The old dance hall isnâ€™t dead. Anyone who has watched the Mexican film Danzón can attest to the spellbinding attraction of those old-fashioned spaces where entwined sweaty couples sway sinuously for hours.
Brazilâ€™s dance hall, the gafieira, is closely allied to choro. The countryâ€™s greatest choro musicians, from Pixinguinha to Luiz Americano, regularly played in these venues, for couples to dance.
The great clarinetist (and at other times saxophonist) Paulo Moura continues this tradition in his latest disc, Estação Leopoldina. The CDâ€™s title (much like Guingaâ€™s Suíte Leopoldina) alludes to the Rio working-class suburbs, cradle of choro and pagode.
Paulo Mouraâ€™s gafieira romp.
Moura, who in the 1980s grew dissatisfied with his jazz-oriented repertoire, moved from the southern bairro of Botafogo to the northern suburb of Ramos.
His new house was just in front of the quadra of the samba school Imperatriz Leopoldinense, and the famous carnaval bloco Cacique de Ramos was nearby.
Beth Carvalho, with whom Moura worked at that time, introduced him to roots samba, as well as to the new pagode movement then being born in Ramos.
From Ramos, Moura borrowed the typical pagode percussion instruments, such as the tantan and the repique-de-mão. But pagode is a sung medium, and a wholly instrumental album needed a companion voice for the clarinet.
Moura settled on the accordion, remembering the accordion-clarinet duets that Orlando Silveira and Luiz Americano used to played on the radio of his youth.
Enter accordionist Chico Chagas, who adds rhythmic texture to most of the tracks and contributes his own composition on track nine.
Opening the disc with a flourish is Mouraâ€™s â€œEstação Leopoldina,â€ a traditional gafieira tune that urges any listener to jump up and dance (even if s/he doesnâ€™t know how). â€œFibraâ€ introduces a measure of contemporary chutzpah to the proceedings.
The choro classics are represented by three Jacob do Bandolim tunes and one by Radamés Gnattali. Baden Powellâ€™s â€œDeve Ser Amorâ€ is turned into a sensual Latin dance-hall number, while João Donatoâ€™s â€œBananeiraâ€ receives an adventurous opening that blends Yiddish-like guitar trills with remote cuíca howls.
Among the more recent compositions, Rodrigo Lessaâ€™s â€œRala Coxaâ€ carries a strong klezmer flavor, while Rodrigo Campelloâ€™s â€œOritimbóâ€ (buttocks) is evocative of Brazilâ€™s Northeast.
Among these and other colorfully rhythmic tunes, Mouraâ€™s waltz â€œLindaâ€ offers a lovely change of pace. And traditional samba isnâ€™t left out: a medley of golden classics allows the dancers to take a break and sing along.
Also worth a listen:
Gafieira Dance Brasil with Paulo Moura and pianist Cliff Korman.
Paulo Moura: Estação Leopoldina
(Rádio MEC RM015/Rob Digital; 2003) 66:19 min.
01. Estação Leopoldina (Paulo Moura/Almazor Cavalcante)
02. Fibra (Eloir Moraes/Paulo Moura)
03. Simplicidade (Jacob Pick Bittencourt)
04. Nosso Romance (Jacob Pick Bittencourt)
05. Deve Ser Amor (Baden Powell/Vinicius de Moraes)
06. Bananeira (João Donato/Gilberto Gil)
07. Rala Coxa (Rodrigo Lessa)
08. Oritimbó (Rodrigo Campello)
09. Pro Paulo (Chico Chagas)
10. Maré Cheia (Paulo Moura/Jorge Degas)
11. Linda (Paulo Moura)
12. Remexendo (Radamés Gnattali)
Ai, que Saudade da Amélia (Ataulfo Alves/Mário Lago)
Trem das Onze (Adoniran Barbosa)
Prêmio de Consolação (Jayme â€œMeiraâ€ Florence/Augusto Mesquita)
Leva Meu Samba (Ataulfo Alves)
14. Receita de Samba (Jacob Pick Bittencourt)
Chalana de Prata Navigates the Pantanal.
Chalana de Prata
Situated in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul on the borders of Bolivia and Paraguay, and connected to Argentina by way of the Prata Basin, the Pantanal shares various social and cultural customs, figures and accents of speech, and musical rhythms with its neighboring Spanish-speaking countries.
The Chamamé, for example, is an Argentine dance that has found a home in Brazil. The guarânia crossed the border from Paraguay, while the polka is a European import popularized throughout the Prata Basin.
They all coexist happily with typical local rhythms such as the cururu, the siriri, and the rasqueado, and with country rhythms such as the xote (also of European origins), which can be found all over Brazil.
Chalana de Prata is a musical group dedicated to spreading the Pantanal traditions. Composed of four well-known solo artists, the group includes the famous accordionist Dino Rocha, â€œKing of the Chamaméâ€; guitarist and singer Guilherme Rondon; lead singer and bassist Celito Espíndola; and Paulo Simões, who plays 10-string viola and sings.
Chalana is a boat of the type that sails on the rivers of the Prata Basin. Itâ€™s also the title of a famous song by Arlindo Pinto and Mário Zan that the group performs on this disc, along with the bandmembersâ€™ own compositions.
What unites all the tracks is a danceable joie de vivre that is an authentic regional expression. Among the delightful songs found here is the opening tune, â€œPrazer de Fazendeiro,â€ a manifesto for cowboy indolence in the same way that Wilson Batistaâ€™s â€œLenço no Pescoçoâ€ was one for the malandro way of life:
O maior prazer na vida
Já estou acostumado
Abraçar moça bonita
E dançar um rasquado
Carregar dinheiro aos maços
E viver sempre folgado
Lenço branco no pescoço
Trinta e oito niquelado […]
Equally enticing is the penultimate track, â€œChamamé Comanda,â€ which observes that even if you canâ€™t dance the chamamé, it wouldnâ€™t be hard to become addicted:
Quem não souber dançar
Pode se acomodar na varandá
Saiba que nesse baile
O chamamé comanda
Mas se você tentar
Pode se acostumar a mudança
E até se viciar
Com essa nossa dança […]
Listen to audio samples of all the tracks.
Chalana de Prata: Chalana de Prata
(Independent; 1998) 43:23 min.
Produced by André Magalhães
01. Prazer de Fazendeiro (Delio/Delinha)
02. Quero Quero (Celito Espíndola/Dino Rocha/Paulo Simões)
03. A Chalana (Mário Zan/Arlindo Pinto)
04. Morena que Vale a Pena (Celito Espíndola/Paulo Simões)
05. Invernada (Almir Sater/Guilherme Rondon/Paulo Simões)
06. Fazendeiro Rico (adaptação: Tavinho Moura)
07. Curupi (Dino Rocha)
08. Trem do Pantanal (Geraldo Roca/Paulo Simões)
09. íšltima Boiada (Guilherme Rondon/Paulo Simões)
10. As Mocinhas da Cidade (Nhô Belarmino)
11. Chamamé Comanda (Guilherme Rondon/Paulo Simões)
12. Baile Pantaneiro (Dino Rocha)
You can read more about Brazilian music and culture at
Daniella Thompson on Brazil here: http://daniv.blogspot.com
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