Brazilian Block Party: Lumanota!

Brazilian_Block_Party_767x332_eIt is no secret that the foundation of Uma Nota has been making Brazilian style cultural manifestations happen in Toronto.  You know, parties with that creative fashion that the people in Terris Brasilis do so well. It seems our colleagues at Luminato took notice, and so, we present: #LUMANOTA! the Brazilian Block Party at Luminato Festival of the Arts. Yes, you heard correct, Uma Nota’s summer season starts this year at Luminato’s Festival Hub with a full day and evening of Brazilian music and outdoor party fun. Celebrate the a tradition of festive gathering at an all-day public party with food, drink (the whole square is licenced), music and dance. Whether Carnaval, São João, or any one of the myriad of the country’s festivals, outdoor daytime street parties are a beloved part of the Brazilian cultural landscape.Now the talent is off the hook insane... expect so much good stuff all day long, starting chill and blowing up by the end of it.The acts:Mundo Livre S/A * Flávia Nascimento * Aline Morales & Forró Nite * Roda de Samba * Tio Chorinho * TDot Batu * DJ General Eclectic * DJ Ziko * Uma Nota Boi * Capoeira Malês & friends *Family-friendly event with animation by strolling artists & craft-making workshops. Mundo Liver S/A (in english: Free World Assoc. MUNDO LIVRE S/AFormed in Recife in 1984 out of three decommissioned punk bands, Mundo Livre’s idea was to connect the mangues (mangroves) of Recife with a worldly network of pop concepts. The Brazilian manguebeat band is credited as a founder of the manguebeat musical style, and since their inception has released three albums, the last of which was included in many best-of-the-year lists.Screen shot 2015-06-05 at 5.14.32 PMFLÁVIA NASCIMENTOFlávia Nascimento started her career in Brazil as an actress, before moving to Quebec City. She devoted herself to her singing in 2014, producing her first big solo show in Sherbrooke along with her four accompanying musicians that she affectionately dubs her Smallest Big Band. The show’s success now brings Flávia to Toronto. Viva Brasil!photo: Kevin JonesALINE MORALES & FORRO NITEAline Morales built her reputation as a percussionist and bandleader and with the 2011 release of her Juno-nominated Flores, Tambores e Amores she also revealed her prowess as a vocalist and composer. With her project Forró Nite, Aline brings it back to her roots with a set of traditional forró music, the irresistible dance music from the Northeast of Brazil.mms_20150423_004609 (1)RODA DE SAMBARoda de Samba is a generic term used in Rio de Janeiro and around Brazil when friends and musicians get together around or along a table, drink, eat and play classic samba songs on Brazilian instruments: pandeiros, rebolos, tamborims, and the cavacinho, a four string small ukelele type instrument that takes the melodic lead as everyone belts out the songs while crowds gather around. Roda de Samba, in Toronto, is a sextet of Brazilian expats who occasionally get together and belt out the old school samba songs for an entire afternoon.tiochoroTIO CHORINHOTio Chorinho is a Toronto ensemble dedicated to performing Brazilian choro music in the tradition of the great mandolin master Jacob do Bandolim. The group formed in 2009 and the group’s growing repertoire of choro classics includes pieces by such iconic composers as Pixinguinha, Ernesto Nazareth, Waldyr Azavedo, and of course Jacob do Bandolim.Tdot Batú at PSK Kensington, June 2014 (Photo: Manish Pothen)TDOT BATUTdot Batu is one of the newest Brazilian drum troupes in Toronto. With a diverse group of youth holding down the drums, they perform traditional samba reggae with their own creative edge. Samba Reggae became popular in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil in the 1980s when the traditional Afro-Blocos began combining Bahian rhythms like ijexa and samba with influences from the Carribean. Joining Tdot Batu will be Salviano Pessoa and dancers from Dance Migration.general_eclectic_3 (1)GENERAL ECLECTICGeneral Eclectic is renowned in the downtown core as the man who has styles upon styles. His record crates go deep and when he is on the decks, the people only know how to dance. He is part of the original Uma Nota Culture collective. He brings the tropical sound, and connects the dots on the Brazilian spectrum of music yet does not leave any relevant musical form behind.photo: Brian MedinaBOIZINHO GAMESThe Boi is an elaborate and theatrical tale about a mythical bull that is killed and resurrected on a farm in Northern Brazil. The story involves a farmer, his wife, the farmhand and his wife, and lots of music and dancing! The boizinho or little bull, has come to be synonymous all over Brazil as just a roaming party and can be accompanied by any rhythm. Our Uma Nota Boizinho will involve childrens games, a dance and song workshop and revelry for everyone! 

