Archive for the ‘Music’ Category
Local street parades are one of the most important aspects of traditional Carnival in Florianópolis. Rain or shine, blocos dance through decorated streets accompanied by residents and tourists.
The highlights begin on Friday, February 12 at 5 p.m. in San Antonio de Lisboa with blocos Avante e Baiacu de Alguém parading through this charming, traditional town.
Meawhile, in the center, starting at 5 p.m on Calçadão da Rua Padre Miguelino, you can samba with the new bloco Vento Encanado whose goal is to support and continue the traditions of street carnaval. At 6 p.m. party with local bands in front of the Largo da Alfândega. At 8 p.m. Grupo de Maracatu Arrasta Ilha parades from Igreja do Rosario at down to the Praca 15 and return via Felipe Schimdt
On Saturday February 13, you won’t want to miss The Bloco de Sujos where men dress in drag and the party pours out onto the Beira Mar. Dress up and join the fun, Saturday at 2 p.m. in the Center. Blocos Sou + Eu and Absoluto e Lira will also parade. In Santo Antonio de Lisboa, at 8 p.m. Grupo de Maracatu Arrasta Ilha parades from Igreja de Santo Antonio de Lisboa down the main street.
On Sunday samba down Avenida Campeche with Onodi. The bloco leaves from Igreja Sao Sebastiao parades down to Novo Campeche and returns.
Monday in the Center join one of the island’s wildest parties Festa Pop Gay at Praça Tancredo Neves, 9 p.m .
Sounds spill from the room, out the windows and into the pracinha of Lagoa outside. Fifteen people stand in a circle, making music with their bodies and voices, keeping time together feeding the pulse of a group improvisational music-making session (known in common parlance as a jam session.) A conductor stands in the center of the circle, guiding participants to louder or softer tones, stopping them and reactivating them, cueing others to freely improvise or narrate a story aloud above the music, creating in the process an original composition with all the human instruments available on hand.Such displays of collective musical improvisation will be only one of the many things provided during MIMA week in Lagoa da Conceição.
From February 1 to 6 at Casa das Maquinas in Lagoa, MIMA will sponsor a week full of workshops in music, theater, dance, and social entrepreneurship, as well as excursions to scenic places in and around Lagoa, and nighttime celebrations. Read the rest of this entry »
Over the millennia griots spread out over the globe with the African diaspora. Their profession took root here in Brazil and transformed again. African oral traditions merged with American oral traditions. A modern-day griot, Polo Cabrera, lives and plays his traditional music here in Florianopolis. I recently met with Polo to talk about music, the passage of time, and melding with the “all.”
I visited Polo at his home down a gravel road just south of Lagoa da Conceição. Passing through the front door into his living room was a bit like traveling to the Andes. I lived for several years in the Ecuadorian sierra and have been in several such artist’s houses, with their wooden floors, large windows, and low chairs. This house also had a particularly Floripa feature though: a mezzanine loft for sleeping.
Beyond reflecting the various places Polo had lived and traveled, his house was unique because it is full of the tools and artifacts of his artistic life. Vibrant canvasses showing night skies or wild bursts of colors hang on the walls. Other paintings show giant moons rising out of dark lakes or jungle insects soaring through starry skies. Here and there stood strange instruments that Polo had invented himself, often with gourds and strings. One instrument looked like a cross between the Andean charango (a small banjo like instrument strung across an armadillo’s shell) and the twelve-string African Kora, the instrument favored by the original griots. When I asked that he show me one of these strange instruments he obliged, picking up a large wooden creation.
“Like a cello,” he said. Yet the sound was distinctly Andean.
Polo was officially named a griot as part of a national cultural program instituted by Gilberto Gil, the popular Brazilian guitarist and former Minister of Culture. But unlike the Brazilian griot found playing traditional songs in Bahia and the Nordeste, the source of Polo’s musical knowledge is the Andean cordillera. His musical tradition is the music of the Quichua peoples of Chile, Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador.
Born in Chile and trained as a fine artist Polo worked as a young man at the leftist Santiago newspaper, La Nacion, as a graphic designer. He was jailed soon after Pinochet came to power and though he was released after only three days, Polo decided it would be best to leave Chile until the political situation calmed down. He then began his long journey through the Andes, the Amazon, and eventually Brazil, learning the musical traditions of the Quichua and Amazonian peoples he encountered, learning to play their instruments and tell their ancient stories.
