practice on the veranda much?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Fun fun fun in the sun and the RAIN

Friday, the 21st, I played a gig with a DJ and guitarist, named Caetano Ribeiro, at a local club, called Kabana Bar- got some great pics and video from that- tons of fun, some dancing, singing/rapping/playing on my part. Caetano was awesome, too... he actually still remembers all of the guys who visited Campinas not 2 years ago- Adam, Jack, Zach, AJ, and Jon. Playing that night was seriously some of the most fun I've had in a while- reminded me of a Cincy Brass show, the band Moe and I play with frequently in Cincinnati, who actually is releasing the album on November 18th in Cincinnati, so look out for press release stuff on that. But this gig was about as much fun as I have playing with the Brass- we played "groove" tunes all night- anything from Temptations to Tupac to Average White Band... it was a lot of fun as the horn player. When I asked at first what I was supposed to do as the horn player- am I to memorize all of the lines? He said, "No man... just play along with it and if you know some of the lines and whatnot, go ahead!" Little did they know I was going to sing/rap as well because some of the tunes were right up my "alley"- Stevie Wonder, James Brown... SO YEAH- of course I had lots of fun! And great friends there, too!
While, Moe went to a beach during the last weekend, I had a rehearsal on Saturday in Sao Paulo with an orchestra that's playing for some fundraiser type thing. Anyways, my friend Daisuke is the conductor of the orchestra and I'm getting to play principal on Mozart 41 and a few other "world premiere" pieces as well written here, in Brazil. That was an interesting change after the night I had with Caetano playing with the DJ. That night, I celebrated my close friends' birthdays, Bruna and Guga- the latter of the two who's actually coming to Cincinnati to study abroad in this same FIPSE program--- really cool guitarist.
This past week: (and still Mike)
As far as school- some of the rehearsals and lessons were all sorts of “flip-flopped” and schedule turned into a bit of a mess. Not to worry, we got through things and got stuff done. At this point, normally, school would be winding down for us, since we’ve already had about 12 weeks of class and pretty much 5 more to go… it’s reaaaallly long with out a long break. So, around the holiday this next week, we’ve planned a trip to Brasilia to hang, play, and gig with our friends from there- Renato, Zack, and Jon- 2 of which are the other Americans from Louisville doing this same exchange program. We hope to run into our other friends, as well while we’re there!!!

Friday October 28, I played in Sao Paulo with Bob Wyatt- trying to get some recording stuff together for my graduate auditions. It was a master class featuring young guest artists at the school he works at called, “Faculdade Cantareira.” And guess who the guest artist was!!! The gig went well and I can use some of it I think. Still waiting to get some of the recordings because the master class was held in their recording studio. That was nice- also because my expenses were all covered, in wise of travel. Friday night, I got home and Moe was already gone for Sorocaba, so I chilled!

As far as my Halloween weekend, I’ve mostly spent it practicing, recording, and the master class on Friday. In terms of festivities, I don’t really think Brazil is completely indulged with Halloween as American culture is. So, I stayed in and relaxed- the power went out on Saturday night for a bit- sat around with the family I live with, talked and listened to the storm- really reminded me of Cincinnati and fall weather. I think it’s something like 5 and ½ weeks left until we return. Things are just getting better and better as we get closer to leaving- sometimes, I wish I could stay another 6 months! That’s all from me… onto Moe.

A little over a week ago I went with my landlords and their family on a trip. Sidebar- because one of them is a women would they be called my landpeople? But that just sounds ridiculous...landmasters maybe? Anyway, it was “Kid’s Day” if you were secular, and if you were religious it was ”Mary-Mother-of-God Day”...or something like that. We were supposed to go to São Paulo, but plans changed. First of all, there was some ridiculous fog, the likes of which I have never seen. Traffic came to a compete stand still. As the night crept in and the fog crept out, we decided to just hit the beach instead, Praia Grande (yup, you guessed it, Big Beach). It was my first experience with a Brazilian beach, and it was amazing. The feeling I felt that night running around on the beach was akin only to my first trip to Pirenópolis; on the bus ride there, it was so dark and so “country” I could see a lot of stars, all the stars that I could never see back home. But on this beach, it was kind of like that. Seeing the ocean in all it’s vastness, especially at night. And the sand was so fine, it makes the stuff on Long Island seem like half-chewed chunks of flotsam and jetsam spewed from some unholy orifice of the Earth.
This past weekend I ventured to two more beaches with my surrogate family. One in Bertioga, and the other on a little island nearby, Guarujá. While the beaches were a visual feast unto themselves, I would have been content with just the drive to them. We took the scenic route, driving through the mountains and down the coastline. The mountains were breathtaking, all covered in trees and gargantuan for the most part. One in particular caught my eye, mainly because it was so...cyclopean looking. As I was traveling through a few words came to mind, colossi, monolithic, ancient. And the way that the clouds hung around them, they were like castles in the sky, and the clouds were the drapes. The beaches were nice. Good food, good people, nice scenery. You’re sitting their, sipping on a caipirinha in a beach chair looking out at the ocean, and at the giant, floating island-mountain off to the side, and you can’t help but think, 'Wow, I’m really here, really in Brazil right now.'

