Brazilian music in all its forms has enjoyed tremendous popularity in recent years, especially among jazz musicians who appreciate its rhythmic complexity coupled with its harmonic sophistication. Almost every contemporary jazz performance features tunes with a Brazilian flavor, either a composition by a Brazilian composer or a jazz standard set to a samba or bossa nova feel. However, with notable exceptions, the musical results fail to achieve the essential characteristics which define those Brazilian styles. This is most often caused not by a lack of musical ability, but by an improper understanding of the rhythmic essence of the styles. In Brazil, this most subtle aspect of groove is often known as ginga (with a soft g as in ginseng). It refers to the way in which a dancer moves, to the way a beautiful woman walks and to the way that music incites motion in the listeners. The purpose of this paper is to provide rhythmic information in a practical and concise way, leading to the development of ginga in the performance of Brazilian-based music.
Brazilian-born Jovino Santos Neto worked as a pianist, flutist and producer with the legendary Hermeto Pascoal from 1977 to 1992. He is a Professor of Music at Seattle’s Cornish College of the Arts. He has released several recordings as the leader of his own ensemble and also in collaboration with musicians such as Airto Moreira, Flora Purim, and Mike Marshall. He received the Chamber Music America New Works Jazz Composition Award in 2003 and several other jazz and chamber music commissions. His CD Canto do Rio was nominated for Best Latin Jazz Album in the 2004 Latin Grammy Awards. Jovino was voted 2004 Northwest Jazz Instrumentalist of the Year by the readers of Earshot Jazz. His latest recording is Roda Carioca (Rio Circle), recorded in Brazil and released in 2006 by Adventure Music. It has earned Jovino a nomination in this year’s Latin Grammys as Best Latin Jazz Album. Bruce Gilman of Brazzil magazine wrote: “Roda Carioca reveals a complete artist – composer, arranger, soloist, multi-instrumentalist, ensemble leader – whose artistic sensibility and poetic playing creates a hypnotic authority that haunts the memory.” For more information about Jovino’s music, please visit his web site at: www.jovisan.net
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