And the river bank talks of the waters of March
It’s the end of all strain, it’s the joy in your heart

Waters of March (Tom Jobim)

What is your favourite season of the year? In Rio de Janeiro this question has a limited number of answers, since Winter is usually very mild and Spring and Fall are hardly noticeable in their most subtle details. On my previous post I talked about personal quests, the great causes that lead our lives, and today I would like to share another song-related experience with you, this time related to Summer or, better saying, the end of it.

I am not really a fan of high temperatures. A big disadvantage if you live in a tropical country, but to be totally frank with you, even when I lived in the north of Germany, where Summer sometimes lasts no longer than a weekend, it was not on the top of my list. I believe it has something to do with the lazy, on-pause feeling connected to the season. Do you know what I mean?

I was on one of those “on hold” periods, at the very beginning of the production of my first album, when a heat wave hit town. I tried to stay calm and follow the recording schedule, but everything seemed to be a bit harder under the hot temperatures. In the middle of this mess, After Summer , lately added to the album repertoire, came to my mind:

“I want the end of summer
I want another season
Stop thinking about what is going to be
And see
everything that goes on around me
After the summer I will be
Magazine covers, invitations to interviews
After the summer will happen
Magazine covers
Invitations to interviews
As soon as the summer is over
You’ll see
I want the end of summer
I want another station
Going out at noon wearing a heavy coat
Golden shades on my eyes
Highlighted by the autumnal light
As soon as the summer is over
it will happen
Magazine covers, invitations to interviews
When no one notices
Magazine covers, invitations to interviews
After the summer I will be
the one”

The magazine covers are still waiting, although I´ve already given a couple of interviews, but the truth is that when the dog bites, when the bee stings, when I am felling sad I suddenly remember this refrain and then I really don´t feel so bad.

I may not know about your Summer dreams and I bet that lately a lot of them had been ripped at the seams, but remember: there is always room for hope and faith, no matter which season this is.

Be seeing you!

G.F.

On my previous post I talked about the influence of cartoons and movies I watched during my childhood on my musical taste and today I would like to share with you some thoughts on a song included in my first solo album (Geisa Fernandes). It is called Grandes Causes (Great Causes).

Unlike most of my songs, I am not able to tell its “zero point”, the first idea, the match that started the fire of ideas that consumes the mind of any songwriter in action. I´ve tried everything: from searching in all hidden corners of my memory to double checking the little notebooks I use to write the first version of any lyrics. And yet nothing. No clues at all. Does it feel weird not to remember the inspiration for a creation of your own? Yes, it does! A lot. On the other hand, when I read the lyrics of this tune, the words are so clear and meaningful to me that it sounds more like a manifesto.

The first verses say:

“In my opinion
People should only die
Of love
Or for great causes”

If you ask me what is my definition of a great cause, I would have problems to explain, but let´s see…

I would start by saying it is definitely not your dream purchase, so forget “I shall not rest until I buy that car/house/boat or private island.” Your great cause is not something you can buy, it is not something you can trade and, above all, it is not something you use to feed your social media. As I see it, it is your mission, your quest, your goal in this incredibly crazy journey called life.

I wonder what would you call a great cause and how hard would you fight for it. I wonder if there is still a place for great causes in the world of today or if it became an old, rusty concept that sounds somehow misplaced.

I wonder a lot of things.

Be seeing you!

G.F.

Are you a cat? If you are anyhow related to the jazz world, or even if you are not, you probably heard this slang before. Like many others from the same origin (“gig” comes immediately to mind) it belongs to he current mainstream vocabulary and has such a broad use now, that basically describes anyone who plays or likes very much jazz music. If you read my previous post, you already know that I am into animations and if you are a regular Red Flower Press enjoyer, you might even know about my researches in the visual arts field.

My first step towards becoming a cat had the help of many animated animals, among them the cats from the US sitcom Top Cat. Produced by Hanna-Barbera, the adventures of a gang of Manhattan alley cats leaded by T.C. had jazz almost as an extra character. From the main title theme to the looks of the cats, the jazz vibe is everywhere and I loved to watch it in the afternoon reruns.