Polo’s years of travel served as his apprenticeship as a griot, for by the time he reached Santa Catarina he was already a repository of Chilean, Bolivian and Ecuadorian music and folklore as well as a musician who had recorded with Milton Nascimiento on his LP Gerais and Ney Matogrosso on his CD AAA. He also toured with Nascimiento and Gonzaginho.
“The indigenous peoples of the Americas,” Polo told me, ”and especially the Andes, have an analogous figure to the African griot: the shaman.” The shaman, or traditional healer—known as a yachaj in the Andes–was sometimes a traveling man (like his African counterpart) who roamed from village to village. The Andean yachaj, however, was a healer as well, whose curing songs featured at the center of Andean ceremonies. Music and dance is at the center of Andean social life and ritual.
It was this body of music, the living memory of Andean peoples, that Polo learned as he traveled slowly up the Andean cordillera to Ecuador and Bolivia and eventually the Peruvian Amazon. As his repetoire grew, so did his power to remember the particular people, places, and great happenings of the cordillera.
Polo finally stopped his wandering in the late seventies and settled in Porto da Lagoa, when it was still an uninhabited, idyllic forest beside the Joaquina dunes. There he built a house and began to practice his music, build unique musical instruments, and paint his many shamanic visions on canvass.
Together with Gilka Girardello and Rosana de Almeida, Cabrera founded a theater group called Conto Contos, whose productions included, among others, O Planeta Feliz, A História de uma Estrela, A Flauta Encantada and perhaps the most well known, Lagoa no Fin do Mundo, which was based on an Ecuadorian folk tale. Many Florianopolis children, local and international, grew up hearing the songs from Conta Contos prodcutions, can hum their tunes, or even sing the main song. Polo still sells copies of the CD of Lagoa no Fin do Mundo. He also tells his stories on the Barca dos Livros story hour on the lake.
I asked Polo about his most recent work. “I’m writing a new play,” he said, “called Espirito das Aguas” (or The Spirit of the Waters). ”Or,” he said on second thought, “Perhaps I’ll call it Cyclo das Aguas,” (The Cycle of the Waters.) “The play is about a shaman who dreams he is a child. The child journeys through the stages of life: each stage is expressed as a form of water. Adolescence is a waterfall; middle age is a powerful, flowing river; old age is like a tranquil lake. Throughout, rain serves to renovate the soul as it journeys toward the “all,” as expressed by the sea.”
I remembered those stark, steep Andean corn fields and the joy of the farmers when rain nourishes their fragile crops. Polo told me that his inspiration doesn’t come from any conscious connection to tradition. Rather, it is inspiration that seeks him out. “Music is the creative force that flows through all of us,” he said. “I merely let it sing its song through me.”
Polo picked up his bow and began to play, then sing. I thought of the long journey of the griots. Their ancestors had begun to sing and tell stories during the earliest moments of human history and their song had continued up through the present day. The griots’ song had begun in the villages and kingdoms of West Africa and their music had accompanied chiefs and kings alike. Sold into slavery along with their kinsmen, the griots crossed the Atlantic. In Brazil the griot’s song became young again as it mixed with new kinds of music and new stories. As Polo sang I thought of how here in Florianopolis in our own time the human voice had once again refreshed itself in song.
Certainly, I find myself listening to him more than ever as I drive around Florianopolis. His well-crafted creations follow beaten paths with the occasional moment of fusion, the warmth of his voice drawing the listener in.
Garrett will release his latest album ‘Hands and Imperfections’ next month in Ireland and the month after in Spain, having recorded it around the turn of the year with his GWB band and guests. His sound for this and the previous album, Skypointing, revolves around cajon, trumpet, guitar and bass with the occasional piano part thrown in for good measure. It will be available via mondegreenrecords.com (and on iTunes) as are most of his previous releases. Sample his wares there, at www.myspace.com/garrettwall or at www.garrettwall.net rather than accept a reviewer’s stumbling folk-rock-pop label and glowing recommendation.