Bossa Nova Daydreams


Fishing for contemporary Brazilian music? — Two sites for a good catch

These days there are lots of websites that offer a chance to hear classic bossa nova and samba music, but not so many that focus on the current musical scene in Brazil. If you’re a Portuguese speaker looking for contemporary manifestations of MPB, Brazilian jazz and samba, you’ll have an easier time of it, since most of the web coverage of these styles is to be found on Brazilian websites, presented solely in Portuguese. But if you’re not a Portuguese speaker, don’t let that deter you. A few minutes spent visually scanning and exploring links on those sites is usually all it takes to find new musical gems. You can always use your browser’s page translator when you can’t make sense of the Portuguese text on your own. Sure, it won’t be a perfect translation (maybe in a couple more decades?), but it will be good enough to help you navigate and find videos, mp3s and other resources.

Now that I have encouraged you with that little confidence-inspiring pep talk, here are a couple of exciting Brazilian music websites with great listening opportunities:

SESC Instrumental (http://www.instrumentalsescbrasil.org.br/)
SESC is a nationwide Brazilian social support organization that promotes Brazilian culture by supporting musicians and artists. The organization provides venues throughout Brazil that showcase many of today’s best Brazilian talent. On the SESC Instrumental website you can find a treasure trove of high-quality videos of live instrumental music concerts that have taken place at SESC venues throughout Brazil. Shows by well-known artists such as Hermeto Pascoal and João Donato are presented alongside lesser known, but no less interesting artists like the Maogani quartet and Luis Leite. Besides the videos, there are also interviews, artist pages, a tv broadcast link and other resources (all in Portuguese). For instant gratification, find the box entitled “Todos os Shows” (“All the Shows”) on the homepage, then click on the button “Ver todos” (“See them all”) to see the complete list of videos sorted by date and artist/group. (Note that all these videos are also posted on YouTube.) Thanks to Angelo da Silva for giving me the tip about this site!

Cultura Brasil, Brazilian music portal (http://www.culturabrasil.com.br/)
This website is the portal to a wide variety of musical offerings presented by São Paulo-based Radio Cultura Brasil, an organization that has been promoting Brazilian music on the air since 1936. Here you will find an archive with lots of themed radio shows that are great samplers of both current and historical music trends in Brazil. There are also themed playlists, such as “O Fino de Elis”, a “best of” overview of Elis Regina recordings, or “Instrumental cerebral paulistano”, an aural voyage through the “cerebral” instrumental music of 1980s São Paulo. Other resources on the site include special radio programs, podcast support, interviews, photos and a live radio stream. Even if you don’t understand Portuguese, if you can sit patiently through a few seconds of talk here and there, you will be richly rewarded with a huge variety of great Brazilian music of all genres—all gratis! Time to put up the “Gone fishin’ ” sign…

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Maritaca—contemporary Brazilian instrumental music at its finest

In my never-ending search for recordings of Brazilian music that satisfy my musical tastes, I have recently come across an excellent record label called “Maritaca“. On the English-language web pages for Maritaca, the label is described as “… a Brazilian Instrumental Music Label renowned for casting only the best Brazilian musicians and recording their contemporary Brazilian music. It is a company made by musicians, and dedicated to music.”

The label is under the creative direction of Léa Freire, an outstanding Brazilian flautist, who also performs on many of the label’s recordings. Maritaca, being based in São Paulo, showcases many “Paulistas” (natives of São Paulo)— who happen to be some of today’s most accomplished musicians working in the Brazilian jazz and what I’ll call jazz-choro-samba-classical crossover genres.

Léa Freire. Photo by Marcilio Godoi.

Léa Freire. Photo by Marcilio Godoi.

Besides Freire’s luscious low-pitched flute playing, there are many other top artists featured, such as percussionist Edu Ribeiro, Paulo Paulelli (whose beautiful bass playing I first encountered on Rosa Passos’ cd “Amorosa”), pianist Fabio Torres, singer-composer-guitarist Filó Machado, the big band “Banda Mantiqueira” and many others. The Maritaca website offers a lot of musical samples from the albums. One of the first that comes up on the website is “Vento em Madeira“. As soon as I heard the sample tunes I was ready to buy. Maritaca’s albums are available for purchase from a number of sources, including sambastore.com and Amazon.com.

Incidentally, Trio Corrente, (Edu Ribeiro, Paulo Paulelli and Fabio Torres), which is one of the groups represented by the label, has a very good album that you can listen to in full on Grooveshark before you buy—just do a search for “Paulelli”.

The music on the Maritaca label varies in style and approach, but there are many common features, such as sophisticated, crystal-clear playing, super-tight ensemble work and excellent sound engineering. Stylistically, the albums on the label tend to offer a pleasantly angular, modern direction, while remaining anchored in Brazilian musical traditions of choro, samba, bossa nova and the classically-rooted legacy of Villa-Lobos. Highly recommended!




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