More to come from Moe later about his weekend in Sorocaba and some other stuff...

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Some "IN GENERAL" Blogging


We should talk about the Brazilian hot dog… not your standard ball park frank, like the ones I crave from Wrigley Field in Chicago, my favorite place on the planet. Although Moe doesn’t like hot dogs, these have been quite the experience for me whenever I’ve had them (Brasilia, Campinas, or Sao Paulo). It has potatoes, ketchup, mustard, corn, cheese, carrots, and other stuff all just packed in there. I feel like as much as the two of us hate talking about “EPIC MEAL TIME” on youtube, this is definitely similar to it. Among other things, we should also talk about the hospitality we are receiving from our hosts, here, in Campinas, Moiser and Shirley. Two lovely people that we would have never met had we not sent out the email for housing in late July, panicking, to say the least, about where we were going to live. At first, we thought it would be too far away from school, but we've actually managed with things (taking the bus and paying for it, for example)--- and talk about "managing" things along with food, SHIRLEY is quite the cook. I think our parents would be happy to know how well fed we are and how well taken care of we are, socially, culturally, and lingually... it's not a word, but they speak portugues with us a lot, so it's really good for us!!! As for the social and cultural part, they have taken Moe to Sao Paulo, taken us out to eat a few times, and make us try the dishes they prepare as a total delicacy, from what I can tell. Just the other night, Moiser made a home-made lasagna... it was ridiculous. In other news, getting to play with "heavy" musicians has been awesome. This weekend, (Oct 22) I get to start rehearsals on Mozart 41 Jupiter Symphony with a thrown together orchestra in Sao Paulo that I am hoping is fun. Other than that, we have been making great friends- Bruna, Guga, Thassie, Lina, Guillerme, Fernanda, Gabriel, Thomas, Gabriela, Dennis, Amanda, Lucas, Miguel, Jacob, Fozia, Frank, Pedro, and Bruno. We've had a hell of a time so far and yes, we realize we can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but the rest of the ride looks AWESOME. We are still excited to be here and living it up. Roadtrips are going "down" in a few weeks- Brasilia reunion, a few beaches, and who knows... maybe Rio? We'll find out.

Ok, there are only two foods in the entire world that I do not like, one of them is eggs, in all it’s forms (except when concealed in the clever guise of a baked good) and hot dogs. Hot dogs and I just don’t jive. Everytime I mention that I don’t like hot dogs I hear cries of “...but you’re American!” Haha. However, I did meet someone else that does not like the taste of eggs, a flute player named Gabriel. I have never met anybody that feels the same way that I do about eggs, it was an amazing moment. Anyway, as far as food, I’ve been following the advice of a good friend and talented trombone player and have been eating everything. My tongue and palette have bee privy to all the culinary secrets that Brazil has to offer. Oh, and by the way, they know how to do cheese down here. Both Wisconsin and France can go ahead and take a page out of Brazil’s book. My only complaint as far as cuisine goes is that Ranch Dressing does not exist down here. In fact, a friend of mine whom I met here, a chef nonetheless actually asked me, “What’s ranch?” “WHAT’S RANCH?” Of course, down here, I hear the typical jokes as far as American tastes go such as, “Where is McDonald’s?” But I don’t care what anybody says, even if America sends all of it’s prodigious talents in the culinary arts over to France or Italy, Ranch dressing is the single greatest culinary achievement ever. It makes everything better. Everything. Not only food, I’d wager that if I bathed in it, I would probably become a better trombone player.

Week of October 15th

This week's music played/playing: Sunday- Brazilian (Nelson Ayres), Monday- Classical (Sibelius, Rossinni, Faust), Tuesday- Jazz (recording), Wednesday- (day off writing for Cincy Brass's Halloween special- aka, GO!), Thursday- Ska Band recording session, and Friday (tomorrow)- Jazz in Sao Paulo...

