Thursday, August 31, 2006


Every now and then I get reports about salsa concerts from a friend who's working on the scene in NYC. I wish I lived closer to the city - I miss the music on hot nights, coming from rolled-down car windows, drifting on the breeze.

Tonight's as good as any for some Nuyorican music. And this is one of the great bands, from 1968, with pianist Charlie Palmieri leading. The album's called Latin Bugalu. (And - shame on some nameless label honchos! - it's out of print.)

In short, Bitter Sweet

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


It's still dark, rainy and dreary here - leftovers from the most recent tropical storm. I'd thought about posting something "northern," but changed my mind in favor of another Latin American cut.

I could talk a lot about the music - the lead singer is Chabuca Granda, and she's performing in an Afro-Peruvian style, with members of Peru Negro. But I'd rather imagine myself lying on the sofa on South Tenth Street, being caught by surprise as this showed up on my downstairs neighbors' turntable... (The song is called Fina Estampa, and it's from Chabuca Granda's album, Cada Canción Con Su Razon.)

Monday, August 28, 2006


I've been listening to music from all over the world since I was a small child. I'm not sure when or how I first encountered sounds from other cultures. Most likely, my dad's koto LPs had something to do with the formation of my tastes, along with my mom's fondness for American jazz and João Gilberto.

There's something about solo instrument performances (what I heard on my dad's records) - simplicty, sincerity. That's equally true of João Gilberto's work - just acoutic guitar and voice. (Or, as they say in Brazil, voz e violão.)

Over the past seven years, I've found myself digging deeper and deeper into Brazilian music. There's a combination of lyricism and rhythm there that I find very appealing, but there's something more - and it touches my heart. Part of this appeal is what Brazilians call saudade, a word that doesn't translate well into English. We usually say things like "longing," "pining," "yearning" - saudade is all of these things, but it's more - and that's the part that can't be translated.

Perhaps the best way to understand it is to hear it. So, Clara Nunes, singing Que seja bem feliz, by Cartola. (It's from her 1975 album, Claridade.) And tell me if I'm wrong about voz e violão - and saudade, too - after you've listened...

Sunday, August 27, 2006


It's raining today, grey and dreary. But the sound of the falling rain is refreshing. Still, I'd like some relief from it all, and thought of a recent Django Reinhardt reissue, Nuages (i.e., clouds).

One of my favorite tracks is his swing interpretation of Aquarela do Brasil, a samba by Ary Barroso. In the lyrics, Ary sang the praises of his homeland, his Brasil brasileiro ("Brazilian Brazil").


I've thought and thought and thought about a name for this blog, and then thought some more about the reason it ought to exist.

We hear, but we don't have persistence of hearing. We can ignore sounds, or not. We can love or hate what we hear. And we can choose what we listen to.

This is a space for you. For listening. For persistence of hearing.

The needle drops into the groove, and....

Song: Saudosismo, Caetano Veloso