Monday, January 28, 2008

all in the family, Velha Guarda da Portela

Members of the "Old Guard" of Portela, one of the most revered samba schools in Rio. So many illustrious composers and artists have emerged from this school: Paulinho da Viola, Clara Nunes, João Nogueira, Candeia, to name a few...

The gentleman on the far left is Casquinha, partner to the late but immortal Candeia. Listen to Mestre Casquinha singing "Esta Melodia" with the Mensageiros do Samba da Portela from the 1966 album A Vez do Morro. The Mensageiros include not only Candeia and Casquinha, but also David do Pandeiro, Picolino, Casemiro, Arlindo, Jorge do Violão, Bubu:

"Esta melodia"(Bubu da Portela e Jamelão)
from the album A Vez do Morro (1966)

The lady with the thick-rimmed glasses and dark necklace is Tia Doca, host of the legendary pagode (see video clip) that has been happening since 1975. You can hear her singing a traditional folk song on the 1982 album O Canto dos Escravos:

"Canto X" (traditional folksong)
from the album O Canto dos Escravos (1982)
featuring Clementina de Jesus, Tia Doca & Geraldo Filme

The gentlman on the far right is Monarco. The other pastoras include Tia Surica, Tia Eunice and Áurea, daughter of late portelense Manacéia. (thank you, reader ranjan, for your comment and correction!)

Ipanema Beach, Dois Irmãos

samba do trem


December 2nd is Dia Nacional do Samba. Although it's supposed to be a "national" holiday, nowhere is it celebrated with such vigor as in Rio. The samba train (actually multiple trains) depart from Central Station and head to Oswaldo Cruz where another party awaits. Every single car in the train has its own samba jam going on simultaneously. The entire city, it seemed, had a samba happening on every corner.

The song is "Aquarela Brasileira" by Silas de Oliveira.

we start 'em young


I couldn't resist. I had to post this one. Also from the pagode at Tia Doca's place.

Song: "Alguém me avisou" by Dona Ivone Lara.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

can you say cuíca (kuWEEkah) without a smile?


This video was shot at Tia Doca's pagode in Madureira in November 2007. To get there I had to take a bus, subway and a train for about an hour and a half. Carlinhos da Cuíca is a legendary player, considered one of the best cuíca players in Rio. In Brazil you don't get to take on the instrument as a last name unless you got mad skills...

the one that got away... Camunguelo

I would like to dedicate my first "official" post relating to my research to Cláudio Lopes dos Santos.

Camunguelo (as he was widely known among circles of aficionados, night owls, and bohemians of Rio's samba scene) passed away on December 24th of 2007.

I was quite sad to hear the news. I did not know him, but I remember seeing him at many sambas during the previous years that I had been doing research in Rio. I began to wonder, and even mentioned to some friends, that I had not seen him around since I arrived in Rio in September 2007. I had no idea that his health had taken such a turn. At the risk of sounding like a selfish researcher, I regret not trying to get an interview with him when I saw him last year. I put it off thinking that I would catch him on my next visit to Brazil...

Camunguelo was a towering figure that stood over 6 feet tall. He was never seen without his trademark white hat. He was an amazing self-taught flautist, as well as one of a dying breed of dueling samba improvisors, partideiros. His parents were some of the original inhabitants of the mythical "Little Africa" district in Praça Onze where urban samba was born among the parties hosted by the tias baianas (Bahian Aunts). He made his own plastic flutes when he was a kid and claimed that he could usually learn and play a song faster than someone who could read the music for it!

Camunguelo also wrote (along with then virtually unknown Zeca Pagodinho) one of my favorite sambas of all time. "Amarguras" is from the 1981 album, Samba é no Fundo de Quintal - Vol. 2 by Fundo de Quintal. In my personal opinion, one of the best samba albums of all time.

"Amarguras" (Camunguelo e Zeca Pagodinho)
from Samba é no Fundo de Quintal - Vol. 2 (1981) by Fundo de Quintal

De que vale a vida se eu não tenho a sorte
Se a alma é fraca pra que corpo forte
E pra que sorrir se não há esperança

De se ver surgir o dia da bonança

Do ferir da carne vê-se a cor do sangue

E sentir-se como um barco atolado em um mangue

A poeira pura a me sufocar

E ainda vem você pra me mandar calar

Chove chuva, traz o vento

Ressabiando a maré

Pra acabar com a dor do mundo

E dor de quem em Deus tem fé

E a chuva com o vento vem pra me fortalecer

E faz as amarguras esquecer

What good is life if I don’t have luck?
If the soul is weak, why a strong body?
And why smile if there is no hope
Of seeing the dawn of serenity?
From the flesh wounds, see the color of blood
And feel like a shipwreck in a swamp
The pure dust to suffocate me
And then for you to tell me to shut up
Bring the rain, bring the wind
Deceive the tide
To end the pain of the world
And the pain of who has faith in God
And the rain with the wind come to strengthen me
And make me forget the bitterness

*The exact translation of amarguras would be "bitter things" meaning bad memories or tribulations. Poetic license for the translator, please.

Photo by Paulo Eduardo Neves (2001) was "borrowed" from the Agenda do Samba e Choro. Obrigado Paulo, espero que você não se importe!

new year, new blog!

So, I can almost say that this is one of my new year's resolutions. I love them. Even when I don't stick with them. I hope this one works. This is the best way for me to share my thoughts with myself, and the occasional web spy or friend.

I am going to dedicate this blog to my time in Brazil while doing my research. I hope to get more motivated to get my notes, thoughts, ideas, photos, videos, scraps, compositions, complaints, etc. (not that I actually have all those things...) into a somewhat orderly fashion.

The point is to write... and write...

Please feel free to comment, criticize, insult, praise, or otherwise adulate me.