Guilherme Franco

Capoeira: Legendary Music of Brazil

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This recording by Guilherme Franco, one of the greater jazz percussionists (non-drummers, that is), focuses on the music surrounding capoeira. While the fighters aren't present in such a musical recording, the virtuosity on the berimbau he showcases is quite something. The basic capoeira beats are all presented, as well as a number of inventive new directions for the music. He uses African beats more directly on one track (while capoeira was developed largely by African descendants in the Bahia region, the rhythms were generally not so directly African in nature). He includes a more Andean ocarina in one track. He showcases his personal conception -- the double berimbau, with which he can evoke chords to some degree (quite an accomplishment on a single-string instrument). He makes use of an electric berimbau at one point. He even makes an attempt to combine Indian and Brazilian music together with the inclusion of a tabla in one of his compositions. This is definitely experimental capoeira music that's being performed, but that's not necessarily a wholly bad thing. With the lack of the visual excitement of a capoeira fight, the music can generally just barely stand on its own -- hypnotic, yes, but perhaps not really engaging in general. Franco's innovations in the music allow for a much more colorful spectrum of music to come from the tradition. To keep everyone happy, he also includes the most basic rhythms and chants from the genre as well. Between his perfect execution and feeling for the traditional chants and his daring expeditions into new territory, Franco produces a wholly listenable album. Anyone with an interest in the Bahian traditions should consider picking this up to hear a whole exploration in sound based on the fundamental forms.

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