The following is a blog detailing my residency in Bahia, Brasil
during July-August 2010. Posts are in reverse chronological
order. All photos contained herein are owned by jdapercussion.com.
Any use without permission is strictly prohibited and subject
to legal action.
For more detailed entries and further tracking of my professional
activities please go to: http://jdapercussion.blogspot.com/
Home sweet home, but parting is such sweet sorrow.
Arrived back on US soil late Tuesday. Flights were [mostly]
on time and travel was virtually hassle free. Had a tight spot
in São Paulo, but other than that things were ok. I hate
the long travel days.
My last few days in Brasil were certainly active. On Saturday
Aug 21 I played my first Candomblé ceremony at Ile Ase
Jagun. A small ceremony but intense none the less. Played Lé
(smallest support drum) for most of the evening. Maé
Nini made an incredible dinner and it was nice to visit some...great
Sunday Wayne and I headed out to Pelourinho for some sights,
a few gifties and some Cubana ice cream! The best ice cream
in all of Salvador I am told. The afternoon was spent at a reception
Miriam put together at her apartment in Barra. Several folks
attended and it was nice seeing everyone. We shared some laughs,
stories and some excellent food, not to mention a few caipirinhas!
Even had the pleasure of seeing the sunset over the bay in Barra,
very special indeed!
The final hours Monday prior to being dropped at the airport
were spent with my Philly percussionist friend Alex who arrived
in Salvador Sunday. We discussed many possibilities for the
future among other things. Miriam then picked us up for a beautiful
lunch at a restuarant overlooking the bay. An amazing view,
great food and great company! Ester joined us and we ate and
laughed and just enjoyed the last couple hours together.
The trip was in a word: AMAZING. So many memories, stories,
new friends. Over the next couple weeks I will be preparing
my trip report, working on some slide shows for upcoming presentations,
and just trying to process my entire experience. "So much
reality, so little time!" Muito Obrigado to Miriam, Ester,
Jorge, Wayne, and EVERYONE who helped make the trip a success
and lasting memory. I will miss Brasil and will be back soon!
( upper left) playing my first Candomblé ceremony, (upper
right) in Pelourinho
( lower left) Miriam, Carla, myself and wayne at the reception
(lower right) a final memory of Salvador
A very busy past few days. I have finished my time at Cidade
Do Saber and we are now back in Salvador enjoying the last couple
days before returning to the US. The three day residency at
Cidade Do Saber in Camaçari was a huge success! I thouroughly
enjoyed every moment. The folks at the CDS were so friendly
and genuine and the hospitality was warm and sincere. Please
visit my gmail blog for a more detailed account.
The first day at CDS was spent touring the facility, a visit
to Terreiro De Unzo Tateto Lemba (tata Ricardo), and a brief
"meet and greet" session in the evening. They put
us up in a beautiful hotel in Arembepe, a small resort style
town. Day two was filled with teaching and presentations. Thursday
evening I had the wonderful opportunity to play a gig with Eric's
band (Eric is the program designer at CDS) at a great place
in downtown Camaçari. Friday more teaching and preparation
for a short evening performance. The show was a real treat,
good attendance, and everyone seemed extremly pleased with the
program as a whole. Plenty of promotion for PARTNERS, including
some television interviews and discussions with local media.
I even had the pleasure of meeting and talking with Ivanildo
Antonio da Silva, Secretary of International Relations. There
could certainly be some interesting collaborations and visits
in the near future stemming from my visit. Very exciting!
My time in Camaçari was among the most enjoyable of
this entire trip and certainly too short. It will be a place
I will surely make a point to visit again upon a return trip
to Brasil, hopefully for a longer period of time!
(upper left) music club billboard in Camaçari, (upper
right) in front of Osumaré fountain at Tataeto Lemba
(middle left) playing som Candomblé with Tata Ricardo,
(middle right) salsa class at Cidade Do Saber
(lower left) with Wayne in front of Cidade Do Saber, (lower
right) gig at Casa De Taipa
The past weekend was flurried with activity, including a jazz
gig, Candomblé ceremony and a trip to Cachoeira. An excellent
couple days of music and culture. Monday began my final week
and its gonna be busy! As usual, more detailed accounts will
be posted on the gmail link above.
I played the "Jazz Jam" Saturday evening at the Mordern
Art Museum located right on the waterfront near the marina.
A beautiful space indeed and a perfect set up for evening jazz.
