19 December 2010

Notable Fado Records or CDs of 2010 (or so)

Because this is the first list of this type on this site, I'm going to stretch the definition of "2010" to include records that came out either in 2010 or close to it. I'm also working on another list of records: ones that I only found out about last year, but that I wish I'd found long ago.

Porta do Coração (2010)
Ricardo Ribeiro
This is a record in the grand castiço style: tough and up-front, with plenty of self-administered vocal challenges thrown in. The message comes through pretty clearly on the cover, which is a throwback to a time when appearing with a cigarette was the norm. Ribeiro's previous record (self-titled, released by Companhia Nacional de Música) was on the soft side. It was, based on my experience of hearing him a few times, very different from his approach when singing live. The new record, on the other hand, has plenty of strong, forthright and emotional tunes such as 'Agua louca da ribeira' (see video below) and 'A porta do coração'. And there are two fados that really gallop along: 'Sonho fadista' and 'Fama de Alfama'.
Os Fados de Alvorada (2010)
The label Alvroada (now defunct) was responsible for producing many great fado records during the middle of the 20th century. José Manuel Osório, a fadista and scholar of the fado, spent a couple of years combing through the archives of Alvorada and other labels to compile "Fado de A a Z", a 16-CD compendium containing one example each from about 150 different fados, along with brief histories, photos and writings associated with each fado. It's a great collection that can still be found in bookfairs in Lisbon.

Through this experience, he got the idea of collecting his personal favorites from Alvorada's catalog. He found them, had them remastered, and did all the crazy detailed work of correcting years and years of errors in documentation: everything from musicians' names and birthdates to the titles of the lyrics. He also worked assiduously to reclaim detailed biographical information on the singers. The result is three CDs worth of fantastic music, covering many different styles of fado, organized by the first name of the fadista. Alot of music here is essentially impossible to find elsewhere. The quality is uniformly high, and the details on the singers are quite informative.

If you understand Portuguese, there are numerous interviews with Osório floating around in which he discusses the project. I'm not sure why I feel compelled to mention this, but he is one of the two men in Portugal who has been living with HIV the longest. Very interesting cat.

Leva-me Aos Fados (2010)
Ana Moura
It's interesting to contrast this record with Mariza's latest. This is the fourth fado record from Ana Moura (if you don't count the live one), "just" one less than Mariza (the differences in sales are probably best measured in the hundreds of thousands). The two singers are, to me, hugely different. Ana Moura's repertory is highly personalized. It's interesting to examine her choices of songs for each record, and also live. I once heard an interview with her in which she said something like, she sings the fados that speak to her, rather than the ones that 'should' be sung. To me this sentiment really shows through in all of her records. Onstage she is phenomenal. I once heard her singing at Joe's Pub in New York. Joe's Pub is a small space. At one point, Ana said "I am now going to sing the fado like we do in Lisbon: with no microphone and no amplification." Then she laid down "Loucura". I was there with my wife, mother and aunt. At the end of the show, my aunt said "I have heard Amália, Carlos do Carmo and plenty of others singing live. She is better."

live without a mic: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qsWEm7KNpT8
live: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nDnnn4Wdyn4

Fado Tradicional (2010)
For those wanting an introduction to the mainline fado repertory of Lisbon, this is a good choice. Every fado (that is, the music) is indeed a traditional fado (except maybe one--depends on who you ask). Plus, it has a brief appearance by Artur Batalha (see below).

The second thing worth noting here is the style of presentation o the music. Mariza's previous records have all, to greater or lesser extents, mixed in nontraditional arrangements with traditional poems. This record does not. The music is played by some top-flight musicians (Ângelo Freire on guitarra portuguesa, Diogo Clemente on viola and Marino de Freitas on viola-baixo)--and always in the traditional way.

The next three records are by Lisbon locals: Lúcio Bamond, Luís Ribeiro and Jerónimo Caracol.

O Meu Fado Cumplice (Metrosom, 2010)
Lúcio Bamond
The quality of the musicians on a fado record is often an indicator of the quality of the singer and the repertory. This record was produced by Jorge Fernando (see report on Fado in NJ, below)--a wunderkind of the fado. The Portuguese guitar is played by José Manuel Neto (also mentioned below), the viola by Carlos Fonseca and the viola-baixa by Tó Moliças (longtime bassist for Rodrigo). Lúcio himself has been around for awhile. The first time I heard him sing was at the Taverna d'El Rey in the Alfama and I was really impressed. Now he is at a new place near the Elevador da Glória that looks good. I think the thing I like about Lúcio Bamond's work--aside from the high quality of his singing--is his highly personalized repertory. While he does sing the classic fados, I really appreciate his treatment of newer and less popular ones.

