Como Nossos Pais (Like Our Parents) is a 1976 song by Brazilian singer and composer Belchior. It is one of the first songs of my repertoire and it has a special place in my affective memory.I sang it already many times, but there is one particular performance that I will never forget.

It was during college time. It was a Saturday night and my roommate J. had just broken up with her long time boyfriend. She wanted to go for a walk and I, sympathetically, went along. Many steps and lots of talk later, just when my friend’s morale was getting better, a man came out of the middle of nowhere and said: “Give me what you have!”

I think he showed us a knife hidden under his hoodie or maybe it was a gun, all I remember is that J. and I looked at each other, trying to figure out what to do. None of us had carried a handbag and smartphones were not yet a reality, so the thief took the only more or less valuable item at hand: my friend’s watch.

Needless to say, after those very scary seconds we totally forgot her break up. The mood for a walk was also gone, so we headed towards the main street and looked for a bus stop. Just ahead of us there was a cultural centre with a restaurant inside and they had live music on weekends. The place was kind of fancy, but it was an opportunity to have a drink (we really needed one) and grab a cab back home.

We got in and realised the singer was an acquaintance of ours. He talked to us during the break and invited me to sing a song. I remember I was in jeans and a t-shirt and it felt really weird to be dressed like that on stage, but what the heck? The night was weird already.

I sang Como Nossos Pais. Why this song? I do not remember if I chose it from the set list of the band, or if I suggested it during the break (weird night indeed). Anyway, its ruthless verses about lost dreams and the bitter reality suited the moment perfectly and I put all my heart and soul on them.

We played impromptu, but the result, surprisingly, was not bad at all. The house was full and there was a lot of applause. I remember seeing my friend clapping her hands enthusiastically (by then she had already had a drink or two, I shall add). Looking back to it, I believe the “magic performance” was a mix of beginner’s luck and the universe trying to balance things somehow.

We went back home with the feeling that, after all, it was a happy lucky day.

Today is J.´s birthday and I wish her many happy returns, plenty of amazing stories to tell.

Be seeing you!

G.F.

My great-grandmother was the daughter of a native Brazilian woman with a farm worker. She told my grandmother that when the news of the abolition of slavery in Brazil arrived, black folks threw their work tools in the air, and started singing and dancing. My great-grandmother, who was a little girl back then, got scared and went to hide under the bed.

This is one of my favorite family stories and today, when Brazil celebrates Indigenous Peoples’ Day it has a even bigger meaning to me. The date recalls struggle of the native Brazilians. Struggle for existence, struggle for representation, struggle for the maintenance of acquired rights. The list is long, and, as you can see, the struggles are many and always very arduous, but perhaps the most difficult of all is to break the structural prejudice resulting from the idea that the indigenous peoples were lazy and they should be grateful for being “saved” by the European invaders.

Much more ingrained in our minds than we would like to admit, in Brazil this prejudice can be noticed, for example, in the open pride shown by people who claim to be descendants of European families. While the most partial, remote kinship relationship with a European is celebrated and even used as a justification for unflattering attitudes (“I speak very loudly because I am the eighth generation of Italians born in Brazil”), there is a complete lack of interest in the search for traces of the heritage of indigenous peoples, present in the overwhelming majority of the Brazilian population.

Well, on this April 19th I would like to draw attention to my indigenous ancestors. I have very little information about them, but I am committed to not letting their memories die. I am a link in a long chain of miscegenation and today I would like to proudly say that there is a whole lot of indigenous blood in my veins. As Brazilian singer and composer Djavan says in the song Cara de Índio: “Despite my clothes, I am also indigenous”.

Come on, great-grandmother, you can get out from under the bed now!

April 19: Dia dos Povos Indígenas. Day of Indigenous Peoples.

Be seeing you!

G.F.

p.s. another song on the topic I like very much is Curumim Chama Cunhatã by Jorge Ben (Baby Consuelo´s version of it is also great!)

Que será, Será is a 1956 song by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans. It was part of the movie The Man Who Knew Too Much[, and a immediate success. Among its many versions, the one, by singer and actress Doris Day is considered a classic.

The song talks about fate and uncertainties of life and the answer to the question “how it will be”, repeated all through the song is only one:

Que sera, sera
Whatever will be, will be
The future’s not ours to see
Que sera, sera
What will be, will be

As I opened my fortune cookie, these verses popped up on my mind. It said: “It is never too late to start it all over again”. Fortune cookie hits the bull’s-eye again! It is amazing how they never fail! This is exactly how I feel now: starting it all over again.

