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The recording, Os Girassóis do Van Gogh, is out, and three of the songs are in the codex player.
Raimundo Sodré (the last name is pronounced “saw-DREY”) is one of the most fundamentally important musicians in Bahia...at the forefront of a handful of people who play a very African style of samba which predates and is a precursor to Rio-style samba, a style which could be said to be analogous to the blues in the United States (although far more rhythmic).
Bahian samba is samba-de-roda (roda is “circle”) and this samba dates back to when the Bantu slaves on Bahia's sugarcane plantations would gather into circles, clapping and singing, one slave inside the circle showing off is or her hottest moves. This was the slaves' manner of turning misery – for a short time anyway – into the elemental joy of simply being alive.
Raimundo is also heir to Luiz Gonzaga and Jackson do Pandeiro, last in a great triumvirate of masters of the moving music of the sertão), the hardscrabble backlands of Brazil's Nordeste, Northeast).
And interestingly, and in an essential and almost ironic way, Raimundo Sodré mirrors the history of the Nordeste. This is a man who has suffered at the hands of the influential (his career was kicked out from under him due to his criticism of a powerful government official during Brazil's dictatorship) and who is yet possessed of a soul which they haven't been able to grind into the backland's dusty red clay and destroy (in "A Massa" -- a song which swept Brazil -- he sings in the voice of those who work the earth (as a challenge and not as a lament): "...no cabo da minha enxada não conheço coroné (...at the handle of my hoe, the powerful are unknown to me"). Raimundo Sodré is the very definition of a soul survivor. If Bahia has anything like greatness it is because it is such fertile ground for producing people capable of weaving poetry out of poverty.
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