interview and stuff
live (with Luís Ribeiro and Lelo Nogueira)
Lúcio's own site

Espelho de Alma (2009)
Luís Matos
I first heard Luís Matos singing around the Mouraria and Bairro Alto, often with Pedro Galveias in the desgarrada (check purofado's channel on youtube for some good videos from this time). He is a smart singer, and in a live setting is very quick-witted (something essential when singing with Pedro, where the surprises come fast). The record is from the time just before he got a very high-profile gig, in Filipe Lá Féria's newest production, Fado: Historia de um Povo, which as of this writing is playing at the Salão Preto e Prata at the Casino Estoril (near Lisbon). Before this, he was singing at the Parreirinha de Alfama, and before that in Bairro Alto (in a regular gig with his wife, Ana Maurício). He gave an interview a short time ago on Rádio Amália, where he also sang some fados from the new record (link is dead, unfortunately). I mention the podcast and the new work because, since joining Lá Féria's production, Luís' voice has really matured and his stage presence has become even more confident than it was.

Fados na Voz do Jerónimo Caracol (MetroSom, nd)
Jerónimo Caracol

The Rádio Amália disco jockey Virgílio Pereira is frequently asking his late-night listeners to call in during the day and request fados by this man, Jerónimo Caracol. You can hear some samples at the link below (of the fados provided, I recommend "Sinas Trocadas"). I met him when he was singing at Vossemecê (he might still be there--I don't know). The videos below were recorded there by the great documentarian of the fado, user rosabranca on youtube. This record is worth seeking out.

Jerónimo Caracol recently (29 Dec 10) appeared on Rádio Amália for the program "Estrela da Tarde". The program is archived here. "A não perder!"

Am I missing something special that you heard this year? Leave a comment and let me know!

05 December 2010

Artur Batalha

As mentioned in a previous entry on this blog, Artur Batalha appears on a track of Mariza's new album, Fado Tradicional. Batalha is probably my favorite living male fado singer--and his appearance on the album is a big professional break--so I thought this would be a good time to write about him. The information below is taken mainly from two interviews conducted by me or by my friend António Lisboa with Batalha himself during the last 18 months.

Life and Work
Artur Henrique dos Santos Batalha is a fadista born in the Alfama (Lisbon) on 14 April 1951. His first time singing in public was at age nine, and he began his career at the age of 14 in the Taverna do Embuçado, which at the time was owned by João Ferreira-Rosa. In 1971 Artur Batalha won the Noite do Fado at the Coliseu dos Recreios in Lisbon, and went on to sing in various countries and on television.
from http://fbfadoporto.blogspot.com/
Batalha is known as the "Prince of the fado" (Fernando Maurício is known as the "King of the Fado"). His repertory reflects a profoundly human sensibility. A query on José Fernandes' database with the term "Artur Batalha" will give you an idea of what he has recorded. These are songs about loneliness, abject poverty, love between man and woman, and, importantly, empathy for other human beings. When I asked Batalha for three lyrics that he considers essential in his repertory, he stated "Promete, jura" ("Promise, Swear"), "Hoje morreu um poeta" ("A poet died today"), and "Noites sem fim" ("Nights without end"). The track on Mariza's record is "Promete, jura", which is also known as "Estás a pensar em mim" ("You are thinking about me").

Below at left is Batalha's version from sometime during the 80s. The track was re-released recently on the record Príncipe do Fado from Metro-Som. Below at right is the version with Mariza from the new record.

Metro-Som has done a good job of re-releasing selected tracks from Batalha's catalog, even if the documentation is downright anemic (and the production occasionally sketchy). Here is a list of the tracks from the reissues of his early work on that label. The records I have are Príncipe do Fado (volumes 1 through 3), Jóia do Fado, and Filho do Fado. I have no idea how big his original catalogue is. However, there are a few scans of releases in vinyl here (scroll down to "capas" then find his name).

One thing that impressed me with Batalha was his singing of the fado Menor, something that was not done very often in the fado houses I frequented. (In fact Felipe Lucas, one of Dulce Pontes' guitarists, once told me that, after a week at the Baiuca, not one person had asked him to play the fado menor.) In addition to the Menor, Batalha stated that the fado Proença and the fado Vitória are essential in his repertory. His choices for fadistas and/or musicians of reference to him provide some further insight into his work. These are Tristão da Silva, Amália Rodrigues and Fernando Farinha.

