Making Music with Friends
Guitarist, arranger, composer and educator, Nelson Faria (Belo Horizonte – MG, 1963) is an international and well respected musician admired by his peers, critics and fans alike. Besides having released over a dozen albums in solo, duo and trio formats, he is behind some of the most significant recordings in the Brazilian songbook. To date, he has appeared in over 150 CDs with other artists in Brazil and abroad, including João Bosco, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Till Brönner, Magnus Lindgren, Milton Nascimento, Leila Pinheiro, Paulo Moura, Josee Koning and several others. He has also written 8 music books, has been published in the USA, Japan and Italy and has released one DVD and an instructional video. Let us not forget that in addition to all of these accomplishments, he also tours all over the globe and since 2010 has been a professor at the Örebro University in Sweden. His appearances in jazz festivals have have taken him to Holland, Canada, France, Malta, USA, Israel, Malaysia and several other countries. Some of his albums reviewed here in MúsicaBrasileira.org include Who’s the Bossa? The Chamber Music Project (2014), Leila Pinheiro & Nelson Faria: Céu e Mar (2012), Live in Frankfurt (2011), Nosso Trio: Vento Bravo (2006) and the self-titled Nelson Faria (2002).
Since March 2015, Nelson has added one more initiative to his resume: Um Café Lá em Casa. No, it is not a CD, book or DVD. Always the innovator, Nelson came up with a novel idea of inviting friends over to his home and have an informal chat over a few cups of coffee. Thus the name of the YouTube series Um Café Lá em Casa (Coffee at Home). The entire conversation and music-making encounter is recorded live on video and broadcast worldwide. The first season of the series opened with Fátima Guedes and was followed by Ricardo Silveira, Pascoal Meirelles, Baby do Brasil, Gilson Peranzzetta, Joyce Moreno, Antonio Adolfo and several others. The show is available every Thursday. It is a very laid-back recording with Nelson chatting with his friends in Portuguese and talking about music and making music. Sometimes the stories are hilarious and often very pertinent to Brazilian music. Of course the artists play a couple of songs here and there, too. Most of the videos run around 15-20 minutes in length, but some can be longer and actually be split in 2 parts.
A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of watching the recording of an upcoming Um Café Lá em Casa. I then decided to contact Nelson for an email interview. Between a cup of coffee here in Texas and Rio, we talked about the show..
EL: Um Café Lá em Casa is such an original idea with a small format and very intimate. How did you come up with this idea?
NF: I worked for 12 years as João Bosco’s arranger and musical director. I have with him a very nice friendship that developed these many years together on the road. João lives nearby and often he gives me a call and asks: “Are you home? Can I come by for a coffee?” In fact the “coffee” was always an excuse for us to make a little music, studying some new musical idea he had and wanted to develop, or he wanted to show me a new arrangement, a new composition and so on. In one of these meetings I showed him an arrangement that I made for “Dindi” (Jobim) and he loved it. A few days later he called me and said: “Nelsinho (here it goes the confusion with names) [laughter], I did some work on “Dindi.” I think I found a nice way to play “Dindi,” different from yours, and with added vocals can get pretty cool, too. Can I come by for a coffee?” Then he came here, and when we played the arrangement I said: “João, can I record it and post on Facebook?” He said yes and we recorded the following video:
This video had thousands of “likes” on Facebook and I was excited about it. I have many musician friends and I thought I’d create a regular program by inviting these friends over for coffee!
I have three children, and two of them work with audio-visual. My son Nelson Faria (my namesake, which generates a lot of confusion, who in the credits I list as “Nelsinho”) is a photographer and filmmaker, having graduated from the New York Film Academy. My daughter Juliana is a journalist, super interested in music and culture, also works extensively with photography and video. I talked to them and proposed the idea. They agreed on the spot and so we began to invite people and record the programs.
