Good samba artists to check out?

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by ole Jason, Sep 30, 2003.

  1. I got a call from a friend yesterday about a steel band gig next week he needs me to cover. I've played bossas and sambas in the past but it's been awhile haha. Are there any recordings I could check out to get a better idea of what the 'real' players do? From what I remember, the group plays mostly very fast 2-3 clave tunes if that helps.
  2. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    San Francisco, CA
    Try David Byrne's "O Samba" and "Brazil Classics 1" compilations on his Luaka Bop label, Sergio Mendes ("Brazilero" is pretty good though smooth jazzy-ish and has a great example of a electric bass part on one of the songs), Martinho Da Vila, Paulinho Da Viola, and plenty of other I can't think of right now. I can dig up more if you want. But definitely get "O Samba", you can't go wrong with that one.
    I'm listening to Da Vila's "Batuca No Chao" right now.

    IMO, I'd probably avoid most jazzers playing bossa. Why? I think it was in a recent Ron Carter interview in Bass Player Magazine that he said something like: Most jazzers aren't playing samba/bossa right because they're copying other Americans who are trying to imitate 'traditional' samba/bossa bass beats during the period where Jobim was developing Bossa Nova. In other words, most people playing bossa today are trying to imitate other imitators. Yeah I know it's a generalization, but I think it's true. I spent 2 years as a percussionist in one of the biggest brazillian groups in SF, CA, so I think I can say I have a good idea of what a samba bass is supposed to 'feel' like. I've been told that even samba is only about 50-60 years old, so it's hard to even call it 'traditional'. Bass parts on most bossa albums by americans are annoying to me because they are monotonous somehow and needs to be more percussive because they're playing surdo parts.

    Most bass parts are imitating the "surdo" (pronounced sir-du) bass drum found in the bateria (drum section) that have a different and spaced out sound that complement a samba clave. The surdo is the heartbeat of samba, and really sounds like a heartbeat. Usually the clave is played by an agogo. If you listen to Martinho Da Vila or Paulinho Da Silva, you'll find that there is a sort of bass guitar that plays all these crazy flourishes and is basically soloing over the entire song. I think it's very different than what you find in bossa nova and probably something people aren't used to because that's not what they've been hearing in typical bossa ala Stan Getz/Joao Gilberto. It sounds to me that those bassists (whose names I forget) are playing the surdo and bass guitar parts at the same time. Listen to the people I suggested and compare to a Getz/Gilberto album for yourself.

    Also there's a book called something like "Inside the Brazilian Rhythm Section" which probably will be helpful to understand the surdo's relationships to the music.

    Have fun. My $.02

  3. Right on diddy! I listen to more Brazillian music than anything anymore. I became smitten, like alot of jazz musicians, with Ivan Lins when he first came on the scene, and that in turn exposed me to some of the younger (to me) Brazillian performers and composers like Horta, Joao Bosco etc...I also have Sergios "Brazilero" and you're right about some of that "soft jazz" stuff happening with the alto and soprano saxes. I guess that's geared to American audiences.
    The fabulous Brazillian drummer, the late Claudio Slon moved here to the Denver area a few years ago, and we became friends. I learned a helluva lot from him about the feel. Also, living here in Denver is one of the best Brazillian bassists in the Biz...Bijoux, who is also a poster here.
    When I want to listen to just plain old kick ass swingin' time, I usually go look for some Oscar Peterson with Ray and Herbie Ellis.....Until I heard " Elis Regina Live at Montreaux."...A Rhythm section headed by pianist Ceasar Mariano ( her husband I think) These mothers get into some Sambas that you would never believe! Take me now, Lord!!!
    And, if you think this music is all about Rhythm stuff, check out some of the harmonies! I've heard some stuff that comes directly from Bill Evans and Gil Evans in some of Ivan Lins harmonic palletes!! Some of his early stuff is out of this world. (good name for a tune)
    Check out for ALL your Bazillian music needs!! Actually ALL Latino music of any kind!
  4. "Samba" as a Portuguese word describing a rhythm and a dance has been traced to an article published in 1838 in the newspaper "O Carapuceira".

    Samba was introduced to Rio's Carnaval in 1899
  5. If you're playing samba or bossa, you will be entirely correct if you play ringing quarter notes on one and three. Three can be a little louder than one, just in case a Brazilian is watching.
  6. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    If you go back and check out some of Jobim's original recordings, the bass on most of the bossas is doing exactly as Don suggests. The bass is a simple, unsyncopated part on beats 1 and 3.

