Most people know bossa nova and samba, but fewer outside of Brazil know about the great country music of Pernambuco — a northeastern state in Brazil–called forró (pronounced for-ho). This is the music made famous by the late Luiz Gonzaga, with his distinctive hat and clothing. Urban Brazilians in Rio and Sao Paulo turn up their noses at this homespun music, but secretly they all love it.
Gil grew up in the Bahian countryside, the button accordion was his first instrument, and his first big inspiration was Luiz Gonzaga, king of forró. Baiao is a similar genre from the northeast featuring the triangle, accordion, and large drum called the zabumba (love that word, very Brazilian). It’s a music played at celebrations, parties, and fun events. People love dancing to its tangy sound. The word “forró” means “for all”, and its genesis came from when the British were in Brazil building railroads in the northeast. They’d have parties and would share the food and drink with the locals==hence the word “for all”. Later the Americans came, using Recife as an airport to get the B-17’s over the Atlantic to Dakar, Senegal to fight the Germans in North Africa. The Americans shared their food and drink too.
Gil performs this wonderful music at Walt Disney Concert Hall this coming Tuesday, October 23rd. The ushers will have a hard time keeping people from dancing. I’ll be there for sure.