Comprador e Imagem IV: Salvador da Bahía, the Land of Afro-Brazilian Grooves

The fourth and final stage of the Comprador e Imagem project took the international guests to Salvador da Bahía. Salvador is a city with a rich cultural background. Its special flavor derives from the fact that it is one of the Brazilian cities with a largest percent of descendants of African slaves.

"Music plays a strong social and economic role in Bahia, much of its production being exported to the rest of the country, involving support from the local government, the private sector and various organizations," says David McLoughlin of BM&A. "But the musical diversity and quality of the region is not always to be found on the radio or TV and has little impact on the music industry."

The 9 international guests, Marc Benaïche (France), Pat Berry (USA), Jody Gillett (UK), Beverly Koeckeritz  (Canada), Tracy Mann (USA), Angel Romero (USA), Andrea Sbaragli (Italy), Jordy Trachtenberg (USA), and Tom Windish (USA), were welcomed at the Hotel Tropical da Bahia with an intimate reception that included refreshing caipirinhas (cachaça, sugar and lime) and a folk band.After a delicious dinner at lunch at the Lafayette Restaurant, the first night of music showcases began. They were held in Pelourinho, the old historic center of Salvador, which is known for its beautiful pastel-colored buildings and beautiful squares. It is not difficult to find capoeira performers and street drummers during the evening.

The first night of showcases in Bahia began with virtuoso guitarist Aderbal Duarte, playing Brazilian pieces with solo guitar arrangements. Next came MPB (Popular Brazilian Music) act, Luciano Salvador Bahía.

One of the highlights of the evening was the third concert, a performance by Mariella Santiago. Her Afro-Brazilian funk and R&B was energizing and captivating. Santiago has a charismatic personality, the moves of Tina Turner, crisscrossing the stage wrapped in transparent plastic, and a wonderful voice, resembling Erykah Badu.

Rock band Renei Jorge e os Ladroes de Bicicleta came next and the night ended with berimbau master, Mestre Lourimbau, offering cool Afro-Bahian grooves combined with jazz.

The following day, the regular seminar took place at SEBRAE. Lunch was served at a home food diner called Aconchego da Zulú. Following lunch, the Comprador e Imagem was split into two. While the Comprador group met with producers, the Imagem group was given a tour of the historical parts of the city.

The showcases that night started with a choro group called novato, followed by Rebecca Matta. The third act was Quixabeira de Lagoa da Camisa. The group is formed by ten veteran, but lively, musicians and dancers who use traditional "samba de roda," farm folk drum beats, "chula," "boi de roça," and "reisado" to transmit and preserve their culture. Two loud rock bands performed afterwards, Vandex and Lampironicos.

The nine visitors were taken to a nearby venue, a typical samba club, to catch a performance by singer  Mariene de Castro. She specializes in nordestino (Northeastern) Brazilian styles such as ijexá, maracatú, embolada samba and samba-de-roda, adapting them to her own musical language. Mariene de Castro became one of the favorite artists of the night, impressing the international audience with her captivating vocals, the trance-like rhythms of her band and the enthusiasm of the audience, all of whom were fabulous dancers. It was a magnificent closure for the visit to Salvador da Bahía.

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Photo 1: Mariella Santiago © Angel Romero 2007
Photo 2: Mestre Lourimbau © Angel Romero 2007
Photo 3: Mariene De Castro (promotional)