History Of Brazilian Carnaval

By Samantha Tello

The famous Brazilian Carnival (in Portuguese: Carnaval) is a religious, specifically Catholic event by origin, but is also rooted in European pagan traditions. Originally, Carnival was a food festival, because it was the last time to eat abundantly before the 40 days of Lent, a period of frugality starting on Ash Wednesday. Legend says the word ‘Carnaval’ was derived from the Latin expression ‘carne vale’ which translates as ‘farewell to the meat’. It makes sense now, no?

The unique characteristics of Brazilian Carnaval are rooted in a cultural clash between the Portuguese and the Africans. The whites brought the festival from Europe (Entrudo, an alternative name for Carnaval in Portuguese) and the blacks had their rhythms, music and dance moves. This sounds like the perfect combination! Don’t you think?

Gradually, as the years went by, the tradition was created to go once a year onto the streets to have a party together that lasts 5 days, ending on Ash Wednesday. Musical styles and other customs merged over time. It is a big deal to many people to celebrate this day, it is a piece of their heritage, connecting them to their ancestors who really knew how to party.

In 1916 this culminated with the publishing rights and phono recording of “Pelo Telefone”  by Donga and Mauro de Almeida in Rio de Janeiro. Samba we can say is very much a product of the mutual love for the music of the former colonists and the former slaves. Today, this is music and dance that can be seen as a symbol of the Brazilian culture. In Rio de Janeiro, the first samba schools were established in the early 1920s; the first samba parade competitions were held in 1933.

Fundamentally, the origin of Brazilian Carnaval is very much the concept of ‘pretending’: social conventions are turned upside down. Only these few days of the year it is ‘allowed’ to release a form of catharsis. The idea of presenting themselves as something they are not began as a pagan holiday in ancient Greece and Rome, during which masters and slaves would swap clothes, the rich would wait on the poor, and basically everyone would get drunk and toss all social rules out the window. The poor can wear expensive costumes, the rich can mingle in the streets with the common folk and dress down, men can wear women’s clothing, women can wear barely any clothing. Like we said earlier, it was a safety valve to release all the social pressures that build up in a society where some are more powerful than others. During Carnaval in Brazil, your options are limitless! What would you want to be?

Carnaval is a legitimate opportunity to let yourself completely go in order to forget all your day to day troubles. Basically, Carnaval is a temporary escape into a fantasy world that makes your dreams reality… Are you ready to experience it and have fun?


Renato Carneiro: Katuka Africanidades

By Yennifer Padilla

Brazil!

You think of the music, beautiful beaches, soccer, carnival, capoeira, the amazing food! Almost all aspects of what makes Brazil Brazil has been because of the undeniable contributions by the Afro-Brasileiros. Today, image is everything, especially in the fashion and beauty world. When it comes to Brazil and beauty you instantly think of models Adrianna Lima and Gisele Bunchen. These are the figures that have represented this country but the fashion and beauty world have made drastic changes over the years and is becoming inclusive of all shades, sizes, genders, and ages. This is not only true for models who are at the forefront but also behind the scenes with beauty gurus and fashion designers. In Brazil, more than 50% of the population identifies as black or brown and the afro-brazilian fashion industry is thriving despite the imitation and appropriation. 

So what exactly is Afro-Brazilian fashion? Although it is open to interpretation there are common roots in the use of styles, prints and fabrics from African countries mixed with distinct  Brazilian aspects. One distinct Afro-Brazilian designer named Renato Carneiro is the inventor and founder of Katuka Africanidades. Renato and his family are originally from São Paulo, Brazil and are considered Paulistanos. When Renato visited Salvador, he was inspired and felt a connection to the city. Eventually, he would move to Salvador and pursue his calling as a fashion designer, founding Katuka Africanidades. His shop is a 3-story building on a street corner with a beautiful view of the ocean. 

