Posted by: Steve Scherer | March 14, 2010

Geneseo Brazil Project – Sunday Morning

I’m sitting on the fifth floor of the hotel in the lobby by the window with a cup of coffee.  The tree-tops outside the windows are right at the level of the window, and there are tiny monkeys moving around, or lounging in the tree.  This morning, some of the band members woke up to the sound of monkeys in the trees outside their room, screeching as they chased and played, argued over food, like we wake up to the sound of birds doing the same.  I’m distracted because while I’m writing I keep looking up and seeing seals rolling and diving in the surf about 40 or 50 yards from the rocky shore.  Among them are swimmers (humans) swimming parallel to the shore with marker floats attached to their backs.  They are followed by scuba divers with cameras.  The seals appear to think they’re playing with the divers and swimmers.  A little while ago, on man drug a little rowboat into the water and began rowing out into the ocean on a diagonal path until he was out of my view.  It the ocean.  Where the heck is he going?

Last night the end of the summer festival was amazing.  I will try to find out the name of this event.  Maybe you can google it and see some pictures of the setting.  There was a long street parallel to the beach with a 12ish foot concrete wall and occasional stairs down to the beach.  This is a stretch of the street and beach that is one of the epicenters of the world famous Carnivale, which occurred last month.  There is one huge stage out at the end of the beach, but up high at the level of the street.  Big time concert stage with stadium sound and lights.  The second stage is out in the water, maybe about 100 yards out.  A floating stage, also with big time sound and lights, although smaller than the other stage.  Live music alternated between these two stages all day.  When we arrived, there was a large group on the big stage.  There are numerous projection screens at the street level and on the beach, about 15′ by 20′, with a close up of the performing group, and supplementary sound equipment providing the music throughout the distance of the beach and street area.  The whole scene was probably a quarter mile in length.  Thousands and thousands of people.

The next group played on the water stage.  They were called Orkestra Rumpelezz.  Very famous, from here in Salvador.  Salvador is the third largest city in Brazil, behind Rio de Janero and one other, I think Sao Paulo or Brazilia, can’t remember.  All of the musical groups have a full compliment of horns.  This one was like a jazz big band.  Four trombones, four trumpets, five saxes, a tuba, and five drummers.  The drummers are the focus of the band, front and center, with all of the horns around them, behind and on the sides.  The drummers wore all white with the horns in colors.  Three of the drummers played what looked like graduated sizes of congas.  The other two played timbales or other drums with mallets and sticks.  Much of the time, the conga players had in their right hand, a long flexible stick that looked like a switch or a stiff whip.  They used it as a contrasting sound to their other hand.  The leader of this band plays the largest conga.  He is regarded as a high authority on the traditional drumming and the spiritual meanings of the beats which are a combination of African, Cuban, and Spanish.  His status in this regard is where music and religion mix in this country.  In all of Brazil, he is the most famous and respected Brazilian drummer.  All of the players had mad skills on their instruments.  There were many solos like a jazz band.  Many times, when they started a song, it elicited a response of recognition from the crowd.  There was much dancing throughout the crowd.  These people love to dance, but not the free style dance that Americans do.  It was all dance steps being performed in a traditional way, barefoot in the sand.  Salsa, samba etc.  I learned all of this information from Conner (sp?), the irish gentleman who made ALL of the arrangements for this trip.  For a long while, I was talking with Conner and John, another man from Ireland, about these historical facts about the music in Brazil, where they have both lived for many years.  What a melting pot.  There is not a certain look that Brazilians have.  Looking at the people, I could have been in Chicago, or New York, or Sacramento.  Many of them would not be noticed in Geneseo.  Except I can’t understand a word they’re saying and they can’t understand me.  As I anticipated, me communicating with them is the most difficult adventure.  I’m pitiful.  So I smile a lot to encourage their patience with me.

I have to go because we are leaving for a performance at the Danneman Cultural Center.  I still have to tell you about the other band from Cuba, Buenna Vista, and the cameras in the water, and the girl carrying the fire pot, and the salsa and a couple of other things from last night.  Oh, and the food!  It’s all about eating.  So much to tell, so little time.  Keep in touch!

Scherer out.




  2. The Orkestra sounds very cool, it’s interesting that the people actually dance to the music as the band plays.

  3. Thats a good question where was he going? WHOA! there is a water stage… awesome
    Its sounds so awesome there I’m very jealous! :/
    remember souveniers

  4. Monkeys would be a lovely thing to wake up to lol. Can’t wait to hear about the performances. The stage also sounds pretty awsome.