Road trip to Sorocaba- saw Lisabi, a band we know from a Republica (code for: giant house where 10-15 people live jointly) in Campinas, housing a bunch of Americans from Wisconsin. Whenever we hang out with them, it’s a killer fun time and there’s always something new in the mix. This time, it was a show where we danced and Lisabi was the most popular band that night! While we were there, we got to hang out with out close friends, Alexandre and Juliana, who we hadn’t seen since the Streetlight Show in August, except once we hung out with Jules for a night in mid- September.

Alright, this week was full of pleasant surprises. Easily the highlight of the week, I saw a toucan on the bus ride home. brazil is the kind of place where you hear birds chirping, and you look out your window and see that they are bright green. I have become a lot more appreciative of nature since I came here, mostly because there are a lot of woodland creatures and such here, that we don’t have at home. For instance, capybaras, those things are everywhere. They’re like, beavers. Yeah, beaver, but without the waffled tail. Also, vultures moved into the neighborhood this week. I was amazed, but Mike sees vultures all the time where he lives. It turns out that they are huge (they could easily carry away a cat or small dog). I see them all the time now when I walk, circling the skies overhead.
Also, I saw another Forró show last night. One group was a trio Pé de Mulambo, they were really good considering it was only a zabumba, a triangle, and a really big rustic violin. The zabumba player was awesome, particularly his xote stylings (kind of a reggae/hip-hop/backbeat sort of feel). Initially I thought it was hip-hop, but was nonetheless enthralled. The other group is called Quinteto Dona Zaíra. I happened to have my horn on me, and I jammed with them. We played some jazz, and some Brazilian music. If you looked up cultural diffusion in the dictionary, there would probably be a picture of us in that tiny room above the stage that night.

October 6th

We had a couple of our first concerts with the Nelson Ayres Big Band. We both thought of it more as a “pops orchestra” because of the repetoire and the fact that we had strings (and vocals at times). Nelson Ayres is a well-known composer, songwriter, and pianist in Brazil- his charts were really nice to play and really demonstrated some differences in the writing here as compared to what we have read/played in the United States (jazz big bands). This weekend, we went to a Churrasco (barbecue type thing) that our friends threw. I met some players from a party in the middle of the week and hung out with them some, realizing the commute to and from Sao Paulo as a big deal here in Campinas- also, later landed a gig hanging with a trumpet player. BIG TEST IN PORTUGUES- which was hard, but we’ve been doing much better with portugues, lately.
Playing with the Nelson Ayres band has been a great experience. I look forward to playing with this group, the music is great and the people are fun; not to mention, the attitude/atmosphere is different. For example, during the last piece, the brass section dances with their horns. I also went to my first Forró show, it was interesting to say the least. I had fun and learned a lot, but I am still wondering what makes Forró, Forró. I’m sure that with a little research and a few more shows I’ll have it figured out though.
I’m also learning about the colorful world of sports rivalries down here. I myself have never been one to “root” for any particular team. I don’t understand why any sports franchise deserves my loyalty and emotion. I do however, enjoy watching American football. Just watching the game. Here however, soccer is akin to a religion (which is also funny because Brazil is a very religious country). As an American, my opinion is oft sought on things like baseball, football rivalries, etc. It usually comes as a shock when I mention that I don’t like baseball (it moves WAY to slowly for me), and that I ally myself with no team. That doesn’t really happen here. Everybody loves soccer, and everybody has a team. But what EVERYBODY does is root against Argentina, no matter what team they’re playing against. Estou aprendendo....

Sept 28

Met Sidmar Veira, a very talented trumpet player and his friend/sax player Jefferson- how we met: sat in with them at Almenaque with Bob Wyatt, a drummer who apparently played with Clark Terry on tours and stuff. I can believe it because the level of swing and ability throughout the drums the guy has is amazing. I was honored to have been able to share the stage with those guys that night. The day before that, I actually went to Sao Paulo with some of my friends to see and sit in with Daniel D’Alcantara, whom I think is one of the best trumpet players in all of Brazil. We had our first concert that week with Nelson Ayres as well. School has been smooth sailing so far... big test in Portugues coming up!

