BMoF today could not but honor Nelson Mandela, without a doubt one of the greatest humans in the 20th century and possibly of all times. There is probably no better way to honor him than with music – a man who once said “it is music and dancing that makes me at peace with the world and at peace with myself”. There is much in common between the place that music occupies in people’s lives in South Africa and in Brazil, and this statement by Mandela encapsulates how many Brazilians feel about life, music and dancing (that's certainly the case for this particular Brazilian…).
I found this 1990 video of the pop band Paralamas do Sucesso performing ‘Free Nelson Mandela’, where they reveal their roots as a ska/reggae band. They appeared in the 1980s, and provided much of the soundtrack for my childhood and early teens. They continue to play and record to this day, despite some set-backs (in particular the ultra-light accident of the band leader Herbert Vianna in the early 2000s, which killed his wife and left him paraplegic).
So let’s all get up and sing for (and with) Mandela, and thank him for all he’s done to make this world a better place. (The music itself starts at 1.10.)
This week I had to deal with a fair amount of emotional stupidity from people who are very dear to me. So I was inevitably reminded of this song, ‘Sua estupidez’, composed by Roberto Carlos and Erasmo Carlos but at its best in this Gal Costa version (1969), which I listened to a lot around the time that my father died, in 1998 (he was also an example of emotional stupidity of this kind). The key part of the lyrics: “Your stupidity does not let you see that I love you”. Enough said.
UPDATE: This post seems to have gotten some people worried, apologies for that. It's nothing serious, just an argument with someone I'm very close to.
Here is one more for the ‘new sounds’ category (we’ve been surprisingly modern as of lately here at BMoF). Anelis Assumpção is a young singer who mashes Brazilian and Jamaican rhythms (dub, reggae etc.) in her music. She also happens to be the daughter of Itamar Assumpção, one of the main exponents of the alternative music scene of São Paulo in the 1980s and 1990s, known as Vanguarda Paulista (he died prematurely 10 years ago). But Anelis is her own woman, and has been making some great music for some years already.
I discovered her music through a school friend I reconnected with thanks to almighty Facebook, Giba Nascimento. Giba is himself a musician, and composed and recorded the reggae ‘Not falling’ with Anelis -- he’s the guy on the bike in the brand-new (and pretty awesome!) video-clip below. (It’s not so surprising that so many of my friends from school ended up becoming musicians/artists, as until the age of 14, I went to a typical artsy/lefty school.) I’m also posting ‘Sonhando’ (a collaboration with another young singer, Karina Buhr), from her 2011 album Sou suspeita estou sujeita nao sou santa. Both great tracks but very different from each other, which reveals Anelis’ versatility. Good stuff!
Here is a brand new band, which my kool friends in Sao Paulo are all raving about, but which is still little known outside these circles: 5 a Seco. (They are so new that they don't even have a wikipedia page!). I'm still getting to know them, so I can't tell you much more than this, but when they become the new hot thing in Brazilian music worldwide, you can say that you heard about them first here at BMoF. So here is 'Feliz pra cachorro'.
My friend Fabio Goes posted a very nice link over at FB earlier this week: 10 fairly established artists/musicians (including Goes himself) were asked to talk about the newcomers in the musical scene they are particularly fond of. The result is a priceless collection of the very latest good music being made in Brazil. To give you a taste of it, I’m posting a song by newcomer Rodrigo Campos sung by rap star Criolo, and a duet of Goes himself with his ‘nominee’, Jennifer Souza. But in truth, the whole selection is very much worth listening to.
I haven't posted anything by Jorge Ben(jor) for a while, so here is the easy-going, mellow samba 'Ive Brussel', from his 1979 album Salve Simpatia. It is a duo with Caetano Veloso, which makes it even more enjoyable. So let the weekend come!
Short BMoF today, but with a real gem, and
again (after the Venezuelan Los Amigos last week) something coming from one of
our dear neighbors. ‘Volver a los diecisiete’ is one of the classics composed
by the Chilean iconic singer Violeta Parra, and here it is sung by a stellar
group of people: the great Argentinian singer Mercedes Sosa, Chico Buarque,
Caetano Veloso, Milton Nascimento and Gal Costa. (This extraordinary confluence took place at a music TV show that Caetano and Chico used to host back
in the 1980s – those were the days…) It's a South-American classic, which I listened to countless times in my childhood (it was especially popular among academic lefties like my parents), and which remains timelessly beautiful.
