3 weeks more, and I will embark on a trip I've been looking forward to for so long - Porto Alegre, Brazil, being the destination. I got this Artist in Residence from Goethe-Institut Munich to spend 6 weeks in POA, meeting musicians, jamming, rehearsing and playing some concerts with them, exchanging musical (and otherwise) ideas, learning about the local "gaúcho" styles of music - and, hopefully, having huge fun in the process!
Few hours more and I'll start the 20-hour journey to Porto Alegre. Should I not be totally wiped out upon the arrival, I'll make sure to go to the lovely Bar Parangolé in Cidade Baixa (the Lower City) - Rafael Ferrari, an excellent "bandolím" player and a great guy, reminded me yesterday per email about the "Roda de Choro", a fantastic band playing there every Tuesday. It also includes the brlliant accordion player Samuel Costa, better known as Samuca; he impressed me a whole lot the last time I caught him in this joint, which combines a simple restaurant, a bar and a cultural space of sorts all in one. The room where the band plays is pretty small, always crowded and lively. The music played is a mixture of popular choros and more local genres of gaucho music.
Here is Samuel Costa in his element...
(since my flight to Sao Paulo has been redirected, I got now a couple of extra hours to check out how this whole blogging thing works...)
and here are both Rafael and Samuel in quartet in the Show Bandolim Campeiro
Well, here I am in Porto Alegre, after a mere skip and a jump of the trans-atlantic crossing, the whole body still pleasantly swimming. I was prepared to be hit hard by the "coldest winter since a long time"; instead, I get treated to clear blue sky and plenty of sun - that's the kind of winter I'll take any day...
The evening in Parangole turned to be way more impressive, musically, then I expected.
These 2 days were consumed more by the "domestic" issues - since I am the first one who will stay 6 weeks long in this appartement, there are a few basic things missing, be it in the kitchen or what not.
Adair Gass organized for me a possibility to take some lessons of Portuguese, in exchange to some piano lessons, right here in my pad!
I activated yesterday 2 contacts from the last visit - the jazz sax player Luizinho Santos and pianist and composer Dunia Elias.
Another good connection is the head of the language department here in Goethe-Institut, Adrian Kissmann. Not only did he help me a couple of time in the matters of internet etc., but he also invited me tomorrow to go at midday to a good place to have Feijoada, a national Brazilian dish which I like a lot (when prepared delicately) and hear a Roda de Samba.
Had the first musical meeting with Rafael Ferrari. We played for a few hours, checking out what's possible, which way we could go. The fact that I have an upright piano installed right in my pad turns out to be a blessing - to heat up the hall downstairs is not so easy or cheap and should be saved for some "special" occasions.
Tomorrow I'm meeting Luizinho in the afternoon, and going to Parangolé again - should be great, again!
The meeting with Luizinho was very nice. He is into doing a concert with me and a couple of his friends. We talked about the local scene, the difficulties to make it here, about the Brazilian music and it's roots and many other subjects. He and his wife, who is a pianist herself, are about to open a new performance space here, even with a grand piano. If they are on schedule, I'll get to check out the place before leaving Porto Alegre.
The evening started with the visit to Parangolé, where Rafael Ferrari and Samuel Costa were joined this time by Max Dos Santos (violão de sete cordas) and Reloginho (Pandeiro). I met both of them in Parangolé last year. The music was not quite as hot as last week, but still very very good. I am slowly starting to recognize the tunes - I've been looking at some of the famous choros by Pixinguina, trying to learn by memory all those cascades of notes (something I haven't subjected myself to in quite a while…) They also played, at my request, a Milonga by Bebeto Alves, the tune Rafael and I will play in August, I hope. I must admit, it is not easy to pick up all these new genres and run with them, but I wil try.
