Geraldo Azevedo, a life with music

In a career spanning three decades, 19 records and partnerships with the
biggest names of Brazil’s pop music, Geraldo Azevedo has become the voice of the
voiceless and the hopeful. He has become also an ambassador of Brazilian
culture, rhythm and lyricism.

Liana Alagemovits

Se você vier para o que der e vier comigo eu lhe prometo o sol, se hoje o sol sair ou a chuva, se a chuva
cair…
” (“If you come, come what may, and come with me, I promise you the sun if today the sun comes out or the rain if
it rains…”) And so goes one of Geraldo Azevedo’s most inspired lyrics that became of the anthems of the
Northeast’s repertoire of songs and of a whole generation of Brazilians.

And of course, this Pernambucano (from the state of Pernambuco) singer-composer’s poetry always had
a romantic side. “Lyrics have always been part of my career,” he reminds us. Azevedo is a sensible and
steady-paced artist. He came from a melancholic region, where folkloric songs have more melody. It was the slave’s getaway
where they would compose songs of regret.

 

So, his music and his history became one. Brazil and its people echoed through his throat. His rhythms of
frevo enchanted Brazil, the places where he lived or visited while traveling, the humble people, and the simple happiness
that dancing forró transmits resonates through his songs.

There’s been some controversy about the origin of the word
forró. One of the most common explanations
talks about British engineers who went to the Northeast in the past century to build railroads, and who used to organize
noisy parties that were opened “for all.”

Geraldo Azevedo was born in 1945 in Petrolina, a small town in the state of Pernambuco by the banks of the
San Francisco river. Growing as a country boy Azevedo developed a very peculiar vision of the world and his own
native Pernambuco. Early on, Azevedo began to be attracted by the music and the traditional songs of his corner of the
world. At the age of 12 he was already playing guitar like no other. But soon all the peace brought by the San Francisco
River and his tiny Petrolina weren’t enough for that young man who sensed that beyond the waters of old Chico, as the
river is affectionately called sometimes, there was another world to be sung in verse and song.

In 1963 Geraldo decided to go to the nearest city, where he thought he would have a better chance to progress.
Then he went to Recife, the state’s capital, where he met female singer Teca Calazans and his first big partner
percussionist Naná Vasconcelos, with whom he started Grupo Construção, his first folk-group. Soon after, he met renowned
singer Eliana Pittman who took him in 1967 to Rio de Janeiro where he would establish his reputation as a musician.

Immediately Geraldo Azevedo fell love with Rio. As a virtuoso guitar player, he started playing with the
great names of pop Brazilian music. And later joined the group Quarteto Livre with Naná Vasconcelos, Nélson Ângelo
and Franklin, a group that accompanied legendary composer Geraldo Vandré, and with whom Azevedo composed
the famous Canção de Despedida (Farewell Song).

On December 13, 1968 the military government of Arthur da Costa e Silva closed Congress and put in force
the AI-5 (Ato Institucional n° 5 — Intitutional Act no. 5). More restrictive than all other presidential decrees since
the inception of the military regime in 1964, the AI-5 instituted censorship on the media and songs’ lyrics were
closely watched and frequently banned for political and sexual overtones. With Vandré in exile (his “Pra Não Dizer que
Não Falei de Flores” — “So You Won’t Say I Didn’t Talk About Flowers,” with the refrain
quem sabe faz a hora, não espera acontecer
–“he who knows makes the hour, doesn’t wait for things to happen” attracted the military wrath) the
group was dissolved.

Soon after, Geraldo Azevedo joined his friend Alceu Valença. Together they took part in a festival with a song
called “78 Rotações” (78 RPM) which became a hit. Since then Azevedo gained nationwide fame. Legendary Jackson
do Pandeiro became his friend and partner at the International Song Festival of Rio de Janeiro in 1972. After a
memorable appearance at the festival, Geraldo Azevedo and Alceu Valença recorded their debut album which was named
after the authors.

Azevedo never stopped including the relish of Northeastern rhythms to his compositions. His songs were
included in the soundtrack of Globo TV series like

Gabriela and Saramandaia. Famous now, Azevedo would finally record
his first solo album that included songs that became classics. Tunes like “Caravana” (Caravan), “Em Copacabana” (In
the Beach of Copacabana), and “Barcarola do São Francisco” (São Francisco’s Barcarole).

In the middle of all this Geraldo Azevedo first met actress and singer Elba Ramalho who introduced him
to musicians Pipo Spera, Eduardo Marquez and Pato Rores. “I remember the first time I saw Geraldo,”
reminisced Marquez, himself exiled in Brazil after fleeing the Uruguayan dictatorship. “We were recording
Clube da Esquina, and at this time, our home was a boat… Elba Ramalho invited us to stay with her for a while in her house in Ipanema.
She helped us very much.”

The partnership and friendship between them were promising. In 1979 they recorded
Bicho de 7 Cabeças (Seven-Headed Beast) with songs by Tom Jobim, Caetano Veloso and Milton Nascimento. Again, this album gave a big
boost to Azevedo’s career.

