Friday, February 24, 2017

Carnaval in Brazil 2017

Carnaval will be celebrated all over Brazil from Saturday through Tuesday, with plenty of early and late celebrations as well. Rio de Janeiro, Recife (and Olinda), and Salvador all have Carnaval street celebrations with millions of people over several days. Samba and marcha (Rio), axé music (Salvador), and frevo and maracatu (Recife/Olinda) are among the most popular Carnaval styles of music. Many popular Brazilian musicians will lead blocos or dance with samba schools. Funk carioca / pop singer Anitta (two images below) will lead the "bloco das poderosas" in Salvador this year.

Everyone can participate in Carnaval...

Rio Maracatu parades along Ipanema Beach in Rio 

Maracatu alfaia drum

Carnaval in Olinda

Read about the history of Brazilian Carnaval, samba, frevo, maracatu, axé music, funk carioca and more in The Brazilian Sound: Samba, Bossa Nova and the Popular Music of Brazil, which is available in print and digital editions through Amazon worldwide.

Also see:


Saturday, September 24, 2016

Fundo de Quintal in L.A. October 9th

Fundo de Quintal, the founding fathers of the rootsy style of samba called pagode, will make a rare Southern California appearance on Sunday, October 9th at the Samba Brazilian Steak House in Redondo Beach, a beach town in the greater Los Angeles area. The musicianship of these veteran sambistas is formidable and the samba they play is not to be confused with the contemporary romantic pop samba also called pagode. For more information, call Brazilian Nites Productions at (818) 566-1111 or see the links at the bottom of this blog.

Here is an excerpt about the group from The Brazilian Sound: Samba, Bossa Nova and the Popular Music of Brazil, which I co-authored with Ricardo Pessanha:

It all started in the mid-1970s, when a group of musicians associated with the Carnaval bloco Cacique de Ramos started getting together for a pagode, a party where people played samba. Every Wednesday night, Bira, Ubirany, Sereno, Almir Guineto, Neoci, Jorge Aragão, and various other talented musicians united for beer, appetizers, and samba in the bloco’s rehearsal space. The atmosphere was informal, the mood collective. The music, often based in the old partido alto style, featured improvising by the singer and the singing of the refrain by everyone else. It was more like being back at Tia Ciata’s house, a musical gathering of friends. There was no distinction between players and audience.

In addition, the samba being made in Ramos added some new instrumental twists. Sereno introduced the tan-tan, a type of atabaque, which replaced the larger and heavier surdo. This was more practical for spontaneous samba get-togethers, as the tan-tan could be carried more easily on buses, the mode of transportation for Rio’s working class. Almir Guineto added a banjo, which was louder than a cavaquinho and better for open-air gatherings. Ubirany started playing a hand-held repique, called a repique de mão, and dispensed with the customary use of drum sticks. And Bira played the pandeiro in unusual ways. The sound was intimate and earthy, with new percussive textures. Their lyrics were unpretentious, focusing on situations from their daily life.

They changed the sonority of samba, they brought back the ‘batuque,’ the instrument played with the hands,” said Beth Carvalho. Brazil’s top samba record producer Rildo Hora told us, “Beth invited me to go to Cacique to listen to the songs and the different percussion that they were playing there. I liked what I saw and heard so much that I talked to Beth and we decided to do something that changed the way people sang and played samba in Rio: we invited those Cacique percussionists to play on Beth’s next album.”

The albums De Pé no Chão (Feet on the Ground, 1978) and Beth Carvalho no Pagode (1979) brought the compositions and playing of the Ramos musicians to the Brazilian public for the first time. Several of those musicians formed the Grupo Fundo de Quintal (Backyard Group), which—with Carvalho’s help—secured a recording contract with RGE and released their debut album Samba é no Fundo de Quintal in 1980. 

