.
I spent a few hours there, listening to some recent studio's productions, chatting with Leo, Rodrigo and a couple of younger musicians - pianist and bassist - whom I already knew from my workshops. Leo prepared and copied all the material on my HD, and off I was, back to the Goethe.

It was time to play Concert 3, concluding my musical activities of this residence.

It was a duo concert with the percussion player Mimmo Ferreira, who already participated in the first concert on August 5.
I loved the fact that with him I could combine playing some free or open improvisations, and at the same time go into all kinds of genres and grooves of Brazilian and Argentinian music. It was fun to do an open loose version of milonga or chamamé, drop into a fast samba, or do a "forró" version of my tune Dança Nova, with Mimmo playing triangle. The only complaint I have is that, once again, the attendance was rather disappointing. Really don't understand it…

Afterwards, the director of the Institute Reinhard Sauer invited us for a meal in the old, traditional, "real" Italian place called "Copacabana". Feijão came along, and so did Carol, Mimmo's wife. The food was really fantastic. It went a long way to linder the feelings of not having accomplished nearly as much as intended...

Feijão, while driving to the restaurant, was appalled to hear that I wasn't aware of the great Radamés Gnattali, composer and pianist from Porto Alegre, who helped to form the genre of choro, among many other things.

Here he plays one of his tunes for piano:

And here is a very rare footage (give it a moment, the quality gets better):

Another great composer of Porto Alegre whom I was hardly aware of before is Lupicínio Rodrigues. He worked in the 30's-50's, writing elegant, somewhat sentimental songs about love lost and such. Many of the greatest performers of these times included his songs in their repertoire.

Here is a sample of his style:

And another one, combined with Paulinho da Viola

Dienstag, 9. August 2011

August 9

Yesterday I played Concert 2

This one was solo, since the idea with the large piece requiring large ensemble didn't work out and there was no more time to prepare more material with Luizinho.
The weather was terrible, and the promotion of this event seemingly on the light side, all of it resulting in a somewhat smallish audience.
Those who came out in this rain and storm were very attentive and thankful. I played a melange of Herbie Nichols, Monk and free improv.
I went away a rather satisfied customer, I hope the others too…

Tonight Mimmo Ferreira (percussion) and I will record at night here. I am really looking forward to it - I've always loved playing and recording duos with drummers - the duo CD's with Han Bennink, Tom Rainey and Park Je-Chun are not so silent witnesses to it.
But I never played a duo with a Brazilian percussion player - untill few weeks ago. It feels pretty damn good to me!
Tomorrow night the same duo will play the third and last concert of my residence.

Continuing our walk through the never ending garden of genres and types of Brazilian music: here is Jayme Caetano Braun, one of the greatest of payada, texts based on the models of old troubadour stories of medieval and Renaissance times, but fitted to the campeiro taste and topics. Some of these stories of daily hardships and the proud gaucho spirit are known by heart in this region.It's typical for the entire South of the continent - Chile, Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay.

Here is the great Cenair Maicá, who belonged to the same scene of música nativista.

Sonntag, 7. August 2011

August 7

A quiet day for me, mostly staying home and nursing the cold.
Using the situation, I started to check out some of the Brazilian musicians Diego and some others were suggesting.
I am very thankful for every new name worthy of checking.
I started with Sérgio Sampaio, one of the "bad boys" of Brazilian music in the 70-80's. I am not prepared to comment much on his place in the music, but I already see that he did quite a few different things stylistically.
I like what I am hearing so far a lot.

All these new (to me) musicians apparently fall between the cracks as far as genres and generalizations go, and that's what I dig about this journey...

Here is one on a more melancholic side

And this one musically more typically "Brazilian", with a satirical text

I can only strongly recommend to search for further material on these muscians, in this blog I'll only list them, considering it a gentle push in the direction...

The next giant I am discovering today is Elomar Figueiro de Melo, or simply Elomar.
Once again, way too early to try to be "smart" about this phenomenon from Bahia.
A fresh (in this context) harmonic language and delivery bringing together some kind of troubadour styling with the stories about sertão. The language of the songs is full of his own inventions, also using heavily the sertaneza, the regional dialect. This certainly adds up to the uniqueness of the style.