It’s been a while since I last posted
something that is 'technically speaking' not Brazilian (in the past, I posted on
Cuban piano player Roberto Fonseca, Cape-Verdean diva Cesária Évora and
Argentinian hero Spinetta), so today I’ll be posting a couple of songs by the
awesome Venezuelan band Los Amigos Invisibles. I first got to know their
music back in 1999, when I stayed at an apartment full of Venezuelans for a
week in Florence (long story…). All they played, day and night, was Los Amigos’
second album The New Sound of the
Venezuelan Gozadera (1998), and I immediately fell in love with the music:
it’s disco, Latin, fun, groovy, funky, all in one! What more can you ask for?
Since then, I continued to follow their
career, and in 2006 attended one of their concerts at the SoB venue in NYC (Los
Amigos relocated to NYC after the success of their 2003 album, The Venezuelan Zinga Son). They keep
producing great music; their latest album was released earlier this year, and
coming to think of it, why don’t they come play here in the Netherlands?
I’m posting here my favorite song from The New Sound…, ‘Ponerte en cuatro’
(yep…), my favorite song from the album following it (Arepa 3000), ‘La vecina’, and to justify their appearance here at BMoF, one
of their songs with Brazilian undertones, ‘Es la verdad’, from their 2009 album
Commercial. So now you really have no
excuse not to get up and dance: it’s Friday, and you've just discovered one of the
most danceable bands of all times.
I’ve mentioned a fewtimes that Djavan was
for years my very favorite singer, and I’m still a huge fan of much of his
oeuvre (but admittedly not very familiar with the more recent stuff). In this
context, I was very happy to hear about an album that came out earlier this year: Samba Dobrado, where singer Rosa Passos
sings nothing but Djavan songs (some of the classics as well as lesser known
gems). Rosa Passos has a limpid, precise singing style, which reminds me of the
great João Gilberto (she openly acknowledges him as one of her greatest
influences). She has built a solid career over the last decades, but is not
very well known among the ‘masses’, so to speak. Her Djavan album, however, has
attracted a considerable amount of attention, so it looks like she is finally
getting the recognition she deserves.
I haven’t been able to listen to the whole
album yet, and only found two of the songs on youtube (there are quite a few live videos, but with poor sound quality): ‘Linha do equador’ (here
in the original Djavan version of 1992) and ‘Samba dobrado’, which lends the
name to the album (here in the original Djavan version of 1978). But if all
goes well I should receive my copy of the CD at the end of this month, when a
dear friend who is in Brazil now returns to the Netherlands. Can’t wait!
And in the meantime, I treat BMoF readers to some beautiful music.
(Short BMoF ahead.) I’m a reasonably big
fan of the guitar-voice duo Tuck and Patti, but to my knowledge there is only
one Brazilian song recorded by them: ‘O Cantador’ by Dori Caymmi (son of the great Dorival Caymmi). The song has been covered by a number of
other people, including Ella Fitzgerald and Sergio Mendes (but then again,
which song has he not covered?), and in English it is referred to as ‘Like a
lover’. So here is the original version with Dori Caymmi, from his 1972 album,
and then the Tuck and Patti version, from their 1989 album Love Warriors. (The video is really weird though, it looks like some
creepy tribute to Michael Jackson, but it’s the only one with the Tuck and
Patti version that I could find on youtube.)
Last weekend my husband and I welcomed the visit of very
dear friends: a couple who, like us, is Dutch-Brazilian. They are both musicians (she is a singer, and he is a trumpet
player), so we always end up spending a considerable amount of time talking
about and listening to music. Interestingly, she (the Dutch half of the couple)
had never heard of the best Brazilian band of all times, Os Mutantes, while he
(the Brazilian half) had never heard of the best Dutch band of all times, Doe
Maar. So it was my pleasure and honor to rectify this strange situation, and we spent
quite some time listening both to Os Mutantes and Doe Maar. This gave me the
idea for this special edition of BMoF: THE BATTLE OF BANDS!
