My Story with Hermeto Pascoal

My Story with Hermeto Pascoal and the release of the album “Hermeto Pascoal and Group Vice Versa – Traveling with Sound” The Lost 1976 Tapes. (Far Out Recordings – London 2017)
Around 1969 or1970 there was a place called CAMJA (Friends of the Jazz Club) in São Paulo on the corner of Rua Estados Unidos com Antilhas. It was a beautiful house that the vibraphonist Alvaro Brito somehow granted or rented to us. I don’t know for sure why or how the club was opened. They even had a membership card. It was frequented by music critics like Fausto Canova, Armando Aflalo, the Zimbo Trio musicians (Hamilton, Luiz Chaves and Rubinho), and many other jazz players of the time. There was a acoustically prepared room where one could play or study, with all the instruments. The members would have “Jam Sessions”, an alternative so that they could gather the musicians in those days of dark nights. I started attending and joined the club. On one of those afternoons, once again with Itiberê Zwarg, as we entered the club, we heard an incredible piano coming from the small auditorium. When the door was opened, the light was off! We turned on the light, and we came across the figure of Hermeto (from the time of the New Quartet, short hair), who was studying. He greeted us and soon invited us to play:
“Oh, my sons, come here, let’s make music!”

I confess that at first, I was a little scared, because I had never seen him up close, those little eyes turning, but we went there and played for about an hour. After that day I only saw Hermeto again in 1972 when he had returned from the United States. He had recorded with Miles and the first Airto albums and his own with an orchestra, which was one of my favorites. It was in a “Mandala” show, which a friend of ours, the architect Zico Priester had organized, and had taken Hermeto to watch. Then I played with the Baurú (sax-baritone) orchestra, in a place called “Garitão”, it was a huge ballroom that existed in Barra Funda. He had set up the orchestra that I participated in, and Hermeto was watching that day too.

Later I learned that Hermeto was setting up a group to record a record in Brazil, but I had been invited to work in the United States, in Minneapolis, and I was getting my papers together. It was then that Nenê, with whom I had already had a friendship with, called me to say that Hermeto needed a drummer / percussionist for a concert in Londrina, Paraná. I was to replace Annunciacao, who, due to health problems had left the group. Hermeto had just recorded the LP “The Free Music of Hermeto Pascoal”, with the original group that appeared in the technical file. I had to learn the repertoire within a few days. I did the show. When I went to Hermeto’s house the following week to receive the cache in the Aclimação neighborhood of São Paulo, he invited me to stay in the group.

I accepted promptly and gave up the trip, because working with Hermeto was all I wanted at that moment.
At that time, Nenê played the piano in some songs and I would play the drums, and when Nene played the drums, I would go for percussion. Aleuda, who was married to Nenê, would do vocal. We recorded a special for Cultura TV in 74, and one for Baden TV (Germany). Heraldo do Monte (guitar) also sometimes participated. The bass player was Mathias Matos. Hermeto would call a of woodwinds to each show, because it was in a time of transition and the musicians were not always available, so different musicians would come to every concert, like Roberto Sion, Nivaldo Ornelas, Bolão, Carlos Alberto, Costita, Demétrio, Hamleto , Bola, Mazinho. Soon after would come Mauro Senise, Raul Mascarenhas, Zé Carlos, Márcio Montarroyos, Toninho Horta, Oberdan, whose contact was born out of our and Hermeto’s aspiration to have a team of musicians more focused on contemporary music. To rehearse, aside from Nivaldo, the others were more restrained from improvisations, and basically, they were the musicians who recorded a lot in Sampa, so we could not count on the same team.

It was already near the end of 1975 when we went to make Taiguara’s album. Hermeto was already thinking about moving to Rio because we had met people during the recording and we thought that they were willing to create something and apparently had time to devote to rehearsals. The Opening Festival of Rede Globo was at the beginning 75. It had an introduction that Hermeto wrote for my “performance” in the “Barraca de Percussao” and Orchestra. Afterwards, came the theme, a baião / xaxado with rhythm and lyrics. Then they asked me to write the introduction, in the arrangement I made the percussion from the two tracks, “O Porco na Festa” and “Rainha do Mar”. Lelo had not yet entered the group, and it was Nene’s last gig before he went to work with Elis Regina. At the presentation of the Festival the whole group was not with the woodwinds, only the “kitchen”, Aleuda (vocal), Nenê (percussion), Mathias Mattos (contrabass), Hermeto (fife) and me (percussion). Hermeto won the award for best arrangement, the recording was at the RCA studios in Sampa (nickname for Sao Paulo) and the musicians were regrouped by the record company to comprise the orchestra.