Batalha and Zé António (date unknown)
from http://sylvielasserre.blogs.com
It is well known that Batalha went through a number of years of very serious personal difficulty, including addictions to various substances. These are over and he is in great form. At the time of my interview with him (16 April 2010), he reported having sung in public more than ten times over the previous months, in the bairros of Serafina and Bairro Alto, and in the freguesia of Pena.

Personal Impressions
I first heard Batalha singing live at the restaurant “Os Ferreiras”, on Rua São Lázaro em Lisbon, and I continued to visit there to hear him and the other excellent fadistas that sang under the late António Ferreira's stewardship (Batalha is third row down from the top, in the middle). (A complete list of my videos from these visits is here--just do a query on "Artur".) I can't make out exactly who is in all of the photos, but from top to bottom, left to right. they are probably (unknown), Júlia Lopes, José Cardoso; Joana Veiga, Jaime Santos, Kátia Santos; António Pinho, Batalha, Eduardo Leite; Ricardo Aires, António Ferreira, (unknown).
Montage of Artists Outside Os Ferreiras

I was impressed by the quality of his voice, and also with his physical presence--particularly his ability to command attention in the room. 

It is worth watching the video of Batalha singing a few years ago at A Barraca, with Carlos Gonçalves on the Portuguese guitar, and Lelo Nogueira on the viola. After an introduction by the manager, Batalha thanks everyone and dedicates the fado, "Noites Perdidas" to a friend who is there. The video is rare for showing how the fado happens in an intimate setting among friends, and is really one of the most emblematic I've found (sorry I cannot embed it).

One night I visited the Os Ferreiras with a friend from out of town, and as the hours waned we watched the crowd gradually diminish--until, at sometime around 2am, there were only about ten people left. Batalha asked what we would like to hear. Another client and I tried to convince him to sing "Meu Irmão Fora da Lei", but to no avail: it was "Sonho Tropical", a lovely fado but on a very different theme. Here are the two fados.

Meu Irmão Fora da Lei

Sonho Tropical
But on the other hand, I never heard Batalha participate in any of the desgrarradas that happened frequently at Os Ferreiras. Perhaps that is not a particular strength of his. The desgarrada requires a ready repertory of phrases that can be employed to challenge prior singers. I've never heard Batalha sing the kind of humorous stanzas that are the stock in trade of the desgarrada, so perhaps this is one factor. Fortunately, some friends were at Os Ferreiras one night when Batalha did in fact participate in a desgarrada at Os Ferreiras (with Jorge Fernando no less). Here is the evidence.

One thing I have to mention. The first night of fado after the death of Michael Jackson (yes, that one), I was at Os Ferreiras and talking with Batalha during one of the breaks. Batalha wanted to talk about Michael Jackson. "Morreu o nosso colega", he said ("Our colleague has died."). I was pretty floored, but I guess great music is great music.

04 December 2010

Fado essentials on the Internet

Here's my very subjective list:

Fado on the Internet [1]

Rádio Amália (live from Lisbon): www.amalia.fm/
Fado TV (in-studio performances): fadotv.com/

Videos on YouTube
Lisbon 2008-2009: mendodm
Amália: Alexcaruzdemalta2010, AmaliaNoel
Various: casadofado, Rosabranca2010

How to listen to the fado:
www.jose-lucio.com/Fado/Acontece.htm (Portuguese), www.fado-today.blogspot.com (English)


How to play the three fundamental fados on Portuguese guitar:

Poets, composers, singers and musicians associated with the fado

History and Day-to-day of the fado:


[1] All sources in Portuguese unless otherwise noted.

22 November 2010

Fado in Newark, NJ--Report

Great night of fado. Everybody showed up, and there were a few surprises along the way.

The evening opened with a guitarrada (duo of guitars) played by Michael da Silva (v) and Pedro da Silva (gp). Michael da Silva surprised everyone (including the MC) by being the first to sing, then it was over to Nathalie Pires to sing three fados. Nathalie has been doing some really good work, singing all over the place (in NJ, other places in the US, plus Portugal). We then had a brief break for the changeover to the guests from Portugal.

Jorge Fernando
Jorge Fernando (viola) and José Manuel Neto (guitarra portuguesa) opened with a guitarrada. After the closing by Neto, one of the guys at our table (a Portuguese) leaned over to me and said "You know, he really is quite good." Jorge Fernando had something similar to say later: "José Manuel Neto is, to me, the best living player of the guitarra portuguesa." JM Neto turned his head to indicate he was not comfortable with the comment, prompting J Fernando to say, "He doesn't like it when I say 'the best'. He would prefer I say 'the only'" All in good fun, I can assure you!