I’m posting below two songs by each of the two bands, and
people can vote in comments if they want. Os Mutantes have already made a
number of appearances here at BMoF, as befits the best Brazilian band of all
times. They were active in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and their music is
of the best experimental, psychedelic vintage around. Doe Maar was active in the early 1980s, and their music is both a reflection of the
Zeitgeist of the time (punk, post-punk, ska, verging towards new wave) and
perennially awesome. For Os Mutantes, I
give you ‘Top top’ and ‘Technicolor’ (in English), both from Jardim Eletrico (1971); for Doe Maar, I give you
‘Tijd genoeg’ (1982) and ‘Bella Donna’ (instrumental, 1980). (You can see it as a musical version
of the football epic matches between Brazil and the Netherlands in numerous
World Cups – last time, to the latter’s advantage…)
I wasn’t quite sure what to post today (a
good friend suggested an album by Francis Hime and Guinga, according to him a real
gem, but I haven’t had the chance to check it out yet – maybe for next week!). Then,
Sublime FM, the radio station I listen to in the car, came to the rescue. They
play the occasional Brazilian song, and one that they seem to like quite a bit
is ‘Quero ver você no baile’ by singer Paula Lima, below the fold in a live version. I first came across her in
the late 1990s, as one of the singers of Funk como le gusta (a band I posted
about before), and now she has been enjoying a fruitful solo career for quite a few
years. So here you see what happens when samba meets funk -- good stuff! (And I don’t mean
funk Carioca, about which I still have mixed feelings...)
By the time this goes on line on Friday, I’ll be in
Salzburg for the SOPhiA conference, so I'm writing on Tuesday evening. For a variety of reasons (including the terrible weather, and we are officially still in summer!), today I could use
a bit of optimism in life, so I figured I could post a song that has been on my
mind for BMoF for a while: ‘O que é, o que é?’ (1982) by Gonzaguinha. The diminutive,
‘little Gonzaga’, refers to the fact that Gonzaguinha was the son of the great
Luiz Gonzaga, the king of baião. But Gonzaguinha did not follow his father’s
footsteps of forró and baião; instead, he developed his own style, mixing and
matching different strands of folk Brazilian music. ‘O que é, o que é?’, for example, is an
amazing samba, and one of those songs that everyone in Brazil can sing, at
least the chorus:
Mas isso nao impede que eu repita/ é
bonita, é bonita e é bonita!
(This doesn’t prevent me from repeating/ it
is beautiful, it is beautiful and it is beautiful!)
I've been so absorbed with thoughts on reductio proofs today that I forgot that it's Friday! But in the spirit of dialectic and adversarial encounters prompted by the conference on dialectic and Aristotle's logic that we hosted this week in Groningen, I was reminded of a peculiar Brazilian folk tradition, that of the Repentistas. These are duels involving two musicians, where each improvises the lyrics as they go along, attempting to ridicule their opponent -- in other words, very much in the spirit of ancient dialectic! (Historically, the tradition traces back to the medieval troubadour tradition.) The name 'repente' means 'sudden', and refers to the improvised nature of the music.
There are two kinds of repentes: accompanied by guitars, called 'cantoria', and accompanied by tambourines, called 'embolada'. Below a video of two emboladores performing in the center of Sao Paulo, and here a link to an album entirely dedicated to repentistas. Things can get quite aggressive with these guys!
One of the places I visited while in Brazil recently was Recife, the capital of the state of Pernambuco (unfortunately, a very brief visit this time). Pernambuco is culturally
very rich, both in terms of folk culture and in terms of education (including
one of the oldest institutions of higher education in Brazil, the Law Faculty
of Recife), and more relevant for BMoF readers, it hosts a lively musical tradition. The
‘King of Baião’ Luiz Gonzaga is a Pernambucan, and the region has a number of
other characteristic rhythms such as frevo and maracatu.
So to showcase this great musical tradition, I’m posting
here songs by three of my favorite
musicians from Pernambuco: Alceu Valença, Chico Science and Lenine. All three
have made previous appearances here at BMoF, but good music is always worth
listening to again! (At least I’m picking different songs…)
So BMoF is back after the summer break. I always have wild plans
of restocking on all the latest releases when I’m in Brazil over the summer
(well, winter there), but this time in particular the harvest has been somewhat
meager (I seem to have been busy with other things). But I did buy one album
that I’ve been enjoying quite a bit since: Vanessa da Matta canta Tom Jobim.
