Lincoln Center Festival - Brazil: Beyond Bossa - Recife, Rabecas, and Turntables - Mestre Salustiano & DJ Dolores and Orchestra Santa Massa
LaGuardia Concert Hall
By Rémie K. Roseman
July 20, 2003
Rabeca*, Lead Vocals: Manoel Salustiano Soares
Mineiro*: Antonio de Pádua Souza Braga
Bongo: Pedro Salustiano Soares
Surrão: Edilton Euclides de Lima
Triangle: Manoel Salustiano Soares Filho
Zabumba*: Wellington dos Santos Soares
Berimbau*: Olicio João de Silva
Producer: Júlio Sérgio de Barros Maia
DJ Dolores and Orchestra Santa Massa
Samplers, Effects, Turntables: DJ Dolores (Helder Aragão)
Rabeca*, Percussion, Vocals: Maciel Salustiano
Guitar, Vocals: Fàbio Trummer
Drums: Mr. Jam
Percussion, Vocals: Isaar Franca
Manager: Paulo Andre Moraes Pires
Technician: Lindenberg Jose Rodrigues de Oliveira
New York Debut
*[see selected glossary below]
This final night of the Brazil: Beyond Bossa
festival was an interesting and successful one, tied together by an instrument-the rabeca
, a 16th-century Portuguese violin used frequently in the folk music of northeastern Brazil-and a family-Mestre Salustiano, the star of the first half of the concert, is the father of the rabeca
player and lead singer for DJ Dolores and Orchestra Santa Massa. In fact, at the end of the night, the son, Maciel Salustiano, called his father on to the stage to play a couple of songs with his group, crossing generations and musical styles.
Mestre Salustiano's performance also evoked that of Selma de Coco, who opened the Brazil: Beyond Bossa festival on July 16. In a similar pattern, Mestre Salustiano's musicians-all men-filed on stage and began playing a lively piece, calling Mestre Salustiano to his audience with, "Coco de Manoel." He came on stage and began playing his heart and soul out on his rabeca, sometimes sawing almost violently at the instrument. Some of the melodies were very beautiful, somewhat plaintive and almost haunting, others almost dissonant, and still others evoked the fiddling of many nations, from Scotland to America. Regardless of what he played, Mestre Salustiano played it with great energy and generally at a fast tempo, throwing his whole body into his fiddling. His rabeca was a beautiful pale blonde instrument, with a solid bridge, and a curved and somewhat hollow fingerboard. The bow he used was more deeply curved than the bow one typically finds accompanying a traditional classical violin, with the rabeca bow hairs strung in a round "bunch" to create a curved versus flat bowing surface. With it, he could also create an almost percussive sound, becoming one with the drums and other instruments.
The group performed a number of different songs, some in the coco style, some of the forró genre. Like Selma de Coco, Mestre Salustiano's performed his coco songs in a call-and-answer format, conversing with his fellow musicians with his voice or with his rabeca, sometimes answering his own voice with fiddling, in a self-contained dialogue. Many of the forró pieces sounded a bit like America square-dancing music, calling the audience to its feet.
Mestre Salustiano's musicians supplied the dancing for several pieces. Early in the concert, a dragon-man came out, with an impressive, colorful head and large teeth. Between leaps and bounds, he hit a cowbell to accent the music. Something about the performance and the costume brought to mind images of Chinese dragon boat races and Vietnamese water puppets, as well as Mardi Gras floats. With the other musicians energetically dancing and playing their instruments, wearing colorful textile shirts and black pants, one did have the feeling of being at a celebration.
Another dancing creature that found its way on stage was a happy spotted cow, with bright flowers painted on its white sides and on the skirt that clothed the lower half of the dancer. Swishing its long tail, the cow transformed from a quiet animal resting on stage to a mad bull, prancing and prowling to the music. At another point, the most spirited of the drummers, who danced with so much energy while he played his instrument, disappeared from the stage. He emerged several minutes later, clad only in his trousers, adorned with a vibrant feather headdress, matching feather armbands and carrying arrow-like rattles. His footwork and energy were so unbelievable that sometimes it was hard to see his feet move. From capoeira-like spins to jumps ballet dancers would be proud of, this dancer/musician personified the excitement of the music accompanying him.