Afterwards, we went to a very nice relatively new place called "Boteco Tchê", the "in" musical club of Musica Gaucha in town. We caught the end tail of the promotional event for the upcoming annual Moenda - a huge Festival of regional music, taking place in the interior, a city called Santo Antonio da Patrulha. Even the star of accordion (gaita) Borghetinho was there, giving TV interviews and enjoying being in the midst of it all. Wonderful, familiar atmosphere, different groups playing the kind of music I normally don't hear. The influence of the neighboring Argentina and Uruguay are very apparent in this music. Great hang, but too many beers...
Today started with me sleeping in too long after the hang last night, only to be surprised by the fact that things are moving right along, as far as internet in my place upstairs goes - the main cable has been put in, and tomorrow, if all things go right, I will finally have a stable net connection here.
In the afternoon José Fernandez and I started our exchange program - today I had an hour of conversational Portuguese, and tomorrow José will be the lucky recepient of my knowledge of handling the piano (once again, having this upright piano here in the pad is "paying off" manyfold). Friday we got another installment of Portuguese.
Afterwards, feeling an intense need to escape the premises of the Institute, I hopped on the bus going to the center and walked into the MARGS museum on Praça da Alfándego, a square with a park, which seems to be permanently under construction. I let myself to be lured by the fact that the selected works from the international Biennale Sao Paulo were being shown. The disappoinment was pretty big and reminded me of the repeated feeling of discomfort and almost irritation I had in a number of museums in Sao Paulo and elsewhere in Brazil. Not only the level of conceptual awareness seems generally to be rather behind the main trends in Europe and USA, but also the haphazard manner to place the works jumps right out at you. Obviously, this generalisation is not totally fair, but I seem to have bad luck, so far. Well, Porto Alegre might be a provincial town as far as modern art goes, but they sure know how to play their regional music - and that's what makes me one happy customer!
After the visit of museum, I quickly went through the famous Mercado, the central market, which occupies an old rectangular edifice. The colorful picture of hundreds of vendors, selling everything the regional and national food industries have to offer, somehow has put me in a more balanced state of mind again.
Just came back from this wonderful concert, which took place in the huge hall of the State Federal University. The trio included two musicians I knew of way before - the pianist Paulo Braga and the great percussionist Marcos Suzano, who is considered to be one of the greatest players and innovators in his field. I got a DVD of his on the subject of pandeiro, which I sometimes check out, and, of course, I've been listening to his playing on countless records for over 15 years.
Slowly the word about my stay here gets around. Today two guys who were at our workshop here last year, called up, to express their appreciation for my music and to invite me to the birthday party on Saturday. Needless to say, I happily accepted.
The day started rather chaotically - still some problems with the internet upstairs, trying to get in touch with different musicians I heard of and generally attempting to organize my schedule and activities for the weeks to came.
A rainy day, spent mostly practicing pandeiro - one instrument I really love dearly and want to learn to play properly since a long time. Yesterday Mimo showed me some good exercises and I was practicing for hours, also using the DVD of Marcos Suzano.
In the taxi on the way home, the decision was made to stop by at the Van Gough bar in the Cidade Baixa. It's a wonderful place, which apparently fills up at around 4 in the morning, serving as a meeting point for all kinds of the night worshipers.
It's raining again, grey skies and high humidity - just a pure dream of a weather… Rafael cancelled the rehearsal (flu), the storm capped the electricity for a few hours, and I've found out that Melanie, my nice neighbor and friend, who is taking care of my plants, in a throw of creative "initiative" managed to erase the code for playing messages on my answering machine - exactly the kind of news I needed today…
Here is the view in front of the Goethe Institut. Not bad, right?
Here are José Fernandez, my teacher of Portuguese, Rosa Vidal the lovely librarian and Adair Gass, the second in command, so to speak, who is taking care of many issues and problems in formidable way.
Here is Adrian Kuessmann, the chief of the language department.
and Mônica Schreiner, who provides the logistical solutions for the cultural program here, just like Adair Gass.
here again, this time together with Theresa, the good spirit of the house; she makes sure that it's clean and orderly everywhere, including my space. She brought me a few times some amazingly tasty avocados from her own garden.
