By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
Blacc passed the CD on to Alapatt at Stones Throw. The band protested that this was “raw stuff, demos,” but Alapatt, who single-handedly runs Stones Throw’s soul-funk reissue label, Now-Again, heard a kindred spirit in the recordings. “They were rough and raw,” explains Alapatt, who knows Brazilian music, “the way things used to be” (no slouchy compliment coming from one of the greatest Brazil-head crate-diggers in the world!). Alapatt talked the band into releasing it as-is, and the result is Convivência, a little-promoted gem of a record that could only have been produced in the progressive melting pot that is today’s Los Angeles.
Influential magazine Waxpoetics, along with the many online music writers who have been spreading the word about Convivência, is hailing it as a modern-day bossa nova classic, “something you’d expect to hear floating from a smoky bossa nova club in the 1950s — not downtown L.A.”
Pascoal’s music, the collaboration’s main inspiration, arose partly as a reaction to the bossa of the late 1950s that evolved into the commercialized music of the jet set by the mid-1960s. The composer, now 73, has continued developing his jazz-inflected Brazilian music, a tireless innovator of the likes of Miles Davis, Charles Mingus and tango maestro Astor Piazzolla. Pascoal has repeatedly gone back to the traditional Northeastern Brazilian rhythms of choro and baião, reworking them and shepherding them into the 21st century.
When Nascimento speaks about the music he loves, it is those traditional rhythms and radical innovators like Pascoal that he is championing. “I live in California. Triorganico’s from here. But my mind is mostly on Brazil,” he insists before launching into a dazzling inventory of all the young kids in Sao Paulo, Brazilia and Minas Gerais who are bringing the old rhythms to life, eschewing rock and metal for the difficult challenges of the cavaquinho or the hard-to-tame seven-string guitar.
Nascimento reminisces about the first time he saw choro prodigy Yamandú Costa on TV, knowing he had found his calling: “I said, ‘Fuck rock & roll. Fuck power chords — he’s destroying that guitar. That’s what I want to do.’ ” Costa and Nascimento are good friends now, and Nascimento visits Brazil at least once a year to sit in with his musical brethren.
Alapatt seems conflicted about “the Starbucks issue”: This is perhaps the kind of music that the chain could be talked into distributing in its ubiquitous stores as “bossa nova.” But regardless of the label hype and the Waxpoetics review, Convivência is exactly the kind of music that could only come out of East L.A. The original compositions and the loving interpretations of Pascoal et al. are the perfect product of Nascimento’s convictions, Calogero’s steady cool, seasoned in the most refined trenches of Latin jazz, Pasillas’ subtle, minimalist beat — and that Eastside garage under the California sun.