Sprawled across broad equatorial latitudes
Stoked and steamed and sensual in the widest sense of the word
Limned in prosody and cadenced song

brəˈzɪl / "bewitched, benighted region of heat & light" /
from "brasa", Latin for "ember"

THIS MATRIX BEGINS HERE, where Bahian griot Bule Bule (leather hat above) sings "The time has come for these bronzed people to show their value / Chegou a hora dessa gente bronzeada mostrar seu valor"...

 

But like the world-girdling arboreal canopy of a rainforest tree rooted in the Recôncavo (across the bay from where Bule plays plate & knife and Orlando Costa plays pandeiro above), it extends to encompass all of the visionary worlds up & down this randomly-generated stack (video by Betão Aguiar).

RECÔNCAVO BRAZIL

The area around the great bay over which Salvador presides like a rough-cut but radiant black diamond is where the profoundest root of Afro-Brazilian civilization gave rise to the fluorescence which continues to illuminate (and move) Brazil…after a journey closely paralleling that of the cultural genius of African-Americans in the United States…

 

The U.S. was scene of a world-shaking migration from the plantation country of the rural south to the cities of the north. These people... (continue...)

Below find a window into the heart of the matrix, where artists (in the broadest sense) can recommend other artists, and likewise be recommended. The matrix is "small world", meaning that everybody in it is within mere steps of most everybody else in it. Kamasi Washington is one step from Brazil. Several times over.

The matrix began with the living musicians included in the "radio" below (lauded by The Guardian as one of "10 of the Best Music Radio Stations Around the World"). A COMPLETE EXPLANATION of the matrix, its why and its ethos, follow the radio (which follows the party in the quilombo of Kaonge).

Did you know that Brazil has a pantheon? In the sense that the Greeks and the Romans did? The Greek and Roman gods were done in by Constantine (first blow) and Theodosius (final blow). The gods of Brazil were born in Africa and arrived in Brazil within the negreiros making the Middle Passage, a voyage which transported not only people, but a culture. There was a great attempt by the Brazilian poobahs to exterminate the gods of Africa in Brazil, but it didn’t work (the chula above is a popular manifestation of the rhythms for Cabila, or Cabula, deity of the hunt in the candomblé of Brazilian Bantus).

 

As the Roman emperors moved to extinguish the very real belief in Jupiter, Apollo, Venus, Minerva and the rest, banning the ceremonies to these deities, the Brazilian “authorities” banned the ceremonies devoted to Oxalá, Oxossi, Iansã... (continue...)

If You Can't Stand the Heat

 

Brazil is not a European nation. It's not a North American nation. It's not an East Asian nation. It straddles jungle and desert and dense urban centers both the equator and the Tropic of Capricorn. It absorbed over ten times the number of African slaves taken to the United States of America, and much of its aboriginal population was absorbed into the general population-at-large. Its people have lived under oligarchy, plutocracy, dictatorships and massive corruption, with elements of these still strongly entrenched today.

 

But!

 

Brazil has buzz...not the shallow buzz of a fashionable moment...but the deep buzz of a population which in spite of or perhaps because of the tough slog through life they've been allotted by humanity's dregs-in-fine-linen, have chosen not to simply pull themselves along but to lift their voices in song and their bodies in dance...to eat well and converse well and much and to wring the joy out of the day-to-day happenings and small pleasures of life which are so often set aside or ignored in the European, North American, and East Asian nations.

 

For this Brazil has a genius perhaps unparalleled in all other countries and societies, a genius which thrives alongside peeling paint and holes in the streets and roads, under bad organization by the powers-that-be, both civil and governmental, under a constant rain of societal indignities...

 

Which is all to say that if you don't know Brazil and you're expecting any semblance of order, progress and light, you will certainly find the light! And the buzz of a people who for generations have responded to privation at many different levels by somehow rising above it all.

 

(photo is of João do Boi / "John of the Ox" / in front of his house in São Braz, Bahia. Same house he has his back to in the clip above)

TAPPING A CATEGORY will show you other artists within that category.

Raimundo Sodré, in a conversation ranging through New Orleans and Harlem and the South Side of Chicago ... and Appalachia and Irish villages and Russian shtetls and the unofficial symbol of Brazil's Bahian-born national music almost certainly having arrived in Brazil in the hands of Sephardic Jews (including conversos) fleeing the Inquisition, once remarked: "Where there's misery, there's music..."

 

Behold the Star of David Illuminating the Bahia Sky!

Severino felt his pockets for coins and bills to measure the day. He placed his two steel coolers next to the front door on his way into the house, and paused to thank God for his arrival home, as he always did. He scraped off the red-brown mud caked to his sandals, and hung his black felt fedora, dripping wet, on the wall.

 

It wasn’t good. (continue...)

Bahia is a hot cauldron of rhythms and musical styles, but one particular style here is so utterly essential, so utterly fundamental not only to Bahian music specifically but to Brazilian music in general — occupying a place here analogous to that of the blues in the United States — that it deserves singling out. It is derived from (or some say brother to) the cabila rhythm of candomblé angola…

 

…and it is called… (continue...)