Eric Guerreiro Dos Santos, the young man who takes care of the technical issues in the office, and is a very nice and helpful person to boot...
Tonight I will go to the concert of Arthur Hornig, the young cellist from Berlin who joined me here on the 6th floor. He is playing tonight in the San Pedro Theater, the main joint for all the things classy in Porto Alegre. If I have more energy, I'll drop by In Sano Pub, where Luizinho Santos plays in the 18 piece big band on Mondays.
A somewhat lazy beginning of the day was quickly changed up, as Mimo Ferreira called saying he could give me a pandeiro lesson I asked for.
I start to put some videos of the gaucho musicians I'm finding out about.
Mimo told me of this Uruguayan music called candombe, which is played with 3 tambores drums. This genre is quite popular here, among others coming from the neigboring countries.
here is Gilberto Monteiro, a gaiteiro of the highest class, playing a milonga, one of the most popular genres down here.
Since the chronic problems with internet continue to plague us here, I am using the chance and sneak early in the morning in the room 43 which has a stable connection.
Well, it is actually possible to say that my "official" activities in the auditorium of the Goethe-Institut have been defined:
August 1 - Workshop 1 --- composition and improvisation. Hands-on look at some of the tactics and practices; tunes of Tim Berne, Andy Laster, Herbie Nichols and mine (modesty itself) will serve as examples.
August 2 - Workshop 2 ---- Jazz Piano --- whatever one can imagine, pertaining to the subject.
August 3 - Workshop 3 ----- well, actually, more of an informal meeting with everyone interested to discuss the music, try something out and exchange knowledge and opinions.
August 5 --- concert with Rafael Ferrari (bandolim) and friends. Playing Brazilian music - choros of Pixinguinha, sambas of Noel Rosa, as well musica gaúcha - milonga, vaneira and chamamé.
August 8 --- concert with Luizinho Santos (reeds) and friends, playing Brazilian popular contemporary music.
August 10 ---- solo and duo with Mimo Ferreira (percussion), playing my tunes, sambas, maracatú, and grooving open loose!
Afterwards Luizinho Santos picked me up and we went to his place to rehearse a bit. He and his wife Bethy Krieger, who is a pianist herself, were wonderful hosts, and I amused myself watching their dog Mel (Honey) jump around in excitement - new face, new smell…
We looked at some tunes Luizinho suggested, by Hermeto Pascoal and Egberto Gismonti. I stoically avoided playing thier admittedly brilliant music up until now, but it's fun now, in this context, to check it out. I also forced 2 new tunes of mine on Luizinho, and plan to come up with some more for the next rehearsal.
Continuing introducing the people working at the institute - here is Claus Herzer, the Brazilian of German descent, the man who solves the office problems just as well as the technical mishaps which do occur with certain regularity. Very nice, relaxed and helpful.
Another nice guy working in the organisation is Felipe Ritter. He has established the morning routine of learning each day a word of Russian from me. So far so good...
And here are 2 of the private security people who guard the entrance of the Institute day and night. Here it is quite necessary…
After some discussions in the office about the further tightening of the overall program, I caught up per Skype with an old friend of mine, Leonid Keylin, whom I went to Juilliard together with, and who's been living in Seattle for the past 25 years.
After that, I contacted Cândido, the guy Mimo hooked me up with to get a serious pandeiro, and, after yet another satisfiying "almoço" (Brazilian lunch), he came to the Institute, bringing me this beauty
It is bigger than the one I got here, the so-called "onze polegadas", eleven thumbs size - but it's light, got great sounding "platinellas", big bass sound etc.
Right after this Rafael came to the scheduled rehearsal. Even though he is very much a Brazilian, he pleasantly contrasts to most of his countrymen through his punctuality. We had a great rehearsal, playing milongas, vaneiras, sambas, just grooves and also looking at my new tunes, as well as his.