While I am on the subject of our neighbors at the table, my wife and I quickly discovered that the group was rather eclectic: a man from Lisbon and his wife from Montijo; one American guy who knows alot about the fado and owns more fado records than I'll ever have; his friend who was there via Israel, Germany and France; another friend of his; plus an opera singer and her husband. We spent alot of the night talking about Lisbon, the bullfights in Montijo, and anything else that came to mind. "The French cheese reminds me of the Portuguese cheese." To which our newfound friend replied "They [the French] would love that." His companion grew up with Dulce Pontes, so that was more food for conversation.

Fábia Rebordão
The next singer of the evening was Fábia Rebordão (left). Her choice of lyrics was pretty adventuresome. I did not recognize the lyrics, but they were not the usual fare. Must remember to check out her recorded output. She has a deep, earthy voice. Her version of "Chuva" was lovely. It is very easy to imitate Mariza in singing this song (written by Jorge Fernando), and I am happy to say she did not. Her singing instantly brought us back to the many, many hours we spent with the fado in Lisbon. For me she was the big discovery of the evening. I do not have a video of her, but here is a link to her in action singing "Meu amor, meu amor" at Casa de Linhares in Alfama, and here singing "Chuva".

After Fábia, it was Jorge Fernando, then Filipa Cardoso. Her singing caused our Portuguese friend to get out of his chair (first time for the night). It was then Fábia, then Jorge.

I think it was during Jorge Fernando's second turn that he said "is there anything in particular that you all would like to hear?" It took me 50 miliseconds to respond "Boa Noite Solidão". To which he replied, very sternly, "Boa Noite Solidão", then played it. I'm not sure what it was, but his version seemed much stronger and more forceful than what I might have expected. Here is Fernando Maurício singing it; and here you can hear Jorge Fernando singing it (and also hear some of the other tracks from a recent album of his).

(L-R) José Manuel Neto, Jorge Fernando, Fábia Rebordão,
Filipa Cardoso, Michael da Silva
Time for a surprise. Jorge Fernando made a very lovely speech about how events like this one serve to bring Portugal to the Portuguese living in the US, but also the other way around: with a visit like this, the musicians learn about how their fellow Portuguese are living abroad, and this helps strengthen the ties between them. He then invited Pedro Botas, a Portuguese American fado singer living near Newark, to sing. For some reason, Pedro took out his cell phone and was looking at it while just below the stage, at which Jorge said, "Pedro, there is no need to call--I'm here." Here is a brief sample of Pedro in action from another night. 

Then it was back to Nathalie Pires, who was followed by Hermínio Silva, who was a winner of the "Grande Noite de Fado" in 1973. That was really a blast. The night ended with Fábia, Jorge and Filipa.

20 November 2010

Fado in Newark, NJ

Tonight (20 Nov 2010) there is a great looking fado show happening at the Mediterranean Manor in Newark, NJ. The event has been put together by Michael da Silva, a fado empressario who also has an annual gig in Lisbon playing at Casa de Linhares/Bacalhau de Molho. His site is here.

The two obvious heavy hitters here are Jorge Fernando, who composed "Boa Noite Solidão" along with alot of other music, and who has played with approximately everybody; and José Manuel Neto, a tremendous guitarist who also has played with approximately everybody.  I do not know Filipa Cardoso or Fábia Rebordão, but understand that they are up and coming fadistas. Nathalie Pires is a luso-american fado singer who I have heard sing twice and who is good. I've only heard Michael da Silva once (when Pedro Galveias and Rodrigo were here in Newark not so long ago), and never heard Pedro Henriques da Silva. Given Michael's excellent taste, I expect this will be a great evening. Let us pray that the /intervalos/ are not /maratonas/!

Here is the lineup for the evening:

Filipa Cardoso
Fábia Rebordão

Nathalie Pires

Jorge Fernando (viola; voz)
José Manuel Neto (guitarra portuguesa)
Michael da Silva (guitarra portuguesa)
Pedro Henriques da Silva 
(guitarra portuguesa)

Casa Seabra Mediterranean Manor
255 Jefferson St.
Newark, New Jersey

7pm (I will be shocked if the music starts any time before 9pm though!)

11 November 2010


Yes, Mariza. Looks like the new record is going to be traditional fado, and will include one fado with the great Artur Batalha. Thanks to the excellent blog, fadocravo (http://fadocravo.blogspot.com/), for pointing this out!


