Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Naná Vasconcelos (1944 - 2016)

When I was 24 I was lucky enough to travel to Recife, Brazil with two of my professors and a couple of classmates.  It was this trip that sparked my insatiable appetite for Brazilian music.  Prior to that I knew little about the music, but was very much interested.  I went on the trip armed with a wad of cash and a big empty spot in my suitcase to carry home the beginnings of my new library of Brazilian music.  Many of the albums I purchased on the trip have been mentioned on this blog and continue to amaze and inspire me today.

One album that I clearly remember standing out to me was Chegada, one of the last albums the great percussionist Naná Vasconcelos released as a leader.  This record sounded like nothing I had ever heard before.  It was only after listening to it over and over and over and over again that I began digging deeper into Vasconcelos' history and discography and discovered all of the amazing players he had worked with - Egberto Gismonti, Milton Nascimento, Jan Garbarek, Pat Metheny, Paul Motian, Ralph Towner, Don Cherry, Danny Gottlieb, amongst others - and all of the wonderful albums he had recorded and appeared on.  I even realized that he was on Eliane Elias Plays Jobim, which was the record that first introduced me to Jack DeJohnette.

The ECM record label posted a wonderful obituary on their facebook page:

Nana Vasconcelos (1944-2016)
Naná Vasconcelos, the unique Brazilian percussionist, singer and berimbau master has died in his hometown of Recife, aged 71. His vivid playing conjured echoes of the rainforest, scurryings in the undergrowth, the sudden flap of bird-wings, animal calls, the crackle of flames, cloudbursts and more. He busked on street corners, played with symphony orchestras, breakdancers, and with all manner of improvisers. In Brazil he first gained a reputation as a member of Milton Nascimento’s group, and he arrived in Europe in early 1970s as a member of Gato Barbieri’s band, basing himself initially in Paris. His highly productive association with Egberto Gismonti was begun on the often thrilling ECM recording Dança das Cabeças in 1976 and continued on albums including Sol do meio Dia, Duas Vozes and Nana’s 1979 leader date Saudades, for which Gismonti wrote the orchestral arrangements. (Egberto and Nana were due to revive their musical association this year, and a tour of the Far East had been booked for April) 
Vasconcelos was one third of the magical Codona group with Don Cherry and Collin Walcott whose ECM recordings are reprised in the box set The Codona Trilogy. “Codona was the best collaboration in my life because it was a really unpredictable situation,” Vasconcelos told writer N. Scott Robinson in 2000. “Codona was true improvisation; freedom. Because it was true collaboration, three different persons, three different backgrounds put together.” 
Nana Vasconcelos also appears on ECM albums with Pat Metheny, Jan Garbarek, Pierre Favre and Arild Andersen.

Here is the album that introduced me to the music of this incredible percussionists.  I highly recommend picking up a copy.

Obrigado pela música e inspiração, Nana.