Celebrating a Year

Posts Tagged ‘Rio

January 11, 2015

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1.11.15Today is my grandson S’s 1st birthday. I send an email and call later to beam my love across the miles. Last year, I was there just a couple of days after he was born. But now here in Rio I am missing them, but am glad it is a v.cool 2-roda day. To the right is the 1st, in the afternoon in Praca Sao Salvador. If you look carefully you will see me playing bandolim in this photo taken by P. The 2nd is in the evening at the Forte Copacabana, and as it starts I am, surprisingly, in charge, with the usual suspects away on holiday. But other soloists soon arrive and we have a really lovely 1.11a.15time playing, outdoors by the water, with a large enthusiastic audience. To the left P. and Romulo, as P. plays his first public roda. We now are officially in our last week, with many things accomplished, so much music heard and played, but still things on the list to do, to show P. my Rio. Or as much of it as is possible.

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January 14, 2015 at 4:50 pm

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January 10, 2014

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1.10b.15Sometimes even with all the signs pointing to “yes,” the answer is still “no”. Today we realize my long-held dream to go to a samba school to hear a rehearsal of the school group for Carnavale. Our housemates have been to this school and recommended it. I spend a long time figuring out how to get us there safely, as it is far north of my usual stomping grounds. I am so looking forward to the band, the stage with the little old ladies singing harmony and the cavaquinho player in front singing the funny samba songs and telling long stories that we won’t understand (as seen by our housemates earlier in the year). We arrive early, to be there before dark, and sit outside the venue at a table, drinking a beer, little thinking this would be the best part of the night. Sigh. At right is a pic of two of the beija-flors (humming birds) who we were never to see in action. This photo is taken right after we pay the high admission (I 1.10a.15find out later it was free when our housemates went), and before we find out we still have to pay for a table to sit down. Clearly they are trying to cover the Carnavale bills, and as you can see from the photo to the left, they do, with a packed hall. Yes, there is briefly a cavaquinho singer as a warm-up act, but then it is a 2+-hour rap show. Yes, really. Pink-hooded rappers and percussionists. Just before 1:00 AM, as we are leaving, the baterie (percussion section) appears– they are on the balcony to the left. But we are on our way out. Our luck reappears briefly and we get a taxi quickly for a safe ride home. Ya pays your money, ya takes your chances.

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January 14, 2015 at 4:31 pm

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January 9, 2015

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1.9.15We go downtown to pick up some CDs Romulo has ordered for us at the new under-construction home of Escola Portatil Musica and Acari Records. And afterwards to meander the crowded streets to locate the Pixinguinha tribute statue, pictured at right. The composer who brought Choro to its height, took it to Paris, and started samba– Pixinguinha’s legacy extends to pretty much all of Brazilian music. Since we are here, and it is still blisteringly hot, we have lunch in AC and head to some museums for some 1.9a.15refreshing and cool art. In the bookstore of the Centro Cultural Banco Brasileiro I find a new project from my friends at EPM, more unpublished scores of Pixinguinha’s music arranged by him for small ensembles. Research can take place in unlikely contexts.

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January 13, 2015 at 7:45 am

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January 8, 2015

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1.8.15To the right, a bird glimpsed outside our window this morning. We have tickets for a show tonight of 3 of the best players of our instruments in all of Brazil. Armandinho, a crazy electric 5-string bandolimist– historically interesting because of his ties to the early-1950s’ Trio Eletrico in Bahia but a bit too 70s rock to warrant a trip to centro on his own. However, his “convidaos” include Yamandu Costa, 7-string guitar giant, and Hamilton de Hollanda, 10-string bandolim virtuoso. So we traveled down to centro last week to buy tickets, and are rewarded when we walk in the club and see our table– right 1.8b.15up against the stage and, it turns out, literally 6 feet from where Yamandu will be sitting. Wow. The concert is amazing, especially the parts with our heroes. And the purple-haired Brasileira cantora Baby do Brasil comes on to bring the show to a climax. Wow. Hard to believe our luck. I have filmed all the duets and trios, as have many others, so check back for a link to an online video, or one of mine. We head home still buzzing with excitement.

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January 9, 2015 at 6:33 pm

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week 326 ~ I have been waiting my whole life for this

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me.326aI have been waiting my whole life for this
and yet it seems as if I’m still not there
searching without quite knowing why I stare
hard at the future hoping I won’t miss
my turn when it comes no one understands
but me (and do I really) why striving
is in my blood I want so much to sing
a better song this tunnel vision lands
me in hot water sometimes like tonight
when an inconsequential story falls
askew on skeptical rocks (and recalls
the fallibility of words) still light
jumps 7 waves with me and our wishes
swim out to sea like brave drunken fishes