The show forged my taste in many ways and it belongs to my fondest childhood memories. I remember being specially fascinated by the way the cats turned the alley into a multi-functional space. The police box phone was the highlight of their creativity and it has a lot to do with the way I deal with decoration, using objects for multiple purposes, alley style.

I never had music classes as a child, neither was taken to concerts and had even less contact to jazz, what makes those visual references so important to me. Gloria Wood singing The Woody Woodpecker song, Louis Prima´s I wanna be like you from The Jungle Book (check out the very nice story behind his participation), Henry Mancini and The Pink Panther theme, among many others, were more than an important part of my musical background, they were my first music lessons. Music will always find a way.

Be seeing you!

G. F.

“Jazz is freedom. You think about that.” – Thelonious Monk

How many lockdown weird habits did you acquire so far? Now don´t be shy, we are all together in this pandemic crazy cruise and it is absolutely fine to find a chill-down activity. My thing is to re-watch cartoons, mainly The Simpsons. Name an episode, any season and I´ve seen it at least twice. To be totally honest with you, the show has been my comfort content for quite a while (check out season 15, episode 22 and find out how I got inspiration for the name of this blog), but since the pandemic started it got way worse, proportionally to my need of being comforted. Before you think I could have found a less silly way of being comforted, let me say that the references on the show already led me to many interesting discoveries, such as the oeuvre of Edgar A. Poe, whose poem The Raven was the basis for my song Nevermore and, lately, the 1967 British television series The Prisoner.

The Orwellian, avant-guarde, psychedelic social critic saga of former secret agent Number Six (“I´m not a number! I´m a man!”), brilliantly interpreted by Patrick McGoohan trapped in an idyllic, yet in many aspects creepy place known as The Village comes as a reference in the sixth episode of The Simpsons’ twelfth season. I could not understand the many hints to the series at first, but after a little research… boom! I got totally hooked on it. I watched all the episodes, read the critics on them, saw the interviews with cast members about the many behind-the-scene stories, learned about Portmeirion and the Six of One appreciation society and, most of all, I enjoyed the music of the show. The irresistible mixture goes from classical music to Carmen Miranda, from spirituals to The Beatles. And jazz. A lot of jazz. 1960´s jazz combined many elements from Africa and Latin America, so expect congas and a very intense mood, which fits quite well the tense plot.

The inspired soundtrack alone could be the reason for my enchantment, not to mention that many issues addressed in the series, such as living under the constant surveillance of cameras and the limits of freedom are more relevant than ever, but I believe that the main element that made me fall in love with The Prisoner was empathy. Being one of the “happy few” still strictly following the hashtag #stayhome, I immediately related to the anger and confusion of the protagonist and his urge to get out, although lockdown in the Village sounds like a super premium triple upgrade to me right now.

Having a home is a huge privilege and I am sincerely grateful for mine, so do not consider this a complaint. I am just pointing out that sometimes, as the main tune in the last episode of The Prisoner says, all you need is love. Love is all you need.

Be seeing you!

G.F.

Life on Mars? is a 1971 song by David Bowie and I could not help remembering its verse “Oh man, look at those cavemen go”, as I watched the Perseverance rover landing on the Red Planet. It is amazing what an increased brain size (even if it consumes about twenty percent of the body’s energy) and a opposable finger in the palm can do for a species! Come on, don´t you feel a little bit prouder to be part of the human being club, when you see the achievements of knowledge? I cried my eyes out during the live broadcast!

It was deeply moving to see the gender and age (although there´s still room for racial) diversity of the team at NASA and their true commitment to the mission. Talking from my own experience as a singer/songwriter and as a researcher, I know that passion is a key element to both art and science, together with what I call a contract with the human kind. The contract goes far beyond the simple awareness of being part of humanity, let´s say, accidentally by birth, but also the further step in the direction of actively contributing to its legacy. Think about songs, movies, photos, smartphones, glasses, wheelchairs… you got the idea.

