Jararaca & Ratinho

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Jararaca & Ratinho was the most successful duplas caipiras (redneck duo) of Brazil, exploring the genre with music and humor in every possible media, from theater to radio, from recordings to TV.…
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Jararaca & Ratinho was the most successful duplas caipiras (redneck duo) of Brazil, exploring the genre with music and humor in every possible media, from theater to radio, from recordings to TV. Ratinho, while not the first to play choros on the saxophone, was the main discoverer of this instrument in Brazilian popular music through his compositions and accomplished performance. Many of them are famous to this day, like the classic choros "Saxofone, por que Choras?," "Colegas da Lira," and "Vamos pra Caxangá."

The duo Jararaca & Ratinho was formed in 1927 by José Luís Rodrigues Calazans (born in Maceió in 1896; died in Rio de Janeiro in 1977) and Severino Rangel de Carvalho (born in Itabaiana in 1896; died in Duque de Caxias in 1972). They met in 1918 in Recife in the artistic circles. With the violonistas (acoustic guitar players) Pirara and Romualdo Miranda, the cavaquinista (cavaquinho player) Robson, and the percussionist Artur Souza, formed Bloco dos Boêmios. In that group, all members adopted nicknames designating animals, and Jararaca and Ratinho kept theirs throughout their careers. In July 1921, Bloco dos Boêmios did a 15-day season at the Cine-Teatro Moderno, together with the visiting Oito Batutas, the famous Pixinguinha group. Inspired by Pixinguinha, Donga, and the other Batutas, the group adopted the name of Turunas Pernambucanos and were invited for the 1922 commemorations of the Independence Centennial Festival in Rio. With their typical northeastern clothing and music (coco, embolada, baião, xaxado, forró), they took Rio, soon receiving the invitation to record two albums at Odeon. "Espingarda-pá-pá-pá-pá" (an adaptation of a folk song) was successful, and Jararaca recorded a solo album with his songs, the samba sertanejo "Vamos Embora Maria" and the canção "Passarinho Verde." At the same time, the group did a six-month tour including the Cine Palais, where the Batutas had begun in 1919. The Turunas toured the South and extended the tour to Buenos Aires, Argentina, but dissolved soon afterwards. In spite of Jararaca & Ratinho having remained in Montevideo, Uruguay, performing together, the duo only opened the inauguration of the Teatro Santa Helena, in São Paulo, SP, 1927. Their first big opportunity came in 1928, when Francisco Alves recorded "Meu Sabiá" (Jararaca) for Odeon. In the following year, Alves recorded "Meu Brasil" for Parlophon. In 1929, the duo recorded their first album for Odeon, with "Caipirada" and "Lista do Baile" (both by Jararaca & Ratinho). As humorists, they interspersed sketches with musical acts. With Cornélio Pires, chronicler, humorist, and folklorist devoted to the redneck (caipira) tradition, they toured upcountry Brazil. In the next year, Ratinho recorded some of his waltzes and choros, including the choro "Saxofone, Por Que Choras," still part of the repertory of that genre today. Becoming a permanent attraction at the Casa do Caboclo and on Rádio Mayrink Veiga, the duo had room for the solo careers of their members. Jararaca's carnavalesca march "Mamãe Eu Quero" (with Vicente Paiva), recorded by Jararaca for Odeon, was a big hit in the carnival of 1937, remaining a classic marchinha performed in every carnival to this day. The samba "Pode Ser Que Sim" (Jararaca/Ratinho) was recorded with success in 1943 by the group Os Trigêmeos Vocalistas (Columbia). With the nationalistic dictatorship of Getúlio Vargas and the subsequent expropriation of the Rádio Nacional, transformed into a billboard of Brazilian talents, the duo was hired on a permanent basis (from 1936 to 1945, with a 1940 break during the transition for the new director Gilberto de Andrade). They had a show of their own and also performed in other shows, like the Programa Eucalol, where Ratinho played his choros on the saxophone. The Lira de Xopotó show (which yielded several tours throughout Brazil), presented by Jararaca in the role of Mestre Filó, had arrangements by conductor Lírio Panicalli. At the same time, they continued recording albums for Odeon and touring the country. They also worked for TV, opening on the A-E-I-O-Urca TV Tupi show, followed by Balança Mas Não Cai, UAU, and Aquele Abraço (all from TV Globo). In 1998, a compilation of their works was published by Funarte/Atração on the CD Jararaca e Ratinho (ATR 32057).