Tag Archive: Brazilian music

Apr 18

The reason I started Eat Rio

Cristo-Redentor

 

Next month Eat Rio will be 3 years old. During this period I’ve written over 400 posts and 48 static pages; you guys have left more than 4,500 comments, and I’ve filtered out almost 2,000 spam comments (if I ever do inherit 22.9 million dollars from a long lost uncle in Nigeria, I’m almost certainly going to miss out). The Eat Rio Facebook page has almost 1,000 likes (come on people!) and the Eat Rio Twitter account has almost 1,000 followers (are you trying to torture me?).

Now I don’t want to get too misty eyed here but, for me at least, Eat Rio has meant more than just the numbers. Writing this blog has pushed me to investigate and learn more about this great city. I’ve also made lots of friends through the blog, had several of those mythical ‘free lunches’ and just recently I was able to escape a less than satisfying job and switch career paths completely. Not bad for 3 years!

It feels like an age ago now, but I still remember why I started this blog in the first place.

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Mar 14

Bezerra da Silva – Samba and the Malandro

Bezerra-da-silva

Every man in his area, Every monkey on his branch, Every cockerel in his yard, Every king in his deck

 

I only became aware of the subject of today’s post recently, when I passed that piece of street art (above) during carnival. It’s a nice piece of work and the guy has a nice looking face – then I saw the lyrics and decided it was time to find out more (starting with what a baralho is – a deck of playing cards).

Born in 1927 in Recife, José Bezerra da Silva grew up singing a North/Northeastern style of music called Coco. In 1942 he moved to Rio and in the 1950s found work as a session musician. His first record was released in 1969 and he went on to record 30 albums over the following 4 decades. He became particularly renowned for a style of samba known as partido alto.

 

Malandros and Malandragem

It seems impossible to say much about Bezerra without mentioning the term malandro. A malandro is someone who lives by malandragem, a lifestyle of hustling, petty crime and idleness. It wasn’t long after I got to Rio that I first came across this word malandro. Fittingly enough, a colleague was warning me about wandering down the wrong street in Lapa – “Watch out for malandros” she said. I say ‘fitting’ because, in Rio there is a strong association between malandros and Lapa.

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Feb 07

Gringo Funk

medley-in-brazil

 

If you spend any amount of time in Rio, you’ll find Baile Funk (AKA Funk Carioca) hard to avoid – you might hear it being played at the beach, on the bus or pumping out of clubs and favelas on the weekends.

I’ve spent a fair amount of listening-time trying to get into this style of music but with a few exceptions I’ve found most of it sits somewhere between ‘underwhelming’ and ‘downright annoying‘. To me, Baile Funk sounds about as unfunky as you can get.

I’ve watched a couple of documentaries about DJs coming over from Europe and the US and championing Baile Funk (Favela On Blast) and I always wonder if the estrangeiros really understand what the lyrics are all about (common criticisms levelled at funk music is that the lyrics are misogynistic and encourage the sexualisation of young girls).

Well, help is at hand for the confused gringo wannabe funkeiro. A group calling themselves “Medley In Brazil” have been performing translated versions of popular Funk tracks and the results are pretty hilarious. First have a listen to the original as Avassaladores (Overwhelmers?) sing this self-effacing song of modesty and meekness, Sou Foda:

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Oct 17

Vinícius de Moraes

When I get to the end of my life, I hope I’ll be able to look back and say that I lived a little. I guess things are going pretty well so far – I’ve travelled more than most (and had scrapes and adventures along the way), I’ve had some interesting jobs and I’ve met a good number of weird and wonderful people.

But no matter how interesting my life turns out to be, I doubt I’ll come close to the subject of today’s post. This Brazilian was born in 1913 and died in 1980 and during his 66 years he worked as a diplomat, musician, composer, poet and playwright. He married 8 times, had 4 kids, wrote a play that was adapted into an Oscar winning film and was central to the development of a new and hugely successful style of music. Oh yeah, and he co-wrote the second most recorded pop song of all time.

In case you haven’t guess yet, I’m talking about this guy:

Vinicius-de-Moraes

Vinícius de Moraes – a man of many talents.

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Sep 15

Bigode Grosso!

 

Tu ta maluco? Respeita o moço! Patente alta, da aula, bigode grosso!

 

This is the chorus from the latest funk track that is doing the rounds in Brazil right now. The track, performed by MC Marcelly, is called Bigode Grosso (Thick Moustache) and has been massively boosted by Neymar and other players incorporating it into recent goal celebrations.

Neymar-bigode-gross

Neymar doing the Bigode Grosso during a recent goleada (goal-fest) against Australia. Source

 

Trying to translate Funk lyrics is not always easy, but I’m not going to let that stop me! The chorus translates to something like this:

Are you crazy? Respect the guy! He’s high rank, he’ll teach you a lesson, thick moustache!

Pretty weird right?

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Sep 03

Moacir Santos – Brazilian Jazz Legend

How do you feel about Jazz? As musical genres go, I have mixed feelings. There is certainly plenty of music that would be described as Jazz that I really like – music from Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway and Miles Davis come to mind. But then I also have some negative associations with this broad genre, ranging from tedious, throwaway elevator music to the esoteric, bordering on inaccessible, modern jazz that seems like very hard work (more of this at the end).

