One of my very favourite albums of acclaimed Brazilian singer and composer Caetano Veloso is called Transa. Recorded in London, in 1971, during his exile due to the military dictatorship in Brazil, Transa was released in January on the following year.

The song It´s a long way was originally the first track on the B side of the vinyl, which used to be the place where you would find the “jewel of the crown”, and this one deserves all the honors. The lyrics are in English and in Portuguese, and they work both as a political and philosophical manifest. Its torturous refrain repeats:

It’s a long road
It’s a long road
It’s a long and winding road

It’s a long and winding road
It’s a long and winding road
It’s a long and winding, long and winding, long and winding, long and winding road
It’s a long road

It came to my mind when I read that events with the present audience are gradually coming back. I wonder how long and how winding will be your road back to normality.

Do you feel safe to return to all your former activities? Do you want to go back to them or are you planning a completely different post-pandemic life? Maybe you are going hybrid or maybe you will replace indefinitely some of your outdoor activities by online equivalents.

There are many possible combinations and each person will feel the comeback in a different way. I am sure that there are already plenty of people telling you what to do, but my suggestion (here we go…) would be: follow your own pace. You do not have to be as (un-)motivated as the person next door. For many reasons, each of us experienced the pandemic in a different way, therefore, everyone will have a different “starting point”. Many will need a gentle push here and there in order to keep walking and all of us can use some kindness, so follow the great Aretha Franklin and try a little tenderness, will you?

I wish you a safe return to this long and winding road.

Be seeing you!

G.F.

“It is difficult to continue being emperor in front of a doctor”. I never forgot this sentence, from the book “Memories of Hadrian”, by Margueritte Yourcenar. It is one of those lines that sum up a whole situation, and it has certainly a lot to do with my current state of body and soul, so to speak.

I am recovering from a terrible flu, still not feeling quite like myself. While trying to take back the control over my body – something pretty hard to do, if you think about it, I wonder that we don´t usually notice the amazing balance called health. Taking it for granted, as soon as we lose it, everything seems to be upside down, and we must confront the tremendous vulnerability of any human body.

It does not matter if you a are a pop-star, a monk, a hairdresser, a pet lover, an emperor: we are made of the same, very fragile stuff. The one dreams are made on, Shakespeare would add.

From time to time, the universe will take your hand, in a more or less gentle way (usually less) and show you a mirror: See? That´s what you are. Nothing more and nothing less. Or, as the British band Simply Red says in the song ‘Hillside Avenue’: “Your health is your life / Keeps you alive”.

Makes sense to me.

Be seeing you!

G.F.

As the month begins, I wonder how you´ve been experiencing this year. I believe for many people life is going on, as it used to be. A few little changes here, a few masks there and that´s it. I don´t know if I should envy or pity those people. The year is coming to its final quarter and I still feel like living in an eternal 2020. Of all the nice years I had available in the catalog!

It can be really exhausting living the same year twice. My friend E. asked me, if I am ok. I didn´t dare to reply him yet. Just trying to spare him the bitter truth: the best word to describe me now is functional. Not ok, but still functional.

From time to time I get to escape my repetitive reality by watching old sitcoms. It is not the first time I mention this show here, I know, but anyway, it works for me, so I here I go again: in the first episode of the last season of I dream of Jeannie, the iconic character played by Barbara Eden explains to her “Master” the reason why she cannot blink away the enchantment she has put on a spinet piano: “It´s easy enough to put the music in, but once it´s in, well, it has to play its way out”.

I wonder if the show writer was a jazz fan paying a subtle tribute to Louis Armstrong, who once said: “Musicians don´t retire. They stop when there is no music in them.” Don´t you also love such quotes? They are very easy to understand with the heart, although very hard to explain using words. Just like the most important things in life, and hope is one of them.

Ok, I know it is not easy to be hopeful all the time, but let´s give it a chance today. Let´s give hope a chance in this brand new month. Sounds too much for you? Then try it only for five minutes. A hopeful thought, a day. A hopeful thought today. Shall we?

Now tell me: I would love to know your relationship to music, in other words, when do you listen to music? When you wake up? By the end of the day? All the time?

Be seeing you!

G. F.

Hello, there! How are things going? First of all, I would like to apologize for the long time since my last post. I´ve been quite busy, since the announcement of the semifinalists of the Rádio MEC Music Festival. One of the reasons is that the organizers asked for a promo video. A super complex production, aiming for the Oscar? No, not at all. Actually, they only asked for an innocent one minute mobile phone video, no post production elements needed. Something you would do in five, ten minutes max, right? For me, it takes the whole day and the final result hardly pleases me, so I repeat and repeat…

Call me perfectionist, call me unskilled, but the fact is that I hate to make videos of myself and I often decline such invitations, but this time I had to face the challenge. I know how important it is to have a real person talking to you, when we you are asking people to vote for your song.

In this short video, I introduce myself and explain that I´m honored to be a semifinalist on the festival and that my song, Depois do Verão, is an ode to better days, that shall come to all of us. Oh, and in the background you can see a collage with the many versions of the art for the cover of my first album. Still didn´t vote for Depois do Verão? Click here and vote for me, dear citizen! 🙂

And last but not least, I would like to tell you that earlier this month, I got my International Jazz Day 2021 participation certificate. I must confess that I was a tiny little bit sad because my poster was not on the global artwork page (it is silly, I know, very silly), but it´s all gone now. Signed by the UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Intercultural Dialogue, Mr. Herbie Hancock, that certificate made my day. Thank you very much and until next year, Herbie!

Be seeing you!

G.F.

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.