Luiz Gonzaga: 100 Years and an Eternal Legacy.

This year is the centenary of Luiz Gonzaga. I’ve been delaying writing this post for some time now. In fact, his birthday was on December 13th and I had wanted to celebrate and write this for that day. Alas, it was not to be. Instead I did what every good forrozeiro should do while in Rio: I went to a forró in the square at Praça Tiradentes and danced with some lovely ladies to live music. It had rained early in the afternoon, so the night was warm and humid; only the die-hards came out to hear the many bands sharing the stage and paying tribute to the great Gonzaga, the King of Baião.How can one convey the immense influence and legacy of Luiz Gonzaga in a simple web post?Well, instead of rehashing what you can easily find on Wikipedia, other websites and in books about Gonzaga, I thought I would give you a quick breakdown and let you use your own research skills to find out more about this man. I’ve curated a bunch of YouTube videos of songs and clips that I thought might help you along the path. Take the time to discover the wonderful story of Luiz Gonzaga.The son of an “8 baixos” accordion (diatonic button accordion) player named Januário, Luiz Gonzaga was born in arid Northwest of Pernambuco state in Brazil. He joined the army, traveled Brazil, and ended up in Rio de Janeiro. Fate took hold and a series of historical currents allowed for this man to become the reference for forró and Northeastern culture across Brazil.At the time Luiz went to Rio, there was an influx of poorer working class migrants from the drought-stricken northern states. Although he tried to get into the Portuguese fado style, marchinhas and other contemporary music of classy Rio, it was the infectious rhythms and melodies of the Northeast that got him noticed. His showmanship made him popular. The themes of his songs, the hardships of migrant life, homesickness, and the rural life, became trendy among all the people.Luiz was a super gifted performer and he created some important creative friendships with composers like Humberto Teixera. Humberto wrote the song Asa Branca, which became and remains the anthem of forró music and of the "simple life" back home; of nostalgia. It was with Humberto, also from the Northeast, in this case Ceara state, that they decided that the base rhythm for their songs would be the "baião."The era also saw radio flourish. The recorded sound was just reaching early adolescence. He signed a contract with RCA and at one point in time it seemed like Luiz was the only artist they were recording. With this, he inspired a generation. He became the de facto reference for forró and his voice was heard all around the nation. People were buying radios, and people flocked around the radio. The popular performer was also a popular marketer, endorsing many products and services from supermarkets to cars.Here is Luiz and band in a film from 1958. Check out the cool steps when they dance the "xaxado." This band was often playing for the Rio elites in the swank clubs and hotels of the day.Below is the trailer of the movie The Man Who Bottled Clouds, which is about the life of Humberto Teixera, but chronicles much of a crucial time in Luiz Gonzaga's career. (There are English subtitles; it makes for a great reference.)But wait! I wouldn’t want to be misinterpreted here. It was not chance that made the King of Baião. Maybe there was an element of chance involved, but the man created a legacy through beautiful music, performance, an acknowledgement of the tradition and cleverness. His songs carry such a beautiful poetic tone, sometimes romantic, sometimes fun, sometimes sad, and often tongue and cheek.This is one of my favorites, in a dubby style and a minor key, it speaks of a journey of hardship yet satisfaction at the place you have reached in life. Epic.One beautiful anecdote I read somewhere is from when Luiz wandered into a record store in Fortaleza, sometime in the early '70s. Luiz was really a thing of the past then, with few people in the industry paying attention to him after the early '60s, when bossa nova and Brazilian rock became more prominent. He maintained his popularity in his beloved Northeast however, and the store owner instantly recognized him. The shopkeeper asked Luiz if he had heard Caetano Veloso’s version of Asa Branca. Luiz responded that he hadn’t. Caetano, at this point living in exile in London, included this song as the last on his record. It was a slow rendition, a strong lament of the saudade, the nostalgia, that he felt for home. Luiz cried from the emotion. The old man not even conscious of his legacy among a generation of tropicalia musicians. Soon after Gilberto Gil proclaimed that Luiz and Humberto Teixeira, the composers of his time, were “responsible for a revolution in my life.”After that, the great Luiz Gonzaga slowly returned the the popular consciousness of the nation. He reunited with his estranged son and began touring once more. Another interesting tidbit, Luiz Gonzaga apparently said (speaking about the dictatorship era), is that music about politics is for the educated university types like Caetano and Gilberto Gil -- he was just a simple man.This is the trailer of a recent movie about the relationship of Luiz Gonzaga with his son and the burden of being the King of Baião and being from a simple rural background.Another great moment of interview of father and son. Please learn Portuguese people, or ask someone special to help you translate. ;)I guess at this point I should let you know about about forró. Here is a quick explanation from a previous article I wrote:Forró is not really the music per se. It is more of an all-inclusive cultural manifestation: music, dance, party. When you dance the rhythms of forró it is usually in a pair. Style can vary between people and region but it is always fun, tongue & cheek, and sometimes safado (an implied sly sexuality). The 3 basic instruments are: the triangle, the zabumba drum and the accordion. The three basic rhythms are: Xote (pronounced 'shótch' and usually slower), Baião (more up-tempo) and the Arrasta Pé (quick two step).Check more videos:A cute animation to a famos Luiz xote about a young girl who seems ill, but really she's just got the love bug of adolescence. Her dad takes her to the doctor, and the doctor says: "There ain't no cure in all of medicine!"Here is a song in the baião rhythm. It is upbeat and happy. Chamego is when you dance close, cheek to cheek often hip to hip and belly to belly, a bit jumpy and totally with no shame and a sly smile on your face: "Ai! Que chamego bom!"This one is an arrasta pé rhythm, more upbeat and you dance side to side. This is also the beat you use in a quadrilha, Brazilian old time square dancing.Here is one of my absolute favorites. In this one, with wicked instrumentation including a flute, Luiz, in a classic forró spoken word style, tells the story of how he returned to his father's house after more than sixteen years living in the Southeast of Brazil. It is told in classic Northeastern dialect and cleverness. Send me a message if you want me to translate for you.The Brazilian national news report of Luiz's funeral in his hometown of Exu, Pernambuco, in 1989:And finally, his classic song A Vida do Viajante, sung with his son, affectionately known as Gonzaguinha, or little Gonzaga.Long live the great Luiz Gonzaga, O Rei do Baião!-- Alex Bordokas 