Here is one powerfull example:

And here is Xangai, a musical partner of Elomar, performing Elomar's classic "Violêro"

I feel a bit like a fake, skipping here from one great artist to the next so rapidly, but, since I am not in position to tell too much about them at the moment, that's what is left to do.

On the other hand, my personal experience reminds me, that nowadays just one suggestion of a name or clip can lead to a most satisfying hunt on youtube or elsewhere.

So, now returning to the classics of the Música Gaúcha, here is the wonderful Noel Guarany:

Very soulful stuff, I find... And another one:

And now for something different - here is a great Argentinian bandoneon player Chaloy Jara:

August 7

Yesterday was yet another sunny day, and I decided to spend it outside, even though the flu still was bugging me…
It was time to finally stock up on books of the Brazilian literature, and Diego Dos Santos, who majored in the subject in college, was the man to help me. At my request, he has been meticulously preparing the short list of books to go for - not an easy task, considering the amount of fine authors this country produced over the centuries.
We met at the City Hall, situated right next to the central market, climbed up a few blocks, crossing the Rua da Praia, the main drag in the center of the city, and hit the street which sports a good dozen of "sebo's", second hand book stores.

Pretty quickly we found the desired books by Aluísio de Azevedo, Lima Barreto, Machado de Assis, Guimarães Rosa, Nelson Rodrigues, Milton Hatoum and Moacyr Scliar. Some obvious choices were left out - Jorge Amado, Erico Verissimo - because I already have some of their books.
Even two books of the elusive Hermilo Borba Filho - the author of the famous tetralogy "Um cavaleiro da segunda decadência" - were finally found, thanks to the friendly connections of Diego. I was completely satisfied by this little book hunt; it only remains to hope that Lufthansa will see this in the positive light too - I already moved very close to the allowed weight limit. And there are some music books, copied by Dunia, still coming my way…

After this major effort, all we could think of was where to go for lunch. The decision came very quickly, and off we were to the favourite churrascaria of Diego and his friends "Grelhatus", for the second time for me. Once again, the quality of the meat was amazing, and we spent good 4 hours there, chatting, drinking beers and consuming amounts of meat any doctor would consider to be nearly deadly.

Here is Diego and one of the super friendly garçoms.

As we crawled out of the restaurant, it was still sunny and warm. We decided to go to the heart of the Cidade Baixa and find a place to sit outside. The part of the Lower City we went to is all about nice bars, scene cafe's and places to hear live music. We settled on the bar "Pinguim", occupying a corner table outside. Combined with the sun and all the folk on the streets, it's a great place to sit outside and enjoy the view. The feel is very European or Downtown New York. Another 4 hours of chatting, beer drinking and observing the crowd went by quickly. I decided not to go to any club, still feeling the flu, but the day of dolce vita, no office stuff, no rehearsals or whatever, did me good...

Samstag, 6. August 2011

August 6

Last night the first concert of the project took place in Goethe Institut.

Concert 1

Rafael Ferrari - bandolim
Simon Nabatov - piano
Mimmo Ferreira - percussão
Guilherme Sanches - percussão

The program:

1. Maracatu Rústico ---- S. Nabatov
2. Nega Dina ----Ze Keti
3. Milonga Urbana ---- R. Ferrari
4. Kilômetro 11
5. Feitio de Oração --- Noel Rosa
6. Piano solo
7. Em cima do laço
8. Bom Conselho --- S. Nabatov
9. Bandolim solo
10. Choro pra ninguém ---- S. Nabatov
11. Tertúlia --- Bebete Alvez
12. Valsa da Saudade --- R.Ferrari
13. Segura Ele --- Pixinguinha e Benedito Lacerda
14. Noites Cariocas --- Jacob de Bandolim

Everyone pulled their energies to make the best possible result, and I am so grateful to all the musicians for that!
It was not always easy for me trying to learn the specifics of the música gaúcha, but it seems like I pulled it off, partially, considering that it was the first time...
The audience was very appreciative. It was very encouraging to feel this - after all, I was moving in and on the territory which wasn't really mine…
It appeared that the heads of the Institut - Reinhard Sauer, Adair Gass, Claus Herzer - liked it quite a bit too.