I am afraid and ashamed to say that the pandemic made me have serious doubts about that contract. People having parties and going to crowded beaches, refusing to wear a mask or sabotaging the immunization process, emergency funds being misused, the list is long and I am only giving examples of what happens in my own country. How to keep that contract in such a context? How not to become profoundly disappointed with human beings? How to avoid perpetual bitterness? How not to give up? I believe Perseverance is the answer.

Oh man, look at those cavemen go.

Be seeing you!

G.F.


Karma Chameleon is one of the hits of the 1980´s UK new wave band Culture Club. Bandleader Boy George once said in an interview it was “about the terrible fear of alienation that people have, the fear of standing up for one thing. (…) Basically, if you aren’t true, if you don’t act like you feel, then you get Karma-justice, that’s nature’s way of paying you back.”

The song came to my mind last week, when dear musician friend S. asked: “What is it, that makes you so passionate about Jazz?”. Good one, don´t you think? The kind of question that demands some time of reflection. My answer was: “It makes me feel at home”. I thought it was quite a clever one, somehow enigmatic, sincere without being obvious, but then I got greedy and added: “And a bit of Karma, as well.” Do you know the saying: There is no greater disaster than greed?

S. asked me to elaborate. Karma, jazz, home. Each one of these words represent a complex concept, but first of all, I shall clarify that I meant Karma not as fate, but rather as destiny, your mission, you know, the one thing that you got to do in order ‘to be true’. So far, so good? Great! Now read the title of the post again and I will explain the ‘feeling at home’ part.

Chances are you´ve recognized the first original verse of ‘Desafinado’ (Off Key), by Antônio Carlos Jobim and Newton Mendonça, worldly famous in the voice of João Gilberto. The lyrics begin with: ‘If you say my singing is off keymy love…’, a sentence that resonates to most comments to my singing style made during my childhood and teenage years. Unfortunately, I did not know this tune so well by then and therefore lost the opportunity of replying using another verse of it: ‘Isso é Bossa Nova, isso é muito natural’ (this is Bossa Nova, naturally).

I do remember quite well though, saying to playmates who claimed I was always “changing the songs” and “singing them wrong” that there was no point at all in simply imitating the singers. How old was I? Six, maybe seven. A little jazzy soul trying to explain that it don´t mean a thing, if you ain´t got that swing. Did they get me? Nope. Nor did many musicians who crossed my way during my learning years.

Sometimes it takes a while to find your way home but, once there, it all makes sense.

Be seeing you!

G.F.

Hey, there! How is your February going so far? Weird? It could be worse, trust me.

If you ever been to or lived in Rio de Janeiro you know that February is deeply related to Carnaval, which is deeply related to dancing and singing in the streets, which is deeply related to being happy. Let me remind you that not even World War II had the power to interrupt the popular tradition. The perspective of a February without Carnaval is for me one of the most eloquent signs that things are far from being back on track. Since we have been dealing with the expression “new normal” for quite a while now, I would like to propose a reflection on what is “normal” to you.

As far as I remember, l have been called weird by family members. The reasons would vary: tastes, looks, opinions. Weird is my old normal, so to speak. One of the most frequently given reasons was the way I move my hands. Like Italians, Brazilians also speak with their hands, but apparently my gestures are too big, too wide, too much even for Latin standards. Of course I hated the comments and felt a bit ashamed for not fitting in, until I understood what was so peculiar about my gestures after all: they were perfect to fill the stage. No wonder they felt misplaced in mundane, domestic situations! Now try them during a performance and they seem meaningful and unique. In other words: weird in a nice way.

Changing the approach to things can be a very interesting, sometimes also very painful, but always rewarding exercise. Does it prevent you from still being called a weirdo? No. Do I gently smile each time I hear it? Yes, noblesse oblige, but let us be honest: who needs normal, when you can have grand?

Here is a practical example, so that you can make your own opinion about my stage gestures (feel free to subscribe to the channel!) https://youtu.be/tCfYWRK5VE4

Be seeing you!