The Ramos composers helped to revitalize the partido alto style of samba. Hora told us that in the pagode get-togethers, “everyone sings a lot of partido alto because it’s a samba that has a repeated refrain. In between the refrains, there is musical play, improvised verses. It’s inviting.” The style, also employed by Martinho da Vila, became closely identified with the pagodeiros, although they explored other types of samba as well.

Many big names started recording songs by Fundo de Quintal composers, whose sambas had catchy melodies and strong rhythms, and the record companies and press started calling their music pagode. Carvalho popularized their compositions on her albums, and the Grupo Fundo de Quintal’s sales increased with each new release. Early on, Almir Guineto and Jorge Aragão left the group to pursue solo careers; they were replaced by Walter Sete Cordas and Arlindo Cruz. Arlindo played with them until 1993, and became a notable musician (on cavaquinho, banjo, and the hybrid “banjo-cavaco”) and a prolific songwriter in his own right. 

Fundo de Quintal's lineup of musicians has changed, but the group has continued to release bestselling albums of quality music and to win Brazilian music-industry awards for their work. Their album Só Felicidade was nominated for a Latin Grammy Award for Best Samba/Pagode Album in 2015.

--most of the above is excerpted from The Brazilian Sound: Samba, Bossa Nova and the Popular Music of Brazil (Temple University Press) © Chris McGowan and Ricardo Pessanha, 1991-2014. 

More information:
Brazilian Nites Productions, (818) 566-1111;
Samba Brazilian Steakhouse, (310) 374-3411,

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Blog Index

Tecnobrega/pop diva Gaby Amarantos

The Brazilian Sound Blog Index

Featured Blogs:

All Blogs (Most Recent at Top):


Rio Carnaval Images:








More blogs about Brazilian
music and culture:
(blog index)

Read the Books:

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Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Where to Find the Books

Where to Find The Brazilian Sound & The Brazilian Music Book

by Chris McGowan and Ricardo Pessanha

The leading guide to Brazilian music in the English language is available worldwide in paperback (above) and as a Kindle ebook with color photos (below).

by Chris McGowan

Revealing conversations with iconic and important figures in Brazilian music such as Antonio Carlos Jobim, Carlos Lyra, Milton Nascimento, Airto Moreira, Dori Caymmi, Laurindo Almeida, Antonio Adolfo, Djavan, Ivan Lins, Gilberto Gil, Gal Costa, Cristina Braga, Jovino Santos Neto, Luciana Souza and Lenine. 

Available in a Kindle digital edition
readable on iPad, Galaxy, Android,
Macs & PCs with the free Kindle app

for .pdfs, academic use
or more information:

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Naná Vasconcelos

Naná Vasconcelos playing the berimbau

Naná Vasconcelos, a Brazilian percussionist who left his mark on global music, passed away on Wednesday at the age of 71. Vasconcelos gained critical acclaim for his work with Egberto Gismonti, Codona, and the Pat Metheny Group. His peer Airto Moreira called him “the best berimbau player in the world.” Vasconcelos won the Downbeat Critics Poll in the category of percussion from 1983 to 1991 and was an influential figure in jazz. Read my blog about Naná for the Huffington Post here:

Naná Vasconcelos live in Rome in 1983

Codona: Don Cherry, Collin Walcott and Naná Vasconcelos

Naná Vasconcelos (standing) and Pat Metheny (center)

Egberto Gismonti and Naná Vasconcelos

Egberto Gismonti and Naná Vasconcelos
perform "Dança das Cabeças" in 1996.

Read about Naná here:

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Carnaval 2016

Papangus de Bezerros,
Pernambuco, 2016

Carnaval was celebrated in 2016 in Brazil in the usual way: all over the country, in nearly every town, and with traditions from street blocos to escolas de samba to frevo to maracatu.

Lenine performs during
Carnaval, Recife, 2016

Claudia Leitte sambas with
Mocidade Independente

Who's worried about Zika?

