It ain’t ’alf cold mum…
Mrs Voltarol and I arrived back from Brazil on Tuesday afternoon to be greeted by an outside temperature of around 3°C. No big deal I hear you cry and normally I would agree with you, but our last week down on the São Paulo Litoral was spent in temperatures of 40°C+. Even the locals were complaining about the heat (usually more like 28 - 34°C at this time of year) and sitting very still in a shaded place was still enough to make one break out in a muck sweat. The main source of entertainment at the hottest part of the day was to sit still and watch ones ankles swell. Despite this we’ve had a great trip, full of good experiences, good music, good people, good food and good drink – all of which will be documented here over the next few postings. I’ll start with some of the good people.
Whilst we were in Teresópolis I got to play several times in the Teresópolis Week End Club in the Parque do Imbuí, very close to where we were staying. There is a gathering of musicians there two or three times a week, some of whom are of a very high standard indeed. My good friend Alberto had provided me with a Fender Telecaster and a little Peavey amp and I always travel everywhere with a set of wooden shakers and a triangle, just in case a percussive opportunity presents itself. As a consequence I was able to sit in on both guitar and percussion.
The first night I restricted myself to percussion because the old arthritis was still giving me a bit of gyp (although by the end of my first week back in Brazil the symptoms had vanished, not to reappear until I returned to England last Tuesday. Note to self: perhaps the gods are trying to tell me something…). Earlier that day I had struck up a conversation with a woman in the swimming pool and it soon transpired that we had music in common as she was a singer/songwriter. We were soon joined by her partner, who is also heavily involved in music as a sound engineer and record producer and is a Berklee alumnus . Their names are Silvia Nicolata and Rodrigo de Castro Lopes and we subsequently struck up a friendship which I suspect will be a long one, but that night we made music together along with Alberto (fretless electric bass) and Dudú (keyboard).
I don’t know much about Dudú, other than the fact that is given name is Eduardo and that he is a very good semi pro musician with a strong taste for jazz. Alberto is of course an old friend who I have known now for sixteen years. He has been a great help to me in my journey into Brazilian music and it was him that made the trip to Teresópolis possible in the first place. Dudú and Alberto started the proceeding that night, working their way through a number of jazz standards, laced with a selection of Bossa Novas. Then Sylvia got up to sing and I joined in on percussion. Rodrigo took over the keyboard for a couple of songs and then joined me on percussion. Soon the audience were requesting old favourites from the Brazilian music scene – sambas and choros as well as Jobim tunes, and joining in on the choruses. It was a thoroughly entertaining session and a good time was had by all.
A couple of nights later Dudú, Alberto and I were joined by an alto saxophonist and a chromatic harmonica player for yet another session. By this time my hands were considerably less stiff than they had been and I was able to contribute some guitar work as well as percussion. It soon became apparent that the alto player – Arthur Cabral – was a very fine player and I subsequently learnt that he was another Berklee – trained musician, as indeed was the chromatic harmonica player, José Stanek. José is a founder member of the group Bambu and is rated as being one of the finest Chromatic harmonica players in the world. It was a great privilege for me to play with musicians of such calibre as Arthur and José, and they were kind enough to make some complimentary observations about my playing, which were all the more pleasing to me because they were said to Alberto and not to me directly. When the remarks were repeated to me later that evening I must confess that I walked around like a dog with two tails for the rest of the night.
I know I should have been recording all these things on a day to day basis whilst we were away but – frankly - I was just having too good a time, so the story is just going to dribble out in bits and bobs over the next few weeks. Watch out for part II of ‘Voltarol in Brazil 2010’ sometime in the next week.