Brazilian Music: Essíªncia, Two Decades Like a River

    Essência, a quartet from Goiás, Brazil

    Essência, a quartet from Goiás, Brazil The Goianian (from the Brazilian midwestern state of Goiás) musical scenery faced a very good surprise last December 4: a concert to release the CD "Quatro Ventos" (Four Winds), by a quartet called Essência (Essence).

    The CD was produced by Luiz Chaffin, a guitar virtuoso who also played in the concert. The singer and composer João Caetano also took part on it, by singing songs such as "Tá na Terra" (It's on the Soil), "Ajutório" (Aid) and "Meu Coração" (My Heart), all composed by him and Otávio Daher.

    Essência is Alberto Cabral (vocals and guitar), David Izacc (vocals), Reny Cruvinel (vocals and guitar), and Romero Fonseca (vocals, flute and harmonica). It was born around 1985, and was originally formed by Reny Cruvinel, Romero Fonseca, Deuler Andrade, and Adalberto Alves.

    Reny Cruvinel explains that the name of the group comes from a song by Cláudio Nucci called "Acontecência" (a made up word that would mean "happening"), one of his favorite songs at that time. All members of the band suggested something, but "Essência" was the chosen name.

    In 1989, after a series of concerts in the states of Goiás, Mato Grosso and São Paulo, the quartet recorded its first long play, also called Essência.

    Some time later, Adalberto and Deuler decided to leave the band, and the quartet became a trio: Reny Cruvinel, Romero Fonseca and Alberto Cabral.

    Around 2001, they decided to become a quartet again. So, a musician called David Izacc was invited to join them.

    Essência's songs were initially inspired by singers and composers from the state of Minas Gerais, who belonged to the famous "Clube da Esquina" (Corner Club). Among them we can point out names such as Milton Nascimento, Lô Borges and Beto Guedes. That influence is strongly present in their work, as we can see in the song below, from their first album:

    Emoções Gerais
    (Deuler Andrade)

    Maria-fumaça
    Viajando até o sol
    Vai cortando os vales
    Onde canta o rouxinol
    As velhas cidades
    Têm poesias do coração
    Sons que vêm no vento
    Trazendo uma canção

    íŠh, Minas
    Me alegra o teu canto
    Cante mais
    íŠh, êh, Minas
    De emoções gerais

    Na Serra da Saudade
    Eu encontro recordações
    De um tempo em que se ouvia
    Travessias e canções
    Eu vivo nas estradas
    Vou cantando pras multidões
    Belezas dessa terra
    Que envolve os corações

    ———-

    General Emotions/ Feelings from Minas Gerais
    (Deuler Andrade)

    A steam locomotive
    Traveling to the sun
    Goes crossing the valleys
    Where the nightingale sings
    The old cities
    Have poetry in their hearts
    Sounds blown by the wind
    Bringing a song

    Eh, Minas
    Your song makes me happy
    Sing it more
    Eh, eh, Minas
    Of  strong feelings

    In the Serra da Saudade
    I can find memories
    Of a time when we could hear
    Journeys and songs
    I live on the roads
    Singing to the crowds
    Beauties of this country
    That embrace their hearts

    At another time in their careers, the quartet explored the Brazilian Northeastern rhythms, including the music of Lenine, and even jazz.

    On the whole, their songs remind us the best of bands such as Boca Livre, 14 Bis, Quarteto em Cy, MPB-4 etc.

    The CD "Quatro Ventos" brings 12 songs, as listed below:

    1 – Ginga (Swing) – (Reny Cruvinel/ Carlos Brandão/ Chaul).
    2 – Alegre Menina (Happy Girl) – (Dori Caymmi/ Jorge Amado).
    3 – Varal (Clothes Line) – (David Izacc).
    4 – Linha Amarela (Yellow Line) – (Gustavo Veiga/ Du Oliveira/ Itamar Pires).
    5 – Venha Até Minha Casa (Come to My Home) – (Filó Machado/ Judith de Souza).
    6 – Rio de Mim (A River from Me, or I Laugh at Myself) – (Reny Cruvinel/ Romero Fonseca).
    7 – Calmaria (Calmness) – (David Izacc).
    8 – Coração Retirante (Migrant Heart) – (Gustavo Veiga/ Carlos Brandão/ Chaul).
    9 – Romanza (Romanza) – (Alberto Cabral/ Welson Moreira).
    10 – íguas Passadas (Bygone Waters) – (Fred Martins/ Marcelo Diniz).
    11 – Ajutório (Aid) – (João Caetano/ Otávio Daher).
    12 – Quatrocentos Watts (Four Hundred Watts) – (Deuler Andrade/ Carlos Brandão).

    The best lyrics are present in the song "Rio de Mim", which brings a double meaning: "A River from Me" or "I Laugh at Myself". It was inspired in a book called "Poemas da Margem Esquerda do Rio de Dentro", by Gilson Cavalcante:

    Rio de Mim
    (Reny Cruvinel/ Romero Fonseca)

    Segue como o rio
    Que procura desaguar
    Margeante o meu destino, rio de mim
    Rio acima, rio abaixo
    Nascente dos meus olhos, o mar
    Segue como a estrada
    Que procura onde chegar
    A levantar poeira, pó, chão de mim
    Horizonte a se perder
    Caminhos dos meus olhos, sertão

    Venho dessas águas
    Que navegam o sentimento
    E passam por mim, um rio sem fim
    Venho dessa estrada
    E carrego novos sonhos
    Dos homens de bem
    Um ser tão sem fim

    Abro o coração, zomba, meu amor
    E rio de mim: é paixão
    E rio de mim: é canção

    Segue como o rio…
    Enchente dos meus olhos, amor.

    ———-

    A River from Me/ I Laugh at Myself
    (Reny Cruvinel/ Romero Fonseca)

    It flows like the river
    That tries to drain
    Alongside my fate, a river from me/ I laugh at myself
    Up river, down river
    Rising from my eyes, the sea
    It flows like a road
    That looks for a destination
    Rising dust, powder, ground from me
    Huge horizon
    Path to my eyes, hinterland

    I come from those waters
    Which navigate the feeling
    And go through me, an endless river
    I come from that road
    And carry new dreams
    Dreamed by good men
    A so endless being/ an endless hinterland

    I open my heart, mock me, my love
    And a river from me/ I laugh at myself: it's passion
    And a river from me/ I laugh at myself: it's a song

    It flows like the river…
    Flooding my eyes, love.

    Gilson P. Borges is a teacher in Goiânia, Brazil. You can reach him at gilson_borges@hotmail.com.

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    • Show Comments (1)

    • Claudia Mendonca

      Parabens!!!
      Parabens ao grupo Essencia, parabens a Gilson Borges pela descricao do grupo.
      A alguns anos nos Estados Unidos, longe da terrinha, e muito bom ouvir falar novamente do Essencia. Conheci (e segui) de perto o grupo. Sempre maravilhoso, emocao e tecnica.
      So posso dizer parabens!!!

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