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Vinicius-de-Moraes

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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Moacir-Santos

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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Gal-Costa

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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paulinho-da-viola

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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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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The challenging sound of Funk Carioca

I can’t speak for the whole of Rio, but if you live in or around my neighbourhood, you can’t have missed a distinctive new sound during the last month or two. The sound I’m talking about is a Funk Carioca (AKA Baile Funk) track called Fala Mal De Mim. I guess the literal translation would be “Speak badly of me”, but probably a better translation would be “Talk sh*t about me”. The artist responsible for this is MC Beyonce.

 

mcbeyonce

This is MC Beyonce. She’s seems very nice, just don’t talk sh*t about her hair or make up. And definitely don’t attempt to steal her boyfriend…

 

Wanna hear the track? OK, here it is:

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Não fala que grava!

I’ve mentioned a few of my favourite Brazilian albums in recent months – music by artists such as Jorge BenJoão Gilberto and Novos Baianos to name a few. There are a lot of other artists still to talk about, but one name is particularly conspicuous by its absence.

Antônio Carlos Jobim

Also known as Tom Jobim, this colossus of Brazilian music is known as the main force behind the creation of Bossa Nova and one of the most talented and successful composers of the 20th century. You can’t mention the man without also mentioning his most famous composition, Garota de Ipanema (The Girl from Ipanema). The original (Portuguese) lyrics are so much nicer than the English version that it’s reason enough to learn Portuguese in itself!

For me, it seems like this subject is almost to big to cover – I don’t know enough about him and besides, you can get a better run-down of this man and his story on Wikipedia.

Tom Jobim

Tom Jobim (sounds kind of like Tohn zho-been). The man credited (along with João Gilberto) with the creation of Bossa Nova.

 

So instead of trying to cover Jobim’s entire career, I’m going to focus on just a single song.

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Secos e Molhados

I wanted to start a little differently today. What I’d like you to do is click on a link – this will open another window/tab on your browser into which will load a youtube clip. There may be an advert that you have to wait for – once the proper clip starts playing I want you to come back here to continue reading. Everyone clear on that? You’ll continue reading here while the music is playing there.

OK, here is the link: http://youtu.be/bAdlGZSaQRg

Secos e Molhados

I should explain to younger readers that this is what was known as an ‘LP’.

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Novos Baianos

Brazilian music has been on the Eat Rio menu quite a bit recently – we’ve charted the highs of João Gilberto and Bossa Nova and we plumbed the lows of a plagiarising Rod Stewart, legs akimbo. In one of the comments I was even accused of having good taste in music! Well, I feel that I have a real ace left up my sleeve when it comes to Brazilian music recommendations.

There is a very select group of albums that I mentally file under the label “Solid Gold”. You know, no dud tracks – what you might call perfect albums. This list includes Blondie’s Parallel Lines, Neil Young’s After The Goldrush, Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds, Van Morrison’s Moondance (you’ll let me know if this starts to get a little self-indulgent won’t you?).

Well, since coming to Brazil I have a new album to add to this list of mine. It is called Acabou Chorare (which means ‘No More Crying’) and is the work of a group called Novos Baianos. What can I say about this album? It really is one of my favourite albums of all time – a beautiful piece of work.

Novos Baianos

Novos Baianos – the founding members (from left to right) Luiz Galvão, Baby Consuelo, Paulinho Boca de Cantor and Moraes Moreira.

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What links Rod Stewart, George Benson and Zumbi?

If you’re asking yourself who or what Zumbi is then go and check out yesterday’s post. OK, so I’m going to assume that we’re all up to speed on Zumbi. I’m sure you guys know about the other two, but just in case, this is Rod Stewart:

This is Rod on a visit to Brazil in 1978. I can’t say for sure, but I suspect Rod didn’t need much persuading to wear a sunga…

 

And this is George Benson:

Looks pretty happy with himself doesn’t he?

 

So what do these guys have in common with each other and also with a 17th Century leader of escaped slaves?

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