On the Upbeat, Positively Carolan

Only in Rio de Janeiro (1)

I have had more than my share of memorable music experiences, and some of the most remarkable occurred as a solo newbie in Brazil, exploring Rio de Janeiro’s posh Ipanema/Copacabana beach area.

For starters by accident I ended up at the café where “The Girl from Ipanema” was written. With a jukebox playing bossa’s I bought a t-shirt sporting Jobim’s music and Vinicius’ lyrics. And, yes, even though she’s up there in years their “girl” still walks by.

Later a tour book listing led me to a nearly empty club just off Avenida Atlantico, where only Portuguese was spoken. Nothing new there, I thought, as I was ensconced on a red velvet bench along a side wall of the second floor space. I ordered a drink and watched as a parade of patrons began to populate the place.

Then a Brazilian gentleman stepped into the room. His spare frame all in white, his grey hair pulled into a braid, he took a seat on a bench near mine. Somehow he reminded me of Artie Shaw — for those not old enough to remember, Shaw was a superb clarinetist and a man of commanding presence who once married Ava Gardner.

Many musicians were now arriving, and one by one they stopped in front of the old man, bowed low and kissed the ornate ring he wore on his right index finger.

And you know to this day I wonder if this was some sort of ritual back to like Royal times or if I may have been witness to homage being paid to Rio’s Music Godfather.


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