Well today’s Brazilian musician and composer definitely falls into the Jazz category that I like! Moacir Santos was born in a small town in the Northeastern state of Pernambuco in 1924. Moacir’s father didn’t stick around for long and his mother died when he was just 2. Effectively orphaned, Santos was taken in and put through school by a local family, but at the age of 14 he ran away from home.

At this young age, Moacir could already play saxophone, clarinet, trumpet, drums, banjo, guitar and mandolin. He travelled around the northeastern states looking for work as a musician. He settled for a while in Recife and found studio work, gradually building a reputation for his swing-style saxophone playing.

moacir-santos-coisas

Moacir Santos’ 1965 album, Coisas (Things).

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Jun 13

Gal Costa

I think of the subject of today’s post as a quintessentially Brazilian woman: bold, sexy, and bursting with an effortless, natural confidence. This is Gal Costa:

Gal-Costa

Born as Maria da Graça Costa Penna Burgos but better known as simply Gal Costa. Photo by Antonio Guerreiro

 

Well, to be more accurate, that was Gal Costa. Gal was born in 1945 in Salvador, Bahia. Apparently when Gal’s mother was pregnant, she spent hours listening to classical music in the hope that it would make her child musical. Seems like it worked!

Her career has been interwoven with other legends of Brazilian music such as Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso, Tom Zé and others of the Tropicália scene. Here you can hear her singing Gilberto Gil’s ridiculously catchy track, Barato Total: 

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May 24

Paulinho da Viola

Phew – Friday at last! It’s been a busy couple of weeks hence the paucity of posts, and after yesterday’s slightly ‘dense’ offering, I thought I’d follow up today with something a little lighter.

On my way to work this morning I was sharing a bus with one of those people who play music through the speaker on their phone. Oh man, who doesn’t hate that?

Anyway, it turns out I was the winner because this guy’s selfish behaviour prompted me to play my own music (through headphones, claro) and I stumbled across a joyous piece of music by this man:

paulinho-da-viola

Paulinho da Viola. Doesn’t he just look like a really nice guy? I know they say it’s wrong to judge people by appearances, but it doesn’t seem so bad when you’re making a positive judgement, right?

 

From an early age, Paulinho was surrounded by legends of Brazilian music such as Pixinguinha and Jacob do Bandolim. In turn Paulinho went on to become a legend in his own right, famed for his sophisticated melodies and gentle singing voice. His career as a Sambista, composer and musician has spanned 50 years and during this time he has released 27 albums and toured worldwide. On top of all that, by all accounts he is a really good guy.

OK, so back to that song that cheered me on my way to work. It’s a simple, cheerful tune though, somewhat typically of Brazilian music, the lyrics tell a rather sad tale of a guy who has decided he won’t play his guitar anymore because someone has made him unhappy. Well, the words might be sad, but listening to this makes me happy! I hope you like it too – have a great weekend.

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Jan 17

Toca Raul!

Wow, it’s been an exhausting week so far – early starts, late finishes and my long commute mean that I’ve been feeling like a bit of a zombie. At times like these I find that a little music therapy can help. Something uplifting and energizing should do it and I know just the thing.

A little while back I was reading Phil’s excellent blog, when I noticed a post with a rather provocative title: The Best Brazilian Rock Album Ever? The post described the album Krig-ha, Bandolo! by Raul Seixas. At the time I had only just been made aware of Raul Seixas, so when I saw the name and the cool album cover, my interest was piqued.

 

Krig-ha, Bandolo!

Krig-ha, Bandolo! Raul Seixas’ first solo album.

 

Phil has done a great track by track summary of the album so I won’t repeat his work. What I will do is highlight a couple of my favourite tracks. First off, let’s listen to something to something bright and uplifiting that will hopefully wake me up mid-way through another long day at the grindstone.

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Jan 03

Carnival Songs: Cachaça não é água

OK, so that’s Christmas and New Year out of the way – let’s turn our thoughts to Carnival shall we? This year it starts in early February but some years it doesn’t start until March – I’ve heard several Cariocas say that it doesn’t feel like the year has really started until after carnival. Personally I’m rather pleased to have a break from the festivities – 8-12 weeks is the perfect amount of time to recharge the batteries and forget all those ridiculous resolutions you made while you were wallowing in post-Christmas guilt.

When I think of carnival in Rio, I picture thousands of happy revelers at a bloco, dressed in crazy costumes, singing along to one of the many Marchinhas de Carnaval (traditional carnival songs). During my first carnival I found this a little frustrating – everyone knew the words but me! By my second carnival I had started to pick up the tunes and even bluff my way through some of the choruses. This year I plan to be singing along like a professional!

 

Cachaça

This is Cachaça, not to be confused with water…

 

So I thought I’d help out fellow carnival newbies with some suggested reading/singing. In the run-up to the big week, I’ll post a selection of my favourites carnival tunes. Learn these songs and you’ll feel like you’ve been carnivaling for years!

Today we’ll start with a cautionary tale which highlights the differences between water and Brazil’s favourite spirit – the song is called “Cachaça”.

 

Água de carnaval

This is water (cachaça is cheap, but not that cheap!).

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