A Homage to Indigenous Music
Brazilian indigenous music is probably something that most people would have very little exposure to it. Except for field recordings, not many artists venture into that category. Names such as Marlui Miranda are not common to many people. Enter Keco Brandão (Rio Grande do Sul, 1964). With his album Tatanka (literally “bull buffalo” in Lakota), Brandão pays homage to all indigenous peoples in the Americas and in particular to the natives in Brazil.
Brandão was born in Porto Alegre, capital city of Brazil’s southernmost state, Rio Grande do Sul. His affinity to music started very early. At 9 years of age, though without any musical training, he began composing. At 11, already living in Rio de Janeiro, he began taking piano lessons. A move to São Paulo a few years later found him entering musical competitions and forming several musical groups. He was a member of the groups Ópera Brasil, O-Kotô, Suite Combo and others. A few years later, he started collaborating with Brazilian singers Jane Duboc, Fábio Jr. and Leila Pinheiro. He has arranged for and performed with names such as Milton Nascimento, Rosa Passos, Pedro Mariano, Toquinho, João Bosco, Fátima Guedes, Zizi Possi and many others. With such busy agenda, Brandão still found time to release his own albums covering such musical styles ranging from World Music to Bossa Nova.
In Brandão’s own words, Tatanka is “the song of life. Tatanka is life itself.” As succinct as it might seem, those words well define this beautiful album, from its liner notes rich in information to the beautiful music performed with guest stars such as Simone Guimarães, Lula Barboza, Márcio Gianullo, Mônica Salmaso and Marlui Miranda. The musicians performing Brandão’s mystifying and entrancing music include Marisa Silveira (cello), Teco Cardoso (flutes), Guello (percussion), Edson Ghilardi (derbák), Tuco Marcondes (12-srting guitar) and, of course, Keco Brandão himself on piano and an array of other instruments — too many to mention here.
The opening drumming and percussion show in “Abertura/Suíte Tatanka” is ecstatic. The music suddenly calms down with Brandão’s piano introduction accompanied by shakers, flutes and more drums in the distance. This grandiose opener is magical and mesmerizing in its 11 minutes of pure ecstasy. This suite covers the various themes to be explored throughout the recording: the Great Spirit, the Sun dance, the eagle’s valley, the buffalo heart and others. Enveloping the listener in an aura of mysticism and cadenced rhythms, this glorious music echoes in your mind with multicolored tones and kaleidoscopical visions. The transition into “Madre Tierra,” a ceremonial shaman chant, beautifully evolves with Simone Guimarães’ unique vocals. This is Brandão’s musical prayer to Mother Earth. He thanks the Earth for all her opportunities and fertility. Guimarães comes back in two other prayer-like songs: “Oh! Grande Espírito” and “Caminho Vermelho.” In the former she sings to the Great Spirit on Earth, Sun, sea and sky — all present in us and around us. The latter is a sung without words. With a superb balance between vocal and purely instrumental numbers, Brandão carries on his vision of the red race, as in “Nação Vermelha” and “Nação Árvore.” With “Coração de Búfalo,” Brandão leads us into a contemplative state to soothe our souls and hearts. The music works like a lullaby as it pays homage to the buffalo, believed to be an animal associated with abundance and prayer. Three other female vocalists add to the tapestry of sounds in Tatanka: Virgínia Rosa’s Lakota ceremonial chant in “Canção da Mulher Guerreira,” Mônica Salmaso’s wordless chant “A Tomada do Xale – Retorno ao Lar” and Marlui Miranda’s adaptation of the Xavantes in “Nação Tambor.” In addition to these fine female vocalists, worthy mention must be made here to Lula Barboza’s and Márcio Gianullo’s vocals in 6 other tracks. Barboza’s moving rendition in the last track, “Jungle Tears – Lágrimas da Selva” is overwhelmingly touching. Aldir Blanc’s lyrics list name after name of indigenous tribes of Brazil: Asuriní, Araweté, Omágua and over 20 other names. Barboza’s voice soars in celebration of those peoples of Brazil.
The music in Tatanka is rich and ceremonious and yet holds tremendous appeal to all listeners. Brandão aptly created a masterpiece to address the fight of all indigenous peoples in the Americas. Tatanka lives on!
Please visit Keco Brandão’s web site for more information about his music and this album.
Lua Discos LD-021 (2002)
All by Keco Brandão, except where noted.
- Abertura / Suíte Tatanka
- Madre Tierra (PD) – w/ Simone Guimarães
- Nação Vermelha
- Oh! Grande Espírito (PD) – w/ Simone Guimarães
- Canção do Amanhecer (PD)
- Povo em Pé – A Nação Árvore
- Canção do Peyote (PD) – w/ Lula Barboza
- Coração de Búfalo
- Canção da Mulher Guerreira (PD) – w/ Virgínia Rosa
- Caminho Vermelho – w/ Simone Guimarães
- Wini Wini Hou Wine (PD) – w/ Lula Barboza
- Yana Hene You Em / Oh! Grande Espírito (PD) – w/ Lula Barboza
- O Fogo Sagrado – w/ Márcio Gianullo
- A Tomada do Xale – Retorno ao Lar – w/ Mônica Salmaso
- Nação Tambor (PD) – w/ Marlui Miranda
- A Colheita – w/ Márcio Gianullo
- Jungle Tears – Lágrimas da Selva (Moacyr Luz – Aldir Blanc) – w/ Lula Barboza