On Monday, Nic and I had to switch hostels. I said to Nic that we should stop into Centro Cultural Rio Verde and say hi, as they had been integral to us securing the grant from OQAJ. We walked in, and within a few minutes vibraphonist/producer Guga Stroeter was showing us around Rio Verde and Sambatá studio across the street. Guga gave us newly released music from his Orquestra HB, a bunch of contact information for some of the top musicians in the city, and told us about a big band collective he's involved with called Movimento Elefantes. Comprised of a rotation of 10 big bands, they play every Monday at Maximiliano High School in Vila Madalena. Think about how many trombone players there must be in São Paulo! Guga also allowed us to use Rio Verde as a rehearsal space for our shows at Syndikat, and let us borrow Rio Verde's keyboard and a spare electric bass from Sambatá.
We moved from Vila Madalena Hostel to Sampa Hostel, located on rua Girassol in the heart of Vila Madalena. After we checked in and got acquainted with our new location, we went up the street to YB studios. One of the biggest recording studios, record labels and management firms in the city, Mauricio from YB was a fantastic resource in spreading the word about our trip among his artists. Nic and I showed up without an appointment, and once I explained in my limited Portuguese who we were, the receptionist let us in and told us to make ourselves at home. After waiting for Mauricio to finish up a phone meeting, he came down to meet us and showed us around the beautiful space, introducing us to artists who were hanging out in the café and allowing us to sit in on a mixing session.
That night, we went over to the high school to check out Big Band da Santa, a group of students and recent graduates from Santa Marcelina led by Paulo Tiné. I was not exactly sure what to expect - I was thinking they'd be playing the standard big band repertoire of Sammy Nestico and Thad Jones. Instead, we were greeted by big-band arrangements of Toninho Horta, Baden Powell, Moacir Santos and even some frevo arrangements. The American backbeat stuff was less convincing. Afterwards, we introduced ourselves to Paulo and, like every other musician we met, he was incredibly kind and helpful.
Day 8 & 9
On Tuesday, Nic and I headed over to Rio Verde in the afternoon, to work on some new tunes and get the rust off some of the usual repertoire. Not travelling with gear means limited opportunity for practice. After rehearsal, we took a detour to Isabella's Coffee Lab for an amazing cappuccino, and went back to Rio Verde to pack up the gear to take to Syndikat. Once the rainstorm subsided, we attempted to call a cab. Murilio Acioli helped us to explain the directions to Syndikat (which is located on a tiny street that no one really knows by name). We almost got into a two-taxi collision on Avenida Rebouças, and the driver blew by the street we needed to turn on. We did, eventually, arrive at Syndikat safe and sound. Wednesday night, since we left the gear at the club, I told the cab driver to leave us at the closest major intersection and we got there without incident.
Due to Mark's departure, the Syndikat gigs were done with drummer Carlos Ezequiel. A member of the faculty of Conservatório Souza Lima, Carlos is a highly regarded drummer in Brazil and elsewhere, playing with some of the finest musicians in São Paulo. We were put in contact by the Canadian Consulate in São Paulo, and it was a real education to play with him. The only way to learn about swingue is to play with Brazilian musicians, and I definitely had a better sense of that feel after the first night. Syndikat is a very intimate and cozy space, in the basement of the bar, with couches and tables close to the stage. The entire staff was friendly and accommodating, helping us set up and tear down. We were filmed on Wednesday night for a clip on TVA.
Our final day in São Paulo. We returned the equipment to Rio Verde, and thanked Guga profoundly for all his assistance. He told us to swing by Sala Crisantempo on our way back to the hostel. A gorgeous theatre with a fantastic piano, they also host dance and pilates classes during the day. We had a final farewell lunch with Rael, and then we were off to the airport for the long flight home. Throughout the final week, Nic and I were already planning next year's trip.
Many thanks to/muito obrigado para:
- L'Office Québec-Amériques pour la jeunesse
- Liliane Braga
- Guga Stroeter & Centro Cultural Rio Verde
- Rael da Rima, Paulo M.Sario, Bruno du Braga Dupré & Cauê
- Amadeu Zoe @ Serralheria
- Caroline @ Jazz nos Fundos
- Letícia @ Syndikat
- Dino Verdade @ Bateras Beat
- Dina Thrascher at the Canadian Consulate
- Mauricio Tagliari @ YB
- Flávio de Souza
- Carlos Ezequiel
- Daniel Gralha
- Loco Sosa
- Túlio and the entire staff of Vila Madalena Hostel
and everyone else we met during the course of our trip.