Saturday, February 28, 2009

Stardust - A Meeting Of The Giants

What happens when choro musicians get together in an informal setting? They play together and exchange experience regarding their instruments and playing technique. This is not 'small talk', not even among famous and well known musicians with a stellar career. Why not? Because choro is a serious thing that has to be refined to be kept alive at its best, all the time. Keeping this virtue in mind does not exclude 'having fun' and learning from each other, the result often is magic when the participating musicians 'cut loose' and just play for their own enjoyment to the benefit of the music. This is the way 'stardust' is generated, and how lucky we are to have the chance to have a view of such a meeting of the giants, who know their stuff inside out.

Recently the young bandolim player of the Choro das 3, Elisa Meyer, met with Hamilton de Holanda and Mike Marshall informally, the event luckily was recorded. The first video features Elisa and Hamilton

The second video from the same event features Elisa and Mike Marshall - enjoy!


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Carmen Miranda Centennial

This week Brazil is celebrating the centennial of singer, actress and moviestar, Carmen Miranda. - Maria do Carmo Miranda da Cunha was born on February 9, 1909, in Marco de Canavez, Portugal. Her familiy moved to Rio de Janeiro when she was about 2 years old. As a young woman she worked as a milliner. She was discovered at a talent show, and in 1929 she signed on with the Victor Recording Company.Her career was established throughout 1930s, she had success as a radio and recording artist, she was a star at the carnaval, became an actress taking part in movies and toured South America as a 'musical ambassador' for the Brazilian government. In 1939 she was offered a tour of the USA and with this step her second career was launched. Together with her Brazilian group of musicians, O Bando da Lua featuring Garoto, she was a sensation with the American public, and soon she was offered film work in Hollywood and, after moving to the USA, she became a celebrity and ranked among the highest paid artists in the country throughout the 1940s. She made several films in the USA, had success as an actress and also made recordings with her Bando da Lua, the first authentic Brazilian music including choros and sambas made digestable for an American audience. These recordings have since been reissued several times and are still worth listening to thanks to the charming voice of Carmen Miranda and the great accompaniment of her Banda do Lua.

Despite her official success with the public Carmen Miranda suffered from the stress as an Americanized Hollywood celebrity, she died of a heart attack on August the 5th, 1955. However, she'll forever be remembered as the prime icon of Brazilian music by the general public with little knowledge of the vast cultural heritage of Brazil. Carmen Miranda will remain 'The Lady with the tutti fruit hat' or the 'Brazilian Bombshell', so let's end this small commemoration enjoying Carmen in action with one of her greatest hits, 'Tico-tico no fúba', here in a sequence from her first Hollywood movie, 'Down Argentine Way' (1940):