Keep It Foolish

Keep It Foolish: Louco Ritmos Brasileiros by Jed Skinner (productions)

Woo!  It’s summer!  Yeah!  The sun is out!  Maybe.  The suntan is on!  Possibly.  There’s people partying in the streets until daybreak!  Er, yes – maybe not – this is Britain, you know.  Pffffffffff.

And it’s precisely because I can’t party in the street until the break of dawn that’s led me to put together a little half-hour compilation of Brazilian tracks, mainly from the 70s, that I would love to hear blasted out of a massive soundsystem in the centre of the M1.  I’ve tried to steer it along a course taking in the sounds of mad samba, fast-talking bossa nova and neglected, percussion-laden cover versions – with a bit of asymmetrical 7/8 space fusion along the way.

With the exception of one track (the cracking Heavy Üsker Remix of Cesar Mariano’s Futebol De Bar – also on Gilles Peterson’s excellent In Brazil comp), they’re all from the 70s, and either buried in compilations or cheekily ripped from vinyl and uploaded to the net.  I’ll be honest – I’ve not been to Brazil, I haven’t got enough money to go ‘digging’ (although I would happily buy my own weight in Brazilian records), and although all this can be found online, I think this mix might save you some time Googling.

Besides the lack of vinyl, a major downside to online music mixtapes is that these Soundcloud mixes lack liner notes.  So, to rectify it a bit, here’s some information I’ve gathered about each track or artist featured on the mix.

1.  Paulinho Da Costa – Berimbau Variations

The berimbau is a traditional Brazilian instrument, which features heavily in the music of capoeira, a Brazilian martial art-cum-dance.  The berimbau consists of a piece of wood about 5 feet long, with a gourd at one end.  There’s a wire attached from the top of the wood to the gourd, giving it the appearance of a bow.  While holding this in one hand, the wire is struck with a smaller stick, or baqueta, in the other hand, which is also holding a shaker.

This creates a low-pitched noise, which is the sound you hear on this track.

2.  Papete – É Assim Que Eu Sou

Real name José de Ribamar.  This is an excellent example of Brazilian samba – the fast speed, large percussion and polyrhythms being typical features of this style.  Prominent in the recording is a cuica – a friction drum that sounds a bit like laughter (appropriately enough, another name for it is the ‘laughing drum’).

3.  Ronald Mesquita – Balanca Perma

A track from what I think is his only album, released in 1972.  Awesome song – no idea what it’s about.

4.  César Mariano and CIA – Fábrica

Mid-70s fusion.  Jazz pianist from São Paulo, and taken from the appropriately named album São Paulo, Brazil.

5.  Wilson Das Neves E Seu Conjunto – Pick Up The Pieces

This is cracking!  What a find!  Wilson Das Neves – another great percussionist.

6.  César Mariano and CIA – Futebol De Bar (Heavy Üsker Remix)

Great remix.  The original has about 30 seconds of the drumming part in, before fading out – which clearly isn’t on, so thank god someone decided the same and remixed it.  Features on the Gilles Peterson comp I mentioned earlier.

7.  João Bosco – O Ronca Da Cuica

One of several with a cuica in.  Bosco’s known as a guitarist, but I picked this because of the drums.  I bloody love drums.

8.  Osvaldinho da Cuica e Grupo Vai Vai – Cozinha

I think the title can be translated as meaning ‘kitchen’ or ‘cooking’ – if it’s the latter, it’s accurate.  This is ridiculous.  So fast.  Really loud cuica, and a weird melodic cuica solo in the middle, before thrashing back into it.  Play on loop.

9.  Zuzuca – Eu Nasci Na Roça

Nice call-and-response, Afro-style track.  I don’t know anything about Zuzuca, but he has an amazing name.

10.  Bateria Nota 10 – Sai Da Frente

Another great samba, with whistles, tamboras, congas and cuicas – the whole lot.  I think the name means ’10 drummers’ – maybe?  Certainly sounds like it.  Which is why I picked it.

11.  Nicola Di Bari – Mas Que Nada

‘Oh – that’s what that song’s called!’ is what everyone says.  Yes, Nicola is a bloke, so it seems.  Originally made famous by Sergio Mendes, this is a overlooked cover version that I like because it’s a bit funkier.  Just imagine it’s sunshine outside…

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