All of us musicians had a feeling that this project has the potential to continue, both here and elsewhere. I hope to be able to see it through.

A 90 minute concert was recorded and filmed by the crew of Leo Bracht. The guys did a really fine job, and were fun to hang out, first in the Goethe Bar under the auspices of Fernando, who several times expressed just how much he liked the show - thanks Fernando!
Later we moved to the Mulligan Pub not far away, to have a rather interesting conversation about the state of Brazil and Europe these days.

Here are the participants (minus Feijão who split earlier) with Fernando, at the bar, enjoying the well deserved repouse.

I will get next week the multi-track recordings and video material. I hope there are some really nice things there - but this will be decided later on, back in Cologne.

Freitag, 5. August 2011

August 5

Another sunny day, great. Went for a longer walk, looking for the normal CD jewel boxes - to prepare some CD's of mine for the tonight's concert.
Quite difficult to find, it turned out. The final victory was sweet...
Back at the apartment, listening to Ariel Ramírez - one of the best and most famous Argentinian pianists.

Here he is in duo with Jaime Torres playing a Zamba.

Donnerstag, 4. August 2011

August 4

Sleeping in late, to cure the flu which just doesn't want to leave me in peace.
Made a decision to play a solo concert on Monday, the 8th.
Had another rehearsal with Rafael and Mimmo, a chat with Fernando in the bar - business as usual, by now…

I finally managed to catch in the bar Parangolé Professor Darcy Alves and his nephew Silfarnei, a wonderful duo appearing there every Thursday.
The maestro does great renditions of the popular songs and instrumental numbers of the 40's and 50's - tunes full of charme, romance and elegance.
Here is a clip of them at Parangolé - try not to be distracted by the noise, it's absolutely normal in Brazil in places like that to talk loudly while some musicians are providing a pleasurable background… But don't understand me wrong, people are listening and enjoying it a lot, singing along etc. It's just not a part of the culture to show the respect to musicians in the same manner we are used to it…

August 3

The day started on a very nice note - bright and early (at 10 am) all four of us - Rafael Ferrari, Mimmo Ferreira and Guilherme Sanches - the new addition to the band playing on Friday the 5th - and I had a very nice rehearsal and a lunch afterwards.

Here are Mimmo, Guilherme and Rafael

Workshop 3

Well, my plan to have an ample amount of musicians and create together with them a longer piece based on partially notated graphic score failed royally.
Only 7 people showed up, most of them without an instrument. A bit of a drag… Still, we managed to have good 4 hours of fun. 2 guys played solo piano for us, then I played with a bassist a tune of his. Later we were jamming on Brazilian tunes, especially when Claudio Calcanhotto showed up - I gave him my pandeiro to play - and off we were… Later, while chatting at the bar, it turned out that he is the brother of Adriana Calcanhotto, one of the finest Brazilian singers and performers.

Even though I continue being sick as a dog, I just needed to go out - this time I re-visited a nice pub called Odeon in the center of the city. I already have been there last year. The bar sports a beaten up upright piano. Jazz music in duos or trios is the preferred idiom here.

I sat in on a few tunes with the guitarist Dinho Oliveira, following the invitation of the pianist Conrado "Tonda" Pecoits whom I met last year. Tonda spent 15 years in Munich, speaks German and is a super nice fellow. (Later on he turned up at workshop and 2 concerts - if that's not a genuine interest, I don't know what is...)

Later the tenor sax player Claudio Sander came by - we played together last year

All the musicians, once again, are extremely friendly, open and fun to talk to.

And here are the very nice owner of the bar (right) and his help

Here is the man in charge of the library of Goethe-Institut, Ulrich Kaup, in perfect harmony with his co-worker Rosa Vidal.

August 2

Workshop 2

This one was dedicated to the jazz piano topics - the history, techniques and my personal approach to it, whatever it might mean…
The first third, at least, was spend on looking in detail at the stride piano, still one of my favorite subjects. A smallish but very interested crowd of participants were really into it. After the break we went through some of the more "modern" topics and aspects. In the end I gave a sort of a short recital, demonstrating the use of the subjects discussed earlier.