Here is Batalha:

little update. Here is Mariza (without Batalha, but with Ângelo Freire on guitarra portuguesa) singing this "Promete, jura" (aka, "Estas a pensar em mim"):

25 September 2010

Listening to Fado

While I'm working on transcribing, verifying and translating an interview with Tony Loretti, here is a short piece on listening to the fado. The text is my translation of most of a short essay by José Lúcio Ribeiro de Almeida. You can see the original Portuguese version here:
With Sr. Ribeiro de Almeida’s permission, I’ve left off a bit of his original discussion, which mostly addresses the recent historical context for the fado in terms of Salazar’s “Three Fs”--Football, Fado and Fátima. There is a small chance that that portion of the text will be augmented (by him) then translated for inclusion here.

Learn to listen to fado, with open ears. The fado isn't "heard"--it "happens".
By José Lúcio Ribeiro de Almeida 
(trans. DM)

When one likes to listen to Fado, it's best--as the people say--not to eat cat as if it were rabbit. Now we see the "hamburgers of Fado" appear more and more. They don't know how to sing, they are 'semi-toned', they don't have the voice, they don't know how to divide the poem, they don't know how to breathe over the musical frases without losing their breath in trying hold the melody, they sing fado without caring whether or not their musical prowess will permit them to sing it, and--finally--they sell alot of CDs, receive alot of applause and good words from the specialists in the material, and people who like Fado listen to them thankfully, which is a serious thing indeed. No one eats spoilt food. So why is the fado sung poorly and no one says anything?

But I am going to give you a simple recipe to improve your knowledge of the Fado. If you like the Fado, then read this with attention. 

1. Do not confuse listening to Fado with listening to a CD of Fado. Listening to Fado means being there, live and without a net, where the true thing happens. The CD is the cynical side of the Fado. Or perhaps you think that when someone attempts to record a CD and things don't go well (that is, if someone makes a mistake), then the recording is left as is. But of course it is not. The person goes back and records again and again, until the recording is OK. With the advanced technology of the computer, there are already programs that enable mediocre singers to sound perfectly fine. But only on CD, because live they are a disgrace.

2. If you like a particular Fado, try to learn the composer of the music (careful with the Fado Acácio, because Acácio is not the author but the name of the music) and the author of the lyric. Learn who are the musicians playing. In the fado, the viola player and the guitarist together are called the 'parelha' [pair]. If it's a Popular March, the group of 7 musicians is called the 'Cavalinho' [little horse]. For the fado to 'happen' (that is, to hear good Fado) the 'Yantra of Fado' (the esoteric triangle of the Fado) has to happen: the person who sings has to sing well, the musicians who play have to play well, and the audience has to listen well. When somebody says, "Quiet--the Fado is going to be sung", that is a bad sign. Which is to say that the audience is probably noisy or perhaps more interested in conversing than in listening to the Fado. The word 'Fado' is more associated with the singer, but the Fado does not continue to thrive just because of the singer. To the contrary, the singer is the final element of the Fado. First somebody has to construct the guitar and the viola, then compose the music and the lyrics, then learn to play in the key of the person who is going to sing, and only then does the 'artist' appear, who is always the person who gets paid.

3. The Fado requires physical proximity. If there are microphones, that is a bad sign. They are now selling big shows of Fado that are not Fado. The thing is that a big Fado show brings more people, and the fado itself may be sung on a football pitch, in a bull ring, or in another large area, and this is all synonymous of the business of Fado and so is not Fado at all. Which is to say quantity and not quality. As is logical, the big Fado shows on television require microphones, but these are big shows--not Fado. There is a big difference between hearing the Fado in a small Fado house versus in a big show or on television. To get to know the feeling of this difference, go to a restaurante with a healthy appetite. Watch the others eat but you yourself don't eat.

4. If you like Fado, make a rule in your life to go at least once a month to hear Fado. Choose the location well. There are plenty of places where cat is served as rabbit. So what is there to do? Whoever doesn't know ought to go looking in order to be informed.

5. If you go to hear Fado, don't take anybody with you who doesn't like Fado, or anybody who you haven't seen in a long time. If you do, it's natural and likely that the talk about olden times will take precedence over the fado.

6. If you can--and if the artists approve--record and photograph a session of the Fado. You will see that, upon hearing it at home, the recording will have the taste of the truth.

7. With the appearance of the CD, the great archives of the Fado will continue to reside only on 78rpm or 33rpm vinyl records. If you can, get ahold of a record player and look for records from your preferred artists.

8. In your collection of Fado--whether records or CDs--always have some good 'guitarradas' [fado music but no voice]. Listen with attention to the 'guitarrada', since the music without the voice gives other a different type of knowledge of the Fado. 