The jam is led by drummer Ivan Huol and saxophonist Rowney Scott.
Some good players showed up to display their talents. I played
about half the evnt on congas, bongos, and timbales. It was
a good opportunity to meet some of the local jazz players and
play some tunes. Fun time!
Immediately following the jazz hit I attended a Candomblé
party with Jorge Sacramento. The event was held at the Terreiro
Ile Ase Osumaré in celebration of their principle house
Orixa Osumaré. Several hundred people in attendance and
the evening was filled with amazing drumming, dancing, and all
thing Candomblé. A great experience and I look forward
to attending a few more of these events before I leave.
Sunday was spent in the town Cachoeira for the Festa da Bao
Morte, a festival celebrating the life, death and acsension
to heaven by the Virgin Mary. Very West African in nature and
the small town (about two hours from Salvadore) completely transforms
into a hot spot for vendors, street musicians and tourists.
We (Wayne, Betsy, Greg, Kate and I - the PA Partners clan) had
a good time walking about town, shooting photos and taking in
what the festival had to offer.
Today was day one of two at ACRAS (Assoção Cultural
e Recreativa dos Amigos de Sussuarana). It is in an extremely
poor area just outside of Salcvador proper. The institute is
a volunteer non-profit organization centered around community
help and development. They basically set up programs and activities
to keep the kids off the streets. I am working with high school
and older aged kids, teaching drumming in a more informal setting.
We played most of the afternoon out in the square across the
road from their building, and the sound of drums certainly drew
some attention (not to mention we had some smokin rumba and
merengue happening!). The kids were great and I even got Wayne
playing some clave and support parts!! Working with this organization
is a most humbling experience. They are so hungry to learn and
so appreciative. I'm looking forward to going back tomnorrow
and sharing some rhythm!
(upper left) playing jazz at MAM, (upper right)
Festa da Bao Morte procession in Cachoeira
(middle left) capoeira in the square in Cachoeira, (middle right)
teaching my man Gilbert paradiddles
(bottom) the gang at ACRAS
I hope to post again soon, stay tuned! My final
week here is packed with activity!! Ate logo!!
Over the last few days I have kept a more relaxed schedule (so
to speak) with meetings, dinner parties, etc. Much needed before
the intense final week of my visit.I also got a little sick
(always expected on these longer trips) so I have been trying
to take things easy and rest as much as I can.
This past Wednesday I actually had a day off if you can believe
it. My intention was to take in a few sights and relax. Well,
the sight seeing was diminished due to the Orixa's of Candomblé.
Beautiful park and a place I hope to visit again. Also took
part in the Mercado Modelo, one of the biggest tourist traps
in Salvador. Had a couple of interesting dinner meetings with
Rosa Meire and Saulo Casali, a federal judge here in Bahia.
Great connections and some excellent conversation. You can read
more on the gmail blog. The hospitality is overwhelming here
Friday was my first "hands on" exeperience in Candomblé.
Bergson (a member of Ile Ase Jagun and attendee of my classes
at UFBA) arranged for a demonstration at his Terreiro, including
a tour and performance by the house drummers. He picked Wayne
and I up and drove us to the Terreiro which was a considerable
distance. We met all of the house members, including Iya Lorisha
(priestess) Naé Nini, a very warm and knowledgeable lady.
Bergson then proceded, under the dirction of Mestre Tambor Jacinto,
to play through the entire drumming repertoire so I could film
and shoot photos.Quite a display of generous hospitality!! Despite
my being ill I documented a considerable amount of material
and was honored to play along side on Lé (small support
drum) for most of the demo while Wayne filmed. Guess I passed
the test as Jacinto invited me to play at the house for their
event on Agosto 21. It will be my gift and great pleasure to
(upper left) Orixa stautues at Digue Do Tororó, (upper
right) Casa Do Yemonja, Rio Vermelho
(lower left) playing with Mestre Jacinto and Bergson at Terreiro
Ile Ase Jagun, (lower right) with Iya L'Orisa Maé Nini
Brazil Connect 2010 was a HUGE success! A long weekend of meetings,
small group sessions, activities, receptions, and quality conversation
is behind us. I think a considerable amount of progress was
made at the event and it was a good chance for me to meet many
of those associated with PARTNERS and learn what the organization
is really all about. I encourage all of you reading this to
take a moment and visit the POA website: click
The performance was excellent! I am so proud of each of the
participants!! It was an amazing accomplishment for only two
weeks of preparation, especially considering much of the material
was completely unfamiliar to the students AND considering some
have never played percussion before!! I have posted a more detailed
account of the performance on the gmail blog (link above),
but suffice to say we rocked a casa!! By the end of
the show we had audience members dancing and screaming for more!
