Thursday, May 20, 2021

Samba Invertido, aka "A batida do 'Tamanduá'" ("The 'Tamanduá' beat")

This is a very cool groove that I've been enjoying for many years and have been meaning to write about for almost as long.  I'm pretty sure it was developed by Hamilton de Holanda.

I first heard it in 2007 when I went to Brazil and picked up the first album by de Holanda's now famous quintet.  The album is called Brasilianos, and the groove came up in the song "Pra Sempre".  It only appears for a few bars at a time at the end of the first A section.  You'll find it  in the melody at 0:16 and 0:58, and many more times throughout the solos and out head.  Marcio Bahia is on drums.

Two years later, in 2009, de Holanda's quintet released a new album, called Brasilianos 2, and the same rhythm was on a very beautiful, and very funky tune called "Tamanduá".  Within the first few bars I recognized it as "that cool groove from 'Pra Sempre'".  Except this time an entire piece had been composed around it.  Again, Marcio Bahia is on drums, and he includes a few different variations on the groove.

Bahia orchestrates it a few different ways in this live version as well.

So what's going on here?  The answer is actually right in front of us, though cleverly hidden.  It didn't jump out to me until I saw Hamilton de Holanda's own chart for "Tamanduá".  Beneath the title the style marking said "Samba Invertido", which translates "inverted samba", and it smacked me in the face.

If you keep up with my regular postings on samba and Brazilian music, you might already know that a common telecoteco rhythm looks like this:

This rhythm is directional, meaning that depending on the composition it could be played as you see it above, or the two bars can be swapped so the cycle starts on beat one of the second bar.

But, if we start on beat two of the second bar (or "invert" it), we end up with this:

Which just so happens to be exactly what is being played in the examples above.  "Tamanduá" adds an additional layer of disorientation by starting on a pick up note, like so:

Edu Ribeiro has played this groove a few times as well, putting his own subtle spin on it.  The first was in 2011 when, Jota P., a sax/flute player from Hermeto Pascoal's band released a self-titled solo album.  The track "Que Fase!" features the groove.

And finally, in 2019, Hamilton de Holanda released a record with a new quartet featuring guitarist Daniel Santiago from his quintet, Thiago Espírito Santo on bass (son of Arismar do Espírito Santo, and occasional sub in the HH quintet), and Edu Ribeiro on drums.  The album, Harmonize, is one of de Holanda's finest in my opinion, and features a new rendition of "Tamanduá".

This groove is quite a specific thing, so I wouldn't recommend dropping it willy-nilly into your next bossa gig.  But it presents it's own challenges that are a lot of fun to work though and might give you some new creative ideas.

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