One of the most undervalued untapped markets for advertisin is the condo meeting. A vast, unexplored land teeming with all kinds of people… until the meeting starts. From this moment on, all types melt into just one: the self-centered owner/tenant who tries to pass an improvement that suits him, as if it were for a common cause.

Performances are often grandiose, but over the years I’ve learned not to be affected by anything that happens at a condo meeting, especially after the pandemic turned them into Zoom meetings, which means logging into an account and using a username that will be for all to see during the meeting.

In the early days of virtual meetings, I uploaded a profile picture to my account (can´t remember where or when), but since all the meetings I´ve attended so far required an open camera, I simply forgot abot the profile pic… until my last condo meeting started.

After a short while being able to see everybody´s face (“new normal” equivalent to meet and greet), participants were asked to turn off their cameras, in order to avoid further connection failures. And there it was: my profile picture. The only smiling face amidst a sea of cold initials.

The problem was not the picture. As a matter of fact, it is a very good one for a jazz singer: good lighting, in front of a mic and all, but not exactly appropriate for a condo meeting avatar. Besides, I always tried to keep a very low profile. Most of my neighbors don’t even know I sing. Rehearsals at my place, for example, only happen on rare occasions, and I always make sure we’re not too loud or playing too long.

All this care for nothing. Just like that, I was busted at a condo meeting.

Jazz-shamed (and despite the scwitched off camera), I kept my expression as haughty as possible until the end of the meeting. As silly as it may sound, the situation was quite uncomfortable for me. “What would my neighbors say?”, I kept mentally repeating to myself.

Suddenly, I remembered that I used to sign academic essays with my other surname, to separate the researcher from the singer, something that makes no sense at all for me today. So why on Earth should I bother about my neighbors opinions? Why?

The truth is: I shouldn’t. So, I didn’t.

Be seeing you!

G.F.

Summertime, the world-famous song by George Gershwin was originally the opening aria of the opera Porgy and Bess, and is a jazz-inspired lullaby. Summer time is also (and you have to love the irony) the period of the year when I get the less sleep.

Summer in Rio, as far as I can remember, has always been very hot, but global warming and disorderly urban growth (did someone say rampant real estate growth?) are apparently doing their job and every summer temperature records are broken. Forget the expression “Rio 40 degrees” (Celsius), usually used to express the party side of the cool city. What we experience now is “Rio 50 degrees” and there is, literally, nothing cool about it.

I use psychology and the air-conditioning and try to stay positive. It works, sometimes. Not during the night, though. Instead of “the livin´ is easy”, my summer time is an ode to insomnia. And who can be more sensitive and vulnerable than a sleepless human being? Don´t forget to take my sleep deficit into account in the next parapgraph, will you? I wasn’t exactly myself, but my semi-zombie version.

After another night of hellish heat and failed attempts to sleep, early morning found me in a semi-asleep state which, along with a sudden gentle breeze suddenly running through the room, was the best I could hope for at the moment. And that’s where it started. The noise. That tremendous noise of tiles being cut, which had been tormenting me all week at alternate times of the day. That unbearable noise had decided to spoil my morning of almost falling asleep as well.

I got up and went straight to the window overlooking the building next door, where the noise was coming from. Well, straight is a way of saying it, because to reach that window, I have to climb a little bench. From there, I started waving my arms to get the attention of the man who was cutting the tiles with his noisy machine: “Sir! Oh, sir!” It took a while for him to realize where the voice was coming from. “Up here, in the window! “Up here!”

When he finally looked my way, I used my best polite-yet-firm tone and asked him to continue elsewhere, if possible. And to my enormous surprise, he shook his head. I yelled, “Thank you so much” and the deafening noise stopped.

Maybe you’re asking yourself now, “yeah, so what?” Maybe that’s the way you solve all your problems: directly, without further thinking. Maybe my solitary revolt against acoustic abuse seems trivial to you, but to me it was a big deal. I tend to be the type that thinks, reflects (too much), and never goes into, shall we say, extreme actions. Until now, at least.

