Words by Chris Moss
Forró is Brazil’s wildest, wackiest and most wonderful rhythm. The musicologists trace its form to the Portuguese court and its name to a corruption of ‘for all’ in English – as in, everyone’s invited. To the non-specialist ear it’s like a gang of unusually cool Morris dancers getting their hands on an accordion and a barrel or two of mead, before being dropped in the jungle hinterland of the north-eastern Brazilian state of Paraíba.
Richard Galliano is the name on the album and appears on 14 of the tracks – often the most interesting ones – but, confusingly, it’s not a Richard Galliano album as such; he is the overall curator. Chico César is the frontman on several of the catchiest tracks here, and his rich, ribald voice is perfectly matched to the astringent accordion sound that defines forró. A famous accordionist, Pernambuco’s Dominguinhos (who died in July 2013), provides some of the more exploratory tracks. They take their basic format – squeezebox, triangle, zabumba (bass drum) – and much of their inspiration from the genial genius of forró, Luiz Gonzaga. Despite the simplicity of this approach, the genre allows for searching solos, jazzy improvisation and the incorporation of guitars. It has the kind of melancholy sweetness you find in Raúl Barboza’s chamamé sound, only with an additional psychedelic twist, either through fast-paced accordion or crazed vocals. This is an intelligent, inspired introduction to the soulful country music of the Brazilian nordeste.