By the way, this is the upright piano I got put in my space upsatirs - and what a great move on the part of the organisation it was!
Since I am showing a bit around, here is my working space. It's so weird - I've been here two and a half weeks, and I am already so used to everything here, in the pad as well as in the immediate surroundings - the corner store, the "Apetito", a nice place I get almoço every second day, a small park of the Praça Julio de Castillios etc...
To finish today's show of things local, here are my gaúcho shoes called "alpargátas" - well, more like house shoes. The leather is amazingly soft and robust at once. They are of the very typical regional style and they also make some fashion statement...
This morning I really felt like getting out a bit, so I opted to get a "lotação" - a smaller and in this case more comfortable bus - and go to Bourbon Country Shoping. It's not that close to Goethe, so I had a chance to stare out of the window, absorb the views passing by and generally think of the past few weeks. The goal of this journey was to check out the "Livraria Cultura", a huge book store with a very good music section, which was supervised by this gentlemen - Alexsandro Gustavo Prinz Canal - who knew me by name and helped me find some interesting books on the social history of popular music in Brazil.
After a very nice and funny chat at lunch with Rosa, José and Eric, I had an hour of Portuguese with José. He is really a great guy, very considerate, polite and smart. I am totally lucky that he has agreed to teach me.
Right after that, it was time for another rehearsal with Mimo Ferreira. This time he brought bunch of cymbals and other stuff, as I asked for some sustained sounds as well.
He played for me on youtube some very groovy clips of Hugo Fattoruso, this great Uruguayan pianist, doing the candombe. The sound and the rhythms of the tambores are truly great.
No video here, but amazing tambores sound.
Then we switched to "ciranda", a Brazilan genre, usually somewhat more stately and often melancholic in character.
Now I agreed to write a ciranda for our upcoming concert and the recording date. Let|s see how this goes...
And the best news of the day - no, what am I saying, of the month - Eric managed to figure out the way to hook me up with a good stable internet connection. HURRAAAAAAH!!!!!
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.
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.
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...
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, easily 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.
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.
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!!
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.
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.
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.
Here are Dunia, Paulo, Bethy and Luizinho:
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.
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.
Morning flew by occupied by writing emails and organizing some rehearsals.
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 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.
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"
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.
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:
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…
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.
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
This one was dedicated to the jazz piano topics - the history, techniques and my personal approach to it, whatever it might mean…
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…
And here are Fernando, Dunia and I at the bar, after the second workshop.
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
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.
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.
Sleeping in late, to cure the flu which just doesn't want to leave me in peace.
I finally managed to catch in the bar Parangolé Professor Darcy Alves and his nephew Silfarnei, a wonderful duo appearing there every Thursday.
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.
Here he is in duo with Jaime Torres playing a Zamba.
Last night the first concert of the project took place in Goethe Institut.
Rafael Ferrari - bandolim
1. Maracatu Rústico ---- S. Nabatov
Everyone pulled their energies to make the best possible result, and I am so grateful to all the musicians for that!
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!
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.
Yesterday was yet another sunny day, and I decided to spend it outside, even though the flu still was bugging me…
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.
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...
A quiet day for me, mostly staying home and nursing the cold.
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
The next giant I am discovering today is Elomar Figueiro de Melo, or simply Elomar.
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 the great Argentinian bandoneon player Chaloy Jara:
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.
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.
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".
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.
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.
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.
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 chore, among many other things.
Here he plays one of his compositions 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 <b>Lupicínio Rodrigues.</b> 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
Nice warm day, begging to be spent outside, taking a stroll, sitting outside sipping a cold beer, relaxing…
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…
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.
Here is one of the greatest crooners of the yesteryear, Orlando Silva
and another great crooner, Francisco Alves
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.
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.
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...
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.
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, of course, 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.
The last full day of my residence in Porto Alegre. The trivial notion of the time flying by is more then 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.
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.
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!