Here are some of the students - number of them ended up coming to all 3 workshops, nice...

Continuing to present the people working in Goethe-Institut - here is Fernando Yepes, he is the boss of the bar downstairs, which offers good beers and snacks. Fernando, a gregarious Argentinian, is a really great guy, open, easy going but very much aware of all things around. I like to hang out and talk to him and Flávio about all and nothing…

The other day he sent me the picture taken at the bar after the session I did with Diego Dos Santos and the quartet.

And here are Fernando, Dunia and I at the bar, after the second workshop.

Montag, 1. August 2011

August 1

Workshop 1

the last 2 days were spend mostly in bed, nursing a nasty flu or cold or whatever. This morning I was seriously contemplating on not doing the workshop, let alone the one scheduled to go on for 6 hours (with a break for the almoço, of course). At 9 am I went to the closest drug store, determined to buy over the counter some powerful antibiotics - after all, Brazil always has been one of the countries where one didn't have any problems with that - only to find out that, so my luck, a new law has been passed, forbidding this abuse of medicaments.
So, having suffered a loss on that front, at 10 o'clock sharp I was downstairs, in the concert hall, and so were ca. 12-14 participants.
The first part followed the original plans and intensions - to look at some tunes of Tim Berne, Andy Laster, Herbie Nichols and mine - and proved to be the more difficult one. The actively participating young musicians were all very nice, friendly and eager, but, for one reason or another, had very little or none experience in this field, and were somewhat overwhelmed by the material, even though it was obtainable well in advance. On the other hand, I was very grateful to the efforts of Anna Paola Freire and Adair Gass who managed to get those chaps in auditorium.
After the lunch break I've been answering the questions and demonstrating some aspects of my approach to interpretation of any given material.
That part went much easier and smoothly - as all the performance pressure was lifted off the shoulders of the participants…
The proceedings ended in playing some Brazilian tunes, me bravely grabbing at some point the pandeiro, only to be yanked back by one of the "passive" participants, who immideately showed, who was the pandeiro pandit among us two…
Unfortunately I forgot to take pictures of the proceedings.

After that, I had ample time to cool off at the bar, chatting with the barman and listening to more Atahualpa Yupanqui and other masters of Argentinian folkloric music.

Here are two of the nicest guys on the stuff here - the night guard Paulo Sergio Oliveira Da Silva (left) and one of the two guys working the bar Flávio Jorge Duarte.

The evening rehearsal with Mimo had two sides to it - the negative, because neither Rafael nor Feijão showed up, and the positive, because Mimo and I had another rather inspired session down at the auditorium. Still filled with impressions of the afternoon with Dunia, I plunged into my takes of Milonga, Chamamè, Baião e Forró. It was fun! Less fun to discover that some notes of the Steinway B are getting stuck sometimes - the humidity we are having here now is a bit ridiculous.

I am wondering what happened to Rafael and how we gonna do on Friday… Well, it's time to fall in bed, and sail away… Boa noite, ya`all!!

But, before I really say good night, here is a link of the wonderful clip by Renato Borghetti Quartet - the group I heard a few days back

good night

Samstag, 30. Juli 2011

July 30

Yesterday started with an early rehearsal with Luizinho Santos. He brought in a few tunes by the maestro Moacir Santos, composer and arranger who lived and worked many years in the USA. I never played his music, so it's a very welcome addition - the choro "Cleonix" is simply enchanting, with very hip and tender chords in the second part - obvious infuluence of the jazz language, perfectly used in this context.

We'll also play one of his "Coisas", pieces scored originally for a chamber ensemble and bearing more of "classical" touch to it, yet never leaving the Brazilian roots aside.

Rain, rain, rain…It's really a bit annoying sometimes. It just has been raining non-stop for days. Oh, well…

After another hour of Portuguese in the library, I went to the long-awaited visit at Dunia Elias' place, the goal being to learn about the aspects of translating música gaúcha to the piano. Dunia is really an expert in that field. She indroduced me to a number of musicians I never heard of, some Brazilian, lots of Argentinian. Names which down here are well known and revered - complete novum for me. Well, that's what this journey is all about.