Tom Jobim is without a doubt the most remarkable composer of all times in
Brazilian music, as attested by this collection featuring nothing but memorable
songs, one after another.
One might think that there isn’t much left to be done
in the ‘interpreting Tom Jobim’ department, and yet Vanessa da Matta achieves
quite a few surprising versions of these beautiful classics. Today, I’m
posting her version of ‘Eu sei que vou te amar’ ('I know I will always love you' -- lyrics by Vinicius de Moraes),
which is surprising in that it’s almost humorous, in a slightly mocking, bolero
style. For the contrast, I’m also posting the über-dramatic (and awesome)
version of the song by Caetano Veloso (from his 1978 album Muito). Which one do you like best, people?
Yesterday we hit the night and went to one of the most fun events currently in the São Paulo nightlife: Festa Javali, which takes place every two weeks and fills the dancefloor with people of all walks of life, who are there to dance to a mix of Brazilian and non-Brazilian non-obvious 'classics' of the 80s and 90s (think B-52s, New Order, Tim Maia, but even including Madonna and the occasional Euro-trash of the 80s), along with some recent stuff too.
One of the tracks that made its appearence yesterday was a gem of Brazilian 80s pop, 'Totalmente demais', a big hit by the otherwise not very remarkable band Hanoi-Hanoi. The original version is of 1985, and soon after Caetano Veloso recorded the song in one of his (many) live albums, Totalmente Demais (1986). (He clearly did like the song a lot...) So here are the two versions, the ultra-pop original version and Caetano's very 'caetany' version. (And check here for a recent live version with Caetano and Arnaldo Brandão, the composer and original singer of the song.)
Special edition of BMoF, but not a happy one: Dominguinhos,
one of the greatest Brazilian accordionists and musical heir of Luiz Gonzaga –
second only to Gonzaga in the pantheon of Brazilian northeastern music (think
forró and baião) – passed away yesterday, aged 72. He is also known as the composer
of a number of classics, such as ‘Eu só quero um xodó’ (famous in
particular in the Gilberto Gil version), ‘Lamento sertanejo’, and so many
others. I’m posting these two songs below, the first in the somewhat unusual but beautiful combination of Dominguinhos and a
jazz orchestra, and the second a live performance. (If you want more, check this
list of 10 Dominguinhos tracks by the Brazilian Rolling Stone.)
The bit of good news is that a documentary on Dominguinhos,
featuring in particular duos with a number of musicians such as Gilberto Gil,
Lenine and many others, is in the final stages of production. It was shot in
2011, before Dominguinhos’s health deteriorated further, and promises to be a
more than deserved final homage to a great musician. (See here for a teaser.)
This one is coming from the Facebook updates of my buddy
Fabio Góes: Curumin, a young (well, he’s my age, so I’ll call him young!)
musician from São Paulo whose music mixes Brazilian beats with funk, lounge,
hip hop, electronica, and more. (Curumin, which means 'child' in the indigenous Tupi-Guarani language, is the stage name of Luciano Nakata Albuquerque. The nickname comes from the fact that Curumin started performing at a very young age, and thus was the 'kiddo' among the grown-ups.) He’s still a bit of a hidden gem internationally, but ready to
be discovered! I’m posting here ‘Selvage’, which has a newly released fun
videoclip (below), and the reggae ‘Doce’, both from his third album Arrocha, from last year. I don’t know his work very well yet, but certainly intend
to explore it further in the very near future. (Maybe he’ll be performing in
São Paulo somewhere in the coming weeks? That would be great, as I’ll be there for much of the next 4
(And on this note, BMoF will take its usual summer break, unless
I come across stuff that requires urgent posting. We’ll be back on August 23rd
at the latest.)
