By Rebecca Kleinmann
Imagine you wake up in a beautiful redwood forest knowing you have nothing to do all day but play music, dance, spend time with creative people, and eat delicious food. I find myself thinking: “This is how humans are meant to live.”
When I arrived in Cazadero in Northern California for the Brazil Camp, my spirit already felt free just from being removed from cell phones, computers, and the responsibilities of daily life. These magnificent redwoods that tower above me are the setting for the real reason I was here – to be in the presence of some of the greatest masters of the music I love. As a fellow CBCer, Burt Boice of Seattle says – “nowhere else can you find such a high concentration of famous Brazilian musicians to study with.” I knew this was true when my day started and I actually got to have breakfast with Guinga, one of my very favorite composers.
After breakfast I attended a class with Jovino Santos Neto, another of my heroes. Multi-instrumentalist, composer, and a true educator, Jovino has a rich background as the pianist and arranger for Hermeto Pascoal’s famous “O Grupo.” Today, reflecting Hermeto’s sprit of spontaneity and play, Jovino is composing music on the spot specifically for the musicians who show up to the class – giving everyone a part and creating music so beautiful it may just end up on his next album. We were learning all sorts of complex Brazilian rhythms and harmonies in the process, without even realizing it because of the fun we were having.
Then came the hard part – I had to decide which class to go to next! Should I learn percussion in the beginning “bateria”, dance samba in the grove, sit under the trees with Guinga’s class, learn “chorus” from Hamilton de Holanda, or sing by the river with Claudia Villela? These types of amazing classes go on all day, with a break for an organic lunch and dinner. Some people come to focus on dance, others percussion, voice or instrumental music. I love it all, so you might see me running around like a schizophrenic, trying to get a little taste of everything!
After the last class of the day is when things really get started! A spontaneous chorus jam erupts outside by the makeshift cappuccino bar. This was historic! Here are some of the world’s greatest players all in one place: virtuosic mandolin’s Hamiliton de Holanda played with passionate intensity along with masters Carlinhos Pandeiro de Ouro, Arnaldinho do Cavaco, mandolin’s Mike Marshall, and clarinetist Harvey Wainaple, together with students who are professional musicians themselves – Ted Falcon and Colin Walker of the L.A Chorus ensemble were right in there, as well as percussionist Ami Molinelli and young mandolin prodigy Eva Scow. There was so much joy and life in this music!
As the night went on pockets of jams in different Brazilian styles formed everywhere. I went down to the samba jazz tent where vibraphonist Mike Golds had transformed the riverbed into a nightclub with tents, a sound system, drums, keyboards, and vocal microphones. Everyone was tearing it up taking solos on favorite Brazilian Jazz tunes, so I whipped out my flute and joined in. One of my fondest memories in this spot was getting to play with Airto Moreira in my first year at the Camp.
At midnight I headed up to the teachers’ porch, fondly know as the “favela.” At this place, people were playing the colorful, storytelling “Pagode” music, someone was grilling meat in the way only Brazilians know how (here I gave up being a vegetarian!), and everyone else was dancing. It was 3 am… and I was thinking I may not make it to the 7:30 am yoga class, and thank goodness for the cappuccino machine!
This past August 2005 was my fourth time at Brazil Camp, so you can definitely say that I’m hooked! In the past years I’ve absorbed music from Dori Caymmi, Marcos Silva, Jorge Alabe, Paolo Bellinati, Ricardo Peixoto, and Carlos Olivera, along with the teachers I already mentioned and other inspiring artists. I also met dancer Rosangela Silvestre – who lead me to Bahia, Brazil for two months to play flute with her dance and percussion ensemble. Over the course of the last year as I’ve created my first CD, my heart has been increasingly drawn to Brazilian music to the point that I included Jovino, other musicians from CBC, and compositions I’ve discovered through the camp in the cd. I’m finding myself compulsively devoting more and more of my time to this rich music.
There are many other layers of beauty emerging from my experiences at CBC. I’m now connected with a beautiful family of people devoted to Brazilian music. As I travel I see these amazing people in San Fransico, Los Angeles, New York and Brazil. I don’t know if directors Dennis Broughton and Rich Rice realize how much influence their California Brazil Camp has had on my life, but I do know that I will see them there again next year for more inspiration and great music!
* Rebecca Kleinmann is an American musician from Santa Barbara, California and has traveled couple times to Brazil for studying and research. Her music has a strong influence of Brazilian music including chorinho and bossa nova – www.rebeccakleinmann.com