This week, we embark on a musical tour of six Lusosphere countries: Mozambique, Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde, Portugal, and Brazil.
Lusophone refers to the Portuguese language, in the same way that the term Anglophone means English-speaking, or in the way that we apply Francophone to French speakers. The term Lusosphere refers to the actual countries where Portuguese (or a variant of) is spoken. The Lusophone world remains the colonial legacy of the former Portuguese Empire, split off from the Spanish Empire under Pope Alexander VI’s 1494 Treaty of Tordesillas.
We start with a plaintive ballad from Mozambique’s Orchestra Marrabenta Star de Moçambique, called “Nwahulwana” (or “Nightbird”) from Trance Planet, Vol. 1, a compilation that I produced back in 1994. Then we have “Por do Sol” by Angolan superstar, Waldemar Bastos, who plays an upcoming show for the Aratani World Series this Saturday, January 31, in Downtown LA. This is one show that I’ve had in my calendar since the day it was announced. Before we leave the African continent, let’s listen to two cuts from Guinea-Bissau: “Ermons di Terra” by guitarist Manecas Costa; and “Mindjer dôce Mel” by singer Eneida Marta, who sings both in Portuguese, as well as form of Guinea-Bissau Creole.
We next venture offshore to Cape Verde and feature a duet between fadista Ana Moura and Cape Verdean singer Sara Tavares called “De Nua.” Then, of course, no Lusophone playlist would be complete without a cut from Cape Verde’s most famous export, the late, great Cesária Évora, from her São Vicente album, named for the small island in the Cape Verdean archipelago where she lived.
We then head over to the colonial motherland of Portugal by way of Cristina Branco, who, along with Ana Moura, Katia Guerreiro, and Mariza, is one of my favorite fadistas. We leave Portugal after listening to a more recent discovery: “Se Me Desta Terra for Vos Levarei Amor,” a love song by the young Portuguese singer, Filipa Pais.
Closing our set for this week, we’ll cross the Atlantic to Brazil, the largest of the Lusosphere countries. Let’s go ahead with Milton Nascimento singing “Sueño Con Serpientes,” which means “Sleep With Snakes,” a composition originally by Cuban folk singer Silvío Rodriguez. The track opens with an intro by the late Argentine folksinger, Mercedes Sosa, who quotes the German playwright, Bertholt Brecht. After that comes one of my favorite bossa nova singers, Rosa Passos, singing Carlos Antonio Jobim’s “Vivo Sonhando.”
Finally, we’ll end this week’s show with “Terra,” a song penned by Brazilian superstar Caetano Veloso during his detainment in a dark, humid prison cell for participating in protests against the military junta. It was 1969, and American astronauts had photographed Rarth from space for the first time. His wife had brought him a magazine, in which he’d seen those strikingly beautiful images—a radical counterpoint to his imprisonment and the political climate in Brazil at the time.
Rhythm Planet Playlist: 01/30/15
- Orchestra Marrabenta Star de Moçambique / “Nwahulwana” / Trance Planet, Vol. 1 / Triloka Records
- Waldemar Bastos / “Por do Sol” / Classics of My Soul / ENJA
- Manecas Costa / “Ermons di Terra” / Palop Africa! / Earthworks
- Eneida Marta / “Mindjer dôce Mel” / Lôpe Kaï / Iris Music
- Sara Tavares feat. Ana Moura / “De Nua” / Balance / Times Square Records
- Cesária Évora / “São Vicente di Longe” / São Vicente / Windham Hill Records
- Cristina Branco / “O Meu Amor” / Sensus / DG
- Filipa Pais / “Se Me Desta Terra for Vos Levarei Amor” / L’Amar / Strauss Records
- Milton Nascimento feat. Mercedes Sosa / “Sueño Con Serpientes” / Sentinela / Universal Latino
- Rosa Passos / “Vivo Sonhando”/ Rosa Passos Canta Carlos Antonio Jobim / Import
- Caetano Veloso / “Terra” / Caetano Veloso / Nonesuch