“I make my clothes for the Black people who want to reclaim their connection to their African heritage.” Renato felt strongly about creating spaces to express the African identity of the people. Spaces to express not only their identity but sexuality. His design’s purpose isn’t just to be worn, but to inspire and educate the public about what it means to be Afro-Brazilian.  Some of his inspirations for the colors, fabrics and jewelry designs can be traced to Nigeria, Senegal, and Benin. As mentioned before, the Afro-Brazilian fashion trends are growing in popularity but unfortunately what is considered “trendy” or “in” is largely influenced by white designers who claim that Afro-Brazilian fashion is not a place for the politics of race but rather open for all to use. This is when it becomes important for the people to be conscious about who they are consuming from. Using culture for personal gain rather than spreading a  message of self-love and acceptance continues to be a problem, not only in Brazil but around the world. 

Renato Carneiro’s aim is to bring visibility to this African rooted culture and to reclaim African identities back into the hands of descendants themselves. “I wanted to create a place that affirmed the plurality of all our lives. A place that focused on the heritage of Afro-Brazilians, people in the diaspora and in Africa.” Renato has an unquestionably deep respect and commitment for his African roots.

Feathers and Fun!

by Yennifer Padilla

Every year millions of people from all over the world go to Brazil and experience a week-long celebration known as Carnaval. Looking to immerse themselves in the rich culture of music, dancing, lavish floats, and intricate costumes.

Over 70 samba schools participate and the top Rio de Janeiro samba schools compete in Carnaval, parading and looking forward to being recognized as the best. But what does it take to be the best? First, each school is responsible for choosing a theme, then the school creates the storyline, composes the music, creates the choreography, floats, and costumes. At the competition, schools are judged in 10 categories and each category is rated from 7-10. It is a PROCESS (elaborate holiday) that takes months of planning, hard work, and commitment. Two of the 10  categories include “Allegories and Props” and “Vanguard Commission.” In both these categories, the extravagant costumes and how well they fit into the storyline of the theme are an essential part.

The transformation of costumes overtime should be noted. Originally, only socialites would dress in luxurious costumes and masks that covered nearly every part of the body while commoners watched as a sign of wealth and status. Over time more and more people began to join in the celebration but with the heat in Brazil during the month of Carnaval, being completely clothed was not comfortable or practical. As people joined the festivities, the costumes became fun, colorful and creative making them more accessible and inexpensive. Eventually, things took a different turn and by the 1950’s women began wearing colorful bikinis. Today we see men and women covered in gems, feathers and body paint and of course, showing more skin.

With the growing popularity of Carnaval and the competition itself, samba schools have hundreds, even thousands of participants. The floats and costumes are given life by a Carnaval designer. The designer must consider all aspects and how they will fit together. Once the vision has been approved by the samba school, costume prototypes are sent to production lines and made in mass. Visitors and people within the community can join in the fun of dressing up and parading. Participants must buy costumes in advance and choose between the ground of float costume. Ground costume attire is unisex and people parade down the street. Each school can have between 6 to 7 floats. Selected members wear the most elaborate costumes, for example, the flag bearer and her escort not only wear richly designed costumes but are also one of the categories judged for the competition in terms of presentation, dance, interaction, and symbolic protection of the samba school banner.

Once the party is done what happens with all the costumes that are valued at hundreds even thousands of dollars? Few keep them as souvenirs but for those who will not be competing in the parade of champions, they shed their beautifully colored layers and toss them away… then looking forward,  wait and see what the following year brings with more feathers and fun.

Jorge Benjor, the music that stays with us!

Jorge Ben, also known as Jorge Benjor, is not only a great musician and songwriter but has pretty much created his own music style. He became popular around the same time as Bossa Nova which was the prevalent music style in the main cities of Brazil, but most importantly in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. Benjor came up with his own brand of samba.

The song “Por Causa de Você Menina,” released in 1963 on the album “Samba Esquema Novo,” showed his new approach to samba and it wasn’t Bossa. It was, nevertheless, readily embraced by the same youth who loved Bossa Nova. The young people of Brazil in the late 50’s and 60’s needed to have their own music and sound – something they could relate to and that represented their generation. Benjor was it.

Born in Rio de Janeiro in 1942 as Jorge Duilio Lima Menezes using the stage name first as Jorge Ben and later Jorge Benjor, Jorge Ben chose his name after his mother who was of Ethiopian origin.
Benjor’s music has always been based on samba and the beat of the escolas de samba of Rio. His brother introduced him to jazz and American music, including rock, as well.

