Dodô & Osmar

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Adolfo Nascimento (Dodô) and Osmar Alvares Macêdo (Osmar) are two of the most important artists and inventors of northeast Brazilian music of all time. They electrified the Pernambucan frevo (creating…
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Adolfo Nascimento (Dodô) and Osmar Alvares Macêdo (Osmar) are two of the most important artists and inventors of northeast Brazilian music of all time. They electrified the Pernambucan frevo (creating a new genre, the frevo baiano), changing the face of the Carnival, first in Bahia, then in the rest of the country. The duo also created, in 1942, an electric guitar, called by them the "pau-elétrico" (electric wood), that became later the Bahian guitar (even if Henrique Brito had, as early as 1933, created his own model of electric guitar). Their Trio Elétrico de Dodô e Osmar performed internationally in 1984 (Rome, Italy), 1985 (Toulouse, France), 1986 (France and Mexico), 1990 (France), and 1996 (Montreux Festival, Switzerland; and Tübingen Music Festival, Germany).

In 1942, Dodô and Osmar attended a performance at the cinema Guarani at the Castro Alves square by Benedito Chaves, who had just arrived in Bahia to perform with his electric guitar. The youngsters noticed that the player was good, but there was too much microphony. They knew the trade: Dodô was into electronics, was a luthier, and also a musician; Osmar, also a musician, played the cavaquinho, the mandolin, and the ukelele, being known for adapting classical music to the frenetic rhythm of frevo for the hot Carnival parties of Bahia. Both played frevos from Pernambuco and Carioca choros at the amateur group Os Três e Meio. They decided to research solid bodies of electric guitars; they finally reached a good result with the Brazilian rosewood, achieving a potent sound without microphony.

In 1950, the bloco (carnival group) Vassourinhas, from Pernambuco, went to Rio de Janeiro with 65 musicians, conducted by the lieutenant João Cícero in one of the earliest incursions of frevo musicians into the southeast Brazilian city, parading in the streets of Salvador, Bahia, and causing excitement. One month later, Dodô and Osmar put an amplified sound on an old, rented, red 1929 Ford (the "velha fobica" mentioned by Moraes Moreira in his frevo "Vassourinha Elétrica," 1980), and, taking a cavaquinho, an electric guitar, and two friends playing percussion instruments, they drove through Salvador's main streets playing the Vassourinhas' repertoire. Intending to go from the Campo Grande toward the Praça da Sé (Sé Square), it was impossible for them to complete the route, as they were surrounded by an enormous and feverish crowd. That was the end of the old carnaval style in Bahia, with its lazy chairs around the streets of downtown, with its music-deprived parade of open cars, blocos, and masquerades constituted by members of the rich families; while the biggest part of the population was doing its afoxés and batucadas in the poor neighborhoods around the Baixa de Sapateiros. The Bahian carnaval nowadays, known nationwide and even internationally, is indebted to a great extent to Dodô and Osmar.

In 1951, the triolim (a kind of an electric cavaquinho) player Temístoles Aragão was welcomed by Dodô and Osmar, and the Trio Elétrico de Dodô e Osmar was born in the carnaval of Bahia. The "old fobica" was put aside (it is nowadays at the Music Museum at Lagoa do Abaeté, Salvador, Bahia), and the trio, sponsored by a soda company from Pernambuco, Fratelli Vita, was installed over a Fargo truck. Immediately, other trios popped around town, like the Tapajós, the Ypiranga, the Marajós, and the Saborosa. Dodô and Osmar couldn't parade from 1966 to 1973 due to financial problems. In that period, the creator of the trio elétrico Tapajós, Orlando Silva (not the singer), had an important role in the diffusion and construction of new trios-elétricos; while Dodô continued to build his "paus-elétricos" (electric woods), being the only one in the city who had the know-how to do so.

But the fame of the trios elétricos was continually expanded. In 1969, Caetano Veloso wrote "Atrás do Trio Elétrico," spreading the frevo baiano throughout the country and celebrating the seminal role of Dodô and Osmar. In the 1970s, Os Novos Baianos also promoted the genre; several songs written by its members, during its existence or after its dissolution, also paid tribute to the Trio Elétrico: chiefly Moraes Moreira's compositions like "Santos Dumont, Dodô e Osmar," "Pombo Correio," and "Vassourinha Elétrica," but also Galvão's "Estripulia Elétrica." After 1975, Gilberto Gil wrote "Satisfação" and Caetano Veloso wrote "Chame Gente" especially for the trio.

In 1973, having solved their most urgent financial necessities through a sponsorship from the tourism department of the state of Bahia (Bahiatursa), Dodô and Osmar brought back their trio to the carnaval of Salvador and to several Micaretas (carnavals taking place after the Lent) throughout the Bahia state. In 1974, they were hired by the Continental recording company to produce their first album (Armandinho, Osmar's son, had recorded in 1973, together with Caetano Veloso, the album O Frevo do Trio Elétrico de Dodô e Osmar). Jubileu de Prata, released in January 1975, before the carnaval, had instrumental themes and the participation of the singer Moraes Moreira in two electric frevos, the first vocalist of trios elétricos ever. In 1980, the trio changed its name to Trio Elétrico de Armandinho, Dodô e Osmar, having recorded several yearly albums (even after Dodô's death) through the 1990s, when Osmar died.

In 1978, Dodô passed away. The shock didn't prevent the trio from continuing its path. The new album had another Gilberto Gil composition written especially for the group, "Atrás do Trio." The Trio Elétrico was represented internationally (at the Montreux Jazz Festival, Switzerland), in July of the same year, by the electric choro and frevo group A Cor do Som, which had Armandinho as soloist, and his brothers Aroldo Macedo and André Macedo as supporting musicians (also regular members of the Trio Elétrico).

The subsequent albums revealed the open-mindedness of the group's members, who incorporated several other sounds into the Bahian frevo like Afro-reggae, the Caribbean mambo and merengue, the afoxé, and several other genres. One year before Osmar's demise, several stars teamed up to record a tribute to him on the 1996 CD Filhos da Alegria: Gilberto Gil, Carlinhos Brown, Alceu Valença, Daniela Mercury, Margareth Menezes, Durval Lélys, Moraes Moreira, Bel Marques, Elba Ramalho, and Luiz Caldas. The indebted population of Bahia built a torso of the two creators of the trio elétrico, of the Bahian guitar, and of the electric Bahian music. The Trio Elétrico continues to perform, commanded by Osmar's descendants.