Hey there! How are things going? Chances are this is not the first Red Flower Press post you are reading, so I will take it for granted that you are aware I live in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It´s winter time for us now and usually that doesn´t mean much here, but not this time. Oh, no!

Although meteorology says the season will probably have higher average temperatures, we are now experiencing some pretty cold days, meaning temperatures around fourteen degrees Celsius, quite unusual here. I like the cold weather, specially when they come with sunny (though short) days and a bright blue sky, but I must confess that this home office winter made me very nostalgic.

The reason is very simple: usually, at this point of time, I am travelling somewhere for conferences and performances. Last year was already a shock, after all, most clubs were closed and many conferences were postponed, but since some activities are resumed this year, mostly privileging local audiences, I feel somehow left outside the “back to normal party”, so to speak.

1984 British rock band Queen released the hit “I want to break free”, with an anthological video clip. 2020 the Brazilian writer Luis Fernando Verissimo wrote that the pandemic would teach us to cherish normality. In 2021 both visions make sense to me: I certainly miss my old life, but I am also aware that it was not ideal and I do want to break free from some old patterns.

The big question now seems to be how to deal with the challenge of reinventing ourselves. How to establish a new normal, that is actually better than the old one? Learning something from the pandemic (how to avoid another one, for instance) includes leaving some things behind for good. It also means being more thankful for the small miracles of life (a huge, wonderful mystery in itself).

I know it is just a matter of time for resuming all activities I had before the pandemic. I know that, in a big scale, things are getting better (wishful thinking?). Yet today, I get a chill in my heart.

I guess winter in Rio can be ice cold after all.

Be seeing you!

G. F.

I finally got my first shot of the Covid-19 vaccine! Was I nervous? Yes, of course! Well, not in a bad way. Nervous, but very happy. Maybe excitement describes it better. That and a lot of mixed feelings.

First of all, pride. What a conquest for humanity! Do you realize what a big achievement to the human genius it is to produce a vaccine in such a short time? A true milestone to Science, no doubt. Which leads to the next feeling: disappointment.

How is it possible that the same humanity can be also represented by those who simply say “no, thanks” to the vaccine? Please don´t get me wrong, I am all for Yoga and green tea, but this is a totally different thing. At this point, the need of a global immunization (or the closest we can get to it) is a clear point to all, I assume.

As Shakespeare beautifully described, we are all “such stuff as dreams are made on”. All of us: the good, the bad, the ugly, the whole gang. Maybe this is why we are so full of contradictions. I mean, dreams are pretty crazy, right? That would explain a lot, actually.

Anyway, I am extra happy because it happens in the lovely month of June, when we celebrate Santo Antônio, and our “Valentine´s Day”, here in Brazil. I tell the complete story on my latest newsletter. It is a very nice one and I think I explained it well, but for a tiny detail: I mixed up the Saints names!

I told you I was nervous.

Oh, by the way, it also included the link to my new lyric video (dedicated to the ones in love).

Wanna get my monthly updates first hand? Here you go!

Be seeing you!

G.F.

Hey there! How are things going? Did you have some extra time to read my last post? I hope so, because I wrote it under a lot of pain, you know? I had a Paronychia, a skin infection around a fingernail (my case) or toenail. I went to the doctor, I was medicated, so there was not much to do, except waiting for my immune system to react (the capacity of our body to rebuilt itself is a true wonder, don´t you think?), while the antibiotics did their job (hooray for science!). Oh, yes and hold the pain. This was the most difficult part.

One of my strategies in such situations is to increase the good mood factor. Basically, I try to reach affective memories, hiding myself in a bubble of protection. Anything goes: songs, scents, food, cartoons or old tv shows, such as the 1960s production I dream of Jeannie.

At first, I didn´t like it, when I realized that the streaming service only provided the version dubbed in Portuguese, but after the first episode I didn´t mind it anymore. After all, those were the same voices from the rerun I used to watch in the Brazilian tv in the late 1980s. I was immediately taken to a very nice place in my head, full of fond childhood memories and it helped me to forget the pain. At least for half an hour.

Watching a TV show aired from 1965 to 1970 in 2021 is very close to an anthropological exercise. The main plot is already, let´s say, problematic: a young blonde, blue-eyed lady representing an Arabian genie, dressed with very revealing pink clothing, calling a guy “Master”. Yep. On the other hand, it is also about an experienced woman with a free spirit and a lot of joie de vivre, not ashamed to use her powers, nor to defy her “master”. Actually, most of the fun in the sitcom comes from the inversion of the expected roles in the master-genie relationship.