Here is one of the newly "discovered" greats - Atahualpa Yupanqui - playing a Zamba, an Argentinian genre in 6/8, always melancholic, but danceable too.

and a touching clip of him doing a milonga.

Dunia very quickly improved my take on milonga, and especially on chamamé, where I obviously was missing the basic understanding of the rhythmical nuances. It's a bit overwhelming, trying to absorb in a decently authentic way so many types of music, all deceivingly close to each other, like all those based on the basic idea of the hemiola… Another genre I'd like to get next to is chacarera. Not to mention the Condombe…
I came back lugging lots of CD's and some DVD's full of the music. Dunia is a very expansive and generous person; I am very grateful to her for helping me in such a huge way to make a modest step further on this road.

Freitag, 29. Juli 2011

July 29

Another morning and early afternoon of what becomes a daily routine of doing local co-ordination of "events" like rehearsals, meetings, plans to go out etc. The schedule never stays as planned - number of sudden ajustments is always required, and I am adopting quite well, I believe. But it does cost extra energy and nerves. I am feeling it by now, especially since I came down with a bit of a flu yesterday. Lots of raw garlic is being consumed; I might lose all my new friends, but what to do?

I enjoyed the afternoon lesson of piano I gave to José and proceeded to play and talk for a few hours with Rafael Ferrari. His commitment to our project here is great, and I am learning from him a whole lot about the regional music, Brazilian politics and much more. I truly hope one day to be able to bring him, Samuca and couple of other musicians over to Europa. The música gaúcha definitely deserves much wider recognition!

After that i jumped in the taxi which whisked me to Morro Santa Tereza, a sizable hill down the riverside, where all the local outlets of the broadcasting companies co-exist on a rather limited space. The goal was to meet Paulo Moreira and do the live interview with him at TVE FM Cultura. Since I already had the pleasure doing it last year, I felt quite comfortable. Paulo made sure that there is ample information about the upcoming workshops and concerts in the Goethe-Institut, and played a couple of tracks from my CD's.

Here is Paulo at work

I had to cut my visit short - it was time to go to the Teatro Renascença, to catch two great bands backing two fantastic accordion players.
It was really a great show, both parts. I am really very happy about the fact that now I am recognizing most of the genres; not only that, I actually knew a few tunes of the repertoire - thanks to Rafael Ferrari, mostly!

Renato Borghetti opened the show. His band included a very good pianist, so I could check out the figures he used to play Milongas, Chamamés and so on. Very good and strong. Amazing flute player… I need to find out who the guys are…

After a break Chango Spasiuk and his band took the stage. That was even more interesting for me, since I am not informed really about Argentinian music, even though I've been learning bits and pieces about it, thanks to Mimo Ferreira. Chango comes from the region, actually, just from the other side of the border. He seems to be an absolute master of Chamamé - they played many regional variations of this music in 3/4, with unusual accents and rhythmical patterns. Very soulful, strong - also thanks to the guitar player doubling on percussions, including a huge cajon box. I need to learn more about Argentinian and Uruguayan music, that's for sure!

Here is the chamamé maestro:

Donnerstag, 28. Juli 2011

July 28

I am very happy about the fact that here, in Rio Grande do Sul, the accordion, or gaita, is one of the most popular instruments. It appears practically in every true gaúcho band. The level of playing, needless to say, is really high, as I get the confirmation of it every Tuesday, listening to Samuca.
Today he sent me a few mp3's of his favorite classics. Here is "O que mais tu qué" written by Samuca and Arthur Bonilla - I found the video of this performance, beautiful and a bit scary...

I am thinking of accordion today also because tonight I'm going to the Teatro Renascença to hear two great gaita players - Chango Spasiuk from Argentina and the star of this discipline here, Renato Borghetti.

Here is the Borghetti playing "Milonga para as missões" by Gilberto Monteiro. No video, just the great, straight forward sound of milonga from Borghetti's first album in 1984.