I was not too inspired to choose music for BMoF today,
having had a bit of a crappy day yesterday. But then my friend, former
colleague and Brazilian music lover Bruno Verbeek came to the rescue. He
suggested that I post about Projeto Coisa Fina (literaly: Fancy Stuff Project),
a big band composed of 13 young musicians from São Paulo. They are best known
for their 2010 album dedicated to Moacir Santos, one of the most talented,
sophisticated musicians/composers in the history of Brazilian music (active in the second half of the 20th century), but who is still not
as famous as he should be (an instance of Collingwood paradoxicality, I
I’m posting here a live performance of Projeto Coisa Fina
playing my favorite song by Moacir Santos, ‘April Child’ (which I already
posted a while back in sung versions). But the whole album seems truly
excellent (I’ve been listening to a few tracks since Bruno’s recommendation
yesterday), so do check out other videos on youtube if you like this kind of
Conference-mode BMoF again, as I indulge in a week of Carnap extravaganza here in Munich (with virtually no internet access as a bonus, so if I owe you an email, it will have to wait until next week). I'm posting one of Milton Nascimento's great classics, 'Ponta de Areia', one of my favorite songs as a child, in a version with Speranza Spalding (who is one of the few non-Brazilians who I think rock at singing Brazilian songs) and Milton Nascimento himself.
The protests in Brazil have now for the
most part cooled off a bit (though still alive!), and now the government is tryig desperately to figure out how to respond to the uproar (so far, they seem mostly clueless). Things turned more complicated when the
protests became a big umbrella, sheltering anyone and everyone who is against
the current government and the status quo in general, including people
proposing to return to a military regime! But all in all, it was a huge wake-up
call for those in power, and I’m optimistic that positive results will ensue –
for starters, the increase in the public transport fare in São Paulo, which got the whole thing started a few weeks ago, has already
This week, I’ll post two songs from the
1980s that, again, remain entirely pertinent in their criticism of the
structural social and political problems in the country: ‘Brasil’, written by
Cazuza and here sung by Gal Costa; and ‘Que país é esse?’ by Legião Urbana.
Both songs were some of the anthems of protesters over the last weeks, and the
second video is made with images of these recent events. (Well, I can only hope that, in 30 years from now, they will no longer offer a fitting description of the country...)
By now, the protests in Brazil of the last week have been extensively
discussed in the international and social media. This is a very special time, and the
first time that substantive public protests take place in 21 years. (The last
time was in 1992, to demand the impeachment of then-president Fernando
Collor – who was indeed impeached but is now an elected senator…) While signaling massive discontent
with the government, and in particular with the excessive investments in
preparation for the World Cup and the Olympic Games in Rio at the expenses of
the population’s basic needs (see here for an informative analysis), the level of repression and police brutality has been lower than in
the sibling-protests in Turkey at the moment. But just yesterday, an estimate of a million people were on the streets, protesting in different cities; in some of them, Rio in particular, there were incidents and clashes with the police prompted by a small minority resorting to vandalism (see here).
BMoF will join the protests today and feature two of the songs serving as 'soundtrack' for the protests, both by the same band, Titãs. (The very first 'adult' concert that I went to was one of their concerts, in 1987 I think -- great memories!) These are ‘Polícia’ (1986), which gives a clear idea of how much Brazilians are
used to ‘trusting’ the police (not!) (check also the Sepultura cover of the song); and ‘Comida’ (1987) -- two
‘oldies’ from the time of my childhood, but still entirely topical. ‘Comida’ (check also this cover of the song by Marisa Monte, from her first album in 1989) is particularly appropriate in the current situation in Brazil: now that there
has been a significant improvement with the worst of the poverty and misery through social
programs such as Bolsa Familia, and most people finally have the bare minimum
supply of food, it is time to say:
I’m in Paris this week, to talk about
reductio proofs in the Prior Analytics to the PhilMath Intersem colloquium. So once again,
inspired by my whereabouts, I figured it would be nice to post something
French-Brazilian at BMoF this week, and once again Chico Buarque comes to the
rescue! For the 1973 movie Joanna
Francesa (where the Joanna in question is no one other than Jeanne Moreau),
he composed a song with the same name, which is an absolute masterpiece; in
particular, the mixture of Portuguese and French in the lyrics is pretty epic.
I’m posting two versions here: first a
video containing extracts from the movie, with Jeanne herself singing the song,
and then Chico Buarque. (Apparently, there is a record version of
the song sung by Jeanne Moreau, but the link isn’t working for me.) Then a
version by the amazing singer Badi Assad, where she displays yet again her
unbelievable abilities with ‘body percussion’. And finally a beautiful version
from the great harmonica player Toots Thielemans’ album Brazil
Project (1992), again with Chico Buarque in the vocals. (Btw, this is a
great album, which entertained me for much of 1993 and thereabouts.)
