Bossa Italiana: Meia Noite and Carlos Almeida @ Via Della Pace

Stop by 48 East 7th street on August 5th at ten o’clock to see Meia Noite and Carlinhos for yourself…

Story by Teo J. Babini - Photos and Video by Raoul Beltrame

Late Night Bossanova at VDP from Citizen Brooklyn on Vimeo.
I’ve always had a strange connection with Brazil, even though I have no real ties to the country. My father had visited before I was born and I grew up listening to the voice of Maria Bethania. When I was a kid my babysitter LuLu, a Brazilian of Russian decent, used to take me to Little Brazil on Brazilian Day for tasty croquettes.

My first real understanding of the music and culture was through “City of God”, the most famous Brazilian movie of all time (If you haven’t seen it, you are lost). I remember enjoying the musicality of Brazilian Portuguese (I can do a great impression of the famous line) and my roommate and I used to jam out to the soundtrack, singing and strumming as though Stuy-Town was our own little favela in the city. We also became big Seu Jorge fans through his Bowie covers in “The Life Aquatic”.

Then my boy DJ T*O*N*Y put me on to Stan Getz, a jazz musician from Brooklyn who was one of the first heroes of Bossa Nova. Tone discovered him through J Dilla who was a huge sampler of Brazilian music in his beats. But like all great romances, it really began with a woman. I dated this twenty-nine year old half-Japanese, half-Brazilian gal from Rio. She was thin, but shapely, with sexy tattoos and this wonderful black hair. Even though it only lasted a semester, and was doomed to failure from the beginning, I was smitten.

Photo © Raoul Beltrame

Photo © Raoul Beltrame

It was mostly a private affair, sneaking back to my pad after post-class drinks and secret dinners, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. It changed me forever. The thing is, I believe Italians and Brazilian share in their passion for the wonderful things in life: sex, music, art, food and drink. This is why I feel so at home listening to samba at Via Della Pace. Not only is it the best reasonably price Italian food in NYC bar none (Honorable mention goes to the carbonara, bruschette and focacce), but it’s also a place where you feel that warmth, that Latin hospitality. And on bossa nova night in the summer, when folks eat, drink and still move tables around to dance to the live music, it gets no better than that. So stop by 48 East 7th street on August 5th at ten o’clock to see Meia Noite and Carlinhos for yourself or check out some of the other special events here:

CBK: Tell us a little bit about yourselves.
Meia Noite: My name is Meia Noite, from Bahia, Brazil. Meia Noite is my nickname. I’ve played music since I was ten years old in Brazil. I used to watch my daddy play the cuica.

Carlos Almeida: My name is Carlos Almeida. People call me Carlinhos Almeida. I’m from Rio di Janeiro, Brazil. I started playing when I was sixteen years old. I came to this country twenty-five years ago. I have a band for dance venues and an instrumental choro band, which is like a jazz band. Choro is the grandfather of samba, all samba comes from choro.

Photo © Raoul Beltrame

Photo © Raoul Beltrame

CBK: Can you tell us something about Brazilian music?
MN: In Bahia, it’s African music. Everybody plays everything. Samba-reggae and samba originated there. Bahia has a tropical rhythm… There’s a lot of rhythms in Bahia.

CA: There are many influences in Brazilian music, it’s a big country, so you can find many different styles of music. If you go to the North you’re gonna find forro and samba criolla. If you go to the South you’ll find influence from German music and Polish music, because Brazil has mixed influences from all over the world. And then there’s Tom Jobim, Antonio Carlos Jobim… I think the most famous Brazilian music is bossa nova, which is a kind of samba. Technically speaking, bossa nova and choro are both sambas.

CBK: What’s your favorite genre to play?
MN: My favorite music… I like salsa a lot, because my favorite instrument is the conga. I love to play it, but in Bahia and in Brazil you don’t have too much salsa.

Photo © Raoul Beltrame

Photo © Raoul Beltrame

CBK: The first time I saw you play was as a part of Jovanotti’s band. How did you end up working with him?
MN: I met Jovanotti seven years ago with Sergio Mendes. I played him the album and that’s why he called me to play for his band, that’s why I work with him now. I worked for Sergio Mendes for twenty years. I left him six years ago.

CBK: Tell us a little about the collaboration between you two here at Via Della Pace.
MN: VDP is my favorite restaurant and Giovanni is like my brother.

CA: Our energy mixes well, it comes from Bahia. I lived there for many, many years as a teenager, so I picked up all the flavor of the music. You see, samba came from Bahia to Rio, but in Rio samba is a little bit different. Samba started in Bahia when the African people brought that rhythm there, then four women moved from Bahia to Rio to live in the favelas, which are the shantytowns on the mountains where poor people live. We have an ancestral connection, I have African heritage in my veins and he is of African descent as well. That’s the good thing that samba does, it brings together white people with cafuzo people, who are people of mixed backgrounds Native Indian, African and European. This happened when Brazil was a Portuguese colony. These things happen when you play samba. Samba is life.

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