16 October 2009

Jazz Samba

Time for a musical interlude.

One thing leads to another. You know? Candy recently mentioned the PBS special on Latin music in America. mr. anchovy, now at 27th Street, continues to educate me about the button accordion, the relevance of which you will see later. I lapsed into a reminiscence about a truly special subspecies of Latin American music, Brazilian music, with which I have had a love affair for a very long time. The first L.P. I ever purchased in my life back in the early sixties was Jazz Samba by Charlie Byrd and Stan Getz after their return from Brazil having soaked up that music. So I owe those two.

I wished to reminisce about Hermeto Pascoal, but I must mention that icon, Elis Regina, in passing—maybe not so much in passing--because it was through Hermeto that I discovered Elis. She died tragically in 1982 at 36 after unwisely mixing the alcohol and the cocaine, just when everything—family and career—were truly blossoming for her. Her memorial had to be held in a football stadium there. She is still adored in Brazil. A news report of her funeral in Portuguese, but you will get the idea easily:

Unfortunately, the audio quality of videos of her performances is touch and go. To truly appreciate her voice, you would have to purchase tracks from iTunes as I have, I guess. Over the course of some months, I believe I have found the best samplers on youtube sufficient to give you the idea. There are many other videos of her, but the audio on those is usually of a heartbreaking, poor quality. There is only one word for her from my point of view—vibrant. A Brazilian Edith Piaf, if I may. The following is the one I have chosen as the attention getter, “Behind the Door:”

If that one does not get to you, you need not bother with the rest.

The title of the following one I translate roughly as “You Drive Me Crazy.” You certainly do not need to understand Portuguese in order to understand what this song is all about, particularly when you get to the ending:

The Tom Jobim standard, “Waters of March:”

An up tempo version of the same tune, one I love, a duet with Tom Jobim himself:

“Two Over There, Two Over Here” with a sexy little dance, a slow samba:

And the memorial video, her a capella version of “If I Want to Speak with God:”

Oh, to hell with it. I got carried away here. I will get to Hermeto Pascoal later, the man whom Miles Davis called "the most impressive musician in the world" and who started as a youth on the button accordion, which will be the mr. anchovy connection. Suffice it to say at this point, that Ed Bradley of “Sixty Minutes” and I saw Hermeto play live in a very hot tent at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival in 2000. That was the year they brought in a raft of Brazilian musicians, which was the reason I was there on that particular trip, one of many.

Shortly after that I discovered Elis Regina by listening to this very track on a Hermeto Pascoal disk that I purchased. I do not know how I missed her before. Another Brazilian standard, “Corcovado.” There is only one word for Hermeto and his piano—rococo--in the best sense of that word.

Hermeto and Elis never rehearsed together obviously, and that is probably a good thing. They might have ruined these.

Then there was this short track live from Montreux in 1979 that truly blew me away for some reason. I love the way she plays with Hermeto's hair in the video. Initially, she kinda eggs him on subtly, communicating something like, "Bring it, baby." And he does. She responds. And ends it by slamming her hand on the piano. Originally, I did not know that occurred during the tune because I did not discover these two videos until much later of course.

What else can I say? What else is there to say?


Bloggerboy FFM said...

Oh man, what a great way to start my Friday morning. Thanks Steve for introducing me to two new artists and an album with which I am not familiar. Music used to be a big part of my life. Somehow I got off the beaten track. But I've been dabbling in jazz listening lately live) and look forward to getting to know these guys. If you like jazz, you might enjoy this link to Shaw University's radio station that has an internet jazz feed 24/7:


Beej said...

Oh, be still my heart! These are wonderful, just simply wonderful. And you are spot on, reminds me very much of Edith Piaf. God, I love this music. Thank you!

Señor Steve said...

I have calculated that if I break it all down tomorrow morning, hitch up the camper, and head south, I could be in Rio on November 1.

Only because there is a new bypass around Mexico City. Otherwise, I would not make it until November 3.

Señor Steve said...

But Elis Regina is no longer there.

I remember vividly the first time I stumbled onto that "You Drive Me Crazy" video alone back in the apartment. I watched it about nine times and had to take a cool shower. Then I made the mistake of watching it three more times. I said to myself, "Jesus Christ, Steve, let's take a long walk and see if that does any good."

Capitu said...

Steve, thanks for the present of Elis and Hermeto this morning. I am coming out of “lurking” around your blog just to give you a present back. Try to search Maysa on youtube. I am sure you will fall in love with this other Brazilian icon too. Here you find her singing in French: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lIrEewDVEhQ

Anonymous said...

This is fantastic material, and new to me. Thank you. I have to spend lots more time with this music soon.