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.