Maybe it is the insomnia speaking, or maybe it is because I’ve run out of musings, but in this particular situation I’m glad I acted on the spur of the moment, jazz style. I felt really brave and able to take care of myself. No drama, no overthinking.

I doubt this is a concept applicable to all areas of life, and eventually summer time will be gone and I’ll go back to sleep well, but until then it is good to know that I can still surprise myself.

… and the livin´ is easy…

Be seeing you!

G.F.

January 25th marks the birthday of a very special person, a true genius that brought the small neighborhood of Ipanema, in Rio de Janeiro to the world map. Antonio Carlos Brasileiro Jobim is one of those iconic musicians whose reputation needs no introduction.

His work goes far beyond the legacy of Bossa Nova and largely describes the changes that took place in Brazilian music of the 20th century. Originally influenced by samba, Jobim is part of the team that consolidated MPB as a genre (Brazilian Popular Music, the genre is often classified as Brazilian Jazz by international critics). Not by chance Chico Buarque, another brilliant musician refers to Jobim as “his sovereign maestro”.

Jobim would reserve a special place for samba in his latest works in a settling of accounts with his own personal story, especially after years living in New York. A true Brazilian even in his family name, Tom embodies Leonardo da Vinci’s maxim that defines simplicity as the highest degree of sophistication. His songs, whose most distinguishing feature were the highly sophisticated harmonies, are also easy to listen to, with their striking melodies and ingenious lyrics.

He was the first one of the Bossa Nova “Dream Team” to leave the stage of life and, in his honour, January 25th is considered Bossa Nova Day. I thought of a tribute of my own to celebrate Tonzinho (as he was affectionately called by another giant named Vinícius de Moraes), but it was not easy to get out of the classic list-of-favourite-albums-and-songs box, and even that would had been a hard task for me. The reason is simple: his oeuvre is multiple.

Relaxed, as during the early years of Bossa Nova or engaged in the environmental cause, as in the songs on his latest albums, there is a Jobim for every moment. There is a Jobim to sing along (did anyone say Águas de Março?), a Jobim to smile, to dream and even a Jobim for those moments when “it is essential to cry”, as in the verses of the song Caminhos Cruzados (lyrics by life long partner Newton Mendonça, with whom Jobim shares the authorship of many of his greatest hits).

However, there is one aspect of Jobim’s work that perhaps has not yet been given the attention it deserves. In addition to the fantastic content, his albums also used to have very interesting covers. Let´s take Wave as an example. One of Jobim´s best known albums, it was released in the United States in 1967, with graphic design by Sam Antupit and photos by Pete Turner, a renowned photographer in the musical world.

Turner developed a look of his own that would become a real trend. He created abstract compositions instead of the usual posed portraits of the musicians. The result was simple, and yet very appealing (da Vinci strikes again!). The clever and innovative use of colours on the cover of Wave provided a new kind of representation for a new kind of music. By bringing art and music closer to each other, it helped to establish a visual reference for Bossa Nova, as it went through the process of leaving Ipanema and Copacabana to become a genre appreciated worldwide.

See? Even when you think you’ve heard everything about it, there’s still a lot to contemplate in the work of Antonio Carlos Brasileiro Jobim.

Be seeing you!

G.F.

Do you have many shoes? I don´t. In fact, shoes are a top item on my gotta-buy-sometime-very-soon list. I recently got two pairs back from repair, and it was such a relief! I say it a very practical, non-shoe fetishist way. I just happen to have a very limited number of choices and any item matters.

Maybe you are one of those “sneakers will do everywhere” kind of person. There are so many of you out there! I admit it: maybe a tiny part of me envies you, but I could never be part of the gang (same applies for the “jeans will do in any occasion” fandom). And then there’s also this particular group, whose skills I truly admire: people that actually feel comfortable in high heels.

You may not believe they exist, and I do not blame you for that. I also used to be skeptical about their existence, until I was warmly welcomed into the house of one of them. Long story short: I had a few stop-over days in Paris on my way to India, and this very nice couple of friends of my good friend M. welcomed me into their lovely place, and by welcome I mean a great dinner and subway tickets. Best hosts ever!