After coming back from touring Angola, where he formed part of the Calunga Project, Azevedo recorded his
third album Inclinações
Musicais
, with special participation of Sivuca, Jackson do Pandeiro and arrangements by
Dori Caymmi. Compositions like “Dia Branco” (White Day), “Moça Bonita” (Pretty Girl) and “Canta Coração”
(Sing, Heart), were big hits and are remembered until today.

Since then Geraldo Azevedo has been touring the world, exposing the Brazilian culture in France, Switzerland
at the Jazz Festival in Montreux, Italy, Moscow where he performed at the International Youth Festival. In 1985, as
part of the project Luz do Solo (Soil’s Light), Azevedo launched his first live recording , at the Golden Room of
Copacabana Palace in Rio de Janeiro. This work featured solo performances by a number of top Brazilian artists. The album
covers the whole spectrum of Geraldo’s influences, and goes from the unforgettable Luiz Gonzaga to the fabled Bob Dylan.

But his major hit in Brazil was De Outra
Maneira
(In Another Way), produced independently, and preceding
the recording of the show Cantoria, performed at the Castro Alves Theatre in Salvador, Bahia, with the participation
of his friends Elomar, Xangai and Vital Farias.

 

Even though it was recorded in Big Bear Lake, California, the CD
Berekekê expressed all of Geraldo’s
Brazilian characteristics. Soon after finishing this work, he started traveling extensively through Brazil, especially in
the Northeast, his homeland, where he had a wide and growing audience. His music has proven to be a popular
success and also received critical acclaim.

Geraldo Azevedo, Ao Vivo…Comigo, one of his most recent recording, was issued by his own label
Geração, recorded live at the Guararapes Theatre in Recife, Yemanjá Theatre in Salvador and Rival Theater in Rio de Janeiro.

The singer-composer will be in Los Angeles to perform at the John Anson Ford Amphitheater in Hollywood
in celebration of September 7th, Brazil’s Independence Day. He will use the occasion to present
Futuramérica his 19th record, recorded with his long time partners musicians Pippo Espera, Eduardo Marquez and Pato. The new show
had its debut at the Castro Alves Theatre in Salvador, Bahia.

Futuramérica brings a collection of new songs with lyrics by Capinam, Carlos Fernando and Fausto Nilo, his
most recent musical partners, along with some of his own unique musical compositions. “This album reflects the work
that Geraldo Azevedo has created for 25 years, offering the public only the best, filling his career as a musician with
nothing but dignity”, comments Sérgio Cabral, well-known music critic in Rio de Janeiro.

According to Geraldo Azevedo, the name of this CD reflects the will of an America eager to become better.
“Its the fruit of concern for the future, ecology and our planet’s outlook”, says the composer. People recognize me for
my singing poems. I am happy about this, because it lets me continue to be truthful to my style. I think I will always
be the incorrigible romantic” concludes the
Pernambucano singer.

Geraldo Azevedo, Elba Ramalho, Alceu Valença and Zé Ramalho have decided to get together and record live
at the famous Rio’s nightclub Canecão this coming October. The quartet also plans on recording a series of classics,
some of which are Luiz Gonzaga’s compositions.


Lyrics
Avenida 10
 

Geraldo Azevedo
 

Desde o tempo de menino eu brincava

Com ar de sonhador

Conheci a natureza

Beijando meus pés

O movimento da vila, da rua

O ronco do tambor

Em todos os arredores

Da Avenida 10

Os guaranis festejando a paz

O guerreiro bumbum

Éramos todos devotos

Meninos fiéis

Quando não era possível ter sonho

A gente tinha um

E ele girava em torno

Da Avenida 10

O movimento do parque

O jogo de bola na lama

A bandeirinha e o poste

Bom barquinho eu quero passar

A lata no carnaval

Para nós tudo aquilo era vida

Em meio aquela alegria

A bagunça saía a tocar

Minha casa bananeira o jardim

Os meus amigos, eu

Quinho, Bomfin, Nélson,

Neguinho e Moisés

Galvão, Fernando, João e Omar

Todos irmãos Eris,

Hoje nós somos saudades

Da Avenida 10

Avenue 10
 

Since I was a boy I played

Always dreaming

I met nature

Kissing my feet

The village, the street’s activity

The roaring of the drum

All around

Avenue 10

The Guarani Indians celebrating peace

The warrior drum

We were all believers

Faithful boys

When it was not possible to have dreams

We had one

And it dealt with

Avenue 10

The park’s activity

The ball’s game in the mud

The flag and the pole

Kind little boat I want to cross

The can on Carnaval

For us, all of that was life

In the middle of that happiness

Frolic went out to play

My house banana tree the garden

My friends, myself

Quinho, Bomfin, Nélson,

Neguinho and Moisés

Galvão, Fernando, João and Omar

All the Eris brothers,

Today we are all nostalgic

about Avenue 10

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