Afoxés & Blocos Afros
Afoxé (ah-fo-SHEH) is basically candomblé with the religion taken out...the use of candomblé rhythms and "songs" in social, non-religious settings like Carnival and weekly dances. The principal rhythm associated with afoxé is ijexá (ee-zheh-SHAH), a more subtle and complicated version of what you might hear pounded out on the Maxwell House coffee can for a late-hours Manhattan cocktail party conga line (a modified version was also used in composer Stan Worth's theme for the 1960s George of the Jungle cartoon series). On terreiros de candomblé ijexá is associated with Oxalá (the father) and Oxum (goddess of sweet waters).
Embaixada Africana (African Embassy) was the first afoxé,
parading in the Carnival of 1895. The next year afoxé Pândego
da África (African Hijinks) went out, and in 1905 an afoxé
climbed the Ladeira da Barroquinha to parade up the Ladeira de São
Bento, thereby breaking a tacit understanding that the Carnival groups
from the lower (and darker) economic classes had their areas (Baixa dos
Sapateiros, Barroquinha, Pelourinho) and the upper classes had theirs (Avenida Sete de Setembro, Piedade). Salvador's largest and most
widely known afoxé -- Filhos de
Gandhy -- was formed in 1949 by a stevedore whose inspiration
was the great Indian leader and pacifist (who had been assassinated the
year before). Other afoxés include Filhos de Korin Efan, Badauê, and Filhas de Oxum. From 1904 until 1918 afoxés were forbidden to march during Carnival, ostensibly to combat "crime, ao deboche, e à desordem (crime, debauchery, and disorder)".
Blocos Afros are Carnival blocos (groups) which, put simply,
celebrate cultural manifestations of African origin. The rhythms
are usually based in samba reggae and the dress is African-inspired
(in contrast to afoxé Filhos de Gandhy, whose robes draw
their inspiration from the Indian subcontinent). Olodum, Ilê Aiyê, and Ara Ketu are the three biggest and
best-known blocos afros...Ara Ketu -- and in international terms Olodum
to an even greater degree -- having achieved significant commercial success.
Other blocos afros include Muzenza (from Liberdade), and Malê
de Balê (of Itapoan), who drew the inspiration for their name
from the Malê Revolt.
YOU Are Invited!!!
This is an invitation from me (black hat, right) to a music project built as an escape valve, a way to take music from anywhere to potentially anywhere else on the planet.
Unlike traditional media pipelines, which are either expensive or limited, ours is built on common humanity, on the phenomenon of six degrees of separation. Degrees of separation are links between people, connections forming pathways which extend throughout human society (which is why word-of-mouth is the most powerful form of publicity there is).
We've put an online music codex on the air, mirroring this. To give you a personal example of how it works, I link to a roots samba-de-roda (analogous in Brazil to the delta blues in the United States) group in a fishing village in Brazil. New Orleans writer/journalist Jay Mazza links to me. Trumpter Kermit Ruffins links to Jay. Other people link to Kermit. And other people link to those people. And...
Now there are LOTS of pathways leading to the musicians in that rural fishing village in Brazil. And music which would seldom be heard beyond the village border can be heard by interested people all over the world.
Jay Mazza w/ Lionel Batiste
Jay links to me...
The musicodex in and of itself is probably not a mechanism for generating great commercial success, but it IS most definitely a way for news of musicians and their music to penetrate far and widely, outside of usual circles and localities. It is giant steps reducing the wide world to a mom & pop record shop (I'm the pop), wherein musical discoveries can be made and passed on.
Mankind has been making music for at least 50,000 years, and word-of-mouth has been around since humans could talk. Drawing on 21st century technology, we've put them together in a new way...
And you're invited.
Kermit Ruffins links to Jay Mazza...
This could be the start of something big...
Airto Moreira - Belpa Mariani - Bobby Sanabria
With respect to the name "Olodum", the best known of Salvador's blocos afros, I've heard respectful stories in several variations but with the common theme of reaching deep into tradition and pietous religosity for inspiration...
Principal founder Geraldo Miranda (popularly called Geraldão -- Big Gerald), who went on to found Muzenza after an internal breach, tells it like this, however (my translation):
"As for the name of the bloco, Olodum, I was the one who came up with it, thanks to a friend, a filha-de-santo (candomblé adept), who happened to mention that Olo and Dum were two gods, without mentioning anything about their origins or if there was really any religious basis for this. I stuck the two names together and nobody disagreed and so it was, Olodum."
Geraldão was correct in his unvoiced but implied suspicion that there wasn't any true religious basis for this, although it wasn't completely off the mark.
I mention this not only to puncture a glossed image which is often presented to the world (not only by some of these groups; isn't this pretty much universal human behavior?), but as intro to the fact(s) that