One night we went out and then I had my vision. Walking around Paris cobblestone streets, I realized my hostess was one of those heavenly creatures that rather seem to float, so graceful are their steps. Effortless Parisian elegance, materialized right in front of me.

Anyway, I know my limits and I do not plan to achieve this level of expertise, but after such a long time (ages, it seems) out of stage, and maybe slightly influenced by this series I am streaming, I thought it was the perfect time to practice walking in heels again. Just a little bit. For fun.

My first enthusiasm faded a bit when confronted to the bitter reality of a low-budget season, apparent temperatures of 50º C (!) in Rio, and the Omicron variant, all very good reasons to stay home. Nevertheless, my determination to go back into heels (go figure) was stronger. After cleaning them carefully, I put on my favourite pair and used my apartment as a catwalk, so to speak.

The first steps were not easy, but after a while I was doing the laundry on heels with no problem. A great song started on the playlist, and voilà! I was dancing on my living room and really enjoying it. In heels!

My tiny condo may not have the same magic appeal of the streets in Paris, but I guess as long as I keep moving, it´s all right.

Be seeing you!

G. F.

It´s been one year since my first post, can you believe it? After the series of interviews that kept my busy and relatively sane in 2020, exactly an year ago, this blog was born to keep me busy and relatively sane in 2021.

During the last fifty-two weeks, the Red Flower Press provided thirty-eight short trips to different destinations, having music as a guideline. The inspiration for the name came from very favourite sitcom, as I told you here and, of course, from one of my constant elements on stage.

Together with the black dress, a red flower, used as a hair or gown ornament is my stage signature and it represents a lot more to me than a simple accessory.. It makes me feel part of the very special jazz-singer-with-a–flower-in-the-hair club, a very traditional institution that has my beloved Billie Holiday as one of its most famous patronesses.

Moreover, it represents the overlap of the three other music traditions that together form the foundations on which I build my home in music: samba, tango and the French chanson. As you can see, carrying (and earning) the flower really means a lot of responsibility to me.

In nature, flowers attract birds and insects that will take their gametes from one place to another, making it possible for plants to spread around, even though they are not mobile. I cannot think of a better analogy.

Thank you for being part of this journey.

Be seeing you!

G.F.

The biophysicist Norman Holter was responsible for a big step in the history of heart treatment. 1949 he  presented to the world for the first time a portable device for continuously monitoring the electrical activity of the heart for long periods (24 hours or more). The Holter monitor was a true game-changer for Cardiology. Holter even added a noble humanitarian note to the story, by donating the rights to his invention to medicine.

When my cardiologist asked me during a check up, how I felt about including a 24 hour blood pressure monitoring, I remembered all the nice stories about Mr. Holter and cheerfully agreed. Unfortunately, they did not help at all, when the technician adjusted the device that would inflate my left arm each 15 (!) minutes for the next 24 hours. In case this information does not sound bad enough for you, read the next paragraph.

The instructions were clear and yet a bit incomprehensible: 1. stay still after hearing the long beep (measurement starts) and wait until short beep ends to move it again; 2.fill up a paper form with a description of my activities during the day; 3. in case the monitor tiny screen shows “error”, change batteries immediately.; 4. do not leave the device in contact with water, and finally: 5. follow your regular activities, normally. Doubts? No doubts? See you tomorrow, thank you. Next!

The next 24 hours were as unpleasant, as you can imagine with the nice extra touch of very high temperatures, and required a lot of faith in science and a even bigger amount of willing suspension of disbelief (paper form? batteries? act normally?). The following morning, after getting rid of the monitor, I walked myself home and wondered what the result of the readings would show, but I will be very impressed if it is all normal. To anyone, at all.

I let my thoughts fly to that day in 1949 and came to the conclusion that Mr. Holter himself would be disappointed, if he could see how little your invention has advanced compared to others. Think of drones, smartphones and self-driven cars and you will know what I mean.

Anyway, what do we know, me and my foolish heart?

Be seeing you!