    It's the way everything fits together that makes it schmeck rythmically. Most of the "imitators" I hear are playing too much, drummers especially. The whole thing turns into drum soup rather quickly...
  7. Monte


    Jan 9, 2001
    New Albany, MS
    Most definitely.

    It was Lynn Seaton who pointed this out in his workshop, and said that if you isolated the bass parts there would be little or no difference between samba and a 2 feel on a swing tune.

  8. Funny you should say this. I watched Nilson Matta, perhaps Brazil's greatest bassist, do almost an entire night in two. The swing was outrageous. The only thing comparable is a recording of the Benny Goodman sextet where Slam Stewart wails the living hell out of Just One of Those Things playing in two.
    The syncopated and acrobatic stuff is part of salsa and Afro-Cuban, in which the bass role is the opposite of bossa.
  9. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    Agreed. My experience is that even the basic "heartbeat" feel (...AND ONE and two AND THREE and four...) is too much. Just one and three. On the records, Jobim's the guy adding the syncopation with his magnificent classical guitar comping.

    Those Jobim bossas are so pretty harmonically that they need lots of air or they'll choke.
  10. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    San Francisco, CA
    MMmm.... soo much music, So little time! With all this music to listen to, who has time to practice?!??! :meh: :)
  11. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    San Francisco, CA
    Sorry, I think I was referring to Maracatu or Enredo which showed up as a style of music and dance for Carnaval parades starting in the 30's. I think that's when it started to become really popular. It's the direct ancestor to what you see at the Sambadrome every february during Carnaval in Rio.
  12. I've gradually been subscribing to the less-is-more approach to sambas and bossas, and so far, no one is kicking me off the bandstand. Like you guys say, you have to let it breathe.

    Its funny that the older you get and the more solid your chops become, the less notes you feel inclined to play.
  13. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    San Francisco, CA
    I think my old percussion teacher was trying to get me to learn that the space and the rhythm is what dictates the melody and harmony for samba. In other words, there's no crazy fast chord changes... everything takes it's time. In the same sense, I've been told by a salsa arranger that salsa melodies are woven around the clave.

    For me, what really makes samba take off is a distinct percussive "ride", usually played on snare, conga, taborim, or repinique in a bateria. If you want to hear examples, check out more recent bands like Timbalada or Olodum and you'll hear it when they do samba-reggae.

    I kinda find it annoying when the drummer keeps doing an even heartbeat rhythm on 1 & 3. If you listen carefully to samba recordings there is even variations on what is played on surdo, but there is simply an just emphasis played on 1 & 3 and the surdo plays varying patterns around it. Kinda like the surdo is improvising over 1 & 3. In any case, in most bateria's you won't find two different instruments playing the same pattern. In jam sessions with old brazilian buddies, we've usually had the drummer lay off of the bass drum, or play minimally while the bass takes up that part and that sounded pretty good.

    In other words: drummer plays the snare/ride role and the bassist plays the surdo role in a samba. Pretty neat when it works.
  14. Ain't it the truth?
    As Jim Hall once said " Don't just do something....Stand there!"
  15. In that vein, I think that some guys get very lazy and unfocused when they play in two, and the result is that it doesn't swing. The fact that you are playing simply is no excuse for not concentrating on the swing. That's why Slam Stewart and Nilson Matta both could knock down a house when they play in two.

    I've observed the same thing in orchestral music. When we played Beethoven's 9th, our least effective movement was the slow (i.e., the "easiest") one.

    When you're playing slower, simpler passages, there is no place to hide flawed musicianship.

    I'm reminded of how it felt hearing the Jimmy Guiffre Three.
  16. I forgot about that band. Jim Hall again! I heard them once with Brookmyer and another time with Ralph Pena.
  17. Jim Atlas?
  18. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    I think Jim got the gig cause Ralph didn't want to tour/leave the west coast.

    Didja know that Bill Crow story about Jim getting the boot from the trio?

    Apparently after booking a string of trio gigs for that trio (Jim Hall & Jim Atlas), Jimmy got a call from Brookmeyer saying he was available for the remainder of the gigs. So Jimmy gave Jim A. a couple of weeks notice and that was that. Well this took place at the height of the Cuban Missile crisis and the newspapers were covering every little development. Being out on tour, none of the band was following this maelstrom out in the real world, so Jim was unaware that the newspapers were covering a US military missile test and instead thought that his personal troubles were being aired to the world when he got off the train in LA and all the papers on the newstand had the big bold headline ATLAS FIRED.
  19. Yeah, I read that. Beautiful.
  20. Quote:
    When you're playing slower, ( simpler passages ), there is no place to hide flawed musicianship.

    How true. I listen to Basie´s Little Darling now.
    Gsus, how that band schwingzs.