Accelerated march makes Brazil jump

Tárik de Souza
Frevo is dance-driven march played in a very fast, binary tempo. A derivation of martial polka, it used to be called "northeastern martial music" or "martial music from Pernambuco" in the early days, when capoeira (a type of dance-fight, early break dance, currently played as a game and accompanied by African drums and berimabau - a single string attached to a bamboo stick) dancers led their groups on parades. The bouncing dance steps, which bore a strong resemblance to Russian folk dances, imprinted the specific frevo steps. The colorful parasols carried by frevo dancers represent defense weapons. As lyrics and tune formats were added to frevo, the style took over the country. O Teu Cabelo Não Nega, from 1932, is regarded as the song that established the Carnival marchinhas (literally, "short, quick martial music") made in Rio, although the song was actually a Lamartine Babo adaptation of the frevo Mulata, by Irmãos Valença (from Pernambuco).

The first recording to carry the name of the style was Frevo Pernambucano (Luperce Miranda/Oswaldo Santiago), released by Francisco Alves by the end of 1930. A year later, Nelson Ferreira’s Vamo Se Acabá was recorded by the Orquestra Guanabara and labeled as frevo. Two years before, though, still known as "northeastern martial music", the pioneering Não Puxa Maroca (Nelson Ferreira) had been recorded by the Victor Brasileira orchestra, conducted by Pixinguinha.

On the first half of the decade, numerous radio stars included frevo in their repertoires. In 1950, inspired by the energy of the frevo from Pernambuco and playing on a block of wired wood (an extremely rustic version of the electric guitar), musicians Dodô & Osmar created the prototype of the trio elétrico (a stage built on top of a truck) from Bahia. The trio would only become known across the country in 1979, when Caetano Veloso documented the phenomenon in the song Atrás do Trio Elétrico.

Carnival invasion
In 1957, the frevo Evocação No.1, by Nelson Ferreira and recorded by Bloco Batutas de São José, would take over Rio’s Carnival, knocking down the usual marchinhas and sambas. Local label Mocambo was responsible for most releases from the two greatest frevo composers of all times: Nelson (Heráclito Alves) Ferreira (1902-1976) and Capiba (Lourenço da Fonseca Barbosa, 1904-1997).

The feverish style also made its way into the intimacy of bossa nova: the accelerated compass seduced Tom Jobim and Vinícius de Moraes (Frevo), Marcos and Paulo Sérgio Valle (Pelas Ruas do Recife) and Edu Lobo (No Cordão da Saideira). Frevo also stimulated Gilberto Gil to include electric guitars in his Frevo Rasgado, in the midst of the tropicalist eruption.

Gal Costa, the girl from Bahia, inserted frevo and funk shades in one of her greatest hits, Festa do Interior (Moraes Moreira/Abel Silva). Carlos Fernando (from Pernambuco) author of the smashing hit Banho de Cheiro, recorded by Elba Ramalho, organized a series of albums called Ases da América in the early 80s. His merit was to gather all-star casts to record frevo tunes: Chico Buarque, Alcione, Lulu Santos, Gilberto Gil, Jackson do Pandeiro, Elba and Zé Ramalho, Geraldo Azevedo, Fagner and Alceu Valença and others. Among those, Alceu, Zé Ramalho and Geraldo Azevedo plus Quinteto Violado, Lenine and Antônio Nóbrega are some of the artists that keep frevo rolling to this day.



Vassourinhas (Clube Carnavalesco Misto Vassourinhas) – Orquestra de Frevos do Recife
Valores do Passado (Edgar Moraes) – Grupo Romançal
Mulata (Irmãos Valença) – Expedito Baracho
É de Amargar (Capiba) – Claudionor Germano
Evocação no. 1 (Nelson Ferreira) – Bloco Batutas de São José
Oh! Julia/ Casinha Pequenina/ Gosto de Te Ver Cantando/ Linda Flor da Madrugada (Capiba) – Claudionor Germano
Relembrando o Norte (Severino Araújo) – Orquestra Tabajara
Come e Dorme (Nelson Ferreira) – Nelson Ferreira e sua Orquestra
Frevo no.1 do Recife (Antonio Maria ) – Maria Bethânia
Frevo (Tom Jobim/ Vinicius de Moraes) – Chico Buarque
No Cordão da Saideira (Edu Lobo) – Edu Lobo
Pelas Ruas do Recife (Marcos e Paulo Valle) – Marcos Valle
Frevo Rasgado (Gilberto Gil/ Bruno Ferreira) – Gilberto Gil
Atrás do Trio Elétrico (Caetano Veloso) – Caetano Veloso
Banho de Cheiro (Carlos Fernando) – Elba Ramalho
Festa do Interior (Moraes Moreira/ Abel Silva) – Gal Costa
Frevo Mulher (Zé Ramalho) – Amelinha
Chego Já (Alceu Valença) – Alceu Valença
Madeira Que Cupim Não Roi (Capiba) – Antonio Nóbrega
Me Segura Que Senão Eu Caio (J. Michilles) – Alceu Valença
Realeza Linda (Carlos Fernando/ Geraldo Azevedo) – Geraldo Azevedo
Bom Danado (Luis Bandeira/ Ernani Seve) – Lenine