G.F.

There is always a lot of expectation around New Year´s Eve. Basically, two main groups dispute endlessly the right thing to be done on this particular night: the ones who prefer to sleep over it and start the New Year fresh and renewed, and the ones who believe you´ve got to have some sort of ritual to assure an auspicious year to come.

As I mentioned before, in Brazil a New Year´s classic ritual is to dress in white. It is one of my favourite traditions, but I have many other personal ones. My mental personal retrospective. As the first dawn of the year approaches, I let my mind fly back to the same period, a year ago. No doubt we moved a few steps forward.

Need an example? The single fact of having a vaccine developed in such a short time is already a huge development for humanity. It should be a sign of hope for humanity, but then again, there is all the mess going on everywhere. Future generations will have problems trying to understand how could we be so brilliant and so dumb at the same time.

Nevertheless, it is hard to pretend that there is nothing going on and that we should live our lives “old normal” style. With protocols changing all the time, it is very hard to plan anything at all, from a single performance to a tour. Artists, booking agents, venue owners, regulars: everyone is frustrated. And tired. Everyone is really tired.

I wish I had a flawless plan for the year starting today. Something that I could share with you, some sort of “5 steps to get it done in 2022” list, but I don´t. There is a lot of uncertainty going on, that´s for sure. Do you know what is also for sure? We will make mistakes. A lot of them. Wanna know why? Because life is like a concert.

As I say to my musicians before going on stage, it doesn´t matter how many times we have rehearsed and prepared ourselves for the show. There will always be some surprise in the middle of the way.

You don´t have to look for the unexpected (you don´t need to), but when it comes, don´t fight it. Embrace it, adjust the route and move on.

Enjoy your New Year.

Be seeing you!

G.F.

Corporations always win. The average individual, caught in the net of big companies, which will decide all aspects of their lives. From what you eat, to where you keep your money; from how you spend your leisure time to with whom you spend your pleasure time, there is always a corporation involved. Not even religious dates manage to escape the voracious radar of corporations and Christmas is no exception.

My story begins early in the month, on December 6th. On that day I bought online eighteen packages of Panettone to give as a present to family and friends. In Brazil, the Italian yeast-leavened bread, usually made with raisins, candied fruit peels, almonds, and a bit of brandy is a holiday traditional, and I was very happy for the good deal. With the delivery due to the fourteenth, what could go wrong? Well, quite a lot, as I would find out.

By the 10th it was clear to me that the package would not arrive on time. My account on the web store kept showing: “preparing your order” and the web chat was not a big help either. One day, I waited online for seven hours (I started in the 79th position on the line) just to be automatically disconnect, when the counter showed there were three people ahead of me. Pure evil? A total lack of organization? A mix of both?

I was not only very angry about not getting any kind of attention by the company, but also totally frustrated about the lack of my (already plaid) gifts. My sister came with a partial solution: a local super market had enough packages to replace my lost, by the same price. Great! The big corporations would not ruin my Holiday, although there was still the matter of the money to be solved.

On the 15th, since the delivered date had expired, I logged in again on my account on the web store and canceled the purchase. No need to tell you that, again, the company did not contact me. Little did I know, the plot twist was about to happen.

On the 20th the order arrived. Watching that huge box with all the packages laying on living room I felt confused. No sign from the company, no money back, double costs to me, double profits for them (if you consider the replacements bought at the supermarket). I simply did not know what to do, and hated the fact of being made “a hostage” by a big company.

I felt really angry and quite guilty for having such a feeling so close to Christmas. After all, no situation is so bad that it cannot be made worse by guilt. On the following day, I had a great idea, which turned the situation in my favor. A second plot twist: instead of trying to reach the company for a refund, I would simply donate the Panettones to the orphanage I usually help. Of course!

This way, it does not matter anymore, if the company will ever pay me back or, at least, answer one of the numerous e-mails I´ve sent. The packages had already paid themselves, so to speak. This time, the big corporation would not win, for a change.

The next day, the box with the Panettone packages was gone and there was a big empty space in my living room, but my heart was overflowing with pure joy. Since then, I feel ready for a Happy New Year.