This video went viral all over the internet this week, and for a reason: it's the cutest thing you will see this year. This little boy is clearly the brightest rising star in Brazilian music! (You can hear the father say: "toca, toca com o papai, filho" -- "play, play with daddy, son".)
(And yes, BMoF will resume normal operations next week.)
Busy week here, so a short BMoF. Here is Luisa Maita, one of the most remarkable female voices to have emerged in recent years in Brazil. She is also an accomplished composer, having had quite a few of her songs recorded by some 'big names'. I'm posting the song 'Lero-lero', from her first album released in 2010. It's a smooth, provocative song, with great guitar lines in the background.
After posting a song from Chico
Buarque’s Ópera do Malandrolast
week, somehow I felt like posting another song by him, so here is one of my
favorites: ‘Eu te amo’, co-written with Tom Jobim (Jobim melody, Buarque
lyrics), from his 1980 album Vida. It
is an ultra-sad, ultra-mellow song, so you have to be in the right mood to listen
to it; yet another heartbreaking break-up song. But for whatever reason, I
loved this song already as a kid in the 1980s (I had the habit of listening to
my parents’ records from fairly early on). The best thing about this song is
the text, one of Chico’s best lyrics in my opinion, but here again something
that will be ‘lost in translation’ for most of you… My favorite line: “What if
in the mess of your heart, my blood missed the [right] vein and got lost”.
I’m in Munich at the moment visiting the MCMP, but heading
back home tonight after an European tour which included London, Prague and
Munich. I like to be inspired by the places I visit for my BMoF selection (like last week with a London-inspired post), so
following this principle, I was looking for something German-inspired to post.
There are not that many salient connections between Brazilian and German music, but
there is at least one interesting case. In 1978, Chico Buarque composed the
musical Ópera do Malandro, inspired
by Bertold Brecht’s The Three Penny Opera
and John Gray’s Beggar’s Opera, which
was then released in record form in 1979. Most of the songs are original
compositions, but the opening song is a samba rendition of ‘Mack the knife’ (or ‘Die Moritat von Mackie
Messer’) by Brecht and Weill.
So here is ‘O malandro’, sung by the vocal group MPB-4. It is yet another proof
of how much of a great, timeless song it is in that it allows for so many different
interpretations. (I'm also a big fan of the Ella Fitzgerald version, here live in Berlin. UPDATE: Eric reminds me that he posted before on the great Ella and the fellas.)
By the time this goes online, I’ll be enjoying a long
weekend in London with my family. And while this will likely come across as
rather predictable, I just can’t help help myself: I’m posting ‘London,
London’, by Caetano Veloso. It is a song from his 1971 album recorded in
England, where he lived in exile for about three years after having spent
several months in prison as an ‘enemy’ of the military dictatorship in power at
the time. Until moving to England in 1969, Caetano’s knowledge of English was
virtually non-existent, and yet in this period he regularly composed and
recorded songs in English, including ‘London, London’.
The whole album, which is one of my favorites by him,
revolves around what it feels like to be in exile: the thankfulness for being
received in a foreign country, but also the deep, deep nostalgia (saudade!),
the longing for his home. My favorite song of the album is actually 'If you hold a stone' (which soothed many moments of deep nostalgia in yours truly as
well), and ‘London, London’ became a bit overplayed when it was recorded by a
very successful (but truly horrible) pop band in the 1980s. And yet, it is a
beautiful, delicate song. This particular video I'm posting (with tacky pictures of London in the backgroud) also features the lyrics in English, so you can see for yourself that Caetano was already a rather accomplished lyrics writer in English after only 2 years or so of familiarity with the language.
One of the greatest samba composers of all times, Paulo
Vanzolini, passed away a few days ago, aged 89. He is the composer of classics
such as ‘Ronda’ (1951), ‘Volta por cima’ (1959), and ‘Boca da noite’ (1969),
songs which any self-respecting Brazilian can sing without missing a beat, and which have been recorded by all the great singers. What is equally remarkable about Vanzolini is that he combined his
music career with a highly successful academic career as a zoologist. Among other feats, he was
the director of the Zoology Museum of the University of São Paulo from 1963 to
1993, and even after his retirement continued to do research at the museum
virtually until his death. (I’m sure this combination of excellence in music and
science will make a number of readers somewhat jealous.)