From Bahia to the Bayou: Music from north east Brazil
For the past week, New Orleans jazz trumpeter Edward Anderson has been living in what he calls “a parallel universe.” And actually when you listen to his description, it really does sound like a parallel universe. And in Houston, of all places.
Edward and a group of visiting musicians from the north east part of Brazil have been performing, holding master classes and immersing Edward and the audiences in various forms of their traditional Brazilian music, many with some eerily similarities to the music of New Orleans.
Sponsored by Texas Southern University as part of a cultural exchange, Edward and four Brazilian musicians – two guitarists, a bass player and a drummer – are bringing this parallel universe - the traditional rhythmic music of their region, as well as a variety of better-known contemporary North and South American sounds - to the Big Easy this weekend.
The north east section of Brazil, while culturally rich, is the most deprived economic region of that country. “The traditional music we played in Houston comes from that really poor area, and from Bahia,” Edward explains. “It originated with the slaves on the sugar plantations. It’s music that, in so many ways, is sort of like their version of our blues. ”
Created by former runaway slaves, this traditional music was the basis for the samba and for an amazing musical form called forro with its uncanny similarities to Louisiana’s zydeco. “Many of the slave populations of the area came from Nigeria,” Edward explains. “And some of their traditional rhythms are almost like reggae.”
While New Orleans can point to Louis Armstrong as this country’s great musical father of jazz, it was Luis Gonzaga who was the Brazilian equivalent, moving his incredible music not just throughout Brazil but across the world, Edward says. “So while we know our Louis Armstrong went on up to Chicago and took the music with him, Luis Gonzaga moved to Rio and his music grew out from there.”
This Saturday at 8 p.m. at the Old U.S Mint, Edward and the group from Brazil will be joined by University of New Orleans Professor and drummer Ricky Sebastian, Scott Meyers on guitar, Darryl Lavigne on piano and New Orleans vocalist Michaela Harrison for a one-time only concert demonstrating the best of this unusual mirror image of New Orleans music from Brazil and more.
What: The Music of North East Brazil
Where: Old U.S Mint, Esplanade Avenue at the River
Time: 8 p.m. Tickets $15 at the door
Sharon Litwin is president of NolaVie. Email her at [email protected]