Be seeing you!

G.F.

I am Sagittarian. December 19th is my birthday and no, this is not a bad thing “because you probably get just one present for both Christmas and birthday, right?”

Wrong! Wrong! All wrong! You might find it hard to believe, but most people tend to be generous to December born kids. Why? Maybe because of our tremendous charisma (ha, ha) or maybe it is just a nice side effect of the season.

Actually, December-born folks believe they are kind of blessed for being born close to Christmas. I mean, do they decorate the city on your birthday´s month?

We are aware it is not for us, but still a tiny part of our hearts is convinced that all the fuzz in December, must have something to do with our birthday. Go ahead and ask any Sagittarian, but I warn you: it is hard to discuss with a Centaurus carrying a bow and arrow.

Under the influence of Jupiter, we want to expand the limits of the body, mind and soul. It may be a beautiful thing, but it can also lead to all sorts of excesses and self-indulging experiences. Reaching for the stars, Sagittarians hate to deal with daily mundane conflicts, but are always ready (and glad to) discuss politics, religion or any other “hard subject”, the ones people usually avoid. Crazy, you think? So do we.

A true member of the Sagittarius Club, Argentinian iconic singer and songwriter Carlos Gardel was born on December 11th 1890 and and in his homage today is celebrated Tango Day.

I have a complete EP on cumbias and tangos, recorded in Montevideo, with local musicians. It is called La Nueva Milonga. The selection of the repertoire involved a lot of research on the typical rhythms of the Río de la Plata region, including the overlaps with the Brazilian music.

The influence of tango in Brazil is the motto for the podcast La Nueva Milonga – Tango e Música Brasileira, available now in all major streaming platforms.

Native speaker or Portuguese language lover, enjoy yourself!

Be seeing you!

G. F.

The satirical paper’s headline cut to the chase: “Person Who Bought Something He Really Needed on Black Friday Intrigues Scientists”. Of all the fashions recently imported from the USA, Black Friday is the one that most feeds the consumer monster that lives inside each one of us. First restricted to one day, in Brazil the concept was extended to the entire month of November, with special emphasis on the last Friday, when consumer tension levels reach their highest peaks.

Even if you managed to escape all the “super offers”, it is very likely that the personal item you really needed to buy anyway, ended up in your virtual shopping cart. And then, my friend, before you knew it, a thing or two that perhaps you might need someday have also found their way to it, you know, just to round up the bill (it would be a shame to miss the free shipping after all).

I think there are a lot of elements involved in this equation, and advertising handles them all very well. Greed, timing and, above all, willingness to take part in a collective movement certainly play an important role in this hugely successful formula, to the point that now even banks (!) have started announcing Black Friday deals. Unfortunately they didn’t include really useful things like a mortgage reduction for example, but so what? The important thing is to take part in this party, isn’t it?

Musicians tend to take advantage of the date announcing discounts on the price of their catalogs and merch, and I believe that if you do your homework well, there is a real possibility of extra earnings. And this is precisely my problem with taking advantage of the consumerist delusion for my own cause.

Every year, the last week of November comes too fast for me. I suspect it has to do with the shock of the realization that the end of the year is just around the corner, waiting for us and there is nothing we can do about it. Anyway, I understand you, dear reader, and I know that just like me, you appreciate doing things at your own pace. I also know that this year hasn’t been easy and you need a little help getting ready for 2022.

So, here is my kind of Black Friday, actually Cyber Monday deal: for thirty days you can use the coupon LASTCHANCE for an incredible 65% off on the price of The Touring Jazz Musician – A Guide to Jazz Festivals Worldwide.

The guide has a list of jazz fests that accept entries made directly by artists. It can be consulted by event date, name or country, and the best part is that you get all updated editions of The Touring Jazz Musician – A Guide to Jazz Festivals Worldwide for free!

If you are an independent jazz musician who knows the value of a tool that saves your time, you will not miss this opportunity. Click here to use your coupon.

Be seeing you!

G.F.