Solidão – Argemiro Patrocínio

A sambista, born in the Piedade suburb of Rio, Argemiro was a member of the famous Velha Guarda da Portela, and in all his life he only launched a single album (below) of his own music, at 80 years old. He’s also responsible for the early 80’s hit, A Chuva Cai.

Bonus: Full Album (w/o the Solidão song)

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Bezerra da Silva – Vítima da Sociedade

Youtube won’t let me embed Vítima da Sociedade.

Victim of Society
Bezerra da Silva

If you want to arrest a thief
You can go back the way you came
The thief is hiding down below
Behind a tie and a collar

Just because I live on the hill
You awake my misery
The truth is I walk around hungry
I never stole from anyone, I’m a working man
If there’s a bank robbery
How is it that you can’t arrest the powerful boss
Cause the newspapers are saying that only theives live on the hills

…..

On the hill no one has a mansion
Not a house in the countryside for the summer
Not a yacht for a maritime ride
Nor a private plane
We are victims of a society
That is notorious and full of mischief
On the hill no one has millions of dollars
Deposited in a Swiss bank

Elizeth Cardoso – Barracão do Zinco

I’m going to do it old-school today and present two songs by Elizeth Cardoso, an actress and one of the great divas of Brazilian bossa nova and samba who left us with 40-something albums of her work. The first song (Barracão do Zinco) was one of her biggest hits and the bonus is the second song (Naquela Mesa).

The Fashionable Brazil

Brazil is a fashionable country when it comes to certain cliches, which became cliches for all the right reasons (Carnival, soccer, beaches, etc). From the late 50’s and onwards, with the success of Bossa nova (here’s the 1st ever Bossa nova song*) and a progressively increasing number of other cultural movements, the concept of Brazil as a fashionable place has been kept alive and kicking and it most likely makes up for much of the allure for the foreign tourist.

I think we can even go back a little further in time to find another stylish thing that found its home in Brazil. It is said that samba became popular after Pelo Telefone (By Telephone) was created in 1917 by a collective of musicians who would get together at the house of Tia Ciata, one of the tias baianas (Afro-Brazilian women from Bahia who lived in Rio de Janeiro in the early half of the 20th century), a Brazilian cook and spiritual leader, otherwise known as a mãe-de-santo. This first famous samba song was soon after recorded by singer Donga and composer Mauro de Almeida, to whom most will still attribute its creation.

Going back even further, one could say that 1808 was the year that Brazil became fashionable when the first and only European king transfered his court to the Americas, or more specifically, to Rio de Janeiro. I think the obvious question when considering the origins of Brazilian allure is to ask at any given time, to whom is it fashionable? Unfortunately, fashion has a long history of being a top-down affair such as the day in 1808 when the women of the Portuguese court finally descended the ships with shaved heads and wearing turbins. The female residents of Rio, not realizing this was due to an infestation of piolhos (head lice) aboard, decided it must be the new fashion from Europe and proceded to imitate the new style.

I’ll leave it to you to add any reasons Brazil might have been considered fashionable pre-1900’s. What it comes down to is answering the ultimate questions such as, “What was Brazil?”, “What is Brazil?” and “What will come of Brazil?” and by looking at what Brazil is known for (the easy answer, the fashionable movements it creates), such questions can begin to be approached. 

* – The song Bim Bom in the link above is sung by Astrud Gilberto but the composer was her then-husband, João Gilberto, who wrote the song while watching laundresses balancing clothes baskets on their heads on the banks of the São Francisco River. In Astrud’s video recording on a French television show, the story is that the French had the impression that Brazilians liked to move their body and when Astrud didn’t, the producer decided to add the dancing idiot in the clip.

Beth Carvalho – Samba nas veias

Thanks to DJ Vivo’s Brazilian Beatz podcast, I came into contact with the music of Beth Carvalho, who I had heard of yet never actually heard. 

Beth Carvalho is a Brazilian samba singer, guitarist, cavaquinist and also a composer.

Carvalho is a very important artist in the history of samba, for she has celebrated and brought stronger light, with great reverence, to the work of legendary composers such as Cartola, Nelson Cavaquinho & Guilherme de Brito in times where they weren’t receiving the attention they deserved. Almost all of her records have songs by these composers, among other legendary sambistas such as Nelson Sargento and the Old Guard of Portela. Her samba school is Mangueira, but that didn’t stop her from revering and recording dozens of songs from composers of Portela, the other most traditional samba school in Rio de Janeiro.

Coisinha do Pai (with her daughter Luana Carvalho dancing)

Samba to Bossa Documentary

Comprehensive review of Brazilian music which tells the story of the styles and the artists that have captured the world’s imagination for decades. This edition covers the history of samba, from the early days of slavery to flamboyant stars like Carmen Miranda and Elza Soares, and shows how samba’s off-shoot bossa nova went global back in the early 1960s. Featuring specially-shot performances, interviews and rare archive footage.

Part 1

Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6

Jongo – Roots of Samba

Jongo is an essentially rural cultural manifestation directly associated with the African culture in Brazil. The formation of samba carioca was heavily influenced by Jongo. 

Inserting itself within the so-called ‘dances of the belly strike’ (however being related to the ‘Semba’ or ‘Masemba’ of Angola), the Jongo was brought to Brazil by Bantus. Generally, these Bantus were kidnapped in the ancient kingdoms of Ndongo and Kongo, which nowadays makes up most of the region of Angola. 

Composed through characteristics of music and dance and animated by improvisational poets, the Jongo most likely has its origins in the traditional Angolan guessing games, the Jinongonongo. One essential characteristic of the Jongo is the utilization of symbols that, aside from maintaining rhythm, possess a magical function, apparently provoking paranormal phenomenon. Among the more evident ones, one can cite the fire, with which the instruments are tuned; the drums, that are considered to be ancestors of the community’ the circular form of the dance with a couple in the middle, which refers to fertility; and not to forget, the rich metaphors used by the jongueiros (participants of the Jongo) in order to compose its main points and whose meaning is inaccessible to those not yet initiated. 

These days, both men and women can participate in the Jongo, but this participation in its original form was very restricted to the initiated or the more experienced members. This factor relates itself to the ethical and social norms commonly found in other traditional societies, such as the Amerindians. The basis is a respect and obedience towards the older individuals and the ancestral past. 

Historical research indicates that the Jongo possesses, within its Bantu origins, the need to create diverse communities, similar to secret societies and political-religious sects. These fraternities had an important role in the resistance of slavery, as a means of communication, organization and even the purchase of liberated slaves. 

The Jongo is made up of singing and dancing, with the accompaniment of the urucungo (a musical Bantu arc, that gave way to the berimbau), the violin and pandeiro, in addition to the consecrated drums, used even today, called Tambu or Caxambu. The Jongo is still widely practiced today in various cities: The Vale do Paraíba in the Southeast region of Brazil, to the South of the state of Rio de Janeiro and to the North of São Paulo. 

Below is an example of one group of Jongo, called Jongo do Quilombo de São José, which is more traditional. It is followed by another group called Jongo da Serrinha, which is more contemporary. After the videos, you’ll find links to a documentary.

 

Here is a documentary (in Portuguese) on the Jongo

Part 1Part 2 and Part 3.