This month I bring you one of the happiest moments of this strange year of 2020. I played with my gipsy-jazz / manouche project Djangoland at the wedding ceremony of my former student Catarina. This moment, where the bride sings “La Vie en Rose” really captures the loving atmosphere that we all need to endure through the tough time. Love conquers all and, may I say, Music as well!
Tag Archives: double-bassVideo Video
Last December I had the pleasure to perform a free improvisation session with Marcelo dos Reis, on the occasion of the anniversary of Marcelo’s own label Cipsela Records.
Free improvisation is a completely musical ground for me, although I have been regularly participating in some improvised music events, but the challenge is always renewed, especially because this was the first time I ever played with Marcelo – hopefully there will be more!
Earlier this month, I guested at a live performance with Manouchka, a gipsy jazz/manouche band composed by my old friend Nuno Marinho (Guitar) and Marian Yanchyk (Violin), also guesting Bruno Neves (Guitar).
It was the second time we played together as a quartet and there was a great atmosphere at the venue, a bar named Liquidâmbar, right in the center of my city, Coimbra.
A very special occasion also to play my grandfather’s double-bass, which is now in great shape thanks to the work of luthier Catarina Torres at Torres & Dase Luthiers. The instrument plays now very comfortably, and has completely opened its sound.
I made a small montage of some parts of the show – hope you like it!
This summer, at Plovdiv’s Ancient Theatre, I attended Ensemble Trakia‘s 45th anniversary concert. Once again, a fabulous show with Bulgarian traditional dances and music. In my recording you will have the chance to hear very well the double-bass of my good friend Stela Petrova, who has featured on a special video generously recorded for me, demonstrating some applications of the double-bass in Bulgarian folk. One great opportunity to know how the bass works in this unique kind of music, with several meter changes and complex arrangements, but always with a genuine essential soul.
A little bit late but I’d like to report another year of great musical moments in Bulgaria this summer!
I should start by mentioning my gadulka lessons, with my dear teacher, Dr. Angel Dobrev, of the Bulgarian National Radio Folklore Orchestra, who this year introduced me to new challenges in Bulgarian music. Here is a little from our lessons where we play two types of 7/8 meter. The Rachenitsa and the Dospatsko Horo.
I also attended the recording of a TV show with the group “Arta”, including top Bulgarian musicians such as Kostadin Genchev (kaval), Hristina Beleva (gadulka), Petar Milanov (in a mix of tambura with guitar that himself has constructed), Ivan Tsonkov (tapan) and Petyo Kostadinov (bagpipe).
Then I went to Plovdiv, to see Ensemble Trakia, one of my favourite Bulgarian acts, which features Stela Petrova on bass, who last year provided me a great masterclass on doublebass applied to Bulgarian folk. I was delighted to see them on soundcheck, performance and even next day at work, rehearsing.
I also got in touch with Ensemble Trakia’s soloist Darina Slavcheva Slavova, who despite her young age, is a multi awarded singer, teacher and producer. I learned Darina released her book, a research work of Thracian melodies from Bulgaria and Greece, carefully documented not only with technical details as scales, meter and ornaments but also the context in which each melody was used. Although it’s written in Bulgarian, the universal language of music makes this work appealing for foreigners who wish to learn more about Bulgarian folklore and shows how this art is so seriously handled as to be kept at the highest standards. Here is Darina in a breathtaking performance, joined by the beautiful kaval of Temelko Ivanov.
Still in the Trakia region, I attended a show by the Young Thracians orchestra (Mladi Trakiytsi) – a genre usually classified in the west as Bulgarian wedding music. Their lead singer Vania Valkova, one of the top singers in Bulgaria, kindly informed me of this show which I could not miss. The orchestra played with 3 singers, drums, bass synth (very common in wedding groups), clarinet, kaval (traditional flute), accordion and saxophone. The rhythm section was so tight playing the whole night that gave me the impression to be a single unit and the gentleman behind the kit is one of the best drummers I ever saw. I encourage you to look for other videos of this orchestra, with better quality than these, and you will certainly agree with me!
Well, this post is getting rather long, but I would just like to sincerely express my gratitude to all of those who welcomed me to Bulgaria this year. Especially for my dear hosts Nina Koleva and Tihomir Kolev and family, Stela Petrova and Radostin Rusev, Dimcho Enchev, Dimitar Arnaudov, Darina Slavcheva Slavova and all the members of Ensemble Trakia, Vania Valkova, Temelko Ivanov, Petar Milanov, Boryana Vasileva, and my dear teacher Angel Dobrev. Thank you for taking care of me and I hope to see you all soon!
For over a year I’m teaming up with fellow bass players Alvaro Rosso and José Miguel Pereira in a double-bass trio format – Basso3 (facebook page)
Since around 2009 I have started to experiment with other musicians from the improvisation field, in particular participating on the MIA encounters and more recently at the MEIA festival in Aveiro. It was precisely on the opening edition of this event that the concert now registered in the shape of an album took place, in a brilliant effort by the Pássaro Vago label.
The album is on free streaming but the CD may also be purchased at Pássaro Vago’s bancamp page.
I hope these new sounds will capture your imagination!
A session in Bulgarian Music with bass star Stela Petrova. During this two-hour session, Stela taught me how to play 3 songs. One, in a very tricky (for me) form of 9/8, from her band Diva Reka, is named “Happy Nine” and composed by one of the great kaval (Bulgarian flute) players of Bulgaria, band mate Kostadin Genchev. Two others, in 7/8, from the highly prestiged Ensemble Trakia, by great Bulgarian Composer Stefan Mutafchiev. Later, Stela would kindly demonstrate on video excerpts of “Happy Nine” and “Oi, Shope, Shope”. Hoping one day I will make my own versions of these and more wonderful Bulgarian Music.
Here’s Stela with Diva Reka playing “Vesela Devyatka” (Happy Nine)
As for “Oi, Shope, Shope”, Stela pointed out that the actual meter is 13/16, but it’s simplified to 7/8 for music sheet, meaning that the actual duration of the first and last beats are not exactly equal, as in 7/8 (2+2+1+2).
Here’s the Trakia Ensemble orchestra and choir, performing “Oi, Shope, Shope”, joined by the “Cosmic Voices” choir.
Last month, the collective “P.R.E.C” presented a live soundtrack performance for the film “The Fall of the House of Usher”. The music was totally improvised. If you are interested in these forms of sonic expression, you can access the recorded performance by downloading the file or listening in streaming.
Personally, I find this kind of music very rewarding to perform. There are no predefined rules whatsoever and all we can count on is the sensibility and communication of each musician. It doesn’t always necessarily work well, or does it correspond to our expectations or desires – like life itself – It’s many times a mirror of each one’s personality or state of mind, in this case, stimulated by the suggestions of a moving picture. That’s the challenge that I find interesting.
Paulo Chagas – flute, saxophone
Fernando Simões – trombone
Paulo Duarte – electric guitar
Fernando Guiomar – acoustic guitar
Miguel Falcão – double-bass
In the last month of may, I attended for the fourth time the improvised music encounter MIA 2013.
This was again a very rewarding experience, having the opportunity to be close and to play with a different kind of musicians with various musical backgrounds but united to explore and discuss improvisation and music.