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January 8, 2015 at 8:24 am

January 7, 2014

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1.7.14It’s a morning to work. Syllabi need to be written, online readings and illustrations need to be found, course websites set up. Today is the demarcation line– half our trip is over, half lies ahead. I am feeling optimistic and glad, for what we have done, what we have planned for the next few days, and the possibilities of adventures brewing in my mind. But the coming semester casts its shadow backward, and finally after weeks of searching I come up with the right combination of a first reading and assignments that will, fingers crossed, pique the curiosity of my students to start our semester of study. I remember reading a quote once, that nothing is interesting until you pay attention to it. My job as a teacher is to open a door that intrigues, and hope my class will deem it worthwhile to pay attention. Photo to the right, a detail from the shrine at the start of the path we hiked 1.71.14yesterday. To the left, a fuita da conde, broken in half. About the size of an apple, each shell-like kernel on the outside is attached to a nugget of incredibly sweet pulp surrounding a black seed. They are delicious and quite fragile, sold in wooden crates of 4, and I’ve never seen them except here. In the evening we go over to Romulo’s and share music, stories, laughter, food, drink, and add another layer to our long friendship.

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January 8, 2015 at 8:02 am

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January 6, 2014

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1.6.14The morning begins a tad cooler and overcast, so we opt to explore the trail that starts beside Praia Vermelha and circles around the Morro do Urca. The kitchen of the place we are staying backs up to one side of the Morro (literally “rock”, but one the size of a small mountain, it’s the shorter wider rock in front of the Pao do Acucar in this panorama). The trail, on 1.6a.14the other side of the Morro,  is called the Pista Cláudio Coutinho, and here we encounter the guy on the right and some of his buddies along with large waddling lizards and lush vegetation. We have lunch at the nearby Laguna– my favorite grilled-chicken-sanuiche+Acai stop, and the owner remembers me as someone who “retorna de vez em quando” (returns from time to time). We stop briefly at “home” to grab our instruments, music, and recording gear and head out to P’s first lesson on the 7-string guitar with Fabio, a teacher and guitarist I have known for some time. It’s interesting, infomative, and in English! From there we continue on to the roda at Gago Coutinho, pictured at left, where a jolly and musical time is had by all.

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January 7, 2015 at 8:54 am

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January 5, 2015

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1.5.15The Escadaria Selaron is one of the coolest pieces of public art in existence, and it’s right in the center of Rio. We visit today and take photos as we walk slowly up the colorful inventive masterpiece. I have climbed these stairs many times before, but it seems strange not to see the artist at work this time. He was murdered mysteriously on his beloved stairs almost 1.5a.152 years ago. A Chilean artist in love with this city he came to live in, Selaron transformed the stairs outside his house independently with little money, little help, over the course of more than 2 decades. At the top we continue on, walking up the winding road to Santa Teresa, an eclectic artistic neighborhood high above Rio, and have dinner up two stories on an open-air balcony. Seeing a different side of Rio today.

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January 6, 2015 at 8:01 pm

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January 4, 2015

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1.4.15It is absurdly hot today– over 100 and high humidity– so we opt not to go to the noon-roda in Praca Sao Salvador. We spend a quiet morning at home, playing music and doing some laundry in the new tiny wall-mounted washing machine. So much better than Woolite and the sink! Then around 4:00 we head to the Feria do Hippie, close by our ultimate destination, for a late Bahian lunch of Acarajé, pictured here, made from a flour of black-eyed peas rolled into a ball, fried, and stuffed with shrimp. We peruse the merchandise for sale briefly, then make our way to the nearby Forte Copacabana for the bi-weekly roda, and it is packed, as it’s the 8-year anniversary 1.4a.15of the event. The picture at left is only about half the size of the ultimate crew. P. opts not to play so takes photos until my camera battery dies. It feels good to be back in the choro groove– though there are too many soloists to get to play much, and the sound guys aren’t the best so although P says my sound gets out to the audience I’m impossible to hear onstage by the rest of the musicians. Ah well– these are the perils of live music always, so I try to pick the pearls out of the muddy mix– a great nearly solo “Diabinho Maluco” early in the set, and a “Fetico” near the end, due to the insistence of a friend/guitarist I have played with before. The rest is memorable for its energy if not its clarity. A cool day.

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January 5, 2015 at 11:26 am

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January 3, 2015

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1.3.15Today Romulo has his birthday party and “roda da choro” (jam session for the music I love). It’s our first chance to play on the trip and we have a fun and informal time diving into the music, and I catch up with music friends I have missed in my year away and introduce them to meu namorado. Pictured to the right– the “kitchen” (rhythm section) of 7-string guitar, pandeiro, and cavaquinho. It’s P’s first time playing in a roda and he hangs in for the first set on his 7-string, getting a taste of the choro tradition. He’s in the right corner of the photo below. In the back of the photo is Michel– the percussionist from our old band Agua no Feijao– sitting on and playing a box-drum. We also get a chance to taste Romulo’s new batch of beer, 1.3a.15as he is an avid and v.good home-brewer, and see R’s family– parents, baby son, wife Cecelia– and the families of some of the musicians. Afterwards we head back to Urca and join the crowd siting on the wall by the water outside the Bar do Urca, drinking caipirinhas and eating pasteles and fried shrimp. Unhealthy, perhaps, but so delicious!

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January 5, 2015 at 11:07 am

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