Round Window Radio June 2017
Brazilian music is such a deep well; even the tiny corner known as choro is broad and bottomless. Hermeto Pascoal is an absolute legend in Brazil as a prodigious composer and performer. Hermeto’s role as a modern day combination of Mozart, Coltrane, and John Cage is undeniable, and he is a lion in Brazilian music. At one point he penned a couple tunes for Miles Davis for “Live Evil” and was offered a spot in Miles’s group. Instead, Hermeto traveled back to Brazil and starting his own ensemble. Legends abound from that time, working on both beautiful and crazy hard music six days a week for years on end (dig the video and interview linked below). This month’s tune comes from his oeuvre with more Hermeto coming in the near future on Round Window Radio.
This past February I spent a day at Swingfingers Studio with Enion Pelta-Tiller (violin), Max Johnson (bass), and Ty Burhoe (tabla). Here is the first release of that fun session. Rare is the musician versed in so many genres of music that also includes bluegrass. The nuance of playing simple harmonic ideas, short and straightforward forms, and diatonic melodies can be immediately boring for a musician steeped in modern jazz or classical. And in this music, the fine line between “corny” and “compelling” seems to come from belief in the art form. Seeing “the light” with this folk music, then putting in the requisite hours of learning a huge repertoire, jamming for countless hours, and studying the detail of the idiom is what is required. All this is to say that Max is a rare breed, and it was a treat to create this music with him. While this is certainly not at all bluegrass and not simple harmonically or rhythmically, our paths crossed in the bluegrass world, and having that as a common viewpoint can help in the creative process.
Each release is like a new gem that I fall in love with, but this piece is something else. The melodic structure and rhythm are fascinating, the crooked form led to the crazy tabla solo, and the added trades at the end come from an Indian motivic idea called a “tihai.” I hope you enjoy this month’s track.
As always, thanks for subscribing, enjoy the music, and please let friends know about Round Window. The more the merrier.
Worthwhile viewing of Hermeto.
Interview with Hermeto’s piano player:
A classic forró tune: