Mundo Livre S/A
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Mundo Livre S/A

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Music

The best kept secret in music

Press


When Brazilian groups come to town, they normally play one concert without a warmup, local Brazilians immediately gobble up the tickets and North American heads are barely dented. But with the five concerts in ''Brazil: Beyond Bossa,'' part of this summer's Lincoln Center Festival, a gringo has at least a fighting chance to pick up the threads and follow them.

''Brazil: Beyond Bossa'' focuses on the states Bahia and Pernambuco, placing grass-roots or folkloric bands on the same bill with more international and pop acts. The series is a significant development in our understanding of Brazilian music -- not only because it's well selected, but also because it's a concentrated, extended crash course.

In the opening night concert on Wednesday at the La Guardia Concert Hall, Selma do Coco, a Pernambucan in her mid-60's, stood between four percussionists and three backup singers. She fired out syncopated lyrics about sailors and fishermen and sharks, sometimes singing, sometimes slipping into the proto-rap called embolada. And she sang about her own work, the percussive, African-derived circle-dance music known as coco. ''Pode tocar'' (''Play it'') was the refrain of one song; ''O pega minha roda'' (Oh, join my circle''), another. Her dancers, one by one, stepped out to freestyle, both in song and very African movement: they jerked their torsos downward, raised bent arms, spread limbs wide apart.

Mundo Livre S.A. (Free World Inc.), a rock band from the same state, followed with a set that brought old traditional sounds -- including the tiny guitar called the cavaquinho -- into a kind of discursive, bohemian rock. It's one of the important bands from the early-90's mangue-beat movement; its singer, guitarist and lyricist, Fred 04, has a weary, pleading voice that sprawls out over bar lines, in the style of Jorge Ben.

He sang fantasy prose poems like ''Alice Williams,'' which compared a woman to a race car; he also sang ''Xicão,'' a lament about an assassinated Indian chief. Mundo Livre S.A. is an amiable, slightly sloppy band, and they wasted a bit of time between songs. To its shame, the Lincoln Center crowd, having already ingested its ''real'' Brazil for the evening, fled in droves, while the band played out its set for a small handful of young Brazilian fans, who were dancing in the aisles.

But the show on Thursday appealed to both North and South Americans. It presented two bands started by Carlinhos Brown, a pop star, local hero and svengali in Bahia. Made wealthy from writing many of the last decade's popular carnival hits, he has set up a community center and music school in his hometown, Salvador, to help the city's poor children.

His youth band, Lactomia, appeared first, and though its music -- Afro-Brazilian funk with some light-pop vocals and raps about the police -- could have had more personality, it was the total theatrical presentation that mattered. As the lights came up, the band's nine young members were seen rooting in garbage cans, miming glue-sniffing, and shaking tin cans for loose change; then they got behind percussions sets made of overturned tins and pails, and beat out interlocking, orchestral percussion patterns.

As with all of Mr. Brown's projects, the costumes were dazzling examples of cheap material put to chic use. They wore rubber rain boots spray-painted silver, and tunics made of CD's and aluminum pop-tops.

Timbalada, the most popular of the percussion-heavy bands supervised by Mr. Brown, finished the evening, racing through Bahian carnival music at supercharged tempos. There were three singers, but when the burly Ninha Brito took the microphone for a stretch, singing hits like ''Zorra,'' the workmanlike music became frenzied ritual. It's music that is so fast, thundering and built on chants that it obliterates thought -- you just go with it.

Finally, Mr. Brown himself emerged, in a white feather headdress, bare torso and leopard-skin pants; manic beyond belief, with clear channels between brain, mouth and body, he was riveting. And he hijacked the show, singing, jumping, beating a timbale. He performed a number of songs from his own solo career, and he turned the music Afro-Cuban by playing Chano Pozo's ''Blen Blen Blen'' and dedicating the concert to Celia Cruz, who died this week. He improvised with the percussionist Tony Mola, singing hunks of whatever came to mind, from Nat King Cole's ''Unforgettable'' to the jazz standard ''You've Changed.'' He ran to the middle of the raked theater to deliver a pidgin-English rap on disarmament and AIDS prevention and a chorus of Bob Marley's ''Get Up, Stand Up.'' For the average performer, this would all be an act of crazy gluttony. Mr. Brown, who will perform again tonight with his own band at Avery Fisher Hall, isn't an average performer.