The way he was discovered was one of those interesting stories. Benjor was in a club performing his “Mas Que Nada” where an executive from the record label Phillips was present. One week later his first single with “Mas Que Nada” was released. It is still today one of the most popular songs in Brazil.
Sergio Mendes made “Mas Que Nada” a huge international success as well.

I once asked Sergio how he found “Mas Que Nada” noting that Sergio has been living in the U.S. since the 60’s. He said that he used to see Jorge Benjor performing in Rio. “Mas Que Nada” with Sergio Mendes became an international success.

I once also asked Jorge Benjor how “Mas Que Nada” came about. He said that he used to see this beautiful girl walk by, he would sing and talk to her. She would say “mas que nada” or “let it be” and walk away. That was the beginning of a great song. Remember that “Mas Que Nada” is also one of the biggest songs in the U.S. and it is always sung in Portuguese! The song has been interpreted by greats such as Ella Fitzgerald, Oscar Peterson, Dizzy Gillespie, and Al Jarreau among many others. I also like the version by South African singer Miriam Makeba from 1966.

A more recent version by Sergio Mendes featuring the Black-Eyed Peas was a huge success introducing this tune to a new generation.
There are many other songs by Benjor that are very popular worldwide such as “Pais Tropical” and “Chove Chuva” and “Cadê Tereza”.
Jorge Benjor is also a big soccer fan. His team is Flamengo. He has written many songs related to soccer – a good example of this is “Flamengo”, “Ponta de Lança Africano”, “Fio Maravilha”, and “Zagueiro” among others.

Another notable contribution to the work of other artist’s was Rod Stewart’s 1978 smash hit, “Do you think I’m Sexy,” which took inspiration from Jorge Ben Jor’s song, “Taj Mahal.”

While visiting Rio de Janeiro, President Barack Obama commented in his speech: “You are, as Jorge Benjor sang, a tropical country, blessed by God, and beautiful by nature” referring to “Pais Tropical.”
Benjor has recorded over 40 albums.

Jorge Benjor has received many awards in Brazil and abroad including the Latin Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005.

Sérgio Mielniczenko

Brazilian Music Get Together Celebrating 40th Anniversary of Brazilian Hour Radio! Featuring Rique Pantoja, Marcos Ariel, Justo Almario

 

Music Performance featuring Rique Pantoja, Marcos Ariel, and Justo Almario.

Please join us for an exhibit showcasing photos, artifacts, memorabilia, and film in honor of the 40th Anniversary ofthe Brazilian Hour Radio.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018
6:30 PM – 9:00 PM PST

Also, enjoy a taste of Brazilian cuisine!

It’s with great enthusiasm that we present our upcoming Brazilian Music Get Together at the Consulate, featuring Rique Pantoja and Marcos Ariel on keyboard, and Justo Almario on reeds. A little background on why this will be a special evening. Lets start with Rique and Marcos. Two friends from Rio De Janeiro. Both had a very musical upbringing. Both became very accomplished professional musicians. However, they never performed together in concert – until now. Joining them is special guest Justo Almario. His multi-cultural life and experience becomes the bridge, the connection, that will create the musical alchemy that transcends borders.

The three will perform together for the first time in what will undoubtedly be a very memorable night of instrumental music.

As we celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Brazilian Hour Radio, Marcos Ariel was the first independent artist to send his record, a vinyl LP, to the program. “Bambu,” arrived in the mail from Brazil and received many plays on the program. Rique Pantoja played with Milton Nacimento, came to Los Angeles to perform at the Greek Theater. At the time I decided to release his album on a record label I started at the time. It was a great experience and the confirmation of a great friendship. Justo has performed on my programs countless times and its truly a privilege to have him with us.

– Sergio Mielniczenko

 

Vinicius de Moraes Gallery
8484 Wilshire Boulevard suite 300
Beverly Hills, CA 90211

Parking options:

Free public parking is available two blocks south of the Consulate at the Beverly Hills Public Parking Structure on 321 La Cienega Blvd. From there, walk two blocks north and the Consulate building is on the southeast corner of La Cienega and Wilshire.

Paid parking is also available in the Consulate’s building. We do not offer validation. Meter parking is also available nearby.

