Música da Copa do Mundo: Recife

This poster is particularly representative, since they play football with an umbrella in hand in Recife.

This poster is particularly representative, since they play football with an umbrella in hand in Recife.

This is our fourth article in a series by musician Alastair Kerr looking at the musical traditions of each of the host cities for the fully-sponsored-and-trademarked 2014 FIFA World Cup™. So far we’ve pondered the musical culture of the cities that will host the Socceroos: CuiabáPorto Alegre and Curitiba. Today we turn our attention to Recife.

It’s well and truly time we looked at a host city with a more distinct musical heritage.  Recife fits the bill.  Well, most of the cities that aren’t hosting Australia fit the bill.

In the north-eastern state of Pernambuco, Recife is home to two of the most distinct musical styles of Brazil – frevo and maracatu – and also gave birth to the mangue-beat movement lead by Chico Science.  It will host its first match on June 14 – Côte D’ivoire vs Japan.  Or as the kids say, Côte D’ivoire versing Japan.  Must be some kind of bizarre World Cup poetry competition.

Frevo is an important part of carnaval celebrations in Recife, and the dancing will give you a glute-and-thigh workout to rival that of cossack dancing.  Remember to warm-up, stretch, hydrate, etc.  Anything that delays actually having to perform those moves.  And bring your umbrella.  Try not to poke anyone’s eye out.

Recife is known to be football-mad.  Perhaps frevo dance steps should be incorporated into gringo football academies around the world?  Could it be the next zumba?  Will Kevin Keegan endorse it as the key to Brazil’s world dominance?

No umbrellas for maracatu, but lots of sequins and shiny things.  And a phenomenal beat, driven by the alfaias (bass drums) and caixas (snare drums).  Although secular, maracatu is associated with the Afro-Brazilian religion of Candomble – another home of trance-inducing drumming – and has nothing to do with the Louis Vuitton range…

Chico Science was at the forefront of one of the most notable developments in Brazilian music in the 1990s.  Using traditional rhythms from Recife, he created music that fused hiphop, rock, and funk in what became known as mangue-beat.  Like all good rock stars, he died young, though not at the age of 27.

And as for the Recife poster, I don’t have anything pithy to say.  It actually seems a fair artistic representation.  I used to have a goalkeeping top with a similar design, from the golden era of vomit-inspired goalie tops.

Drummer/percussionist Alastair Kerr has performed with many of Australia’s finest jazz musicians. He is recognized as one of Australia’s leading Brazilian percussionists.