Sat in at Joe’s with Mauro’s band, Forró In The Dark, last night. It was a show to celebrate the release of their record [see Voice review] so all the guest artists who appeared on the CD were on stage — Bebel Gilberto, Miho Hatori and myself. Forró (pronounced: foe ho) is a style of Brazilian regional music, linked to the harsh life of the sertao — the plains of the northeast. It sounds a little like Zydeco, the style from Louisiana that is also accordion-driven and wildly danceable. In Mauro’s group the accordion is replaced by flute and sometimes pifano (a wooden flute).
On Mauro’s record I sang 2 songs, one of them a translation of a Brazilian standard, “Asa Branca”. (See Gonzaga and Humberto Teixeira entry back in Sept.) Denise, Humberto’s daughter, is shepherding a film crew who are shooting a doc on Teixeira — and Mauro’s gig is part of that story — so there were 16mm cameras everywhere. The film is being directed by the director of Baile Perfumado, a film that took place in the Northeast (of Brasil) and featured the late great Chico Science and his band Nação Zumbi. Bebel sang a famous forró song — in English — a version previously recorded by Peggy Lee (!). The words had been changed completely in the English version (and I hear there are some publishing “issues” as well.) It sounded lovely — so she sang it again! Miho did a famous forró song that had been translated and recorded in Japan after WWII — again the lyrics were changed considerably — the Portuguese lyrics say something like “Paraiba women will kick your ass!” while the Japanese version is about a lonely farmer.
I sang “Asa Branca” and “I Wish” — the latter song emerged out of a jam. I was warming up with some chord changes and Mauro suggested during the recording session that we all improvise around those chords. The result was surprisingly good — but, maybe because I can, I suggested that with just a few words added, with a vocal, the song might be more focused. The lyrics and vocal turned it into a vaguely Country outpouring of pain, anger and loss — which maybe made explicit the link between forró and north American country music.
After putting Malu and her friend in a taxi I joined some friends for drinks — while Mauro and Co. regrouped for a late set at Nublu, where they got their start.