That said, I must confess: the gags make me laugh and this is quite a lot for a fifty-year-old production. But what I really liked about the show was the music. From the opening theme to the soundtrack, Dream of Jeannie represents a time when Jazz was “the” thing and anything else was… square. And it gets better: suddenly, there was also Tom Jobim!

In the episode “The Greatest Entertainer in the World” (season two, episode 23), guest star Sammy Davis, Jr., playing himself, is shown in the middle of a rehearsal. And guess what? He sings The Girl from Ipanema in a (maybe unwillingly) Bossa Nova and Latin Jazz mix version. It felt so good to remember that Jobim was everywhere (and Vinicius de Moraes, João Gilberto, Baden Powell, Astrud Gilberto, Sylvia Telles, among many others stars from the time), representing Brazilian music. A flowering legacy, that I am honored to honor.

I couldn´t help smiling. Jeannie girl, you did it again.

Be seeing you!

G.F.

Do you need help? Since 2020 this is the kind of question that became almost rhetorical. If you are feeling 100% all right and do not think you need any kind of help (financial, emotional or psychological), chances are you´re in a denial process and yes, you need help to get out of it.

I understand you. We are all humans and we try to defend ourselves in any possible way, it´s our instinct, but as I recently heard from an eminent Brazilian neurobiologist: if you have any common sense, you´re not feeling all right now. It is not the good, old “this world is a mess”. This time it is different. We are all facing something new (though, by the way we handle the planet, we could see it coming) and although optimism and faith are important tools in overcoming the pandemic, they cannot replace a sober, lucid approach to reality.

The only problem about this rational exercise is that reality has been quite bitter for a while now on a level that is hard for us, human beings, to handle. Financially, emotionally and psychologically speaking. With that in mind, it is not difficult to assume that we are all in the need of some sort of extra help. At least so I thought, when I reached out to one of my favourite jazz web radios.

I listen to their channels basically everyday and got pretty used to their catalog and I´ve realized that there was a lot wrong or missing information concerning the names of the songs in Portuguese and many Brazilian interpreters, specially female singers were not credited.

Trying to help, I wrote them this very respectful e-mail, starting by congratulating the team and offering my services as a volunteer to double check the content written in Portuguese. Then I clicked “send” and waited for the answer, with that warm feeling of self-contentment we experiment, when we believe we did something good. If you like happy endings, you might consider stop reading now.

The following day I got an answer (goodie, goodie), but their reaction was kind of disappointing. They claimed they do not have any Portuguese speaker on their team (so I figured and this is precisely why I volunteered in the first place) and, well basically that was it. They also said they would welcome any notice on missing or inaccurate information. Hum… ok, I guess.

Was I upset? A little bit. Can I say they were impolite? Not at all! Did they ask for my help? Nope. Maybe they considered my offer an inconvenience, who knows? Maybe it was just a bad day in the office. After all, as anything in life, offering and getting help is also a matter of timing.

Be seeing you!

G.F.

Hey there! How are things going? Did you notice how it took me less time show up again after my semi-philosophical approach to cakes and jazz? I know you would! I´m trying, you see? Thank you! By the way, I still haven´t tried a new recipe, but I will keep you informed, don´t worry.

It is a good thing that I have you fully attention now, because I am starting our reflection today with a question: have you ever realized how comic book superheroes save Hollywood from time to time? Well, my theory (I have a lot of them, you know) is that Bossa Nova plays the same role of lending prestige to pop star careers.

In both cases, there´s a solid base of die-hard fans that will be at least interested in checking up (meaning clicking and possibly sharing) the new movie or single. A quite tempting and always welcome extra boost to any project, specially in the current three-second attention span society.

But what happens next? I wonder how this strategy actually helps building either a movie or a jazz audience. A long term, proactive, well informed consumer is kind of different from being a die hard fan. One does not exclude the other, they are maybe even complementary, but they are not the same thing.

Take my personal example: I am a comic consumer since my childhood and they became my research topic (you can check my research activities here) at the University. I even posses a small collection at home and I am always looking for comic stores when I visit a new city. Yet, I am not interested in superhero movies.

A similar thing happens concerning Bossa Nova: I am not only a huge fan of it, but I´m also an enthusiast about the current developments of the genre and I always include Bossa Nova songs in my performances. As the great Brazilian singer and composer Alcione says: “Samba is a cousin of Jazz” and since Bossa Nova has Samba in its DNA, for me they are all part of a big family. And yet, I am not interested in each and every pop remix using samples of Jobim for more than the three-second attention span.

