My flight arrived in Fortaleza 7:05 PM. After trying to look calm and greet family, I drove home thinking about the time. I dropped my luggage at home, chatted with relatives for a few minutes and simply had to excuse myself. I would have time for family later. They would have my undivided attention for 2 weeks, but that night I had booked months in advance for Marimbanda’s CD release show at the Centro Cultural Dragão do Mar in Fortaleza. It pays to know the streets of your hometown well. I made it to the theatre right at 8 PM: show time!
It is very difficult to put into words the experience of seeing Marimbanda live. What I saw and heard that night left me and the rest of the audience in a daze. I had enjoyed Marimbanda’s first album from the start, so the anticipation for this second release was high. Wow, did Marimbanda hypnotize the audience withTente Descobrir!
Now with cool bassist and guitarist Miquéias dos Santos replacing Jr. Primata in the formation in the first album, Marimbanda started off the concert with the album’s opener, “De Frente ao Baião.” Luizinho Duarte (drums, guitar, percussion) never stopped to amaze the lively audience that had decided to dare the cloudy skies that evening. Taking turns with Duarte, Heriberto Porto (flutes) made it seem that his instrument was just an extension of his lips. Ítalo Almeida (piano, accordion) also had his share of the spotlight in a electrifying solo right at the start. It sounded as if we were going to hear the album track by track. The Bossa Nova influenced “Babi” gave continuation to the thrilling program. Signing three tracks in the album, Almeida was very much at ease whether playing the piano or the accordion. Even after a few raindrops, the audience was not going away. So, to give you an idea of the music you can hear in Tente Descobrir, here is the album track by track in the words of Marimbanda’s own members. I talked with Marimbanda members briefly after the concert, and later chatted via email with Heriberto Porto about Tente Descobrir. Now it is your turn to try to discover this great new release.
EL: What can you tell us about “De Frente ao Baião”? It sounds like a perfect opener for an album and live concert. You guys vividly captured that fife sound in this track.
HP: The music was composed as a tribute to bassist Jr. Costa (former Marimbanda member), whom we used to call “Frente.” He loved to eat baião de dois after our rehearsals. (Baião de dois is a Brazilian dish made of rice, beans and a third ingredient, such as cheese or sausage.) The music is a happy and fast-paced true opener in D major. The introduction is reminiscent of a fife band by the Anicete brothers of Crato over 100 years ago. Fifes, zabumba, triangle and drum form the traditional fife ensemble that can be found throughout the Northeast of Brazil, such as in Pernambuco, Sergipe, Alagoas, Paraíba and Ceará.
EL: Taking a turn from fast pace to a soft samba, we come to “Babi.”
HP: Ítalo Almeida wrote that samba to his wife, Babi. It is a very traditional samba from Rio de Janeiro with a defined beat from the bass and drums. In the end we added chords and several flutes enhancing the musical texture, making it full and delicious!
EL: The title track, “Tente Descobrir,” has an unusual introduction. At the concert you asked the audience to make some noise — what an easy request to be fulfilled. The Caribbean flavor is obviously present here. Please tell us about that.
HP: The music was written in 2000, during the celebration of Brazil’s 500th anniversary. That “discovery” takes us to our northeastern, Caribbean and African roots. In the introduction the voices you hear were used to recreate a street fair with urban polyphony, and that can be in Timbuktu or Parangaba (a neighborhood in Fortaleza). “Tente Descobrir” is a message to the Portuguese, Europeans and Brazilians about a Brazil that was poorly discovered, or if you prefer, an invitation to discover the many rhythms, dances and musical genres so poorly valued.
EL: And what about the smooth change to “Pra Te Dizer Algo Assim”?
HP: The music is a wordless letter from Luizinho to Lu Basile. It is a bossa, smooth Bossa Nova. The flute theme in G and the bass and piano solos make this bossa richer and smoother.
EL: I do not know how many people like to listen to an album the first time without looking at the track listing. I do. It often gives me unexpected reactions to the music I hear. I must confess that the introduction to “Maracangalha” totally surprised me. I had known you were including that track in this album, but I had no idea of what to expect.
HP: This is a tribute to Dorival for his 90th birthday in 2004. It is a lively rendition of his famous samba. The original arrangement was introduced by Luizinho and, as always, the rest of the group added to the overall sound you hear. According to Luizinho, this big hit was already in his ears when he was only four years old. He already sang that song then. The idea of the fast arrangement came about as a way to pay tribute to that type of fast samba, often forgotten by musicians and drummers, especially. We did the same thing in our first album with the track “Marimbanda,” by Giffoni. Luizinho had the idea for the introduction. I came up with the piano doing the rhythm in the middle of the theme. Of course it is also noticeable how we play with the dynamics in the arrangement. We bring the music down to pianissimo and take it back up to a forte. That gives great variety to the arrangement.
EL: In addition to the previous track, there is only one other piece not composed by Marimbanda. I’m talking about “Que Nem Jiló.” As you did in the first album with “Pisa na Fulô,” here you put Marimbanda’s spin to a classic baião.
