Sardines, Samba, Choro, Jazz

    If Brazilian jazz has ever been haunted by a stigma, bossa nova is its name. Too
    often””especially outside Brazil””the two are assumed to be one, the former
    inseparable from the latter.

    by Daniella Thompson

    Pagode Jazz Sardinha’s Club’s recent disc gives the lie to this
    myth once again, offering jazz based on traditional samba, as well as on other
    hard-driving native and imported genres. Everything but bossa nova.

    The band’s approach has always been eclectic (read about its formation).
    In its latest album, Sardinhas, this group of crack musicians blends
    straight-ahead and Latin jazz, funk, rap, samba, soul, gafieira, and choro in a
    format that is thoroughly contemporary yet displays strong ties to urban musical
    traditions of the past.

    The mix is made possible by the group’s versatile
    lineup, which includes Rodrigo
    on bandolim, banjo, cavaquinho & guitars; Bernardo Bosí­sio on
    guitar; Eduardo Neves on saxophones, flutes & piccolo; Roberto Marques on trombone & bombardino; Edson Menezes on
    bass; Xande Figueiredo on drums; and Marcos Esguleba on percussions.

    in their first, eponymous album, the repertoire here is heavily based
    on compositions by founding band members Lessa and Neves. The disc opens on a
    danceable gafieira note with “Chave de Cadeia,” followed by funky Latin
    jazz in “Clube Savana.”

    Next there’s a star appearance by sambista Zeca Pagodinho in
    the band’s signature tune, “Pagode Jazz Sardinha’s Club,” which is augmented
    with rap interventions hurled forth in that rounded, oily, black carioca
    inflection. The lyrics live
    very much in the present, enumerating the hardships of contemporary

    The samba-choro “Samba Castiço” reties the link to the past, albeit
    in a thoroughly modern way. Helping keep time are Paulão 7 Cordas on
    seven-string guitar and Celsinho Silva on pandeiro and tamborim, while flute and
    trombone take turns with the melodic lines.

    The next track is a surprise:
    flute and muted trombone introduce the preamble to Chico Buarque’s “Joana
    Francesa.” A tenor sax launches into the melody ever so tenderly, with a riposte
    from the trombone. Now comes a pure jazz improv on the electric guitar before
    the sax returns. Bandolins and flute intervene. The sax lets it all fade out.
    Chico has never sounded so jazzy.

    From the mellow to the agitated: “José
    do Egito” (he of the coat of many colors) is a rousing jazz-choro with
    exclamatory vocal chorus and frenetic passages interspersed with spoken passages
    (from the Bible?). And back to the mellow, in the choro-rhythmed “O Dia em que
    Ela Chegou,” co-authored by Roberto Marques and Eduardo Neves, who play a
    three-way dialog with the bandolim.

    Famed percussionist Esguleba takes
    center stage in his brief but energetic samba “Suí­ngue Envolvente,” complete
    with voice, whistles, and no fewer than fourteen percussion instruments. Equally
    famous percussionist Trambique joins as special guest.

    These two make enough noise to sound like a full-fledged escola
    de samba’s bateria. This is followed by a long and jazzy ska called “Gente de
    Ilha” and dedicated not to Jamaicans but to residents of Ilha do Governador in
    Rio de Janeiro.

    The theme and improvisations are divided between alto sax and
    trombone, which at times come together in a counterpoint. Midway, a ripple of
    bateria moves across, to remind us that this is Brazilian music.

    “Maxixe, Neném!!!” is the delightful title of an equally delightful
    maxixe””a real one, although composed by living musicians. It provides the
    opprtunity to show off mothballed instruments like the bombardino and the banjo.

    In contrast, the bouncy “Chorinho de Gafieira” is a real oldie
    (the only one on this disc) by trombonist and bandleader Astor Silva
    (1922”“1968). These two sandwich “Choro Transgênico,” a hovering meditation for
    alto sax and trombone with strong assistance from an insistent cuí­ca.

    penultimate track is a medley of three well-known Zeca Pagodinho sambas, with
    the guest participations of Paulão, Trambique, Osvaldo Cavalo (tamborim), and a
    rowdy chorus. Ex-Sardinha Lula Galvão joins his former bandmates on the final
    number, the funky “Olhos d’Além Mar.” When the hour is over, you know you’ve
    been somewhere.

    Jazz Sardinha’s Club: Sardinhas

    (Independent 109.805/Rob Digital; 2004) 62:46 min.

    01. Chave de Cadeia
    (Rodrigo Lessa)
    02. Clube Savana (Eduardo Neves/Rodrigo Lessa)
    03. Pagode
    Jazz Sardinha’s Club (Eduardo Neves/Rodrigo Lessa/Mauro Aguiar)
    04. Samba
    Castiço (Eduardo Neves/Rodrigo Lessa)
    05. Joana Francesa (Chico Buarque)

    06. José do Egito (Eduardo Neves/Rodrigo Lessa)
    07. O Dia em que Ela
    Chegou (Roberto Marques/Eduardo Neves)
    08. Suí­ngue Envolvente (Marcos
    09. Gente de Ilha (Eduardo Neves/Rodrigo Lessa)
    10. Maxixe,
    Neném!!! (Eduardo Neves/Roberto Marques/Rodrigo Lessa)
    11. Choro Transgênico
    (Eduardo Neves/Rodrigo Lessa)
    12. Chorinho de Gafieira (Astor Silva)
    Não Sou Mais Disso (Jorge Aragão/Zeca
          Faixa Amarela (Jessé Pai/Luiz
    Carlos/Beto Gago/Zeca Pagodinho)
          O Feijão de
    Dona Neném (Arlindo Cruz/Zeca Pagodinho)
    14. Olhos d’Além Mar (Rodrigo
    Lessa/Eduardo Neves)

    You can read more about Brazilian music and culture at
    Daniella Thompson on Brazil here:


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    • Guest

      Samba Music
      I am doing a report on Samba music for my music class in college, and I found that your articles were helpful. Thanks

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