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Click here to RSVP

Rique Pantoja is a composer, arranger, producer, songwriter and jazz pianist. Growing up in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Rique Pantoja’s interest for music began with a family atmosphere that celebrated music. When he was 19, he moved to the United States to study at Berklee College of Music, and after three and a half years, he left for a professional opportunity. While in Boston, he was profoundly influenced by Charles Banacos, a renowned jazz pianist and teacher. He recalls how exciting it was to study music in a culture different from his own. After Berklee, his life as a professional musician took flight with a two-year period in Paris playing with important jazz musicians such as Chet Baker. Since then, he has performed on stage and in the recording studio with artists such as: Chet Baker, Carlos Santana, Brenda Russel, Lee Ritenour, Frank Gambale, Tommy Walker among many others.

His compositions encompass numerous styles, including pop, jazz and gospel. In 2008, “I Believed It,” a song he co-wrote with Zoë Theodorou, won the Covenant Award in Canada for “Jazz/Blues Song of the Year.”

Marcos Ariel is in the forefront of contemporary Brazilian music with a bi-national career bridging Rio and Los Angeles. His musical style is purely “Carioca” (one who is a native of Rio de Janeiro) splashed with a passion for Classical and Jazz. His enthusiasm as a pianist, flutist and composer is inspiring. As a musician, he is swift and precise transcending genuine warmth that can only be Marcos Ariel.

In his home of Rio de Janeiro, music flourished. His father encouraged him to listen and absorb the masters: Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and Chopin. He later developed an admiration for fellow countryman, Hermeto Pascoal and American contemporary Jazzman Chick Corea.

At a tender age of seven he began studying piano and by 1971 he was studying the flute in the School of Music of the Brazilian Symphonic Orchestra.

In 1986 Marcos released the album “Cenas Brasileiras” and was invited to perform at the FREE JAZZ FESTIVAL in São Paulo. Marcos Ariel opened up that evening for the world famous David Sanborn and Stanley Jordan.

In the next decade, Marcos began to develop his bi-coastal career (Rio de Janeiro/Los Angeles) releasing a series of albums that made his popularity even stronger in both Brazil and the U.S.

Marcos Ariel’s history and discography have always shown a forward thinking and desire to blend the eclectic approach to the numerous indigenous rhythms of his homeland with American Jazz.

Justo Almario is a multitalented master saxophonist , flutist, clarinetist, composer, arranger and clinician, with a long list of distinguished accomplishments. His style is a fusion of Jazz, South American genres, and other world rhythms which are a reflection of his own elegant style – signature sound of his former band, the legendary Weather Report. Justo’s mesmerizing sounds have been heard in Grammy-Award winning works such as Linda Ronstadt’s “Frenesi,” Placido Domingo’s “A Mi Alma Latina,” Luis Miguel’s “Romance,” Andrae Crouch’s “Mercy,” and Isreal Lopez Cachao’s “Master Sessions” & “Ahora Si;” as well as the Oscar-winning soundtracks from Happy Feet and Sideways.

Justo Almario’s playing has been featured on diverse projects, such as Queen Latifah’s “Living Outloud,” Jennifer Lopez’s hit HBO Special “Let’s Get Loud,” Andy Garcia’s “The Lost City,” and John Turturo’s “Romance and Cigarette” staring Susan Sarandon and James Gadolfini.

In 2002, while joining the ranks of Cedar Walton, Terrence Blanchard and Joe Lovano, Justo Almario became an integral part of the Newport Jazz Festival Tour, produced by George Wein. A native of Colombia, Mr. Almario went from child protégé to virtuoso. Justo Almario was primarily influenced by John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderly, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Bartok, Debussy and Bach. He studied at the prestigious Berklee College of Music before doing a stint with Mongo Santamaria as the band’s musical director. He has also taught at the Henry Mancini Institute and has mentored inner city youth during workshops at the World Stage. These days, he teaches saxophone in the Jazz Department at UCLA’s Music School.

A native of Colombia, Justo Almario went from child protégé to virtuoso. Although he is extremely appreciative, this modest wind wizard frequently deflects any accolades, opting instead to thank folks for merely showing up and sharing. This is paramount to a keenly sensitive artist who warmly connects with his diverse audience on many levels and will continue to heal and inspire. Justo Almario’s music serves as a bridge that links backgrounds, cultures, ages, and socioeconomic status. His music transcends the mundane and leaves his audience transfixed. A devoted family man, Justo’s spiritual path nurtures both his creative journey and his warm compassion as a human being.

