On Tuesday, we spent the day at the Recife Conservatory which has been teaching music to generations of Brazilians for many years. As a matter of fact, many of the current teachers were once students at the conservatory which makes the place more then a school. It is a family. We felt right at home.
In the workshop we gave our overview of the Blues as a Healing Song.
Guiding question: How does the blues give us a way to express deep feelings and be comforted by the rhythm and the community we are in? How can we use both our voice and instrument to experience the deep soul and sustenance of the blues?
First we performed Sweet Home Chicago by Robert Johnson and the traditional spiritual Trouble of the World and asked the audience for observations on what they heard. Their observations included the instruments, the feeling, the form, the improvisation and feeling of the music we had played.
Then Kate led the group in call and response blues singing…from a moan, to a hum to a shout.
This was followed by LaFrae teaching everyone the shuffle and feeling the doodle aah (see Blues Band in Romania for video on this)
Then Bob wordlessly communicated the harmonic structure of the blues.
Finally, I led a call and response improvisation with singers and instrumentalists on stage. This climaxed in a grand performance of Night Time Is the Right Time by Roosevelt Sykes.
Then, we topped things off by teaching the words of Healing Song by myself and Clifford Carlson from the jazz musical, Message From Saturn. We sang the chorus in English and, for the first time, in Portugese. It was a magical moment.
In the evening we played our first full concert in Brazil and were enthusiastically received by students, teachers and the community. What a phenomenal community of great listeners and musicians!