HP: Yes, it’s a classic from the most famous songwriting team in the Northeast of Brazil. In the introduction, we bring back the fife solos, a beautiful swing of baião with flutes, zabumba, triangle and accordion. The melody is pure tenderness, and I confess I hesitated recording it because of that responsibility of putting “Que Nem Jiló” in an album. After we play the main theme, Miquéias, Ítalo and I went on to some free improvisations, in a very Hermeto-like environment.
EL: That is beautiful. One thing not found in the album is also the solo Luizinho did in the show. He actually got the audience to respond to his solo with precise clapping. It was a sight to see!
Now, this next tune, “Manhã,” is for me one of the most beautiful melodies I’ve heard in a while. The notes linger in your head.
HP: We were privileged to have the special participation of clarinetist Carlinhos Ferreira, who joined himself beautifully with the flute. He added to the melody and made a solo that travels smoothly with a lot of feeling and emotion. “Manhã” is a new ballad by Luizinho and already has several people thinking about writing lyrics for it. Now, imagine this, the music almost did not make it to the album, even after it had been recorded. Luizinho wanted an acoustic bass and piano, but we ended up leaving the song as is.
EL: And we, the listeners, are the winners here. Beautiful music. Now, tell us about “Frevo Agoniado,” that frenzied frevo, that is, if it is possible to have a frevo that is not frenzy…
HP: It is a different frevo by Ítalo — fast, as a poor man’s happiness with a little bit of calm in its middle. The tune was written as a challenge from Ítalo do Luiz, to see how he’d handle the drums with such a fast tempo. We recorded it in one take, and the challenge was worth it. I recalled one of the many stories that Luizinho tells about some Carnaval balls in a club in Fortaleza. Someone in the ball shouted out and asked for another march. Of course after 3 continuous hours of drum playing, the drummer’s arms were numb because of the vigorous playing, and yet someone was still screaming and begging another march!
EL: And “Oversea,” what about that samba?
HP: It is a samba partido alto composed at the end of last century. It belongs in Luizinho’s first phase of music writing. Flute and piano take turns with the melody while the bass and drums carry the pure samba swing in the accompaniment.
EL: And we come to another gorgeous ballad, “Momento Difícil.”
HP: As the poet says, from difficult moments beautiful things are created, such as this Luizinho ballad. Lyric, dynamic and soft are three characteristics of this piece. The piano alone slowly plays some sparse notes introducing the theme. That is followed by the bass and drums, and finally the flute, as if it were a bird with broken wings trying to fly. And it flies.
EL: Now, I do recall that during the show, there were a few raindrops. It was only appropriate that Marimbanda greeted the rain with “Choro na Chuva.” It was also fascinating to see the group playing in a different formation.
HP: The first part of the choro (in B minor) was being written when Luiz’s wife reminded him: “Luizinho, the bread loaves!” It was raining, but in spite of that, he took off to the bakery. On his way there, he finished part B (in F major) and on his way back, part C (in D major). Here in the album, the composer plays a 7-string acoustic guitar, tamborim, pandeiro and drums — thanks to wonderful technology. It is nice to have a choro with swing that includes bass and drums, but it is very difficult to mix those instruments with the 7-strings guitar without muffling its sound.
EL: Well, you guys did a nice job. And the live performance on stage was fantastic. There Luizinho played the pandeiro only.
I also heard there is a nice story behind “Panorâmica,” this moving ballad by Ítalo Almeida.
HP: The music is dedicated to the memory of Ítalo’s uncle, Ivan. We were coming down the mountains from Guaramiranga to Fortaleza one afternoon. The beautiful landscape was the inspiration for this “panoramic.” It is one of the great pieces in the cd. We found that out during the recording sessions, and it was such a joy to record this beautiful theme. Before playing the main theme, I added several flute effects, such as percussion, whispertones and more, to give the melody a contemporary feel. Ítalo plays the piano and accordion.
EL: And we come to the closing number, another energetic frevo, “Frevo na Sopa.”
HP: As with “Choro na Chuva,” this song goes back to Luizinho’s daily routine. This time, his wife was calling him to come have his soup. So, in order to finish writing this piece, he had to write the music between soup spoonfuls.
Heriberto, thanks for taking time to tell MB readers about this fascinating album. So, there you have Tente Descobrir. You can also see a few photos I took at the concert at the end of this article.
Letra & Música LM13 (2005)
All tracks by Luizinho Duarte except where noted.
- De Frente ao Baião
- Babi (Ítalo Almeida)
- Tente Descobrir
- Pra Te Dizer Algo Assim
- Maracangalha (Dorival Caymmi)
- Que Nem Jiló (Luiz Gonzaga – Humberto Teixeira)
- Frevo Agoniado (Ítalo Almeida)
- Momento Difícil
- Choro na Chuva
- Panorâmica (Ítalo Almeida)
- Frevo na Sopa
CONCERT PHOTOS (All photos ©2005 Egídio Leitão)