9. Finally, if you like the Fado and none of this appeals to you, continue to enjoy the Fado in your own way. My intention in writing this text was simply to share with you what I've learned over roughly 40 years. I say 'learned', but I mean 'know'. For this reason I consider myself an investigator of the Fado, a person who studies and learns every day. Not a 'musicologist', because while in the old days this expression was used for investigators and for the studious, now it's used only for PhDs.

If you don't agree with me or you find errors in what I've written, tell me why. I knew somebody who would often say, only everybody knows everything.

José Lúcio Ribeiro de Almeida

17 September 2010

Maria Teresa de Noronha

It looks like there are more than a few hits coming to this site because of Maria Teresa de Noronha. She happens to be one of my favorite fado singers. Here are a few points about her and her work.

Biographical details on her are scant on the web. The best writeups I've found are (not surprisingly) published by Vítor Marceneiro. One of my favorites is a piece by her long-time guitarist, Raul Nery, who is still alive:


A straight ahead bio is here:


where we learn that her full name was "Maria Teresa do Carmo de Noronha Guimarães Serôdio (Paraty)",  and that she was called Baté by her friends. She lived from 1918 to 1993. If you go to the Panteão Nacional in Lisbon, you'll find plenty of her relatives buried there. Dom Vicente de Câmara is a cousin of some sort.

There is a Wiki entry that is not ridiculous:

The part that blows my mind is this: "In 1938, at the age of 20, Maria Teresa de Noronha was invited by the Portuguese broadcasting company (Emissora Nacional) to perform at a regular biweekly fado program, which she did uninterruptly until 1961, with the exception of a 4-year pause following her marriage in December 1947 to the Count of Sabrosa" Let's say she sang three fados every other week for 20 years. So, RTP, where are those approximately 1500 recordings anyway???

Her records appear to be slowly being re-released. Fado Antigo and Saudades das Saudades are two, and they are both excellent. See here: http://www.playme.com/mariateresadenoronha/album/

There is a very good and representative collection of her music (in the Biografias do Fado series). It has 20 tracks, first is "Fado da Idanha", last is "Gosto de ti quando mentes". You can get it online pretty easily. Try also looking under the title "O Melhor de Maria Teresa de Noronha" (contents are exactly the same, down to the liner notes).

EMI released a four CD box set some years ago that is completely sold out. If you find it, get it.

If you're in Lisbon, visit the record store Discoteca Amália and ask for the CD Inéditos para a história do fado ("Unreleased tracks contributing to the history of fado"), which pulls together some unreleased work that does not appear on the EMI collection. I think there are not tons of copies of it left.

Finally, a few videos of her are starting to appear on YouTube. Here are three (all with Raul Nery and Joaquim de Vale). Many thanks to user Fado3Carabelas for posting these.

Fado Rio Maior: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ukRlfw6ZbHU
Fado da Sina: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KtD52dXZJAs
Fado da Idanha: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NhKi4xbNpXg

29 August 2010

The fado folds in on itself all the time, and I'd say that's one of the reasons it manages to stay around and to maintain its health.

Herman José, a TV personality on RTP (the big Portuguese network), has been around and involved in the fado in one way or another for a long time. He plays the clown, but I think he is dead serious. I want to talk briefly about this clip from a very recent show.

Herman is interviewing Ricardo Ribeiro, who has a second CD out now (very good by the way), called Porta do Coração (Gateway to the heart). Herman gives Ricardo Ribeiro a little quiz ("With whom is the following fado associated?"), then there's a brief discussion about the record, then it's off to the races with Ricardo singing "Agua Louca da Ribeira".

My understanding is that Ricardo, along with Pedro Galveias and a bunch of other singers, learned part of what he knows ("in life and about the fado", according to Ricardo) via Fernando Maurício--a singer known exceedingly well in Portugal, but not outside. Here he is singing on Herman José's show (date unknown, but obviously more than a few years ago). This is by far the best quality video of Fernando Maurício on youtube (the section with Fernando Maurício starts at roughly 3:00 into the video).

Fernando Maurício sang the last 11 or so years of his life at Os Ferreiras, and that's where Pedro and Ricardo worked with him. Here is a desgarrada happening there. Very sadly, the owner of the restaurant, António Ferreira, died recently.

Back to Ricard Ribeiro. At the end of the fado, Herman asks Ricardo Ribeiro to introduce the musicians. On the guitarra Portuguesa is Pedro de Castro, one of the bosses of the Mesa de Frades in Alfama (if you stay really, really late you might here Ricardo Ribeiro there). On the viola is Jaime Santos Jr., the son of a tremendous guitarist and composer, Jaime Santos (played with Amália), who is himself an excellent musician ("perfect marks" in music school, I was once told). On the viola baixa is Professor Joel Pina, who is 90 and still playing actively. He played with Amália, played with everybody--including Raul Nery (who played Portuguese guitar for Maria Teresa de Noronha and obviously tons of others). His presence causes Herman to get out of chair.

