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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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