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: doublebassVideo 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 June, I had the honour of participating on the Improvised Music Festival MIA, in Atouguia da Baleia. This was the 3rd edition.
For those who are interested to know more about this festival, I leave here some links:
“A Cena do Ódio” (The Scene of Hatred), written by Almada Negreiros, gave birth to a meeting between improvised music and declamation, in the beautiful city of Peniche.
The text was divided in several sections which provided some guidelines for improvisation. It was a great pleasure for me to be part of this project – PREC (Projecto Ressonante Experimental Criativo)- which stands for (something like) Creative Experimental Resonant Project.
This concert also served as a promotion of the upcoming MIA 2011 (improvised music encounters) in the nearby village of Atouguia da Baleia, a festival that I had the honour of participating in its first edition, last year, having then posted some videos from it here and here.
Thank you to all these wonderful friend-musicians who invited me for this performance:
Paulo Ramos: declamation
Paulo Chagas: flute, oboe and alto sax
Fernando Simões: trombone
Paulo Duarte: guitar
João Pedro Viegas: clarinet and bass clarinet
Excerpt from the show:
This is an original song I made over the last weeks that I would like to share with you. Hope you enjoy. Thanks for sticking around! Miguel
The idea started while trying to make another (yet unfinished) song. I thought it was getting too complicated and took on some accidental playing on my guitar. I found the riff ok and thought it could be the base for something simpler where I could work out an arrangement with all instruments, as to prepare myself for finishing the first song.
Anyway ideas started flowing and it ended up a bit more extended than I initially wanted. The basslines (intro and pre and post solo) were made up a bit after, while I was having fun experimenting with a demo of the Ampeg SVX plugin.
Then the drums – I wanted to find something that would make it sound simple (in spite of having to deal with some odd meter – a blend of 7/8 with 4/4) – and anyway, something I would be able to play by myself. Then the middle sections came about while I was inspired to write some lyrics.
The choral section is a four-part harmony (2 tracks for each voice) that starts – intentionally – very “Bulgarian” and ends up a bit more CS&N (that’s a nice combination :) as to make a passage to the acoustic guitar section and the main poem that I wrote with my dad’s old Ramirez – still sounds incredible. Some more arrangements were made by then, especially the double-bass parts.
Finally the second harmony part, probably the most difficult bit, because my idea was to link to the finale that was already made. Again a four-part harmony but a different one, that finally melts with the kind of repetitions towards the end. The bass solo was the last thing to be thought of.
Well that’s part of my memory description for this song. Most important is that it’s ready now and I can present it to you!
Thanks for watching!