G. F.

Hey, there! Good to see you again. I wanted to write you earlier (missed my previous post?), but my computer needed a week off and I had to cope with that decision. Suddenly without the possibility of keeping my vibrating home office routine, which includes checking the news every three minutes and eventually writing a comment on the latest post about the politics in Brazil, I decided to finally rendering myself to one of the top hits of the pandemic: home baking. And now you are probably thinking: oh, no, making bread at home is so 2020! An outdated quarantine activity, lost somewhere together with balcony concerts and Zoom birthday parties.

Ok, but come on, don´t you have the impression that we are all trapped in a loop of lockdowns? Yesterday is the new tomorrow, so bread it is! While waiting for the dough to rise, I finally took care of that small pile of old books and repaired their ripped covers (transparent duct tape, you are welcome) and even advanced a few pages in my long procrastinated reading. The heat wave in Rio de Janeiro has also helped to pass the time. Since its arrival, my greatest achievement has been keeping my body temperature below the flammable range and, trust me, it´s not an easy task.

The bread was delicious and so were the naps I took after lunch (once there was even a gentle breeze) and when the tech guy sent me a message saying that my notebook was fixed, my first thought was: already? It is sure great to be back and, no doubt, there is a limit for the work you can do nowadays without a computer but all things considered, it was a rather nice week. Mindfulness is bliss.

Be seeing you!

G.F.

Hey there! Glad to see you again! So, where did we stop? Let´s see… QuaranJazz! By now you´ve probably heard the last episode of QuaranJazz, the podcast that I´ve produced during 2020 and learned a lot more about me. No idea what I´m talking about? Check out my previous post or visit my website. Or just hop on. Things will get clearer eventually. That´s my mantra for this year.

Our reflection for today is about cleaning up stuff. Virtual stuff, such mailing lists, for example. Do you have one? I do! Would you like to be part of it? Sign up here. You know, mailing lists are a very sensitive topic. Lots of people will try to convince you that they are outdated, but I say they are more relevant than ever. That´s where the gold is, in many senses. A unique set of people that willingly decided to keep in contact with you means so much more than an incidental “like” on a post that accidentally crossed a timeline. Not to mention that social network platforms are very nice, but we all know that they come and go.

I´ve always been proud of my mailing list, but now I am especially fond of it. After updating it name by name, comment by comment, I´ve realized that I have a higher number of super fans than I imagined, and what a nice surprise to see how frequently people engage with my content! Well, it is not actually a surprise, since the information was already available in the reports. I just haven´t given them the attention they deserved until now. Cleaning is healing.

Be seeing you!

G.F.

It´s January 15th and, according to myself, today is the deadline for starting to post regularly here, a long time item on my to do list, postponed to the limit, by the way, today. No more excuses! It´s been 40ºC in Rio for weeks, but you must keep your windows shut and curtains down most of the day because they´re repainting the building? No excuse! You don´t sleep well since 2018? No excuse! You feel hard to focus on writing, maybe because the world as we knew it, is basically coming to a, let´s say, new cycle and you´re not really sure that human beings will be part of it? No excuse! A New Year´s resolution must be taken seriously, even if some people say we´re in fact in 2020, season 2.

So, here I am and there you are and I assume that you expect something from me. A cheerful story or information everyone could use. A nice quote would do nicely, thank you. Make it double-motivational, please. And yet, I can´t think of a single topic, I don´t have a clue about what to tell you, despite my daily news overdose. Lockdown fatigue, fear, anger, a little bit of hope: welcome to my 2021 so far. Suddenly, a crazy idea comes to my mind: and what if you´re not expecting anything in particular, just a short, nice reading moment before you start working or whenever you want to take a break from it. Ok, this I can do. But if you are still uncertain and you´d rather know more about me, I´d recommend you to check out the last episode of my podcast QuaranJazz. Here´s the link: https://www.spreaker.com/episode/42657599

Stay home and safe, you all. Be seeing you!

Geisa F.