EL: It’s interesting to see how an early recording such as the one in the video above evolved into these HD videos with great sound you have now (see a recent video at the end of this article). Anyone who watches these programs can clearly see that everything is very laid back. Yesterday, for example, I witnessed first hand how you record the show. The intimate atmosphere was crystal clear. Do you follow any particular protocol in scheduling your guests?
NF: We started recording with closest friends but as time went by, this circle necessarily needed to open up. Nevertheless, because of everyone’s busy agenda, several friends have not been scheduled yet. By the same token, I have invited musicians I admire, but do not personally know them yet. Mario Adnet was one such case. I admire Mario from the Symphonic Jobim, which was where I got to know more of his work. But we did not know each other well. We had already met a few times but very quickly. Of course we chatted because of our mutual admiration, but always very briefly, without delving into any specific subject and without enough time to create a bond of friendship.
About the program laid-back atmosphere, we also create a little protocol that helps “break the ice,” which can happen even with close friends when they are facing the cameras. The dynamics of the program recording goes like this. The guest comes here at 8 PM (or thereabouts) and finds a snack plate at the table with delicacies that are currently offered by a super cozy patisserie and hot snack place here in Gávea called Da Casa da Tata. We use this “relaxation time” to talk a bit about what we are going to cover in our chat and come up with a bare minimum script for the program to have a nice dynamics. At the moment the guest begins to relax (everything is being recorded for a future “making of” video), talking to the cameras becomes normal. Usually the guest brings one or two scores to rehearse just before recording takes place, and then the program unfolds in a cool atmosphere.
We are having a great time making the program, and I think this also goes for anyone who is watching!
EL: How often can we expect new programs?
NF: The programs will air weekly, every Thursday. Since the beginning, March 5, 2015, every week there is a new show on the air. Recordings happen according to my availability and the availability of the guests, but in order to ensure weekly programs, if I have time I record it daily. I just recorded a series of 10 programs last week until yesterday. This ensures two and a half months of programs in the air. The next season recordings begin September 8th with João Bosco, and I already have scheduled the 16th – Chico Chagas (accordionist), 22nd – Quarteto em Cy, 23rd – Magnus Lindgren (Swedish flutist who loves Brazilian music and will be in Brazil) and 29th – Leny Andrade (in a commemorative edition, we will record the program with a live audience in the Midrash Cultural Center).
EL: What obstacles come up with a program such as Um Café Lá em Casa?
NF: When we started, we did not have enough equipment to make a quality program as we wanted. Gradually I had to make several out-of-pocket investments, such as buying digital cameras, lighting equipment, system backups not to lose any recorded material. I had to rent a room for all the work of pre- and post-production, hire a sound engineer to take care of part of the audio so that Nelsinho and Juliana could focus only on the shooting, script, editing and audio treatment, etc … We still need to invest a lot, including the ability to record artists living outside of Rio. This means flying them especially to record the program and cover hosting costs and airline etc …
The program is having a very cool acceptance, and I had the idea of creating a subscriber club who could collaborate on the program maintenance, making monthly contributions in exchange for rewards such as coffee mugs, t-shirts, unique playlists with the program music, watch a live streaming of the program, ask questions to the guest, and more “pampering” such as inviting subscribers to watch the recording of the program with the live audience, which takes place monthly in the Midrash Cultural Center. We had the first event with the audience last week, with Roberto Menescal as a guest and was a complete success! The edited program airs in two weeks. To become a subscriber, one simply needs to visit the site of Benfeitoria for Um Café Lá em Casa (www.recorrente.benfeitoria.com/umcafelaemcasa) and enjoy the benefits offered 🙂
EL: The various membership levels are an excellent idea and allow everyone to pick what best fits their interests and perks. Well, Nelson, thank you for giving MúsicaBrasileira.org readers an insight in Um Café Lá em Casa. Would you like to add anything else?
NF: I can only thank you for the affection with our program and the space offered. Big hug!
To give you an idea of the type of production available in Um Café Lá em Casa, please watch now the show with Antonio Adolfo. Here they talk about Antonio’s career, his novela themes, the shows and trips with Elis Regina, Antonio’s independent recordings and much more.