The buzz was still about the conference Sunday and I'm sure
many in attendance will remember the show for a very long time!
With the successes of the performance and progress made in
meetings/ discussions comes an enormous task in the coming months.
I have made considerable progress with the "Music Without
Borders" proposal and will begin coordinating and tweeking
immediately upon my return. It certainly looks promising, which
is very exciting and motivating. I am looking forward working
with everyone involved and staying connected to the many new
friends I made this past weekend.
Here are a few photos from the show (more to be posted later).
(upper left) intruductions by Wayne Selcher, (upper right) Afro
Cuban Batá drumming,
(middle left) Carla singing Kongo songs, (middle right) "Summer
Evening Serenity" with Aquim,
(lower left) students ensemble from Cidade Do Saber, (lower
right) group photo
Another week gone by and the big performance is soon upon us.
This weekend will be packed with meetings and organization for
the "Music Without Borders" proposal, not to mention
the percussion performance Saturday evening. I think they are
ready, certainly excited!
This past week has been more of the same schedule: classes
in the morning, rehearsals in the afternoon and classes in the
early evening. Had a chance to visit Pelourinho again, this
time in the evening with jorge. Caught some live music (Grupo
Dida - excellent!) and even had an impromtu jam with Medstre
Lua, one of the berimbau masters. See photos below and reference
the gmail blog for more detail.
Wayne Selcher arrived on Wednesday just in time for a brief
Partners reception at Miriams office. It was a good chance to
meet some new folks and put faces with names. Miriam has worked
extremely hard putting this coming weekends conference together
and certainly deserves credit. Her unending work ethic and passionate
vision it what fuels organizations such as Partners. Kudas!
I am glad that I am going to be a part of the event. Wayne will
be staying at Esters and has already been helpful with translation,
funny stories and all around good times. We'll be hanging out
quite a bit over the next couple weeks. Lots of activity coming
Last evening I experienced, what I consider to be, my first
real taste of Brasil since arriving. Wayne and I went to a small
venue in Rio Vermelho for some excellent chorinho music. Chorinho
is a folk music played here, mainly intrumental with violão,
bandolim, flauta, cavaquinho and pandeiro. The ensemble performing
was Grupo Mandaia (muito muito bem!!!). The pandereiro player
was a young guy that attended my classes last week so we reconnected.
He was fabulous. To make a long story short, Wayne and I arrived
about 8, sat and discussed music, foreign policy (Wayne is an
expert on the subject), American politics and indulged in general
fun conversation. Miriam, Christina and Joseph (Miriams friends
from Portugal) arrived later and we listened, ate and drank
caipirinha's (Brasil's national cocktail - I had mine with cachaça
of course). A great evening with friends and laughter. Much
needed after another long week of teaching.
On to the rest of the weekend. Enjoy the photos and thanks
for following along!
ps. Observation of the day: the only thing worse than the extended
version on "Layla" in English is the same version
Wow, one week down. So much has happened. For more detailed
updates please refer to the gmail blog postings (link above).
I finally found a cafe with wi-fi, so I hope to update this
page a little more regularly.
Rehearsals for the PARTNERS performance have been going well.
It will happen on Sabado, Agosto 7. The UFBA ensemble will perform
my composition "Orb Weaver," we (collectively) will
do an arrangement of "Philly Mambo" and Aquim (Jorge's
son) and I will play my piece "Summer Evening Serenity."
It will be video taped and I hope to have plenty of photos as
Had some down time yesterday and visited Barra (pronounced
Baha) and the beach. It was relaxing. Even took a venture to
the Barra Shopping mall which was most comical. I walk in and
the first thing I see is an indoor ice rink! Let me tell you,
Brasilians do not know how to skate, not should they be allowed
on ice for anything other than a comedy routine! I nearly laughed
out loud!! Is a Bahian hockey team next??
The jazz event last evening was put off due to windy and rainy
conditions. I hope to get there perhaps next week or the week
following. This evening I will be attending a Candomblé
event with Jorge. Open mind. Tomorrow back at UFBA for another
long week of teaching and rehearsing.
I met Betsy today (had lunch) who is a PARTNERS member and
on faculty at Albright College. Good conversation. Wayne arrives
Wednesday and his translation skills will prove most helpful.
