Why we do stuff? I am sure your answer involves some kind of rewarding definition. From losing weight to making money; from prestige to the smile of a beloved one. We do stuff because we want something in return, do not trust me, trust Sociology on that.

One of my favourite reasons to do things is just… to feel good. Sounds silly to you? Maybe, but think about the number of times we have to do things that don’t make any sense to us and you will understand what I mean. This is why I am always very grateful for the moments when I can do things that make me happy and singing is what makes me the happiest in this life.

I have participated in four different editions of International Jazz Day producing local events (and counting!), but every time I receive the certificate of participation, the six-year-old girl in me jumps for joy and delight. And I do not even care if every participant gets the same letter. In my heart, I feel as if Mr. Herbie Hancock had written those lines only for me. Check it out.

The feeling of reward is sky high, especially because the performance on Jazz & Comics represents a fusion between my academic background and the experience of being a singer and songwriter. This edition was actualy a double treat, as it was also my first in person peformance since the world turned upside down in 2020.

Starting over is always difficult and I remember that on that day (April 30th, when International Jazz Day is celebrated) not even the weather helped, but in the end it was all worth it. Although I do not need a certificate to know that, it has an enormous value to me, because even the things we know for sure can be forgotten im moments of trouble.

On these occasions, the letter signed by Mr. Hancock will be my reminder that, once again, despite the difficulties, I managed to do what was important, what really made sense to me.

I cannot think of a better reward.

Be seeing you!

G.F.

The Goalie´s Anxiety at the Penalty Kick is a 1972 movie directed by Werner Herzog, adapted from the novel with the same title, by Peter Handke and music was written by Jürgen Knieper. It is also known as The Goalkeeper’s Fear of the Penalty, but I personally don’t like either of the two translations.

The original “Die Angst des Tormanns beim Elfmeter” does not imply that the player is afraid of the kick, but afraid at the moment of the kick, which is completely different (and fits much better to the plot). When it comes to anxiety or fear, the choice is more complicated. “Angst” usually means fear, but “anxiety”, in general, is a term less used in German than in English (or Portuguese)

The genius title came to my mind as I take a look at the calendar, and realize that the date it shows does not correspond to where I was supposed to be in my schedule. As usual, I am a few steps behind my weekly plan. I am starting to think I have to change the way I calculate how long I need to complete my chores. Am I maybe overrating myself? Are my projections realistic or do I just overfill my plate with tasks?

One thing is for sure: if I want to understand the butterflies in my stomach (is it fear or anxiety?), I have to accept that I am doing something wrong in my planning. In fact, admitting this should not be a problem for anyone. After all, when it comes to time management, everyone struggles.

Everyone? Yes, everyone. And do you know why I can say this with such certainty? Because everybody’s life has its ups and downs. Every day, we are all subject to unforeseen events, mishaps and all kinds of unplanned events. Some dramatic, some funny, some just boring. We all have to accept the fact that we do not have everything under control (thankfully!).

Have you ever imagined how petrified life would be and how we would be subject to our old desires and dreams if everything went exactly as planned? If you’ve ever changed your mind about people and places or maybe changed courses, ended or started a relationship, tried a new job, all of this was only possible because you recalculated the path along the way and allowed yourself to change.

And, of course, there are also cases where some plans need to be revised because unforeseen opportunities arise, say, a meeting that can open several doors in your career. Don’t you think this is a good reason to get out of planning? Wish me luck!

Be seeing you!

G.F.

In her new book The Wonder of Jazz author Sammy Stein invites the reader to take a walk on the jazz road, making sure that we will have the opportunity to stop and smell the flowers along the way. Her honest and extremely respectful approach both to readers and to the object of her analysis makes it impossible to resist.

         

“(…) samba sways from side to side

Jazz is different, forward and back

And samba, half dead, got half warped

Influence of Jazz”

– Carlos Lyra, Influência do Jazz, 1962

When Carlos Lyra released Influence of Jazz in 1962, the message was clear, but not new. Similar complaints of an alleged degradation of Brazilian popular music by foreign genres date way back.

1922, Pixinguinha (Alfredo da Rocha Vianna Filho), a musician who is considered the very soul of what would be later called Brazilian popular music returned from a successful season in Paris bringing in his luggage something new: a saxophone. He got in contact with the new instrument through North American big band musicians performing at the French capital.

Immediately incorporated into his own arrangements and compositions, the sax became the trademark of Pixinguinha, until then a flute virtuoso. In the same year, the first radio broadcast took place in Brazil. In other words, when Brazilian popular music starts to be broadcasted and heard by the masses, it already had a jazz component in its DNA. In the words of Brazilian samba diva Alcione: “Samba is a cousin of jazz”.

I had the same cosy feeling of being among friends, in the company of a good cup of coffee (glass of wine, or whatever comforts you) while reading The Wonder of Jazz by author, writer, journalist, and curator Sammy Stein. Make no mistake, though: there is nothing shallow in this book. On the contrary, it is full of documentation, sources, evidences and counter-evidences, as recommended for a good journalistic investigation.

Then again, The Wonder of Jazz is so much more than that! It is also a book that builds its narrative directly from the knowledge of musicians. Interviewed by the author, these voices give a very special color to the work. Another element that makes The Wonder of Jazz a delightfully enjoyable reading is that Stein makes no secret of the fact that she is passionate and intimately connected to her subject.

Her letter of intentions could not be clearer. Stein knows to whom she writes (”I am writing for readers who want to understand more about jazz and be part of the energy . . . curious people with inquiring minds.”); why she is writing (“This book is an immersive exploration of jazz’s history, impact, and future”), and the limitations imposed by the topic (“No matter how many papers, books, reviews, and interviews one reads, unanswered questions remain.”).

This is a book about a passion, written with passion by an insider. Passion and care. In each paragraph of each chapter, a lot of care is taken to provide content that the reader can trust and use. Therefore, an aspect of this work I would like to highlight is its educational character. The Wonder of Jazz already has already a place among the reference books on the genre and it will certainly be cited in future academic and journalistic works.

The “game changers” list in chapter 3 and the “cabaret card” in chapter 5 are examples of the precious information brought by Stein. The informal yet didactic approach to the names that marked the genre in different sectors goes far beyond the simple biographical character and makes this chapter an important reference tool for students, researchers and fans of the genre.

Establishing links between jazz and the arts, Stein manages to compose a rich portrait of aesthetic influences, including boxing. The diverse range of examples makes this work recommended both for the public in general and for the specialist. Her walk in the fields of jazz also include political, cultural and social aspects of the genre. However, there would be room for more information about South-America in general (for instance, information about stablished jazz festivals on the region) and particularly about the impact of Bossa Nova on jazz.

Despite such minor issues, the bouquet offered by Stein presents a vast palette of colors. They come from the stories, outbursts, criticisms and hopes narrated by more than one hundred jazz musicians requested to open their hearts about all sorts of career related issues. Once more, I would like to praise the frank way in which Stein deals with the sensitive question of the livelihood of jazz musicians. While it is clear to many that the glamour of the stage is not reflected in multi-million payouts (at least not for the vast majority of musicians), very few people are actually aware of how fragmented and unstable the income of an average performer can be, especially during the pandemic years.

Finally, I would like to point out that the generous amount of information provided by the author on all aspects of the correspondence between jazz and society proves how the latter benefits from the development of the genre. In order words, in response to one of the many questions raised by the author (“Is jazz still relevant?”), one can only say: more than ever.

***

Be seeing you!

G.F.       

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 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 do not 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.