Saving the Amazon
Although it’s an important ingredient in Brazilian music, there’s still little attention paid to the music that comes from the Amazon region. Iva Rothe is one of those treasures from Belém Here we have another one: Marco André Siso de Oliveira, or in short, Marco André. Marco was born in Belém (Pará) and has been living in Rio de Janeiro for the past twenty years. The name Marco André may not sound all too familiar; nevertheless, he has an impressive list of references. The Brazilian audience might know him best from his version of Caetano Veloso’s “Meu Bem, Meu Mal” as a tune for a soap opera on Rede Globo. Marco was also a successful participant of the prestigious Tim Awards in 2005, where he was winner in the category of Best Male Regional Vocalist (Ivete Sangalo won the female half of the price). Other Brazilians maybe saw him during Rio’s Carnaval in 2004, where he sang with Dominguinhos do Estácio during the big parade of Unidos do Viradouro at the Sambódromo. His name can also be seen as a composer on albums by Jane Duboc, Fátima Guedes, Leila Pinheiro (among others), or as an arranger, producer for musicians like Elba Ramalho, Paulinho da Viola, Zé Renato and many dozens of others or still on stage during the Projeto Pixinguinha with Zizi Possi, Orquestra de Música Brasileira. In short: Marco André is an all round musical artist. Despite his musical versatility, he never forgot the importance of the music from his native ground.
With this project, Amazônia Groove, he puts the music from the Amazon in an emphatic way back on the map. He makes it sound modern and appealing, but doesn’t forget to explain about the music by putting short references in the booklet from the cd. We are treated with some of the rhythms from the Amazon area. It’s an hour long trip through the music of a musically underestimated part of Brazil. The album opens with the Carimbó style. Carimbó can be seen as the predecessor of the international famous lambada. It’s a centuries old dance from the Amazon Indians where the rhythm is performed on fire-treated wood. These days the dance is a more than popular radio station guest in Pará. The dance itself is playful and sensual; women try to cover their male dance partner with their skirt. On the cd’s opening tune we hear the voice of Mestre Verequete, as a tribute to this now 90-year–old icon of the Carimbó. “O Carimbó não morreu; está de volta outra vez,” he sings (“The Carimbó didn’t die, it’s back again”). True words, since the song is followed by an infectious modern sounding medley of Carimbó’s. The raw voice of Marco André is accompanied by his banjo, the accentuating guitar of JR Tostoi, the playful bass of Ney Conceição, soundmaster Alexandre Moreira (Bossacucanova) and a tropical horn section. To set the rhythm, Marco invited the powerful percussion trio “Trio Manari,” specialists of the various rhythms of the Amazon (Nazaco Gomes, Márcio Jardim and Kléber Benigno). The next tune is also of the same family; Caringlobalizado is Marco’s own composition, demonstrating that this dance can have a solid future. When performed as convincingly as here, you can only long for more. On “Função das Coisas” we are pointed out to the Marabaixo from the Amapá state, with a slower rhythm that finds its origin in the African slaves arriving in Brazil. The rhythm imitates the steps of the slaves with chained feet. We also hear an example in “Amazônia É Pop.” The samba de cacete comes from the municipal district of Cametá. This dance starts with the sadness and pain of being a slave that driven by an accelerating rhythm evolves to happiness. “Varrido de Amor” and “Escudo” follow that tradition in a friendly way, almost sounding like pop ballads. We also hear the meringue, the up-tempo dance from the Dominican Republic, dropped in by radio stations in Pará. “Baiuca’s Bar” features Leo Gandelman’s horn arrangement and a pulsing bass by Ney Conceição. “Valium” is qualified as a lundu, a style that derives from the batuque, also a slave dance. It finds its origin in Angola and the Cape Verde Islands, expressing the feelings of saudade for the homeland. Zouk (creole for “party”) is happy dance music from the Caribbean, here represented in its Brazilian form with “De Flor em Flor”. Marcelo Mariano lays down a funky bass line, making the song even more danceable than its rhythm suggests. That’s the strong point about this album. We don’t only get a lesson in the dance music from the Amazon’s nightlife; the music is also so perfectly performed that it never wanes the attention. The boi-bumbá is a tragicomic dance about the death and resurrection of an ox. The dance has its own annual festival in the city of Parintins on the island of Tupinambarana (Amazonas). There are many variations on the original. On this cd we hear two examples, the much modernized “Ao Som da Barrica” and the more traditional “Pescador Pescador” that opens with sounds from one of the famous and colourful Ver-o-Peso markets in places along the Amazon.
Although the basis for this cd is very technical, we are pleased with very infectious, happy and danceable music. It gives an inside view on what’s happening out there in the Amazon area! It’s a revelation that deserves much more attention. Outside Brazil this cd is received with praise (the USA, Europe and Japan), which is not a surprise. The album is made with a noticeable respect for the beautiful tradition and with an audible joy for the music. Marco André is a remarkable artist who I sure want to hear more from.
For more information about the album and artist, please stop by Marco André’s home page.
Independent AA0001500 (2004)
- Vinheta Mestre Varequete
- Pout-Pourri De Carimbó: Clarão de Lua (Almir Gabriel), Sinhá Pureza (Pinduca), Carimbó da Saudade (Alfredo Oliveira)
- Caringlobalizado (Marco André)
- Função das Coisas (Marco André – Almir Gabriel)
- Varrido de Amor (Marco André)
- E Tudo Deixa de Lado (Marco André)
- Valium (Marco André)
- Baiuca’s Bar (Paulo André – Ruy Barata)
- Vinheta Ver-o-Peso
- A Amazônia É Pop (Marco André)
- Trincheiras (Marco André)
- Papa Chip Papa Xibé (Marco André)
- De Flor em Flor (Marco André)
- Ao Som da Barrica (Marco André)
- Vinheta Mestre Lucindo
- Pescador Pescador (Mestre Lucindo)