Monday, May 18, 2020

Transcription - Milton Banana, "Cidade Vazia"

Following on from the telecoteco stuff we've been talking about lately, here's a different take on it, by Milton Banana.  Banana was one of the earliest and most prominent drummers of "Samba no Prato" (Samba on the cymbals).  Prior to that, samba on the drumset was much more focused on the drums themselves, and sounded more like a batucada ensemble.  They often played in a style called "Samba Cruzado".  I've got a post coming up on that very soon.

Edison Machado is credited with being the first drummer to play "Samba no Prato", but Banana was right there with him, playing on many of the great Bossa Nova records and a lot of samba jazz, particularly with his own trio, which released quite a few albums over the years.

Drummers of the samba-jazz, or hard bossa, genre like Machado and Banana, as well as Rubinho Barsotti, Paulo Braga, José Roberto Sarsano, and many others, seem to be more relaxed about staying true to the direction of the telecoteco. I've heard differing theories on this, the two most prominent and plausible being:

1. These drummers were inspired by American jazz and American jazz drummers, and actively chose to take a more laissez-faire approach to the direction of the rhythmic cycle in order to have fewer constraints on their playing/improvising.  In this case, the telecoteco parts are more of a "vibe" than a true rhythmic cycle and serve a similar role as that of the left hand of an American-style jazz drummers; comping, essentially

2.  The concept of rhythmic direction that we see in telecoteco is a characteristic of the music that comes from African traditions.  The majority of the drummers from this period and genre were white.  It has been argued that they were simply ignorant to correct interpretation of the rhythm and were merely emulating it to the best of their abilities.

I'm not sure which one is true, or which one I would prefer to be true.  Players today, like Marcio Bahia, Edu Ribeiro, Kiko Freitas, Celso Almeida, etc. tend to stay true to the rhythmic direction, but this does not clarify why the older guys didn't.  It could be that these contemporary players have a renewed interest in traditional approaches, or it could be that they learned the traditions that the previous generation were unaware of.

You'll hear in this recording that Banana isn't necessarily flipping the rhythmic direction, but he's also not adhering strictly to the traditional "rules" of it.

Let me be clear that I'm not saying what Banana is doing is right or wrong.  I'm simply observing as I find this stuff terribly fascinating.  Banana is one of my absolute favorite drummers and one of the most beloved and respected ever to come out of Brazil.  But hardcore samba purists take the direction of the rhythmic cycle very seriously, and flipping it or not playing by the rules is sacrilege.

Aaaanyway, here's the transcription.  E-mail if you'd like a PDF, and enjoy.



2 comments:

  1. Very interesting points you raise. I have never seen these discussed before and they are fascinating. I wonder if any of these pioneer Bossa players were ever interviewed on this topic I lean towards the fact that jazz was so fresh and new that they were desperately trying to bring a more be-bop element into their work. Sometimes Banana sounds as if he is playing be-bop at times, especially on the up-tempo feels.

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  2. Very interesting points you raise. I have never seen these discussed before and they are fascinating. I wonder if any of these pioneer Bossa players were ever interviewed on this topic I lean towards the fact that jazz was so fresh and new that they were desperately trying to bring a more be-bop element into their work. Sometimes Banana sounds as if he is playing be-bop at times, especially on the up-tempo feels.

    ReplyDelete