The samba asks for passage

Berit Heggenhougen-Jensen, Mother, 1982, 190 × 204,5 × 2,2
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By DANIEL COSTA*

Commentary on samba circles in the city of São Paulo

At least since the parliamentary legal coup that ousted a legitimately elected president from power, the country has begun to navigate in murky waters; going through the mismanagement of Temer until reaching the neo-fascism that governs us, there were several attacks, both concrete and symbolic; situation aggravated by the pandemic, when all of us are already fragile, we also start to face social isolation.

It is in this scenario where the true architecture of destruction was built with mastery that we saw the attempt to annihilate culture, whether in the suppression of sponsorship funds, attempts to sabotage fundamental laws such as Aldir Blanc and now Paulo Gustavo and even censorship, in most cases veiled, but also explicit. But little by little, step by step, resistance and hope are resurfacing, even if in a symbolic way.

It is not new that Brazil is known for being a country of great singers, when we restrict ourselves to samba we can highlight from Carmem Miranda and her mischievous interpretation of the creations of Assis Valente and Dorival Caymmi, to the seminal Clementina de Jesus, Nossa Quelé , who through his voice made the song of Africa cross the ocean. In this list, we cannot fail to highlight great performers such as Clara Nunes, Beth Carvalho and Alcione (hail, the holy trinity!), as well as composers such as Dona Ivone Lara, who in the midst of a predominantly male-dominated universe managed to impose herself, even when joins the composers wing of his Império Serrano, a battle faced years later by Leci Brandão to enter the doors of the composers wing of Estação Primeira de Mangueira.

Paraphrasing the master Paulinho da Viola, I can say that if I want to talk about women in the world of samba, I won't finish today, so I'll mention just a few, asking forgiveness for those who were not named. Aparecida, Jovelina Pérola Negra, Francineth Germano, Geovana, Bernadete, Sabrina da Mocidade de Padre Miguel, Miriam Batucada, Roberta Oliveira, Fabiana Cozza, Adriana Moreira, Teresa Cristina, Raquel Tobias. It is from these great women that I draw an evolutionary line to reach the central character of the next lines.

Going through the most varied samba circles (many alive, some not so much) in this frantic Paulicéia, we can come across the most diverse types, from the traditional character who doesn't even know why he's in that place, passing also by those who come just to drink some birinaites and then head to the next pub; we still have the aficionados who sing from the first to the last samba and still mark it in the palm of their hand, sometimes with a rhythm, or not; even the one who arrives at the place through a kind of call, something that for many may even sound incomprehensible, or pedantic.

However, for those who feel this sign breaking through the cracks of the banal; the beat of the surdo, the bass of the seven-string guitar, the tambourine, the chip and especially the voice has power; power to add, to enchant, to transform. It was exactly the feeling that this scribe felt on a Saturday night when he ended his day of pilgrimage through the city.

Inside the bar, the powerful sound of the samba do Aguida circle took over the atmosphere, the cadence of the samba at times seemed to merge with the purest of curimbas, and in this ritual where the profane bordered the sacred and the sacred bordered the profane , a voice at the center conducted the wheel in unison, showing rare beauty and power, bringing to the surface the foundation of the sambas that were played at the old Festa da Penha, at Tia Ciata's terreiro, or for the more contemporary ones at Tia Doca's backyard.

At that moment, the sound of the atabaque seemed to be the password to open the magical portal set at the crossroads of Alameda Eduardo Prado and Conselheiro Nébias, a place where everyone shared the same creed, samba. Luiz Antonio Simas defines the crossroads as places of enchantment, places that amaze and seduce, that was the feeling awakened that night. Joy, ginga and rhythm dominated the space; So, from the modern young man from São Paulo, through stamped figures of bohemia, to the lady who, between one snack and another, did not fail to send her laia laia to indulge in that ritual where samba was the object of devotion.

Between us, it's not hard to count how many times we get irritated with parallel conversations taking place next to the wheels, turning music into something secondary, into mere ambient sound. But that night was different, amid the applause, crossed steps and a sip of cold beer, some say that even a rascal wearing a white linen suit was seen dancing samba on the corner of the crossroads illuminated by the moonlight.

The person responsible for such a communion between the music and the public at that moment was the singer and multi-artist Anaá, even with the “a” doubled, perhaps an even unconscious choice to make the strength that her voice carries echo through the winds of Oyá. ; witnessing his dedication to the roda was like seeing the direct connection between orun (ancestry) and ayê (our world). Parading a veritable selection of classics from the samba circles, covering hits by Clara Nunes, passing through the afro sambas of Baden and Vinícius, scratching the ground with the Bahian samba de roda; from the powerful cry to Oxossi (who at that moment seems to have heard the call, coming to take the band of the hearts of all who were there) where, for some present in the circle, his stylized arrow as the letter "L" seemed to symbolize the search for hope, even the pioneer “Quem tem affection me leva” immortalized by the black goddess of samba Giovana, Anna proves to be from that rare group of singers who, when interpreting a song, give themselves completely, make the music echo through the voice, body, dance, soul, that night her performance seemed to reflect the joy and power of a gypsy woman who made her home at that crossroads.

Such characteristics place her, in a lineage that few interpreters can accommodate with propriety, taking the São Paulo scene as a reference, Anna emerges as one of the main disciples of the singer Raquel Tobias, it is not difficult to escape the association between the two singers, the same charisma , the same intensity, the same strength and the main thing, the same truth when interpreting a song.

I remember our eternal griot Toinho Melodia, saying once, before defending one of his creations at a festival, that the true sambista doesn't sit on the wall, that making samba is taking sides, it's taking a stand. And like a true student, Anná assimilated the teaching of the “veinho” with properties, producing a work that presents side, does not shy away from the fight, approaching the most diverse themes, literally leaving a message in her songs, without losing sensitivity. Influenced by the most varied rhythms, as can be seen in her album Strain, to the single released in partnership with the Pernambuco-born Flaira Ferro, where the two bring a reflection on the “crazy year” (or years, if the listener prefers to adopt a longer perspective), the singer demonstrates how she can move easily through the most varied sounds, but if I could define it through a rhythm I would say that samba is the one that runs through your veins making your heart pulsate and serving as an engine for dialogue with other musical genres and artistic manifestations.

To end this short chronicle, review, critique, or any other classification that the reader may wish to give, it is necessary to say that I returned home with a light soul after this genuine samba. As I go up Alameda Eduardo Prado still with the magnificent Geovana's samba in my mind, I turn back and see in the distance at the crossroads that houses that magical bar the old rascal leaning against the light pole enjoying the dance of the ladies of the night while the smoke from his cigarette rose in the air. infinite.

Bringing master Candeia to the wheel on the album party in five, I came back refreshed after enjoying “a samba that springs from the bottom of my heart”, thanks mainly to the dedication and authenticity of the interpreter invited to that night’s roda. As the great Nelson Sargent summed up, our samba agonizes, but does not die, because someone always comes to the rescue before the last breath, so we will do with Brazil in the face of so many attacks and so many attempts at destruction.

* Daniel Costa graduated in history from UNIFESP, composer, and member of Grêmio Recreativo de Resistência Cultural Kolombolo Diá Piratininga.

 

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