Remember the set list odyssey? Well, my friend, it was only the beginning. Ready for the new challenge? Looking for the right musicians. And how many failed along the way… And before you think I am being picky, let me remind you that I am not even talking about musical skills, oh no! I am actually talking about a behavior that you be in compliance with what is expected in the twenty-first century. Sounds too vague?

In one example: I have already cancelled (yes, that´s right c-a-n-c-e-l-l-e-d) a gig because during rehearsals it became clear that the musician I was working with was tremendously patronizing, which is always something unpleasant to handle and far worse if you are the boss. Got the picture? Anyway, let us drop this part and jump straight to strictly music related matters.

The right musicians to work with are the ones, who are not only interested in the gig (and we all are, nothing wrong about that), but also in taking part of the project in a deeper way, buying the idea and improving it. Musicians that are able to respect my vision, and yet leave their own signature” are the right ones for me.

And talking about talented musicians who have a signature, I would like to end with a special note to my dear friend V. and say that the sensitive souls are the ones who suffer most, but they also bear the power of turning pain into beauty. I am sure you are going to find a way to turn those rainy days into bright, starry nights.

Be seeing you!

G. F.

p.s.: more songs about fortune telling?

Superstition, (Stevie Wonder.)

Bijuterias, (Aldir Blanc/João Bosco)

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.

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.

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.

Lucy is flying right now, while you read this. We cannot see her, but she is up there, somewhere in the big blue sky, diligently fulfilling her mission . You probably read about the space probe sent to a twelve-year journey to many asteroids, and yes, the name is a direct mention to the Beatles´s song.

Earlier on the blog, I shared my reflections with you on space missions. This time, instead of a holistic approach, I would like to address the topic from a different perspective. A very personal one, based on the benefits provided by those who never leave Earth: plants.

Growing up in a house, with a garden and a backyard, plants have always been around me. Although apartments have been my reality for quite a while, I always have a few plants at home. Ok, more than a few (it is not my fault, they multiply themselves, you know?)

Beyond aesthetics, I truly believe plants are, in may aspects, real diamonds (sorry, Lucy), and I am not even talking about the importance of the Amazon forest or the urge for more urban green areas. We do not have to go that far. Let me simply talk about my adorable little plants.

They saved my day many times already, and yet sometimes I forget to nurture them. Well, not last week! I bought this great organic plant compost and followed my usual ritual: jazz playing, cinnamon incense (strongly recommend the masala kind) in the air, a hot cup of tea and lots of time.

No rush, no mobile checking, no further worries. Just some quality time taking care of my plants. Ever tried? A miracle worker! To dive deep: Stevie Wonder’s Journey Through “The Secret Life of Plants

Meanwhile, Lucy keeps on flying high. Down here we keep on our usual mess, plenty of bad things, as we are quite aware of, but also full of wonders, as we frequently forget about.

Be seeing you!

G.F.

How do you like to get third part content, when you visit a website? I hate it, and that is why I don´t have the feature enabled on mine. “What about monetization?”, you might ask. Well, it is a concern, but I doubt that by annoying my dear visitors, I would make a considerable amount of money.

I am not saying it is not possible. It works for a lot of people, but it would probably not work for me. Trust is on the basis of the relationship between me and my audience and random third part content would feel like breaking this bond.

You might find my point hard to understand in those days, when sharing any kind of content on social media became the means of survival of many people around the world. Well, all I can say in my defence, before you consider me a total weirdo is that I am not against monetization per se. I am only uncomfortable with the idea of monetizing everything, all the time.

On the other hand, asking directly for help is no problem for me. I did it here already, remember? There are other ways for a music industry artist to generate income, still related to her/his musical universe. Merch, for instance. The idea of caring a piece of our favourite artist home is a gentle and practical way of expressing support (and getting a new mug, t-shirt, hoodie).

I would go even further and say that it is a step ahead of “just” listening to the music. It shows that you share the concept of the artist. I am not talking about personal values, but the artistic concept itself, which is something thin as air, but strong enough to connect us with a certain performer.

Hard to explain, but easy to understand, don´t you agree? Think about your favourite artists and you sure will.

Be seeing you!

G. F.

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 enough 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.