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.

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.

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.

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.

“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.

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.