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Written in fRoots issue 191, 1999

Camarão Plays Forró - Dance Music From Northeastern Brazil

Nimbus NI 5543 (1998)

Wonderfully groovy, skippy music, played on piano accordion by Reginaldo Alves Ferreira “Camarão”, plus four tracks played by Arlindo Dos Oito Baixos, who gets his name from the eight-bass 2-row diatonic accordion he plays.
      Camarão’s playing of baião, forró (the word is said to derive from “for all”), xote (schottische) and other musical forms popular in north-eastern Brazil, features liquid, sparkling reiterative right hand over big, rolling, stepping bass chords reminiscent of the splendid playing of Madagascar’s Régis Gizavo, as does the absence of chordal or pitched instrument in the accompaniment, which occasionally includes guitar or 10-string viola caipira but is essentially on bass drum and triangle, sometimes with agogô bells. Some of the up-tempo numbers, and of course the triangle, evoke comparison with cajun or zydeco, in the case of Luíz Gonzaga’s Baião even using a riff well-known in zydeco. There’s a lot of stylistic and rhythmic variety in the instrumental dance tunes, and most of the handful of songs feature the fine, lightly smoky vocals of Joana Angêlica.
      The recording was made in Recife in 1995; doubtless there are reasons for the delay, but it’s a pity three years had to pass before its release. Camarão and other musicians playing forró have made many records within the home market, but this music has immediate potential for an international audience.
      Accordeonophilic H.Mustapha said to me a while back “you’re starting to like them, aren’t you?”. Played like this, I have to admit...

© 1999 Andrew Cronshaw

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