Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Delicious Poison, Delicious Samba

Brasil, and Rio especially, have a tradition of very inexpensive, interestingly produced music presentations, often sponsored by a bank, the power company, the local government body, and so on.

Brasil's largest bank, the Banco do Brasil, has a great facility dedicated to promoting and preserving Brasilian culture, especially the music. Their Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, situated in the old center of the city, an area simply dripping in history and amazing stories. A grand old bank building houses this cultural jewel.

The programs often feature lunchtime shows, as well as evening presentations, in order to service the downtown workforce...a great idea.

A few days ago, I was lucky enough to attend one of these programs, part of a series dedicated to exploring various aspects of samba, a different topic each month for about six amazingly competent project. (Which we don't have in the USA, sadly. No, not exploring samba, but some of our own music at least...but, no! Nada!)  Named No Princípio Era Uma Roda (At The Beginning It Was a Ring [Dance]), the series explores samba, which had its origins in ring or circle dances which came from Africa, in various parts of Brasil, and various time periods in Rio.
João Martins, X, Nei Lopes and Eduardo Gallotti at CCBB

The show I attended focused on the samba of Lapa, a classic, fairly well preserved neighborhood of Rio where, in the early twentieth century, the focus was on a more or less "red light" industry with lots of gambling, prostitution and transvestite shows. These days, Lapa is the center of a contemporary renaissance of samba and other traditional Brasilian musics.

The show featured performances by a capable samba group, Galocantô, who backed up the special guests João Martins, Eduardo Gallotti and Nei Lopes. I'll be posting some other selections from this show later down the line, but for now, I want to share the best of the lot, Nei Lopes.
Nei Lopes at the CCBB in Rio

Nei is an amazing character, a composer, singer, historian, lawyer!!!, and writer who has written some great sambas in the last 40 years; I consider him to be one of the best composers of the last 40 years, in fact. Along with his former songwriting partner, Wilson Moreira, he's written a long series of very successful "hit" sambas including Coisa da Antiga, Goiabada Cascão, Morrendo de Saudade, and this very wonderful tune which was a big hit as sung by the late, great Clara Nunes, often regarded as the best woman samba singer of all time...the tune? Gostoso Veneno (Delicious Poison).

Here is Nei:

Hope you liked it as much as I do, and I've heard him sing in numerous times, played it on the radio a million times, and every time I hear it, I like it even more! Wonderful melody, great lyrics.

Will be posting more of his performance later, as well as something from the guy who is largely responsible for the current samba revival in Lapa, Eduardo Gallotti. Let's see what you think...

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