Post by dsi1 Post by Richard Jernigan
You might have to be born Brazilian to play that Brazilian rhythm.
At the 2000 Cuernavaca International Festival of the Guitar, Roland
Dyens played Baden's "Berimbau" and Tom Jobim's "A Felicidade". The
latter was the up-tempo samba version that the kid (the reincarnation
of Orfeu) plays at the end of the great movie "Orfeu Negro" [Black
Orpheus]. The next night Dyens and I happened to be walking out of the
concert hall at the same time.
I said to him, "Last night when you played 'Berimbau' I thought Baden
was going to come out of the guitar."
Dyens smiled in thanks.
"And I didn't know anyone but a Brazilian could play samba like you
played 'A Felicidade'."
Dyens smiled impishly and said, "Perhaps I was Brazilian in a former
I'm pretty jaded about this, my history of disappointment being a long
one. I remember being really excited about getting a Charley Byrd record
that was called "Sounds of Brazil" or something like that. The
wonderful, brilliant, parrot on the album cover told me that new vistas
of guitar sounds and rhythms from the jungle were at hand and that my
life would never be the same. A few seconds after breathlessly placing
the needle to the vinyl it became apparent that my life would continue
on the same path and things were just the way it always was. Wipe out!
The music seemed to be so flat and lifeless.
Beats the heck out of me what's going on - the stuff seems simple
enough. Dyens is a master of time and will always play a note at the
exact correct time even though a lot of it is pretty off the wall. The
horrible truth is that if any non-Brazilian could do it, it would be
that Frenchman. Sacrebleu!
I went to Rio de Janeiro for a few weeks right after the Cuernavaca
Festival. Dyen's playing kept echoing in my ear the whole time I was
in Rio--and I heard plenty of samba there.
While in Cuernavaca I stood one evening in the small square outside
the concert hall watching some young guys doing capoeira, the
Brazilian combination dance and martial art. There was a kid playing
berimbau--the thing that looks like an archer's bow--making the
twanging sound. There were a couple of drummers, and maybe four girls
dancing samba to the capoeira beat. After a while the Mexican guy
standing next to me turned and said, "Those Brazilian girls really
know how to dance."
"Those aren't Brazilian girls," I replied.
"How do you know?" he asked.
"Do you know the American blues line," I switched to English, "Bend
your back like it ain't got no bone?"
"If you saw Brazilian girls dance samba, you would know what it
One day on the Avenida Atlantica in Rio I ran into a big crowd on the
sidewalk that runs along Copacabana Besch. There was a P.A. and some
musicians. They were pretty good. In fact, they were excellent. There
were a half dozen really, really hot young girls in bikinis, dancing
barefoot samba like there was no tomorrow. Eventually the musicians
took a break and the girls started passing through the crowd. I
thought they must be passing the hat for tips. But when they got to me
I saw they were giving away CDs.
"What's the deal?" I asked the guy next to me.
"Oh. You may not know. The singer is very famous. He's gotten rich off
his music. He's from the neighborhood here, so once in a while he
comes and puts on a free show, gives away CDs to his old friends and