My Portuguese is getting better (I think...could be argued I
suppose) but it will be nice to have someome knowledgable around.
more in a couple days with photos of some various sights!!!
First time I am able to access internet on my laptop. I will
hopefully update this page every few days. Please follow the
link above for up to date posts.
Today was another busy one! Started with a class in maracatu,
followed by a class in samba reggae. I don't expect things to
slow until the weekend as I start teaching at the university
tomorrow. Big performance tonight as a closer for the percussion
festival. Ester drove me around Salvador on our way to lunch.
I'm looking forward to seeing some sights and taking part in
some great activities the city has to offer.
Another update soon with a recap from the concert and first
days of teaching. Many contacts being made and my Portuguese
is getting better. My goal is to teach a majority of my first
session tomorrow in Portuguese. We'll see, I hope I don't offend
Made it safely to Salvador after a missed connection in Rio
due to customs and bad planning by the travel agent. Ester Costa
(my host) met me at the airport and we had a nice drive through
the downtown region on the way back to here apartment. If I
didn't know better I would have though I was back in Ghana.
The city has a similar vibe to Kumasi and Accra: open store
fronts, street vendors, bustling. Accommodations at Esters are
very nice and she is a wonderful host, although the language
barrier is a factor. Upon arrival back to her place we struggled
through some conversation over a more than adequate snack. I
gave her a copy of the MARASSA DUO CD and we talked about various
instruments, show pictures of family and laughed while looking
up words in the dictionaries at hand.
Following a short (and much needed) nap and shower I was fetched
by Miriam for a performance given by Jorge Sacramento's students
at UFBA. Some very nice playing and not what I expected. The
level is much higher than I anticipated. They were playing fairly
contemporary solo and ensemble literature, including Michi,
Reich and one of the visiting artists from the festival (not
sure of name at this point) played Psappha by Xenakis. Jorge's
english is very limited which will be challenging. It will be
interesting to see how things develop and I'm reading/ writing
as much Portuguese as possible. I'm hopefully that his students
are somewhat fluent in english.
Still a few things to take care of like money exchange, internet
access, etc. A long few days ahead.
• a link with some background information on Bahia click
• link to my sponsor PARTNERS of the AMERICAS click
• a link to the "III Festival de Percussão"
Things seem to be in order with just under one month before
my trip to Brazil. Airline tickets, travel visa, etc all set.
Now just putting materials together for my teaching and preparing
for the many performances.
My visit will begin with
a performance at the "Festival de Percussão"
(see link above). A majority of my residency will be spent at
the Universidade Federal
Da Bahia (UFBA) hosted by Professor of Percussion Jorge
Sacramento. I will be teaching AfroHaitian, AfroCuban, and West
African folkloric music, jazz vibes & improv, and drumset,
as well as sharing ideas and concepts with the students and
faculty at the school. The UFBA students will most likely be
performing a couple of my ensemble pieces as well, very exciting
indeed! Prof. Sacramento and myself will also be presenting
at the Brazil National Partners Meeting being held in Salvador
August 7 & 8. I will be making some visits to CIDADE DO
SABER (CITY OF KNOWLEDGE), ASSOCIAÇÃO CULTURAL
E RECREATIVA AMIGOS DE SUSSUARANA, and spending several days
with the famed OLODUM. I have also been invited to perform with
several local jazz musicians at the Solar
do Unhão and elsewhere. Apart from the teaching and
performing (as well as trying to get in some sights!) I will
be attending several secular and sacred performances, including
the TERREIRO YLÊ ASE JAGUM, a large Candomblé event
on August 21. My visit will end with APRESENTAÇÃO
FINAL CONJUNTO DAS OFICINAS, a final performance involving some
of the students and groups I have worked with during my time
It is a very intense
agenda! I look forward to every moment sharing my areas of expertise,
playing the music I love and making new friends and professional
contacts. I thank my endorsing companies:
Sabian, Vic Firth, Yamaha,
and Latin Percussion
for their support, along with all the Partners members that
remain helpful in designing this trip; namely JoAnn Wallace,
Jesse Waters, Miriam Souza, Jorge Sacramento, Ricardo Silva
and MOST especially Wayne Selcher. Without his guidance I would
surely be lost!!! Wayne will be joing me for a majority of the
trip and will be a welcome face and a great help along the way.
next update from Salvador,
Bahia shortly after my arrival. Até Logo!