In one line: you can borrow prestige for a while, but you cannot keep it forever.

Be seeing you!

G.F.

Hey there! So nice to see you! This time you probably thought it was the end of The Red Flower Press and I don´t blame you for that at all. With that said, I would like to inform you that I have the best excuse ever: I was improving my website! I am sure that even if you do not have a site (yet), you understand that making changes to our virtual home-sweet-home is the sort of thing that can consume a lot of your time and basically all your patience.

And what´s new? First of all, I added three (yep, three!) new pages. Let´s check?

Interviews: They ask, I answer.

Research: Talking about music, comics, visual arts and more (includes a link to download my PhD thesis).

And last, but not least, a new podcast: 10 Minutos de Jazz com Geisa Fernandes. The idea was to talk about Jazz to a general audience in three short episodes of ten minutes each. I am specially proud to announce that this podcast is part of 2021 International Jazz Day official events. So, if you understand Portuguese (or would like to learn it), check it out!

If you check the new pages, you will see that I´ve been quite busy lately, talking to fellows from Brazil, Colombia, Mexico… meaning that I had to stay a really long time seating in front of a notebook screen. In order to do some stretching, from time to time I would stand up and do some house related activity, like cleaning, cooking or, the most challenging of all… baking cakes.

If you are one of the happy few that think baking is easy, a piece of cake, so to speak (sorry, I couldn´t resist), my suggestion is that you stopping reading this post, for now I am talking to you, my dear sister or brother in arms in the eternal fight for a cake that goes right. You, that cannot understand how can your cake look (and probably taste) so different from the one in the picture or video tutorial. I get you. I am with you. My last failure was a lemon cake. A simple, foolproof (so they said) lemon cake recipe.

Watching the result of my attempt, I realized that baking cakes has a lot to do with classical music. Ever thought of that? Each ingredient (instrument) must be added respecting a predetermined order and treated in a specific way. Try to use a bit less sugar or a bit more butter and the whole thing is ruined. Eggs are a separate chapter. Same thing when we talk about the temperature of the oven. The result depends on this beautiful perfect balance.

Now think about jazz, a genre that has improvisation in its DNA. A totally different creative process. As beautiful as, but different.

And suddenly, there was a light. That´s it! I finally understand my problem with baking cakes and it is not a problem at all, just a matter of style: I cook like jazz.

Be seeing you!

G.F.

p.s. My next try in the baking field will be a pumpkin and coconut cake. I´ll keep you informed.

At number 4, Rue de Sévigné in Paris there is a Cider bar. The name is simple and lovely as the place itself: Cidrerie du Marais. I found it by chance, while wandering around the city. It was a rainy Summer day and my next appointment wouldn´t be for the next couple of hours. Not a hard decision at all to get in, and choose a seat by the door.

Savouring my cider alone in the empty place, watching the clouds passing by, I enjoyed the coming sun stretching its rays, while the gentle summer breeze carried all troubles away. I think the technical term for what I felt that day is joie de vivre. The kind of feeling that is hard to feel during a pandemic. The kind of feeling that is hard to feel when you lose a friend.

The world is full of people, but one single beloved person goes away and, suddenly, there is a huge empty space in our world, don´t you think?

Last week was very hard and, frankly, I believe you had your share of grief and pain yourself, so instead of talking about the seemingly endless sad hours I went through, I would like to turn this into a feel good post, and share a few glimpses of happiness I had over the last couple of days:

I found out there is a passion fruit plant in front of my building.

I saw an orange butterfly and it flew quite close to me for a while.

A friend of mine told me he could see my point and changed his mind about a sensitive subject.

One of my former German students (long story, but in another life I was a German teacher) contacted me and thanked my for helping her embrace change and follow her dream career.

I guess this is as much joie de vivre one could wish for now. Small miracles are all around.

Be seeing you!

G.F.

p.s. Click here for four and a half minutes of joie de vivre

Hey, there! Good to see you again. That means you stick with me despite my random posting days. Thank you very much for that! Maybe you are also like me: sometimes a step ahead, but mostly a few steps behind the schedule. If so (and even more if not), thank you for the company! It really means a lot me.

As you know, March was hard, but I cannot complain about April. I was interviewed for the Ilustre Podcast, a small jewel made by an illustrator, my dear friend E., and could talk about my musical and research projects (to be aired on April 28th, stay tuned!). There is also another comic art related event coming by the end of the month, but I will not tell about it now. Oh, the mystery …

A busy month, as you see. Well, maybe not so busy for you, but quite so for me, since I had to add to the current month´s agenda all the remaining activities from last month. Procrastinators have the toughest life, trust me. To confirm my theory that procrastination can hit us all and nobody is really safe, I got an e-mail from one of my favourite newsletters and, guess what? It was about procrastination! And coming from one of the most productive professionals I know. Earthshaking!