Small World Music Festival in effect

Small World Music Festival 2012: Brazilian Blend - Festival Finale with Uma Nota Culture

This week Toronto has been getting a dose of musical sights and sounds from around the world. The Small World Music Festival, now in its twelfth (12th) year, is in full effect at several locations around the city. Last weekend saw an incredible collection of talent representing traditions from different global musical movements. Dundas Square was lively  that Saturday, when a number of diverse acts --including Kendra Ray, Lemon Bucket Orkestra, Wesli and M.A.K.U. Sound System, among many others -- rocked the crowd.

Too often than not, Toronto is full of wicked bands, events and cultural movements that go unnoticed by the city's general populace. It amazes me how much talent we have and so little conscious public that accompanies it and makes it part of their lifestyle. Small World Music Festival, cognizant of this, has re-introduced itself into the musical currents that are part of the TO landscape, allying themselves with Uma Nota Culture, Fedora Upside Down, and some quality international acts.

Uma Nota Culture's story with Small World Music dates back to last year when they were a community partner of our inaugural festival. Several Uma Nota acts have also been hired by them in the past. This year, we co-present their festival's closing party at Lula Lounge, which they have dubbed "Brazilian Blend." The night features Maracatu Mar Aberto and Maria Bonita and the Band.

Maria Bonita truly is special, and coming off of a summer where they played, among other gigs, a two-month-plus Monday night residency at the Dakota Tavern, this band promises energy. Jerusa Leão, the charismatic leader of the band, is also planning a Brazil trip soon, so this may be one of the last chances you get to see her.

Energy, romance ... and even though it's crowded, there is lots of room on the dance floor.

Maracatu Mar Aberto is also an Uma Nota favorite and partner. The last time they were featured at an Uma Nota event was the infamous and incredible Block Party. The time before that, in July 2011, NOW magazine critic Benjamin Boles commented: "Their sound is based on the maracatu de baque virado style, but by giving it contemporary context – bits of sampling, for example – the locals prove they’re not strict traditionalists. If you’re not familiar with Afro-Brazilian music, the modern touches might not be overly evident, but that won’t diminish the impact of their thundering drums and soulful vocals."

Mar Aberto Soundsystem

For this September Sunday's performance we get a glimpse of Mar Aberto's stage group, a project known as Mar Aberto SoundSystem. This group expands from the Maracatu percussion repertoire to include the influences of some great sounds and other rhythms and songs, like samba, ciranda, soul, coco de roda and reggae. Expect some sweet stuff ...

That was the SoundSystem; below is all Maracatu Mar Aberto!

Rounding out the lineup us this Sunday is  the city's finest tropical bass purveyor, DJ eLman of Dos Mundos Radio, also a frequent Uma Nota collaborator.  Join us at Lula Lounge (online tickets here) for a warm, groove-filled evening to cap off the weekend, and a great Small World Festival.