And here is Chango Spasiuk and the band (well mostly a great guitar player) playing the famous chamamé tune "Kilómetro 11"

Mittwoch, 27. Juli 2011

July 27

Morning flew by occupied by writing emails and organizing some rehearsals.
For our scheduled hour of Portuguese José had a wonderful idea - using the great weather today, he drove me to the Fundação Iberé Camargo, an impressing museum build by the famous Portuguese architect Álvaro Siza. Even though it reminds a bit of Guggenheim New York, the building has it's own qualities which impressed me quite a bit.

Even the subterranean parking space has the dignity of a Greek temple.

The museum is mostly dedicated to the work of the famous gaúcho painter and artist Iberé Camargo. The strategically placed windows offer great views on the Lago Guaíba and the downtown Porto Alegre.

Here is my teacher José Fernandez in front of some works of the maestro.

Today I demonstrated amply that I am learning and internalizing the Brazilian culture - I came back from this little escape good 35 minutes too late for the lesson of pandeiro and a rehearsal with Mimo Ferreira. And it was no problem whatsoever!! The mission accomplished, cultural exchange is full in swing...

Mimo brought back my new pandeiro - he treated it with several coats of the Nivea cream on both sides, stretched the skin some and made it come up some, so there are more overtones happening. We looked today at two seemingly quite similar traditional rhythms - baião and coco - both hailing from Northeast of the country.
I'll try to keep up the regiment of practicing. On Saturday I'll go to the next practice of batucada at the MEME.
July 26

The day started with the task to finish writing a Choro - the 3rd part, usually in a major key, was still eluding me. Since I am one of those poor chaps who need pressure to get things done, the mission was accomplished just in time. A rehearsal with Rafael followed; he actually liked the finished choro - and he already learned by heart the other 2 parts, including the virtuosic 2nd one, incredible.
Right after the rehearsal I rolled downstairs to the concert hall, where Diego dos Santos (reeds), Gustavo Muccillo (electronics) known as BODE, bassist Guilherme Felippe known as CP and Bruno Melo on drums - all members of the quartet of free improvising enthusiasts, were already setting up their gear, to start a session with me. A few invited guests were present as well. It was an interesting experience, for both parties, I am sure. I can well imagine that these guys are a musical minority here, even much more so than elsewhere, their love for this kind of music keeping them going...We played for an hour. Here is an excerpt from the proceedings:

Here is their blog.

Right after that (and a round of beers in the Goethe Bar), it was time for me to go to Parangolé, to dig again the Roda do Choro of my friends. It was a hot session indeed.
Rafael informed me that the great Perisca Grecco was playing not far away. After the gig, Rafael, myself and Karen, a young cute singer, who usually hangs out in Parangolé on Tuesdays, went over to yet another club in the Cidade Baixa - Dhomba.
It was a marvellous show - strong, tight band, wonderful songs and lyrics by Perisca, inspired and authentic. Modern, personal take on the música gaúcha!
Amazing, always, how open, friendly and warm-hearted the Brazilian musicians are - to talk to them at extent in the break and after the show is absolutely normal, especially when Rafael introduces me to everyone. Nice, nice feeling...
July 25

Just one block away from the Goethe there is a water-clearing plant, housed in the old palace-like edifice, with a gorgeous little park in front of it.
On the rare sunny days, I love to sneak out for a moment and sit there, contemplaining on the events of the recent weeks.
Here are some images of this little gem:

Dunia Elias, a pianist and composer, whom I met last year, came back from a 10 day tour. It's a very welcome news, she is really a good friend, and she helps with advice and information wherever she can. I am really looking forward to have a musical exchange session with her on coming Friday - she happens to be the holder of all kinds of information on gaúcho styles of music transproted/adapted to the piano.
This Monday night we went to In Sano, a club in Cidade Baixa in which Nils Wogram and I already have been last year, after our memorable concert here.
Monday nights belong here to the 18 piece big band, where Luizinho Santos also pays. The sound of the band is very tight, and the repertoire - mostly popular Brazilian music in sleek arrangements - is most satisfying.

Paulo Moreira, the champion of all things Jazz and popular music in general, a radio personality, a journalist and a great guy, was there too.
He invited me for the second time to do the live show with him on Thursday, I hope it works out.