In the mood for Carnaval

Carnaval, Olinda, Pernambuco

singer Daniela Mercury

Carnaval, Rio, 2016

Tays Reis of the group Vingadora

Maracatu, Pernambuco, 2016

Sambista with pandeiro,
Carnaval, Rio, 2016

Carnaval, Rio 2016

Mangueira won the escola de samba
competition for Carnaval in 2016
in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

The venerable samba school paid
homage to singer Maria Bethânia

Mangueira, 2016

Mangueira, 2016

Rio Maracatu in Rio de Janeiro

Filhos de Ghandy of Salvador, Bahia

Find Brazilian music

Monday, February 1, 2016

An Interview with Leny Andrade

Leny Andrade:
The Jazz-Bossa Diva

 A 1963 album with singer Leny Andrade 

"Leny Andrade… does scat singing with an agility that approaches Ella Fitzgerald." —John S. Wilson, The New York Times

Leny Andrade is a female vocalist associated with the bossa nova and jazz shows in the legendary Beco das Garrafas in Copacabana. Her lively, passionate, jazz-inflected style has brought her critical praise and a long career. Hers is one of Brazil's most virtuosic and distinctive voices in samba, jazz and bossa nova.

Leny de Andrade Lima was born on January 25, 1943 and grew up in Meier, a neighborhood in Rio's Zona Norte near the samba stronghold of Vila Isabel. "My mother is a professor of piano. In the beginning I was singing and playing piano. I studied piano from age six to fourteen," Andrade recalled. "The influence of jazz came through my knowledge of piano. A singer who plays an instrument sings in a different way and searches more for rich harmonies. I can't manage to sing a simple little song harmonically; it has to have a rich harmony."

She became a professional singer while only fifteen, making her debut with the orchestra of Maestro Perminio Goncalves. "When you sing as a crooner at bailes (dances), you learn a lot. You have to sing in other idioms, various rhythms. I did this for three years, between fifteen and eighteen. My father went with me because I was a minor in age."

Then came bossa nova, which Andrade was performing at the end of the 1950s and start of the '60s, still underage in her first shows. "Bossa nova was beginning. I sang with the Sérgio Mendes Trio—Mendes, Edson Machado, and Sebastião Neto—in Bottles Bar, one of four small nightclubs in the Beco das Garrafas [a small alley off Rua Duvivier in Rio]. It was mostly jazz and bossa nova there. Sérgio played his first samba with me. He didn't like to play samba; he only played jazz. He used to say that without wanting to, in order to continue playing in this club, he had to play samba with me, so he ended up becoming a millionaire.

"I sang both samba and jazz equally. It was a very interesting time. The Beco das Garrafas was a place with the best musicians: Luis Eça, Edson Frederico, Durval Ferreira, Mauricio Einhorn, Nara Leão, Tamba Trio, Carlos Lyra. It was a meeting every night of great musicians.

"And in the middle of this was Lennie Dale [1934-1994], an American who was very important in Brazilian music. He changed many things in the style of Brazilian music. He helped Elis [Regina] very much with his marvelous ideas, with putting on shows. He was a dancer and had an academy of dance in Brazil."

Leny Andrade sings "Batida Diferente"
(composed by Durval Ferreira
and Mauricio Einhorn)

Leny added, "I was singing 'Estamos Ai.' He heard it in rehearsal and said, 'Why not do it like this?' He helped singers and helped with the choreography, with the fantastic musicality that he had. I adore him. He has a talent that doesn't end."

She continues, "In 1960, I recorded my first disc, A Sensação Leny Andrade [released the next year]. It was bossa nova, improvisations, some samba-cancões, and it gained prizes. In the '60s, I did many things. I did Gemini 5 [a musical show] with Otávio Bailey, Pery Ribeiro, Luiz Carlos Vinhas, Ronie Mesquita; it was first big show of bossa nova made in Brazil, and played for one year. Then I went to Mexico and played for one year there. In 1964 I sang in Buenos Aires in La Noche Club." Andrade lived in Mexico from 1966 to 1972, becoming well known on television and in musical theater.

