A Labor of Love
The anticipation of a first child can create anxiety for a lot of parents. There are so many issues to be addressed and taken care of during those months leading up to child birth. For Minas Gerais guitarist and composer Carlos Walter (Uberaba, Minas Gerais, 1979), however, the anticipation of his first son was a reason to create a labor of love in music.
Growing up in a musical family — his father is a composer and sax player — Carlos Walter began his musical education with his father. He also studied under Sérgio Ramos and Olegário Bandeira. Parallel to his musical education, Carlos went to college and received a master’s degree in law from the Fundação Mineira de Educação e Cultura. He has recorded and performed with various artists, including Gabriel Grossi, Henrique Cazes, Juarez Moreira, Nicolas Krassik, Yamandú Costa and others. Carlos has appeared in musical festivals both in Brazil and abroad.
Carlos Walter’s first solo album, Calendário do (A)Feto, is a musical chronology on acoustic guitar covering the nine months of gestation. Carlos visits several genres in Brazilian and Latin American music in this nine-movement acoustic guitar suite. A couple of tracks even include special sounds from his inspiration: his son’s heartbeat in the 5th month and his crying and laughter in the closing track. The album title in Portuguese has the word play with “afeto” (affection) and “feto” (fetus). A closer look at the album cover shows the letter “A” in a highlighted manner (in this review I used (A)Feto). Carlos Walter was behind the album production and all arrangements, and musical direction was by Elodie Bouny. Recognition of this excellent work put Carlos Walter among the best instrumentalists in the 2015 Best of Música Brasileira Award.
The album art work is as meticulous as the music we hear. Leonora Weissmann and Júlio de Abreu’s graphic design illustrates the liner notes with impeccable images of seashells and guitars. The spiral designs in shells and guitar wood are vividly striking. A bonus photo of the proud father and his son also enhance the visual presentation of Calendário do (A)Feto. The booklet even reminds us of a small desk calendar in its vertical printing orientation.
Accolades from Brazilian guitarists Ulisses Rocha, Yamandú Costa and Juarez Moreira praise Carlos’ artistry, which is clearly evidenced in the album. Ulisses says that with this work Carlos “has musically re-written his own history” and presented us with music “filled with surprises.”
In a short internet conversation Carlos and I had, he talked about that composition sparking the idea to continue month after month and document the changes in his own life. Carlos said that his curiosity grew with the “spontaneous desire to get familiar with the ideas of fatherhood through musical language.” He so aptly captured those moments and memories of what it was like with his wife’s morning sickness, the baby’s heartbeats, his laughter and cries, etc. The end result is this endearing Calendário do (A)Feto, or as Carlos puts it, a child with his face and a CD/e-songbook with his soul.
Take, for example, the opening waltz, “1º Mês: Terna Tríade.” Carlos’ sensibility on strings is a reflection of those tender moments in the first month of gestation. That composition covers the change from the couple’s life going from two to three beings. Carlos says “the binary rhythm of the conjugal life becomes ternary.” The beauty of this comparison goes hand in hand with the Portuguese “ternário,” which inevitably begs the association with “ternura” (tenderness).
Every month a new composition would be born. For month two, the salsamba “2º Mês: Uh!…Beraba” picks up the tempo and pays tribute to Carlos’ homeland of Uberaba, Minas Gerais. It is also interesting to note the word play with Uberaba in the title “Uh!…Beraba.” First the exclamation “Uh” takes us to salsa sounds at the same time that it mimics a mother’s morning sickness sounds. With the baião/semi-frevo “5º Mês: Acrobata” we now reach that period when the baby begins to perform movements inside the womb. Another baião comes up in “8º Mês: Paião,” where Carlos exhibits agile ability and shining momentum.
As part of this release, listeners can also download a digital book containing chords and tablature for all music in the album. Also available is Carlos Walter’s YouTube channel. Here he created a complete playlist of the nine movements. He prefaces each video with an explanation behind his composition. Although recorded in Portuguese, the videos are subtitled in English. Also, don’t forget to visit Carlos Walter web site and discover more about his music, and especially, this new release.
Calendário do Afeto
Tracks (all music by Carlos Walter):
- 1º Mês: Terna Tríade
- 2º Mês: Uh!…Beraba
- 3º Mês: Sui Generis
- 4º Mês: União XV
- 5º Mês: Acrobata
- 6º Mês: São Miguel
- 7º Mês: Mariana, Sinos e Afins
- 8º Mês: Paião
- 9º Mês: Champagnat