Brazilian Samba Hits Home (Jazz in India-Jazz in Goa)

Mandu Sarara means “the blonde Portuguese men” in Toopee Guarani, a language spoken by some tribes in Brazil and is the name of the band of five Brazilians that lit up the musical scene on Sunday night at the Holiday Village , Porvorim. They had learnt about that mystical little Portuguese colony in a far distant India and dreamed one day of exploring its beauty. They were delighted to have finally arrived at their dream Goa , which brought back memories of “home” locations.

Five Brazilians playing twelve instruments wove intricate patterns around their own compositions as well as works by well-known Brazilian composers, presenting a cosmopolitan view of original rhythms which were used as a basis for adventurous harmonic improvisations. Guest appearances by Remo Fernandes and Carlos Monteiro celebrating his birthday drew approving glances from visitors and enthusiastic applause from the audience.The keynote was interaction. The duets with keyboards and bass, electric guitar and flute and flute with drums in the gentle opening number drew us to musicians listening to and enjoying each other’s response to the music making, smoothly flowing from one sonic texture to another, playing for each other and for us. How different from the usual loud brash opening onslaughts that lash us into obedient attention.

The second number brought a rapid change of pace – fast, breathtaking – with brilliant ensemble playing. Lucas Vargas was simply amazing, playing the keyboards with his left hand and the Escoleta, a portable wind keyboard, with his right hand. This toy instrument found a very expressive voice in the fluidity of Lucas’ breath control and finger wizardry. He also made the piano accordion sing in many tongues.

Mario Gaiotto sits on a stool, his feet pressing pedals that kick brushes against small drum surfaces while his left hand rocks a tambourine and his right hand caresses the skin into interjective bursts. The percussive effects are to be seen and heard to be believed. Rodrigo Braganza can coax an intensely felt melody from his acoustic guitar and let loose notes from hell on the electric guitar. Beto Sporleder makes his transverse flutes and soprano sax flare, splutter, or pour out a honeyed or soulful melody. The bass player, Rui Barossi, is a keen soloist, prancing, dancing, interacting with the others.

My ears were glued to the constantly fascinating sound landscapes that were generated and the ever-changing interplay and flux of instrumental shadings that teased the ear with the exquisite music that crept in and took up residence in my soul. Their music liked the audience. And the audience returned the compliment by welcoming the music into their innermost being, swaying, tapping, being transported to a special place.

The food was also music to our taste buds which were tantalised by kebab delicacies prepared with loving care. The Afghani Chicken hit a high note and went down with a lingering flavour and the Kakori Kebab (mutton ground to a smooth paste, cooked on a stick and pushed onto your plate as a tempting roll) burst into little taste explosions in the mouth, making it an unforgettable experience.

The night hit all the right emotional, rhythmic, sonic and culinary buttons of the large cross-section of music lovers who surrendered to the lilting, pulsating, passionate, complex, virtuosic and ultimately irresistibly pleasing sound waves and taste sensations in a homely informal ambience that wrapped everyone with a warm glow and sent them home floating on the wings of food, wine and music.

Article written by Les Menezes

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