My secret to keep a positive attitude about procrastination is cheating on it. How I do it? I fill my procrastination time with things that I can use later: from cooking to doing the laundry, any mildly challenging household activity will usually do. But some days require major measures, like watching a movie. Following the suggestion of my cinephile sister, I saw the 1969 classic They Shoot HorsesDon’t They?

Set in 1932, during the great Depression, the plot brings light to a lesser known moment in the USA history, the dance marathon contests. It is impossible not to be amazed by the accurate way it shows the origin and the essence of today’s reality television shows. Scary! A masterpiece, no doubt, but what really caught my attention was that the only tender element in the bitterly sad story was the music.

The beautiful jazz ballads from the 1930´s bring rare moments of relief to the tense narrative, and the black musicians playing it are portrayed as having way more dignity and class than the pitiful, starving bunch of white marathon dancers. A new approach made possible by the late 1960´s social movements maybe, but certainly something to think about today.

See how far procrastination can take you?

Be seeing you!

G.F.

“My grandmother was born on April 5th. I was nine years old when she died but as I age, her traces seem to be more and more present in me.”

I started the sentences above yesterday, the day I´ve planned to release this text, but then I was too busy and I missed the date of birth of my grandmother. I didn´t want to do it, because I have a great respect for dates and I really wanted to honor her birthday accordingly, but the fact is that I missed it.

I wonder how many times my grandmother missed or had to give away things that were very important to her, simply because life came in between, changing plans, re-arranging things we took for granted, leaving us no choice than recalculating the route. And sometimes we don´t even know which route we are in.

Belated or not, I would like to share a few words with you about my grandmother for she is probably one of the strongest, most interesting women I´ll ever meet in my life, and I am not only considering the way she managed to raise her seven children despite being often in dire financial straits (and frankly, we should stop reducing a woman´s bio to her role as a mother and how good or bad she played it), but also how ingenious she was. Every time she faced adversity, she dribbled it, as we say.

She was a short-tempered free thinker that would make her point looking straight to the eyes of the person she was speaking to, rather than in her/his back and, according to my family, I inherited all the previously mentioned characteristics. She was an avant-guarde woman in many ways, an excellent cooker and hers is the finest reply to a racist comment ever (long story).

Her name was Aurea, which means golden and I cannot think of a better word to describe her. She was made of gold and I know that somehow, she never stopped shining. She never will.

Be seeing you!

G.F.

p.s. Many songs remind me of granny, who had a good voice and also liked to sing, but this one has a special meaning to me and I try to include it in all my performances.

p.p.s. Wanna see a picture of granny as a young lady? She is on the collage of pictures on my Facebook profile (top left)

Hey there! If you are reading this post, it means that I somehow overcame the tremendous inertia I was in during the month of March. Did I post my weekly reflections? Yes, but the concept of “week” had to be a bit extended. Do I think this is problem? Of course I do, but after an year of social isolation, I learned that the recipe to avoid anxiety is… well, I don´t know what it is, but I would guess it includes a bit of self-indulgence and a lot of acceptance, two ingredients that I generously used this month.

Nevertheless, I new month is about to start and I promised myself that things would change around here, although I didn´t know exactly how, so I decided to start by checking my to-do list. I always discover something nice there and I feel like moving fast forward every time I rearrange its items. Good, old to-do list!

On the top of it, I read: “upload last tour videos”. Ok, sounds good. Can do it. Let me explain it to you: on the last year of the old normal, aka 2019, I had a tremendous experience travelling through a lot of places in South America in a double mission: both as a singer and as an assistant to Prof. L., who was interviewing cartoonists in Montevideo, Córdoba, Santiago, Lima and Quito. Remember the good days, when we could travel like this? Boy, oh, boy!

Anyway, the double identity led me to a poor amount of visual content of the trip, but I do have some pictures and short videos that I would like to share with you on my YouTube channel. This is my big task for April. You may find it too humble of a task for a whole month, you obviously ignore the size of my to-do list. It is really very long, but seriously, if you are one of those “I keep my to-do list short” kind of person, keep on the good work! And, please, tell me your secret. Meanwhile, I will be realistic. Besides, April is also International Jazz Day month, but this is another story, Morning Glory.

Be seeing you!

G. F.