Far Out are set to issue a lost recording from legendary Brazilian multi-instrumentalist / arranger / composer, Hermeto Pascoal. The playing on it is too incredible to ignore. I `fessed up to the label, that “look I don`t know where to start. I love Jazz but my knowledge is sketchy, and I know next to nothing about Hermeto.” All I`d gleaned about this mythical figure I`d lifted from the stories he himself instigated. Derived largely from the photographs I`d seen of him. A “possessed Santa” on the sleeve of an Airto Moreira Compilation. Unkempt, with long white hair and beard. He`d been integral to the recording of Airto`s early LPs. Airto calling him “the most complete musician I ever met.”
Or on the cover of his own Slaves Mass LP. Heremto “The Hermit”. The wizard. O Bruxo. The man Miles Davis labelled “Albino Loco!” and “The World`s most impressive musician.” While Miles stole the credit for his contributions to the Live Evil sessions.
Josh at Far Out said “Don`t worry” and sent over a thirty-page illustrated booklet. Plus a forty-five page essay by Professor Andrew Connell. Both of which form part of the recording`s new packaging. Exhaustive texts that describe the career of an artist without compromise.
An artist born into relative poverty. One of a large family in Lagoa Da Canoa, Alagoas. With no electricity, No Radio. But possessing a gift to hear music in everything. Who claims that wildlife and farm animals were his teachers. Who as a child learnt to communicate with birds using a bamboo flute. Who constructed orchestras from bits of scrap metal. Hermeto studied oito baixo (a type of accordion) under his father. Progressed to piano. Then anything he could lay his hands on. Performing for audiences from the age of fourteen. Eventually travelling South to find work to support his own growing family. He said money was unimportant. All he wanted to do was compose, play and be heard. Absorbing whatever music was in vogue. Tangos, Polkas, Fox-Trots, Bossa Nova, Samba and Jazz. Progressing to band-leader. Respected teacher and motivator. Rehearsing his colleagues and students everyday. Building compositions in sections as he taught them. Music a devotion. A religion. Whose concerts are improvised events. Happenings. Where “theatre” can call the audience up onto the stage, or lead them dancing through streets. Into bars, and onto buses. A pied piper, who at 81 is still composing and recording. Still hearing music everywhere.
Keys, shakers, bass runs, flute, chimes, strange stringed-things and vibes. Saxophones honking. Female harmonies dancing with woodwinds. Nine Sao Paulo players whistling birdsong. Barking monkey chants. A Fusion of Jazz with the traditions of Brazil`s North. Baiao, Embolada, Frevo, Maracatu, Pagode, Repente, and Xote. A Funk. A “Universal Music” that comes to encompass every sound it encounters. Schizophrenic compositions that stop / start between the atonal, ecstatic, melody and sweetness. Suites / movements that alternate between orchestrated and improvised. Between the familiar and not so. Spiritual flights. Sometimes falling to a kind of Psychedelic ambience. Always characterised by a rhythm section locked into a tight tight groove. Casinha Pequenina is twenty-six minutes of O Grupo swinging. Smashing their maestro`s freedom against a town carnival. Letting out great yawps. Shrieks of encouragement. And the drums, the drums seem to solo for the whole track. Ze Eduardo Nazario hammering his kit. Entering into call-and-response with each of his band mates in turn. In funky, joyous cacophony.
Far Out release Hermeto Pascoal’s Viajando Com O Som on November 3rd. It also happens to be their 200th release. To celebrate they`re throwing a party at Total Refreshment Centre, in Stoke Newington. For more details and tickets click here.
You can pre-order a copy of the record here.