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Betto Arcos Brings The Heat From Brazil

Nov 2, 2013
Originally published on October 26, 2014 5:03 pm

Over the years, musicians from Stan Getz to Herb Alpert to David Byrne have felt the lure of Brazilian music. World music DJ Betto Arcos just got back from a trip to Brazil, where he gorged on new sounds, and he's been kind enough to bring some of them back to share with All Things Considered. Hear his conversation with host Arun Rath at the audio link.

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And if you're just joining us, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR West. I'm Arun Rath.


RATH: Over the years, American musicians from Stan Getz to Herb Alpert to David Byrne have felt the lure of Brazilian music. World music DJ Betto Arcos just got back from a trip to Brazil where he gorged on new music, and he's been kind enough to bring back some to share with us. Betto, welcome back.

BETTO ARCOS: I can't tell you how excited I am to share this music with you. It's been one of the most life-enriching trips in my life.

RATH: Well, happily, you brought some back, and let's start off with this first piece. Is this - this a samba?

ARCOS: It is a samba by one of the legends of Brazilian music. This is a man who is actually a drummer by trade. I mean, this is what he's done for, you know, most of his life from the 1950s all the way to the present.

RATH: Wow. Who's this?

ARCOS: His name is Wilson Das Neves.


ARCOS: What you hear in this particular tune and throughout this record is really this wonderful kind of mix of American jazz with samba, because samba is, after all, Brazil's biggest music, really. This is the people's music. And this last record actually just came out. It's called "Se Me Chamar, O Sorte," or "If You Call me, Oh, How Lucky I Am."


RATH: That's Wilson Das Neves. So who do we have next?

ARCOS: The next singer is a young, up-and-coming artist. Her name is Maira Freitas. And the song we're going to hear is called "Mambembe."


RATH: That's got a real kind of classic feel to it, right?

ARCOS: It is. She's a really special artist. She's actually the daughter of a great figure of Brazilian popular music. His name is Martinho da Vila. He's both a big pop artist but also a samba singer. Instead of being a samba singer, she decided that she wanted to do her own thing. She was trained as a classical pianist, so you hear the piano very prominent, very present in the record. But she also says, you know, I want to try singing. So, think of me, she says, as a kind of pianist who sings.


RATH: So she's young, but she's got a very mature style to her.

ARCOS: She is. She's been surrounded by music all her life. And I got a chance to see her live in concert, and, oh man, what a soulful presence she is.

RATH: So what are concerts like in Brazil?

ARCOS: Concerts are like big parties. You don't sit still. You don't just go and see someone sing and sit there on your chair. You actually dance, you move, you move your body. Brazilian music is all about moving the body and about moving yourself to the music. It's very high energy, very upbeat. And all this music that we're hearing today represents that sound. When you go to a show, you go to sing and you go to dance.

RATH: It's hard to sit still to this.


RATH: Can you tell us that name and song title one more time?

ARCOS: This singer's name is Maira Freitas, and the song is called "Mambembe."

RATH: My guest is Betto Arcos, world music DJ. He's fresh from a trip to Brazil where he just loved it. So who do you have for us next?

ARCOS: The next singer is an artist that I was really blown away by. I saw her in a show in the sort of the heart of the clubs, of the music in Rio in an area called Lapa. I saw her, and I said, oh, my God. Where did she come from? She can play, she can dance and she can sing. Her name is Joyce Candido.


RATH: So that title means stop it?

ARCOS: Exactly. "Ce Po Para." It's a way of saying stop it, don't, quit messing with me. It's basically a very kind of feminist stance from a woman to a man saying, all right, I've had enough of your messing around. I'm not going to put up with it anymore. Stop it.

She's a really terrific singer. She lived in New York for a couple of years and went back to Brazil. She decided rather than staying her and launching her career here, she decided that she wanted to do it in Brazil. She's originally from Sao Paulo. She's a terrific presence on stage. She's moving all over the place and it's really enjoyable, pleasing to see her perform.


ARCOS: Her name is Joyce Candido, and this is a song called "Ce Po Para."

RATH: Very nice. Betto, we have time for one more.

ARCOS: One of the legends of Brazilian music. Her name is Alcione. She's actually from the north of Brazil. But she is big. Think of her as a sort of Aretha Franklin of Brazil.


RATH: I feel like that voice has a story behind it.

ARCOS: That's right. She came to Rio de Janeiro in the early '70s. She became a superstar. She's one of the most well-known samba artists from Brazil, but really one of the most well-known Brazilian artists period. In this particular song, she's joined by an up-and-coming voice, the son of a great composer. His name is Diogo Nogueira. And they sing a song all about the power of music, the power of samba, the power of creating music inspired by something that you have no control over.


RATH: That's music by Alcione brought to us all the way from Brazil by Betto Arcos. He's the host of "Global Village" at KPFK here in Los Angeles. You can hear all of his picks at nprmusic.org. Sounds like we're only just scratching the surface here.

ARCOS: Absolutely. Oh, yeah. There is so much more to Brazilian music. I'm just giving you a little taste of it.

RATH: Betto, thanks again and welcome home.

ARCOS: My pleasure. Thank you so much.


RATH: And for Saturday, that's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR West. I'm Arun Rath. Check out our weekly podcast. Search for WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED on iTunes or on the NPR app. And follow us on Twitter, @nprwatc. Tune in tomorrow for my conversation with writer Terry Pratchett, who struggles with a form of Alzheimer's disease. Until then, thanks for listening and have a great night. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.