Cultural tips

brasilobserver - Dec 22 2014
Pierre Aderne has launched his first album in the UK (Photo: Divulgation)

(Leia em Português)



  • Ex Cathedra, Machado de Assis


Machado de Assis is Brazil’s most renowned writer and critics, including Harold Bloom and Susan Sontag, consider him the most important Latin American writer. He has been compared with Twain, Tolstoy, Flaubert, Sterne, and more than a dozen other literary greats.

Ex Cathedra is a collection of 21 new translations of de Assis’ short stories. Most have never before been published in English. The translators are scholars from three continents. This bilingual edition presents the original Portuguese on one side of each spread, the English translation on the other. This format proves useful to scholars comparing the languages and to students of Portuguese or English.

And of course lovers of literature will appreciate every story for their detailed realism and their flights of surrealism. In the words of Nigel Planer for The Guardian website about the book: “Witty, subversive and beautifully constructed tales from turn-of-the-century Brazil”.


  • Quilombo dos Palmares, Glenn Alan Cheney


Glenn Alan Cheney’s comprehensive history of Palmares and the colonial captaincy of Pernambuco, Brazil, explores the origins and of slavery, the warfare between Palmares, Portugal, and Holland, life in the rebel nation, and the siege that wiped Palmares off the map.

For almost a hundred years, a nation of fugitive Africans, Indians, whites, and mixed races fought off the world’s most powerful empires in a struggle to survive in freedom. Over the span of the 17th century, the Quilombo dos Palmares melded several cultures to form its own language, religion, government, values, and way of life.

Its population may have exceeded 20,000. Its last king is believed to have been an educated descendant of slaves. He took the name Zumbi – Lord of War – and built a citadel fortress on a mountain in northeast Brazil. There Palmares made its last stand.

Quilombos – isolated societies of fugitive slaves – still exist in Brazil, and the struggle for their land continues. Palmares and Zumbi have grown to become myths and symbols of resistance to racism, tyranny, capitalism, and national pride. Cheney does not let Palmares die in 1694. He brings it to life – and relevance – in modern Brazil.




  • Road Trip, Tony Roche


\\ Embassy of Brazil in London until 9 January

The Embassy of Brazil, in partnership with the UpDown Gallery, hosts Tony Roche’s exhibition Road Trip. A longtime follower of Oscar Niemeyer’s work, Tony Roche has travelled the world to see the amazing buildings created by one of his heroes.

The exhibition will feature a piece entitled ‘Remembering Oscar Niemeyer’, which combines the artist’s unique style with images of Niemeyer’s buildings, creating a truly spellbinding work. A selection of personal photographs from his trips all over the world will be on display together with another piece, the ‘Memory Cabinet’.


  • Concret Poetry, Stephen Bann


\\ Cambridge University until 15 March

The Centre of Latin American Studies at Cambridge University is hosting a new exhibition with works from the personal collection of Stephen Bann relating to close exchanges between Cambridge and Brazilian poets in the 1960s.

This show has been designed to mark the 50th Anniversary of the first international exhibition of concrete, kinetic and phonic poetry held in the Rushmore rooms, St Catharine’s College, Cambridge from 28 November to 5 December 1964, organised by Stephen Bann, Reg Gadney, Philip Steadman and Mike Weaver.

Among over ninety works shown at the week-long exhibition were poems sent from Brazil by Ronaldo Azeredo, Augusto de Campos, Haroldo de Campos, José Lino Grunewald and Décio Pignatari of the Noigandres group and from Edgard Braga, Luiz Angelo Pinto and Pedro Xisto.

A symposium about 1960’s concrete poetry, its context and lineage will be held in association with Kettle’s Yard on Saturday 14 February 2015 from 11.30am-5pm at the Alison Richard Building. The programme will include presentations from Professor Stephen Bann, Dr Viviane Carvalho da Annunciação, Dr Greg Thomas, University of Edinburgh and Ann Noël Williams.




  • Caboclo, Pierre Aderne

Pierre Aderne may be a relatively new name to the UK but he has already performed with Ben Harper and recorded with Madeleine Peyroux and Melody Gardot. He has written songs for Seu Jorge and toured with Vinícius Cantuária. His beautiful new album Caboclo (a word denoting some one of mixed Brazilian and European heritage) was recorded between New York, Rio de Janiero, Paris and Lisbon.

Aderne grew up hearing “Águas de março” from Tom Jobim, through João Gilberto’s beautiful voice. He brings Rio de Janeiro wherever he travels all over the world, collecting small souvenirs of the cultures through where he passes. Born in France, but raised in Brazil, now living in Portugal, Pierre Aderne bridges different worlds of music with the ease that comes from his multicultural life and career.

Caboclo is his first album to be released in the UK (after releases in Brasil, Portugal and Japan) and it’s beguiling, gentle and melodic take on new bossa is set to put Aderne firmly on the map here and international. Packaged in a strikingly designed sleeve, Caboclo features duets with Melody Gardot and Tito Paris, a song co-written with Madeleine Peyroux and collaborations with some of the very greatest jazz and world musicians: Philippe Baden Powell, Vinícius Cantuária, Kenny Wollesen, Dan Rieser, Chuck Staab, Eivind Opswik.


  • Trabalhos Carnivoros, Gui Amabis

Celebrated Brazilian songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist Gui Amabis delivers Trabalhos Carnivoros, is an opus of cinematic-folk and his attempt to join the dots between Darwinism, sex and love.

His previous album Memorias Luso/Africanas, released by Mais Um Discos in 2013, featured Lucas Santtana, Criolo, Céu and Tulipa, yet with deeply personal subject matter on his new album Amabis had to be the one to tell these tales: “My previous album told the story of Brazil and so needed different voices, yet on Trabalhos the lyrics are based on my experiences, me, trying to make sense of my life”.

At the time of recording the album, Amabis was listening to Brazilian folk legend Dorival Caymmi, Turkish rocker Erkin Koray and Scottish troubadour Donovan and Trabalhos Carnivoros wears their influences proudly with it’s introspective, atmospheric sombre intensity.

It was a brave move by Amabis to shoulder all vocal duties himself, and his melancholic delivery is the perfect foil to the spooky reverbed guitars, echoing silence and rhythmic claustrophobia that he and his long-term musical partner Regis Damasceno, Dustan Gallas and Samuel Fraga have crafted alongside contributions from Nacao Zumbi’s Dengue and Pupillo, and Thiago França from Meta Meta.

Read more: Brasil Observer #23