Rhythm Planet Spotlight: Brazilian Music Playlist & Upcoming Concerts

Every so often, I think about what I would listen to if I were stranded on a deserted island with nothing but a solar-powered record player and a small collection of records, or a solar-powered laptop with Spotify. If forced to choose, I would while away my desert island days listening to Brazilian music 24-7. There’s nothing quite like it. Brazilian music combines the sublime melodies and rich European harmonies—like what you hear in Ravel and Debussy—with African rhythms. It’s a divine musical amalgam.

In anticipation of several upcoming Brazilian shows, I’ve put together a Spotify playlist featuring the artists who will be performing here in L.A. Check below for more information about these special concerts. Enjoy the music—whether from a desert island or your own backyard!

Friday, August 4 | Samba Society | Ford Theater (Hollywood)

Os Zagueiros with Beto González, Dan Reckard, Bobby Easton, Leo Nobre, Simon Carroll and Fabio Santana De Souza.

The L.A.-based music collective Samba Society presents Brasil 70! Samba/Soul/Resistance at the newly-renovated Ford Theater just up the road from the Hollywood Bowl (on the opposite side of Cahuenga). We know about the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile, the disappeared in Argentina under the junta, but less is known about the Brazilian dictatorship that overthrew President Juscelino Kubitschek in Brazil in 1964. We do know that Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil were forced into exile by the generals ruling the military junta. Baden Powell left for France and Germany as well.

It was a time of repression, and Brasil 70 will explore the era’s socio-political themes through some of Brazil’s well-known musical genres along with hybrid forms. The show features singer Thalma de Freitas, MôForró, Os Zagueiros, Marcel Camargo, Tita Lima, Bate Batuque, Diana Purim, and other special guests. (Diana Purim, Tita Lima, and Thalma de Freitas all hail from the lineage of Brazilian musical pioneers. Diana is the daughter of jazz legends Flora Purim and Airto Moreira; Tita is the daughter of Liminha, musical producer and former bass player of the groundbreaking Tropicália group Os Mutantes; and Thalma is the daughter of maestro Laércio de Freitas). The Ford is a beautiful outdoor theater, and the perfect backdrop for this summer show. For tickets and info, click here.

Sunday, August 13 | Joyce | Zebulon Café (Frogtown)

Legendary Brazilian singer/songwriter, arranger and guitarist Joyce Moreno. (Photo courtesy of Far Out Recordings)

Now here’s a fantastic opportunity to hear a Brazilian legend who rarely visits L.A. Joyce Moreno, who goes by “Joyce,” is a gifted singer/songwriter, arranger, and a talented guitarist known for her sambas and bossa novas. Even if you’ve never heard of her, the list of artists who have covered her work is long: Elis Regina, Annie Lennox, Gerry Mulligan, Claus Ogerman and more. Don’t miss this opportunity to catch Joyce at Zebulon Café during her nine-city tour of the U.S. Also on the night’s set list is L.A.-based carioca guitarist and composer, Fabiano do Nascimento, whose music I’ve featured on my show many times. For tickets and info, click here.

Wednesday, August 16 | A Night of Brazilian Guitar | Brazilian Consulate (Beverly Hills)

Clockwise from left: Fabiano do Nascimento, Marcel Camargo, Capital, and JP Mourão. (Photos courtesy of Brazilian Arts Connection)

Next month, the Brazilian Consulate of Los Angeles and Brazil Arts Connection will present an evening of superb Brazilian guitar music in the small, intimate theater space of their offices in the Flynt building. The four guitarists on the program include the fabulous Fabiano do Nascimento (once again), JP Mourão, Marcel Camargo, and Capital. Brazilian guitarists are second to none because their musical DNA is passed down from Heitor Villa-Lobos and Baden Powell. The chance to hear all four of these guitarists perform in this intimate setting should not be missed! It’s a free concert, so for more information and to RSVP, click here.

Sunday, September 17 | Vanessa da Mata | Teragram Ballroom (Downtown L.A.)

Brazilian superstar Vanessa da Mata. (Photo by José Goulão)

Many here have heard Vanessa da Mata’s “Boa Sorte” (“Good Luck”) duet with Ben Harper. Da Mata is a contemporary superstar in Brazil and Europe, who also rarely makes it to the States. Opening for her will be Brazilian singer Tita Lima with pianist Marcos Ariel, and DJ Potira spinning to start the night off. For tickets and information, click here.

Thanks to Patricia Leão of Brazilian Nites Productions for putting this show together.

Saturday, December 2 | João Donato | UCLA Royce Hall (Westwood)

João Donato, 1961. (Photo courtesy of CAP UCLA)

Okay, I admit—this December show is a ways off, but it’s one that I suggest you put in your calendar now. To highlight the L.A./Brazil connection, the Center for the Art of Performance (CAP UCLA) will present That Bad Donato as part of this year’s larger Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA explorationThat Bad Donato revisits the 1970s album, A Bad Donato, which was recorded here in Los Angeles by legendary pianist, producer and arranger João Donato. In it, he combined jazz, funk and other stylistic elements, while showcasing the many Brazilian artists who were based here at the time: Airto Moreira, Flora Purim, Sergio Mendes, Paulinho da Costa, the late Moacir Santos and more. The album is considered a classic for modern Brazilian music. Donato left L.A. shortly after this recording, so the return to his local roots promises to be a very special occasion. For tickets and information, click here.

A big muito obrigado to Sérgio Mielniczenko of the Brazilian Consulate, who hosts The Brazilian Hour on KXLU, 88.9 FM, every Saturday and Sunday from 9:00–10:00 A.M. I heard about all these upcoming concerts while listening to his show.

Photo of João Donato (top) by Clever Barbosa for B2CFilmes