On the couch is Rui Nery, who is Raul Nery's son and probably the highest profile musicologist of the fado. Nery goes on to say something beautiful, which is that it was Jaime Santos' father who gave him his first watch. Moreover, Jaime Santos Junior later became one of his (Rui's) students at the music academy in music history. Interview continues here.

I am hoping beyond hope that Rui Nery puts together a biography of his father.

Anyway there you go. These kinds of connections (as Nery called them) are completely common in the fado. Everybody knows everybody. Sometimes that works out beautifully (as here), and sometimes it produces the INVEJA.

Stick around for the end of Herman's show, where Maria da Fe sings. Joel Pina stays on to play the viola baixa.

Thanks to Ricardo Ribeiro for verifying the story about Fernando Maurício and Os Ferreiras. I should note that there's an English translation of an interview with him here.

There is way too much to talk about in the fado...

11 August 2010

Some recent interviews on Rádio Amália

Inga Oliveira at 92.0 (Rádio Amália) has been running some very informative interviews lately with fadistas. The program is called "Estrela da tarde" ("Star of the afternoon") and in addition to interviews there are live in-studio performances. Over the last couple of days I have been doing alot of driving, and so had a chance to catch up on a few of the programs via its podcasts.

Dulce Pontes. I was a little bit surprised when I saw her listed as a guest. I am not hugely familiar with her repertory, but always had the impression that she was not a traditional fado singer. But as the interview unfolded it became pretty clear that she has been connected to the fado for a long time. She told the story of meeting Amália at Amália's house (I presume the famous one in Lisbon), and staying until the wee hours of the morning talking and drinking tea. The story of her early relationship with Amália revolved around her performance of the song "Lagrima" ("Tear"--the kind you cry), which Pontes recorded early in her career (listen below) and which Amália had recorded much earlier. (This part of the conversation starts around 2:55 into the interview, when she says "The person who gave me the desire to sing fado was Amália"). Evidently (4:18) Pontes did not contact Amália about recording "Lagrima", but Amália noticed the performance and (it seems) invited her for a visit. Pontes did not go into alot of detail about the conversation that went on that night, which is too bad!

Pontes goes on to talk about the innovations that Amália brought into the fado (others might call some of these innovations degradations), which included new poems, composers (and I would say also instrumentation and orchestration). Indeed, if you listen to some of the later work from Pontes, you'll hear plenty of music that sounds related to fado, but that is also related to other musics. The point made in one of the other podcasts, by José Gonçalez (who was there with António Pinto Basto). But more on this in the next post.

04 August 2010

Vítor Rodrigues

As someone I know once said, it is impossible to talk about the fado without talking about inveja, which can be understood as jealously or envy. Today I ran into a video on purofado's channel that reminded me of a particularly unpleasant bout of the inveja that involved a singer I learned of only recently, Vítor Rodrigues. 

We (some friends and I) decided to visit the Baiuca, one of our favorite places to hear fado in the Alfama. Indeed, one of the places that for us was synonymous with the fado. I was introduced to Vítor and we started talking about his work as a singer and writer, and came to the discussion of a particular poem that he had written, "Miúdo da fonte santa." When it was close to his time to sing, he said that he would be singing that one. He did, and it was great. He came over to me after singing this song and asked if I liked it. I said "Yes, very much." And he pulled out his CD and said, "Here, take it. It's a gift." Then arrived the inveja: the singer who was going to be on next said, "Vítor, are you going to sing or are you going to be trying to sell CDs?" Vítor got pretty upset at this. (For a while, the sale of CDs has not been permitted at the Baiuca--something which he knew.) What happened next was very much a full-scale argument that suddenly involved a bunch of people. Some of the singers waiting to sing left the premises. There was even some pushing. It was very unpleasant and to this day I feel some responsibility for what happened. In fact I even wrote to the owner trying to explain things from my perspective. It was a very sad way to spend our last visit there (at least for a while), and more importantly I felt to blame for getting involved perturbing the day-to-day (working) life of the fado--something I tried (with success) for an entire year not to do.

So here is Vítor Rodrigues singing Trigueirinha, a song written by Jorge Fernando and sung by many, many singers--including Artur Batalha and Jorge Costa (somebody you can read about on my other site). The lyrics in Portuguese are here.