So, I watched a Clockwork Orange this week, a very thought provoking film, raising many ethical and socio-political questions, none of which I am going to discuss here. This past weekw as FEIA, the Festival for the Institute of Arts. Thus, classes were more or less “optional,” and we were free to attend master classes on a number of subjects. I participated in a few Choro masterclasses. Choro is definitely a entertaining medium of music, but I couldn’t halpe but feel bored when playing it. The trombone mainly voice leads and fills in the sound with contrapuntal lines. I learned a lot, and still have a lot more to learn. In order to REALLY know what I’m doing I need to listen to a lot more of it, and transcribe some of the common lines; just like in jazz there’s a language that I need to learn. Specifically I need to listen to Ze Da Velha. He’s the guy everyone always mentions when I state my interest in choro. I also jammed with a funk/fusion band, Hakavuna. They play all the great stuff, Return To Forever, Weather Report and the like. Due to earlier experiences in this country, I was starting to feel that Brazilian couldn’t really play funk, but thankfully, I was proven wrong. I’m noticing that Brazilian music when it’s not completely straight, has a swing all it’s own.

Sept 21

Met Daniel D’Alcantara and sat in with him at Almanaque Café. It. Was. AWEOME. Started rehearsals for “film orchestra” (film arrangements by one of our friends, Tomas. Really cool stuff!). We’re playing things like 007, The Incredibles, Theme from Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Catch me if you can, etc. The first rehearsal was a blast and I’m getting to yet again play more lead trumpet.

The Lion King is out in 3D. I want to see it. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, The Lion King is the greatest Disney film of all time, of all time. I feel so strongly about this that I am going to just leave you with that thought. That’s it. Oh, and we are participating in a film orchestra. “Dream is Collapsing” from Inception= awesome! Belting out low C’s and G’s, I think that’s what the trombone was made for. Stuff like that makes me ALMOST wish I were a real-deal classical player.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Sept 12

Okay- a week has passed and there IS some new stuff. Hope you guys are all up date with us, but if not, you can check the earlier blogs on the right.

I went to a “canja” last week. A canja is basically a jam session, nothing too different or special. However, we played jazz, exclusively, which I thought was different. We did play one Bossa, but nothing uniquely Brazilian. The horn players did want to play Vale de Ribeira, but I think the rhythm section was all about jazz that night. I made some new friends, and enjoyed some great music. That was Monday. Friday I enjoyed a night out with some folks from a rival school, PUCC. I was re-assured that I no ill-will would befall me because of my educational status, turns out that the PUCC students merely detest Unicamp’s medical students; something about them being stuck about (imagine that). It was a grand night of merry-making filled with merry merriness. I lament to inform you all that we could not find a hamburger place open, which made me remember how much I miss White Castle, but, there were plenty of hot-dog places open. For those of you keeping score at home, I do not like hot dogs.

I started applying to grad schools this past weekend and also got to meet the trumpet teacher from Unicamp today. There’s still a delay for him being able to teach here at Unicamp, but they’re trying to figure it out. He said that it should be about 2 weeks, but he is excited that I am playing with the orchestra. My friend from the orchestra, Fernando, said that there might be opportunities to play in brass ensembles as well!

It’s a little hectic down here in the sense that, we sometimes have no idea what’s going on in terms of whether we’re going to rehearse during the week or not. It’s weird to us because at CCM, we have a schedule that literally doesn’t ever change- there’s always big band from 2-4 on MWF… I don’t know- just thought I’d mention. Everyone is also way too relaxed about it.

We’d like to share the fact that we were famous for one night as well. Moe and I were featured artists in one of Campinas’ finest café/restaurants called the Almanaque Café. We kicked off a festival they’re holding all month for Miles Davis, himself. The whole first set we played was his “Kind Of Blue” album- the best selling jazz album of all time. After that, we broke loose a bit more and played standards Miles would play later in his career and we even broke some new ground in terms of our playing as well as with this group of guys we had the honor of playing with- Felipe Silveira on kets, Daniel “Pezim” on bass, and Juan (forgot last name, oops) on drums. It was a wonderful evening of music and we played for a packed house that included friends of ours from school as well as Shirley and Moisir, our landlords! They enjoyed it very much and took lots of pictures. When we were remembering this in our week for the blog, the way Moe brought it up was as such: “Our names were on the top of a billboard!” And they were; they really were. We felt like it the best we’ve played in a while and it felt good to be on and in the scene with some killer musicians again, reminding us yet again of Cincinnati and how it’s treated us.

Thanks for checking in! We'll keep posting!

M and M