I am a Brazilian music freak. I've been nuts about the popular music of Brazil for some 30 years, an obsession that started with MPB (música popular brasileira - hip post-bossa nova pop music) and ultimately branched out to embrace numerous genres. When I returned to my alma mater, Toronto's York University, to do a Masters degree in ethnomusicology in 1998, it seemed logical to make some aspect of Brazilian music the focus of my studies. Long story short, I wound up in Salvador, capital of the Northeastern state of Bahia, doing research on the popular carnival music called axé music. That Masters degree mushroomed into a Ph.D., and between 2000 and the present I have made several trips to Salvador. I have met many fantastic people there, some of whom I count among my close friends. This section of my website is dedicated to my amigos baianos. Over time, with their permission, I would like to post some of their photos and stories here. Stay tuned.
RR and Charles B
Pardal (R) and his friend, hotelier Charles Butler, on the steps of City Hall during the concert held in Salvador's Praça Municipal to commemorate National Samba Day (Dia Nacional do Samba), Dec. 2, 2006. Pardal is an American expat who has lived in Salvador since the early 1990s and who knows one heck of a lot about its music scene (in fact, about its scene in general). He is the owner of Cana Brava Records in the historic downtown Pelourinho neighbourhood, a store that should be visited by any travelor to Salvador who is at all interested in music. He also has the hippest website on Bahia that I've seen. Anyone planning a trip there (or not) should check out
Salvador, Bahia: The Bahia-Online Guide
Rumpilezz sound check
Led by wind/reed players André Becker and Letieres Leite, the fantastic wind, brass and percussion band Rumpilezz plays Letieres's compositions, which combine, among other things, elements of jazz and the music of the complex of Afro-Brazilian religions known as candomblé. Here a condensed version of the band does a sound check prior to their gig at the hip night club Zauber on Dec. 2, 2006. The band currently (as of March 2007) plays every Monday night at the Casa da Bossa, located in the Largo de Santana in Salvador's Rio Vermelho neighbourhood.
Without André Becker, I never could have done my fieldwork in Bahia. André (introduced to me by Toronto percussionist Mark Duggan, who attended the California Insitute for the Arts with him) is currently the principle flautist in the Orquestra Sinfônica da Bahia. He is also a great saxophonist, and has played and recorded with many of Salvador's top popular music artists and bands, including Daniela Mercury, Cheiro de Amor, and Sarajane, in addition to heading up such groups of his own as Bonde Xadréz and BA Soul. He's also a dedicated family man and an all-round great guy. Muito obrigado, André.
Rumpilezz percussion section The percussion section of Rumpilezz at Zauber, Dec. 2, 2006. The great percussionist Gabi Guedes, a member of Rumpilezz (and my teacher for three memorable lessons) was absent from this gig.
Zauber The nightclub Zauber is located on the top floor of this old building at the foot of the escarpment that divides the Cidade Baixa (lower city) from the Cidade Alta (upper city), not far from the Pelourinho neighbourhood.
Cidade Baixa by Night
Night-time view of the Rua do Corpo Santo in the Comércio district taken from the nightclub Zauber.
The wonderful singer Paulinho Boca de Cantor, a key member of the post-Tropicalista band Novos Baianos, put in an appearance at the concert held in Salvador's Praça Municipal to commemorate National Samba Day (Dia Nacional do Samba), Dec. 2, 2006.
Bloco Alvorada, Praça Castro Alves
The trio elétrico - essentially a mobile stage on top of a truck equipped with a state-of-the-art sound system - of the bloco de samba Alvorada passing through the Praça Castro Alves, Dec. 3, 2006, during the Caminhada do Samba.
Who are you looking at?
During the fifties and sixties, Salvador, like Rio de Janeiro, had samba schools which participated in the carnival. In the early seventies they disappeared as they were supplanted by the blocos de índio and later the blocos afro (the most famous of which are Ilê Aiyê and Olodum). In recent years, the emergence of G.R.E.S. Lira Imperial do Samba offers some hope that the escolas de samba may be beginning to make a comeback. Here, the escola is seen parading in the Avenida Sete de Setembro during the Caminhada do Samba, Dec. 3, 2006.
Martinho da Cuíca
A charter member of the Old Guard of Salvador's samba scene, Martinho da Cuíca shows how it's done while parading with G.R.E.S. Lira Imperial do Samba, Caminhada do Samba, Dec. 3, 2006.
Não deixe o samba acabar! Members of G.R.E.S. Lira Imperial do Samba (including Martinho da Cuíca [R]) kept the party going in the Praça Castro Alves after their escola had finished parading in the Caminhada do Samba, Dec. 3, 2006.
Luiz Caldas and Armandinho
Icons of the Bahian carnival Luiz Caldas and Armandinho Macedo play a duet at Salvador's fantastic Casa da Bossa during the taping of Armandinho's DVD, Dec. 13, 2006. Saravá!
Gerônimo on the steps
The great Gerônimo, another emblematic Bahian figure, performs one of his weekly Tuesday night concerts on the steps of the Igreja do Paço in the Pelourinho neighbourhood during the (months-long) buildup to the carnival. Dec. 11, 2006.
Igreja do Bonfim On a day when someone I was supposed to meet in the Salvador neighbourhood of Bonfim stood me up, I took the opportunity to enter tourist mode and snap a shot of the overly-photographed Igreja do Bonfim, an iconic Bahian monument.
During my most recent stay in Salvador, Kissukilas (one of the hippest Afro-Bahian bands on the scene there) was performing every Tuesday night at the headquarters of the Afoxé Filhos de Korin Efan, an old building with no roof at the end of the Ladeira do Paço in the Pelourinho neighbourhood. A must-see.
That's Mister Frango to you. Mister Frango (i.e., Mr. Chicken), the restaurant from which the second track on my CD Crucible, a funky samba, takes its name. Located at the corner of Rua Francisco Otaviano and Rua Miguel Bournier in the Salvador neighbourhood of Barra.
Raimundo Sodré at Irará
The great Bahian composer, singer, and guitarist Raimundo Sodré at the Feira Regional da Mandioca (Regional Manioc Fair) in Irará, Bahia, Dec. 9, 2006. Sodré is a master of the musical styles of the Bahian Recôncavo (the fertile area surrounding the Baía de Todos os Santos - All Saints' Bay) on which Salvador is located. You can listen to some of his music online at Salvador, Bahia: The Bahia-Online Guide at the following URL: www.bahia-online.net/TheMusicandDanceScene.htm
Samba at the Beco de Gal Pardal introduced me to the procedings at the famous Beco de Gal, a truly fantastic and totally Bahian night spot that features deeply grooving samba in informal surroundings every Wednesday night.