The African Sound of Minas Gerais
A voice that certainly deserves more international attention is the one of Sérgio Correia dos Santos (1956). Born in Varginha, a city in the southwest of the state Minas Gerais, the singer, guitarist, composer and arranger built up a respectable reputation among both music lovers and critics. His career followed a natural flow when Sérgio Santos’ musical expression silently evolved towards the unavoidable African influences in Brazilian music. Those influences are in general plentiful but on this disc, Sérgio focuses on the Congado, a religious Afro-Brazilian congregation of (mainly) Bantu slaves, gathered in the Brotherhoods of Our Lady of the Rosary. Their music is based on typical percussion instruments like the “caixas de congado,” cylindrical shaped drums and the more harmonically supportive patangome. At moments the music and voice on Iô Sô remind a bit about the early days of Minas Gerais’ own icon: Milton Nascimento. Not completely surprising if you consider that Sérgio debuted on Milton’s Missa dos Quilombos (1982). It marked the beginning of a promising career, especially when Sérgio met the renowned poet Paulo César Pinheiro in the early 1990s. Ever since, the musical partners can refer to a repertoire of about two hundred songs.
Paulo César Pinheiro (Rio de Janeiro, 1949) worked with some of the greatest artists in Brazil, like AC Jobim, Dori Caymmi and Edu Lobo. But this partnership with Sérgio Santos may well be the one he feels most comfortable with.
The composer Sérgio Santos pays respect to the Brazilian cultural heritage while at the same time he has the talent to pick out the right musicians who generously enjoy the freedom to contribute to the sound of the CD. Among the featured musicians on Iô Sô we hear the wonderful André Mehmari on piano. His playful jazzy point of view gives the music a deeper aspect, complemented by the melodic bass lines from Rodolfo Stroeter. Also flutist Andrea Ernest Dias plays a dominant role in coloring the atmosphere of Minas Gerais. Percussionists are Sérgio Silva on the more traditional percussion instruments and star percussionist Marcos Suzano.
The album opens in a most beautiful, almost religious way. “Abertura” and “Senhora do Rosário” put the accents on the Congado. “Abertura” celebrates the participation of Dori Caymmi’s voice. He’s also present on a duet with Sérgio, the breathtaking “Toada Cabocla.” “Senhora do Rosário” is of an exceptional and timeless beauty. Andrea Ernest Dias on flutes and the playful piano of André Mehmari accompany against a devoted percussion. Together with the modest bass lines, the functional acoustic guitar and the gifted voice, this song shamelessly leans towards perfection. The music sounds as if all elements fit together in a natural way. Another noticeable guest is singer Joyce, who lends her recognizable voice on “A Caixa Bateu.”
Each track on the album is dominated by the air of Minas Gerais and the Congado; the rhythms leave no doubt about that. This album is a gem, full of shining sides, and it sounds timeless like a genuine classic. On acoustic guitar, with his perfect voice, the honest compositions and his refined taste, Sérgio Santos should be able to place himself among the great names in Brazilian music. Let’s wait and see…
You can learn more about Sérgio and hear his music at his web site.
Biscoito Fino BF 698 (2007)
All tracks by Sérgio Santos, except where noted.
- Senhora do Rosário
- Marimba (Sérgio Santos – Paulo César Pinheiro)
- A Caixa Bateu
- Iô Sô
- Carreiro de São Thiago (Sérgio Santos – Paulo César Pinheiro)
- Falange (Sérgio Santos – Paulo César Pinheiro)
- Toada Cabocla (Sérgio Santos – Paulo César Pinheiro)
- Congadeiro (Sérgio Santos – Paulo César Pinheiro)
- Gunga do Tizumba