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Post three by Shawn Knable – 30 de Julho de 2013

September 1, 2013

Last night we met up with our friend Thiago (one of the guys who came up to Louisville last year; he’s a really good sax player and an awesome guy; he’s actually leaving in a couple weeks to start his grad school at UofL) and went to a little jam session/hang out in one of the quadrants nearby. Which brings me to describing what the quadrants are (at least as I understand them to be).

This city was designed and built in the late 50s literally by two people, an architect and a civil engineer. They designed everything to be almost exactly symmetrical, and it was carried out exactly that way. All of it is very strategically planned out, which makes if very different from every other Brazilian city. So the quadrants are kind of like blocks. Each of them is numbered and laid out basically exactly the same. I think the layout is two residencial quadrants between every commercial quadrant. All of the residencial quadrants have only apartment buildings similar to ours, and all of the commercial quadrants are laid out in exactly the same fashion. So the only cross streets from the main road are where the commercial quadrants are. It makes so you usually only ever turn right onto a road, which makes for very few stop lights and a lot of U turns. So across the road from campus are quadrants. You know where to go to find something by what quadrant it’s in. So we went to this one nearby.

And we were expecting it to be the jazz hang out that the UnB guys do weekly, but it wasn’t. It was Brazilian stuff, pop and traditional. A little jazz too, but much more open to whatever kind of music. And they wanted us to play something.

There was only one guitar player playing a nylon string guitar (which is the norm in Brazil) so I let Isaac play while I sang, and Ben played drums. Thiago and a couple of the Brazilian guys in the house band played with us too. So we played and I sang “Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone” by Bill Withers and a B.B. King blues tune. It was really weird because I can’t remember the last time I sang in front of people without a guitar in my hands, but I think I’m pretty decent at singing the blues. And they loved it. Partially because Brazilian music never does the raspy dirty blues voice that I did. So I could have been terrible, but they thought it was great, and the guys all liked how I sang, so I’m really happy about it. I really like singing the blues. The Brazilian guys (aside from Thiago) didn’t really know the structure of a blues well, but I can’t imagine anybody in the audience could tell. In fact it was much easier to sing blues for them because it would be kind of ridiculous for one of them to criticize an American jazz student on his blues, so I felt pretty comfortable throwing it all out there. I even introduced the three of us and talked about our playing in Portugues from the stage.

But then Isaac let me take the guitar and I played a jazz tune called “Cantaloupe Island,” and I’ve played it a hundred times so it was a lot of fun. Some guy from Texas jumped on stage with his harmonica and played with us. It was pretty cool. But then after that song it happened.

They wanted to play “Girl from Ipanema.” So I got to play “Garota de Ipanema” on a nylon string guitar in the middle of Brasilia, Brazil, with a band of all Brazilian musicians. And they let me take the solo. It was something out of a dream. That’s a bucket list thing. Especially because the guitar is pretty much the most important part of that style of music. Antonio Carlos Jobim was one of their most beloved musicians, and an awesome guitar player, so I hope he approved. Isaac was pretty jealous.

The people were all really cool, and they were complimentary of my playing and my Portuguese. It was a lot of fun.

Today Isaac and I ran, and I tried to find a soccer game, but couldn’t again. I’m getting a little frustrated about that. Oh well, gotta keep looking I guess! We’ve been making a lot of food in out apartment, which has turned out really well because Isaac is a good cook. The weather was perfect today, so I took a nap out on the balcony. That’s about all we’ve done today. Listen to music, talk about music, talk about other stuff, hang around, practice. That’s life here. We’re going to see Thiago play a jazz gig tonight, so it should be a lot of fun. I’m excited to meet and talk with some more musicians here.

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