  5. I have always dreamed of wakeing up to the sounds of monkeys and seeing them swinging in the trees

  6. I find it interesting that the people dance in the traditional style. I guess I just assumed that died out, but it only did in America huh? I totally thought you were going to perform on the floating stage–you should set that up sometime. Also, I know what you mean about Brazilians looking very similar to Americans. We had a Brazilian foreign exchange student a couple years ago named Fernanda and you couldn’t pick her out of the HS crowd. Except for her accent 🙂

  7. Being woke up by monkeys sounds pretty tight. So do the bands you saw perform. Looking forward to hearing about them

  8. The water stage sounds pretty awesome, and so does Orkestra Rumpelezz. Thats a cool band setup.

  9. Im very jealous right now, if only i could be woken up by monkeys outside my window. The venue for the bands sounds amazing, hope we get to see pictures. And i really want to hear those drummers that wear all white, it sounds veryy interesting.
    p.s. while in florida you should work on getting a preformance on a floating stage haha

  10. Wow… those are some big trees. The concert also sounds really incredible, especially because it would have had so many people doing similar or the same dances. Were they all in the same point of the dance, or dancing the same dance but not in synchronization? Either way, it sounds really interesting.

  11. The dancing sounds cool. I’ve been taking dance classes since I was 3, and right now the jazz dance we’re working on is to “Mambo, Mambo” and it has all sorts of Latin looking moves in it. I would have loved to salsa in the sand with them.

  12. I think that’s really cool-not the monkey bit-but that you got to listen to this popular band. Personally I was interested in the listeners breaking out in dance! yay! The ending bit about you not knowing what everyone’s saying made me think of the movie Madagascar, the penguins “just smile and wave boys” 🙂

  13. We should have a Brazilian pot luck when you get back. I would find it slightly annoying to rise to screeching monkeys but it’s certainly something different.

  14. haha The monkeys sound really cool! I wish we had those here!!! You should put a picture of them on here! I think it is interesting that they put so much focus on the drummers. I guess it shows that different things are maybe more important to them in their musical culture. Sounds like you are having so much fun! I love the pictures of the view from the hotel that someone else put up!
    p.s. I think that our next band concert should be on a floating stage!

  15. It sounds like you are having a great time. I am glad to see that even when you are with another group, though, you are still making sure that it is all about eating! 🙂 Your description of Brazil being like a melting pot is very synonomous to what the United States is supposed to be like. I think that is interesting because most people would just assume that everyone in Brazil would look alike. I can’t wait for more stories!

  16. I think that we need to have a Brazil food day in band when you get back.

  17. i like music with a lot of good percussion, it would be really cool to see something like that. especially on a stage over the water!

  18. Sounds like a pretty good vacation to me. Hope your having a fun time!!!

  19. I tried to find Orkestra Rumpelezz on youtube but I didn’t come up with anything. Instead I found some Bossa Nova stuff that was pretty good.

  20. That’s so cool that there were people from ireland there! was their accent sweet?!? i would lovvve to learn the dancing you said people were doing in the fun!! gald you’re havin a good time..dont over eat 😉

  21. I wonder where we should go for our next band and choir trip…

  22. Thanks for rubbing it in…

  23. Wow Uncle Steve this sounds awesome! I can’t wait to hear more about it when you get back!

  24. Bring back a monkey. it could be a mascot, or we could teach it to play an instument.

  25. wow that cool that there was a stage on the water. thats cool that you got to see monkeys. sounds like they have good food down there. hope to here more about the bands last night!

  26. It sounds like you are having a lot of fun. The “jazz band” you are talking about sounds very different than the jazz band at the high school. I think it is cool that the drummers are the feature.

  27. wow that sounds intense. I wish we performed on a stage in the water. I like the descriptions of the bands and how to drummers were like the focus and it the center. Sounds like you’re having a great time

  28. Love reading about the experience! Take it all in, your memories will last a lifetime!

  29. Sounds like you are having a good trip so far. The festival sounded like a lot of fun!!! And i would love waking up to monkeys.

  30. I would really like to be down there right now! This Orkestra Rumpelezz sounds like one of my favorite Afro-Brazilian styled bands, called Ojos de Brujo (Eyes of the Witch). And all on a stage over water??
    Makes me wish the band and choir takes a detour south on the florida trip this year………

  31. I really liked the description of the drummers. I like how in our band the percussionists are positioned in the back so the sound can be less powerful. I also imagined that the percussionists down there would use the instruments u described, but i also want to no why they would be the focal point of the band?

  32. Some of the ensembles you described sound like a cross between some of the ensembles you see in fesitvals in the US, depending on what part of the country you’re in.

    The water stage sounds just plain intense though! I’d suggest we get something like that but there’s nowhere to put it. C:

  33. That sound like an awesome night. I bet the stage locations and set-up made a great atmosphere, and what a way to start off the trip! I’ll be interested to hear about the performance at the cultural center and all the other stories from last night… oh, and of course the food 🙂

  34. envious! and i second the bringing back a monkey!! the band could adopt him! (or her)….sounds fun to wake up too 🙂

  35. Wow a stage out in the water? Sounds kinda scary, but cool. And I want to know more about the food!!!I bet it’s fantabulastical!!!!:D

  36. How fun, Steve! Sounds like the students, and you, are all having quite an adventure! Bring me back a tiny monkey,please.

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