- The New York Times


Discography

2008 - Combat Samba
2005 - BebadoGroove
2004 - O outro mundo de manuela rosário
2000- Por Pouco
1998 - Carnaval na Obra
1996 - Guentando a ôia
1994 - Samba Esquema Noise

Photos

Bio

MUNDO LIVRE S/A CURRICULUM

The history of Mundo Livre S. A. starts in the beginning of the 60s, in Jaboatão dos Guararapes. It was in this neighboring city of Recife that Fred Rodrigues Montenegro, nowadays known as “Zero Quatro” was born. His biography from pre-music times is like any medium class child’s of the time, i.e., he played soccer, had a lot of brothers and sisters, and sang the National Anthem in the school yard, in his case, the Military School, whose marches he still uses to sing at his intoxication nights.

From childhood and adolescence in Jaboatão, there came one of his future passions: in the living room phonograph, Jorge Ben already made the Mundo Livre leader madly in love with his alchemy of samba, rhythm and blues, ‘baião’ and whatever there was. It was also in Jaboatão (more specifically in the district of Candeias), still a teenager that he found out the power of stages. Memory shows our hero, together with friends at a barbecue, watching an awful band show when, all of a sudden, he was invited to play, for the first time, a real guitar. Magic! From then on, having a band started to become an obsession...

His first real group was the "Trapaça". We are in the beginning of the 80s, time of the Brazilian punk blast. The influence of bands from the ABC paulista, such as "Cólera", "Olho Seco" and "Inocentes", provoked the precocious end of Trapaça and the appearance of his second band, the "Serviço Sujo". Screaming all paranoia in lyrics inspired in George Orwell’s 1984, Fred modeled needles, cothurnus, an old and beaten 007 briefcase and black shirts with slogans of the type, “Down with Poetry” ("Abaixo a Poesia”). He also showed, a new code name: there appeared the “Rat” (“Rato”), a subject and sound much ahead of a fascinated Recife (a minority) and indifferent or frankly hostile (the vast herd).

The boredom of the 80s let the anger of punk get ripened, transforming itself into a calculated cynicism, and, thus, "Serviço Sujo" gave place to “Mundo Livre S. A.”, a name of clear Malcolm Mclarean’s inspiration, destined to ridicule the revisited cold war of Reagan’s presidency and the gearing of the record industry. The "rat" of the origins of punk changed, then, into "Zero Quatro", a disguise inspired in the two last numbers of his identity card.

At first, nothing worked very well for Mundo Livre. The equipment did not help, the public did not understand, the shows usually ended in a chaotic way. Recife looked like it was lost in the Pop music map. Together with two of his five brothers, Fábio Goró, the bass player, and Tony Maresia, the drummer, the band leader was increasingly convinced that he had set the right band in the wrong place.

It was only in the beginning of the 90s that the bad luck started to change: Zero met, through common friends, Chico Science, Jorge Dü Peixe and many other future Nação Zumbi. In the relationship with these fellows, he helped build the most important musical movement of Brazil in long and long years. The Mangue fixed a parabolic in the mud and transformed Recife in another city, the “manguetown”.

From then, history accelerated itself and became more public. Zero wrote the first manifest of the movement and, with Mundo Livre, ripened his peculiar mixture of samba and punk-rock, resumed in the equation "Jorge Ben and Johnny Rotten in the same groove". In 94 it was launched the band première record, the classical "Samba Esquema Noise", considered by most of the critics the “record of the year” and “record of the 90’s generation”. Afterwards, it was the time of "Guentando a Ôia" (96) and "Carnaval na Obra" (98), also successes of criticism and public, despite the absurdly precarious distribution, which is being reflected on sales non-compatible with the group popularity.

In 97, Zero co-wrote the second Mangue manifest, “Quanto Vale uma Vida?” launched right after the car accident that killed Chico Science. The buddy companion’s death did not subdue Mundo Livre’s spirit, which continued presenting itself in the main Brazilian stages. Festivals and shows in New York, Paris, Lisbon and Mexico City were responsible to spread the sounding communications of sub-commander Zero Quatro and the ones leaded by him to the rest of the planet.

"Por Pouco", the fourth Mundo Livre record entered the stores in the second semester of 2000. The title makes reference to this eternal interrupted pleasure that seems to dominate the Brazilian life. It is, supposedly, the most commercial work of the group, in fact, a politics class, where the “commercial” adjustments – voice placed in first plan, for instance – serve, many times, to make transparent the most subversive aspects – lyrics detonating wars, economical walls and “humanitarian” interventions”. “Por Pouco” won the best record of the year prize from APCA - Associação Paulista dos Críticos de Arte – (Paulista Association of Arts Critics). The ballade "Meu Esquema" was chosen as theme of "Tudo de