BRAZILIAN HOUR RADIO SHOW

The Consulate General of Brazil in Los Angeles created the Brazilian Hour Radio Show in 1978 to promote Brazilian music and culture in the United States. Hosted, written, and produced by Sergio Mielniczenko, the program was introduced at the radio station KXLU-LA 88.9 FM on Marc 5th of that year. In 1981 the Brazilin Hour started a national distribution via satellite to all public stations in the United States. Also in 1981 the Brazilian Hour began its international distribution to Brazilian Diplomatic Missions and Centers of Brazilian Studies (CEBs). Currently, the Brazilian Hour is produced in Portuguese, Spanish, English, French and Mandarin. The show focuses on Brazilian popular music and presents frequently interviews with iconic Brazilian artists throughout the years, such as Gal Costa, Tom Jobim, Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso, Ivan Lins, Flora Purim, Oscar Castro Neves, Sergio Mendes, Egberto Gismonti, Seu Jorge, Céu, Marisa Monte, Jorge Benjor as well as breakthrough artists: Liz Rosa,Marcelo D2, Rogê, Vanessa da Matta, Artur Verocai, Roberta Sá, Paula Santoro, Mariana Aydar, Delia Fischer, Tulipa Ruiz etc. Some interviews can be viewed on the show’s youtube page ( www.youtube.com/user/BrazilianHour)

It is interesting to note that the opening theme of the Brazilian Hour titled Radio Samba was composed by Sergio Mielniczenko and arranged by Rique Pantoja with Rique on keyboards, Justo Almario on saxophone, Randy Tico on bass, Roberto Montero on guitar and Michael Shapiro on drums.

The Brazilian Hour radio show is broadcasted in 33 North American Cities. It can also be accessed online at www.brazilianhour.org

Brazilian Music Get Together Celebrating International Women’s Day

Music Performance “Cantoras”, featuring Katia Moraes, Carla Hassett and Sonia Santos
Exhibit Opening Reception “Divino Feminino”- The vital force of women portraited in the work of 20 contemporary artists.

Thu, March 8, 2018
6:30 PM – 9:00 PM PST

Also, enjoy a taste of Brazilian cuisine!

Enjoy this event hosted and produced by the Brazilian Consulate Cultural Department. Brazil Arts Connection is proud to support the Cultural Mission of The Brazilian Consulate in Los Angeles. We are an independent 501(c) nonprofit organization under the fiscal sponsorship of Community Partners. Your support helps us continue as a support organization to this amazing entity.

Vinicius de Moraes Gallery
8484 Wilshire Boulevard suite 300
Beverly Hills, CA 90211

Parking options:

Free public parking is available two blocks south of the Consulate at the Beverly Hills Public Parking Structure on 321 La Cienega Blvd. From there, walk two blocks north and the Consulate building is on the southeast corner of La Cienega and Wilshire.

Paid parking is also available in the Consulate’s building. We do not offer validation. Meter parking is also available nearby.

Click here to RSVP

4th. Annual Bloco Carnavalesco – Brazilian Carnival Parade

Join the parade!

Venice Brazilian Bloco Carnavalesco – Brazilian Carnaval Parade

Saturday February 10, 2018 at 12pm
Meeting at Rose Ave. and Ocean Frontboardwalk (at the public parking lot)
Parading southward on Ocean Front Walk ending at Windward Ave. (boardwalk)
Celebrating Carnaval Season in Brasil! Join us for our Carnaval Parade down the Boardwalk in Venice Beach.

Dance in the streets and enjoy classic Carnaval tunes! We encourage you to wear face paint / masks/costumes and beads – anything you can dream up. Be creative! Let’s make this a great Venice Party! Bringing the excitement from New Orleans, we’ll be celebrating with our friends from The Venice Beach Mardi Gras Parade as well. Families and kids are very much welcome! See you then!

Brazil Arts Connection is proud to support this event with the Brazilian Community at large.

– Sergio Mielniczenko

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