Thursday, February 22, 2007

Frevo, Olinda 2007
Originally uploaded by interstar.
The "boneca" is demonstrating a typical Frevo dance move, complete with little umberella.

Frevo is one of the big musical styles of Recife - a kind of weird high-energy, big-band jazz.

In the streets it's a rag-tag mixture of batteries of African drums and a few delinquent trombones and trumpets playing the same few riffs over and over.

On record, its stylings and texture could be anyone from Louis Armstrong to "trad" fakesters like Chris Barber. But listen more closely and you notice how frenetic the whole thing is. The riffs and stabs continuously remind you of the last 50 years of "latin" dance and "jazz" and yet there's something strange about it. The rhythm section rattles along at around 170 bpm. The melodies are unexpected - infected by same Brazilian melancholy that touches Chorinho and early samba - then lurching into something like German cabaret with the singers theatrically whooping and putting on funny voices. But there's no "blues" as you would expect from North American music.

Frevo de Bloco is more leisurely with a stronger melodic connection to olders styles. A chorus of women sing sentamentaly about Recife and that life without Frevo is mere pain and suffering.

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