After the “Abertura”, Zeca Assumpção replaced Mathias Mattos. Soon after that, during a conversation on a train to Rio in those cabins with bunk beds, Hermeto and I invited Lelo to join the group. It was already at the end of 1975. Lelo attended the Hermeto rehearsals before becoming a member of the group. We used to play during the rehearsals or in the morning because I would go there early and study. Sometimes Lelo would go with me and we would play our pieces, and that’s where Hermeto chose to invite Lelo. Since he was watching what we were doing and from time to time he would join us, and we would have “free” play for a long time!
With the departure of Nenê, the group members were: Lelo, Zeca and me (“a cozinha paulista”, the paulista kitchen cited in articles of the time), Aleuda (vocal), Mauro Senise, Nivaldo Ornelas, Raul Mascarenhas, Toninho Horta. Márcio Montarroyos, Oberdan, Zé Carlos, among others also participated in some concerts, helping to facilitate the shows.

Hermeto always treated the group’s musicians like family. He lived near my parents’ house in São Paulo. My daily routine was to walk to his house after working out. In 1973 I changed my nightlife style to a healthier one, getting up very early, so that by 9 a.m. I was already knocking on Hermeto’s door. Ilza, his wife, would open the door and offer me a cup of coffee while I waited for Hermeto. He always liked to tell his stories and I loved to listen to them. Then I would go up to the rehearsal room to practice. After lunch, around 2:00 p.m., the staff would arrive for rehearsal, which lasted until the evening. Hermeto wrote many arrangements for singers and jingles for advertising. He always called me to record on those occasions, trusting my work. I knew what to do and I recorded primarily as a percussionist. 
The live concerts were amazing. I remember one at the Campinas Municipal Theater, where the businessman did not hire anyone to do sound. Hermeto thought about canceling the event. So, the instruments stayed inside their cases on stage, but seeing the crowded theater, he entered, did a piano solo and began calling in the musicians. We went in and took out the instruments and did an improvised concert that electrified the audience.
In 1976 we independently went to Studio Vice-Versa in São Paulo and recorded 46 minutes of material, which never ended up being released.
At that same time there was a show at the Bandeirantes Theater, with Nivaldo, Mauro, Raul and Zé Carlos. Hermeto ended up moving near his parents in the Rio neighborhood of Jabour, and we continued going to Rio to rehearse and for shows at MAM (The Museum of Modern Art) and Teatro Theresa Raquel for a while. At the end of ’76 we stayed until the beginning of ’77. With the Group One gig already in progress…

 For the recording in 1976 at the Studio Vice Versa, owned by Maestro Rogério Duprat, we had “Paulista Kitchen” with Lelo Nazario, Zeca Assumpção and Zé Eduardo Nazario and the guests Nivaldo Ornelas, Mauro Senise, Raul Mascarenhas on woodwinds, Toninho Horta on guitar and additionally the singer Aleuda on vocals. We recorded 4 songs, one of which, Casinha Pequenina was 26 minutes. During the mix, Lelo and I ordered a copy that we stored in our files. Over time, it was necessary to scan the material because the tape would inevitably deteriorate.

Since Hermeto moved to Rio de Janeiro in 1976 and we from “Cozinha Paulista”, Lelo, Zeca and I had no plans to move there, our stay in São Paulo prevented our continuity and so this work was not released , being kept for four decades, until 2016, when the producer Joe Davis of Far Out Recordings of London contacted me saying that he had heard excerpts from the recording that are on “ZEN Radio”, my web site He had become interested in knowing more about it. Which led to a negotiation between Hermeto himself, who had approved the material remastered by Lelo. This led to the realization of this album, “Hermeto Pascoal and Group Vice Versa – Traveling with Sound”, which was launched worldwide in London on November 3, 2017.

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