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.

Hello, you! Did you miss me? In case you did not notice it, I took four weeks off. I really needed it and, believe me, you would not have liked my company last month. July was not easy, though it ended in a sweet way. But first things first.

As I was saying, there would be a lot to report in July, starting with the censorship to a jazz festival, that was denied by the Brazilian government the right to fundraising. The reason? A previous post showing alignment with democratic and anti-fascist movements. Does it sound weird to you? Welcome to the weird Brazilian reality since the 2018 election!

The story only has some sort of happy ending, because they are getting help from celebrities, and also organized a very interesting crowdfunding campaign. If you would like to know which festival I am talking about and how to take part in their movement, click here. You will find out more about their work and how to become a partner.

I would have more ups and downs to talk about, but let´s go to the highlight of the month. Drum roll, please! I am on the semifinal of the national music festival promoted by Rádio MEC (Brazilian public broadcasting). You can vote for my song Depois do Verão here. You can vote once a day up to August 23. And you know what? Every vote feels like a hug and I am very grateful for having yours. Thank you for caring! Depois do Verão: click here and vote now!

And now, mesdames et messieurs the most important event of the day: Mr. Tony Bennett is turning 95! This jazz legend, a giant person, and a reference to all of us is also a very generous soul. Hes using his B-day to promote wonderful causes, check it out!

I do not have words to express my gratitude, love and respect for the work Mr. Bennett develops in jazz and to the jazz community. I must confess that one of my dreams is recording a song with this great master, but while this glory day is yet to come, I have already something to tell you now: Mr. Bennett once liked one of my comments on Twitter. How about that, hu?

Here is the story: Mr. Bennett posted after having his first shot and I wrote a comment on the post, saying: “And the best is yet to come…. with the second dose!” (he is now fully vaccinated, viva!) Shortly later, he favorited it. He liked it!

I was happy like a child! I think this is how it feels when a star crosses our way. I mean, a real star, the kind that earns the fame and success of a lifetime dedicated to music. Come on, who wouldn´t freak out? It made my day.

That little lit heart is a small treasure I will cherish in mine forever. Happy birthday, Mr. Bennett!

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.

At number 4, Rue de Sévigné in Paris there is a Cider bar. The name is simple and lovely as the place itself: Cidrerie du Marais. I found it by chance, while wandering around the city. It was a rainy Summer day and my next appointment wouldn´t be for the next couple of hours. Not a hard decision at all to get in, and choose a seat by the door.

Savouring my cider alone in the empty place, watching the clouds passing by, I enjoyed the coming sun stretching its rays, while the gentle summer breeze carried all troubles away. I think the technical term for what I felt that day is joie de vivre. The kind of feeling that is hard to feel during a pandemic. The kind of feeling that is hard to feel when you lose a friend.

The world is full of people, but one single beloved person goes away and, suddenly, there is a huge empty space in our world, don´t you think?

Last week was very hard and, frankly, I believe you had your share of grief and pain yourself, so instead of talking about the seemingly endless sad hours I went through, I would like to turn this into a feel good post, and share a few glimpses of happiness I had over the last couple of days:

I found out there is a passion fruit plant in front of my building.

I saw an orange butterfly and it flew quite close to me for a while.

A friend of mine told me he could see my point and changed his mind about a sensitive subject.

One of my former German students (long story, but in another life I was a German teacher) contacted me and thanked my for helping her embrace change and follow her dream career.

I guess this is as much joie de vivre one could wish for now. Small miracles are all around.

Be seeing you!

G.F.

p.s. Click here for four and a half minutes of joie de vivre

Hey, there! Good to see you again. That means you stick with me despite my random posting days. Thank you very much for that! Maybe you are also like me: sometimes a step ahead, but mostly a few steps behind the schedule. If so (and even more if not), thank you for the company! It really means a lot me.

As you know, March was hard, but I cannot complain about April. I was interviewed for the Ilustre Podcast, a small jewel made by an illustrator, my dear friend E., and could talk about my musical and research projects (to be aired on April 28th, stay tuned!). There is also another comic art related event coming by the end of the month, but I will not tell about it now. Oh, the mystery …

A busy month, as you see. Well, maybe not so busy for you, but quite so for me, since I had to add to the current month´s agenda all the remaining activities from last month. Procrastinators have the toughest life, trust me. To confirm my theory that procrastination can hit us all and nobody is really safe, I got an e-mail from one of my favourite newsletters and, guess what? It was about procrastination! And coming from one of the most productive professionals I know. Earthshaking!

My secret to keep a positive attitude about procrastination is cheating on it. How I do it? I fill my procrastination time with things that I can use later: from cooking to doing the laundry, any mildly challenging household activity will usually do. But some days require major measures, like watching a movie. Following the suggestion of my cinephile sister, I saw the 1969 classic They Shoot HorsesDon’t They?

Set in 1932, during the great Depression, the plot brings light to a lesser known moment in the USA history, the dance marathon contests. It is impossible not to be amazed by the accurate way it shows the origin and the essence of today’s reality television shows. Scary! A masterpiece, no doubt, but what really caught my attention was that the only tender element in the bitterly sad story was the music.

The beautiful jazz ballads from the 1930´s bring rare moments of relief to the tense narrative, and the black musicians playing it are portrayed as having way more dignity and class than the pitiful, starving bunch of white marathon dancers. A new approach made possible by the late 1960´s social movements maybe, but certainly something to think about today.

See how far procrastination can take you?

Be seeing you!

G.F.