Rio Day Two – In the footsteps of Nana & Egberto

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The rain has stopped but it is still grey above, below it is no such thing. The Rio streets still buzz with birds and people and car horns. The thing that is surprising about Rio is that there is so much of nature growing everywhere. I’m sure I commented last year about the very same thing but it really resonates again. After a short supermarket trip for essentials I discover an ongoing problem. Everywhere I go it seems my hair clippers don’t work. Having no hair is not easy. And these ones were bought in Rio! The barbers await. I decide to walk over to my old haunts in Botafogo to go and meet up with Brian and Esa of Auntie Flo. It takes a lot longer than anticipated. Eventually when I find Casa Rio the headquaters of Novas Frequencias is relaxed and inviting. We are going over to Santa Teresa to meet a local percussionist and producer Siri at his studio. Now finding a studio in Santa Teresa turns out not to be so straight forward. Those street numbers don’t make sense. But we get their. Siri’s apartment is full of an amazing collection of, well, things and he is such a beautiful and open guy it is easy just to imagine something will come of this meeting. Siri takes us up to his studio and we get down to sharing music. The focus then turns to the berimbau and that’s when I have a moment. I am transported back to the 80s and my ECM record buying years. When I was searching for that sound which will always remain elusive. From a Jan Garbarek Lp I discovered a very interesting guy called Nana Vasconcelos and what was he playing? The berimbau…. there is a lot more… but back to Siri and Esa sharing and jousting percussion grooves. We all now want to know where to by a berimbau. Out come the bongos and all sorts of other, well, things for lack of my knowlege of their names. What a lovely way to start something. Here I must thank British Council and Creative Scotland for supporting myself and Chico to get this sort of thing to happen. I know this is the wrong tone for my blog but really it is amazing to have this sort of thing go on in the crazy messed up world we have created. I had to, sorry, and now back to business. We part after a beer in the local bar with Brian, Esa and Siri buzzing with ideas but not before we meet Siri’s beautiful family Debbie, Clara and Alice. Sweet stuff. The evening and the first gigs of the festival. Charlie, Catriona and I grab a taxi after a quick pizza and the weirdest glass of wine I’ve ever partaken of, over to a new venue for me, SESC Ginastico. We are a bit late and only catch the last 15 minutes of portugese trio Timespine. It’s a lovely combination of improv and licks, creating a bubbling atmosphere of intent. After a whole load of hugs from my old pals, the Novas Frequencias team (Tathiana, Bernardo, Maria Claudia, Duda and Stephanie) and Sabrina from British Council it is in for the second act. Brooklyn Dawn of Midi is a curious piano trio. Not Bill Evans but they pulsate with minimal, almost electronic sounding, angular rhythm patterns which create an often annoying repetition but also one that feeds into a primal dance and a challenging reduction of beat culture. It’s a great start. Out on the street it is great to bang into Renato from the Chinese Cookie Poets. We plan to catch up tomorrow with the band and the one and only Mister Negro Leo.

This research trip was kindly supported by:

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