While Mestre Salustiano took a brief break, the group performed a song that showcased the youngest percussionist, who appeared no older than fourteen. He picked up the rabeca and fiddled madly, dancing with an equally energetic tambourine player. My companion and I concluded that, based on his name and his fiddling style, the fiddler was likely the youngest son of Mestre Salustiano. Mestre Salustiano closed out the show with another impressive fiddling/singing performance, and then gave up the stage to another son.
Having witnessed the not entirely successful blend of old and new in the performance by mangue beat masters, Mundo Livre S/A earlier in the festival, I was not sure what to expect from DJ Dolores and Orchestra Santa Massa. Much to my very pleasant surprise, I think this group "got it" and figured out how to mingle more traditional forms and instruments, such as the rabeca with radically new forms, such as sampled voices, drums and music "played" via an Apple notebook computer. What seemed to work was that the electonica and the effects were background accompaniment to the actual instruments and voices, creating a contemporary atmosphere around more traditional sounds. The female lead singer sang attractive melodies accompanied by Mestre Salustiano's son on the rabeca, while DJ Dolores played a drum track in the background, never loud enough to drown out the musicians. But DJ Dolores also played to the strength of electronic music, capturing a phrase that one of the vocalist just sang, and echoing it back within the song as a sample. The musical style ranged from funky lounge to get-on-your-feet club beats, with samba, bossa nova and other styles carrying many of the central melodies.
Unlike the musicians of Mundo Livre S/A, the musicians of Orchestra Santa Massa seemed to enjoy the performance experience thoroughly. The percussionist, who played everything from traditional drums to afuche, timbal, tin cans and cowbells, danced around with a big grin on his face and a bright orange jumpsuit on his body. The female vocalist, a little heavyset in a sleeveless flowered shift dress, had amazing energy, dancing happily to every song, her smile infectious. In the background, while he mixed in beats, sounds and other instruments like trumpets, DJ Dolores bopped and swayed like a DJ in a downtown club.
Obviously their audience, made up of both young and old, hip and traditional, also enjoyed the performance. Not only did they stay for the whole concert, but much of the audience also was up and dancing, enjoying the spirit and the sound of the music. Mestre Salustiano reappeared at the end to accompany Orchestra Massa and DJ Dolores for a lively piece with flying rabeca passages backed by a driving club-music beat. No one could sit still. A very fitting end to a wonderful Brazilian mini-festival, courtesy of Lincoln Center Festival. As many New Yorkers learned this summer, there is much, much more beyond bossa.
Excerpted from the
Lincoln Center Festival 2003 Complete Program Guide (
Coco-A traditional dance style whose origins remain unclear, coco may have been brought to Brazil by African slaves, or it could have been created by the cross-pollination of Afro-Brazilian culture. Coco is usually performed by a circle of singers clapping their hands, and the lyrics are improvised rhythmic poetry. The tirador de coco starts the improvisation and is answered by background vocalists in a manner reminiscent of rap poetry. A tambourine or the beat of feet on the ground accompanies the singing. Coco was rediscovered and reenergized in the early 1990's, when the mangue beat groups Chico Science & Nação Zumbi, as well as Mundo Livre S/A, incorporated it into their music.
Forró-The word forró may be a truncated version of the word forroborro, an African term that means "spree, fun, confusion, or disorder" and is also the name of a popular country ball or party. The rhythms have strong African roots; the instruments originated in Portugal. The instrumentation includes the accordion, the zabumba drum, and the triangle. For many centuries, forró was the music of the deep rural northeast, and was generally ignored by musicians and audiences in urban Brazil. However, during the 1940's, the great composer and musician Luiz Gonzaga single-handedly brought it back and elevated it to celebrity status. In the 1990's, Mestre Ambrosio and other bands embraced forró.
Instruments (in order of performance listing, above)
Rabeca-A 16th-century Portugues violin that has been used continuously in northeastern Brazil and is common in the folk music of Pernambuco.
Miniero-A tubular metal shaker that is also called a ganzá.
Zabumba-A medium-sized flat drum that is similar to a snare drum.
Berimbau-A bow strung backwards; its gourd resonating chamber faces the player's stomach.
Rémie K. Roseman
Vice President, Citi Cards—Citigroup
Focus on strategy development and implementation, global financial services
BA, Yale University
MBA, Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College
MALD, The Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy at Tufts University
Amateur singer, student of partner dancing, avid music fan, writer