30 July 2010

Maria Teresa de Noronha

If you can read Portuguese--or if you believe Google translator--then I can wholeheartedly suggest reading the latest entry in Vítor Marceneiro's blog, this one about Maria Teresa de Noronha, written by one of the great, great guitarists--Raul Nery--who played for her for many years. Near the end he says "Ela e a Amália são as maiores fadistas. E não posso dizer que uma seja melhor que a outra." That is, "She and Amália were the greatest female fado singer. And I cannot say that one was greater than the other." 

There is so, so little written about her, that to hear something coming from Raul Nery really is a wonderful surprise. link to the post

27 July 2010

João Soeiro

A fadista I really like as a singer and a person. He gets up there and, I think, tries to find everyone in the room. He has been very modest in his ambitions, steady I would say. In fact, he started singing rather late, via the encouragement of friends (I don't have his survey results in front of me, but will post them later--they're interesting).

It was great to hear him on Radio Amalia the other day. Some very charitable person captured his performance in a few videos.

I also wrote a bit about him on my other site, where you can also see more videos.

Way to go João!

26 July 2010

I finally got around to translating an article by José Lúcio Ribeiro de Almeida entitled 'Learn to listen to fado, with open ears. The fado isn't "heard"--it "happens.' Translation is here.

25 July 2010

Just finished watching the 2006 'Grande Noite de Fado' (Gala Night of the Fado) on RTP/International. The program on RTP was 90 minutes long. I suspect the original show was considerably longer. The people on the broadcast are listed below. Note that there is a contest for the Grande Noite de Fado to find the best amateur singers and musicians (not lyricists, though, so far as I can tell). People are either in the 'senior' or 'junior' category depending on their age. The contestants are numbers 2 through 5 on the following list. The others were there to be recognized for one thing or another.
  1. Celeste Rodrigues (Amália Rodrigues' sister, but also a very good singer in her own right.) Here she is from a few year ago singing "Lavava no rio, lavava" The poem was written by Amália. My literal translation of the title is pretty poor ("I used to wash in the river"). It's a wealthier woman singing to her mother about her life as a poor child. The last stanza says, "We are no longer have the hunger we had, mother, but neither do we have/the desire not to have it. We no longer know how to dream, we are no longer able to remember / the desire to die."
  2. Joana Catarina Valente Teixeira (J-F) (she won, and Sara Correia, who they did not show, got second place. I have a record of Sara's and it is pretty good.)
  3. José Luís Godinho Geádas (J-M)
  4. Maria Emélia Reis (J-F)
  5. Joana Felipa Caetano Luz (J-F)
  6. Carminho (got the prize for 'revelation of the fado' but couldn't sing because she had just had some kind of surgical procedure. Now, five years later, she is famous and a very good singer indeed.)
  7. Teresa Siqueira (because Carminho couldn't sing, her mother did!)
  8. Artur Batalha (one of my favorites. He took the prize for best male singer in 1971, but that year is not listed on the Wiki page)
  9. Cuca Roseta (appeared with her boss from the Clube do Fado in Lisbon, Mário Pacheco--a guitarist whose club won the prize in 2006 for best fado house)
  10. Then singing a medley of Carlos do Carmo tunes were Teresa Tapadas, José da Câmara, António Pinto Basto, Maria Armanda. José da Câmara is the son of Vicente da Câmara, a singer of the 'aristocratic' fado. If I am not wrong, JdC's son is now a singer, and in fact sang with his father and grandfather in 2009 or so.
  11. Finally was Rodrigo, who came down from Cascais to get an award for a career of distinction, and also to sing 'Recado de João Dias' (obscure but immensely good) and 'É tão bom ser pequenino', about which he said 'Isto é Portugal a caminhar', a phrase that means 'this is Portugal walking', and one that he attributed to the guitarist Armandinho. The song means 'It's good to be young.' The construction of the lyric is interesting. Each line of the opening stanza is the final line of a subsequent stanza, in order. On his site, José has conveniently highlighted this construction through color. The lyricist was João Linhares Barbosa, and the music is the fado 'corrido'--the running fado. I should really rush to add that there are other versions of 'É tão bom ser pequenino' that take the same approach. For example, here's one by another great poet, Carlos Conde.

  • The other fado, 'Memory of João Dias' is really hard core. The poet is looking back over his life and telling everyone first that it was all a mess, that he didn't care, and that absolutely no one at his funeral should say 'He was a good man' (in particular because he himself did not think so). I spent many, many hours this last trip to Lisbon looking for any books with Dias' poems in them--no dice. But the guy was really, really good. I recorded the show, so maybe I will take a shot at transcribing the lyric (it's not on José's site, or anywhere else that I can find. I don't even have a copy of the song aside from the video). Then I'll send it to José.