In her lengthy career, Leny has appeared at New York's Birdland, the Blue Note, and Town Hall, the Smithsonian Institution, the Hollywood Bowl, Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club in London, and numerous European and American jazz festivals. She has performed with artists such as Paquito D'Rivera, Luiz Eça, Dick Farney, João Donato, Eumir Deodato, Cesar Camargo Mariano, Romero Lubambo, and Francis Hime, along with others mentioned above.

Leny Andrade sings "Estamos Ai"
(Mauricio Einhorn - Durval Ferreira)

Luz Neon, produced by Antonio Duncan, was released in 1989 and its repertoire ranges from Gonzaguina ("É") to Antonio Carlos Jobim ("Wave") to Aldir Blanc and Moacyr Luz ("Aquário") to Dizzy Gillespie ("Night in Tunisia"). "We recorded the album in six hours. I like to record like that. That way it has the emotion I want to communicate to the public. It isn't cold like many Brazilian records that I listen to. So I put the group in the studio and directed them. I had rehearsals before, and then made the record directly. It has the warmth, the spontaneity, like live music, that I like. I like to improvise."

Leny sings "A Night in Tunisia"

About her singing, she observed, "I almost always change my style." While she can improvise and scat with the best of jazz singers, Leny said, "I will never stop doing songs that are as Brazilian as they are. There already exist fantastic American singers like Carmen [McRae], Sarah [Vaughan] and Ella [Fitzgerald]. You are never going to see a Brazilian pianist play like Oscar Peterson. Foolishness. You have to bring new, beautiful, well-done things from your country, or you don't need to come."

In 2007, Leny shared a Latin Grammy Award with Cesar Camargo Mariano for Best MPB Album for their Ao Vivo album.

The quotes in the above profile come from an interview I conducted with Leny Andrade.


Leny Andrade Select Discography

A Sensação. RCA Victor, 1961.
A Arte Maior de Leny Andrade
. Polydor, 1963.
Gemini V—Show na Boate Porão 73. Odeon, 1965.
Estamos Aí. Odeon, 1965.
Gemini  Cinco Anos Depois. Pery Ribeiro & Leny Andrade. Odeon, 1972.
Alvoroço. Odeon, 1973.
Expo-Som 73, Ao Vivo. Odeon, 1973.
Leny Andrade. Odeon, 1973.
Registro. Columbia, 1979.
Leny Andrade. CBS, 1979.
Presença de Leny Andrade e Os Cariocas. CBS, 1979.
Leny Andrade. Pointer, 1984.
Cartola 80 anos. CBS, 1988.
Luz Neon. Eldorado, 1989.
Eu Quero Ver. Eldorado, 1990.
Bossa Nova. Eldorado, 1991.
Embraceable You. Som Livre, 1993.
Nós (with Cesar Camargo Mariano). Velas, 1994.
Maiden Voyage. Chesky Records, 1994.
Coisa Fina (with Romero Lubambo). Perfil Música, 1994.
Antonio Carlos Jobim, Letra e Música (with Cristóvão Bastos). Lumiar Discos, 1995.
Luz Negra—Nelson Cavaquinho por Leny Andrade. Velas, 1995.
Bossas Novas. Albatroz, 1998.
Leny Andrade Canta Altay Veloso. Paradoxx Music, 2000.
E Quero Que a Canção Seja Você.  Albatroz, 2001.
Leny Andrade and Cesar Camargo Mariano: Ao Vivo (Momentos Bons da bossa). Albatroz, 2007.
Alma Mia. Independent, 2012.
Canciones del Rey. Independent, 2013.
Iluminados. Independent, 2014.

Find Brazilian music at
The Brazilian Sound music shop

Interviews with Brazilian Musicians
The Brazilian Music Book
by Chris McGowan

The Leading Introduction
to Brazilian Music
The Brazilian Sound by Chris McGowan
and Ricardo Pessanha