Brazilian Music in Israel
Brazilian music truly covers the globe. We’ve all heard of Brazilian music being made in all corners of the world, but I guess there was one corner almost overlooked. I found that out when I heard Tucan Trio. Hagai Rehavia (guitar), Joca Perpignan (percussion, vocals) and Amir Milstein (flute) are based in Tel Aviv, Israel, but listening to their magnificent and vibrant album Tucan does not give that away. It is no wonder that Brazilian artists, such as master guitarist Ulisses Rocha finds this trio truly authentic. Their music is clearly what you would hear on the streets of Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo or anywhere else in Brazil. Tucan Trio is so good that Hermeto Pascoal has said he’d like to write a tune for this trio of accomplished musicians.
How come these guys came to like — or even hear about — Brazilian music? Their story is very simple. Rehavia lived in Brazil for a while, and while there, he studied and played with artists including Edu Lobo and Jane Duboc. Perpignan is a native Brazilian who studied at Berklee in Boston, MA. As for Milstein, he is a graduate of the Rubin Academy of Music in Jerusalem and is a member of the world music ensemble Bustan Abraham. That is Tucan in essence. Their “curiosity, respect and love for Brazilian music,” as they explain in the liner notes, was the motivation to form the trio in 1998.
The repertoire chosen for their debut album clearly shows how well these guys know Brazilian music. They play their own songs as well as others by Tom Jobim, Vinícius de Moraes, Marco Pereira and João Pernambuco, and they show how in tune they are with current Brazilian guitar masters as indicated by Rehavia’s “Choro para Guinga.” The opening track, “Bola de Futebol,” starts off with a strong introduction featuring Milstein’s flute, which will also dominate the rest of this fast paced samba. Without skipping a beat and maintaining the same gusto, “Coconut” is the next track, a mixture of baião and afoxé. Another very danceable baião is Marco Pereira’s “Bate Coxa” with Rehavia’s impressive guitar solo. However, Rehavia will really take your breath away with his tribute to Guinga. The first time I heard “Choro para Guinga,” I was so surprised by its delicate chord structure that I believed I was listening to a Guinga composition. Following this beautiful tune, we find a very upbeat arrangement for “A Rã.” Here the group has a chance to expand their horizons and showcase their talents as vocalists and instrumentalists a lot more. One great feature in the arrangement is the use of chords with Middle Eastern sound influences and a subtle citation of Duke Ellington’s “Caravan.” The combination of all these features is fantastic.
One distinct characteristic of Tucan is its ability to balance samba, baião and ballad with remarkable ease. Just as they finish playing João Pernambuco’s lively choro “Interrogando,” the group goes into an evocative rendition of Jobim’s “Olha, Maria.” Also very moving is Vinícius de Moraes medley, just before the closing of this album. The medley is a solo feature for Rehavia’s extraordinary guitar work. Particularly, his performance of “Tomara” shines above all others.
For more information on the album and artist, please visit Hagai Rehavia‘s web site.
NADA 16 (2000)
- Bola de Futebol (Toninho Horta)
- Coconut (Hagai Rehavia)
- Toucan’s Dance (Dori Caymmi)
- Bate Coxa (Marco Pereira)
- Choro para Guinga (Hagai Rehavia)
- A Rã (João Donato)
- Interrogando (João Pernambuco)
- Olha, Maria (Antonio Carlos Jobim)
- What Happened?! (Joca Perpignan)
- Similar Taste – Overture (Hagai Rehavia)
- Similar Taste (Hagai Rehavia)
- Vinícius Medley: Como É Duro Trabalhar (Toquinho – Vinícius de Moraes) / Tomara (Vinícius de Moraes) / A Felicidade (Antonio Carlos Jobim – Vinícius de Moraes)
- Círculo das Cordas (Marco Pereira)