The great Brazilian percussionist died on Wednesday from lung cancer, aged 71.
Probably the first time I heard Naná Vasconcelos was in 1981 when I bought Jan Garbarek’s Eventyr on ECM. The distant Norwegian fjord conjured by Garbarek’s soprano saxophone with Nana’s Brazilian berimbau and shakers was, and still is, a perfect match. I am transported by the journey they undertook together. The title Companion, my first track, seems to suggest that he was comfortable supporting and adding to the session leader’s vision.
The last time I heard Naná live was at a gig in London’s Logan Hall on 4th February 1987, with Jan Garbarek, Lars Janssen on keyboards and Eberhard Weber on bass. The track Paper Nut, originally on the Shankar ECM album Song For Everyone, is from the same group at a later gig in Cambridge, MA, on September 22, 1987.
In 1978, he recorded the first of three ECM albums as Codona, with Don Cherry (trumpet, melodica) and Collin Walcott (sitar, tabla). Like That Of Sky is the first track on the first album, an incredibly funky outing with melodica and table floating above the familiar Vasconcelos voiced drone and tinklings.
I found the Naná Vasconcelos & Antonello Salis album Lester a dozen years ago in Jl. Surabaya, here in Jakarta. Salis plays accordion on several tracks, but Rameverde is a Vasconcelos showcase.
The last track I’ve selected, Estupenda Graçia, is from the classic Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays album As Falls Wichita, So Fall Wichita Falls. Metheny has been greatly influenced by Brazilian music, so Google translates the title from Portuguese as Stupendous Grace, which does make sense, yet I prefer my translation from Spanish: An Enormous Thank You.
01. Jan Garbarek – The Companion
02. Jan Garbarek Quartet – Paper Nut
03. Codona – Like That Of Sky
04. Nana Vasconcelos & Antonello Salis – Rameverde
05. Pat Metheny & Lyle Mays – Estupenda Graçia
There is one partnership, also on ECM, which was really special, and that was with Egberto Gismonti, the Brazilan guitarist and pianist. I could have a track or two from Danca Das Cabecas, Sol Do Meio Dia, Saudades, or Duas Vozes.
But why just listen when you can watch instead?
Dança das Cabeças – Kaiser Bock Winter Festival 1996