After a few weeks away working in Ireland, Scotland, and Iceland it's high time I get back to posting.
Just before I left I was working on this very cool groove by Kiko Freitas on the tune, "Vento Bravo", which is a well-known Edu Lobo tune covered by Freitas and company in Nosso Trio.
Kiko Freitas, Nelson Faria, and Ney Conceição are, or were at least, the rhythm section for another famous Brazilian composer and performer, João Bosco. The three of them then created Nosso Trio, which translates to "Our Trio".
The underlying rhythm here is a fairly common 12/8 bell pattern, what most of us would call Bembé. Most of us also think of this as a pattern found in Cuban music, which it is. However, it's important to remember that in the case of Bembé we are talking about Afro-Cuban music. Music from Cuba, of African descent. But, Cuba is certainly not the only place that Africans ended up. The slave trade brought millions of Africans throughout Central and South America, as well as the States. It's no wonder then that although the music evolved differently in each of these places, the African roots can not only be clearly heard, but there is a lot of overlap. In Brazil, the rhythm that is most often called Bembé is referred to as "Vassi". The rhythm and its name come from Candomblé, which is Brazilian sacred music of African descent.
Both Bembé and Vassi descend from the Yoruba people. The largest populations of the Yoruba are found in Benin and Nigeria, but there are significant numbers throughout west African, including Ghana, Togo, and the Ivory Coast. The Yoruba have had a huge influence on the music of Africa, and subsequently Cuba and Brazil. If you've played in West African ensemble before, chances are that a lot of the music you played is of Yoruba descent.
If you are at all interested in the evolution of rhythms and African diaspora, you should definitely check out Billy Martin's book Riddim: Claves of African Origin. It traces many Brazilian, Cuban and American rhythms back to their African roots. The notes are very cool, but the reading and suggested listening is worth the price alone.
What I was most intrigued about in this arrangement of Vento Bravo was the placement of the bass drum on beat 2. When I first heard this I just assumed that it was a Brazilian thing. They place the low sound on beat 2 in samba, frevo, and many other styles, so why not this one? But I was recently able to ask Kiko himself about the groove, and he explained that it was just something that he came up with for this arrangement of the tune. Either way, it's pretty cool.
I haven't been able to find a streaming recording of this tune, so I guess you'll just have to go buy the record. There are quite a few live recordings, one of which is below, but he plays the groove slightly different in each of them. On the original recording, which is what I've notated here, the triangle at the top of the staff represents a cowbell, and the triangle above the staff represents some sort of block. But play around with various sounds. As you'll see if you check out some of the live recordings, there are tons of options that all make for pretty cool sounds.