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.

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