Here are Dunia, Paulo, Bethy and Luizinho:

Montag, 25. Juli 2011

25 July

Today the director of the Goethe-Institut Porto Alegre Reihard Sauer came back after the vacation, spent with his 2 sons in Florianópolis. Reinhard is a great and generous guy, very much involved in the arts and music. He is the man who made my residence here possible, starting with the basic information about such residence and ending with the help and support in all instances involved. Thank you, Reinhard!!

Sonntag, 24. Juli 2011

July 24

Before I jump into any activities of the day, I feel like it's time to give some more examples of the typical música gaúcha, using the tracks of the tunes I am preparing to play with Rafael Ferrari and friends on August 5.

Here is a very popular Vanera called "Tertúlia"

I love Vaneras for their contagiously upbeat character, combining the macho slant - seemingly "a must" in this music - with the slinky elegance of the Brazilian music in general.

Here is another Vanera, this one written and played by Samuca (Samuel Costa), a great gaita (accordion) player. He is already quite a star of the region, and, having just released his first CD "De tudo um pouco", he is good and ready to go "national".

And here is a fine example of another beloved gaúcho genre Milonga called "Em cima do laço" performed by Bebeto Alvez

Another Milonga by Albino Manique called "Bela e atrevida", played by Renato Borghetti, probably the most famous gaiteiro of Rio Grande do Sul living.

And now, changing the pace, we turn to yet another popular genre down here, Chamamé. It is in 3/4, or in 6/8 if you wish, with quirky off-beat accents but hauntingly beautiful touch to it.
This one is also by Albino Manique - "Kilômetro 11"

I have to admit, that, in spite of several talks with both Rafael Ferrari and Mimo Ferreira about these types of music and especially their rhythmical proprieties, I am still far from being able to discuss this topic in depth - even though I'll play these tunes in public in less then 2 weeks, in front of the audience which grew up with the music... So, for now, I just want to give the first impression of it. Enjoy.

Samstag, 23. Juli 2011

23 July

Day started in a quite lazy manner, me sleeping late and enjoying every minute of it. When I finally was up and around, the main difference was not to be ignored - it was sunny and warm! I had to seize the moment, even though I actually wanted to try to write some more music or start preparing for the workshops. But the nature won over… I took first the Avenida de Independéncia, the main drag right where I am staying.

Remembering that Adair told me about an open market on Saturdays on rua Vasco da Gama, I made my tracks there. It turned out to be a rather small affair, but, at least, I finally found lemons in abundance! It is a relatively rare sight here, since lime rules totally, and not only in caipirinhas - it's hard to find lemons, what can I say…
After that I went through the Parque Farroupilha, better known as A Redenção. It`s nice on a weekend like this, everybody just hanging out, enjoying the good weather leisurely. Here some images of the park.

After that I arrived at Fundação ECARTA, where Rafael Ferrari and Samuca were to play, but I got there way too early. Remembering that Mimo Ferreira was giving a lesson of percussion at MEME, which is only one block away on Rua Lopo Gonçalves, needless to say that I went right over.
The first great impression of the place from the week before was confirmed in a huge way. I was welcomed like an old friend and immediately led to the space at the back where a small group of students were already grooving away. Mimo invited me to join them - nobody needed to repeat the invitation. It was a wonderful experience! I grabbed one of the pandeiros and joined the study of Baião first, later Maracatú. Later I dared switching to agogô, once I copped the appropriate rhythms to play. This is how paradise could look and feel, as far as I am concerned! :-))

Here is some true Baião the way it's done in the Northeastern Brazil

I love good maracatú in every form. Here is an interesting clip of maracatú mixed up with Villa-Lobos.

The percussion class I attended today

MEME sports a lovely patio, an old but quite well functioning piano, great owners and personnel. I am coming back!!

Finally I managed to shake of the mesmorizing sound, becouse I didn't want to miss the duo in ECARTA. Surprisingly, Samuca didn't make it and Rafael, heroically and musically very successfully, gave a solo performance.

Afterwards we went for cheesburgers of enourmous size and beers and had an interesting coversation on number of subjects. The night fell over soon enough and it was time to part the ways, for now...